Monday, 31 August 2015

Weird Love, Volume 1: You Know You Want It Review (Craig Yoe, Clizia Gussoni)

No, it's not my autobiography, Weird Love is a collection of some truly bizarre comics that were actually published in the 1950s - 1970s. They are unashamedly misogynistic and condescending towards women, despite aiming themselves (apparently) at a female readership. The stories centre around women who are looking for men to marry, love expensive gifts, and, once we get into the 60s, how the women’s place is in the home, NOT with a career! 

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins Review

Rachel is a hopeless alcoholic divorcee. Despite losing her job, she still takes the train into London every day, passing the house Tom, her ex, lives in with his new wife, Anna, and their kid - a child she couldn’t give him herself. Then Rachel sees their married neighbour, Megan Hipwell, from the train window kissing a man who turns out to be her therapist. When Megan goes missing, the secrets of her life reveal a startling link to Rachel’s own… 

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O'Malley Review

“Scott Pilgrim is dating a high schooler!” - so begins one of the finest comics sagas of all time. 

The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada Review

Pre-war Japan. A deranged artist called Heikichi Umezawa claims to be possessed by the Devil. He plans one final masterwork: the creation of Azoth, the supreme woman. How to make her? Chop up the bodies of his six daughters, selecting their most perfect parts, and stitching the pieces together into a whole. 

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Descender, Volume 1: Tin Stars Review (Jeff Lemire, Dustin Nguyen)

The distant future. The United Galactic Council is attacked out of nowhere by mysterious Galactus-sized robots called Harvesters killing millions of citizens and leading to a massive robot cull. Fast forward ten years. A child companion robot called Tim-21 awakens on a moon mining colony, surrounded by dead bodies, the only survivor. Various factions are alerted who want Tim-21 whose tiny body potentially contains the secrets behind the Harvesters - run, robot Pinocchio, run!

Friday, 28 August 2015

We Can Fix It! A Time Travel Memoir by Jess Fink Review

Jess Fink takes a novel approach to the comics memoir by framing hers as a time-travel adventure where her present self goes back to revisit her youth. Except she decides to use what she knows now to make her life better back then. Mistakes, it seems, are not solely the reserve of youth… said no one sober ever... 

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Alice in Wonderland Review (Raven Gregory, Robert Gill)

Raven Gregory’s take on Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice in Wonderland is essentially a godawful mashup of softcore porn and metal stupidity. 

Howard the Duck, Volume 0: What the Duck Review (Chip Zdarsky, Joe Quinones)

After gently amusing audiences (and likely confusing a few) with a post-credits cameo in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, Howard the Duck is given a new series written by Chip “Sex Crimz” Zdarsky and drawn by Joe Quinones. 

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Gloriana by Kevin Huizenga Review

Kevin Huizenga’s EXPLOSIVE, RIVETING short comics collected in GLORIANA see his everyman character, Glenn “Y’all ready for this?” Ganges, 1) watch his pregnant wife Wendy unpack groceries, 2) read a book in a library, 3) stare at a blood moon with his neighbours and 4) reminisce about playing high school basketball. Do NOT read this book if you have a heart condition – THE EXCITEMENT MAY BE TOO MUCH TO HANDLE!! Hey! HEY, YOU! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The Names Review (Peter Milligan, Leandro Fernandez)

Spoilsies ahead! 

When Katya Walker’s Wall Street moneyman husband, Kevin, commits suicide by jumping out of his 51st storey window, she discovers he was part of a sinister organisation called The Names. Who are The Names? Sinister and… scheming and… rich? Um… they have names? Teaming up with her teenage stepson, Philip, a bona fide mathematical genius, the two set out to uncover the mystery of Kevin’s death – it wasn’t suicide, it was murder. 

The People Inside by Ray Fawkes Review

Ray Fawkes’ The People Inside looks at twelve different couples in twelve different love-themed stories. 

