Thursday, 31 August 2017

Batman: Detective Comics, Volume 2: The Victim Syndicate Review (James Tynion IV, Eddy Barrows)

A group of unintended casualties in Batman’s war on crime have banded together under the cringey name of The Victim Syndicate. If Batman doesn’t renounce his vigilante ways, they’ll make Gotham pay! Sigh… 

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Providence, Act One Review (Alan Moore, Jacen Burrows)

Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows reunite to follow-up their Lovecraftian horror comic, Neonomicon, with a prequel of sorts: Providence - and it’s not half bad! 

Set in 1919 New England, journalist Robert Black decides to write about a supposedly cursed book, Sous Le Monde (“Under the World”), which seems to kill everyone it comes in contact with. Black’s research sends him on a trail into the blighted netherworlds of the unspeakable darkness…, y’know, HP Lovecraft stuff! 

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

The Old Guard, Book One: Opening Fire Review (Greg Rucka, Leandro Fernandez)

Get ready to be knocked out with this original concept: people who can’t die! Woooah… yeah and that’s our protagonists in The Old Guard, a buncha unkillable soldiers-turned-mercenaries. And get this for a gripping storyline: they’re gonna grudgingly go through the motions of doing mercenary stuff because fuck it. I know, I’m on the edge of my seat too… zzz… 

Monday, 28 August 2017

Black Hammer, Volume 1: Secret Origins Review (Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston)

Superheroes are transported to a mysterious farm and get new identities for no reason - and that’s Black Hammer! 

You know what this title needs? A STORY! This first volume is all table-setting which is mostly why it’s so unsatisfying. Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston introduce their Golden Age superheroes, all of whom are derivative knockoffs of more famous characters: Abraham Slam (Captain America), Colonel Randall Weird (Doctor Strange), Talky-Walky (a generic robot), Mark Marz/Barbalien (J’onn J’onzz/Martian Manhunter), Golden Gail (Mary Marvel), Madame Dragonfly (Madame Xanadu), Black Hammer (Steel), and the big bad, Anti-God (The Anti-Monitor). 

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Sartre Review (Mathilde Ramadier, Anaïs Depommier)

Sartre is a really crappy biographical comic on the major twentieth century French philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre. Writer Mathilde Ramadier does a remarkably substandard job of explaining the philosophy of existentialism, which Sartre was most famous for, as well as failing to highlight what made him notable to the wider public in the first place. We just get a truncated overview of his (seemingly) uneventful life from bookish youth to teacher to - suddenly! - intellectual celebrity. 

Saturday, 26 August 2017

A Study in Scarlet Review (Arthur Conan Doyle, Ian Edginton)

Sherlock Holmes and John Watson meet for the first time in A Study in Scarlet, becoming roomies at 221b Baker Street and solving their first case together: murder most foul!

Ian Edginton and INJ Culbard’s comics adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic is about as good as the original which is to say that it’s just ok; Scarlet definitely isn’t the best Sherlock Holmes book. That’s largely down to the plodding explanation of the murderer’s motivations that take up most of the second half. It’s your standard lover’s revenge told in that rambling, overlong Victorian style that didn’t jibe with my modern reader’s tastes. Culbard’s art is also visually uninteresting and is more serviceable than anything.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Civil War II: Fallout Review (Al Ewing, Greg Pak)

When it comes to event comics, the tie-ins are often better than the main title but in this case Civil War II: Fallout is definitely crappier. 

Heads up: if you haven’t read the main event and are planning to, there are plenny of spoilers in this book and review so fair warning! 

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Gravel, Volume 1: Bloody Liars Review (Warren Ellis, Mike Wolfer)

Combat magician and occult detective, Bill Gravel, returns to Blighty after a year spent killing terrorists in Afghanistan - only to discover that he’s believed to be dead, his place in the Minor Seven (an elite group of magicians) has been filled and his most treasured magical item, the Sigsand Manuscript, has been divided up among its members! Gravel doesn’t like that and sets out to get back what’s his - with lethal force! 

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Star Wars, Volume 5: Yoda's Secret War Review (Jason Aaron, Salvador Larroca)

It’s nice to see a book featuring Yoda as the protagonist as he’s been largely absent during Marvel’s Star Wars relaunch. Unfortunately his adventure here is pretty damn boring! 

