Saturday, 31 October 2015

The Frank Book by Jim Woodring Review

Jim Woodring’s Frank is a generic cat-like anthropomorph who lives in a fantastical land called the Unifactor. His adventures are silent and generally black and white though there are several comics in this edition that are full colour.

The stories in The Frank Book are easy to follow in a technical sense because Woodring is an excellent cartoonist who knows how to tell a story sequentially. His art too is superb and enormously creative. 

Friday, 30 October 2015

JLA: Earth 2 Review (Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely)

The DC Universe is largely responsible for superhero comics’ reputation as a baffling and utterly inscrutable place. Case in point: JLA: Earth 2. In Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s late ‘90s book, Earth 2 is actually our Earth - Earth-Prime - dubbed so by Alexander Luthor (from the mirror world). However to the “real” Justice League of America and the audience, our Earth is Earth-Prime and Earth 2 is the home of the Crime Syndicate, the “evil” Justice League headed up by Ultraman, Owlman, and Superwoman. 

The Complete Battlefields, Volume 3 Review (Garth Ennis, Russ Braun)

This is the third and final volume in Garth Ennis’ Battlefields series, a title which focuses on Ennis’ favourite subject: WAR! Volume 3 is made up of two three-issue stories: The Fall and Rise of Anna Kharkova, drawn by Ennis’ The Boys artist Russ Braun, and The Green Fields Beyond, drawn by Judge Dredd co-creator Carlos Ezquerra. And, like the other books in the series, it’s a quality read! 

Thursday, 29 October 2015

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn Review

This isn’t the setup for a joke: what do you call someone who just gives handjobs – not a prostitute, who does everything else, right? Sex worker? So anyway our nameless narrator is a handywoman who, after giving thousands of handies, now has carpal tunnel syndrome and is thinking of a career move to something that requires less repetitive motion… Luckily (handily?) her place of work also doubles as a psychic reading shop and she decides to begin her career as a fraud, I mean charlatan, I mean psychic! 

Dinosaurs Vs. Aliens Review (Grant Morrison, Mukesh Singh)

Aliens arrive on Earth during the time of the dinosaurs – what happens next? Dinosaurs Vs. Aliens. 

Wow. I had to keep checking the cover of this one. Grant Morrison wrote this? THE Grant Morrison? Wow. I think I’ve found the worst Grant Morrison book ever! 

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Secret Wars #6 Review (Jonathan Hickman, Esad Ribic)

3 weeks after the events of the last issue… 

Valeria’s search for the killer of THAT character has been unsurprisingly unsuccessful as it were Doom what dunit – except nobody else knows that. Doom has bigger problems anyway as Battleworld’s existence is beginning to fracture. (Deep breath) A mysterious leader calling himself The Prophet has sparked rebellions in several kingdoms, the two Reed Richards are working together to bring down Doom (called it!), Baron Sinister and Captain Marvel team up to do something, the two Spider-Men discover Doom’s secret source of power, and on the hidden Isle of Agamotto Black Panther and Namor discover an artefact that could be Doom’s undoing. 

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Killing and Dying: Stories by Adrian Tomine Review

Adrian Tomine’s latest book Killing and Dying collects issues #12-14 of his series Optic Nerve and comprises six stories, almost all of which are superbly written/drawn. 

Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi Review (Anthony Bourdain, Ale Garza)

Oh noooooooooooooooooooooo! The first Get Jiro was so good – how has the sequel turned out so poorly?! It’s one of those paradoxical sequel/prequel dealios: it follows the first book but it’s a precursor to the first book’s story. Blood and Sushi is Jiro’s origins – and it’s disappointingly weak and kinda pointless too. 

Monday, 26 October 2015

Karnak #1 Review (Warren Ellis, Gerardo Zaffino)

Karnak is Warren Ellis’ 2015 Marvel book and for fans of the writer that’s all you need to know to rush out and grab yourself a copy (we all read his Moon Knight last year, right?) despite most of us thinking, “Kar-who?”. That said, this first issue is just ok by Ellis’ standards, neither terrific or terrible. 

