SANDMAN UNIVERSE PRESENTS: HELLBLAZER & MORE! [Mini-Reviews]

DCeased #6 CoverDCEASED #6/ Script by TOM TAYLOR/ Pencils by TREVOR HAIRSINE & NEIL EDWARDS/ Inks by STEFANO GUADIANO/Colors by RAIN BEREDO/ Letters by SAIDA TEMOFONTE/ Published by DC COMICS

Review by MATT MORRISON

With only a few members of the Justice League hanging on and the great space arks poised to carry humanity to a new home ready, the worst of all possible threats has arisen. Will the power of Anti-Life win out in the end?

A perfect comic for this Halloween week, I suspect we may not have seen the last of the DCeased reality. That may be wishful thinking on my part, as I would love to see Dinah Lance remain a Green Lantern, if only because the idea of her and Guy Gardner together tickles me.

Either way, this series has been vintage Tom Taylor writing, both touching and twisted in equal measure. The artwork by Hairsine and Edwards blends together seamlessly into a glorious whole under Stefano Guadiano’s inks and the colors by Rain Beredo remain as excellent as ever. This is a fitting conclusion to a spirited mini-series.

5-5

 

Excalibur #1 CoverEXCALIBUR #1/ Script by TINI HOWARD/ Art by MARCUS TO/ Colors by ERICK ARCINIEGA/ Letters by VC’S CORY PETIT/ Published by MARVEL COMICS

Review by MATT MORRISON

The power of the new Mutant homeland of Krakoa has begun to encroach on Avalon, leading Morgan LeFay to declare war on the “witchbreed.” With The Otherworld now in the hands of an unworthy master, the power of Captain Britain has found a new host… in Psylocke! Can a new team of mutants partnered with Betsy Braddock and a reformed Mutant Formerly Known As Apocalypse hope to face the threat of a new group of anti-Mutant mages?

Excalibur #1 is firmly mediocre on every front. The artwork by Marcus To is merely serviceable, though the color art by Erick Arciniega is quite vivid. The script is similarly lackluster. While Tini Howard does a fair job trying to introduce us to the Braddocks, the story assumes that readers are already familiar with most of the major players. More casual readers will find themselves needing to do a lot of research to explain away things such as why Psylocke is no longer a Japanese woman in a leotard or why Jubilee now has a baby. Presumably fans of the original Excalibur series will be on firmer footing, but on the whole this book is an insular reminder of why I typically avoid X-Men comics.

3-5

 

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #13 CoverFRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN #13/ Script by TOM TAYLOR/ Art by KEN LASHLEY, TODD NAUCK, IG GUARA & DIKE RUAN/ Colors by RACHELLE ROSENBERG/ Letters by VC’S TRAVIS LANHAM/ Published by MARVEL COMICS

Review by MATT MORRISON

Starting a revolution against a tyrant in a subterranean kingdom is way above Peter Parker’s pay-grade. Luckily, Peter has friends in high places and there’s nothing the Fantastic Four enjoy more than exploring a new world, but will they be enough to help save Under York?

Artistically, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #13 is something of a mess, with a continuity error on the first page where Reed Richards is drawn without a beard for one panel. The rest of the issue is similarly erratic, with the Fantastic Four’s costume designs changing between pages. Sadly, this sort of thing is to be expected with four different artists working on a single issue.

At least the individual pages are strong, even if there’s no sense of visual continuity. More importantly, Tom Taylor still spins a strong story and has good handle on the Fantastic Four beyond Human Torch, whom he wrote in an earlier issue. It’s enough to make me want to read a Fantastic Four comic by Taylor some day, but there’s a lot of titles I hope to see Taylor write someday. As it stands, this issue ultimately evens out to okay, due to the ever-shifting art style.

3-5

 

Hellblazer #1 CoverSANDMAN UNIVERSE PRESENTS: HELLBLAZER/ Script by SIMON SPURRIER/ Art by MARCIO TAKARA/ Colors by CRIS PETER/ Letters by ADITYA BIDIKAR/ Published by DC COMICS

Review by MATT MORRISON

In another world and another time, the Chosen One Tim Hunter became corrupted by his power and a great magical war was fought. John Constantine was mortally wounded, but saved at the last moment by another John Constantine – an older, wiser and strangely happier version of ol’ Con-Job, who bartered for the young John’s soul in exchange for a way out.

Finding himself in an unfamiliar London in 2019, John doesn’t know why he’s been given a second chance or why he has conflicted memories of many lives and many adventures that can’t possibly fit together. All that matters in the here and now is that there’s a young Tim Hunter in this 2019 and the world isn’t ending yet. Is it John’s duty to avert the coming disaster on this Earth… or has he been sent to become the catalyst of it all going wrong?

Sandman Universe Presents Hellblazer is everything a first issue reviving a long-running series should be. Don’t have a clue who John Constantine is? Si Spurrier shows you. Don’t know the history of Hellblazer? Doesn’t matter – Spurrier cuts through the hardened treacle of several years of confusing, conflicting stories, points out on a meta level that its a fool’s errand trying to condense all the John Constantine stories into a cohesive timeline and doesn’t bother, laying out what is important at the moment. Backed by some similarly complex yet subtle artwork by Marco Takara and Cris Peter, this book is simply magical on every level. Highly recommended to neophytes and old mates, this is the Constantine comic we’ve been waiting for!

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *