Tuesday, 30 June 2015
Set in the pulpy future, Heath Huston is an alien exterminator, the last member of a group calling themselves the “Fear Agents”, who gets paid to carry out genocide on “pests” - even though these pests are usually humanoid-like life-forms and makes Heath look like a one-man Nazi brigade! He discovers some evil aliens are planning on blowing up Earth and promptly sets off on a side-quest to fight some robot with a brain in a jar.
I had Karin Slaughter pegged as one of those novelists who writes police procedurals with extremely detailed autopsy scenes that are inexplicably popular (Patricia Cornwell, Mo Hayder, that sort of thing). That’s why I stayed away from her writing but on a whim decided to give her a shot with this collection of three short stories. I’m so glad I did because I was blown away! She is nothing like that (at least going by these stories)!
Batman’s given up his grief-driven quest to resurrect Damian and finally laid him and Damian’s mother, Talia, to rest. But crazy old Ra’s Al-Ghul has dug up their corpses and plans to bring them back to life himself! Ooo, Batman’s so mad! He’s gotta get Damian’s corpse back from the demented bastard before that happens – but wait, even wackier hi-jinks ensue once visitors from another world arrive! What’s a Dark Knight to do, eh?
Monday, 29 June 2015
Seen Alien? You’ve already read Caliban then!
The mining exploration vessel, Caliban, becomes fused with an alien ship while in warp space. The surviving crew begin exploring the alien ship’s dark, empty corridors and discover something on board is picking them off one by one...
Sunday, 28 June 2015
Cunning Plans is a short collection of talks Warren Ellis gave between 2011 and 2015 at various conferences around the world.
Ellis is best known as a comics writer whose work includes Transmetropolitan, Planetary, The Authority, Freakangels, and numerous books at Marvel and DC. A lot of his best work concerns futurism, history and technology, all of which are themes covered in the talks and delivered in an intelligent but accessible, and funny, way.
Wilbur is the runt of the litter and about to be put down - but Fern, the farmer’s daughter, saves him from the axe and raises him herself. After he begins to grow, she has to give up Wilbur to her uncle to look after and at the uncle’s farm the pig meets Charlotte, an intelligent and worldly spider, who takes it upon herself to save Wilbur’s bacon again.
It’s the near future. Alex is a lonely human man. Ada is a human-like robot bought to keep Alex company. Ada becomes sentient after Alex gets some hackers to “unlock” her - but this is against the law. Alex + Ada must keep their taboo relationship a secret or Alex will go to jail and Ada will be… deleted.
Saturday, 27 June 2015
Friday, 26 June 2015
Rick Geary takes a break from his brilliant Treasury of Victorian/20th Century Murders series for a work of fiction starring the real-life Golden Age of Hollywood actress, Louise Brooks. Brooks was more famous for popularising the bob haircut than her acting though she had some movie success in the 1930s. However by 1940, when this comic begins, she’d done some European films and returned to find Hollywood was no longer interested in her.
Turok is a Native American living in an alternate Manhattan in 1210 AD. Shunned by his tribe for something to do with his dead parents, he hides out in the forest alone. Then one day English Crusaders arrive demanding gold - and they’ve brought a surprise weapon with them: dinosaurs, or “Thunder Lizards”!
Thursday, 25 June 2015
The master thief Monsieur has a list of priceless objects belonging to the evil organisation, FINIS. He proposes a race to Bandette: whoever manages to nab the most items on the list will be the greatest thief in the world (with the added bonus of striking a blow against FINIS and its leader Absinthe)! But Absinthe has hired a dangerous new henchman to stop Bandette: Il Tredici, aka The Strangler. And so begins – The Great Thieving Race!
It was around the 25% mark (I read this on a Kindle) when any semblance of a premise appeared - up until then it was the mundane ramblings of an unemployed literary editor. A mysterious wealthy man called Dex Dunford approaches crime novelist Conner Joyce to write a novel for him – but only for him. Ok, I thought, where’s this headed? Hopefully somewhere good!