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Todd, the Ugliest Kid on Earth, Volume 1 Review (Kris Kristensen, MK Perker)

Todd is forced to wear a paper bag with eye-holes on his head because his parents - and everyone else for that matter - are complete pricks! And supposedly he’s super-ugly... But it never dampens his spirits and he’s perennially cheerful. Then an axe-wielding child murderer starts lopping off kids’ heads and Todd gets the blame - and still he remains chipper in the slammer! How will a young boy survive in an adult’s prison? Will the police look past their inexplicable hatred of Todd and catch the real killer? Which one of his parents will get laid by total strangers? 

Secret Wars #5 Review (Jonathan Hickman, Esad Ribic)

This is the shortest issue in Secret Wars yet at 25 pages and it’s mostly one big info dump. The funeral of the character who was killed at the end of the last issue is being held but no-one knows it were Doom what dunit. So Doom visits Owen Reece aka The Molecule Man to inform him of the death. What follows is the most artless exposition ever as Reece and Doom tell each other why universes were being destroyed and how Battleworld came about - as if they’d forgotten! 

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson Review

Nimona, a shape-shifting young woman, becomes the sidekick to the villainous Ballister Blackheart. Together they’ll overthrow the Institution and defeat Blackheart’s arch-nemesis Sir Goldenloin! 

I wish I could join in the overwhelming praise for Noelle Stevenson’s comic buuut… no, I thought it was just ok at best. 

Paper Girls #1 Review (Brian K Vaughan, Cliff Chiang)

It’s the day after Halloween in 1988 and Erin sets out on her very early morning paper run in the sleepy little town of Stony Stream, Ohio. But there are a trio of shadowy figures in black robes and a sack prowling the neighbourhood - are they trick or treaters who’ve stayed out far too late or… something else?

Friday, 23 October 2015

Secret Wars #4 Review (Jonathan Hickman, Esad Ribic)

Jonathan Hickman wakes up Secret Wars with an action-centric fourth issue as the Thors battle Thanos and the Cull Obsidian (called it!) - and then the surviving 616 heroes join in! Also Doom proves his badassery by murderising not one but two Marvel heroes (but nobody popular so that’s ok). 

The Madame Paul Affair by Julie Doucet Review

Julie and her deadbeat boyfriend move into a flat whose landlord is the cheerful Madame Paul. Besides her trying to set up Julie with her nephew, not much happens and then Madame Paul abruptly disappears. Julie sets out to find her. 

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Secret Wars #3 Review (Jonathan Hickman, Esad Ribic)

There he is, there’s the lil bugger Miles Morales, stowing away on Thanos’ ship – and another ship survived carrying lots of 616 characters too! ‘rayyyy! 

Green Lantern, Volume 3: The End Review (Geoff Johns, Doug Mahnke)

If, like me, you’ve already read Rise of the Turd Army, you’ll already have read half of this volume. If, unlike me, you read Wrath of the First Lantern, you can basically skip this entire volume as that noise fills up the second half! 

So this is Geoff Johns’ final Green Lantern book (for now) hence the subtitle. Emotional? Nah, me neither. I didn’t read many of his Lantern books but the few I did were just ok (though I'm not really a big Green Lantern fan). 

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Secret Wars #2 Review (Jonathan Hickman, Esad Ribic)

Whatever my expectations of Secret Wars were, I honestly wasn’t expecting a Marvel version of Game of Thrones, but that’s what we’ve got! 

So whoever Doom was talking with in the first issue (a genie?), they somehow created a new patchwork planet of feudal states called Battleworld populated with Marvel Universe characters and installed Doom as ruler. The universes are blowed up but Battleworld survived – I guess we'll find out in a later issue wha' happen?

Granta 117: Horror Review (Stephen King, Paul Auster)

They should call the magazine Garbage instead of Granta! 

This edition pretends to explore the horror genre but all it produces is a book full of horrifically pretentious and soul-crushingly boring stories. 

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson Review

The Blackwood family are all dead, poisoned by arsenic in the sugar bowl. All except for 18 year old Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood, the novel’s narrator, her 28 year old agoraphobic sister Constance, and their wheelchair-bound/dementia-ridden Uncle Julian. Constance was blamed for the deaths but was found not guilty at her trial. However the stigma of the incident and the Blackwood’s wealth and isolation has made them a symbol of fear and hate by the villagers. And the hatred is growing… 

Secret Wars #1 Review (Jonathan Hickman, Esad Ribic)

I’ll preface this review by saying I’ve not been reading Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers, New Avengers, Time Runs Out, FF, and whatever else he’s been doing. Why’s that important? Secret Wars is apparently the final chapter in a years-long story he’s been building at Marvel - this is the payoff! I’ve only read the first two books of Avengers and New Avengers and that’s it. 

