Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Caligula by Robert Graves Review (Penguin Pocket 70s)

Caligula is an extract from two of Robert Graves’ historical novels, I, Claudius and Claudius the God, focusing on the mad Roman emperor as told from the perspective of his uncle Claudius. It’s one thing to read an historical account of Caligula by Suetonius, quite another to read a dramatized account by a skilled 20th century novelist. 

Monday, 30 March 2015

Leonardo da Vinci by Giorgio Vasari Review (Little Black Classics #58)

Though an artist in his own right, Giorgio Vasari is best known for his histories of famous Renaissance artists. This is an extract from his three-volume Lives of the Artists looking at Leonardo da Vinci, Fra Filippo Lippi, and Sandro Botticelli. 

Sunday, 29 March 2015

The Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1 Review (Grant Morrison, Doug Mahnke)

Hey - hey, you! Yes, you! The one reading this review right now. Isn’t it weird to meet like this? My voice - or maybe your voice, or what you think my voice sounds like - is in your head right now. Right. Now. Inside your head. The most personal space there is. And even though I wrote this before you’re reading this now - maybe you’re reading this the same day, maybe a few days later, months, whatever - it’s like we’re talking across time, right here, right now. Scroll down to the next paragraph. 

Saturday, 28 March 2015

The Multiversity: Mastermen #1 Review (Grant Morrison, Jim Lee)

The Multiversity: Mastermen #1 is a fine Elseworlds one-shot. I’m sure a lot of you have read Mark Millar’s exceptional Superman: Red Son where Millar writes about what would have happened if Kal-El’s pod had landed in Soviet Russia instead of Kansas. Mastermen #1 is basically that but for the Nazis. 

The Multiversity: Guidebook #1 Review (Grant Morrison, Marcus To)

Grant Morrison’s already bloated-seeming Multiversity series gets even bigger with The Multiversity Guidebook, surpassing the lofty price-point of $4.99 per regular issue to $7.99! Well… this better be the best Multiversity issues yet, grumblegrumble… and it’s not! Damn you, Morrison!!

Friday, 27 March 2015

Runaways, Volume 2: Teenage Wasteland Review (Brian K Vaughan, Adrian Alphona)

Alex, Gertrude, Karolina, Chase, Molly and Nico are The Runaways, hiding out from their newly revealed supervillain parents aka The Pride. Are murderous supervillain parents with seemingly unlimited resources the biggest threat to these teenagers? No, it’s a cute boy!! Ohmigod Topher is like so hawt, sploosh! As the girls’ bickering over the new kid on the block threatens to break up the group, a pair of Z-list heroes called Cloak and Dagger are hired by The Pride to track down the Runaways.

Wolverine and the X-Men, Volume 1: Tomorrow Never Learns Review (Jason Latour, Mahmud Asrar)

Jason Aaron hands over his popular Wolverine and the X-Men series to his Southern Bastards co-creator, Jason Latour – who proceeds to demolish the title’s legacy in a single volume! 

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Marvel Star Wars: Darth Vader #3 Review (Kieron Gillen, Salvador Larroca)

Kieron Gillen’s Darth Vader #3 should be renamed Anything!: The Comic! with the subtitle: Bad Ideas, Part 3! 

Gillen’s Darth Vader series is taking place alongside Jason Aaron’s main Star Wars story set between A New Hope and Empire. Vader’s just discovered Luke has the Force and the series is supposedly Vader setting out to discover the boy’s identity. The iconic title crawl to this third issue even reminds us of this plotline. 

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

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

Supreme: Blue Rose is the strangest superhero comic I’ve ever read. 

New Avengers, Volume 2: Infinity Review (Jonathan Hickman, Mike Deodato)

Oh, Jonathan Hickman, New Avengers was supposed to be your good Avengers comic! So what happened? One word: Infinity. Boooooo! 

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Caligula by Suetonius Review (Little Black Classics #17)

Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, aka Caligula (Latin for “little soldier’s boot”, a childhood nickname), if he’s known by anyone today, it’s for being the maddest emperor of Ancient Rome - and there were a few mental bastards! The impression stems from incidents like trying to make his horse head of the Senate and thinking he was a god who could talk to the sea. 

Captain Marvel, Volume 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More Review (Kelly Sue DeConnick, David Lopez)

Captain Marvel gets a new number one volume. Why? Because she’s now in spaaaaaaaace! 

Monday, 23 March 2015

A Treasury of Victorian Murder: The Saga of The Bloody Benders Review (Rick Geary)

The “bloody” Benders were a small German immigrant family who settled in late 19th century Kansas, opened a grocery store/inn and began murdering rich lodgers and stashing the bodies across the prairie and in a ditch beneath the house. 

