Tuesday, 27 June 2017

DIS MEM BER and Other Stories of Mystery and Suspense by Joyce Carol Oates Review


I’ve always wanted to read a Joyce Carol Oates book but never have until now - and I’m not encouraged to read any more! Dis Mem Ber and Other Stories of Mystery and Suspense is a collection of seven horror short stories, none of which are especially good. 

Monday, 26 June 2017

Zatanna: Everyday Magic Review (Paul Dini, Rick Mays)


Everyday Magic is the most uninspired Zatanna comic ever. It’s Paul Dini on autopilot as he snoozes his way through a by-the-numbers story. Constantine’s hand is cursed so Zatanna battles a sorceress to fix him. Which she does effortlessly with no tension. The end. Wooow. 

There’s a truncated version of Zatanna’s origin included if you haven’t read it before so if you have, like me, it only makes the comic that much more tedious to get through. Also, don’t expect the art inside to be like Brian Bolland’s cover because it’s not. Rick Mays’s kiddie manga-esque art did nothing for me, accompanying Dini’s boring script to make Everyday Magic even more forgettable! 

I suppose this run-of-the-mill comic is aptly named: it is very everyday. Pointless, unentertaining rubbish - disappointing given that Dini’s usually a quality writer.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Infamous Iron Man, Volume 1: Infamous Review (Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev)


The only interesting thing to come out of Secret Wars’ finale was the question of what Doctor Doom would do next: where do you go after being God Emperor Doom of Battleworld? Brian Bendis provides an answer: become Iron Man! And it turns out to be a shit answer as Infamous Iron Man is a disappointingly crummy title.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Kill Your Boyfriend Review (Grant Morrison, Philip Bond)


A bored schoolgirl falls for a slightly older bad boy townie. Together, they go on a killing spree for shits and giggles! It can only end one way… and in Blackpool?!

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Jessica Jones, Volume 1: Uncaged! Review (Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos)


So after reading this book I can confidently say I don’t give a fudgey-fudge about Jessica Jones! 

JJ’s in prison for some reason! Her marriage to Luke Cage is on the skids and she’s hidden her baby with her ma for some reason! Intrigue? Mystery? Snores!

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign Review (Jonathan Allen, Amie Parnes)


Hindsight is 20/20 so it’s easy now to see the signs that portended Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential bid, but, in the months leading up to Election Night 2016, I don’t remember anyone seriously thinking Trump would win. She’s got this – OF COURSE Hillary’s gonna win. The infamous “grab the pussy” tape, those embarrassing debates Trump clearly lost where he looked like the barely-literate buffoon he is? Come on. It’s a formality. And Trump implying that he would contest the election results, that they’d probably be rigged, days before voting? What a scumbag – he and his racist, misogynistic supporters MUST accept the results to preserve the integrity of the democratic process!

Friday, 16 June 2017

On the Camino by Jason Review


To mark his 50th birthday in 2015, Norwegian cartoonist Jason decided to walk the Camino de Santiago, a 500 mile pilgrimage in north-western Spain. Which he does. And that’s that!

Jason is one of my favourite cartoonists but On the Camino is his weakest book to date. It’s also his first venture into nonfiction which is quite telling because his fictional comics are usually outstanding and fun to read while this autobiographical memoir is very dry, one-note and kinda boring.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

John Flood Review (Justin Jordan, Jorge Coelho)


John Flood is the survivor of a covert experiment to eliminate sleep in the organisation’s operatives. It worked – John hasn’t slept in over a decade! – but the sleep deprivation has made him a bit… strange. Though while he sees things that aren’t there, his permanently altered brain chemistry has also given him a distorted way of thinking and unique world perspective that’s turned him into a brilliant private investigator. So when a psychopathic mass murderer’s on the loose, John knows just how to catch him: he needs to find a missing cat…

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

All-New Wolverine, Volume 3: Enemy of the State II Review (Tom Taylor, Nik Virella)


This is the second book in a row where the main title – “All-New Wolverine” – has been ironically undermined by the subtitle: Civil War II in the last book, Enemy of the State II in this; “All-New” my bum! It’d be nice if Marvel’s writers could come up with original storylines instead of relying on rehashing old classics but that’s just not Marvel’s (or DC’s for that matter) style – unimaginativeness is the watchword!

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Living the Dream by Lauren Berry Review


Emma and Clem are twentysomething Londoners who want to be writers. And, er, that’s it - Lauren Berry neglected to include a story in her debut novel, Living the Dream! 

