Sunday, 30 November 2014
Now that you’ve read the title you can say you’ve read the book because that’s all this comic is: the title. Superman dies. The end.
If you do decide to read this you’ll be introduced to the most one-dimensional and worst villain of all time, Doomsday. Forget that post-Death of Superman we learn more about his “character”; in this book we know nothing about him besides the fact that he’s a monster who’s been imprisoned beneath the Earth for some reason, is now free for some reason and causing havoc because that’s what he does.
Saturday, 29 November 2014
This one has been due a re-read for a while and, now that it’s been announced the next Captain America movie will be subtitled Civil War, the timing seems right to re-visit it. I read Civil War many years ago, long before I started really thinking/writing about what I read, which is the only excuse I can give for why I thought this tripe was any good at all. I was wrong - very wrong! The politest way of describing Civil War is a dumb mess, the comics version of a Transformers movie.
Friday, 28 November 2014
The first Stray Bullets book is a masterpiece – is there anything higher than that? The second volume is a double-masterpiece! I LOVED this book. I might run out of superlatives, this comic is that good, so get your umbrellas out because I’m gonna start gushing!
Thursday, 27 November 2014
The country music hit from the 1920s, Big Rock Candy Mountain, is made real in The Delinquents as Valiant’s wackiest duos Archer & Armstrong and Quantum & Woody team-up for an adventure to find the Hobo King’s treasure!
Wednesday, 26 November 2014
Tony Stark is now “evil” because of what Red Skull did to him in Axis. He’s in San Francisco where he lives in a Tron-esque upside toilet (seriously, that’s the visual!) and he’s given Extremis 3.0 out to a lot of people for free. It turned them young and beautiful - and then he pulled the plug. First taste was free, renewal costs $100 a day or you stay your same old safe. Ooo, that evil Tony!
If you saw last week’s episode of Constantine where Jim Corrigan appeared as The Spectre but didn’t really because he was a boring detective instead, then boy, do DC have the comic for you! Gotham By Midnight looks to be DC’s version of Dark Horse’s BPRD minus the interesting characters/plots, and set entirely in Gotham, a city riddled with cliches.
Like a kid who uses toys of his favourite characters to create his own stories, Jason takes the cast of the classic Universal Frankenstein movies and concocts a brilliant new tale of love, lost and found.
Monday, 24 November 2014
Helen, a young girl whose family recently moved to the Welsh countryside, becomes obsessed with the recent suicide of her farmer neighbour, Emrys. As she begins looking into the man’s former life, she discovers his lonely and hard existence, living as a transvestite and working land that yielded little.
I gushed over the first volume of Bakuman for its depiction of how the creative spirit can really grab hold of you when you’re a teen, and I stand by that - I think it’s an absolutely brilliant first volume. But I think that’s all that needed to be said about the series. It almost would’ve been better as a standalone book. I don’t need to read all 20 volumes in the same way that I needed to read 42 volumes of Dragon Ball - Bakuman is fine with just the first volume by itself.
Sunday, 23 November 2014
Several years ago I read an article by the brilliant Nicholson Baker who was writing about traditional paper books vs ebooks. He was heavily on the side of paper books but he mentioned that he did stay up reading The Lincoln Lawyer in the dark on his phone using the Kindle app because he didn’t want to turn on the light and wake his wife - he had to finish it no matter what!
Saturday, 22 November 2014
1966 was a banner year for Batman fans. Adam West and Burt Ward debuted as Batman and Robin and won over millions of new fans around the world. Batman was never more popular and the show would become a pop culture landmark.
In the wake of the show’s success, Jiro Kuwata was commissioned to create specially designed Batman comics for the Japanese fanbase - “Batmanga” - which, until this year, were uncollected and untranslated. Now for the first time Batman fans eager to read these stories can do so with this book: Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga, Volume 1.