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Cyclops, Volume 1: Starstruck Review (Greg Rucka, Russell Dauterman)

X-Men comics fans like to talk about how underserved Cyclops is in the movies. He’s basically written as the bland good guy foil to Wolverine’s bad boy rebel in their rubbish love triangle with Jean. But in the comics? He’s a badass! And I’ll give them that, he is a much more interesting character in the comics. So ok, a solo title might be fun. 

The Story of The Beatles' Last Song: I Want You (She's So Heavy) by James Woodall Review

Abbey Road was The Beatles’ last record and arguably their best. After recording a patchy album in Let It Be, the Fab Four joined producer George Martin at Abbey Road for the final time together and went out superbly with some of their best music ever (though Let It Be would be released after Abbey Road because of Phil Spector’s elaborate, time-consuming production). 

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Avengers, Volume 2: The Last White Event Review (Jonathan Hickman, Dustin Weaver)

It’s been a couple years since I read the first crummy volume of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers and I think I’m just about ready to face the second. Maybe I was wrong and Hickman needed some time to get going, maybe his writing got better, maybe I’d find a new appreciation for his Marvel stuff now, maybe… not. The Last White Event (which sounds like something the Klan would attend) is yet another poor Avengers book to add to the pile of crap Avengers books Marvel has, and continues to, put out. 

Beautiful Darkness Review (Fabien Vehlmann, Kerascoet)

From The Brothers Grimm to Disney, fairy tales have been sanitised to appeal to all ages - family-friendly entertainment! - except, as most people know, they had very dark origins. Stories like Beauty and the Beast and Rapunzel featured “grown up” themes even though fairy tales, until the 19th century, were consumed mainly by adults. 

Friday, 20 March 2015

Hulk, Volume 1: Banner DOA Review (Mark Waid, Mark Bagley)

Like Mark Waid’s other Marvel series, Daredevil, Hulk gets a reboot as adjective-less Hulk for no particular reason. At least in Daredevil it was because Matt moved to the West Coast. Here? No clue, I didn’t read Indestructible Hulk Volume 4 so not sure what happened there. They told him his armour was crap so he took it off and Marvel said “new #1 time!”? From what I can tell anyway, that’s the only change from that series and this. 

Spread, Volume 1: No Hope Review (Justin Jordan, Kyle Strahm)

Ten years ago, Brian Bendis wrote House of M, an X-Men storyline where mutants stopped being born and their numbers shrunk to a mere few thousand. The day that happened became known as M-Day. Then, a year or so later, a single mutant - the first since M-Day - was born: Hope. She became the target of Mr Sinister who wanted to vivisect her and Cable ended up saving her, taking her back to the future with him and raising her as his own daughter. That storyline was a subplot in X-Men: Messiah CompleX. 

Stray Bullets, Volume 4: Dark Days by David Lapham Review

Stray Bullets, Volume 4: Dark Days lives up its title. Wow. This is an extremely dark, twisted story of two children who’re abducted by a madman, held captive for a few weeks, raped and tortured, and finally escape. On the face of it, that kind of story would make me hesitate to pick it up, but David Lapham’s Stray Bullets has been so incredibly good, I knew he would not only present this in a tasteful way but also in a gripping narrative – which he does on both counts!

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Batman: The Dark Knight, Volume 4: Clay Review (Gregg Hurwitz, Alex Maleev)

The Dark Knight series has been Gregg Hurwitz’s vehicle for showcasing Batman’s rogues gallery from Scarecrow to The Mad Hatter with varying results - the Scarecrow book, Cycle of Violence, was silly but The Mad Hatter book was unexpectedly brilliant. This fourth volume focuses on Clayface aka Basil Karlo, though unfortunately it’s not very good. 

Monday, 16 March 2015

Bee and Puppycat, Volume 1 Review (Natasha Allegri, Garrett Jackson)

Bee is a happy-go-lucky, sometimes employed temp worker with a talking, grumpy pet called Puppycat. The two go on magical adventures/jobs to other worlds and dimensions assigned to them by a giant talking monitor with a smiling face! The rest of the time they’re sat around eating sweets, thinking of delicious food and lamenting the mess around them. 

Sunday, 15 March 2015

The Farm by Tom Rob Smith Review

Daniel’s parents, Chris and Tilde, have retired to a farm in the Swedish countryside. All is going well, he thinks, and the only problem is how he’s going to reveal to them that he’s gay. That is until he receives a strange email from his mother and then a phone call from his father - Tilde is insane, says Chris, and she needs help. Meanwhile Tilde, arriving in London alone to meet Daniel, insists that she’s being hunted by a group of murderers, including Chris, after she uncovered a horrific conspiracy. Daniel has only hours to decide: who’s telling the truth? 