Emma’s the realist of the two, working an office job to pay the rent and writing in her spare time, while Clem’s the dreamer, going full tilt at the screenwriting lark and being broke and living at home for her efforts. I’d hoped Berry would wring some humour and/or wry observations about juggling artistic aspirations with mundane office work but no such luck; all she’s got is that corporate life is fake and stupid and work is, like, shit, innit? Bah. 

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Dark Knight III: The Master Race #9 Review (Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello)


And so we come to the end of Dark Knight III. Quar and the evil Kandorians square off against Batman and co. in a final battle for the fate of Earth. Guess who wins? 

Predictability aside, The Master Race #9 isn’t a great conclusion to what was a decidedly average return to Batman for Frank Miller. Batman’s contribution to the fight was plain silly and he felt like a supporting player in his own book.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Roughneck by Jeff Lemire Review


Derek Ouelette is a has-been hockey goon. Thrown out of professional hockey for allowing his rage to get the better of him, Derek lives in a small Canadian town spending most of his time surly drunk and picking fights with anybody. When his estranged junkie sister Bethy drops by, pregnant and addicted with a shiner from her drug-dealing boyfriend, the two must confront their shared past trauma together to find their future.

Yeah, fucking grim, eh? Roughneck is also Jeff Lemire’s best book in years.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Officer Downe Review (Joe Casey, Chris Burnham)


Officer Downe is the ultimate cop – an unstoppable killing machine who never rests until all the criminals are dead… or arrested, whatever! But he pisses off some corrupt animal-headed businessmen who are fed up with Downe never staying, er, down, and hire a flamboyant ninja hitman and his army of goons to take him out, once and for all!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Batman: Dark Knight Dynasty Review (Mike Barr, Scott Hampton)


For a Mike Barr Batman book, Dark Knight Dynasty surprisingly isn’t bad!

It’s an Elseworlds story (non-canon, What If…?-type tales) split into three parts: Dark Past/Present/Future. The quality is quite high to begin with but unfortunately gets worse as the book goes on.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Ten Dead Comedians by Fred Van Lente Review


In his debut novel, Fred Van Lente does Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None - but with comedians! And it’s not bad. 

Many of the characters are thinly-veiled versions of real-life comedians: there’s a Larry the Cable Guy-type, Carrot Top, Ali Wong, George Lopez, and Joan Rivers, to name a few. They’re lured to a private island owned by a famous, rich comic they all have connections to who strangely isn’t there to greet them - and then the comedians start getting killed one by one! 

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Justice League vs. Suicide Squad Review (Joshua Williamson, Rob Williams)


This shouldn’t really be a thing. I mean, forget the Justice League, Superman alone could take out the Suicide Squad! In fact, any one member of the League could do it - Wonder Woman, Flash, Batman (most of the SS are Batman rogues anyway). The Green Lantern rings are among the most powerful weapons in the DCU! So yeah, the premise is significantly flawed to begin with. 

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Batman Beyond, Volume 1: Escaping the Grave Review (Dan Jurgens, Bernard Chang)


I’m giving Rebirth every chance here. Dan Jurgens has always been a shit writer, Batman Beyond is always a shit title, but maybe - just maybe - the Rebirth version of Dan Jurgens’ Batman Beyond will be good…? Nah. 

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

New Super-Man, Volume 1: Made in China Review (Gene Luen Yang, Viktor Bogdanovic)


This Chinese Superman book was one of the few Rebirth titles that genuinely intrigued me, not least because it featured the only original new character in the entire line - I know that’s deliberate though, that Rebirth is about bringing back classic characters/timelines, etc. So it’s disappointing that New Super-Man follows the Rebirth trend of being unreadable drek. 

Monday, 29 May 2017

Fante Bukowski Two by Noah Van Sciver Review


Fante Bukowski was one of my favourite comics of 2015 so I’m delighted that Noah Van Sciver has returned to the character for another brilliant book. 

Sunday, 28 May 2017

The New Avengers, Volume 1: Breakout Review (Brian Michael Bendis, David Finch)


The Avengers disassembled after House of M. Spidey rogue Electro busts out a few dozen baddies out of The Raft. Avengers reassemble - who expected THAT? Oh, right, everyone. Was it remotely entertaining to see something that’s been done a zillion times before? Surprisingly nah. 