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Invincible Iron Man #1 Review (Brian Michael Bendis, David Marquez)

The new creative team of Brian Bendis and David Marquez means a new renumbering and, of course, a new armour - it’s the All-New (not really), All-Different (ditto) Invincible Iron Man (... yay, nothing's changed, same old safe old)! 

So what's happening this time around? Not much! Well, Tony’s new armour is all of his armours - plus a new one with a weirdly bird-like helmet - all in one that handily fits into his watch! In this opening issue he goes on a date with a Sri Lankan biophysicist who claims to have a cure for the mutant gene (coughHouseofMcough) and Madame Masque is raiding various high security places for some reason. And then that last page. 

The first scene is very cliched but I love Marquez’s design of Madame Masque, whose new mask looks incredible and shiny. Tony’s inner monologue when he’s in his workshop is pretty good though it feels like ideas floating around the writer’s room for Iron Man 4. It’s a little disappointing that the centrepiece of this opening issue is a rather ordinary dinner date between two geniuses talking about work. The comic’s missing some sizzle that Bendis should've brought instead of just soggy yapping. 

Scattered throughout Tony's night out are some simply incredible pages of Masque escaping from places like the Japanese Stark Tower and Doom’s castle in Latveria - David Marquez definitely knows to bring the damn sizzle! 

And that’s basically it. Not much of a story to go on except for that last page and, frankly, writers have used that guy for so many red herrings, I’m fully expecting that to not be who he says he is. 

Invincible Iron Man #1 is an ok start. It’s got outstanding art and some decent bits of dialogue but nothing especially that exciting or fresh from Bendis - but then plot’s never been his strong suit. At any rate it feels far more readable than Kieron Gillen’s awful run on the character so who knows, maybe this will turn out to be one of the better additions to the Iron Man library - maybe? At any rate, I can definitely trade-wait this puppy instead of buying the monthlies. 

Invincible Iron Man #1

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Capote in Kansas Review (Ande Parks, Chris Samnee)

In November 1959, two ex-convicts, Perry Smith and Dick Hickock, murdered four members of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas, a crime for which they would eventually be executed in 1965. The murders caught the attention of writer Truman Capote who would go on to immortalise the matter in his masterpiece, In Cold Blood. 

Doctor Strange #1 Review (Jason Aaron, Chris Bachalo)

EL-YOO-VEE that first page: faded Silver Age panels with too many chunky blocks of text crammed into a page, over-explaining Doctor Strange’s fairly straightforward origins. In the foreground? One sentence caption boxes with Jason Aaron’s script, elegantly, efficiently and effectively laying out Strange’s origin story in far fewer words, much more quickly, indirectly (but deliberately) comparing his writing to Stan Lee’s and showing the gulf of quality between them while also spelling out (pun intended) that this is a different, modern Doctor Strange. It’s like that first page from All-Star Superman - a masterclass in writing origins. 

Friday, 16 October 2015

Death Vigil, Volume 1 by Stjepan Sejic Review

I'm guessing writer/artist Stjepan Sejic noticed that a Goth-chick Death was the most popular character in Neil Gaiman’s bestselling The Sandman and decided to reuse the character for his series, Death Vigil. Eh, why not? 

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Convergence Review (Jeff King, Dan Jurgens)

“I wonder if my life would be better without reading anything from this publisher ever again?” is probably not the thought DC want to be leaving readers with after getting through Convergence (and it is a struggle) but it’s the one I had anyway. 

Monday, 12 October 2015

KFC: The Colonel of Two Worlds #1 Review (Tony Bedard, Tom Derenick)

KFC teams up with DC to bring us a comic in the style of The Flash of Two Worlds: The Colonel of Two Worlds. An evil Colonel Sanders from Earth-3 (the place the Crime Syndicate recently pooped out of in Forever Evil) arrives on Earth-Prime and undermines the real Colonel’s rep by serving sub-standard fried chicken - let’s get ready to ruuuuumble(guts)! 

