Saturday, 29 February 2020

All-Rounder Meguru, Volume 1 by Hiroki Endo Review


All-Rounder Meguru is so very middle-of-the-road for me - it’s all-round mediocre! - that I find it hard to even muster up the energy to review it as I didn’t feel strongly about it either way. Eh, let’s give it a shot anyway - I like a challenge!

By Night, Volume 1 Review (John Allison, Christine Larsen)


I’m a huge fan of John Allison’s Giant Days - I read a lot of comics and this one is, in my mind, the best comic in the world - but strangely everything else of his I’ve read outside of that title, like Bad Machinery and his Shelley Winters one-shots, is mediocre at best. Unfortunately, Allison’s latest series, By Night, is firmly among his lesser efforts.

Friday, 28 February 2020

Philip K. Dick: A Comics Biography Review (Laurent Queyssi, Maura Marchesi)


Opening with Philip K. Dick seeing early footage from Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner shortly before his death in 1982, Laurent Queyssi and Mauro Marchesi’s Philip K. Dick: A Comics Biography is a fine overview of one of the most original and notable writers of the 20th century.

A Very DC Rebirth Holiday Sequel Review (Paul Dini, Tom King)


Ho, ho… no! DC try and fail to be festively entertaining with their utterly dismal book A Very DC Rebirth Holiday Sequel.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

America: The Farewell Tour by Chris Hedges Review


It’s Christmastime which means most people will turn to re-read old favourites or pick up something feel-good, escapist and/or seasonal. And then there are people like me who couldn’t care less about the holidays and just want to read something gripping and brilliant yet so bleak that by the end you’ll be playing Russian roulette while your family breaks out the Monopoly. That’s right, Chris Hedges is back with a new book to tell everyone once again that WE’RE ALL FUCKED in America: The Farewell Tour!

Grass Kings, Volume 1 Review (Matt Kindt, Tyler Jenkins)


The uneasy peace between the secessionists of “The Grass Kingdom” is shattered after the wife of the sheriff in the nearby town runs off to join them - yawn, conflict ensues…

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Klaus and the Crying Snowman #1 Review (Grant Morrison, Dan Mora)


Aliens from Titan, Saturn’s moon, are stealing sunlight or some perfectly reasonable thing (if’n yer plastered on egg nog) and Klaus is helping a maudlin snowman through some feels. That’s right, he’s made of snow. Look, it’s Grant Morrison ok, that man did some serious damage to his brain doing any number of drugs in the ‘90s! So it’s the second year in a row where the Klaus Christmas Special is unfortunately not very special!

Best and Worst Books of 2018

In some ways 2018 was a good year of reading, in others not. My favourite comics titles from previous Best Of lists thankfully continued to be dependably enjoyable and brilliant: Giant Days, Tom King’s Batman, The Fix, The Arab of the Future, Kill or Be Killed, Fante Bukowski, Gwenpool, Gerry Duggan’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and Southern Bastards.

But in terms of new titles and new creators to emerge from this year alone? For me there was just one: Nick Drnaso and his book Sabrina. Hmmm. A bit disappointing that there wasn’t a whole lot good that was published this year that wasn’t a carryover from previous years.

So, even though if I was being totally honest my top comic of 2018 would be Giant Days (again), closely followed by Tom King’s Batman (again!), with the others mentioned above filling up the remainder (AGAIN!), in an effort to be slightly interesting and different I’m giving The Best Comic of 2018 to Sabrina by Nick Drnaso (his other book Beverly is tops too and his single issue, Tell God To Blow The Wind From the West, is devastating). Fantastic creator, wonderful storyteller, great books – well done, sir!

Other quality comics I read this year, but not published in 2018, were:

Ultimate Spider-Man, Vols 1-5 by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli
My Brother’s Husband, Vol 1 by Gengoroh Tagame
World of Tanks: Roll Out by Garth Ennis and Carlos Ezquerra (RIP)
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
Bottled by Chris Gooch
I Am Not Okay With This by Charles Forsman
Briggs Land, Vol 1 by Brian Wood and Mack Chater
Jessica Jones: Alias, Vol 4 by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos
Fear Itself: Deadpool/Fearsome Four by Chris Hastings et al.
New Mutants, Vol 1 by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir
Batman: Creature of the Night #1 by Kurt Busiek and John Paul Leon
Irmina by Barbara Yelin
Demon, Vol 4 by Jason Shiga
Shipwreck, Vol 1 by Warren Ellis and Phil Hester

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Worst comics of the year? Oh, where do I start ;)?

