Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Judge Dredd, Volume 3 Review (Duane Swierczynski, Nelson Daniel)

Hmm. I am NOT having much luck picking out good comics this week! I’m not a huge fan of Duane Swierczynski’s but he’s written some ok books in the past. Unfortunately I seem to have managed to grab two of his worst comics efforts with Birds of Prey Volume 3 and now Judge Dredd Volume 3 - and I’m gonna be avoiding any books with his name on going forward! 

Monday, 30 October 2017

Superman vs. Predator Review (David Michelinie, Alex Maleev)

Superman vs. Predator should be a more fun read than it is. I mean, I expected Superman to be depowered instantly (which he is) because if he weren’t, it’d be the quickest of fights but I hoped to be more entertained than I was. As it is, this book is unfortunately a tedious and overlong bore of a read.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Birds of Prey, Volume 3: A Clash of Daggers Review (Duane Swierczynski, Gail Simone)

Birds of Prey, Volume 3: A Clash of Daggers is the most braindead DC comic I’ve read since the last one; so, since yesterday! It stars a group of morons who, when they’re not arbitrarily fighting each other, are fighting a series of cookie-cutter villains in one repetitive story after another. It’s books like this that cause non-comics readers to look down on superhero comics in the first place.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Batman: Birth of the Demon Review (Dennis O'Neill, Norm Breyfogle)

Batman: Birth of the Demon is Ra’s Al-Ghul’s origin story – and it’s so astoopid!

Set hundreds of years ago, Ra’s was once the kind and gentle Middle Eastern doctor to the Salimb (an Arabic king) – middle middle middle, he becomes the evil Demon’s Head who hates Batman and wants to destroy humanity.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Moby Dick Review (Christophe Chaboute, Herman Melville)

Artist Christophe Chaboute adapts into comics what is considered to be THE Great American Novel, Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick. What’d I think? Call me… ambivalent! 

Chaboute’s adaptation is faithful to the original, including all the major themes/scenes/characters and hitting the same story beats, bar the most famous opening line in all world literature - “Call me Ishmael” - which is cleverly relocated. The story, if you’re somehow unfamiliar with it: set in the 19th century at the height of the whaling industry operating out of Nantucket, New England, our humble narrator Ishmael sets sail on what turns out to be the tragic final voyage of the doomed whaling ship, the Pequod. Its captain is the mad Ahab whose obsession with hunting down the vicious white sperm whale who ate his leg, Moby Dick, threatens to kill his entire crew.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire Review (Neil Gaiman, Shane Oakley)

“Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire” - quite the title, eh? Shane Oakley adapts into comics Neil Gaiman’s short story taking the piss out of the kind of classic 18th/19th century Gothic Romances that Ann Radcliffe and Horace Walpole wrote.

Batgirl, Volume 1: Silent Running Review (Scott Peterson, Kelley Puckett)

Batgirl/Cassandra Cain was definitely the breakout star of the sprawling early ‘00s Batman storyline, No Man’s Land. The full-face mask and the not speaking made her extra-mysterious and cool. It’s taken me a while to check out her solo series but I kinda wished I hadn’t bothered as unfortunately it’s not very good. 

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The New 52: Futures End, Volume 1 Review (Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire)

Once upon a time Batman and Mister Terrific created a sentient AI called Brother Eye. 35 years later Brother Eye enslaved all of humanity! Dawww, they grow up so fast, don’t they? 

So, taking a page from Marvel’s playbook of clichés, Batman Beyond/Terry McGinnis travels back in time to avert this disaster and stop Brother Eye’s creation. Except he misses the mark, arriving five years too late. These Batmen, eh? Utter fuck-ups!

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

I Hate Fairyland, Volume 3: Good Girl Review (Skottie Young, Jean-Francois Beaulieu)

Gertie’s still stuck in Fairyland looking for a way out. Could she finally escape if the murderous lil’ psychopath does the unthinkable: become a… Good Girl???

Like the second volume, the third I Hate Fairyland book is just ok. The “Gertie getting home” storyline is definitely feeling stale at this point and her attempts at being “good” aren’t that interesting. She goes to a fantasy con and meets her biggest fan, fights shiitake mushroom samurais, and goes up against a Jareth from Labyrinth pastiche – all very meh.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Redneck, Volume 1: Deep in the Heart Review (Donny Cates, Lisandro Estherren)

Texan vampires fight Texan Christians in the mightily underwhelming first volume of Redneck. 

The thin story is unnecessarily convoluted given how simplistic it is, the characters are a hateable bunch of dreary idiots and Lisandro Esterren’s artwork is absolutely horrible and ugly – we’re talking high school level doodling. Worse, the comic is narrated in a pompous, self-important and unconvincing “wise” tone that it hasn’t earned. Like his other unimpressive Image series God Country, Donny Cates is once again doing his best Cormac McCarthy impression and making a fool of himself in the process.

