Friday, 8 March 2019

Cosmopolitan by Akhil Sharma Review

Recently retired Gopal is abandoned by his wife, who’s gone to seek enlightenment in an Indian ashram, and his twentysomething daughter, who’s moved to be with her boyfriend in Germany. Alone in New Jersey and unsure how to fill his days, he unexpectedly finds himself in a relationship with his neighbour and fellow retiree Mrs Shaw and begins to read magazines like Cosmopolitan to brush up on courtship after many years of being married.

Cemetery Beach Review (Warren Ellis, Jason Howard)

Warren Ellis and Jason Howard, the creative team behind Trees, reunite for a new series: Cemetery Beach. And I’m gonna stop there - I could describe the setup, the characters’ names and blah blah blah but it really doesn’t matter. 

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku, Volume 1 by Fujita Review

Office workers by day, secret nerds by, well, all the time! Otaku are young Japanese people obsessed with games/manga/anime/cosplay, which is apparently stigmatized in Japanese society so our main characters have to hide their hobbies from co-workers/non-Otaku. Narumi starts work at a new company where her childhood friend Hirotaka also works and the two hook up. Joining them are another couple, Hanako and Kabakura, who also work in the same office, and the four of them happily nerd out in their spare time! 

The Boy in the Earth by Fuminori Nakamura Review

A depressed taxi driver and his alcoholic girlfriend stumble through life. They both hate living. That’s it! 

So this is definitely no Scorsese’s Taxi Driver - that film had a story! Not that Fuminori Nakamura’s The Boy in the Earth makes any attempt at one. It’s just one long misery-fest: the taxi driver hates himself and gets beat up, drinks, hurts himself some more, then we find out the sad details of his abusive childhood and the story’s over. 

Inuyashiki, Volume 3 by Hiroya Oku Review

The absurdly simplistic good/bad power fantasy that is Inuyashiki continues in Volume 3. The murderous sociopath from the last book is nowhere to be seen as a new baddie is introduced: a giant Yakuza scumbag who abducts women, shoots them up with drugs and rapes them until they’re dead – honestly, the villains in this series are so irredeemably OTT evil, it’s almost funny! 

B.P.R.D. The Devil You Know, Volume 2: Pandemonium Review (Mike Mignola, Scott Allie)

I have a bad habit of requesting galleys I’m not really that interested in purely because they’s freeeeeeeeeeee! Though I used to be a huge fan of all things Mignolaverse so I saw this and, even though BPRD hasn’t been good in years, my old self made me go for it because why not? It’s freeeeeeeeeeeee! And look, Hellboy’s back for no reason! Oh, you stupid man… 

The Last Days of August by Jon Ronson Review

In December 2017, pornstar August Ames (real name Mercedes Grabowski) found out that she was scheduled to shoot a scene with a male performer who had previously done gay porn and not been subsequently tested. As a result, she refused to perform in the scene and tweeted out this refusal and explanation to her followers on Twitter. This immediately led to a series of intense tweets from people calling her homophobic, demanding her to apologise and, in one case, telling her to swallow a cyanide pill! On 5 December 2017, she was found hanged from a tree in a park in Camarillo, California – she was 23 years old. But did she kill herself over online bullying – or was there more going on in the shadows that led her to take her own life…? 

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Supergirl, Volume 5: Red Daughter of Krypton Review (Tony Bedard, Yildiray Cinar)

I’m really not sure what I was thinking with this one. I kinda like the Red Lanterns – the comically-angsty version of the Green Lantern Corps – and Tony Bedard’s not that bad a writer… yeah, I was wrong. Supergirl, Volume 5: Red Daughter of Krypton is terrible! 