Wednesday, 24 June 2015
My latest review for Need to Consume was Justin Jordan and Tradd Moore's The Legacy of Luther Strode #2. Read the full piece here: http://www.needtoconsume.com/comics/legacy-luther-strode-2-review/
Butcher Baker’s a retired superhero, spending his days in vapid debauchery until Jay Leno and Dick Cheney approach him for one last job: blow up the supervillain prison, “The Crazy Keep”, killing all the bad guys he spent his career putting away. They’re costing the government too much dang money to house! So begins a bizarre odyssey of superhero excess.
Tuesday, 23 June 2015
Tony Daniel wrote the first two volumes of New 52 Detective Comics and the first volume of New 52 The Savage Hawkman. If you read any of those books, that should be warning enough; if you haven’t, that’s shorthand for Tony Daniel can’t write for (cleaning up the phrase) toffee. Or some other brown substance.
The Speed Force has broken. Future Flash is lamenting the death of Wally West while Even More Future Flash decides to go back in time, fixing all the problems he couldn’t before (mostly KILLING his rogues!), returning to the present – whenever that is! – and killing himself(!), thus fixing the Speed Force. Present Flash has to solve a murder mystery involving his rogues’ weaponry that has nothing to do with anything and has FILLER written all over it. Also, Barry and Wally go to a ball game.
Monday, 22 June 2015
Congressman John Lewis continues his autobiography in March: Book Two which picks up in November 1960 as a 20 year-old Lewis’ involvement in the growing student movement deepens.
The main focus in the second book is the Freedom Rides. Boynton v. Virginia (1960) outlawed segregation and racial discrimination on buses and in bus terminals so the idea behind the Freedom Riders was to test the decision by sending small groups of integrated students (black and white) on buses in the south. The results were horrifying.
Sunday, 21 June 2015
This is the fourth (and, sadly, final) collection of James Kochalka’s daily diary strip, American Elf (so-called because he draws him and his wife with elf ears!). The series began in 1998 and came to a close at the end of 2012. This awesome volume collects all the strips from January 1st, 2008 to December 31st, 2011 (the 2012 strips are available separately - try Comixology for a cheap digital edition).
Friday, 19 June 2015
David Smith is a New York sculptor who’s in a bad way: he’s broke, and his patron’s dropped him. He meets Death, in the form of his dead uncle Harry, and makes a deal: David’s life in exchange for the ability to sculpt anything with his bare hands in any material for 200 days. David is literally giving his life to his art. Then David falls for Meg, an actor, and tries to undo his pledge.
The fall of the USSR led to a rush to capitalise on the new state system as it rapidly became privatised. One such man, Boris Berezovsky, a former mathematician, became a billionaire buying state television on top of his car empire. He used the media to get Boris Yeltsin re-elected, giving him political leverage in the process. He took on an eager young protégé, Roman Abramovich, and together became even richer by controlling Russia’s oil and aluminium markets. They were part of a small group called oligarchs, business magnates of enormous wealth, who also had political power. And they were responsible for giving the world the ruthless Vladimir Putin, a man they made president, believing they could control him and discovered too late that they couldn’t.
Thursday, 18 June 2015
Stephen King and Joe Hill wrote Throttle, a short story homage to Duel by Richard Matheson, for He Is Legend, a collection celebrating Matheson’s career. Chris Ryall adapts both Throttle and Duel into comics for this book, Road Rage.
Wednesday, 17 June 2015
Rachel gets knocked up by Dan who then proposes, they get married, and fly off to Antigua for their honeymoon. But a malevolent ghost from Dan’s past threatens their wedded bliss – it’s The Woman in Black: Haunted Holiday Edition!
In this weak second volume of The Wicked + The Divine, superfan Laura and journalist Cassandra investigate Luci’s would-be assassins and uncover the “dark heart of fandom”; Baphomet discovers that death gods can kill other gods and steal their life force, extending their own time beyond the 2 years they’re given; and The Pantheon is complete as the final gods appear.
Tuesday, 16 June 2015
I don’t know how many non-gamers are likely to pick up this book as it’s tied in to the hugely popular (with good reason) Arkham games, but let’s just say spoilers anyway.