Friday, 21 November 2014
Johnny Amato has a plan: he's going to hire a couple guys to knock over a mob poker game run by Markie Trattman. Trattman went to prison for 5 years after knocking over a different mob poker game and Amato figures that if his guys go in and do it, Trattman will get the blame again and Amato will be home free with the cash. But when the robbery goes as planned, the mob calls in its most ruthless enforcer - Jackie Cogan - who is determined to find the culprits and send a message to anyone thinking of trying anything similar ever again.
East Coast America, 1922, and young Nick Carraway decides to rent a house in the fictional town for the rich, West Egg, while he tries to make it in the city trading bonds. Except his life is about to change as he meets his flamboyant and rich neighbour, Jay Gatsby, whose charisma and lifestyle will spirit Nick away to catch glimpses of how the rich live in 1920s America, the good and the bad. But Gatsby isn't all he seems and when Nick introduces him to his married cousin Daisy and her husband Tom Buchanan, their fatal company will reveal to Nick the sordid and black-hearted side to the American Dream.
“Hey! You got your piss in my shit!”
“Well, you got your snot in my puke!”
“Well, you got your BO all over my ear wax!”
“Somebody farted on my scabs!”
If you were offended by any of that, I apologise but I was quoting the quite wonderful Blecky Yuckerella and her pal Wedgie - and this comic is not for you!
Wednesday, 19 November 2014
The Multiversity: Pax Americana #1 was built for comics criticism (and that’s just what it’ll do!).
This is the kind of issue where you can really - and I mean REALLY - go page by page and completely drown yourself in praise; it is, on a technical and visual level, arguably the best single issue of the year and the standalone reason why anyone was excited about The Multiversity at all.
So some time has passed since Rick defeated Negan and the communities of Hilltop, the Kingdom, and Rick’s place, known as Alexandria, have thrived and developed into safe havens. Hole-in-the-head-yet-still-alive-for-some-reason Karl has grown into a young man, and he wants to move out from his dad’s place to Hilltop, under Maggie’s leadership, to be a blacksmith.
Tuesday, 18 November 2014
After reading her surprisingly good Avengers Assemble series, I thought it’d be worth revisiting Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel – was I too harsh with the first volume? Welll… not really, unfortunately.
Here’s why I think her Avengers series is basically the opposite of her Captain Marvel series, and why they differ so much in quality. Avengers Assemble is a series which has volume-length arcs that are self-contained, hence no Volume 1, 2, 3 etc. and anyone can pick them up and enjoy them – it’s great for casual readers. Structurally they’re the standard superhero template of villain wants to take over world/steal something valuable, hero stops them, though DeConnick sprinkles lots of cute moments throughout to make it stand out from the dross. You get to read Avengers talking like witty, contemporary people, cracking jokes, being silly – it’s a fun time and it’s clear that these comics are playing to her strengths as a writer.
Who is Anya Corazon aka Spider-Girl? No clue, but she’s the hero of this story as she teams up with the Avengers to rescue one of her schoolteachers!
Following the events of Infinity where Black Bolt detonated the Terrigen Bomb, new Inhumans (or NuHumans) are springing up everywhere as humans with latent Kree DNA begin changing and develop superpowers. Mad scientist June Covington aka Toxic Doxie wants to get her hands on a Terrigen cocoon – the form a human transforming into an Inhuman takes – to absorb their powers herself. Anya’s schoolteacher is one of these cocoons.
Monday, 17 November 2014
A lunatic comes across a dog who’s run off from his owners and immediately decides to adopt and rename him Kinski. Why? Because he’s a lunatic (a bit like Klaus Kinski, the actor, whom the dog is named after). Even though dogs – especially puppies – get overexcited and run off on their own all the time and can’t find their owners again, he interprets it as a sign that it wants to escape its owners who must be neglectful and/or abusive.
Sunday, 16 November 2014
To properly review Superman Unchained I’m gonna have to talk about spoilers so, right at the top, if you’re planning on reading this comic - and I think it’s worth it, so do - and you’re not ok with knowing details, come back and check out this review once you’re finished with the book. The quick verdict on Superman Unchained is that it’s a bit overlong, it has good and bad parts to it, the ending is very iffy, but overall it’s worth a read.