In a mashup between Lord of the Flies and Mad Max, Yoda goes to some primitive planet full of warring kids who use rock magic in a seemingly unending war. O...k… but doesn’t sound very Star Wars-y to me! 

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Demon, Volume 3 by Jason Shiga Review

While I’ve enjoyed Jason Shiga’s exemplary Demon enormously, Volume 3 is unfortunately the weakest book in the series so far. Which isn’t to say it’s bad but it feels a bit like filler, and repetitive filler at that, as it’s largely similar to the last volume. 

Monday, 21 August 2017

Carnage Review (Zeb Wells, Clayton Crain)

Having enjoyed Zeb Wells and Clayton Crain’s Carnage USA, I hoped their other Carnage book might also rock - and it didn’t. 

Saturday, 19 August 2017

303 Review (Garth Ennis, Jacen Burrows)

Garth Ennis does NOT like George W. Bush or his administration or seemingly America in general really and he basically uses 303 as his hate screed to show why. 

Friday, 18 August 2017

Highbone Theater by Joe Daly Review

Books like Highbone Theater make me wonder what motivates artists like Joe Daly. Is he just doing such staggering amounts of hallucinogens/weed that he really believes what he’s doing is a masterpiece of sorts and therefore worth the effort? Because this is a 560+ page comic - an amazing achievement in itself - that’s about the mundane adventures of a twentysomething stoner who doesn’t really do anything! 

Thursday, 17 August 2017

The Visitor: How and Why He Stayed Review (Mike Mignola, Chris Roberson)

A more accurate title for this book would be The Visitor: Why??? 

An alien race of watchers is unnecessarily introduced to the Hellboy universe for no reason other than to sell more comics to Hellboy fans. One of them is there when Hellboy first appears during World War 2 and his orders are to kill him because of that cliched literary trope, a “prophecy” - but the Visitor instead decides to give Hellboy a chance. From then on, he watches Hellboy’s adventures over the decades in the background, occasionally saving his ass in secret, and fighting some monsters/frog worshippers. 

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Animal Man, Volume 2: Origin of the Species Review (Grant Morrison, Chas Truog)

Grant Morrison’s second Animal Man book doesn’t improve on the lacklustre first volume being equally dull. There’s no overarching storyline to this series, it’s just a collection of random, uninteresting adventures Buddy Baker goes on. 

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Google's Ideological Echo Chamber by James Damore Review

Link to the memo:

Like a 21st century Martin Luther/Jerry Maguire, (now former) Google Software Engineer James Damore wrote a 10-page memo for his employers entitled Google’s Ideological Echo-Chamber: How Bias Clouds Our Thinking About Diversity and Inclusion - and was promptly fired! 

Monday, 14 August 2017

Batman: Gotham Shall Be Judged Review (David Hine, Guillem March)

I don’t think I’ve ever read an Azrael book before - but then I never come across them either! And this is why: Azrael sucks. This version of the character (the previous one being the laughably ‘90s Jean-Paul Valley from Knightfall) is Grant Morrison’s Michael Lane, a tortured ex-cop who gets all crazy religious for some reason, dresses up like a medieval Crusader and, like too many real-life Christians, behaves like a judgmental twat. Azrael is going to vaguely “judge” Gotham - which apparently means blowing it up? Buuh, I wonder if Batman will stop him? Snooze. 

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Kill Or Be Killed, Volume 2 Review (Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips)

In the first book we met Dylan, a grad student whose life was saved by a demon. In exchange, he had to kill someone “deserving” (ie. a shithead) each month or he would die - kill or be killed. In the second book… nothing much new happens. Dylan continues to kill and that’s about it! 

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Reborn: Book One Review (Mark Millar, Greg Capullo)

Is there life after death? Bonnie Black discovers that the answer is yes – and it’s an afterlife littered with demons, dragons, barbarians, sorcerers, orcs, samurais, aliens, faeries, flying elephants, mythical creatures; in other words, a smorgasbord of genre clichés! But the lazy writing doesn’t stop there: Bonnie is The One that The Prophecy foretold would save everyone from The Evil One. Oh, so original!