There’s too many to list, and who wants to read crap anyway, so I won’t bother. I will say though that Marvel’s output has been extremely poor this year, for the second year in a row, and I really hope things improve for them in 2019. DC’s output has also been largely crummy but that’s pretty much the norm for those guys.

Beyond their older, pre-established titles from big-name creators, Image’s 2018 publications have been decidedly weak, including their flagship title, The Walking Dead, so fingies crossed they turn things around next year. The new Dragon Ball stuff has been a let-down for me as well.

They all kinda merge into one terrible blob of nothing but, let’s see, eenie-meenie-miny – worst comic of 2018? Avengers: No Surrender!

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Onto the non-pitcher books!

To me, there’s no doubt: Normal People by Sally Rooney was easily the most powerful, most profound and most deeply affecting book I read, bar none, all year. Rooney’s my favourite new writer and Normal People is my Book of The Year.

The only other novel I really liked that was published this year was Patrick DeWitt’s French Exit which was as fun, clever and enjoyable as any of his previous works – he can’t write a bad book!

Other quality books I read this year, but not published in 2018, were:

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
Rope: A Play by Patrick Hamilton
Mr Salary by Sally Rooney

Worst novel of 2018? Fred Van Lente’s The Con Artist

Non-fiction-wise, I didn’t come across anything published this year that blew my hair back but I did come across some gems published earlier. George Saunders’ speech transcript, Congratulations, by the way, was inspiring and wonderful, and I discovered the brilliant Michael Finkel – I highly recommend his books The Stranger in the Woods and True Story, particularly for fans of Jon Ronson and Louis Theroux.

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Guys, as always, it’s been a pleasure – thanks for reading my ramblings, thanks for rec-ing me books, thanks for reviewing stuff not on my radar so that they’re on my radar, and thanks for being around! Hope you read some great stuff this year too, hope I was able to introduce you to something good, and hope you read an amazing book or two over the holidays and throughout the new year. This reading lark’s a bit fun, eh? Let’s keep it up!

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Bane: Conquest Review (Chuck Dixon, Graham Nolan)


CoooooooOOOOOOOOooooon – QUEEEEEEST! That Patti Page was something, eh? Unlike Bane: Conquest which is decidedly not - unless that something is a pile of poo!

Bone Parish, Volume 1 Review (Cullen Bunn, Jonas Scharf)


Cullen Bunn’s cornered the market on shitty horror-themed comics – you wanna read something mega-dull with the superficial genre trappings of horror? He’s your dude! He’s like a one-man Hammer Horror of comics except his stuff isn’t even entertaining on a campy level.

Monday, 24 February 2020

The Arab of the Future 3: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1985-1987 by Riad Sattouf Review


Riad Sattouf’s outstanding memoir series, The Arab of the Future, continues in this great third book which covers 1985-87. His mother becomes pregnant with her third child, Riad tries fasting for Ramadan for the first (and last!) time, and the question of circumcision rears its, ahem, head…

Batman and Harley Quinn Review (Ty Templeton, Rick Burchett)


Just awful. Totally out of character, Harley breaks up with Mistah J, turns in her bestie Poison Ivy and decides to become a hero – for no reason besides DC wanting to make her more “safe” to like, I guess? Batman meanwhile stands in the background with his arms crossed.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Mr Salary by Sally Rooney Review


Preceding both of her novels (to date), Mr Salary reads like a dummy run to Sally Rooney’s debut novel, Conversations with Friends, being quite similar in premise/characters/themes: a twentysomething student falls for a thirtysomething professional - complex relationshiperies ensue. Except, this being a short story, Mr Salary doesn’t explore the complexities of such a relationship and ends before that can happen.

Gone to Amerikay Review (Derek McCulloch, Colleen Doran)


An Irish single mother and her daughter begin a new life in New York City in 1870 while she waits for her husband to arrive from across the pond. A young Irish singer/songwriter tries to make it in showbiz in 1960 New York City. A rich Irishman looks for the truth behind his favourite song, Gone to Amerikay, in 2010. All, er, “storylines”, are tenuously connected but amount to basically a shrug!