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Bucko Review (Jeff Parker, Erika Moen)

Bucko is a comic made by hipsters, for hipsters, starring hipsters. I’m amazed each copy doesn’t come with its own PBR (though the characters of course drink PBR because they’re fucking hipsters)! 

Star Wars: Lando Review (Charles Soule, Alex Maleev)

Looking forward to the inevitable Boba Fett solo series? Or even the Han Solo solo series? Well, Marvel know what you want because heeeeeere’s… Lando? Oh… 

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Food Wars!, Volume 3: Shokugeki no Soma Review (Yuto Tsukuda, Shun Saeki)

Soma and his classmates go to a cooking camp for a series of culinary challenges - fail one and you’re expelled from the exclusive Totsuki Institute! Soma and Megumi are teamed up again, this time to use the natural surroundings of the camp to create a traditional Japanese dish, and Soma meets a pair of new adversaries: the Aldini Brothers. 

Friday, 9 October 2015

Self-Obsessed by Sina Grace Review

I guess everyone thinks their life is fascinating enough to warrant a book or memoir even though they often aren’t; the same goes for Sina Grace whose new book, Self-Obsessed, is a collection of odds and ends about him, none of which are remotely interesting. 

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Drawn & Quarterly: Twenty-five Years of Contemporary Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels Review (Seth, Joe Matt)

Drawn and Quarterly may be my favourite comics publisher purely because they publish Seth. But they also have one of the richest catalogues of quality comics with a host of other incredible creators too. This year sees the Canadian indie publisher, headed up by founder Chris Oliveros, celebrate 25 years of great comics with this humongous hardcover anthology of essays, profiles, reprinted and new comics from so many creators. 

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Copperhead, Volume 2 Review (Jay Faerber, Scott Godlewski)

Sheriff Clara Bronson’s enjoying a night off at the local saloon until her drinkin’s interrupted by a scumbag beating up a woman. Tossing him in jail, Clara inadvertently sets off a chain reaction that’ll see her deputy, Boo, kidnapped by the scumbag’s older brother’s gang leading to a chase across the alien prairie and ending at an outlaw stronghold. Saddle up! 

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Submission by Michel Houellebecq Review

Michel Houellebecq’s latest novel Submission is set in France in 2022 where a Muslim political leader becomes President and Islamic law is established nationwide. Women must be veiled while their education and equality is curtailed, and polygamy is encouraged. 

Monday, 5 October 2015

Flash Boys by Michael Lewis Review

Michael Lewis returns to his familiar stomping grounds of Wall Street to report to the rest of the world that, shock, stockbrokers are as corrupt as ever, even after the 2008 crash! 

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey by Nick Bertozzi Review

Nick Bertozzi’s latest comic is about the real life story of British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 expedition to traverse the Antarctic continent on foot. It’s a really good book that effectively summarises what could be considered the greatest survival story of all time. 

Saturday, 3 October 2015

The Sandman: Overture Review (Neil Gaiman, JH Williams III)

It’s taken two years for Neil Gaiman and his art team to complete the six issue limited series prequel, The Sandman: Overture, but they finally did it! It’s easy to see why it took them so long when the results are so utterly impressive - high quality work takes time but it’s always worth the wait. 

Little Sister Death by William Gay Review

Set in the early ‘80s, David Binder is a novelist stuck for inspiration for a follow-up to his well-received first book. He decides to explore an old interest of his and write a haunted house story. Of course, he can’t just write about a haunted house in his regular house because he seemingly has no imagination. So he moves into a haunted house in the south with his family in order to write his novel. Some things go bump in the night and eventually it ends. 

Thor, Volume 2: Who Holds the Hammer? Review (Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman)

So here it is at last: Jason Aaron is finally done teasing readers with the identity of the new Thor as she removes her helm and reveals herself to be… 

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton Review

Kate Beaton returns with a second collection of strips from her brilliant website, Hark! A Vagrant!, in Step Aside, Pops, and it’s as funny and inspired as the first collection was! 

Batwoman, Volume 6: The Unknowns Review (Marc Andreyko, Georges Jeanty)

Remember the (one of many) short-lived New 52 series, Demon Knights? Well, some of that cast has been folded into Batwoman for no reason. And DC have dropped the “New 52” logo (it's officially dead, hooray!) on the cover though the storyline is still carrying on from when it was part of that range.