Monday, 25 May 2020

Naomi: Season One Review (Brian Michael Bendis, Jamal Campbell)

A kid, sent to Earth on a spaceship by their birth parents who’re left behind on a doomed planet, is raised by surrogate parents in a small American town and discovers they gots superpowers. Wow - how DOES Brian Bendis come up with such original ideas? Bendis - the dude also writing both Superman titles! But yeah this kid is Naomi, not Superpants - although he is all over that first issue to let you know this be a DC book and, y’know, parallels and junk.

Frogcatchers by Jeff Lemire Review

A man awakens in an obvious nightmare/metaphor for dying where he’ll meet his younger self, frog monsters and the inevitable sentimentality that comes with looking back upon one’s life. Serious! Feels! Scroogecatchers!

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Dictator by Robert Harris Review

Dictator is the final chapter in Robert Harris’ Cicero trilogy, recounting the great Roman’s final fifteen years through the eyes of his faithful secretary Tiro. And I was really hoping it’d be better than Lustrum and as good as Imperium but unfortunately it wasn’t.

Adele by Leïla Slimani Review

Adele’s public life seems perfect: a journalist married to a doctor, mother to their three year old son, living the cosmopolitan life in Paris. Her private life though is bleak: a secret sex addict, she joylessly sleeps with any and almost every man she comes across, each degrading coupling becoming more desperate and unfulfilling. With no end in sight from her increasingly out-of-control behaviour, how long can she keep her private life from being exposed?

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Witch Hat Atelier, Volume 1 by Kamome Shirahama Review

Coco, the daughter of the village seamstress, dreams of being a witch. And she gets her chance at being one after a mysterious figure at a fair sells her a magic book and wand. Except she doesn’t know what she’s doing and accidentally transforms her mother into a statue! Luckily, a good witch – Qifrey – is nearby to save her from herself and decides to take her in as one of his students at his atelier. Coco must study magic to pass the Four Trials of the Librarians, gain access to the Tower of Tomes, and use what she finds there to undo the spell on her ma!

What a Carve Up! by Jonathan Coe Review

I have no idea why this book got stuck in my head years ago as something I had to read but it did and when I saw it on a shelf recently I thought why not give it a crack at long last now? And I’m glad I finally read it but… eh, it’s just ok.

Friday, 22 May 2020

Young Justice, Volume 1: Gemworld Review (Brian Michael Bendis, Patrick Gleason)

Not familiar with Young Justice or whatever the hell “Gemworld” is? Me neither - nor is it a problem as Brian Bendis’ 8725th new DC title (this month - there’s gotta be like 5000 clones of this guy in a giant underground bunker somewhere writing all these comics!) is surprisingly accessible for newcomers given that its premise seems aimed at established fans.

People Who Eat Darkness: Love, Grief and a Journey into Japan's Shadows by Richard Lloyd Parry Review

Lucie Blackman was deep in debt and her poorly paid job as a British Airways stewardess wasn’t going to get her out of it. And then the 21 year old heard about making big money in Japan as a hostess to Japanese salarymen: paid bar companions to talk to men, light their cigarettes, pour their drinks, and sing karaoke; there is no sexual component to hostessing as touching is forbidden. Attractive foreign women, like Lucie, are seen as exotic in Japan and even in the seedy Tokyo district of Roppongi you were safe (the Japanese crime rate is remarkably low). It sounded like a good plan, so she joined her friend Louise Phillips and set off from England in May 2000 – she would never return. Lucie went missing in July 2000 and her dismembered body was found in a cave on the coast 30 miles south of Tokyo in February 2001. How did things go so badly?

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Champions, Volume 1: Change the World Review (Mark Waid, Humberto Ramos)

Generally I’m not a fan of superhero team books as they tend to be formulaic and dull - we gotta punch that big thing together while vapidly bantering! So I was surprised to find myself kinda enjoying the first volume of Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos’ Champions.