I was bored the entire time – everything about Redneck sucked. It’ll inevitably invite comparisons to the superb Southern Bastards, purely because every comic set in the American South seems to these days, but don’t you believe it – Redneck is trash.

Green Valley Review (Max Landis, Giuseppe Camuncoli)

An elite group of knights are hired by villagers being terrorised by a wizard and his dragons. Unoriginal, generic, clichéd? Sounds like a Max Landis comic to me!

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Midnight Fishermen: Gekiga of the 1970s by Yoshihiro Tatsumi Review

Midnight Fishermen is the final book by Yoshihiro Tatsumi to be published before his death in 2015. It collects nine stories from the early 1970s, so unfortunately there’s no new material here, though they’ve never appeared in English translation before and they’re mostly good too. 

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger Review

Is Western civilization the pinnacle of human achievement? In Tribe, Sebastian Junger questions this notion by looking at, among other examples, why colonial Americans left behind the burgeoning settlements to live with the tribal Indians; why, as technological advances have sped up over time (and accelerate still faster today), we are all “connected” and yet more and more of us feel isolated, depressed and unsatisfied with life in the Information Age; and why comfort is killing us and, rather than avoiding it, hardship and intense trauma like war can be the greatest and most cherished experiences life can offer.

Friday, 20 October 2017

The Walking Dead: Here's Negan! Review (Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard)

Heeeeeeere’s.... an obvious cash-grab! Ahhh, who can blame Image, eh? The Walking Dead is their Batman/Spider-Man - that they haven’t exploited it as much as DC/Marvel have their own properties is pretty remarkable in itself! So, in order to make their Image+ magazine successful, a short, serialized Walking Dead spinoff starring the title’s best character, Negan, was included. And it wasn’t bad! 

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Superman: Camelot Falls, Volume 1 Review (Kurt Busiek, Carlos Pacheco)

Kurt Busiek’s written a couple of great Superman books but unfortunately Camelot Falls ain’t one of them! 

A 17th century wizard time-travels to the present to warn Superman that the future is grim if he keeps up being heroic. In a totally unconnected subplot, Supes has to punch a crappy Doomsday-knockoff before having to fight an even more one-dimensional baddie called Khyber. Deeeerivel? Yope – drivel indeed!

Sunday, 15 October 2017

The Relive Box and Other Stories by TC Boyle Review

TC Boyle is a fine novelist but, if you want to see this literary eagle soar, you need to read his short stories. Boyle shows why he’s one of the best short story writers in the world with his latest brilliant collection, The Relive Box and Other Stories.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

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

And so Alan Moore’s meandering and flummoxing mash note to HP Lovecraft, Providence, comes to an awkward, unsatisfying and confusing end in Act Three. Watch in dismay as Robert Black continues to tediously research his book on New England folklore until he doesn’t and then the world sort of ends! Oh my god, what a load of pretentious bollocks!

The Valley of Fear Review (Arthur Conan Doyle, Ian Edginton)

A wealthy American businessman is murdered in his English manor house, his head blown off by a double-barrelled shotgun - whodunit and why? 

The Valley of Fear is one of the better Sherlock Holmes stories but it’s still a fairly mediocre read. It’s a fine story of revenge and intrigue full of American gangsters and Freemasons (like A Study in Scarlet, Arthur Conan Doyle clearly viewed the United States as a romantically dangerous country full of rogues!), and the mystery is well put-together. 

Friday, 13 October 2017

Batman: Bride of the Demon Review (Mike Barr, Tom Grindberg)

BLEURGH! Nothing to see here guys, move on, really. I thought I’d turned a corner with Mike Barr’s Batman comics after being pleasantly surprised with both The Wrath and Son of the Demon - and then I read Bride of the Demon. And while it’s not as offensively bad as Year Two, it’s still absolute garbage. 

James Bond: Black Box Review (Benjamin Percy, Rapha Lobosco)

Black Box is the first stinker in Dynamite’s otherwise strong new line of James Bond comics. From the Alpine opener to the showdown with the villain, the whole book reads like Benjamin Percy sat down and made a list of things readers expect to see in a James Bond story and then wrote his script, ticking them off as he went! 

