Friday, 31 October 2014

The Book of Memory Gaps by Cecilia Ruiz Review


This is the format of the book: 60-ish pages, about half are blank (to signify memory gaps – geddit? ART!) and there are about 15 vignettes of “characters” who have memory problems. One page has a small picture of the “character” with their name underneath, the next page has two, three, sometimes four sentences describing their memory problem, then the third page is a full page illustration. These three pages repeat for each of the “characters” and then the book ends with a quote from Jorge Luis Borges – ART!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Dragon Ball Z, Volume 26: Bye Bye Dragon World Review (Akira Toriyama)


And we are done! 

That’s it, the last Dragon Ball book – finished. 

Boohoohoo!! What am I going to read now – Marvel and DC superheroes seem crappier in comparison! 

Ahh… but what a great ending! It went out with a bang in the best possible way. I am totally satisfied.

Going into this book, you know Son Goku is going to beat Boo and I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that he does – what, he was going to lose, everyone would die and Boo would fly off, ready to destroy everything else in the universe? But there’s absolutely no way in knowing how it gets to that point, and I loved that unpredictability. 

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Superman: The Journey Review (Mark Verheiden, Ed Benes)


Oh Superman, here you are again in another crappy book. Why’s it so durn tricky to write you a good storyline, eh?

Well, “storyline” isn’t quite the word for Superman: The Journey, the subtitle ironically being a mockery of the concept of a narrative. Because The Journey isn’t a story - it’s a mish-mash of random Superman issues from the Identity/Infinite Crisis era with no connection or point to any of it. It should be called Superman: The Stalled Journey That Ended Up in a Ditch.

Avengers Assemble: Science Bros Review (Kelly Sue DeConnick, Christos Gage)


I’ll just say it: I’m not a fan of Kelly Sue DeConnick’s writing. I tried her Captain Marvel and didn’t like it; Pretty Deadly was full of unrealised potential that divulged into a turgid mess; and one issue of Ghost was enough. So I was REALLY surprised when I picked up her Avengers book and found myself laughing at the banter and enjoying the book. She surprised me in the best possible way and made me want to give her Captain Marvel another shot. 

Here’s what I’ve noticed about modern superhero comics - they split into two camps. You either get a good character story or you get a well-plotted story. The great books are the ones that have both but the good ones usually do one or the other, while the weaker ones do crap versions of those types while the awful ones achieve neither. 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

X-O Manowar Volume 7: Armor Hunters Review (Robert Venditti, Diego Bernard)


This past summer’s Valiant event Armor Hunters was pretty light on the Hunters’ backgrounds (the villains of the series) and centred mostly on Aric, the hero of XO Manowar. Ironically, this XO Manowar book features the Armor Hunters prominently with but a brief appearance from Aric at the end.

This is the book that should’ve led up to Armor Hunters. What the event lacked was any grounding in the villains of the story – we didn’t really know who they were, we just knew that they travelled the galaxy destroying Manowar armors. This book takes a look at Reebo, the leader of the Armor Hunters, and Malgam, the man with the deformed Manowar armor who attacked Aric in volume 6, and reveals how they met/became Hunters, etc.

Empire of the Dead, Act One Review (George Romero, Alex Maleev)


George Romero’s first three zombie movies are classics of the genre: Night/Dawn/Day of the Living Dead are great films (the latter is more of a stretch but it’s still very decent). But Romero’s last three zombie films - Land/Diary/Survival of the Dead? Turdtacular movies. It’s like Romero is trying to do everything he can to dismantle his legacy with those bad zombie movies!

And with Empire of the Dead, Act One (which I’m guessing every movie studio he pitched it to turned down so he sold it to Marvel as a comic because The Walking Dead sells, eh?), I just wish he’d retire and let the Dead series die.

Monday, 27 October 2014

The Wicked + The Divine, Volume 1: The Faust Act Review (Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie)


Every 90 years the gods are resurrected as young people. They live for 2 years and then they disappear. This time around they’ve come back as rock gods, pop and rap stars. Except somebody wants them dead. After a thwarted assassination attempt, Lucifer is taken to the dock for the deaths of the would-be killers - and seemingly makes the judge’s head go SPLAT! Did she do it - or is Luci being framed? It’s up to mega-fangirl Laura to find out!

The Young Avengers creative team of Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson (Mike Norton joined another band) reunite for The Wicked + The Divine, an epic fantasy/music murder mystery with a cast of gods! Like Young Avengers, Wicked is a very current comic for 2014 audiences, referencing a lot of what’s happening now and incorporating it into its structure. It’s also rather good!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Dragon Ball Z, Volume 25: Do Your Best, Super Gotenks-kun Review (Akira Toriyama)


SPOILERS

Yes yes YES to all of this! 

In the penultimate Dragon Ball Z book, Akira Toriyama decides, “Hey, I’m not coming back after this series is done so let’s just go CRAZY!” - and he does! Everyone except maybe 10 people on the entire planet are killed by Boo, including almost everyone in the DBZ cast - I mean, why not, right? Then heaven starts getting irreparably smashed up! 

Boo is the most awesome bad guy. He’s transformed from the cute pudgy weirdo into this lean, mean psychotic machine. He’s so freakin’ evil he not only killed his master but he killed himself - and came back even more evil! I love how menacing and powerful he is. 

The Field Review (Ed Brisson, Simon Roy)


A bloke wakes up in a field in the middle of the night in his underpants – who hasn’t been there, amirite fellas? And then a coked-up Bible salesman hustles him into his car - woaaah! And then bikers and Trekkie cosplayers are chasing them - wooooooooooooaaaaaaaahhh! What it could all woaaaaaaah! 

Yeah, The Field is a bit nutty. It’s surreality reminds me of The Twilight Zone, until we get to the third act and the whole thing falls apart. Up until then though it’s not bad, even if you have no idea what’s going on - in fact, I’d say the confusion is what I liked best about this book! 

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Dead Body Road Review (Justin Jordan, Matteo Scalera)


The synopsis on the back of Dead Body Road is simply: “The men involved in his wife’s death must now die. All of them.” and yet I think even that seems to be over-explaining things. It should read instead “Guns go bang bang car hits people die die die fuck!”. That’s the level of superficiality we’re dealing with in Dead Body Road. 

This is the type of action story that even Nic Cage, who accepts every job offer thanks to his massive tax bill, would baulk at. From the first page, it’s non-stop action without any preamble. Some people rob a bank, some people die. Then one guy decides to kill a bunch of other guys. A woman decides to kill some people too, as do some bikers. They spend the entire book shooting guns at each other until enough of them die. 

Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale Review (Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Francesco Francavilla)


Francesco Francavilla’s variant cover for Life with Archie #23 depicted zombified versions of Archie’s pals shuffling towards him and led the way to this spinoff series, Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale. 

After a car accident involving Jughead’s pet, Hot Dog, and a spell from Sabrina the teenage witch goes awry, the zombie apocalypse comes to Riverdale on the night of the Halloween dance. Archie and his friends must battle loved ones who have turned and somehow escape from their beloved town - but who will survive? 

Bakuman, Volume 1: Dreams and Reality Review (Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obata)


Bakuman is about the universal story of artistic creation, as experienced through two high school boys trying to become manga successes. Like every high school student, Moritaka Mashiro and Akito Takagi are under enormous pressure to achieve high grades to get into a “good” university then onto a “good” job – but both are uneasy with the prospect of becoming faceless, miserable salarymen. 

Mashiro loves to draw and his uncle was a moderately successful manga artist with a gag comic, while Takagi has dreams of becoming a famous manga writer, but he can’t draw. The two eventually team up and set about feverishly creating manga.

Starlight Review (Mark Millar, Goran Parlov)


As a much younger man, Duke McQueen saved an alien world called Tantalus from the baddies and became their hero. Then he returned to Earth and no-one believed him, not even his own family. Today, Duke’s a grandfather whose wife has passed away and his kids have grown up and started families of their own. Then a spaceship arrives on his front lawn and a young boy from Tantalus steps out – they need Duke McQueen to help them again.

I quite like the setup, which is a twist on the adventure pulps of the early 20th century but, wow, Mark Millar’s script is pure faecal matter! He completely trashes what could’ve been a half-decent story with his lazy horseshit writing. 

Friday, 24 October 2014

Death of Wolverine Review (Charles Soule, Steve McNiven)


Remember Jason Aaron’s Punisher MAX run a few years ago? That series killed off the classic Punisher, the Vietnam vet Frank Castle, and subsequently resurrected him as a thirtysomething vet of an unnamed war (so as not to date him). But the way Aaron killed off Frank was glorious: a heavily beaten Frank managed to kill his way through his greatest enemies before finally falling himself. It was so perfect it remains my favourite character death storyline ever. 

So now it’s Charles Soule’s turn to kill off an iconic Marvel character: Wolverine. And… it was unfortunately very underwhelming. To be fair to Soule, he didn’t have three books to build up to his finale he just wrote a four issue story where Wolverine died at the end. Even so, for such a famous character, I think Soule gave him short shrift. 

Dragon Ball Z, Volume 24: The Earth Army's Last Secret Weapon!! Review (Akira Toriyama)


If there’s one thing I didn’t expect towards the end of the Dragon Ball series, it’s all the dancing!

Boo’s going crazy waiting for Trunks and Goten to fight him so he literally destroys 80% of the world’s population. But his big ol’ chub-chub face is so cute, you can’t dislike him! It’s almost comical to read that caption: 80% of the world’s population!? Goku’s training Trunks and Goten to fuse which involves a complex dance sequence before the two literally become an enormously powerful one: Gotenks! Elsewhere on some distant planet, Gohan’s prepping for his battle with Boo but first has to have an old man dance around him for several hours!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

The Multiversity: The Just #1 Review (Grant Morrison, Ben Oliver)


On Earth-16, the superheroes have done it – they saved the world, for good! They did such an amazing job that, even in death, no evil can harm the planet thanks to Superman’s Super-robots. What does that mean for their children then: Chris Kent, Damian Wayne, and the others? What do superheroes do in a world without a need for them to save it? Besides being celebrities, they don’t do much at all. It’s an incredibly boring life. So much so that some have even chosen suicide over living…!

The Just #1, aka The Multiversity #3, is like a superhero version of The OC. Vapid twentysomething superheroes on their phones, wittering on about parties and who’s sleeping with who… meh. I’m not really sure what Grant Morrison’s going for in this comic. It’s only loosely connected to The Multiversity via previous issues of this series that’ve somehow made it into their world, probably because it’s “haunted” or some such crap. So the characters standing about reading the last issue in this issue is meta but pointless.

Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley Review


Seconds is a successful restaurant, thanks in large part to Katie’s cooking and dedication – but she doesn’t own the place. So she’s been scrimping and saving to buy her own restaurant, move out of Seconds, and live happily ever after. Except there are delays in the renovation of the dump she bought with her business partner. Oh, and the house spirit of Seconds has issues with Katie. 

Katie dreams about a strange girl crouching atop her cabinet and, after a disastrous night in the kitchen, she looks inside to find a notebook and a mushroom. If she writes down a wish in the notebook, eats the mushroom, and goes to sleep, when she awakens the wish will have come true. So begins a brilliant “be careful what you wish for” type story. 

Last Day in Vietnam: A Memory by Will Eisner Review


World War 2 was Will Eisner’s war though his association with the military would last for decades. He turned instructional manuals into comics to make them easier to read for army personnel, and his work took him to new theatres of war like Korea and Vietnam in the 1950s and 60s. In one of his last books, Last Day in Vietnam, he revisited these warzones to tell some brilliant short stories of the people he met. 

The title story is the longest, a point of view tale where the reader is escorted by a soldier on his last day in Vietnam before returning to America. We see the infrastructure, the dead faces of the soldiers in the field, the terrifying explosions on the horizon, the beauty and the menace of the jungle, and the constant threat of death everywhere. And yet it’s not all doom and gloom as Eisner mixes in some light humour and a few sharply observed portraits of the men he met. 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Arkham Manor #1 Review (Gerry Duggan, Shawn Crystal)


Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman is the only Batman title I keep up to date on because it’s so damn good; I ignore the other ten thousand Bat-titles that get churned out, especially the drek that is Batman Eternal. But this comic informs me that it takes place after the events of Batman Eternal #30 so I’m assuming the following is how that series is turning out (and makes me glad I dropped it after #3!). 

For some reason the ground under Arkham Asylum opens up and the place falls apart. Gotham authorities look for a place to house the inmates before settling on Wayne Manor, a place that the “idiot son” lost along with the family fortune and now no-one lives there. Doesn’t sound like Bruce Wayne’s character but whatever, I’ll go along with this - so far, so terrible. Oh, that’s it? Oh. That’s it. 

Dragon Ball Z, Volume 23: Farewell, Pride-filled Warrior Review (Akira Toriyama)


Now this is podracing more like it! 

Boo has arrived: a blobby, sleeping-cat-faced monster who behaves like a child and whose head turns into a whistling kettle if you call him fat! He’s also mega-powerful. Goku, Gohan, Vegeta, EVERYONE falls to this dude – so it’s down to Son Goten and Trunks to somehow defeat him. 

There’s a lot of death in this book though it doesn’t have the same meaning as it would in other titles because of the Dragon Balls. Here, Shenlong makes an appearance and brings back some of the “dead” characters; other characters die afterwards but they’ve died before and come back… It’s hard to feel anything of import happens when someone “dies” in this series because readers have been conditioned to think of death as an inconvenience rather than a definitive end. 

Manifest Destiny #11 Review (Chris Dingess, Matthew Roberts)


The interminably static storyline of the Lewis & Clark expedition stranded in the midst of a river is finally resolved in this issue! After failing repeatedly to shoot the underwater-dwelling ranidea, a giant five-tongued frog creature, Lewis cracks upon the fine idea of harpooning it and using its strength to get them free of the underwater arch.

The second arc of Manifest Destiny, like the second season of The Walking Dead show, has been more or less set in one location with an uninteresting storyline stretched for far too long. And the solution to their two problems – the arch and the monster – seemed obvious, especially as nobody seemed to be addressing the issue of breaking free of the arch.

Anyway. Lewis and Clark come up with a satisfying solution to both baiting the ranidea and punishing Hardy, one of their men who attempted to rape one of the female survivors of La Charrette. Also, Lewis, the scientific one in the partnership, cuts loose and embraces his action hero side, unleashing the frustration of the past five issues into the monster that’s caused them so much trouble.

The best thing about the issue though is that this storyline seems to have wrapped up and the group are now moving on to (hopefully) a much better adventure. Manifest Destiny #11 is enjoyable in part and, like all of the comics in the series, it’s a gorgeously illustrated issue, but it’s not as good and a lot slower than many of the earlier issues.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Ultimate Hulk Vs Iron Man: Ultimate Human Review (Warren Ellis, Cary Nord)


Iron Man fights Hulk after a failed experiment to infect Banner’s blood with nanotech to control the Hulk genes. But the fight is cut short as another failed experiment, the Leader (dude with a big head), tries to take the blood of both Iron Man and Hulk! 

Warren Ellis’ Marvel work is very hit and miss and unfortunately Ultimate Human is one of his lesser books. This short four issue book is really a bridge between Mark Millar's first two Ultimates volumes where in Volume 1 Hulk goes on a rampage in Manhattan killing 300 people and Volume 2 where he’s imprisoned, facing trial and a death sentence (by the by, Millar’s Ultimates run is well worth checking out if you haven’t read it). 

There’s also not as much Hulk/Iron Man in the book as I’d like. A whole issue (25% of the book) is devoted to the Leader’s origin which was reallllly boring. Then the book comes to a swift and unsatisfying conclusion - basically the old Bond villain nonsense. 

The artwork in the book is quite poor. Looking at it feels like I'm looking at the pages through a window with water pouring down it; it's very unpleasant to see page after page of. 

While I usually love Warren Ellis’ work, this is definitely one of his weaker efforts. If you're looking for a better Ellis/Marvel book I suggest Ultimate Iron Man: Armor Wars or the Ultimate Galactus Trilogy instead.

Ultimate Hulk Vs Iron Man: Ultimate Human

Trees #6 Review (Warren Ellis, Jason Howard)


I’d thought the series was getting more action-oriented after the last issue but Warren Ellis has chosen to settle back into the human drama of his characters than pursue any kind of plot to bring down the alien “trees”. Which isn’t bad to be honest and keeps readers guessing as to where all of this is heading. 

Most of the issue takes place in the cultural city around the Chinese tree. Chenglei, the artistic young man and new arrival, has hooked up with Zhen and discovered she’s a transgender and that he’s deeply in love with her. In Cefalu, Eligia discovers the secret behind her scummy boyfriend’s protection racket and moves to scupper it. 

Ms Marvel #9 Review (G Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona)


I’m starting to view Medusa of the Inhumans as Marvel’s version of Hawkman – whenever she shows up, the comic takes a downwards turn! 

In Ms Marvel #9, Kamala is battling a giant robot who’s attacked her school. Then she’s transported by Lockjaw to New Attilan where she discovers that she’s an Inhuman (or Nuhuman)! But Kamala’s home is New Jersey, not New Attilan, and she breaks out to take down the Inventor herself, with Lockjaw in tow. 

Star Wars Tales Volume 5 Review (Tony Millionaire, Peter Bagge)


I usually don’t bother with Star Wars comics mostly because I’m not a huge fan of the franchise and the writers for it are usually really crappy (Ian Edginton, W. Haden Blackman, Ron Marz? Pee-yeew!). But Amazon was having a blowout, selling Kindle editions of these trades for pennies, and I noticed this book had an amazing line-up of some of my favourite indie creators: Tony Millionaire, Jason, Rick Geary, Peter Bagge, James Kochalka and Gilbert Hernandez, so I bought this puppy. 

Monday, 20 October 2014

The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico Review


A hunchback artist called Rhayader moves to a lighthouse to paint the coast and the birds. He lives a lonely existence because of his appearance. The nearby village begins circulating rumours that the hunchback is magical and an ignorant girl called Frith takes a damaged snow goose to him to heal which he does with basic medicine (splints, bandages, etc.). The two bond over the snow goose which returns each year to visit until eventually it settles down to live with Rhayader all year round. Then World War 2 begins and their small idyllic existence is forever lost.

Printer's Devil Court by Susan Hill Review


In 1983, Susan Hill wrote a decent ghost story called The Woman in Black that was turned into a brilliant West End production. Since then she’s been coasting on her reputation as a horror writer, churning out extremely dull ghost novellas every now and then that nonetheless sell quite well due to the Woman in Black’s success. So it goes with Printer’s Devil Court, which is the worst thing by Hill that I’ve read to date.

Set in some time that could be the Victorian or Edwardian era, Hugh Meredith is a med student living in crappy digs in Printer’s Devil Court with a couple others. His flatmates are a bit mad and, after talking about Lazarus one night after dinner, they reveal to Meredith that they can bring the dead back to life – sort of. 

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Supreme: Blue Rose #4 Review (Warren Ellis, Tula Lotay)


Warren Ellis is challenging the reader with Supreme: Blue Rose - how long will you stay with it? Have you abandoned it already? Can you handle this level of weirdness and what’s your limit? If you’ve been following this series, you’ll know it’s bonkers - it’s probably the most bonkers superhero comic of the year - and #4 only takes things further! 

Here are some words and phrases that appear in the script: “the substrate of local spacetime, the p-brane… it’s rewritable”, “instantiation”, “eventual destabilisation of spacetime”, “spaciotemporal impact point”. Recognise any of those words? Understand any? Granted, I plucked them out of context but even in context I’ve re-read those pages and I still don’t get what it’s supposed to mean. At this point though, I’m with Diana Dane, our heroine, who says “I am just not even questioning these things any more”.

Dragon Ball Z, Volume 22: The Fated Showdown: Son Goku vs Vegeta Review (Akira Toriyama)


In this, the 38th Dragon Ball book, Son Goku, Buu, and the rest of the cast sit down to calmly and rationally debate the pros and cons of their goals. Buu wants to take over the world, Son Goku (standing in for everyone else on Earth) doesn’t want him to do this. After many chapters of reasoned, thoughtful discussion, a mutual decision is made for the benefit of both parties - all without resorting to physical violence. 

JUST KIDDING! 

The Big Skinny: How I Changed My Fattitude by Carol Lay Review


There are some great comic book memoirs out there: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, Epileptic by David B., Stitches by David Small, the work of Harvey Pekar, James Kochalka, Jeffrey Brown, Julia Wertz, and on and on. They are books about discovering your sexuality, dealing with life-changing diseases, finding humour in a bleak world and struggling with addiction. And then there's The Big Skinny by Carol Lay, a book about how the author lost 35 pounds.

Lay talks about how she has always been overweight for most of her life and been unhappy about it, and how she came to lose it by obsessively counting calories. That’s it. It’s Lay overhyping (in very unfunny ways) her eating (she was 160 pounds, hardly mammoth) and then ending with, "and then I realised you have to count your calories if you're going to lose weight". Alright. Still super bored. Uh oh, here comes crazy! 

Gonzo: A Graphic Biography of Hunter S. Thompson Review (Will Bingley, Anthony Hope-Smith)


Having read both Fear and Loathing books (Las Vegas and On the Campaign Trail `72) and The Rum Diary, Hunter S. Thompson's legendary life already felt unreal and cartoonish to me just from the antics he gets up to in those books. And the hilarious, evocative, desperate and vivid syntax he used in describing what he did and saw lent his books a surrealist atmosphere amidst the chaos of the times.

Which is why a graphic novel of his life, focusing mainly on his glory days in the 60s and 70s, was always going to fall short of Thompson's rich description of his own life. That said, Gonzo isn't that bad. It shows Thompson as always the rebel, from nearly being arrested as a teen in the 40s, to being forever on the road after leaving job after job until he joined Rolling Stone (under his own terms of course). 

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Foolkiller MAX: Fool's Paradise Review (Gregg Hurwitz, Lan Medina)


The Foolkiller kills fools. With a walking stick. 

THIS got published? The whole character sounded like a joke or parody of The Punisher and I thought it’d be a laugh riot, so it’s disappointing that it’s not and it wasn’t (ok, I chuckled a couple times at the absurdity of some of the scenes!). 

Foolkiller is a former exec who made millions before making a series of unlikely choices that kills his ma. His dad dies in an even more unlikely situation which he too feels responsible for. This leads to him becoming a vigilante who kills fools with a walking stick/sword, and having a big black dog as a sidekick.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Ultimate Comics Iron Man: Armor Wars Review (Warren Ellis, Steve Kurth)


The world has been devastated by war and economic collapse and poor Tony Stark is down to his last $100 million! Going back to his ruined New York offices, he sees a thief wearing part of an Iron Man armor break into his offices and disappear! Then a mysterious girl also wearing Iron Man armor shows up to help catch the thief. Suddenly the race is on for Stark to stop his armor from falling into the wrong hands! 

Motel Art Improvement Service by Jason Little Review


It’s the start of the summer and Bee, an 18 year old Mahattanite, is riding her bicycle to San Francisco for the adventure of a lifetime - and to lose her virginity along the way! After an unfortunate accident, Bee winds up at the Green Pine Inn where she meets Cyrus, an artist who uses his cleaning job to sneak mundane motel paintings to his room and alter them before putting them back. Together they set out to make motel art everywhere more interesting. But Cyrus’ unfortunate pill habit gets them into scrape with many colourful characters - the things artists do for the sake of their art eh?

A Treasury of Victorian Murder: The Borden Tragedy Review (Rick Geary)


On August 4 1892, the bodies of Mr and Mrs Borden were found brutally murdered in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts . Also in their house were Mr Borden's daughter Lizzie and their servant, Bridget Sullivan. Mrs Borden (Lizzie’s stepmother) was murdered first in her bedroom and then approximately 2 hours later Mr Borden was murdered in the sitting room. Both murders were carried out by a hatchet. Both Lizzie and Bridget were shocked at the murders but claimed not to have heard or seen anything to indicate a murderer. Lizzie was the prime and only real suspect in the case and was arrested. 

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Deadpool's Art of War #1 Review (Peter David, Scott Koblish)


Deadpool’s in 6th century BC China because he’s Deadpool. He accepts a contract to kill the legendary Chinese general, Sun Tzu, and, after the deed, discovers the book he’s been writing: The Art of War. Jumping back to the present, he decides to sell his version of it to Major Publishing and get rich – but first he has to write it. So begins Deadpool’s Art of War as he decides to put into practice the lessons of the book. His first stop: Asgard, to ignite a war between Thor and Loki. 

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Death of Wolverine #4 Review (Charles Soule, Steve McNiven)


Well, that was… underwhelming. THAT’S how Wolverine dies? Eh… alright. 

This is the final issue of the Death of Wolverine mini-series which sees Logan die on the final page. Logan’s in Paradise Valley, Nevada, having tracked down the guy who put the price on his head to bring him in alive: Cornelius. The mad scientist from the Weapon X program which bonded adamantium to his skeleton and turned Logan into Wolverine. 

Exquisite Corpse by Penelope Bagieu Review


Zoe’s life is much less glamorous than she thought it’d be. At 22, she’s a car show model, standing in front of expensive cars and getting her bum pinched by creeps before going back to her studio flat where her unemployed, weed-smoking asshole boyfriend gives her crap. Then one day by chance she catches the eye of Thomas, a wealthy, famous novelist, and the two begin a whirlwind romance. But why does Thomas never leave his fancy apartment?

Future's End #1 Review (Brian Azzarello, Patrick Zircher)


Second issue (counting the #0) and Future’s End is already coming off like an obnoxious brat screaming “LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT MEEE!!!” over and over.

Batman Beyond has travelled back in time from the dystopian future run by Brother Eye and is in pretty much the same place as we left him in the last issue - and he’s still there at the end. Unfortunately Terry barely gets any time because the writers have to introduce the “DCU’s finest”: Stormwatch, Grifter and Firestorm. “Finest”? More like the B-team! 

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins Review


A hairless man called Dave lives in a place called Here
A place that’s safe, neat, tidy with nothing for anyone to fear
But something uneasy lurks beneath the quiet and calm:
A single tiny hair on Dave’s face that becomes a gigantic beard - and causes much harm!

The beard can’t be cut, it grows back far too quick
Becoming larger than Dave, much bushier and thick
It becomes enormous and engulfs the town, much to the Government’s displeasure 
So a solution is decided, for desperate times call for desperate measures

Dragon Ball Z, Volume 21: The Plan Begins Moving Review (Akira Toriyama)


In the latest Strongest Under the Heavens tournament, Trunks and Son Goten demolish their opposition in the youth bracket without even trying, and fight one another in the final – but who will get to go up against Hercule? And will he be revealed as the charlatan he is? In the adult tournament, the usual suspects get into the finals as well as some new characters like the mysterious Shin and Kibito. But this tournament becomes truncated as finally Buu (here written as Boo) appears!

It says a lot about his skills as a storyteller and artist that Akira Toriyama can take minor characters like Kuririn and Videl, make them the focus of the book, and still make it as gripping to read as if it were Goku vs Vegeta. Those are the only two who have matches in the tournament – the others qualified but having them fly off to meet a separate, bigger threat shows how much they’ve outgrown this setting. It’s also a notable volume for being the first time a female character – Videl – has had a starring match in the series. She gets the crap beaten out of her but still. 

Monday, 13 October 2014

Superman/Wonder Woman, Volume 1: Power Couple Review (Charles Soule, Tony Daniel)


This has to be some kind of record: New 52 Savage Hawkman shows up in this book and it DOESN’T end up sucking - what the hell is going on!? 

But I have to admit, I did like this book which surprised me because I read the monthlies and gave up after #3, disappointed. I didn’t think that the issues collected in a trade would work as well as they did so reading this book was a pleasant surprise. I guess some titles just read better in trade paperbacks than if you’re reading them month by month and vice versa. 

Batman, Volume 5: Zero Year - Dark City Review (Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo)


Remember Jim Carrey in Batman Forever? I don’t think Riddler has ever recovered - until now. Scott Snyder writes what has to be Riddler’s best book ever in this final part to the epic Zero Year storyline. 

The Red Hood gang has been dealt with but before Batman has a chance to catch his breath, the Riddler has taken the city hostage by taking away its power and plunging it into darkness. He’s also enlisted the help of Dr Karl Helfern aka Dr Death, whose bone research has gotten a bit out of control, as well as Dr Pamela Isley’s research to turn the Dark City into the overgrown Savage City. 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Usagi Yojimbo: Senso #2 Review (Stan Sakai)


Stan Sakai unexpectedly mashes Usagi Yojimbo with War of the Worlds in Senso #2! In the middle of a decisive battle against the evil Lord Hikiji, a giant shell-like object drops from the sky. When Hikiji’s forces investigate they are decimated by an otherworldly laser. How will Usagi and co. defeat it - and how many other shells fell from the sky? 

Sci-fi’s not something you’d associate with Usagi Yojimbo (except when Sakai’s writing Space Usagi - and no, unfortunately Sakai confirmed in the letters column that Space Usagi’s not in this series) so it’s a nice switcheroo from what the series might’ve been - a feudal era tale featuring an aged Usagi and his comrades battling Hikiji’s forces. 

Future's End #0 Review (Brian Azzarello, Jesus Merino)


It’s taken them long enough but DC finally saw Days of Future Past and decided “yoink - we’ll take that!” and came up with their own dystopian future superhero comic: Future’s End. But DC’s, ahem, “original” thinking didn’t stop there. After the 80s they stopped in the 90s to nab the awesome Star Trek villains, the Borg, to stuff into their series as their baddies. So that’s the series: 35 years in the future, all of the superheroes have been assimilated into Brother Eye’s robot toy collection just because. 

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Batman #35 Review (Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo)


SO: the Joker’s back! A year and a half since Death of the Family when we last saw Joker being swallowed by the darkness beneath Wayne Manor, he’s been missing in the New 52. Now, he’s back with an even more dastardly plan that involves the Justice League. This is Endgame. 

After taking a breather last month following the conclusion of the epic Zero Year, Snyder and Capullo are back with a helluva opening issue to their latest and greatest arc. It’s a bit like the JLA: Tower of Babel storyline from the late 90s in that it’s essentially Batman vs the Justice League, but the last couple pages takes it in a completely different direction. 

Sex Criminals #8 Review (Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky)


Jon’s gone a bit manic since he decided to go off his meds and Suzie’s not having it - he has to take care of himself because she’s his girlfriend, not his minder. They decide to take a break and that’s when they meet a mutual acquaintance: Robert Rainbow. 

Sex Crimz #8 reads a bit like a health pamphlet at times rather than the sex comedy comic it normally is. Rainbow is Suzie’s OBGYN and he’s a hottie so while he’s examining/telling her about the various forms of contraceptive on the market, she’s imagining him doing a sexy striptease at the same time. 

Nailbiter, Volume 1: There Will Be Blood Review (Joshua Williamson, Mike Henderson)


Three years ago, Eliot Carroll arrested the alleged serial killer Edward Charles “Nailbiter” Warren, so-called because he chews the nails and fingers off of his victims before murdering them. In the present, Carroll believes he’s found the secret behind the many serial killers - the last being Warren - that the fictional town of Buckaroo, Oregon, seems to produce. And then he disappears. It’s up to his friend Nicholas Finch and the local sheriff Shannon Crane to find Carroll before the latest of the “Buckaroo Butchers” keeps the secret hidden. Except doing so means the unthinkable - partnering up with the Nailbiter himself! 

Line of Fire: Diary of an Unknown Soldier August - September 1914 by Barroux Review


Apparently the artist Barroux found this diary of an unknown French soldier from WW1 as he was walking past a house having a clear out - the diary was amid the junk headed for a landfill! He took it home, illustrated the diary and this is the book: Line of FIre: Diary of an Unknown Soldier. 

The diary covers the first two months of the conflict from France’s declaration of war to September 1914. The diary is sparse with only a line or two to describe the soldier’s day but, as Michael Morpurgo (author of War Horse) points out in his introduction, the soldier was no Sassoon or Owens, trying to make art from his experiences, he was simply describing his everyday lot. As a result we get a very clear-cut view of his day to day life.