The Kamandi Challenge #9 Review (Tom King, Kevin Eastman)

To celebrate Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday in 2017, DC published The Kamandi Challenge, a 12 issue maxi-series starring Kirby’s character Kamandi, where tag-teams of creators would produce one issue before handing off to another. Not that I’m much of a Kirby or Kamandi fan, but I am a Tom King fan which is the reason why I’m reading issue #9 only, the one he wrote (I’m not prepared to pick up the complete book and wade through the other 11 issues considering they’re written by the likes of Dan Abnett, Keith Giffen, Marguerite Bennett, Steve Orlando and Dan Didio – there’s not enough barf in the world to express how I feel about reading those writers’ comics!). And I guess it’s appropriate that Tom King got to write an issue given Kirby’s nickname was “King”! 

Cave Girls of the Lost World by Richard Sala Review

Richard Sala’s a cartoonist but his latest, Cave Girls of the Lost World, is NOT a comic! There’s maybe half a dozen pages that are but the rest is alternating full pages of text followed by a pinup. 

The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura Review

Fuminori Nakamura’s novel The Thief has the distinction of being a quick, fast-paced read without really having a plot! Our protagonist is a skilled Tokyo pickpocket who gets roped into one scheme after another by the Yakuza (Japanese mafia) – until he isn’t. 

Kasane, Volume 1 by Daruma Matsuura Review

Fuchi-san may have inherited her dead mother’s acting talent but she unfortunately didn’t get her movie-star good looks. Except she has an ace up her sleeve: a magic lipstick that, when applied, allows her to temporarily have the face of the person she kisses! Ugly duckling Fuchi-san can finally experience what it’s like to be beautiful – but where will this power lead her… 

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Giant Days, Volume 11 Review (John Allison, Max Sarin)

After being rejected by beautiful Goth princess Esther, Ed Gemmell’s been mending his broke heart (and ankles) with Amazonian Aussie babe Extreme Sports Nina – and the two have fallen in love! So, irony of ironies, when Ess sees Ed and Neen together for the first time, she realises she’s in love with Ed too! Two drop-dead gorges chasing after you? Ed, mate: hi-fucking-five! And TEACH ME! 

The Victim by PD James Review

In PD James’ The Victim, the first husband of a celebrity relates how he got away with killing her second husband after she dumped him to begin her climb up the ladder of wealth and power. 

Look Back and Laugh by Liz Prince Review

Filling the void left when James Kochalka ended his brilliant daily diary strip American Elf is Liz Prince with Look Back and Laugh. The book collects all of her daily comics from 2016, originally available only to her patrons on Patreon – and it’s really good! 

Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You, Volume 1 by Karuho Shiina Review

Sawako Kuronuma is a lonely schoolgirl, ostracised for looking like Sadako, the creepy girl from The Ring movies. Then one day popular boy Kazehaya starts talking to her and her classmates see her in a different light. Um… that’s it?

The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage by Ryan Holiday Review

Stoicism: the ancient philosophy that teaches mental endurance in the face of hardship. Ryan Holiday explores this outstanding philosophy and how it can help us in our everyday lives in The Obstacle is the Way: The Ancient Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage. 

Monday, 25 February 2019

Xerxes: The Fall of the House of Darius and the Rise of Alexander by Frank Miller Review

Striking when the iron’s hot, Frank Miller follows up 300 20 YEARS after it was first published with Xerxes: The Fall of the House of Darius and the Rise of Alexander - and it really wasn’t worth the wait. It’s such a rubbish sequel. And so confusing! I had no idea what was going on and had to do my own research to understand what Miller should’ve been able to convey if he were still a competent storyteller. 

The Magic Order Review (Mark Millar, Olivier Coipel)

The Magic Order secretly battles threats to humanity and keeps the peace - until now. A renegade group of magicians led by the evil Madame Albany is challenging the current Order, headed up by the patriarch of the Moonstone family, for power, and removing anyone in their way via the mysterious and deadly assassin, The Venetian. But do the Moonstones have a trick up their sleeve to prevail against this seemingly unstoppable onslaught…? 

