Mini Reviews January 2022

Jan 31, 2022
She-Hulk #1

Rainbow Rowell, Rogê Antônio, Rico Renzi
Marvel $3.99 (12/01/2022)

Matt: In recent times She-Hulk seems to have been going full Banner by leaning into an angrier, more savage temperament, but that iteration of the character has never really appealed to me and I far prefer Shulkie to have smarts and mix her superheroing with lawyering. Thankfully, she's back in more familiar territory in this debut issue of the new miniseries, getting her legal career going and going toe-to-toe with Titania.

Jennifer Walters is trying to get herself back on her feet after a period of raging and rampaging, aiming to keep a lower, less violent profile and reignite her law career. As is the way with these things, plans don't always work out the way they're supposed to, with a curveball making its way into her life just as it seems to be heading in right direction.

Writer Rainbow Rowell strikes the right balance between comedy and drama whilst Rogê Antônio's art is sharply dynamic and expressive, nicely capturing a range of emotions for Jennifer and her green alter-ego. With the Disney Plus TV show due at some point this year this is definitely a good place to get acquainted (or reacquainted) with the Jade Giantess.

Duel #1

Curtiss Martins, Alex Cormack, 
Bliss on Tap Publishing $4.99 (29/01/2022)

Jo: I've been attempting to curb my raging FOMO recently, and to (slightly) reduce the mad number of issue #1s I pick up in a given week but comics like this one do act to frustrate my efforts! Usually, I wouldn't be tempted to pick up a book from a writer I don't recognise (Martins has a series of three hired assassin novels under his belt, the Smith series, but I can't find much more information about him) from a publisher I haven't heard of and so this would never have moved the needle on my pull-list-ometer if it wasn't for Alex Cormack's name on the masthead. Cormack's work on Sink stands, however, as one of my favourite works and I will at least take a look at anything he's associated with - and boy, am I glad of this strategy here!

The premise is that there exists a kind of online version of Fight Club, like a deadlier Tinder, where (usually) anonymous players arrange to meet and duel to the death, in their real-world arena of choice - in the first instance, the dairy aisle of a mini-mart. Success ensures higher ratings and more winnings, and the game is well-established and already being pursued by law enforcement, but when a challenger signs up to fight the most seasoned of contenders using the very recognisable name of a bullied teenager, dark turns are taken. 

As a first issue, this is tight - the structure is superb, that perfect blend of introductory information, intriguing incentive to pick up the next issue and a neat first episode bundle to fully satisfy - right out of the gate this is something special. Cormack is great, always; the gorefest he is capable of is used at exactly the right level here. Word to Alex Murillo as well for the lettering and design: a striking cover helped draw me in and his lettering is quite distinctive - old school thought bubbles with a new twist: the series of linking spots look like a string of beads, very cute. Overall, a really exciting new start. 

Silver Surfer: Rebirth #1

Ron Marz, Ron Lim, Don Ho, Israel Silva
Marvel $3.99 (19/01/2022)

Jo: Tagged as the 'first issue of a new cosmic saga', this new tale of the chrome-coated Norrin Radd kicks off in typically epic style as a shipful of Kree military (are there any other kind of Kree?) plunge towards certain death as they are dragged relentlessly into a black hole - how will they escape?! As it turns out, not immediately in the way you might expect, as Marz's creation Genis-Vell initially appears and attempts a poorly thought-through rescue, resulting in the son of Mar-Vell requiring a rescue of his own.

Marz and Lim are clearly having a whale of a time recreating the galactic-sized imagery of Surfer's biggest stories and the thematic threads could, by less generous reviewers, be accused of a lack of novelty, but I love it! I won't give spoilers but you won't be surprised by the McGuffin or the Big Bad, but that doesn't matter. Radd's clonky formal language is captured to perfection, along with his steel-hard ethical resolve and his aching guilt over the miserable necessities of his former actions. 

Lim's design is packed with action and shiny muscle: Genis-Vell and the Kree are magnificently chiselled and macho and Surfer himself is beautifully proportioned, pretty much everything you could want is here. Were I to really reach, I would say that a Silver Surfer book without at least one double-page spread which is entirely star freckled blackness save for the swoosh of a cosmic surfboard wake and a single philosophical bon mot is not fully complete - but maybe that's coming soon. 


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