There’s a panel per couple every two pages so you have roughly twelve panels over two pages with the twelve stories playing out simultaneously. That's when we're not getting close-ups of two leaves - seriously. It’s a pretty terrible format choice as it’s hard to separate the individual stories when they’re all written in the same voice. 

Gotham By Midnight, Volume 1: We Do Not Sleep Review (Ray Fawkes, Ben Templesmith)

Gotham by Midnight is apparently a spinoff from the weekly Batman series, Batman Eternal, but I’m not sure how. Jim Corrigan, aka the Spectre, was in the first volume of Eternal, teaming up with Batwing to investigate the weirdness at Arkham Asylum, going up against Joker’s Daughter and the newly resurrected Deacon Blackfire - but then he disappeared and I don’t think he was in Eternal Volume 2. 

Monday, 24 August 2015

Very Good Lives by JK Rowling Review

Very Good Lives is the commencement address JK Rowling gave at Harvard University in 2008 which discusses the concepts of failure and imagination. 

Swamp Thing, Volume 6: The Sureen Review (Charles Soule, Jesus Saiz)

Like a dictator, Swamp Thing/Alec Holland has destroyed the Parliament and become sole ruler of the Green. Amidst the destruction, he saved three former avatars: Jonah, Wolf, and Lady Weeds, all of whom have now become human for the first time in centuries - and some are definitely not pleased with this arrangement. But Swampy’s about to discover that being absolute ruler isn’t absolutely easy as problems arise across the globe. Enter the Sureen, a holy order whose sole purpose is to attend to the needs of the Avatar of the Green – but there’s more to this group than meets the eye… 

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Socrates' Defence by Plato Review (Little Black Classics #52)

This is Plato’s account of his mentor, Socrates, as he met his accusers in Athenian court to defend himself against charges of blasphemy and corrupting the young. 

Socrates makes short work of the weak arguments made by his chief accuser, Meletus, through logical deconstruction. What’s interesting is that the defence isn’t really of Socrates against his charges but of his life and philosophy, which is basically what the trial is really about.

47 Ronin Review (Mike Richardson, Stan Sakai)

Set in feudal Japan, 1701, Lord Asano is sent to the court of the Shogun where he lets his temper get the better of him and draws his blade against Kira, an insidious court advisor - a forbidden act within the Shogun’s palace. Though clearly tricked by Kira, honour demands that Asano pay for his crime with his life. Learning of his lord’s death, Asano’s chief retainer, Oishi, leads a small group of loyal followers who make it their mission to see Kira dead - they are the 47 ronin. 

Friday, 21 August 2015

Olalla by Robert Louis Stevenson Review (Little Black Classics #19)

A man is invited to a dilapidated castle in the Spanish mountains to recover from an illness or something. The family who own the house are aristocrats who’ve fallen on hard times. The son is a bit of a simpleton, the mother is quietly crazy (until she isn’t), and the daughter, Olalla, is eerily beautiful. Nothing happens, then the narrator falls for Olalla but they can’t be together and then it’s over. 

Batman and Robin, Volume 3: Death of the Family Review (Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason)

This is the shortest collection in Peter J. Tomasi’s Batman and Robin run - two standalone issues bookend it with a three-issue Death of the Family arc in the middle (one of which is Batman #17 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo which I’m almost certain anyone picking up this volume will have read at least once already); essentially it’s four B&R issues long. 

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Axe Cop, Volume 4: President of the World Review (Malachai Nicolle, Ethan Nicolle)

Axe Cop is a cop with an axe. In this book he’s President of the World. And that’s all the summary I’m going to attempt with this comic. The main thing you need to know is that it’s written by Malachai Nicolle, an 8 year old, and drawn by Ethan Nicolle, his 32 year old brother (those were their ages at the time of this volume’s publication). 

Fante Bukowski by Noah van Sciver Review

Kelly Perkins is a 23 year old wannabe writer who’s changed his name to Fante Bukowski after the two writers he idolises, John Fante and Charles Bukowski. He’s doing everything right too: he’s grown a beard, he lives in a run-down hotel, he drinks in dive bars, he writes on a typewriter and yellow legal pad. Because that’s all you need to be a writer, isn’t it - live the cliched writer’s life? Except he’s missing talent. The flashy literary agent character, Bigsburgh, sums it up succinctly: “Ugly loser writer struggles for fame and fortune”. 