Venom, Volume 1: Rex Review (Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman)

Eddie Brock’s having some trouble with the Symbiote again. I know, jesus, every fucking Venom story is the Symbiote tussling with its host, whether it’s Eddie Brock, Flash Thompson, yo’ momma’s fat ass whoever! Venom turns to a Vietnam vet called Rex for help and the secret history of the Symbiotes is revealed as a new big bad appears to fight Denim. Ah, Eminem - remember when he was cool? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out his song for the Venom movie. 

Home After Dark by David Small Review

Set sometime in the 1950s/60s, 13 year old Russell Pruit and his father set out to make a new life for themselves in California after Russ’ mother leaves them in Ohio. But will life be any better on the West Coast? 

Sunday, 17 February 2019

The Inner Room by Robert Aickman Review

A little girl is given a doll’s house for her birthday. And, because this is a Robert Aickman short story, it turns out to be haunted! Wooooooo, spooky stuff! 

I like the idea of the story, which has a kind of Russian nesting doll structure to it, and aspects of it as well, like the hidden room that can be seen from the outside but not found within. And the final act was suitably creep-tastic. 

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Criminal #2 Review (Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips)

So if you read the first issue and you’re reading the second, you’re gonna be wondering what the fuuuuck is this? Because Ed Brubaker totally ignores the Lawless storyline set up in issue one and tells a completely new storyline in Criminal #2: Bad Weekend! 

Superman: Action Comics Volume 1: Invisible Mafia Review (Brian Michael Bendis, Patrick Gleason)

Is it a bird?
Is it a plane?
What? No, it’s Brian Bendis’ third Superman collection! 
Wait, did you say “turd”? Because, yes, this is another terrible Bendis Superman book! 

Friday, 15 February 2019

Birthday Girl by Haruki Murakami Review

Published as its own dinky lil book in celebration of the author’s 70th this year, Haruki Murakami’s Birthday Girl (previously published in the Birthday Stories anthology) is about a waitress who, on her 20th birthday, takes dinner to the reclusive restaurant owner who lives above her workplace - a person who isn’t quite who he appears to be at first… 

Thursday, 14 February 2019

A Walk Through Hell, Volume 1: The Warehouse Review (Garth Ennis, Goran Sudzuka)

“A walk through hell” pretty accurately sums up the experience of reading most of Garth Ennis’ recent output: his second World of Tanks book, the DC books Dastardly and Muttley and Sixpack and Dog-Welder, his other Aftershock book Jimmy’s Bastards, which was a book-length Viz joke, and now this one! 

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Flashpoint Review (Geoff Johns, Andy Kubert)

Flash’s mom was murdered when he was a kid so he decides to travel back in time and stop the killer. Except messing with the timestream has kinda caused everything to get fucked up - oopsies! Who’da thunk it?! Really, superheroes have just gotta get over their tragic backstories and move on… 

Monday, 11 February 2019

Gun Theory Review (Daniel Way, Jon Proctor)

Gun Theory - the theory of… guns? Can you have theories for things that categorically exist?? So basically the book has a cool-sounding but nonsensical title! 

A hitman whose speciality is his forgettable appearance is remembered by a girl during a job - a girl he lets live. Kicking himself afterwards, he decides to go back and “clean up”. Only she’s not the helpless woman he thinks she is.... 

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Smashed by Junji Ito Review

Smashed is the latest collection of short horror mangas by acclaimed (though I don’t know why!) creator Junji Ito, none of which were especially good! I won’t go through each and every one in this bumper book but no single story stood out over the others - they were all pretty dumb! 

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Inuyashiki, Volume 2 by Hiroya Oku Review

After a meh first volume, the series starts getting interesting as a nemesis for our titular hero is introduced: Shishigami, a sociopathic high schooler with the same crazy machine superpowers as Inuyashiki - only he uses them for evil, not good! 

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Picnic in the Storm by Yukiko Motoya Review

A lonely housewife takes up bodybuilding. A shop assistant tries to find the perfect outfit for a customer she never sees who’s locked in the fitting room. Broken umbrellas make people fly in typhoons, small musical instruments fall out of straw husbands and women duel with their male partners in the night - this is Yukiko Motoya’s short story collection, Picnic in the Storm! 