Copperhead, Volume 1: A New Sheriff in Town Review (Jay Faerber, Scott Godlewski)

Occasionally - not often - a blurb will work on me and Brian K Vaughan saying Copperhead is his favourite new comic and one of the best debuts in years made me pick this one up. And right away I understood why Vaughan would say that: this feels like something a younger him would write! 

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Sheltered, Volume 3 Review (Ed Brisson, Johnnie Christmas)

Sheltered is about a group of survivalist nutters whose even nuttier children decide to murder them. This is what the kids did next! 

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Swamp Thing, Volume 5: The Killing Field Review (Charles Soule, Jesus Saiz)

Like a cheating partner, the Parliament of Trees has to choose who it wants to be Avatar of the Green: Swampy or the usurper Seeder. As the two train for their title match, we explore the mysterious world of the Green and the host of colourful new characters who inhabit it. It’s kinda like a grown up Fern Gully! 

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Runaways, Volume 1: Pride and Joy Review (Brian K Vaughan, Adrian Alphona)

Mums and dads play a major role in superhero stories. Frequently they are the hero’s main motivation for becoming the superhero in the first place: Bruce Wayne’s parents were shot dead, Kal-El’s parents’ last act was to send him to Earth where he became Superman, Peter Parker’s father figure Uncle Ben was killed by a mugger, Hal Jordan’s dad died in a plane crash, Odin gave Thor his powers by forging Mjolnir, Charles Xavier shepherded untold numbers of young mutants to realise their full potential, and so on. 

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Satin Island by Tom McCarthy Review

One of the most pretentious people I ever met was an anthropologist (the person would literally sniff and turn their noses up after making a point), so it’s no surprise to me that a novel featuring an anthropologist would turn out to be a load of pretentious crap. Because Satin Island is essentially a narrative about narratives (sniffs, turns up nose). 

Friday, 6 March 2015

Deep State Volume 1 Review (Justin Jordan, Ariela Kristantina)

Agent John Harrow works for a covert government organisation that makes sure secrets stay secret. And what better hiding place than in plain sight? Like the conspiracy theory of the moon landings: we did land on the moon in 1969 – but it wasn’t our first time there. Back in 1964 man landed on the moon for the first time only to discover something hostile living in what we once thought was an uninhabited rock. Today that… thing… has finally made it to Earth and it’s up to Harrow, along with his newest recruit Branch, to neutralise it and hush everything up again. 

Red Lanterns, Volume 5: Atrocities Review (Charles Soule, Alessandro Vitti)

Red Lanterns: mean, angry, blood-spewing idiots who’re angry and mean – but are slowly becoming more cuddly? In this volume, Guy Gardner’s Red Lanterns square off against Atrocitus’s Red Lanterns – grrr! Then Supergirl becomes a (temporary) Red Lantern - rarrr! Then there are suddenly hundreds of Red Lanterns – GRRRRAAARRR! But the Red Lanterns are all buddies so they’re gonna save everything together, yay! 

Thursday, 5 March 2015

All-New Hawkeye #1 Review (Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez)

ALL-NEW Hawkeye? But... has Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye even finished yet? It actually hasn’t - the final issue of the run, Hawkeye #22, is still several weeks away from publication! But it seems Marvel want to get the new series with the new creative team of Jeff Lemire and Ramon Perez going sooner rather than later to keep us Hawkeye fans sated after such long waits between issues (sigh, the price of quality!). 

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Men of Wrath Review (Jason Aaron, Ron Garney)

The Raths are a cursed family. Since great grandpappy Isom stabbed a man to death over some sheep a hundred years ago, the Rath men have lived bloody lives. Today, Ira Rath is the most ruthless hitman in the south, coldly killing men, women and children with brutal efficiency. But as good as he is at dealing out death, everyone meets the reaper in the end and Ira’s just received news that he has lung cancer. He’s also been given a new contract: his estranged son, Ruben.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Short Treatise on the Joys of Morphinism by Hans Fallada Review

Hans Fallada was a German writer from the first half of the 20th century who struggled alternately with addiction to alcohol, morphine, ether and cocaine for most of his adult life. This small book collects two autobiographical stories - Short Treatise on the Joys of Morphinism and Three Years of Life - the first of which is a harrowing account of his time as a morphine/cocaine junkie, and the second addressing his self-imposed jail-time for stealing to finance his alcoholism.

The Maxx: Maxximized Volume 3 Review (Sam Kieth, William Messner-Loebs)

The simple summary of this book is that Julie decides to leave The Maxx behind to sort her life out and he’s not chuffed about it! Wow, that sounds… boring. 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

The Punisher, Volume 6: Confederacy of Dunces Review (Garth Ennis, John McCrea)

“When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him.” - Jonathan Swift