On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts by Thomas de Quincey Review (Little Black Classics #4)

Thomas de Quincey’s 1827 essay, On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts, is a satirical take on the English public’s fascination with gory murder, inspired by the 1811 Ratcliff Highway killings. 

Wolf by Shige Nakamura Review

A young jerk called Naoto wants to beat up an older jerk called Kurozaki because he’s the deadbeat father who abandoned him and his mother when he was a kid. They’re both boxers and the book contrives for the two fighters to work their family issues out in the ring despite their two decades+ age difference. Let’s get ready to bullshiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit! 

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Minimum Wage, Volume 1: Focus on the Strange by Bob Fingerman Review

Set in the late ‘90s (or early ‘00s, it’s unclear), Rob’s 25 and going through a divorce. He’s a porn cartoonist for men’s mags which are dying off thanks to the internet. Rob decides to try internet dating and meets several women. That’s the “story”. 

Sovereign, Volume 1 Review (Chris Roberson, Paul Maybury)

A group of oddly-attired people in masks are walking down a road. They’re attacked by zombies or something. Some archers on horseback shoot some animal and eat it. A bookish chap is crossing the sea and his ship is attacked by a decayed animal. A middle eastern-type kingdom’s ruler is dying and his throne is being fought over by two brothers. Sound vaguely interesting? It’s not. This is Sovereign. 

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

The Voyage of Sir Francis Drake Around the Whole Globe by Richard Hakluyt Review (Little Black Classics #65)

Richard Hakluyt’s The Voyage of Sir Francis Drake Around the Whole Globe collects the two accounts, snappily titled: “The famous voyage of Sir Francis Drake into the South Sea, and there hence about the whole globe of the earth, begun in the year of our Lord 1577.” and “The prosperous voyage of the worshipful Thomas Candish of Trimley in the County of Suffolk Esquire, into the South Sea, and from thence round about the circumference of the whole earth, begun in the year of our Lord 1586, and finished 1588.”

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Review

We Should All Be Feminists is a modified version of Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s talk at TEDxEuston from December 2012. 

It’s an informative discussion of and wholly convincing argument for feminism that starts with anecdotes about Adichie’s life and builds to a rallying cry for global change. 

Lobo, Volume 1: Targets Review (Cullen Bunn, Reilly Brown)

Pre-New 52 Lobo: a disgusting alien biker assassin who flew around on badass bikes shooting stuff, spouting nonsense and laughing. I’m not gonna say I was a huge fan of his but I liked the silliness of the character who was different from a lot of what DC published and he looked like he was having fun. 

Monday, 17 August 2015

Punk Rock and Trailer Parks by Derf Backderf Review

It’s the 1980s and punk’s heyday. Otto is a high school senior and a marching band nerd who lives and breathes Tolkien, lusting after the cheerleaders he’ll never have while getting beat up by the local bullies. Then one day he discovers punk at a local bar, The Bank, and Otto sees legendary performers first-hand like The Ramones and The Clash as well as lesser known artists like Klaus Nomi and Wendy O Williams. Otto’s life is about to change as punk music transforms this down-trodden trailer-park kid into… The Baron! 

The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows by Rudyard Kipling Review (Little Black Classics #24)

This Penguin Little Black Classic collects Thrown Away, False Dawn, In the House of Suddhoo, The Bisara of Pooree, The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows, and The Story of Muhammed Din, all taken from Plain Tales from the Hills. 

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Green Lantern: Rise of the Third Army Review (Geoff Johns, Doug Mahnke)

Those little bastards, the Guardians, have gone a bit mad and decided the best way to bring order to the chaos of the universe is to turn everyone into mindless, mouthless automatons - much easier to manage! This is their Third Army, an unstoppable force of self-replicating zombies, out to colonise all living creatures, free will, and wipe out all Lanterns everywhere. 