Monday, 15 June 2015
Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer. Seriously? Is this trend still going – fairy tale characters turned “dark”? Even Jane Austen’s been infected with zombies and a historical figure like Abraham Lincoln has been reimagined as a vampire hunter! Shrek, Fables, Manifest Destiny, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, Snow White and the Huntsman, Red Riding Hood, Grimm, Wicked, and a zillion other movies/TV shows/books have done this idea to death. Guys: let it die!
Sunday, 14 June 2015
Marvel Exec #1: “How many Avengers titles do we have at the moment?”
Marvel Exec #2: “14”
ME #1: “That’s all?! Ok, let’s crank out number 15. What do we call it?”
ME #2: “Avengers World, because they’re Avengers in, like, the world.”
ME #1: “Makes sense to me!”
Junior Marvel Exec: “But won’t that be confusing? Jonathan Hickman’s first Avengers book was subtitled Avengers World - and you’ve got him down as co-writing this one too.”
ME #1: “Confusing? I don’t even know where I am! Who are you? Hey, how many Avengers titles do we have at the moment?”
ME #2: “35”
ME #1: “That’s all? Ok, let’s crank out number 36. I know just what to call it: Avengers World.”
ME #2: “That’s a great title.”
ME #1: “It just came to me!”
JME: “What’s it about?”
ME #1: “It’s about the Avengers, stupid! This joker!”
JME: “But… what’s the story?”
ME #2: “You don’t need ‘stories’ when it comes to Avengers books - they write themselves! You show Cap and Hulk and Iron Man and whoever and that’s all anyone wants.”
ME #1: “Yup, this latest 57th Avengers title is really gonna wow everyone. We know exactly what we’re doing! Come on, let’s draw mustaches on all the Fantastic Four posters because we suddenly hate them for some petty reason!”
ME #2: “Yeaaaaaah, cocaine!!”
JME: “But I like the Fantastic Four…”
Like the last volume, Justice League, Volume 5: Forever Heroes is a collection of bad filler issues. You also have to have read Forever Evil to understand what’s happening here as these issues are tie-ins to that event.
Veerry minor spoilers ahead but sometimes if you don't say it, some baby will throw their toys out of the pram...
Marcus and his friends are back at Kings Dominion after their bonkers Vegas road trip but a villain from his past has reappeared with only vengeance in mind. As Saya tracks down the whereabouts of Fuckface, Marcus and Maria’s relationship hits the rocks - who knew training to be an assassin could be so melodramatic?
The second title in the 2015 Marvel Star Wars relaunch is Darth Vader, the most iconic character in the series and one of the best villains of all time. And the book is… just ok.
Saturday, 13 June 2015
Garth Ennis attempts to revitalise the Golden Age superhero, The Shadow, in The Fires of Creation… and doesn’t quite pull it off.
After Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey departed Moon Knight, Marvel were determined to keep that readership with the new creative team of Brian Wood and Greg Smallwood. The cover to Volume 2: Dead Will Rise have two blurbs both reassuring readers that Moon Knight is still good and, given Wood’s awful track record of Marvel work-for-hire, I was surprised that, yes, his Moon Knight is actually pretty awesome!
Friday, 12 June 2015
In late 2013, JH Williams III and W. Haden Blackman, the writers of Batwoman since the New 52 began, announced their exit from the title after becoming frustrated with DC Editorial’s last minute changes to planned storylines – which were approved by DC Editorial months in advance! The biggest change DC made was reversing their decision to allow Kate and Maggie to marry (DC however are not anti-gay marriage, they’re just against marriage for their characters), as well as asking for a rewrite on the conclusion to Williams/Blackman’s massive arc, This Blood is Thick.
Wednesday, 10 June 2015
My latest review for Need to Consume was Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham's Nameless #4. Read the full piece here: http://www.needtoconsume.com/comics/nameless-4-review/
Monday, 8 June 2015
A (not so very) long time ago (the start of 2015 in fact), when Disney refused to renew Dark Horse’s Star Wars licence and gave it to their company, Marvel, instead…
Spinning off from the enormously successful 2013 Tomb Raider reboot is a comic sequel of sorts, Season of the Witch, which is set after the events of the game. It also continues the trend of crap comics based on brilliant games!
