Monday, 13 February 2017

Moon Knight Volume 2: Dead Will Rise (Marvel NOW!) Review

How many faces do you think we can fit on
one cover?
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Greg Smallwood
Collects: Moon Knight #7-12

Background info:

Marc Spector was shot in front of a statue of the ancient Egyptian god, Khonshu. When he awoke, he had within him the spirit of Khonshu, the charge to become a guardian to all night travellers as Moon Knight and a case of dissociative  identity disorder (henceforth DID, which is a lame acronym). Throughout the years, his DID has manifested itself in different ways. At one point, he thought he was Wolverine, Spider-Man and Captain America. In the previous volume of this run, his personalities have manifested themselves as the vengeful Moon Knight, the more sophisticated Mr. Knight, and Khonshu himself (at least, that's how it appears).

Review (spoilers ahead):

No, this is really a comic
One of the main advantages to Moon Knight's previous volume, From the Dead, was the book's Dead Will Rise, this formula is done away with in favour of a six-issue story arc, and it weirdly comes off as just a good.
structure of multiple stand-alone stories. It was great to see a book that was focussed on telling great stories within the 18-pages of a single issue- something that hasn't really been seen much since the golden age of comics. In

When the ruler of an African country comes to New York, Wahalla, Marc's psychiatrist, sends an assassin to kill him. Marc now must match wits with her not only to save the leader's life, but to keep the spirit of Khonshu. What happens in these pages is the best character development seen in this iteration of Moon Knight.

Brian Wood has taken writing duties over from Colin Bunn, and it's clear that he's built significantly on that solid foundation. Nowhere is this more clear than the relation between Marc and Khonshu. Where the previous volume saw Khonshu standing over an otherwise obedient Marc we start to see real conflict between the two. What is especially interesting is the implication the Marc might not be best choice for Khonshu's powers. Nonetheless, it seems Marc needs the Moon Knight personally.

Just as good, though, is Wahalla's development. She's given a reason for wanting to kill the leader, but Wood goes deeper; giving multiple layers to her hatred. Make no mistake, the good doctor is far from virtuous and credit goes to Wood for resisting the urge to make her a sympathetic villain. When you discover her real reasons for wanting the leader dead, you're well and truly ready for her to be punished by Moon Knight.

So, Moon Knight is a villain, too.
The art has also shifted duties, with Greg Smallwood taking over from now until Secret Wars. Smallwood continues the series style that remains iconic even after the relaunch. The pure, uncoloured white of Moon Knight's costume stands starkly against the darker colours of the backgrounds and supporting cast.

My only problem with Dead Will Rise is that it seems to end WAY too abruptly. I would love to see how this event changes Marc's life and his relationship with Khonshu, but the final issue in this volume doesn't give any hints to it.

Overall, though, this is a strong start for the new Moon Knight team, which earns it four and a half out of five lame acronyms.

Yeah, I DID that...

Okay, a lame pun, too.

**** 1/2

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Batman Vol. 6: Graveyard Shift (The New 52) Review

Batman Vol.5: Graveyard Shift (The New 52)

Do you get the feeling that anything in
Gotham remotely bat-shaped
belongs to Batman? I mean, that ain't
the symbol on his chest...
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Collects: Issues 0,18-20, 24, 34, Annual #2

Background information:

I'm back!

Scott Snyder's Batman has been killing it!

Yes, yes, I know,  Snyder's mono-named title is no more, and but for All-Star Batman, his work with the character has reached a permanent end, but there's something to his writing that makes me feel like this is the only Batman book I need to read. Snyder has shown us Gotham as a character in Batman's world with as much autonomy as any person living in it. He's been deliciously creepy and has dived head-first into the psychological depth that has given Batman his reputation amongst comic readers.

In the past, Batman trades by Snyder have focussed on one singular story. Because of this, it's easy to trick yourself into thinking that Snyder writes no fillers at all. More on that below.

Review:

No writer can avoid filler issues completely.  Like death and taxes, one day you'll have to write a story just to meet an editorial deadline and Batman had it's share

I mean, this has no bats, but there's no Batman yet, so...
So now we have Graveyard Shift the sixth volume in the Batman run that has ended world hunger,
eliminated world debt cured cancer and made sure we NEVER have another Shrek movie.

And oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Okay, I'm making it seem worse than it actually is. Graveyard Shift is a collection of issues that apparently didn't fit anywhere else (except for issue #0, which TOTALLY should have been in the first Zero Year trade). As such, there is just about no plot to speak of. Harper Row auditions for the Bat-family, Batman busts up Catwoman's mob house, Arkham Asylum gets haunted and Clayface does usual Clayface stuff.

These are all single issue stories and none of them are bad per say, but Snyder has always made stories that cover 10-12 issues; the kind that need to be told in two trades (Court of Owls and City of Owls, the two Zero Year volumes, even Death of the Family seems ready to get its second part in Endgame). To have stories this short feels like a waste of Snyder's talents. Usually this wouldn't matter, were these issues peppered throughout the actual series. They might have even been entertaining departures from the norm. However, because this is all we get, there's this constant feeling that you're at a fancy restaurant being offered nothing but appetizers.

A far deeper problem, though is that each one of these issues takes place at drastically different times in Snyder's run. We go from Zero Year, to just after Damien's death, to the middle of Batman Eternal, to just before Endgame. Because of this, the whole book feels ungrounded and you get the feeling that there is absolutely no point in reading it.

But see this? Totally has a bat and Bruce is just like "I'll take
THAT!"
Which is a crying shame, because some of the easter eggs in this volume are excellent. Most notable is the appearance of the Batman Beyond suit complete with wings and rocket boots, but you also have to appreciate Snyder's clever use of foreshadowing. I won't spoil it, but  there's one issue here that feels like it's going to matter a lot to Endgame.

Greg Capullo's art continues to be as strong as ever here. To him, Batman's world is vibrant and colourful and that gives Snyder's dark stories the feeling that this is more of an alien world than Gothic-inspired city. You know you've done something right as an artist when, even when things are clearly visible, you still find yourself terrified of what might be around the corner.

If you're a completionist like me, Graveyard shift is going to be a fairly compulsive buy. Let's face it, there's no way you're skipping from Volume 5 to Volume 7! What kind of savage are you? That said, it's best to keep your expectations low. This one gets a two and a half out of five Shrek films.

** 1/2

Monday, 31 October 2016

Amazing X-Men Vol. 1: The Quest for Nightcrawler (Marvel NOW!) Review

Okay, fine- you've seen the coolest
image in the book already. HAPPY?!
Writer: Jason Aaron

Artist: Ed McGuinness

Collects: Amazing X-Men #1-6

Background Information:

There was a time when the X-Men fought baddies. Then a few different things happened. Magneto became a good guy, the X-Men split into the Uncanny X-Men and Wolverine's X-Men, and Cyclops found himself convinced that all humans were evil and that mutants had to be protected from them. Now the X-Men fight each other. For better or for worse, Marvel NOW! X-Men have been fighting each other. That's earned it some criticism

Oh, they've also brought the original X-Men into our time from the past.

That couldn't possibly go wrong, right?

You thought I was joking about the "literal hell" part, didn't you...
Review:

In many ways, Amazing X-Men feels like a return to form for those who have come to loathe the Amazing X-Men an exception rather than a rule.
current run of X-books; it features a classic team of mutants, has plenty of humour and, most importantly, is about X-Men fighting someone other than themselves. It's a pity then that Marvel have seemingly no interest in continuing this series into the current X-Men run, and that disinterest shows, making

The Quest For Nightcrawler finds the X-Men in literal hell- That's something only Jason Aaron could make light and fun. They've followed the Bamfs (not an acronym) through an unknown portal with new member Firestar and have been confronted with Azazel- the evil pirate demon-dad of Nightcrawler.

In case you're wondering, yes. This collection was written with no other purpose than to bring Nightcrawler back into the universe, and honestly, it's done fairly well. The fight between Nightcrawler's X-Men (yes; in this collection, that's what they are) and the demon pirates in as fun and bombastic as many remember comics always being. Nightcrawler's action scenes- particularly his fights with Azazel- are particularly epic; seeing him "bamf" around cutting down enemies is exciting and his dialogue feels fresh and witty.

The other characters, unfortunately, don't feel as fleshed out. Firestar (who I know I'm going to mess up and call Starfire at some point) seem's to be relegated to "straight man" to juxtapose Iceman's not-quite-as-funny-as-Aaron-wants them to be, and be shocked at the so-called craziness of everything. Northstar hates everyone and reminds us about why we haven't seen this character since his wedding a few years ago. Beast is FAR better handled in Bendis' X-books as Aaron dilutes his character to being a coffee addict. I could go on, but it bums me out that Marvel are giving us X-books that basically say "you can have well-developed characters or you can have storylines where things actually happen." No, Marvel; we want both!