Saturday, 27 May 2017

The Incal, Volume 1: The Black Incal Review (Alejandro Jodorowsky, Moebius)


I put off reading this one after seeing a clip a while back from Alejandro Jodorowsky’s movie The Holy Mountain where a screaming naked old geezer wearing cheetah breasts squirts milk into the face of a kneeling man (for your trauma/amusement, here’s that scene), thinking that his comics were gonna be equally inaccessible, utterly incomprehensible and way too fartschool-y. And I was wrong - or at least half wrong - when it came to the first Incal book! 

Friday, 26 May 2017

The Amazing Spider-Man: Brand New Day, Volume 1 Review (Dan Slott, Steve McNiven)


After J. Michael Straczynski and Joe Quesada took a big steaming dump on Spider-Man with One More Day, Dan Slott was parachuted in to clear up their mess with Brand New Day. Which he did pretty well, largely by ignoring the preceding nonsense, though some of the retconning sticks out awkwardly - Civil War still happened but somehow nobody remembers that Peter is Spidey despite his unmasking being the most memorable scene in that dismal storyline! 

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Outburst by Pieter Coudyzer Review


I do enjoy me some sad bastard comics now and then but Pieter Coudyzer’s debut Outburst was a bit too depressing even for me!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Doom Patrol, Volume 1: Brick by Brick Review (Gerard Way, Nick Derington)


An enchanted colostomy bag belches into existence The Bliznar, an anthropomorphic multi-gender entity whose left testicle is running for Mayor of Kandahar and who wants to write this year’s Christmas No. 1 jig. But a ragtag team of anti-hero pro-superhero anti-hairdressers called Bloom 50 Squad have to lose the intergalactic atomic race and lock up the evil Princess Bitchtacular before the FixFaxes obliterate the comics universe of the 12th Dimension! Better gwant up the pooble before sippy revs the teeser!

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

No Good Deed by John Niven Review


The blurb for No Good Deed drew me in: Alan, a well-to-do food critic and columnist, comes across Craig, an old friend he hasn’t seen in years, and is shocked to find him homeless and living on the streets – a long way from the rich rock star he was in the early ‘90s! In an act of goodwill, Alan takes in Craig and tries to get him back on his feet – except, after briefly enjoying Alan’s comfortable life, Craig decides to have Alan’s life and schemes to take it from him. 

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Trinity, Volume 1: Better Together Review (Francis Manapul, Clay Mann)


Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are the Trinity, DC’s three most popular, iconic superheroes. But mixing three great tastes doesn’t necessarily make them taste great together, as Trinity Rebirth proves. “Better Together”? Ha! 

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Herman By Trade by Chris W. Kim Review


A humble street cleaner, Herman has a startling secret: at night he transforms into an imposing cloaked figure who wanders the city narrating his actions and thoughts aloud! When indie film director Mio chooses to film her next project in Herman’s town, he decides to audition for a part, revealing his secret side for the first time. Herman’s life is about to change… 

Friday, 19 May 2017

Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love Review (Sarah Vaughn, Lan Medina)


Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love is another retelling of Bluebeard where a man and a woman go to some big house, the man turns out to be crazy and the woman runs away from him. Other famous versions include Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. What does Deadman/Boston Brand have to do with it? Nothing really. And that’s the book! 

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Batman, Volume 10: Epilogue Review (Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo)


Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo weren’t just the standout creative team in DC’s New 52 (to be fair that wasn’t especially hard), even managing to outlive the poorly thought-out reboot, but are also arguably the finest creative team Batman’s ever had (Grant Morrison is the greatest Batman writer but he had a revolving door of artistic talent during his run from Frank Quitely to Tony Daniel to Andy Kubert whereas Snyder had a consistent collaborator in Capullo). The Court of Owls, Death of the Family, Zero Year - all amazing Batman arcs.  

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta Review


I was halfway through the novel when I realised a story wasn’t on the cards. Not that that bothered me too much (though it did a bit) – Mrs Fletcher is all about the characters, reflecting contemporary middle-class American culture, all of which is written pretty well – but, like the only other Tom Perrotta novel I’ve read, Election, I was left wondering what the author was trying to say; what’s the point of this book? 

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

The Mighty Thor, Volume 2: Lords of Midgard Review (Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman)


Dario Agger - a businessman so villainous he should by rights have a black top hat and cape and be twirling a pencil-thin moustache whenever he speaks - has been exploiting resources in the other realms for his company only. The other evil corporate bigwigs aren’t happy and decide to make an example of him by crashing his floating headquarters into Manhattan – Thor to the rescue! Meanwhile, two persistent SHIELD agents try to prove that Jane Foster is Thor and Mjolnir’s secret origin is revealed. 