Lustrum by Robert Harris Review

I tried reading Lustrum a while ago but gave up early on, sensing that it wasn’t anywhere near as good as its preceding book, Imperium. Except I really want to read Dictator, the final book in Robert Harris’ Cicero trilogy, which I’m hoping will be awesome, and I’ve been on a Harris kick lately, so I powered through Lustrum – and I was right the first time because unfortunately it ain’t all that and a bag of potatoes!

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

We Never Learn, Volume 1 by Taishi Tsutsui Review

Nariyuki Yuiga is a brilliant but poor high school student who’s offered a scholarship to the university of his choice – with one condition: tutor maths genius Rizu Ogata and literature genius Rumino Furuhashi to excel at their chosen subjects to get into the universities of their choices. Except Rizu wants to be good at literature and Rumino wants to be good at maths, and neither are remotely good at either! Sounds like this wacky crazy manga needs multiple volumes and a hit anime show to play out!

Archangel by Robert Harris Review

Historian “Fluke” Kelso flies to Moscow to attend a symposium on Stalin, his specialist subject, and discovers the existence of a secret notebook Stalin kept during his final years – what does it contain??

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Wolverine: Infinity Watch Review (Gerry Duggan, Andy MacDonald)

The Infinity Stones have become fused to people thanks to Adam Warlock in the latest Infinity Wars book. One of them peeps is a Texas death row inmate who now finds himself pursued by the galaxy’s most dangerous power-hungry loonies (not Thanos for once)! It’s down to the unlikely pair of the freshly-resurrected Wolverine and the newly un-Sorcerer-Supremed Loki to protect poor Hector in Wolverine: Infinity Watch.

Enigma by Robert Harris Review

Enigma: the Nazis’ unbreakable encryption machine used to send coded messages throughout their armed forces. Secretly broken by the Allies and monitored by the geniuses at Bletchley Park, England, the Nazis’ suspicions lead them to change Enigma’s settings so that the Allies find themselves locked out in the winter of 1943 - just as an immense fleet leaves New York with precious supplies for the Allied war effort. The convoy is headed into North Atlantic waters teeming with U-Boats and no idea of where they are. It’s down to Bletchley’s finest to find a way back into Enigma in just a few days – except the last time they got back into Enigma took them ten months! Leading the charge is wicked smaht mathematician Tom Jericho, recovering from a nervous breakdown and a broken heart. But just as the Allies find themselves locked out of Enigma, Tom’s sweetheart, Claire Romilly, also working at Bletchley, goes missing along with some codes – are the two connected; was Claire a Nazi spy?

Monday, 18 May 2020

The Color of Money by Walter Tevis Review

Like The Hustler, I never saw the movie of The Color of Money but I knew it was directed by Martin Scorsese and starred Tom Cruise along with Paul Newman, reprising his role as “Fast” Eddie Felson. So I looked it up on IMDB after reading this book thinking Cruise’s character was Babes Cooley, the cocky young upstart who’s Eddie’s nemesis in this book and… nope! He plays someone called “Vincent Lauria”, a character who’s not in the book at all, while Babes, and other key characters like Fats Minnesota and Arabella, are all seemingly absent and the plot is about Eddie training Vincent up as his protege. So basically: the book and the movie share a title and a main character and nothing else!

My Wife is Wagatsuma-san, Volume 1 Review (Yuu Kuraishi, Keishi Nishikida)

Dorky kid Aoshima, like every other boy, lusts after Wagatsuma-san, the cutest girl in school. But, as Wheatus sang in Teenage Dirtbag, she doesn’t know who he is and she doesn’t give a damn about him! One day, Aoshima wakes up and he’s somehow time-slipped ten years into the future – and he’s married to Wagatsuma-san! Howhaa…?! (Ooh yeah, dirt bag!)