Alright, super spoilers ahead!
Saturday, 15 November 2014
It’s a dream assignment for many comics writers: a call from DC with the offer to write Superman! The most iconic superhero of all time, Superman is a legendary character whose symbol is recognised across the globe and whose story is known by millions. After 75 years, Superman continues to endure and, thanks to a new wave of movies, is more popular than ever. What an opportunity for any writer to add to the character!
Chuck Austen is a name to be feared in comics. He wrote some of the worst superhero comics for Marvel and DC in the early to mid ‘00s before being blacklisted by both and eventually disappearing from comics altogether. You see his name on a book? You run away from it!
Earlier in the year I read possibly the worst X-Men book ever, Austen’s The Draco, but, even though I knew it was going to be bad, I had to read his Action Comics run. This is the run where he not only alienated readers who boycotted the title, but retailers too who chose not to stock his comics. So I had to find out: was Chuck Austen’s brief stint on Action Comics the worst Superman has ever had?
Friday, 14 November 2014
Yuki is just one of too many Japanese schoolgirls who get groped on their commute to and from school by total scumbags on the trains. As if that weren’t bad enough, some weird male student is “secretly” filming her on his phone and some psycho calling themselves Spirit is murdering cats.
What does it all mean? Good question! A mystery should keep the reader in the dark but Goodbye Geist does this too well unintentionally by being poorly drawn and written. Besides Yuki, a lot of character designs are generic making it difficult to tell who’s who. Also, certain crucial panels are utterly puzzling because you can’t tell what they’re supposed to be.
It’s tricky to talk about Stray Bullets without acknowledging Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, which came out the year before Stray Bullets debuted in 1995. The clever dialogue, likeable criminal characters, and violent, interlocking stories must’ve felt derivative like the million Tarantino copycats that popped up in his wake. And yet Stray Bullets is its own thing. It shares only superficial similarities to Tarantino’s masterpiece and possesses notable differences to make it stand out separately.
Innocence of Nihilism collects the first seven stories in the series. It opens in 1997 where a couple of lowlifes are looking for a spot to bury a body before things go to hell and they shoot up a diner. From that explosive beginning, we’re thrown back to 1977 where we meet Ginny, a young girl who witnesses a brutal murder in an alleyway. The stories then jump ahead to different years, 1980, 81, and 82, featuring new characters like Spanish Scott, a charismatic killer, and Orson, a high school kid whose entrance into adulthood is something of a shock.
Thursday, 13 November 2014
If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big… yawn!
Scott Snyder’s Wytches continues to have a surprisingly leaden story in this second issue. The series follows Sailor, a troubled young girl living in a house surrounded by wytch-infested trees. Her father writes and draws a popular children’s book while her mother is a former healthcare professional who was put in a wheelchair after a car accident.
Wednesday, 12 November 2014
Spoilers abound so beware!
Well, he kept his word - Scott Snyder got DC to drop the price point from the ridiculous $4.99 to the just slightly overpriced $3.99 with Batman #36 aka Endgame Part 2. It means we get the 22 page Snyder/Greg Capullo story plus the 8 page backup by James Tynion IV and Graham Nolan. 30 pages of prime Batman for 4 bucks? Not bad in this day and age!
I’m sure that following the bells and whistles of the last issue, some readers were a bit disappointed that the female Thor only got the briefest of cameos right at the end. Well, Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman make up the deficit in the second issue as the Goddess of Thunder takes centre stage!
Her identity still remains a mystery thanks to the mask but we get to know her voice now and she seems like a very down-to-earth human gal. She also seems pretty surprised to find herself dressed in Thor’s outfit and hefting Mjolnir on the moon so who knows what her backstory is. It seems though that anyone who can lift the hammer ends up talking like an Asgardian (all thou’s and thee’s) and intuitively knows all of Thor’s tricks!