Monday, 15 May 2017

Regression #1 Review (Cullen Bunn, Danny Luckert)


Adrian sees messed up things that aren’t there – or are they? In an effort to help him, his friend Molly takes him to see a hypnotist but something terrible is unleashed after Adrian goes under. Poor bloke; seeing nightmarish hallucinations is one thing – having them manifest in real life and come after you is another! 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Superwoman, Volume 1: Who Killed Superwoman? Review (Phil Jimenez, Joe Prado)


I’ve come across A LOT of dire, depressingly shitty books as I’ve made my way through DC’s Rebirth line and after finishing each one I’ve naively thought to myself “Well, that’s the worst of the bunch, that’s the bottom of the barrel - nothing’s gonna be worse than (Blank)!” The first was Aquaman. And then along came Nightwing. And then Titans. And then it snowballs as you realise in horror that most of the line is utter garbage. Deathstroke. Hellblazer. Cyborg. Blue bloody Beetle. 

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Hostage by Guy Delisle Review


In July 1997 while on a mission for Doctors Without Borders, French worker Christophe Andre was kidnapped in the Russian Caucasus by Chechens and held for a $1m ransom. He thought his release would be secured in one or two days, not realising the months of captivity ahead of him! 

Friday, 12 May 2017

Dragon Ball Super, Volume 1 Review (Akira Toriyama, Toyotarou)


DRAGON BALL IS BACK DRAGON BALL IS BACK DRAGON BALL IS BAAAAAACK!!!! 

The Dragon Ball saga ended in 1995 with Dragon Ball Z after 42 volumes. Akira Toriyama’s bestselling title left behind a legacy as one of the most original, popular, influential and genre-defining comics in the world. Since then it’s only gotten more fans through the anime, the movies, and computer games, showing that there’s still an appetite for these characters and their stories.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

The New Teen Titans: The Judas Contract Review (Marv Wolfman, George Perez)


Hired by an evil cabal called HIVE, Deathstroke the Terminator takes out the Teen Titans with thanks to a Judas within the ranks – but who sold them out and why? 

The Judas Contract is another “classic” story so-called because of middle-aged fanboys looking back at this early ‘80s comic through a nostalgia filter rather than it being of high quality.  

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

FUN: Spies, Puzzle Solvers, and a Century of Crosswords by Paolo Bacilieri Review


Paolo Bacilieri’s Fun is a graphic history of the crossword puzzle - and it’s as exciting as it sounds! It’s also a bit of a mess. 

Along with the actual history of the crossword is the story of a fictional Italian novelist and a Disney comics writer who become friends and some random woman tries to assassinate the novelist. Not only that but there are a myriad number of digressions chucked in randomly like the story of: Spider-Man villain Hammerhead’s character, an English politician, an old man, the Disney comics writer’s mundane travels, a pug dog, a married woman having an affair, the strained relationship between an art collector and his father, an Italian graveyard, JD Salinger, Georges Perec, and an art student.  

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Wonder Woman, Volume 2: Year One Review (Greg Rucka, Nicola Scott)


As Greg Rucka was writing two Wonder Woman storylines simultaneously, probably to keep the same artist for the duration of each arc, allowing them extra time to draw the issues while also sticking to DC’s double-shipping schedule, his second Wonder Woman Rebirth book doesn’t follow on from the first - instead it’s a retelling of her origin. For the umpteenth time. Sigh. While the title “Year One” references the classic Batman book of the same name, Wonder Woman: Year One is unfortunately nowhere near the same quality. 

Monday, 8 May 2017

Of Love and Hunger by Julian Maclaren-Ross Review


Set in pre-war South England, a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman called Fanshawe is asked by his mate to look after his wife Sukie while he’s away at sea. The naiveté of some folk, eh? Fanshawe and Sukie end up having an affair, but, with the ever-encroaching spectre of war and the uptight morals of 1930s British society, what will become of their love? 

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Deadpool: Too Soon? Review (Joshua Corin, Todd Nauck)


Marvel meets Agatha Christie in Deadpool: Too Soon? A group of Marvel characters are invited to a secluded country mansion and then one of them is murdered. It’s up to Wade to do his best Miss Marple impression and find out whodunit! 