Thursday, 12 October 2017

The Mighty Thor, Volume 3: The Asgard/Shi'ar War Review (Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman)

Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman’s once-great Thor series tanks HARD with this turd volume, The Asgard/Shi’Ar War, a boring book full of inconsequential, dull stories. Malekith’s still kicking up a stink with the War of the Realms storyline but that nonsense only lasts for a couple of issues before we get into a useless five issue storyline where Thor has a contest with the Shi’Ar Gods over who’s the better god. And will Jane Foster hang onto her senate seat?! Snore… 

Royal City, Volume 1: Next of Kin by Jeff Lemire Review

The fractured Pike family are brought back together to the dying industrial town of Royal City when the elderly patriarch, Peter, suffers a stroke. But they also have another shared commonality: dead Tommy Pike, drowned at age 14, who haunts each of the family in his own way. In this time of crisis, the family must finally confront their dark past. But is Tommy somehow still alive…? 

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Batman: Dark Knight, Dark City Review (Peter Milligan, Kieron Dwyer)

I haven’t been reading Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Dark Nights: Metal (I will though) but apparently their story, kinda like Grant Morrison’s Batman RIP and The Black Casebook, takes inspiration from all sorts of random DC comics from the past like this stinker from 1990, Peter Milligan’s Dark Knight, Dark City. And I bet it’s the flimsiest of connections too like the demon Barbathos who appears in this book shows up in one scene in Metal or something.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Punisher MAX: The Platoon #1 Review (Garth Ennis, Goran Parlov)

After a break of nearly ten years, the definitive Punisher writer, Garth Ennis, is back for a new addition to arguably the character’s finest series, Punisher MAX, with Platoon. Except it’s not really a Punisher comic. I mean, it is in that it’s about Frank Castle, the Punisher, but it’s about Frank’s first command in the Vietnam War and Frank became the Punisher after his third tour of duty (see Punisher: Born for that story). So Platoon is essentially a Vietnam War comic with a slight Marvel flavour and a prequel to a prequel to boot! 

Saturday, 7 October 2017

The Unbelievable Gwenpool, Volume 3: Totally in Continuity Review (Christopher Hastings, Gurihiru)

Totally In Continuity is the first misfire in Christopher Hastings’ otherwise excellent Unbelievable Gwenpool run. Not that it’s completely bad but it’s definitely not as good as the first two books. 

I think that’s because it’s a grab-bag of random stories so this volume feels like a transition/buffer book between the first story arc and the next. It opens with a throwaway story where Gwen’s hired to protect some supernatural folk from Blade the Vampire Hunter. It’s a meh read and unfortunately doesn’t feature series regular Gurihiru’s sublime art. Instead we have to make do with Myisha Haynes’ Squirrel Girl-level art which is plain at best - it’s really no substitute. 

Friday, 6 October 2017

Sex Criminals, Volume 4: Fourgy! Review (Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky)

This comic. This fucking comic. Sex Crimz is back on form with the brilliantly titled Volume 4: Fourgy!

Story-wise there isn’t much happening and that’s my only complaint about this book. Essentially it’s still Sex Criminals vs Sex Cops but there’s barely any conflict between them here. Kegelface fucks with Ana’s teaching job and… that’s it.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

England Your England by George Orwell Review

George Orwell thinks England’s not that bad and up yours to anyone who thinks otherwise! 

Orwell’s essay takes a meandering and questionable look at the nebulous British national character with its positives and negatives. Among the topics touched upon are the distinct class divides, the curiously anti-militaristic attitude of the time juxtaposed with the existence of the Empire (maintained through military strength), and the not especially patriotic views of the general public - until a bully like Hitler starts throwing his weight around and then everyone’s signing up to fight for King and Country!

Orwell never fails to write well but this time the content didn’t grab me in the way it normally does. The subject matter is not especially compelling or insightful and his conclusions were unconvincing and felt largely pointless. I guess he was in a nationalistic mood while Hitler was bombing London and this was the result? 

George Orwell was a fantastic essayist whose reportage is absolutely worth reading but the rambling England Your England is definitely not among his best work.

The Walking Dead, Volume 28: A Certain Doom Review (Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard)

I never know what to expect with The Walking Dead because the quality ebbs and flows - two books in a row might stink but the next will be great, and so on like that. So I’m delighted to say that Volume 28: A Certain Doom is not just one of the good ones but also one of the best additions to the series yet! 

The biggest challenge Rick’s group has ever faced is upon them: a thousands-strong herd of zombies sent their way by the Whisperers. Even if they survive, some are bound to fall - but who? 

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Batman: Son of the Demon Review (Mike W. Barr, Jerry Bingham)

Son of the Demon is another episode of Batman and his mad in-laws, the Al-Ghul’s. He may get to plow the mega-hawt Talia but he’s gotta put up with his mental father-in-law’s ravings about wiping out humanity over dinner – the things we do to wet our beaks, eh? And what’s that – the pitter-patter of tiny feet? Will Batman finally cheer up??