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Hunt for Wolverine: Weapon Lost Review (Charles Soule, David Marquez)

Me dudes, get ready to pick your jaws up off the floor: y’know the most recent time Wolverine died? TURNS OUT HE DIDN’T REALLY DIE! I know, what a shocker! Marvel killed off one of its most popular characters - what a bold choice BUT NOT REALLY WHAAAAA

Monday, 4 February 2019

The Lydia Steptoe Stories by Djuna Barnes Review

Obscure 20th century writer Djuna Barnes wrote three stories under the pseudonym Lydia Steptoe from 1922 to 1924 and they’re collected in this dinky little paperback apparently for the first time. And they suck! 

Tony Stark: Iron Man, Volume 1: Self-Made Man Review (Dan Slott, Valerio Schiti)

After over a decade of writing Amazing Spider-Man, Dan Slott’s finally left the character behind and jumped onto the MCU’s foundational character, Iron Man. Slott is a very inconsistent writer who can occasionally turn out some great books, like his early work on Superior Spider-Man and Silver Surfer, but can also quite easily churn out complete rubbish – and unfortunately the latter applies for Tony Stark: Iron Man, Volume 1: Self-Made Man. 

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Mis(h)adra by Iasmin Omar Ata Review

Mis(h)adra is the autobiographical story of a young Middle Eastern student struggling with epilepsy. The title refers to two Arabic words: “mishadra”, which means “cannot”, and “misadra”, which means “seizure”. There isn’t really a story. The author’s stand-in, Isaac, suffers from epilepsy and… by the end, he’s still suffering? 

Friday, 1 February 2019

Violenzia and Other Deadly Amusements by Richard Sala Review

Richard Salad (I know his surname’s “Sala” but autocorrect changed it to “salad” and it made me laugh so I’m keeping it in!) makes macabre, spooky comics but this time he mixes in some cheesy action with his Violenzia stories. 

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom by Sylvia Plath Review

Mary Ventura bids a reluctant farewell to her parents before embarking on a train journey to the mysterious Ninth Kingdom. But what is the Ninth Kingdom - and will Mary reach it safely? 

Sylvia Plath’s short story sounds dreamlike and that’s exactly how it reads! The premise and overall atmosphere feels like Plath by way of Shirley Jackson/The Twilight Zone though unfortunately it’s nowhere near as good as either. Considering she wrote this as a 20 year old undergraduate at Smith, the prose is surprisingly strong and you can see her literary talents emerging. Still, I wouldn’t call it a gripping or even half-interesting reading experience. 

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Inside Moebius, Volume 1 by Moebius Review

Legendary French cartoonist Jean “Moebius” Giraud indulges in some extended naval gazing with Inside Moebius, Part 1 (of 6!). While I appreciate his artistic skill and influence on many comics creators, I’m not a big Moebius fan, haven’t read much of his work and what little I have hasn’t blown my hair back. Ditto Inside Moebius which I found very tedious. 

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

World of Tanks: Citadel Review (Garth Ennis, PJ Holden)

Operation Zitadelle took place on the Eastern front in the summer of 1943 and saw 780,800 German troops and nearly 3000 tanks take on over 2 million Russians and over 5000 tanks – ‘twas quite the argy-bargy! Shame Garth Ennis turns it into a very dull comic in his second World of Tanks books, Citadel. 

Monday, 28 January 2019

Cold Hand in Mine by Robert Aickman Review

Good gravy, where do I start? So it’s taken me, on and off, nearly three months to get through this relatively ordinary-sized short story collection - and that ain’t a good sign! Of the eight stories here, one is really good and one is half decent - the others? Holy guacamoleshit - you need the patience of a fucking saint to get through those! 

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Bully Wars Review (Skottie Young, Aaron Conley)

Nerdy kids get bullied until they start high school and their bully realises there are bigger bullies and starts getting a taste of his own medicine! To save face, he must enter the Bully Wars, an absurd local competition for the town’s bullies to prove their mettle - or something - and… the nerds is gonna help him win?! 