The Robber Bridegroom by The Brothers Grimm Review (Little Black Classics #68)

This Penguin Little Black Classic collects seven of the Brothers Grimm’s Fairy Tales: The Master Huntsman, The Robber Bridegroom, The Devil’s Three Golden Hairs, The Six Servants, The Bremen Town Band, Snowwhite, and Lazy Harry (all translated by David Luke). 

Judge Dredd: Mega-City Two Review (Douglas Wolk, Ulises Farinas)

Judge Dredd takes part in a Judicial Exchange Program, temporarily relocating to the West Coast to Mega-City Two. They do things a little differently there - instead of sentencing, they choose to fine perps, raising money for the city. Here Dredd’s given a non-lethal gun (instead of a Lawgiver), a car (instead of a Lawmaster bike), and a camera crew who’re filming him for a reality show. Why? There’s actually a reason given right on the last page which is one of the worst reasons you’ll ever read (not to mention, the end - that’s when you decide to let the reader in on why Dredd’s doing any of this!?), but mostly there’s no reason because Douglas Wolk is a terrible writer. 

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Before Watchmen: Minutemen/Silk Spectre Review (Darwyn Cooke, Amanda Conner)

The Minutemen were the group that preceded Watchmen. They were: Hollis Mason/(the first)Nite Owl, Sally Jupiter/(the first)Silk Spectre, Nelson Gardner/Captain Metropolis, Hooded Justice, Bill Brady/Dollar Bill, Byron Lewis/Mothman, Ursula Zandt/The Silhouette and Eddie Blake/The Comedian. 

Slade House by David Mitchell Review

Every nine years down Slade Alley, on Halloween weekend only, a small black door – so small, people have to stoop to get in – appears. Not everyone sees it – hardly anyone goes in. But some do. The door opens onto an impossibly large garden leading to a house: Slade House. And then the small black door closes and those who see the house are never heard from again… 

Thursday, 13 August 2015

The Fade Out, Volume 2: Act Two Review (Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips)

1940s, Hollywoodland, see? Up and coming starlet Valeria Sommers has been murdered, her death set up to look like a suicide - but her studio screenwriter friend Charlie Parish knows the real skinny! As Charlie begins putting the puzzle together, he falls for Valeria’s replacement, Maya Silver – gee, there’s more drama off-screen than on! 

Naruto, Volume 1: The Tests of the Ninja by Masashi Kishimoto Review

Naruto’s a teenage orphan with a secret. He’s training to be a ninja in ninja school in a village that used to be menaced by a giant fox with nine tails. But he’s a bit screwy – he doesn’t have parents so he’s a bit wild and acts out quite a bit, though he just knows he’s gonna be the greatest ninja ever. I think he will too because his name is the series title! 

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Robin: Year One Review (Chuck Dixon, Javier Pulido)

This is the very boring story of Dick Grayson’s first year as Robin. He meets/fights Jervis Tetch the Mad Hatter, Two-Face and Mr Freeze. He also briefly becomes the student of the ninja Fagin, Shrike, and his band of teen ninjas. Then the book ends. 

Husbands Review (Jane Espenson, Brad Bell)

A pair of newly-wed dudes are lounging about their honeymoon suite with their blonde female friend, opening their wedding gifts. One of their presents is a magic book that sucks them into it. Unfazed, they have several adventures in different genres: superhero, fantasy, detective, sci-fi, Archie, and Bond. And that’s it – they exit the book unperturbed. 

Monday, 10 August 2015

Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Sean Howe Review

I’m gonna do something a little different here: I’ll review the book properly first, then talk generally about what I read. These post-review comments are peripheral to the review, so I’ll keep them separate. They’re just things that interested me and might be interesting to others who haven’t read this, might not read this, but are into Marvel comics. I’ll tell you when I switch. 

