The Wicked + The Divine
Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson
Like many Gillen/McKelvie comics (Phonogram, Young Avengers), I read this and just ended up hating fictional 17-year olds just as much as the fictional 17-year olds depicted seem to despise anyone over the age of 30.
The comic is crammed full of the young, the smooth and the symmetrical, with copious pop music shout-outs, the Everyone's Bi trope cranked to the max, and of-the-now references to current social media fads that will quickly date this title.
If I had to encapsulate the comic in a single panel, it would be of a beautiful skinny androgyne posing in a nightclub proclaiming 'MySpace is Dead! SnapChat is Forever!'
Verdict: The Pretty + The Vacant.
Dan Slott, Olivier Coipel
Every Spidey that ever there was, in a bonkers story that spans alternate Earths. You want the Superior Spider-Man? You got him. You want Manga Spidey? Check. You want Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham? He's right here.
Unfortunately you've also got silly old Morlun, a sort of spider-energy vampire in Hellfire Club drag, along with his lamoid family of forgettable psychos. In a comic chock full of guys in red, black and blue webbed costumes, it was the half-dozen Morlunites that I could never keep straight.
Verdict: Amazing Spider-Fanservice
Matt Fraction, David Aja
Nice little series showcasing what Clint Barton gets up to on those days when he's not running around shooting robots with the Avengers, and one that has been rightly praised for many factors. The character interplay, the dog, the sign-language, his neighbours, Barney; it's all good stuff.
I have sympathy for anyone who, like me, had to endure the erratic schedule of this 3-year series though. It's only 22 issues long, yet there was a 6-month gap between issues 20 and 21, and a further 5 months between 21 and the final issue. In a simpler series, that might not have been a problem, but Hawkeye had numerous plot lines and time-jumps, which made picking the story up again near impossible.
One final tip. While I like the Kate Bishop in LA issues, they're a different beast altogether. I'd recommend skipping 'em and sticking to the Clint in New York storyline, then going back for Kate later.
Verdict: A great 17-issue series
Brian K Vaughan, Fiona Staples
Lacks focus. Stick with Y: The Last Man (what if every man on the planet dropped dead?) or Ex Machina (former superhero becomes mayor of New York). Rambles from plotline to plotline. Irritating child's narrated foreshadowing. Arsey central characters.
And the silly, silly aliens. Staples often simply draws regular 21st century humans in contemporary clothes, but with horns or wings. And those TV-head aliens! They visually strike a bum satirical note in a series which is gritty/soapy.
Verdict: Not as good as everyone says it is.
Paul Tobin, Colleen Coover
Good. Fun. Like it.
Verdict: A welcome upbeat antidote to...
Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on EarthPantheon Books
The downbeat saga of a near personality-free nobody and the reunion with his deadbeat dad. Once I'd got to the very useful Story So Far double-page spread about 50 pages in, it made a lot more sense. There are also some nice pictographics throughout.
I liked the flashbacks to Jimmy's grandfather (and confusingly, his double) as a child at the Chicago World's Fair, as well as the funny/sad cartoon on the back cover (the tale of an unloved and unbought copy of this very book). But on the whole this is an exercise in depression and bleakness.
Verdict: Only to be read if you are a stranger to the black dog.
Attack on TitanKodansha Comics
Not what I expected (I thought it was a sci-fi space adventure from the title). Quite liked the freaky naked grinny-mouthed giants, but it is quite hard for a Western reader to remember to read the entire thing, including the order of the speech balloons in each panel, from right to left. Very Japanese, with way too much (clumsily translated) dialogue.
Reading tip: spend no more than 3 seconds on each page. Reading it at speed, especially action chapters like volume 2, lends pace even if there are pages and pages of angsting kids shouting oddly at each while Giant Grinny Nudists are eating people outside.
Verdict: Give the animated version a go instead.