Guys... don't mean to be a downer, but
Wolverine's in this book, too.
Thankfully, plenty does actually happen in The Quest for Nightcrawler, and for a moment, you're tempted to ignore the fact that none of the characters actually need to be there. This is a story that could just as easily be told with the Avengers or even the Fantastic Four! It's a book full of cool happenings, but nothing more substantial. Is it fun? Sure; and those lamenting the seriousness of contemporary comics will likely love it, but don't kid yourself: this is pretty shallow escapism.

The art here is vibrant and colourful and it makes you think of the 90s X-Men cartoons. I can't stress here just how much this book seems written for those who miss the old X-Men and every visual drives it home. It helps to drive home the fact that this is the "fun" book.

And ultimately, I'm glad it exists. I'm not always a fan of the "light and funny" mandate that seems to get god-status every time a piece of superhero media exists, but Amazing X-Men proves that there are still SO many ways to take the franchise. It's not the deepest mutant book- not by a long shot- but it's a fun, nostalgic read to be sure. It gets a three out of five Bamfs (again, not an acronym).

***

+ Nightcrawler is well done.
+ Vibrant and colourful art.
+ Fun tone with lots happening.
- Character progression nearly non-existant
- None of these characters feel important to the story.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Batman Eternal Vol. 1 (The New 52) Review

"Hey buddy! Wanna buy a supporting
character?"
Writers: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, John Layman, Ray Fawkes, Tim Seely and Kyle Higgins.

Artists: Y'know what? There's a lot- let's leave it at that.

Collects: Batman Eternal #1-21

Background Information:

Every now and again, DC will release a weekly series. If they have faith in it, that series will last 52 issues. If not, It will end around the 40-45 mark. By the time Batman Eternal was in full swing, DC were publishing no less than three of these series; the aforementioned Batman title, The New 52: Future's End and Earth 2: World's End. These were all billed as big deals for the DC universe, but only one series found people who actually cared about it. Guess which one it was?

...the Batman one. It was the Batman one.

Review

There have been complaints aplenty made about Batman Eternal; it's chaotic, there's a lot of plots going in different directions at any one time and there's more filler than the teeth of a sugar addict following fourteen consecutive Halloweens. These complaints though, are best attributed to all DC weekly series and it seems a bit harsh to slag Batman Eternal for doing what series like 52 were already doing. That said, Batman Eternal's major selling point is that there's a lot of it- even if some of it isn't all that good, which is worrying considering how much they're asking for a trade paperback.
We currently have no idea what's happening here and we read
this scene twice!

So Forever Evil has just finished and Batman is back to his old games again- chasing criminals, recruiting minors to fight dangerous battles and trying his best not to refer to Alfred as "mummy" when a train accident finds Jim Gordon arrested for causing the death of hundreds. It's at this time when Gotham's criminals decide that when the cat's away (I'm not making a reference to Catwoman- she's in this one) the mice will.. well, start a massive gang war and cause death and destruction everywhere... y'know- typical mouse stuff.

This leave various Gotham heroes frantically running around the city to do typical hero stuff; Batgirl and Red Hood search for whoever set Jim Gordon up for a fall, Red Robin and Harper Row track a nanobot virus that's doing all sorts of evil things and Batwing joins up with the Spectre to set up Gotham at Midnight investigate strange going-ons at Arkham. This leaves Batman having to deal with the gang war and I have to say that it's cool to see old Bats with white-knuckles as he frantically rushes from one place to another to just barely avert disaster. You really get the impression here that he hasn't slept in days, which is great because I don't think we ever see the line "I haven't slept in days". It's show-don't-tell at it's finest.

Oh, and Stephanie Brown is in this one. Yep, that character that people demanded be brought back has indeed... come back. Honestly, that's all I can say about her at this point, because Batman Eternal seemed only interested in doing that with her character. She constantly pops up to remind us that she is indeed there and that DC are very sorry; please take them back, they love you and really that fling with the new readers didn't really mean anything! To say that she propels the plot forward in new and interesting ways is like saying Thomas the Tank Engine runs on Coca-Cola and Mentos; It's something we may really want to happen but when it comes down to it, we need to accept the fact that reality isn't going to pander to us in that way.