Saturday, 22 February 2020

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn Review


Anna Fox is an agoraphobic who spends her days watching her neighbours from her house. Then a new family moves in across the way - husband, wife, teenage boy - and one night Anna sees what looks like the husband killing the wife! Except she’s been inconsistent with her many prescription pills and supplementing those with copious amounts of booze - did she really see murder most foul or is it all in her head? Anna must overcome her phobia to find the truth.

Batman: Damned, Book Two Review (Brian Azzarello, Lee Bermejo)


The Joker’s still deaded and Batman and John Constantine are continuing to puzzle out whodunit - they don’t get much closer in Batman: Damned #2!

Friday, 21 February 2020

Farmhand, Volume 1: Reap What Was Sown by Rob Guillory Review


Old Jedidiah had a farm,
E-I-E-I-O,
And on that farm he grew some human body parts,
… Eeeeeeeeee!

Hillbilly, Volume 3 by Eric Powell Review


There’s no doubt Eric Powell can draw – the pencils, inks, colours in this book are top tier, beautiful, so skilful. The myriad character designs in this book are brilliant too from the Tailypo to the witches to the many monsters: the cyclops, the rock monsters, the dragons – so imaginative and detailed.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Mister Miracle Review (Tom King, Mitch Gerads)


Scott Free is Mister Miracle: superhero, escape artist, New God, husband… and soon father-to-be! Together with his wife, Big Barda, they face parenthood alongside all-out war on Apokolips against the greatest enemy in the DC Universe: Darkseid!

30 Days of Night Review (Steve Niles, Ben Templesmith)


This is one of those books where I know the author isn’t very good but the title is so well known at this point that I feel obligated to read it as a fan of the comics medium. At least 30 Days of Night is short!

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Batman: The Dark Prince Charming by Enrico Marini Review


Batman puts on a blonde wig and minces across Gotham to court the Joker, who’s wearing his prettiest dress, for a romantic tryst in the moonlight in the greatest Batman story ever written, The Dark Prince Charming – finally, these two are gonna resolve their decades-long sexual tension!

Birthright, Volume 1: Homecoming Review (Joshua Williamson, Andrei Bressan)


Kid disappears in the park one day and is never seen again. People suspect his paw done kilt him. Naw, don’t be sills – he just went to a Narnia-esque land where he became a warrior, fought monsters, and returned a fully-grown man despite only one year passing in our world! He hunting wizards now.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Giant Days: Where Women Glow and Men Plunder #1 Review (John Allison, Whitney Cogar)


‘Tis the season once more for another Giant Days Holiday Special, this time starring the wonderful Ed Gemmell in Where Women Glow and Men Plunder. Ed visits his lovely girlfriend Nina and her family in their hometown of Canberra, Australia. Neen’s pa, Alf, is the incumbent mayor and it’s election time. Alf’s long-time rival, Digger Devlin, and his Creek Boys are determined to unseat him. Absurdly long sausages called “snags”! Emus! Nana Joan! It’s all kicking off in Oz!

Fante Bukowski Three: A Perfect Failure by Noah Van Sciver Review


Fante Bukowski: the greatest writer who ever lived or a deluded Don Quixote-esque halfwit with the worst pen name in history fruitlessly chasing literary fame and fortune on zero talent? Definitely the latter. In this third and final book, Fante Bukowski catches his first break: a commission to ghostwrite a Disney star’s memoir. Also – revealed at last! – Fante Bukowski’s secret origin.

Monday, 17 February 2020

Shadows on the Grave by Richard Corben Review


I’m no stranger to horror - I’ve sat and listened to my elderly parents complain at length about how nothing about them works anymore, and, of an evening, I’ve stumbled into some takeaway after many drinks and sampled their rotating, sweaty mystery meat kebabs (with a hefty side order of regret for later) - so I know the truly terrifying from the truly terrible, and Richard Corben’s Shadows on the Grave? This is horror for the profoundly retarded - and I mean barely-able-to-dress-themselves-without-shitting-they-britches retarded!

