Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Fair Warning by Michael Connelly Review

A serial killer murders women by internally decapitating them from behind earning him the name The Shrike after the bird who has a similar MO. When his latest vic turns out to be a recent one-night stand of reporter Jack McEvoy’s, making him a person of interest, Jack becomes involved in the murder investigation. Can Jack uncover who The Shrike is, find out why he’s doing what he’s doing and stop him before he kills again?

Batman: Universe #1 Review (Brian Michael Bendis, Nick Derington)

Ever since I heard that Bendis had left Marvel and joined DC I’ve wanted to read a Batman book written by him. And I got my wish! It’s not the main Batman title, or even Detective Comics (though I’m sure he’ll get around to writing both at some point down the line), but a new series: Batman: Universe. Unfortunately, like most wishes, this one kinda backfired on me - Batman: Universe #1 isn’t very good.

Monday, 29 June 2020

Themes and Variations by David Sedaris Review

Themes and Variations is an Amazon Original Stories nonfiction essay by the delightful David Sedaris about his book tours. And, like a lot of Sedaris’ essays, this one is quite amusing.

Invincible Iron Man, Volume 3 The Search for Tony Stark Review (Brian Michael Bendis, Stefano Caselli)

It’s amazing how quickly Brian Bendis tanked this series - after a promising first book, just three books in and he managed to thoroughly kill any interest in Riri Williams/Ironheart!

Sunday, 28 June 2020

A Study in Emerald Review (Neil Gaiman, Rafael Albuquerque)

Victorian England and a royal is found murdered in a cheap Shoreditch rooming house - but who could commit such a treasonous act? Perplexed, the police turn to the greatest detective in the world and his companion, based in Baker Street. The game is atentacled in this brilliant cross between Conan Doyle and Lovecraft!

Joker: Killer Smile Review (Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino)

A new psychotherapist tries to “fix” the Joker - guess what happens? Uh huh. Nothing good for the poor old doc. And that’s all Killer Smile is: a rather simplistic and dumb Joker story.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Shitshow by Richard Russo Review

Set in Arizona post-2016 US election, retirees David and Ellie (both Hillary voters) are among the many dismayed to see the orange baby elected president. But things get worse: someone’s pooping in their outdoor hot tub every day! Who’s the culprit and why are they doing it?

Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #1 Review (Kami Garcia, Mike Mayhew)

Kami Garcia reimagines Harley Quinn’s origin where she didn’t first meet Mistah J while working as a psychologist at Arkham but tangentially working as a freelance profiler for the GCPD, examining his murders from afar with a personal twist: the Joker killed her roommate Edie years ago.

Friday, 26 June 2020

Capital by John Lanchester Review

Posh Eastenders: that’s basically what John Lanchester’s Capital is. Instead of the east end working class whose lives revolve around Albert Square, here you’ve got the middle/upper-middle class denizens of Pepys Road. A banker, a footballer, an artist, and the less wealthy who’re connected to them in other capacities: a builder, a nanny, a traffic warden, a granny, a spoilt wife, a wannabe jihadi, and the family that run the nearby newsagent.

American Jesus, Volume 2: The New Messiah Review (Mark Millar, Peter Gross)

I don’t know about you but I’ve read a few books and seen a few shows/movies about the second coming of Jeebus so I’m familiar with the setup. And maybe that’s partly why I was so bored with American Jeebus: The New Mess, because it doesn’t add anything fresh to this subgenre, but it’s also just a really boring and unimaginative comic, like a lot of Mark Millar’s recent work.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Superman: Leviathan Rising Special #1 Review (Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction)

Superman: Leviathan Rising is 1) a Bendis Superman comic and 2) a Bendis event tie-in comic which, to me anyway, can only mean it is not going to be good. So I am pleasantly surprised to say that this is, almost shockingly, a really good comic!

The Mystery of Henri Pick by David Foenkinos Review

Inspired by a Richard Brautigan short story, the librarian of the small town of Crozon in Brittany creates a sanctuary for manuscripts that have been rejected for publication. Years later, a young Parisian editor visiting her parents discovers this secret library and stumbles across a brilliant manuscript: The Last Hours of a Love Affair by Henri Pick, a now-deceased local pizza chef. But could a humble pizza chef have secretly been a genius novelist? As the novel becomes a surprise bestseller in France, more people begin to look into the mystery of Henri Pick to find out.