Weirdly, the most interesting plot seems to be that of Vicki Vale and new detective Jason Bard. There's a lot of solid detective work done by these two and seeing their relationship is absolutely the books sweet spot. There's enough space to argue that these two people matter more to the plot than any of the superhero characters combined. You know how people are all impressed that Batman's on the Justice League even though he has no powers? Vale and Bard, in this sense are Batman Eternal's Batman- no intense combat training (beyond what a cop can do), no high-tech gadgetry and yet they rattle cages like a blind parakeet on a sugar rush.
One day, I'm going to find whoever gave Red Hood's helmet
that stupid mouth and maim them.

With a book that has 13 artists, do I need to say that the art is a mixed bag? Or remind you of an idiom about too many cooks? None of this is to say that the art is bad for a weekly series (except for Ian Betram's, who makes every character look like they gained 20 kilos just for the issue and have blackheads all over their faces), But you're more likely to notice the change in artist than the change in writer. Otherwise, it looks how a Batman book should- dark, gritty, and intense as anything.

Now, as I mentioned, this is a 52-issue weekly series which means that the old weekly-series problems still apply (sing along if you know the words): Many issues feel like they're there to fill in gaps in the publishing schedule, there's no sense of a complete story arc in this volume, and too many things are happening at once. That's not a fault of Batman Eternal so much as it a fault of the weekly format; the book is very much a slave to its publishing schedule, so there isn't that feeling of tightness you get from an monthly ongoing. Batman Eternal does its best to still make those problems somewhat enjoyable, even if it can't negate them completely, but fair warning; I'm not anticipating a fully satisfying plot until the end of the series.

Thankfully, as I said, there's a lot of it, so you will be kept busy reading a series that is actually okay. Batman Eternal gets a three out of five Coca-Cola/Mentos-powered steam engines.

***
+ Chaotic in the best way.
+ Bard and Vale.
+ A lot of story.
+Stephanie Brown is in it...
-... but she's just "there".
- Not all art is good
- The usual weekly series problems.

Alternate Option: 52

Takes a MUCH broader swing at the DCU, even if the book itself isn't as good.

Fantastic Four Vol. 3: Doomed (Marvel NOW!) Review

It's... prophetic... I'll give it that.
Writer: Matt Fraction

Artists: Mark Bagely, Raffaele Ienco, Mark Famer and Joe Rubinstien.

Collects: Fantastic Four (2012) #9-16

Background Information:

For the last two volumes, the Fantastic Four have been trying to figure out what has been messing with their powers.

Oh yeah, it's been killing them, too.

Trying to find a way to fix their problem has involved them travelling through time and space because comics. The family have been to a lot of strange places and found out completely nothing.

Doesn't that just make you desperate for more?

Review:

I don't get it. I just don't get it.

I swear, you'd think Marvel were trying to
tell us something...
You ever read those books that has plenty of what you like and then ended up forgetting about it?

That's Doomed  in a nutshell. At face value, there's nothing to hate- there's even a lot to like- yet, somehow the whole thing is a bore. It's disappointing because as the final volume of Matt Fraction's run, this should have been the best book of the three-volume stint. As it is, it's only the second. It's better by far than Road Trip, but not as good as New Departures, New Arrivals.

So Reed Richards now has to fix his family's powers before everyone dies. On the side, Ben Grimm is worried that his actions resulted in Dr Doom existing, so he and Reed go back in time to witness the beginning of Marvel's greatest villain. There's also an alternate universe that's ruled by Kang the Conqueror, Annihilus and Doom himself, and that takes us to the book's climax. If that sounds overly complicated, it's because it is.

This is one of those volumes that was made after the series was cancelled and, like all comics that suffer the same fate, every remaining issue gets crammed into one volume that makes for a rather cluttered story. The result is that there's really too much here. Or at least it feels that way. Fraction somehow puts that much into a story without ever giving the feeling that something has actually happened.

I'll give it this, where Road Trip felt like nothing more than a transition point, Doomed actually feels like it's about something, but each part of Doomed feels like it's being squeezed out of a pipe (don't make that a poo joke... don't make it a poo joke... DAMMIT, you made it a poo joke). Each moment feels like Fraction was saying to himself "Just one more page, and then I can get back to writing Hawkeye, which I actually like doing" and because of this, I found myself checking how much more of the book I had to read before I could move on to something else.