Dragon Ball Super, Volume 4: Last Chance For Hope Review (Akira Toriyama, Toyotarou)


Goku Black and Zamas, the evil Lord of Lords, want to kill everyone and everything because Silly Bad Guy Motivation – Goku and Vegeta gotta team up and stop ‘em!

Sunday, 16 February 2020

The Astonishing Ant-Man, Volume 1: Everybody Loves Team-Ups Review (Nick Spencer, Ramon Rosanas)


The only astonishing thing about the first volume of Astonishing Ant-Man is Nick Spencer’s ability to write so much about so little – and I’m not just talking about Ant-Man’s size either!

The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris Review


A serial killer called Buffalo Bill is abducting and skinning young women. When his latest victim turns out to be the daughter of a US Senator, the pressure’s on for the authorities to find her as there’s mere days until she’ll be killed. As a desperate last measure, FBI agent-in-training Clarice Starling is sent to speak with the one man who could lead them to Buffalo Bill in time to save the girl: the imprisoned serial killer Dr. Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter…

Saturday, 15 February 2020

JLA Classified, Volume 1: Ultramarine Corps Review (Grant Morrison, Ed McGuinness)


Grant Morrison’s Justice League run was just ok; his JLA Classified book, Ultramarine Corps? Just terrible.

Dark Entries by Robert Aickman Review


Newlyweds arrive in a remote town for their honeymoon but the town’s church bells are mysteriously ringing constantly and a disturbed old man tells them the dead are being raised that night. A man falls in love with an eccentric wealthy woman – but nothing about her house is quite as it seems. An engaged woman visits her fiancée’s family in the country and encounters a bizarre lady who lives in a churchyard. These are the “strange stories” (he preferred this description of the horror genre) of Robert Aickman, and this collection, Dark Entries, is pretty good!

Friday, 14 February 2020

The Green Lantern #1 Review (Grant Morrison, Liam Sharp)


There’s a traitor within the ranks of the Corps and only one man can capture him: Hal Jordan, The Green Lantern!

James Bond: Case Files Review (Kieron Gillen, Jody Houser)


James Bond: Case Files collects four standalone specials, none of which are very good or special!

Kieron Gillen and Antonio Fuso’s Service is a boring story about some baddies trying to break up the UK/US’s “special relationship” - guess whether Bond saves the day or not?

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Heroes in Crisis #2 Review (Tom King, Clay Mann)


Booster Gold’s on the trail of the Sanctuary killer - who may or may not be him!? Meanwhile the Trinity track down Harley – incongruously cast as the hero in this bizarre setup – to one of the Penguin’s safe houses for questioning.

The Filth Review (Grant Morrison, Chris Weston)


“Grant Morrison you crazy biotch what the fuck are you on about?!” - is what I was constantly thinking while reading The Filth (in between yawns)! I love Morrison - he wrote the greatest Batman run of all time and he’s the greatest comics writer there’s ever been - but, holy rice krispie treats, he produces some utterly impenetrable, way-too-out-there stuff sometimes!

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Daredevil, Volume 17: Hell to Pay, Volume 2 Review (Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark)


Daredevil: the Man Without Fear will feel… fear. From… Mr Fear! Hmm. Sounds like a load of old bollocks, I fear - and it is!

Red Hood and the Outlaws, Volume 1: Dark Trinity Review (Scott Lobdell, Dexter Soy)


So, even though I know Scott Lobdell is one of the worst comics writers ever, all I heard from friends was how boss the Rebirth Red Hood and the Outlaws was. Uh huh. Suuuuure it is. And, nuh uh to your uh huh, this wasn’t even half-good! Is everyone on crack? Am I?!

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Wolverine: Snikt! by Tsutomu Nihei Review


It’s the non-Matrix Matrix world and humanity is nearly wiped out due to a mutant/robot species with one weakness: adamantium. You can see where this going! So they send someone back in time to get Wolverine to help them in the future, he snikts out his adamantium claws and saves the day.

The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis Review


Didja know the US gov’mint is a complicated beast? Trump didn’t! And now we’s all gonna DIIIIEEEE!

But not really.

Monday, 10 February 2020

The Milkman Murders Review (Joe Casey, Steve Parkhouse)


A put-upon housewife gets shit on by her absurdly nasty family until one day a slob dressed as a milkman rapes her and she snaps - cue copious amounts of bloodshed!