Teen Titans, Volume 1: Blinded by the Light Review (Will Pfeifer, Kenneth Rocafort)

Teen Titans gets a relaunch with the new creative team of writer Will Pfeifer and artist Kenneth Rocafort. The Titans are: Red Robin (leader/tactician/can fly with mechanical wings), Wonder Girl (super-strong/can fly without mechanical wings), Raven (sorceress), Bunker (can manifest purple cubes!) and Beast Boy (can morph into any animal).

Sunday, 9 August 2015

The Massive, Volume 1: Black Pacific Review (Brian Wood, Kristian Donaldson)

Set in the always-ominous near future, a series of disasters have taken place in a year bringing devastation to countries around the world. Luckily, our protagonists are in a boat - the Kapital - so don’t really give a crap about rising sea levels. They’re looking for their sister ship, the Massive. Anyone seen it? No? Anyone care about this rubbish plot? Nope! Onwards then! …. no…. 

Fagin the Jew by Will Eisner Review

Will Eisner created a superhero comic called The Spirit in the 1940s which had a supporting character called Ebony, drawn as a racist stereotype. It wasn’t just Eisner doing this though, Ebony was indicative of how blacks were depicted in comics in this era - pick up a copy of Herge’s Tintin in the Congo and prepare to be shocked! 

Ant Colony by Michael DeForge Review

Ant Colony is a subversive look at Western society through the prism of anthropomorphised ants. A couple of gay ants have relationship troubles; everyone’s bothered by the repetitive drudgery of their work and the seeming pointlessness of keeping their Queen happy; a father gives bad advice to his son regarding an earthworm leading to his son becoming a prophet(!); there’s an ant-hunt to catch a serial-killing spider; and war with the red ants, a neighbouring colony, begins. 

The Tithe, Volume 1 Review (Matt Hawkins, Rahsan Ekedal)

Samaritan are a hacktivist group that also get physically involved in their attacks. Their targets: Christian megachurches and their hypocritical pastors. While successfully “liberating” these megachurches’ funds, diverting them to charities instead of lining the pastors’ pockets, the FBI are closing in on Samaritan - how long can the group stay ahead of their hunters? 

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol Review

Anya is a teenage schoolgirl with all the usual insecurities about her weight, clothes, friends, etc. compounded by embarrassment over her Russian heritage. She makes an effort to lose her accent, avoid fatty Russian food, and even tells people her surname is Brown instead of her actual lengthy and complex Russian one. Upset after making another social faux pas, she ditches school and heads off to the park, promptly falling down a dry well where she meets the spirit of a long-deceased schoolgirl called Emily. So begins a strange friendship as Anya sets out to discover Emily’s killer. 

Dead Boy Detectives, Volume 1: Schoolboy Terrors Review (Toby Litt, Mark Buckingham)

Dead Boy Detectives is another fruitless attempt to give these minor characters from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics a series of their own. The reason why this idea keeps failing is that there’s nothing to Charles or Edwin: they’re around 12 years old, they’re ghosts, and they decide to solve supernatural mysteries. That’s it?! It might work as a series for younger readers but, this being a Vertigo title, it’s clearly being aimed at the adult market and I’m not sure it should be. 

Thursday, 6 August 2015

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson Review

“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Lazarus, Volume 2: Lift Review (Greg Rucka, Michael Lark)

Hundreds of thousands flock to Denver for the “Lift”, aka the job interview from hell, where “Waste” (people who live under the Families’ rule but are unemployed) get the chance to be “Serfs” (receive jobs and in return get a better way of life for them and theirs). Meanwhile, there’s a threat against the Carlyle family that Forever must neutralise, and we’re introduced to the Barrets, a “Waste” family, who lose their home and make the journey to Denver to try and become “Serfs”.

The Adventures of Venus by Gilbert Hernandez Review

Venus is a young (10 year old?) girl who likes playing football, plotting against her rival Glinda Gonzalez for the attentions of local dreamboat Miguel Mendoza (who only has eyes for Venus’ curvy mum), and various things little girls do, like going into a garden maze to visit Frankenstein’s grave(!).