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Invisible Differences Review (Mademoiselle Caroline, Julia Dachez)

Originally published in French in 2016 and published in English for the first time this year, Invisible Differences is the nonfiction story of Marguerite, a 27 year old woman who slowly discovers that she is on the autism spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Black Widow: Deadly Origin Review (Paul Cornell, Tom Raney)

Paul Cornell tells Natasha Romanova’s origin story in Black Widow: Deadly Origin - and it’s a pretty boring one. Though a short book, it manages to feel padded out with filler because there isn’t much to Natasha’s story: she got the Soviet version of Cap’s super soldier serum, hence why she was born in the 1920s yet somehow manages to look youthful 100 years later, and at some point in the late 20th century she switched sides to work for the ‘muricans. She’s been superheroing since.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Crying Freeman, Volume 1 Review (Kazuo Koike, Ryōichi Ikegami)

A beautiful young painter witnesses a brutal mob hit - but, instead of being killed herself, the beautiful young assassin lets her live. That decision changes both of their lives as they fall in beautiful young love and go on the run to escape the gangsters after them.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi Review

Who wouldn’t want to time travel? Well, you probably wouldn’t if you had to follow these very precise, arbitrary and convoluted rules - yes, even more so than the usual! So the characters in this story can time travel but only to the relatively recent past and they have to sit in a specific seat at a specific table - which they can’t leave once they time travel, which means they can’t leave the cafe - and only for the duration it takes for a coffee to cool, after which you have to drink it down or else risk turning into a ghost forever burdened to haunt the cafe. Also nothing you do in the past can alter the present/future. Yay, so much whimsical fun…

Monday, 22 June 2020

Batman: Detective Comics, Volume 1: Mythology Review (Peter J. Tomasi, Doug Mahnke)

A killer that seemingly knows Batman inside-and-out, mimicking his past trauma by preparing murder victims to look like his parents, dressing up as Zorro, and targeting those nearest and dearest to him - but who is this killer so intimately familiar with Batman’s mythology? The game is afoot for the world’s greatest detective!

Dial H for Hero, Volume 1: Enter the Heroverse Review (Sam Humphries, Joe Quinones)

So this is the third book I’ve read in Brian Bendis’ new Wonder Comics label for DC and the line looks like it’s aimed at young teens/the kiddles. Because the latest revamp of Dial H for Hero is basically an extended Saturday morning cartoon with its simplistic plot and fairly light tone - and that’s why I wasn’t that taken with it.

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Earthlings by Sayaka Murata Review

Sayaka Murata’s back with another story of a social outsider - and it’s even worse than Convenience Store Woman!

Batman: Last Knight on Earth #1 Review (Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo)

Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, the celebrated creative team behind New 52 Batman, reunite for another Batman story for DC Black Label: the pun-tacular Last Knight on Earth. And, though this first issue isn’t as boring as their later Batman books were, it is a mess of half-baked ideas that make little sense.

Saturday, 20 June 2020

Something is Killing the Children, Volume 1 Review (James Tynion IV, Werther Dell'Edera)

Something is Killing the Children is both the title and the plot summary of this awful comic to which I would append: - And It’s Not Worth Reading Any Further!

Middle England by Jonathan Coe Review

First off, Middle England is the third book in Jonathan Coe’s Rotter’s Club series but I’ve not read either The Rotter’s Club or The Closed Circle and you don’t need to either if you’re thinking of picking this one up; it works fine as a standalone piece but maybe if you’ve read the previous two books you might get more out of it because you’ll know the characters better?

Friday, 19 June 2020

Family Tree, Volume 1: Sapling Review (Jeff Lemire, Phil Hester)

A little girl is transforming into a tree for no reason. Just like her dad did - also for no reason. And her estranged grandpappy is helping them escape cultists who are after them because they… like trees? Why? No reason.

Pulp Review (Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips)

“We weren’t heroes. We were killers. That’s the reason we survived so long… Because this world belongs to monsters.

It shouldn’t.”

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Once & Future, Volume 1 Review (Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora)

Egads - it’s been so long since I read a half-decent Kieron Gillen comic I’d given up hope that he’d ever produce another one again! But thankfully he has with the best artist working at Boom at the moment, Dan Mora - this is Once & Future, Volume 1: The King is Undead.

Superman: Year One Review (Frank Miller, John Romita Jr)

Another year, another blimmin’ retelling of Superman’s origins - from no less than Frank Miller this time! A guy who I thought only despised the Man of Steel is now unexpectedly writing a Superman comic. Though, unfortunately like all of Miller’s latter-day output, it’s godawful. In this tedious reiteration of his origin, Superman does some Navy SEAL training and porks (spears?) a mermaid. What else? What else, indeed.