Friday, 11 August 2017

Redlands #1 Review (Jordie Bellaire, Vanesa R. Del Rey)

I get why stories sometimes start in the middle or just go straight into an action scene before doubling back. Normally it’s a scene or two, a few pages, to grab your attention AND THEN the story starts properly so you appreciate and understand the opener more. 

The first issue of Jordie Bellaire and Vanesa R. Del Rey’s Redlands is one big action scene and it doesn’t work because everything is rushed and nothing is established so it’s impossible to care about anything. 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

God Country Review (Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw)

An old dude with Alzheimer’s somehow has a Final Fantasy-type giant magical sentient sword that cures his horrible disease while he holds it – but a space wizard villain something wants it back for reasons. Stupid fighting ensues!

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Batman, Volume 3: I Am Bane Review (Tom King, David Finch)

Following his daring raid on Bane’s island home of Santa Prisca, Batman has taken the Psycho Pirate back to restore Gotham Girl’s shattered mind. But with Bane hot on his heels, will Batman be able to keep him occupied for five days - or will Bane break the Bat once and for all? 

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware Review

Four high school friends now in their thirties reunite after a terrible shared secret threatens to emerge and shatter their peaceful lives. But what they thought was a shared secret turns out to be a lie - one of them isn’t telling the truth. 

Monday, 7 August 2017

Scars Review (Warren Ellis, Jacen Burrows)

Scars is an experimental comic in that Warren Ellis set out to write a horror story that would shock even him and the end result is, yeah, genuinely disturbing! Scars centres around John Cain, a Homicide Detective already near the end of his tether, as he investigates the case of a dead little girl who’d been kidnapped, tortured for three months and then cut up and delivered in some cardboard boxes. The further Cain looks for the child’s killer, the further he moves from his own humanity. This can only end badly.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea Review (Mike Mignola, Gary Gianni)

In the words of Van Jones describing Trump and Russia, Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea is a big nothingburger. It’s the archetypical Hellboy story: Hellboy goes someplace remote, encounters some supernatural things, there’s some trite exposition, he punches a monster, the end. That’s all that happens here - nothing remotely new, different or original for readers like me who’ve read all the previous Hellboy comics. 

Gary Gianni’s art is beautifully eerie and haunting. It’s the kind of art I remember seeing in illustrated classics as a kid and the spindly lines and nineteenth century decor is perfectly suited to a ghost story. Coupled with Dave Stewart’s always dependable, sharp colours and you’ve got a wonderful-looking comic. 

The art is all Into the Silent Sea has going for it though. Mike Mignola’s firmly on autopilot in this dreary comic. Disappointingly weak - definitely not a must-read for anyone but the most ardent/completist Hellboy fans.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Saint Cole by Noah Van Sciver Review

Joe is Noah Van Sciver’s typical working class loser protagonist (literally an “Average Joe”). Working as a waiter at a local pizza joint, Joe struggles to make rent money while dealing with being a husband and father, neither of which he’s mentally prepared to be at 28 years old - he’s clearly still a manchild looking to party, screw around, etc. The pressure builds, his drinking spirals out of hand and things come to a head when his meth-ed out mother-in-law comes to stay in their crappy apartment. 

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Batman: Hong Kong Review (Doug Moench, Tony Wong)

As much as I rag on hack writers Mike Barr and Chuck Dixon, they at least wrote some good Batman comics at one point - Barr’s The Wrath and Dixon’s Bane stuff were both surprisingly great. That’s why I gave Batman: Hong Kong a shot, hoping Doug Moench - a guy who’s written a ton of Batman comics over many years all of which were stinkers - had finally gotten it right. Nope! HOW did he keep getting work?!

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Batman: False Faces Review (Brian K. Vaughan, Scott McDaniel)

Besides Batman, Bruce Wayne has another alter-ego: Matches Malone, a sleazy gangland informant. In False Faces, Bruce receives a baffling call from Oracle: Matches Malone has been shot in a downtown Gotham bar! Say whuuuut!? 

Brian K. Vaughan’s Batman comics aren’t half bad though unfortunately the book starts with the best stuff and get progressively worse from there.