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Sorry I Ruined Your Childhood: Berkeley Mews Comics by Ben Zaehringer Review

Andrews McMeel has made a pretty successful business publishing the best gag comics the internet has to offer, giving us the likes of The Oatmeal and Sarah Andersen, along with some of the crummiest like Soppy and Man, I Hate Cursive. Fortunately, Ben Zaehringer’s Sorry I Ruined Your Childhood from is among their better titles.

The Punisher, Volume 3: King of the New York Streets Review (Becky Cloonan, Matt Horak)

Frank’s back in New York to chew bubblegum and shoot punks – well, he never really chewed bubblegum!

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Far From Home by Walter Tevis Review

Far From Home is Walter Tevis’ only short story collection, and, I know everyone seems to say this cliched comment about all short story collections (or at least I do) - “it’s a mixed bag” - but they say it because it’s true! Rarely is a short story collection full of bangers and Far From Home is no different - there’s both good and bad stuff here.

X-Men: Red, Volume 1: The Hate Machine Review (Tom Taylor, Mahmud Asrar)

Why have there been so many Jean Grey books from Marvel these past couple years - is she anyone’s favourite X-character?! So following on from the unremarkable Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey, X-Men Red (red because Jean’s got red hair?) is an X-Men team book headed up by Jean. And it’s as boring as most of the X-Men books we’ve been getting lately!

Friday, 15 May 2020

The Walking Dead, Volume 32: Rest In Peace Review (Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard)

It’s… over?

Wha… no foolin’!? Sweet zombie jesus!

House of X #2 Review (Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz)

Moira MacTaggert’s mutant power is reincarnation – except she remembers every past life each time she respawns! This is the story of her many lives and what she learned in them.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

All-Rounder Meguru, Volume 2 by Hiroki Endo Review

Young Meguru continues his MMA training in the wake of his first book defeats. But his new teacher’s a GIRL – ewwww! And he’s got a new sparring partner – who’s also a GIRL! Groooossss - cootie alert!

Johnny Appleseed: Green Dreamer of the American Frontier Review (Paul M. Buhle, Noah Van Sciver)

(Movie trailer voice) At a time of change… in a new world… there was a man… a bearded man… who wandered the land spreading a message of peace, kindness, love… and apple seeds. A legendary man some called JC… probably. John Chapman was – Johnny Appleseed! And he had a boring life!

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Powers of X #1 Review (Jonathan Hickman, R.B. Silva)

So, one of the lingering questions from last week’s underwhelming House of X #1 was the meaning of the title – the “X” supposedly meant “ten” as in the Roman numeral. Right off the bat of Powers of X #1, Jonathan Hickman explains it, as well as the structure of his X-Men story: X0 is Year 1 (the past, or “classic” X-Men) and X1 is Year 10, which is the timeline House of X is set in – so that’s the meaning of the “ten”; House of X is X-Men Year 10. Ten years from when the X-Men were founded, in this timeline, I guess?

The Defenders: The Best Defense Review (Al Ewing, Gerry Duggan)

Doctor Strange is dead, Hulk, Namor and Silver Surfer are putzing about, and someone wearing a sheet is stabbing people. The Best Defense is the worst Defenders book I’ve read yet!

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Jessica Jones: Purple Daughter Review (Kelly Thompson, Mattia de Iulis)

Jessica Jones’ daughter Danielle has suddenly turned purple! Buh how?! Zebediah Killgrave, the Purple Man, is dead – isn’t he???

Superman, Volume 6: Imperius Lex Review (Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason)

Lex booms the Superfam over to Apokolips to become its saviour because Superman is somehow The Chosen One – yowzers, Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason sure are imaginative, original writers! Why does Lex suddenly care about Apokolips’ wellbeing? Because contrived bullshit. Tomasi/Gleason are horrible writers, they don’t need reasons! He might’ve had reasons but I was beyond bored to notice. And Lex is bopping around in a Superman armor these days and pretending to be good so the reason was probably equally dumb and uncharacteristic anyway.

