ABSOLUTE CARNAGE #1 & MORE! [Mini-Reviews]

Absolute Carnage #1 CoverABSOLUTE CARNAGE #1/ Script by DONNY CATES/ Pencils by RYAN STEGMAN/ Inks by JP MAYER/ Colors by FRANK MARTIN/ Letters by VC’S CLAYTON COWLES/ Published by MARVEL COMICS

Review by MATT MORRISON

Eddie Brock thought he was free of his “other,” but their child, Carnage, has returned and is out to kill everyone who has ever worn a symbiote. Framed for murder and with a child to protect, Eddie must do two things he never thought he’d do again – become Venom and team-up with Spider-Man!

I expected this book to be bloody, stupid and everything loathsome about 1990’s extreme Marvel. I was not expecting to get an honestly well-written story that turned Eddie Brock into a nuanced, sympathetic character. I also wasn’t expecting this story to be as accessible to people like me who really don’t like Venom as a character and catch us up on the last year’s worth of Donny Cates’ Venom title. The artwork also avoids the usual excesses I come to associate with the character of Carnage, with subtle shading by JP Mayer, brilliant character designs by Ryan Stegman and some wonderful blending by Frank Martin. Peter Parker summed up my feelings going into this book at one point – “I hate symbiote stuff so much. Just… so, so much.” Somehow, I didn’t hate this. I probably won’t keep reading it, but this is probably the best Venom Vs. Carnage story ever.

4-5

 

Berserker Unbound #1 CoverBERSERKER UNBOUND #1/ Script by JEFF LEMIRE/ Art by MIKE DEODATO JR./ Colors by FRANK MARTIN/ Letters by STEVE WANDS/ Published by DARK HORSE COMICS

Review by MATT MORRISON

His people slaughtered, including his wife and child, The Mongrel King now finds himself in another land in another time. Can he slay the wizard who means to destroy him and return home?

It’s Savage Avengers without the Avengers!  It’s Amy Chu’s Red Sonja, with better artwork and a male hero. It’s Beastmaster II: Through The Portal of Time but without Sara Douglas in a skimpy sorceress outfit to hold your interest.

I have all manner of snarky things I can say about how unoriginal the concept of Berskerer Unbound is but I must admit the execution is solid. Jeff Lemire is a brilliant writer, of course, and Mike Deodato Jr.’s artwork is near-peerless. The colors by Frank Martin are well-chosen and Steve Wands conveys the story with some interesting font choices. Yet in the end, the story is predictable and the reader can’t escape the feeling that we’ve seen this all before. Berserker Unbound is a tired tale told well, but still lacking anything to distinguish itself from every other story of a time-displaced barbarian apart from the reputation of its creators. Sword and sorcery fans may enjoy it, but everyone else will wonder why they bothered.

3-5

 

Justice League #29 CoverJUSTICE LEAGUE #29/ Script by SCOTT SNYDER & JAMES TYNION IV/ Art by BRUNO REDONDO/ Colors by HI-FI/ Letters by TOM NAPOLITANO/ Published by DC COMICS

Review by MATT MORRISON

The Legion of Doom press forward in their plans to tap the Seven Lost Powers and awaken the goddess Perpetua. Only one thing stands in their way.. the Justice League member called Jarro!

Justice League #29 takes a breather from the on-going story to offer  a recap of sorts, as Snyder and Tyion IV unpack the saga so far and explain everything in a way that hardly feels expository at all. The artwork is fantastic, with Bruno Redondo showing the same skills that made Injustice: Gods Among Us a smash hit and Hi-Fi’s colors are brilliant. Confused by the current Justice League storyline, the Year of the Villain crossover or just need a good place to jump into this book?  The issue you’ve been waiting for is here!

5-5

 

Sinestero Year Of The Villain Special CoverSINESTRO: YEAR OF THE VILLAIN #1/ Script by MARK RUSSELL/ Pencils by YILDIRAY CINAR/ Inks by YILDIRAY CINAR & JULIO FERREIRA/ Colors by HI-FI/ Letters by STEVE WANDS/ Published by DC COMICS

Review by MATT MORRISON

One thing that has bothered me about the recent Justice League run is why Sinestro would ally himself with the likes of Lex Luthor. Sinestro is a leader, not a follower, even in the wake of the Sinestro Corps abandoning his leadership, if not his methods. This one-shot special explains things somewhat, with a wonderful internal monologue as Sinestro ponders the nature of order and why some people choose to follow rather than lead, if only to lead themselves.

The book has a bit more action than that, thankfully, with Sinestro trying to find the secret behind the apparent immortality of a race of beings who threaten the plans of the Legion of Doom and discovering a microscopic society living in a symbiotic relationship with those beings. The whole concept is like something out of The Twilight Zone or the Green Lantern stories of Alan Moore and Mark Russell fully explores the ramifications of the concept in his usual brilliant fashion.

The script is well interpreted by Yildiray Cinar, who proved a perfect choice to illustrate this story given his previous work on the equally high-concept Superior Iron Man. All in all, this is an interesting story that should appeal to most science-fiction fans, which requires no previous experience with the Green Lantern mythology of the Year of the Villain.

5-5

About Matt Morrison

Matt "Starman" Morrison is The Grand Exalted High Macha of Raspur - a non-existent but real-sounding country. He has been writing about comics since before the word "blogging" was coined. He enjoys acting, role-playing, movie-riffing and sarcasm. You can follow his adventures on Twitter, @GeekyGeekyWays.

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