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Empress, Book One Review (Mark Millar, Stuart Immonen)


A long time ago (65 million years to be precise) in a galaxy not too far away… on Earth in fact! A sophisticated, yet deeply violent, space empire existed during the time of the dinosaurs led by Darkseid rip-off #576. His wife gets sick of his barbaric ways, takes their kids and runs – Darkseid-wannabe gives chase. And that’s Empress!

Friday, 5 May 2017

Loose Ends Review (Jason Latour, Chris Brunner)


The first issue of the four-part miniseries Loose Ends was published in 2007 and the fourth issue was finally published this week, ten years later! Was it worth the wait? Sorta… 

Billed as a “Southern crime romance”, Loose Ends is about a drug runner and a waitress who hit the road ahead of gangsters the drug runner ripped off who want them dead.

Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane Review


Rachel hasn’t had the best life: her dad left when she was a baby and her manipulative, cruel mother took his identity with her to the grave. Her cold husband divorced her after she had a mental breakdown covering the Haiti earthquake, the trauma causing her to lose her job as a journalist as well as turning her into a shut-in. By chance she meets her future second husband and the love of her life, Brian, who slowly helps turn things around for her. Until she realises he’s been lying to her since Day 1 about who he is and what he does. So who is “Brian” really and what does he do? Deadly consequences await Rachel as she begins to look into her beloved husband’s secret life…! 

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Blue Beetle, Volume 1: The More Things Change Review (Keith Giffen, Scott Kolins)


Hear that? That’s the sound of DC scraping the bottom of the Rebirth barrel with a title no-one was looking for: Blue Beetle! Just the name itself conjures up the lazy hackery that superhero comics can too often be. And, yes, Blue Beetle Rebirth is pure hack comics. 

Batman: Faces by Matt Wagner Review


So this was terrible! 

Bruce is trying to buy an island from another rich guy for reasons. Some French doofus wants to buy the island instead. Two-Face has gathered together some carnival freaks, whom he feels an affinity for because of his deformed face, and wants to put them on a zeppelin to somewhere - maybe the island? Apparently this is a story - and it completely sucks! 

The art looks like a bad David Mazzucchelli wannabe’s efforts. Even by Matt Wagner’s standards - the hack who gave us Monster Men and The Mad Monk - this is an awful Batman book. Don’t bother with Batman: Feces.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle by Chris Hedges Review


America is DOOMED! So argues Pulitzer Prize-winning author Chris Hedges convincingly in Empire of Illusion which critically examines 21st century American culture (or lack thereof!) and how things got this point. 

Vote Loki Review (Christopher Hastings, Langdon Foss)


Marvel cash in on election fever with miniseries Vote Loki where the God of Mischief decides to run for US President (which he can do through some contrived bullshit), er, just to fuck with people? I suppose that is mischievous. Shame it’s not at all entertaining or worth reading!

I guess the commentary here is that Loki’s surprising popularity by being brazenly immoral shows the voting public as fickle and easily misled by a power-hungry villain (hint: TRUMP) as well as being fed up with politics as usual; ie. obvious observations. Except, regarding the ending, Christopher Hastings gave the voting public too much credit in believing they actually care about substance in this day and age!

It might sound like a fun concept on paper but Vote Loki was a tedious bore, like most campaign literature!

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Batman: Detective Comics, Volume 4: The Wrath Review (John Layman, Jason Fabok)


Originally The Wrath was conceived as a version of Bruce Wayne that chose a darker path - someone who allowed hate to consume him and who grew up as a similarly-costumed figure, deciding to gun down cops in misguided revenge for his parents’ deaths. He was actually a compelling character and I’d highly recommend Batman: The Wrath to any Batman fans to find out why for themselves as well as for an entertaining read. 

Sand Land by Akira Toriyama Review


For Dragon Ball alone, Akira Toriyama is one of my favourite comics creators ever but, having recently read the first volume of Dr Slump and now Sand Land, he unfortunately doesn’t seem to have made any great books outside of Dragon Ball!

Monday, 1 May 2017

Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis Review


A young student called Clay returns to Los Angeles for Christmas break to see friends and family. His visit reads something like this: “We’re rich kids in LA! Let’s do drugs and have sex – we’re soooo hedonistic and transgressive! Ooo, let’s have sex again and do MORE drugs!” Repeat for 200 pages and you’ve got Bret Easton Ellis’ debut novel Less Than Zero!