Monday, 11 May 2020

The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis Review

The Man Who Fell to Earth is my second Walter Tevis novel and unfortunately I didn’t like it anywhere near as much as I did The Queen’s Gambit.

Jimmy Olsen #1 Review (Matt Fraction, Steve Lieber)

Matt Fraction becomes the latest former Marvel writer to join DC, alongside his buddy Brian Bendis (Superman) and wife Kelly-Sue DeConnick (Aquaman), making his debut with Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #1, the first part of a 12 issue limited series.

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Queen and Country, Volume 1: Broken Ground Review (Greg Rucka, Steve Rolston)

Wow, this is one of the most tedious comics I’ve read in some time! It’s basically super-shite Bond. Female Bond-esque agent goes on a generic hit job somewhere out east – the Russians are the villains once again, unsurprisingly given how uncreative this book is – before heading back to Vauxhall Cross for a debrief. Cue endless interminable scenes of interdepartmental squabbling between bureaucrats from MI5 and MI6!

House of X #1 Review (Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz)

Mutant numbers are drastically on the rise. New projections show that in 20 years homo superior will eclipse homo sapiens as Earth’s dominant species. The X-Men are united under the leadership of Charles Xavier and are gathering all mutants to the mutant nation of Krakoa. They have consolidated power through creating powerful new drugs to aid humanity that cure its most devastating physical and mental diseases and extends longevity. But where did this new medicine come from? Will the rest of the world respect Krakoa’s sovereignty or will the mutants have to fight for their right to party exist as a nation? And what’s going on in the disembodied Sentinel head floating near the sun…

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Nichijou, Volume 6 by Keiichi Arawi Review

Nichijou Volume 6 is one of the weakest books in Keiichi Arawi’s series yet.

Invincible Iron Man: Ironheart, Volume 2: Choices Review (Brian Michael Bendis, Stefano Caselli)

Iron-Riri’s still getting used to being Marvel’s latest young black girl Tony Stark derivative not called Moon Girl! But life’s hard for a super-genius with unlimited resources. Wait - no it isn’t! But she’s got Choices to make! She’s gotta pick between an MIT scholarship, a spot on the Champions or working for Stark Industries! Wait - no she doesn’t! She’s already picked Tony. Huh… I guess have her fight some nobodies and beat them easily? The Bendis standard it is!

Friday, 8 May 2020

The Order of the Day by Éric Vuillard Review

Eric Vuillard recounts certain scenes from the 1930s during Hitler’s rise to power: German business titans giving money to fund his political campaigns, Hitler bullying Austrian Chancellor Schuschnigg into agreeing to the Anschluss, and Neville Chamberlain and co.’s failed attempts at appeasement.

Giant Days, Volume 12 Review (John Allison, Max Sarin)

Ed and Neen have their first fight, Daisy takes a driving test and will Ess have a fling with - gasp! - Dean Thompson?! Also Su-Pto dons the proverbial deerstalker (and Esther’s goth scarf) to hunt down the comics shop thief before returning to the fearsome Northampton for the nuptials of McGraw’s pranktacular bro Frank and a member of the hated Shaw clan. It’s all to play for in Giant Days, Volume the 12th!

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Pearl, Volume 1 Review (Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos)

Young albino Japanese/American tattoo artist Pearl Tanaka foils a Yakuza hit and is forced to become their hired gun to pay off her debt. Shenanigans ensue!

Pearl, Volume 1 is the weakest of Brian Bendis’ new Jinxworld titles at DC. Bendis is usually a clear storyteller but I found his story in Pearl to be murky at best.

Why My Cat Is More Impressive Than Your Baby by Matthew Inman, The Oatmeal Review

Matthew Inman’s latest is a kind of follow-up to his brilliant book, How to Tell If Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You, where he “amusingly” explains why he thinks cats are more impressive than babies – it’s also my least favourite of his books so far.