And at this point, it really is hard for me to believe that Marvel didn't have a plan to destroy the Fantastic Four for no other reason than it couldn't make movies about them. Scream "conspiracy theorist" all you want, but at the end of the day, Matt Fraction is a far better writer than this. Like I said, his Hawkeye is proof enough of this. It really does seem like Marvel was telling him to make this book as boring as he could, and if that was the case, pat yourself on the back, Matty ol' boy because you certainly succeeded- even when you had a million and one exciting things going on, you still pushed out a stinker (you're making a poo joke again, aren't you?!).

Even the black suits didn't help...
The art is the strongest feature of this book. It's really the reverse of the writing. Where the writing had all the hallmarks of a great book and still failed to deliver, the art uses colours that usually would only go together if you wanted to incite madness and somehow still comes off as pretty pleasing. A large part of the credit goes to the pencillers Mark Bagley, Raffaele Ienco, Mark Farmer and Joe Rubinstein, who draw these incredibly exotic, out-there environments. Even so, colourists Paul Mounts and Guru-eFX (who must have drawn a LOT of sympathy out of the maternity ward for that name) need to be praised. Like I said, this book shouldn't look good, but it does, which makes all the more a pity that the writing is so bland!

I make it sound like I hated this book and I really didn't. The heart-felt epilogue issue at the end draws together both this and Fractions FF for a warm-and-fuzzy goodbye and I found myself treating it like a teacher does a naughty kid who give her a thank-you card at the end of the term. I was unimpressed by it's performance, but it left me feeling good at the end. It gets a two out of five poo jokes.

**
+ The end issue.
+ Art.
- Cluttered story...
- That feels like nothing is happening.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Animal Man Vol. 2: Animal Vs Man

Like the last volume, Animal Man does
indeed wear a shirt in this one- just less so.
Writer: Jeff Lemire

Artist: Travel Foreman, Steve Pugh, Timothy Green II

Collects: Animal Man # 7-11, #0 and Annual #1

Background Information:

For five years, Buddy Baker was convinced that aliens gave him the power to adopt the abilities of any animal close to him. In the last volume, Buddy found out that his powers actually come from extra-dimensional force controlling animal life known as The Red. This force is trying desperately to restore the balance between them, the plant life-force known as The Green and the force controlling death and decay called The Rot.

The Rot is gaining power, and has been hunting Buddy and his daughter Maxine- the Avatar of The Red. In the previous volume, Buddy fought one of the Hunters Three- soldiers of The Rot. He and Maxine survived, but only just.

Review:

It's a weird thing to say that a book about going to another dimension made up of flesh and bone while a demon inhabits the heroes body feels like a natural next step, yet that is exactly what Animal Vs Man is. Where most second volumes from DC have felt forced and self-compromising, Jeff Lemire's second collection of Animal Man issues builds on an already-solid first volume.
See? Not just a shirt; a whole costume!

So, the monsters of The Rot have not stopped chasing Buddy and his family and now the Hunter that
we thought Buddy had defeated last volume has taken Buddy's body for his own. Instead of using it to eat all the ice cream he can possibly handle, the Hunter uses Buddy's body to attack the Baker family. In the meantime, Buddy finds himself in The Red's own version of the afterlife, complete with goat/man guide. Buddy, naturally, wants his body back and The Red is the only thing that can give it back to him.

To be totally honest, this is a less scary volume than the previous. Whereas Volume 1 nailed the inherent creepiness involved in telling what is essentially a zombie story (and, might I add, it did it better than the first volume of The Walking Dead ever did), this one just can't build the tension right. The elements of fantasy and horror are still there- and they're still strong; they're just unbalanced. You either see lots of the fantasy with nil horror, or the exact same horror you did in the last volume with very little fantasy. It leads to a volume that falls just short of its predecessor and it's a shame.

But it only falls just short as this volumes true purpose shines through very clearly. See, this isn't really a story about Animal Man fighting The Rot. It's a story about how The Red operates and how Buddy upsets their way of doing things. Here, Buddy openly goes against everything The Red sees as proper- he makes demands, defies orders and refuses to go down as the disappointment.