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Luisa: Now and Then Review (Carole Maurel, Mariko Tamaki)

In the tradition of wacky body swap fantasies like Freaky Friday and Big (still Tim Honks’ best movie) comes the story of a grouchy 33 year old who meets her 15 year old self somehow! They fight, They bite, They bite and fight and bite, Bite, bite, bite, Fight, fight, fight, The Itchy and Scratchy Show Luisa: Now and Then! But, y’know, slightly more serious because LGBT stuff. 

Polar: Came from the Cold by Victor Santos Review

Unstoppable spy/hitman/bounty hunter/doesn’t matter takes on generic international baddies syndicate because action! Lots of guns, lots of dead goons, a whole lotta nuthin’ - this is Polar: The Spy Who Bored Me! 

Victor Santos’ Polar is the most derivative comic I’ve read in a while. About the only thing that held my interest was noting Victor Santos’ very obvious influences. The art style ranged from Frank Miller’s Sin City to Eduardo Risso’s 100 Bullets to Michael Avon Oeming. 

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Constant Companion by Noah Van Sciver Review

Careful you don’t fall off the edge of your seat when reading Noah Van Sciver’s Constant Companion! Contained within are short, scratchy diary strips of everyday mundanity and quiet sketches of ordinary people and objects. I feel tense all over again just recalling the comic where Noah had a nap, woke up and did some drawing! 

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Justice League Dark, Volume 2: The Books of Magic Review (Peter Milligan, Jeff Lemire)

Ah Justice League Dorks, the Paul Daniels version of the Justice League. However, unlike Paul’s catchphrase “You’ll like this… not a lot, but you’ll like it”, you won’t like this, not even a little! 

In Peter Milligan’s portion of the book, the JLD fight an army of vampires while trying to recruit a special vampire just cos. Things move laterally from terrible to terrible as Jeff Lemire takes over writing and the JLD try to get The Books of Magic before some evil magicians do. Boring doesn’t begin to express the experience of reading either of these stories. 

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

An Untouched House by Willem Frederik Hermans Review

1944, and, somewhere on the Eastern front, an unnamed man sorta fighting for the Red Army oddly finds himself alone in a luxuriously large empty house. Quickly shedding his uniform for civvies, he decides to pass himself off as the owner. But as the battle lines shift, the Germans move back into the area – as well as the real owner of the house. What will our man do???

Monday, 21 January 2019

To the Heart of the Storm by Will Eisner Review

To the Heart of the Storm is Will Eisner’s memoir of growing up in Depression-era New York as well as a truncated bio of his maw and paw. It’s framed by a 25 year old Eisner looking out of a train window as he heads to war in 1942 looking back on his past. 

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Supergirl: Being Super Review (Mariko Tamaki, Joelle Jones)

Being Super is a kind of Earth One-type origin story for Supergirl that’s basically garbage. I’m not that familiar with the character but I’m not sure her origin, as laid out by Mariko Tamaki, is supposed to be quite so derivative of Superman’s: her Kryptonian pod lands at a farm outside a small American town where the kindly childless couple raise her as their own, doing their best to hide her burgeoning superpowers. Sound familiar? There’s even a page where she lifts up a tractor! 

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Disquiet by Noah Van Sciver Review

Disquiet is a pretty decent anthology collection of Noah Van Sciver’s comics, some of which have been published before as single comics. Like The Lizard Laughs, the best story here, about a young man reconnecting with his estranged, deadbeat dad who abandoned his family years ago. 

Friday, 18 January 2019

George's Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl Review

I don’t remember much about George’s Marvellous Medicine from when I read it as a kid except that I didn’t love it. So I was curious to find out exactly why I thought that and whether the book might be better now that I’m older and (barely) wiser.

Well: I think George’s Marvellous Medicine might be Roald Dahl’s worst book!