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Six Days: The Incredible Story of D-Day's Lost Chapter Review (Robert Venditti, Andrea Mutti)

June 6, 1944 and Operation Overlord is in full swing. A group of US soldiers find themselves unfortunately displaced 15 miles away from their drop zone, deep behind enemy lines. Luckily they find allies in the local French village of Graignes as they dig in and prepare to resist the oncoming German force. They have six days…

Raised in Captivity: Fictional Nonfiction by Chuck Klosterman Review

Chuck Klosterman is back and he’s more Klosterman-y than ever in his first collection of short stories, Raised in Captivity! I’m a big fan of Chuck’s but this book was just... fine. There was one really good story called Of Course It Is about a man who’s self-aware enough to know he’s in a dream or a character in a story or in the afterlife but doesn’t seem to care. It was a fun, very compelling and subversive look at the short story format, particularly Twilight Zone-type stories.

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Bandette, Volume 4: The Six Finger Secret Review (Paul Tobin, Colleen Coover)

There’s a famous painting with many thieves after it, including Bandette - who’ll get it and what is its six fingered secret?! Sacre bleurgh, what a potentially wacky storyline sure to make you hee haw hee haw!

Hardcore, Volume 1 Review (Andy Diggle, Alessandro Vitti)

CIA agents remotely mind-control people in foreign lands close to their targets like human drones to assassinate them safely from the comfort of US soil. The programme is called Hardcore but its disgruntled creator wants revenge on the government for ousting him from his own project. “Mentally unbalanced”? Pish posh! Time to prove them wrong by hijacking a nuke and blowing it up in front of the President! Trapped inside his latest drone body, Agent Drake must make it back to America within 72 hours or his real body will die.

Monday, 4 May 2020

Nichijou, Volume 5 by Keiichi Arawi Review

Nichijou is a series of short comedic sketches and, like similarly-formatted TV shows, some of the sketches hit and some miss. There wasn’t any one great sketch that stood out and made me laugh, but there were some amusing bits.

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong Review (Prudence Shen, Faith Erin Hicks)

Nerds want school funds to go to a robotics competition but cheerleaders want the cash for new uniforms - the solution? Entering the nerds’ robot – The Beast – into the Robot Rumble to try to win the $10k first prize so everyone’s covered! Nothing can possibly go wrong…

Sunday, 3 May 2020

The New Me by Halle Butler Review

Office temping jobs are unfulfilling, beyond boring and deeply depressing – who knew?! Working in a call centre is worse! Whaaa….?! It’s almost like Halle Butler’s stating the bleeding obvious while having an extended moan about her own crappy life and trying to pass it all off as a literary novel! But that would mean she’s a hack and The New Me isn’t worth reading? Now who’s stating the bleeding obvious!

Bad Weekend Review (Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips)

Set in 1997, Jacob is asked to chaperone his former mentor, comics legend Hal Crane, around a convention where he will be given a lifetime achievement award. Sounds straightforward enough, eh? Except Hal is an embittered old drunken wreck whose increasingly reckless, unhinged behaviour lands him and Jacob in one sketchy situation after another! Will they get through the Bad Weekend in one piece?

Saturday, 2 May 2020

Criminal #6 Review (Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips)

Cruel Summer, Part Two shows us how Teeg Lawless and his lady Jane wound up in the bar where they crossed paths with skip tracer Dan Farraday from the last ish. And, as always with Teeg, it’s a dark and sleazy tale!

O Josephine! by Jason Review

Four shorts make up Jason’s latest book, O Josephine!, most of which I really enjoyed.

Friday, 1 May 2020

The Nowhere Man by Gregg Hurwitz Review

Former shadow wars assassin turned pro bono one-man A-Team for those in need, Evan Smoak - the titular Nowhere Man who’s also called Orphan X; jaysis make up your mind, man! - is kidnapped by a vampiric rich dude who only knows Evan has cash that he wants. And then he finds out who Evan REALLY is and things kick up a notch. Gawrsh, however will Evan get out of this scrape?!