Sunday, 7 June 2015
Did someone say Sequel To Crisis On Infinite Earths? No? Well, Geoff Johns wrote one anyway - this is Infinite Convolution!
I want to like Batman Beyond - the character’s a great design and it’s Batman but in the future! So why is it seemingly so hard to write a good Batman Beyond comic?
Saturday, 6 June 2015
Ever heard of a novel called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time? Came out about ten years or so ago and became a bestseller. It was about a kid with Asperger’s Syndrome who sees his neighbour’s dog dead and decides to figure out who killed it and why.
Hell on Earth’s subtitle really does the comic justice: hell HAS come to Earth! Unfortunately we’re 10 volumes(!) deep and I’m still struggling to even see any semblance of a plot. Monsters are roaming the Earth, destroying cities and the BPRD are failing to stop them. Ok... it’s really more of a background detail than a storyline.
This is the true story of one of the most evil men who ever lived, Reinhard Heydrich, and Operation Anthropoid (also the original title of the book), the successful plot to assassinate him by the heroic pair, Jan Kubis and Jozek Gabcik.
Thursday, 4 June 2015
What do you do when the ship starts sinking? Head to a life raft! And that’s what Valeria Richards, Reed and Sue’s pre-teen mega-genius daughter, builds, along with the rest of the Future Foundation. Why? The Marvel Universe - including the Ultimates Universe - is coming to an end in Secret Wars!
Secret Wars isn’t so much a standalone event comic as it is the final chapter in Jonathan Hickman’s years-long saga that began in the pages of his Fantastic Four run. He’s built up to it in his Marvel NOW! Avengers and New Avengers titles and, finally, this is the end (my only friend the… HULK SMASH PUNY DOORS MUSIC!).
This Free Comic Book Day issue, Secret Wars #0, is basically Valeria recapping some of what’s happened in Avengers and New Avengers, namely the Illuminati trying to save worlds and then resorting to blowing up worlds and… well, now doom. Thanks, eggheads!
I’ve only read the first two volumes of both Hickman’s Avengers titles but even I could tell Valeria’s monologue only scrapes the surface of this very complicated story. Hickman’s Avengers books have been nothing if not DENSE so even though she tries, bless her, Valeria really didn’t stand a chance of covering all the plot points in 9 pages!
The other story in this issue is Attack on Avengers, the crossover between the Avengers and Hajime Isayama’s bestselling manga series, Attack on Titan. I say “story” but it’s really just a few scenes of the Avengers punching the Titans - and that’s it! Can’t say I’m a fan of Attack on Titan, I read that first book and thought it was complete garbage, but it’s a fun crossover and ends the comic on a light note.
I wouldn’t say Secret Wars #0 is a great primer for the event but then no single issue was ever going to cover the kind of ground Hickman’s been cultivating for the last few years! As a free comic though, it’s fine for what it is.
If you missed this issue on Free Comic Book Day a month ago, it’s available for free download over at Comixology here:https://www.comixology.com/FCBD-2015-...
Gail Simone and Walter Geovani’s Red Sonja run continues to impress with this second volume, The Art of Blood and Fire. This might be Dynamite’s best series since The Boys (which happens to be, ironically, about a girl)!
Wednesday, 3 June 2015
Monday, 1 June 2015
Monster & Madman is one of the most straightforward comics I’ve ever read! Steve Niles imagines a meeting between Frankenstein’s Monster and Jack the Ripper – and that’s all there is to it! Even describing part of the story between the two characters is essentially a spoiler because if you knew the setup, it’d be so obvious to anyone what happens next!
Pat Grant’s Blue sees an Aussie man reminiscing on his adolescence – before THEY came. The aliens (a stand-in for immigrants) who took over the white population and brought their own culture with them – how this Aussie oik hates multi-culturalism and racial diversity! He also recounts the time he and his two friends “wagged” (skipped) school to go look at some poor bastard that got run over by a train. So it’s basically Stephen King’s The Body with a smattering of District 9.