Following what happened during the latest Marvel event (THEY WILL NEVER END!!), Axis, Tony Stark’s personality has been altered to become a bit… darker. Now, Tony Stark is the
Who do you get to write the evil version of a good character? The ultimate writer who writes bad versions of good characters: Tom “Injustice: Gods Among Us” Taylor! Thankfully, Superior Iron Man is better than that dismal DC series but it’s not without its flaws.
Henni is a cat-like young girl living in a theocratic society. As she starts to mature, she questions the religion that instructs her every action and so begins her journey of growing up and finding her own individual identity, whether the world accepts her or not.
Miss Lasko-Gross’s surreal coming-of-age fairy tale is a continuation of her theme of liberation from societal norms like her book, Escape from Special. But while Henni looks at outdated tradition and corrupt religion and its effects on the subjugation of women, as well as the importance of free thought and the role of art, it’s a fairly simplistic examination that puts me in mind that Henni is aimed at younger readers.
Tuesday, 11 November 2014
Before The Sixth Gun there was an earlier collaboration between Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt: The Damned. Instead of the wild west, it’s prohibition-era America with gangs of demons trafficking in the souls of humans, in particular two crime families who have been warring for years. Except when peace is finally brokered, the emissary for the two is kidnapped along with a ledger containing deadly secrets that’ll bring down both houses. It’s up to Eddie, a cursed small time fixer, to come back to life and find the missing demon and his book of souls.
Monday, 10 November 2014
(I jump in and out of spoilers throughout – it’s the only way to review this trash - so rather than constantly having to stop myself to write “spoilers”, I’m writing it at the top of the review. Fair warning.)
Christine has a very specific type of amnesia: every day she wakes up not knowing who the man sleeping next to her is. She also forgets that she’s 47 and not in her early twenties as she believes. She forgets that she was in an accident that caused her memory loss, she forgets that she had a son who died in Afghanistan, she forgets that she was once a successful novelist. She has to relearn everything about her past, every single day – before she goes to sleep and does it all over again tomorrow.
I suppose it had to happen - with the success of Saga, imitators have begun popping up, with Joe Keatinge and Leila del Duca’s Shutter being one such example.
A magical world where giant eagles and dragons, minotaurs and kids with horns, flying cars and saucer police, Scotch lions and gorilla doctors, dinosaurs and a talking platypus, are all de rigeur; a strong female character and a child, together with a talking cat sidekick, on the run from forces who want them caught, including a male and female bounty hunter. All of this sound familiar to Saga readers? This is Shutter.
Sunday, 9 November 2014
Highschooler Kitaro is approached by his frantic classmate Aya with some startling news - the prettiest girl in school, Sana, is an alien!! Once Aya, the only one who can see the aliens, witnesses the beginning of an alien invasion, the three go on the run - but the greys know about Aya’s ability and the chase is on!
Vs Aliens is a farce, as in the dramatic genre use of the word, though you only realise this once it gets to the end. Up until then, Yu Suzuki keeps you guessing, throwing curveball after curveball at you. Are the aliens real? Is Sana an alien - is Aya, or Kitaro? Is it all made up - if so, why? Etc.
There’s a lot of Spider-Man I haven’t read so I’m not sure if this is actually the first time, but the way Dan Slott presents it, it feels like it is: Peter Parker gets a paying gig as a scientist for the first time ever. It took Marvel nearly 50 years to allow this change but it finally happened - ol’ Pete no longer has to sling hammy photos of his alter-ego Spidey anymore! Annnnnd that’s the whole book basically.
There’s an obligatory big superhero action scene that kicks things off with Doc Ock sending in giant Octobots to smash up the city while Spidey leads the Avengers against them. But there’s no payoff to that scene (at least not in this book) and you’re left wondering what the point of it was at all. Doc Ock is forgotten almost instantly once his ‘bots have been taken out. There ya go, schmucks, superheroes fighting robots - happy? Filling the quota for bland superhero fighting!
Saturday, 8 November 2014
Reading Ben Templesmith’s The Squidder is a game of “spot the reference”. I don’t think there’s a single original element to it that hasn’t already been used two or three times already in much more famous books or movies.