I'm seriously worried that DC thinks aiming for a female
audience means "less shirts on buff dudes",
And it's here that Lemire does something that only few can do; he tells a deeply political story without showing his political bias. After reading this volume, I couldn't honestly tell whether Lemire was left or right-leaning. That's something that few writers can achieve (I'm looking at you, Mark Waid, Jason Aaron, Brian Michael-Bendis and Chuck Dixon) and it's a talent that deserves to be celebrated.

The art here is just as great as what we saw in The Hunt. Bright colours undercut the dirty, gritty lines and makes the darker twists generally unexpected. Where artist Travel Foreman shines, however, is in his depictions of Buddy's new connection to animal life. Animal Man's body now changes to resemble any animal he adapts the power of. Now we see him with an ape-like head, bulging arms and literal crows feet. It's weird and wonderful and I'm desperate to see more.

Animal Vs. Man is less scary than the first volume, but SO much better at mythos-building. It gets a four out of five literal crows feet.

****

Monday, 7 December 2015

Spider-Man 2099 Vol. 1: Out of Time (Marvel NOW!) Review

Starring the time period that definitely
ISN'T on the cover.
Writer: Peter David

Artists: Rick Leonardi and William Sliney

Collects: Spider Man 2099 #1-5 and Amazing Spider-Man #1 (2099 excerpt).

Background Information:

The Spider-Man of 2099 is a creation of the 90s- one of the few to remain unhated since the era passed. The story goes that in 2099, Miguel O'Hara got his genes spliced with that of a spider, and became that era's Spidey.

With us so far?

Good, because in Dan Slott's Superior Spider-Man, Miguel was transported back to our time because some truly whacky things were happening with the space-time continuum. During that time, he became stranded there and found himself having to protect his great-grandfather, Tiberius Stone.

Review:

Not knowing where a series is going is often a good thing. Not knowing if the series really wants to go anywhere? Not so much.

That's the feeling I get when reading Out of Time; a book that shows plenty of potential for the series- but doesn't convince you that writer Peter David even cares about capitalising on it.

Is it just me, or would all the Spider-characters make awesome
ballerinas?
So Miguel is now working at Alchemax- a relatively young company now that will become an evil
monopoly by 2099- and hasn't he just achieved every millenial's dream?! He's entered the company on an executive level and done so just by showing up. After a futuristic cop tries to kill Miguel; forcing him to take him on as Spider-Man, Alechemax boss Liz Allen figures out that her out-of-the-blue worker and the Spidey with a skull on his chest are one and the same. She comes with a proposition: work for Alchemax as Spidey, or get outed as the same.

Have a guess which one Miguel choses.

To be fair; this is a good status-quo. Liz is clearly in control here, and Miguel has no choice but to follow suite. It leads him, for example, to follow Tiberius into what is either the Middle East or South America for the express purpose of selling Spider-Slayers. It also allows him to see the other super-types that Alchemax has under their employ. Here's a clue: they're bad people.

David has also written a great supporting cast here. He's been wise to keep the supporting cast relatively small. We're introduced to Tempest, a landlord who's been diagnosed with leukaemia and therefore doesn't let others get close to her. We're also re-introduced to Lyla- Miguel's wrist-mounted Siri-like hologram. It's her interjections and take-everything-literally mistakes that bring some of the more sunny moments to this book.

This could all work into a situation like what we have in DC's Grayson, where the title character is now working within the evil group to bring it down, but we don't get that here. David created the original Spidey 2099 character in the 90s, and presumably knows Miguel's relationship with Alchemax isn't great. It feels like a lost opportunity.

Spider-Slayers take tag seriously.
And I don't think David is likely to take advantage of this. The series is set to be re-numbered after volume 2 (which is based more around the Spider-Verse crossover) and bring Miguel back into the future. I don't think one volume is enough to really capitalise on the really intriguing status-quo that David has set-up. I know it's unfair to judge one volume on what comes next, but when you get invested in a series, you want a guarantee that your investment is going to result in a fully-realised story and it doesn't look like it will be.

The art is fine, but unmemorable. There's nothing particularly ugly here, but I couldn't tell this artwork from the myriad of other art styles out there. It thankfully doesn't get in the way of David's writing, though and even allows it to be as witty or engaging as you can. Here, you're reading a story more than looking at pictures.

It's a rare moment when I have a five-star love for a book but know that there are legitimate flaws. As much as I love Out of Time, I still have to give it a three out of five wrist-mounted Siris.