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

I Should Have Stayed Home by Horace McCoy Review

Set in 1930s Hollywood, a strapping young Southern lad tries to make it as a movie star but only manages to catch the eye of a wealthy old socialite who makes him her toyboy. Lessons - really obvious ones - are learnt…

Giant Days, Volume 14 Review (John Allison, Max Sarin)

“I think what makes it good is that it doesn’t last. The best things are rare.” - Esther de Groot

Be strong (lip trembles) - deep breath.

Giant Days...



Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Harleen by Stjepan Šejić Review

Harley was an accident - a happy accident, it turned out, but an accident nonetheless. Back in the early ‘90s in Batman: The Animated Series, Paul Dini and Bruce Timm introduced a female goon as part of Joker’s entourage who had no name. And then the fans began asking questions like “Is she the Joker’s girlfriend?” so Dini came up with a cutesy name - she was Harley Quinn, like a harlequin - and yes, she was the Joker’s girlfriend. But then people wanted to know more and so Dini came up with the best origin story he could - her original name was improbably Harleen Quinzel and she was a psychiatrist who fell for the Joker’s charms while working at Arkham Asylum. Given how it all just kinda happened, it’s a fine origin so long as you don’t think too hard about it or go into too much detail.

The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim by Jonathan Coe Review

Poor old Maxwell Sim isn’t in a good place. His wife Caroline left him six months ago and took their daughter Lucy with her leading to Max having a breakdown and getting signed off from work. So he decides to travel to Australia to try to reconnect with his distant father and fails at that too. Through a chance encounter, he learns about Donald Crowhurst - a real-life amateur sailor who faked his round-the-world boat trip in 1967 before killing himself - and gets a new job as a toothbrush salesman. As part of his new company’s ad campaign, he finds himself on the road to the Shetlands, all alone - except for his increasingly attractive SatNav. A mentally and emotionally unbalanced man left alone at a difficult time - what could go wrong?

Monday, 15 June 2020

Batman: Creature of the Night Review (Kurt Busiek, John Paul Leon)

Oh my gawd - and I can’t emphasise this enough - this book was sooooooo boring! You don’t need to read the rest of this review because that’s all you need to know: Batman: Creature of the Night is a pillow book because it will put you to sleep!

Fire Power, Volume 1: Prelude Review (Robert Kirkman, Chris Samnee)

A cliched American martial arts student with a cliched mysterious past treks through the cliched mountains to find the mystical Order of the Flaming Cliche. He begins his cliched training with Master Cliche to learn how to cliche.

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Decorum #1 Review (Jonathan Hickman, Mike Huddleston)

A terrible new sci-fi series that looks flashy and cool but is actually deathly dull to read? Sounds like a Jonathan Hickman comic to me! And it is - it’s the most boringest-titled book ever: Decorum!

Braised Pork by An Yu Review

Set in modern-day Beijing, doting housewife Jia Jia finds her husband floating face down in their tub one morning, dead. Next to him - a bizarre drawing of a fish man (Abe Sapien?!). What does it all mean? She sets out to find answers.

Saturday, 13 June 2020

Bog Bodies Review (Declan Shalvey, Gavin Fullerton)

Young Killian’s fucked up a hit so bad he’s gotta be taken out to the bogs outside Dublin to be executed by his fellow gangsters - no loose ends. Except he somehow escapes and so begins a chase through the night involving gangsters, a runaway kid and a house full of ghosts - who’ll make it to the dawn?

9th and 13th by Jonathan Coe Review

Considering this slim volume is all of Jonathan Coe’s collected short stories – a mighty three stories and one nonfiction essay! – I’d say he’s far from smitten with the form. And I’d also say that that’s reflective of the quality too as none of them are that good unfortunately.

Friday, 12 June 2020

Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child Review (Frank Miller, Rafael Grampa)

DC and Frank Miller return to the cash cow that is The Dark Knight Returns Universe for another terrible, pointless addition with The Golden Child. Trump exists in the DKR world (le sigh, I know…) and Joker’s on his campaign team for no reason – along with Darkseid?! Carrie Kelley/Batwoman has to fight hordes of Joker-dressed Trump supporters in the streets (just cos she needs something to do) while Lara and Jonathan float above it all, sneering at the fragility of humanity because, well, as Kryptonians, they’re above it all (Superman cameos briefly at the start but Batman is entirely absent). Story? Who needs that???

Batman: Damned Review (Brian Azzarello, Lee Bermejo)

The Joker’s dead - pushed off a bridge. Whodunit? Batman. Or did he… ? So begins a hallucinatory voyage through the streets of Gotham and Batman’s memory to find the truth.

