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Weekly Comic Reviews - 20 Jan 2016

Weekly Comic Reviews - 20 Jan 2016

Ratings out of 5 stars. Comics available at Absolute Comics (Plaza Singapura) except for The World Is So Big - go buy it from Basheer Books at Bras Basah Complex. Run, don't walk.


Secret Wars #9

Story: Jonathan Hickman

Art: Esad Ribic

Marvel Comics

The comic event of 2015. This last issue was much delayed and it came out last week. But I didn’t want to review it until I read the whole series in one sitting to see how well it holds up.  Well, Jonathan Hickman has held up his side of bargain in telling one hell of a Marvel Universe ‘end of the world’ story that started with his Avengers/New Avengers run in 2012.

The secret Avengers (The Illuminati) learned that the world is ending. The multiverse is clashing with each other. To save their universe from being destroyed during an Incursion, Black Panther, Namor, Dr Strange, Mr Fantastic, Black Bolt, Iron Man and the Beast had to destroy the other Earth first. Captain America disagreed with this option and was brainswiped by Dr Strange. The heroes lost their moral bearings and turned on each other: Namor versus Black Panther and another round between Captain America and Iron Man happened as the last of the multiverses collapsed.

In between you have The Infinity cross-over event of 2013 and that was a bit of a shambles. But if you just stick to the New Avengers/Avengers series, especially the four volumes of Time Runs Out, they are a nice lead-in to Secret Wars.

Hickman is a world builder. The first six issues of Secret Wars set the context and tone of Battleworld. #7 to #9 is where every issue packs a punch and the action is non-stop. The planning and build-up is excellent and one wonders at the symmetry of the whole story. You want to look at the notes when Hickman first conceived this and the gigantic excel spreadsheet he must have used to keep track of all the plotlines.

Secret Wars goes all way back to his Fantastic Four. It is about the decades long conflict/rivalry between Reed Richards and Victor von Doom. Hickman builds on the classic tales of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Hickman knows the best Marvel comics are about relationships and choices – the bond between Dr Doom and Dr Strange and the choices they made; the relationship between Dr Doom and Valerie Richards and the friendship between Molecule Man and Miles Morales over a 3-week one burger. It is about family and kinship.

Most readers would already know that things go back to normal. Now at least the fate of Reed Richards and Susan Storm is revealed. That is probably more of a business decision than an editorial one if you have been following the Marvel movies direction. So ignore the crossovers and the other titles. Read this – it is good.

(4.5 stars)


The World is So Big: An Artist’s Sketchbook

Story/Art/Sketches: James Tan

Basheer Graphic Books

This came out last year and is much underrated. A long awaited book for those who read James Tan’s out of this world stories in the Liquid City volumes. James does not draw comics much and it is the same here. James and his wife turned 40 a few years ago. They quit their jobs and went on the road for six months. The first journey was a one-way ticket to Taiwan, then Japan, Korea, Turkey and so on. And what a trip it was. Life can be captured in a throwaway sketch. This is one of my favourite books of 2015. I still wish it has more comics inside.

You can read James' 24Hour Comic here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10153075371627014&set=a.10153075371572014.1073741848.730742013&type=3&theater

(4.5 stars)


Clean Room #4

Story: Gail Simone

Art: Jon Davis-Hunt


There are some comics that you pick up half way and although you don't quite follow the story because you have not read the first three issues, you are totally fascinated by its energy that you know you will be returning in 30 days for the next issue. Clean Room is one of those comics. A man killed inside after reading a bestselling self-help book. His journalist fiancé is out to find out the truth… Gail Simone has a long way from the superhero comics she started out with and she is ably supported by Jon Davis-Hunt (2000 AD) in delivering this most creepy of comics.

(4 stars)


Batman: Arkham Knight Genensis #6

Story: Peter J. Tomasi

Art: Dexter Soy

DC Comics

 I reviewed #1 in the very first weekly review column back in August last year. Time flies when you are having fun. The official prequel to the most popular superhero game of last year, this issue wraps up the origin of Jason Todd, the Arkham Knight. He returns from the dead, teams up with Deathstroke to destroy Batman and is still haunted by his killing by the Joker. Dexter Soy drew this final issue with the right amount of tension.

(3 stars)


Superman/Wonder Woman #25

Story: Peter J. Tomasi

Art: Doug Mahnke

DC Comics

It still takes some getting use to, the new (or is it old now?) 52. So Superman is not in love with Lois Lane and he has got it on with Wonder Woman. (who wouldn't?) So in this issue, he is on the brink of death and WW has sought the help of the Greek gods to bring him back to life. Supes went through some trials; nothing much happens. Ho hum.

(2.5 stars)


Call of Duty: Black Ops III #3

Story: Larry Hama

Art: Marcelo Ferreira

Dark Horse Comics

The official comic prequel to the popular Call of Duty game. With veteran Larry Hama scripting this, it reads like a more violent GI Joe comic. So expect the usual tech talk, tactical manoeuvring, gun fight and international locales. The Wet Witch is an interesting villainess. We will see if she is the next Baroness.

(3 stars)


Red Thorn #3

Story: David Baillie

Art: Meghan Hetrick


Part of the Vertigo relaunch, Red Thorn treads on familiar ground of lost siblings, Glasgow grime and ancient demi-gods escaping from their 2000 year old prisons. Touted to appeal to the fans of Fables and Sandman, it is hard to tell whether this will take off.

(2.5 stars)



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Lim Cheng Tju is the co-editor of Liquid City Vol. 2, an anthology of Southeast Asian comics publish ...

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