There is a superb slow build to Port of Earth, as each issue pushes the core narrative forward to the next surprise and then comments on and illuminates the action via the framing device of a television interview. This drip-fed world building makes this an addictive read, as well as a smart and political slice of science fiction.
I am particularly liking Andrea Mutti's artwork, which has a semi-realistic, rather scratchy style that enhances the drama nicely. This is a very dramatic, straight-faced work, without much room for comedy in Zack Kaplan's scripts. It's been progressively getting better too; it's worth getting the first two trade paperbacks to catch up. (4/5)
Port of Earth #8. Image. Written by Zack Kaplan. Art by Andrea Mutti. Colours by Vladimir Popov.
Under the cut: reviews of Catwoman, Daredevil, Detective Comics, Doctor Who, Hawkman, Invader Zim, Mech Cadet Yu, Oblivion Song, and Spider-Man.
DC Comics. Story and art by Joelle Jones. Colours by Laura Allred.It's Catwoman versus a room full of copycats as an on-the-run Selina Kyle finds that trouble refuses to leave her alone. This appears to be a particularly nasty new enemy as well, given how they treat their agents here. There are still a lot more questions than answers at this stage, but writer/artist Joelle Jones manages to sustain the mystery for another issue. Her artwork has a wonderfully sketchy style that avoids the male gaze that usually plagues Catwoman comics. It's a hugely promising read, and a new monthly well worth your support. (4/5)
Marvel. Written by Charles Soule. Art by Phil Noto.Phil Noto's art is great, as it always is, and that gives Daredevil #606 an immediate and attractive selling point. Storywise, it is a little less exciting. My hopes for a clean climax to the whole "Mayor Fisk" saga have ended, as events meander on to new elements and twists without really feeling as if previous crises have been resolved. A flashback structure makes things feel more intriguing, but in the end I'm not enticed by the arrival of the Matt Murdock lookalike Mike Murdock. Solid writing, great art, but a somewhat ragged narrative. (3/5)
DC Comics. Written by Bryan Hill. Art by Philippe Bryones. Colours by Adriano Lucas.
Batman struggles to take down the villainous Karma, while Black Lightning struggles to contain the Bat's enthusiastic sidekicks who itch to get involved. Admittedly there is something overly familiar about the whole "Batman's sidekick defies his orders to save him" storyline, but it's done in an engaging fashion and an appealing set of characters. This is all set-up for a new Batman and the Outsiders volume, but it's building it up well and promising a good line-up for when the inevitable spin-off comes around. If nothing else it is providing an avenue for the Signal - the latest Gotham crime-fighter for what there really hasn't been much room. (3/5)
Doctor Who: Road to the 13th Doctor #2
Titan Comics. Written by James Peaty. Art by Pasquale Qualano. Colours by Dijjo Lima. Backup written by Jody Hauser. Backup art by Rachael Stott. Colours by Enrica Angiolini.In the lead-up to the imminent arrival of TV's 13th Doctor, Titan provide three one-shots featuring the 10th, 11th and 12th Doctors. This second issue features Matt Smith's 11th Doctor, whose earlier ongoing adventures I had regularly been reading. The Doctor and comic companion Alice arrive in San Francisco to find it overrun with disguised alien robots - and an enemy I suspect we will see again one the 13th Doctor comic kicks off. Pasquale Qualano's art does a fairly good rendition of the Doctor, while James Peaty's story is short but satisfying. A short backup strip set during the TV episode "The Power of Three" acts as a showcase for the new 13th Doctor creative team. (3/5)
DC Comics. Written by Robert Venditti. Art by Bryan Hitch, Andrew Currie and Paul Neary. Colours by Alex Sinclair and Jeremiah Shipper.Hawkman's journey through his past lives leads him to Dinosaur Island, an unhappy T-Rex, and a mystery at the top of a mountain. Bryan Hitch's artwork is certainly the star here, and it feels as if Robert Venditti's script has been purpose-built to accommodate Hitch's big-screen artistic talents. As for Venditti's script, it is entertaining but yet to really take a hold. The decision to scramble all of Hawkman's tortured rival back stories together is bold, but still doesn't seem to solve the ongoing problem of who he is and why he dresses up and flies as a hawk. It's a bit of a mess in that regard - but what else are you going to do? (4/5)
Oni Press. Written by Eric Trueheart. Art by Kate Sherron and Meg Casey. Colours by Fred C. Stresing.Zim and Dib get overly competitive at physical education exams in this new issue, which does a better-than-usual job of adopting the original Invader Zim cartoon's look and humour. Eric Trueheart's script contains more than the usual number of jokes, and they're ones that you can really imagine making a TV episode. Similarly, Sherron and Casey's artwork hew much closer to the original TV style that some other recent issues of the comic; I do like the occasional experiment, but it's always nice to pull it back to a baseline look from time to time. (3/5)
Boom Studios. Written by Greg Pak. Art by Takeshi Miyazawa. Colours by Jessica Kholinne.In the penultimate issue, the Sharg engage in full-scale invasion and the mech pilots simply are not able to stop them all. Sacrifices must be made, but everyone is fighting over who and what that sacrifice is going to be. This is pretty much exactly what you want in a second-to-last issue: the stakes are raised even higher, the drama intensifies, and as a reader you get the distinct feeling that not everybody is going to survive the series finale. This has all felt like an archetypal giant robot anime in print form; that doesn't promise an entirely happy ending either. (4/5)
Image. Written by Robert Kirkman. Art by Lorenzo De Felici.It's the end of the first story arc, which of course means a shock revelation to keep the book's momentum going. In this case it isn't anything that the average reader couldn't see coming, and as a result the shock effect feels a little blunted. Lorenzo De Felici's artwork continues to be appealing without being exceptional, and that ultimately feels a bit like the book in general. It's rock solid stuff and will absolutely gain its fans, but at the same time never quite feels like a necessary read. (3/5)
Marvel. Written by Brian Edward Hill. Art by Nelson Blake II, Alitha E. Martinez, Mark Bagley, and Roberto Poggi. Colours by Carlos Lopez.With Miles Morales absent from Marvel Universe in recent months, it is actually somewhat refreshing to see him back in action in this pleasant but by no means necessary one-shot annual. While fighting Morbius the Living Vampire, Miles flashes back to an earlier battle he fought near the beginning of his crime-fighting career. Mark Bagley returns to provide art for the flashback sequence, which is a pleasant surprise. If you've never read the Miles version of Spider-Man, this is a decent introduction. An amusing backup strip turns the spotlight to fan favourite and best friend Ganke. (3/5)