Thursday, 11 June 2020

A Touch of Love by Jonathan Coe Review

Two old university friends meet in the years following graduation to catch up. Ted is a salesman and married to Kate, their mutual friend, and Robin is unemployed (and unemployable) dossing about not doing much, avoiding doing his thesis, and basically being depressed. And then poor Robin is accused of a shocking crime and his life begins to unravel.

Heroes in Crisis Review (Tom King, Clay Mann)

It’s not easy to superhero. All that stress - saving the world, occasionally losing lives, enduring injury after injury, day in, day out - it takes its toll. Hey guys - even heroes have the right to bleed. So there’s a secret location in the middle of rural America called Sanctuary, staffed by friendly robots, where heroes can work out PTSD and other issues troubling them. But oh no - someone’s killed a buncha D-listers right on its doorstep! Booster Gold saw Harley Quinn do the murdering, and Harley saw Booster do it! Whodunit? More importantly: who cares?!

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Number 11 by Jonathan Coe Review

I was about fifty pages into this book before I realised it was an unexpected sequel to What a Carve Up!, Jonathan Coe’s acclaimed 1994 novel satirising the Thatcher years in Britain, which was surprising as I always assumed that book was a standalone. Having read What a Carve Up!, I can tell you that you needn’t have read it before picking up Number 11 and even Coe himself seems to be subtly describing this book as:

Cruel Summer Review (Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips)

The unthinkable has happened: career scumbag Teeg Lawless has fallen in love for the first time in his rotten life! Together with his new girlfriend Jane, Teeg plans a big payday: ripping off a WWE-type event. But standing in the way of their tropical paradise retirement fantasy (besides actually pulling off the heist) is Teeg’s youngest son Ricky who’s feeling upset at losing his dad’s attention, and Dan Farraday, a PI on Jane’s trail, hired by Jane’s latest ex, whom she robbed. Will things go right or wrong for Teeg and Jane? Find out in… Cruel Summer!

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Witch Hat Atelier, Volume 2 by Kamome Shirahama Review

The second book of the manga all-girl reduced version of Harry Potter was a real yawner. The girls gotta escape a dragon in a maze and then save some randos from a river that’s burst its banks. What’s the main storyline again? Oh yeah, Coco’s trying to learn magic to save her literally statuesque ma. That’s put on hold for this book! Great…

Assassin Nation, Volume 1: Number One With a Bullet Review (Kyle Starks, Erica Henderson)

I’ve never been a fan of Kyle Starks having tried and abandoned his previous comics Sexcastle and Rock Candy Mountain, but I decided to stick out Assassin Nation if only to see if I was wrong and his bad stories somehow got better over the course of a complete book. Nope - I was wrong about being wrong!

Monday, 8 June 2020

Less by Andrew Sean Greer Review

American novelist Arthur Less is about to turn 50 and his ex, Freddy Pelu, is about to marry another man. To distract himself, and give him a legit excuse not to go to the wedding, Arthur accepts all the offers flung his way as a writer of middling renown to construct a globe-trotting literary voyage away from heartache.

Middlewest, Book Two Review (Skottie Young, Jorge Corona)

It’s never a good sign when you pick up the second book of a series and you don’t remember a damn thing that happened in the first book! So it goes with Middlewest, Book Two, which plain stank.

Sunday, 7 June 2020

Batman, Volume 11: The Fall and the Fallen Review (Tom King, Mikel Janin)

Oh nooooooooooo! Tom King’s Batman continues to nosedive in quality in Volume 11: The Fall and the Fallen - what an unfortunately fitting subtitle!

Project Superpowers, Volume 2: Evolution Review (Rob Williams, Sergio Fernandez Davila)

The Avengers have a cool-sounding but confusing superhero team name (what’re they avenging??); Justice League sounds hella corny but perhaps appropriately so for a team headed up by Superman; Project Superpowers though is by far the (green) lamest, most naff-sounding superhero team evarrrrr! But, credit where credit’s due: I wasn’t bored with this book like I usually expect to be, and almost always am, with the likes of Avengers or Justice League.

Saturday, 6 June 2020

H. P. Lovecraft: He Who Wrote in the Darkness Review (Alex Nikolavitch, Gervasio)

I find HP Lovecraft absolutely MADDENING!

I’ve been drawn to his strange stories ever since I discovered them as a teenager even though they’re badly written and horribly boring. But the visions in them and what they represent are so appealing. If you read summaries of his stories you wonder how they could possibly be anything but the most riveting horror fiction you’ll ever come across - and then you read them…

One Piece, Volume 1: Romance Dawn by Eiichiro Oda Review

One Piece is the best-selling manga of all time - and, going by this first book, I have no idea why!