The Irredeemable Ant-Man, Volume 1: Low-Life Review (Robert Kirkman, Phil Hester)


Ant-Man is, at best, a mediocre character and a joke of a superhero and the Eric O’Grady version might be the worst. So it goes with The Irredeemable Ant-Man, Volume 1: Low-Life, wherein Eric steals the Ant-Man suit off the corpse of his best friend and uses his new powers to watch women shower, getting a female victim of a mugging he’s just saved to buy him dinner, and hit on his dead friend’s girlfriend.

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Batman, Volume 8: Cold Days Review (Tom King, Lee Weeks)


Batman’s heart is all achy breaky thanks to the Cat lady and he acting maaaad. At the trial of Mister Freeze, one juror decides to tear apart the prosecution’s case, built in large part by Batman: Bruce Wayne! Think he’s suffered enough? Think again! Batman’s about to pain some more as another dickhole targets his nearest and dearest. Cold Days, indeed!

'Broadsword Calling Danny Boy': On Where Eagles Dare by Geoff Dyer Review


“Broadsword Calling Danny Boy” is a kind of written commentary track by Geoff Dyer on the 1968 Richard Burton/Clint Eastwood WW2 movie Where Eagles Dare (the title is a line from the film). It sounded like an appealingly unusual book and I’ve heard that Dyer is a hoot so I thought this might’ve been a fun read… and unfortunately it wasn’t.

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Giant Days, Volume 10 Review (John Allison, Max Sarin)


Giant Days is my rock. No, not a giant jacked American-Samoan man with a winning personality that makes everyone like him despite starring in one terrible movie after another, but my constant go-to-never-fails great read.

Sea Prayer Review (Khaled Hosseini, Dan Williams)


Khaled Hosseini was inspired to write Sea Prayer after seeing the photo of the corpse of 3 year old Alan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach in September 2015; he was one of thousands of refugees who died fleeing the war in Syria.

Friday, 7 February 2020

Ice Cream Man, Volume 2: Strange Neapolitan Review (W. Maxwell Prince, Martin Marazzo)


Vultures feast on corporate executives’ innards, knife-wielding psychos in bird masks torture random strangers, a cowboy battles a demon, paramedics get high and drive around ignoring injured peeps, a clown commits suicide, and everything’s on fire - it’s the 2018 state of mind Ice Cream Man is back with a second volume: Strange Neapolitan!

Wytches: Bad Egg Halloween Special Review (Scott Snyder, Jock)


Parents in some backwater town are feeding their kids to the Wytches (weird, tree-inhabiting creatures) for Horror Reasons – will our protagonist, Some Kid, survive and who can he trust?

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Sword Daughter, Volume 1: She Brightly Burns Review (Brian Wood, Mack Chater)


Set in 10th century Norway, a girl tracks down her wayward dad who teaches her how to sword. Durrr hur hur, now I gets the title - she’s a Daughter who got a Sword! Together they’ll track down the Jason Voorhees-mask-wearing Vikings (really) what killed her momma!

Alone by Christophe Chabouté Review


Christophe Chaboute’s Alone is kind of a modern-day fairytale where a deformed man with the unlikely name of Alone lives - yes, alone! - in a lighthouse - and he’s lonely cos he’s alone…

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

A Monk's Guide to a Clean House and Mind by Shoukei Matsumoto Review


Shoukei Matsumoto, a Buddhist monk from a Tokyo temple, talks down to readers in How to be Anal Retentive A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind.

Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto Review


Roy, a bagman for the mob, gets a hit put on his head the same day he’s diagnosed with cancerous lungs. Escaping the gangsters on his trail, he picks up a young prostitute called Rocky along the way and her kid sister Tiffany, and they hide out in Galveston, Texas. The small group seems bereft of a future – where do they go from here?

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Dark Reign: Hawkeye (Andy Diggle, Tom Raney)


Dark Reign was a Marvel storyline from nearly a decade ago when the villains were pretending to be heroes for astoopid reasons. So Bullseye’s cosplaying as Hawkeye but he’s having a hard time adjusting to the role and keeping his murderous nature in check. Then he starts hallucinating himself in the classic Bullseye costume taunting him and corpses start showing up with bullseye targets carved onto their foreheads, but he has no memory of killing them - is he going nuts(ier)?!