In some post-apocalyptic world (like Mad Max, The Road, The Walking Dead, I Am Legend), humans have become like crops to be harvested by flying squid monsters - THE MATRIX anyone? Our hero is Jack aka a Squidder, a genetically enhanced soldier (like 2000AD’s Rogue Trooper) whose nanites cause any harm to him becomes magically healed (like Valiant’s Bloodshot) who lost his wife and kids to the squids because losing your family counts as instant audience empathy, right?
Ruben Rath has fallen in with some bad people who’ve hired a dangerous man called Ira to kill him. Except Ira is Ruben’s dad. And while Ruben’s outrunning the cops, Ira’s in Ruben’s house with his pregnant lady…
One of these days I’m gonna have to visit the American South. I have to see if its as intense as the stories - and not just Jason Aaron’s - make it out to be; a place where humans and animals, life and death, nature and instinct swirl together in a heady melange.
Friday, 7 November 2014
Velvet is such an awesome series. It’s an espionage thriller at its best except this one stars a woman instead of a Bond/Bourne-type who’s trying to figure out who framed her for the murders of said Bond/Bourne-types.
Velvet #8 isn’t the deepest of issues - the title really isn’t either - but it’s an absolutely compelling story executed to perfection by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting and that’s more than enough. Velvet has taken the head of ARC-7 hostage and begun a daring break-in to the headquarters she used to work at, starting with a fake bomb threat to clear out the building.
COWL is the Chicago Organized Workers League, aka the world’s first superhero labor union. Makes sense I suppose, not all superheroes have the resources of Bruce Wayne’s billions. But you know why no writers really focus too much on how superheroes get their rent paid? Because it’s not even remotely interesting!!
It’s 1962 and after years of protecting Chicago from supervillains, COWL have disposed of them all, effectively making themselves redundant. So when it comes to renegotiating their contract with the city, they find themselves at a disadvantage as the mayor is interested in cutting down COWL’s services and save the city’s budget…. zzz…….
The last few issues of Chew have been a bit slow with Tony being slowly edged out of the picture while his former partner Mason takes on his daughter Olive as his protégé. But, as the final page of Chew #43 revealed, things were about to get spicy in the kitchen – and do they ever in this issue!
Savoy, Caesar, Colby, Vorhees , Applebee and a ton of FDA officers arrive at the gates of The Collector’s place to take him down. But you can tell it’s not gonna happen – Tony AND Poyo aren’t there, and the Big Bad of the series always has to be beaten by the hero (and his chicken).
Thursday, 6 November 2014
Ever hear a little kid tell you a story? I remember when I was in high school and did work experience in a class for 8 year olds. One of the tasks was for them to write what they did on the weekend and then read it out. The essays usually went like:
“I went to the park and played football and then we went and had an ice cream and it was good and then I saw a bird and it was black and then I went to my friend’s house and we played in the pool and and and and and and” – that x 25 for a whole week! And that’s why I’ll never have kids!
I Am Groot.
I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot.
I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot. I AM GROOT. I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot.
Wednesday, 5 November 2014
The Superior Foes of Spider-Man, Volume 2: The Crime of the Century Review (Nick Spencer, Steve Lieber)
Well, that was a let-down! After a slew of bad Marvel comics, I thought I could rely on Superior Foes to come through and it totally dropped the ball. Put simply, Volume 2 is a birruva mess.
The first book’s creative team of Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber is broken up with the pair only collaborating on two of the five issues, thank you insane Marvel shipping schedule! In addition, there are three writers and five or six artists also contributing work – this many cooks in the kitchen? Never a good sign!
Shizuo quits the salaryman job he hates and becomes a manga artist. Midlife crisis or awesome comic? It’s both!
I’m kinda tempted to waffle - and I could waffle about this one a LOT - about Shizuo’s decision to follow his dreams and how inspiring it is and how people today blah blah blah, but I’ll stick to the book instead. I will say this though: the author, Shunju Aono, shows both sides to Shizuo’s decision: how it makes Shizuo look like a selfish, moronic douche, because he’s no longer supporting his teenage daughter and retired father, but also how brave he is to do something most people only fantasize about, to follow their dreams while they still can.
Tuesday, 4 November 2014
Towards the beginning of this issue, the Eternal Warrior says that he’s tired with all of the fighting and, before it’s over, you will be too!
The Eternal Warrior is Gilad Anni-Padda, Earth’s champion who receives commands through the Geomancer and fights whoever because the planet said so. He doesn’t know why, all he knows is that he’s part of a larger plan.
The last Eternal Warrior series I read, he was the Eternal Emperor some 3000 years in the future but for this miniseries, Days of Steel, Gilad is back in the past, somewhere in eastern Europe in the middle ages caught in a conflict between the Franks and the Magyars.
The first volume of The Dark Knight didn’t do much to separate itself from the other Bat-titles but, judging by that first entry, you’d think this was a dumping ground for all of David Finch’s bad ideas - that lingerie-wearing bunny character sticks out as one of the most horrendous additions to the Batman universe in quite some time!
But with Gregg Hurwitz jumping on board to write, the title seems to have some focus as a series that looks at Batman’s rogues gallery, specifically the lesser characters. I’d already read The Dark Knight Volume 3 before this one (it doesn’t matter, each volume is self-contained and can be read in order or not) and that one was a Mad Hatter story that, believe it or not, was really good.
Monday, 3 November 2014
Fuck a duck (but don’t – unless its consensual), this book was baaaaaaaaaad!
I didn’t read Peter David’s X-Factor back in the day so I’m not familiar with Longshot. Here are his powers: he’s got psychometry which allows him to “read” the past from touching objects(?!) or something, he’s good looking and he’s lucky - yes, these last two are classed as “superpowers”!
This is one of those reviews you read after you’ve read the book but if you’re just looking for a quick yay or nay take on this, I thought that Doctor Strange: The Oath was an ok-ish story for an ok-ish character. I haven’t read many Strange books so I can’t say where this one stands in his canon/continuity but it’s not a terrible read. Does Doctor Strange even have a great book – who knows? If you want to read a Doctor Strange book, I’d say this is the best I’ve read yet (out of the two I have! The other being Mark Waid and Emma Rios’ Strange: The Doctor is Out).
But I’m going to dip in and out of spoilers throughout this review so fair warning from here on out.
Saturday, 1 November 2014
In some parts of China some people believe that unmarried dead sons should be buried with a dead woman so they won’t be alone in the afterlife (I’m not sure if this is the case with unmarried dead daughters but given that Chinese society is patriarchal, I’m guessing no).
After his older brother is accidentally killed it falls to Deshi Li to bring him a corpse bride within a week - either by grave-robbing or through even darker channels like murder! His search sends him deep into the countryside where he happens across Lily Chen, a girl desperate to escape her dead-end town and make a go of it in Shanghai.
If you read lots of contemporary indie comics like me, you’ll probably notice that Seo Kim’s Cat Person is a lot like them - A LOT. Checklist for an indie comic these days: cats, your slobbish self, and your other half.
Kim loves her cat Jimmy and plays around with him in her place. Besides the cat, she makes comics about eating too many oreos, texting too much, and lots of other mundane activities. And finally she makes comics about her boyfriend.
In Scarper Lee’s world, actual knives come crashing down from the sky when it rains, spinning wheels are TVs, and the weather is controlled by giant spiked mines floating in the sky, defying gravity. His parents are machines, his dad’s chained up in the shed, there are lions at the gates of his school, and a weird girl keeps following him. After his dad leaves the shed – either stolen or escaped – Scarper has to brave the strange world to get him back. But with his deathday fast approaching, will he live long enough?
Ok: The Motherless Oven is a weird book. That’ll be your reaction to the summary above and, should you choose to read it, that’ll likely be your reaction to the comic too. That said it’s much too easy to look at The Motherless Oven’s deliberately bizarre features and conclude that this is a difficult book to understand. Because if you look at it in its totality, it’s actually quite an ordinary coming-of-age story, one that’s been told a zillion times before.