Monday, May 23, 2016

DANN'S DIARY COMIX, February 2016

I thought people would enjoy reading my second (and last) Dann's Diary Comix.
Yes, it was a fun experiment, but I've given it away to focus on other projects.
Let me know what you thought of it, though.





 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Kirby Your Enthusiam. ep. 45: "Herb Rules!"


In which I discuss Les Daniels' fascinating histories of Marvel (published in 1991) and DC (published in 1995).




I also review the fascinating biography, The Incredible Herb Trimpe.
Finally, I rave about the DC series Gotham Central. An underrated gem.
It's 30 minutes of well-rehearsed comic goodness and it can be found HERE.



Wednesday, May 4, 2016

COMICS READING FOR APRIL: “Alien vs Psychopath (aka Superman vs Batman)”



* NOW WITH STAR RATINGS (ala Wrestling Observer Newsletter PPV reports) *

NEW! HOW I RATE THE COMICS VIA THE GRANT MORRISON SCALE
*****     All-Star Superman, We3
****      New X-Men (the early issues), Batman Inc., Batman And Robin, Dare, Arkham Asylum
***        Zenith, Seven Soldiers
**         Final Crisis, Flex Mentallo
*           Marvel Boy
DUD (or lower) Nameless, later New X-Men and any of his hippy-dippy, pseudo-mystical crap

1. Superman #8 (DC, 1987) ***½
Writer: John Byrne/Artists: John Byrne and Karl Kesel
The post-Crisis Superman meets the Legion Of Super-Heroes “for the first time” and learns about a new threat known as...Superboy? This story continued in Action Comics #591 (which I have) with Superman punching on with Superboy.
2.-7. Superman: Secret Origin (DC, 2010) ****¼
- Superman: Secret Origin #1-6 (DC, 2009-10)
Writer: Geoff Johns/Artist: Gary Frank
This is really, really good. Heavily based on the Superman: The Movie from the 70s. And loved it! Frank draws Supes as Christopher Reeves and that’s just perfect!
8.-9. DC Comics Presents #46, 62 (DC, 1982-83) **½
#46 Superman and The Global Guardians (Writer: EN Bridwell/Artists: Alex Saviuk and Pablo Marcos)
#62 Superman and The Freedom Fighters (Writer: Bob Rozakis and Dan Mishkin/Artists: Irv Novick and Dave Hunt

10.-13. Batman: Year One (DC, 1988) ****
- originally published in Batman #404.-407 (DC, 1986-87)
Writer: Frank Miller/Artist: David Mazzucchelli
14. Detective Comics #572 (DC, 1987) ***½
Writer: Mike W. Barr/Artists: Alan Davis and Paul Neary, Terry Beatty and Dick Giordano, Carmine Infantino, ER Cruz, Dick Sprang (interior); Michael Kaluta (cover)
It’s been nearly 30 years since I first read these comics. Batman: Year One is really fucking good, probably better than The Dark Knight Returns. As for the 50th anniversary issue of Detective Comics, it’s a fun lil’ read with some glorious art. Seeing Batman team up with Sherlock Holmes is a hoot. Revisiting these old comics was a hoot.

15. The Argus Super Comic, May 5, 1949 (The Argus Newspaper) **¾
- featuring Superman, Tarzan, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny and more obscure strips like Hermon Wizzer
 The front page of this weekly lift-out was the colour Superman strip. The story is Supes battling...a juvenile delinquent (!!). I don’t know who did the artwork, but it’s mediocre.

16.-18. JLA Classified #1-3 (DC, 2005) ***¾
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artists: Ed McGuinnes and Dexter Vines
19.-24. JLA Classified #10-15 (DC, 2005) ***½
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artists: Butch Guice (interior); Michael Stribling (covers)
25.-27. Justice League of America #123-124, 200 (DC, 1975, 1982) ***
#123-124 – Writers: Cary Bates and Elliot S! Maggin/Artists: Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin (interior), Ernie Chan (cover)
#200 – Writer: Gerry Conway/Artists: George Perez and friends
28. JLA/JSA: Virtue And Vice (DC, 2002) ***½
Writers: David S. Goyer and Geoff Johns/Artists: Carlos Pacheco and Jēsus Meriño
29.-35. Tales Of The Bizarro World (DC, 2000) ***
- originally published in Adventure Comics #285-299 (DC, 1961-62)
Writer: Jerry Siegel/Artists: various (interior), Jaime Hernandez (cover)
36.-44. Batman In The Sixties (DC, 1999) ***½
- originally published in Batman #131, #144, #148, #155, #179, #181, #200, #217; Detective Comics #298, #341, #349, #369, #388-391; Batman Kellogg’s Special (DC, 1960-69)
Writers: various/Artists: various
45.-51. Identity Crisis (DC, 2005) ***¾
- originally published in Identity Crisis #1-7 (DC, 2004-05) 






52.-56. Gotham Central #1-5 (DC, 2003) ****
Writers: Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka/Artist: Michael Lark
57.-61. Gotham Central #6-10 (DC, 2003) ****
Writer: Greg Rucka/Artist: Michael Lark
Bought these off Comixology (www.comixology.com)
62.-73. Gotham Central Book Two: Jokers And Madmen (DC, 2009) ****
- originally published in Gotham Central #11-22 (DC, 2003-04)
Writers: Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka/Artists: Michael Lark and friends
A really underrated crime noir/police procedural series set in Gotham City, where the cops’ lives are forever under the shadow of “Bats” and his rogue’s gallery of insane villains. Gripping stuff.
74.-81. Justice League Beyond 2.0 Power Struggle TPB (DC, 2014) ***¼
- originally published online in Justice League Beyond 2.0 #1-16 (DC, 2014)
Writer: Christos N. Gage/Artists: Iban Coello and Rob Lean (interior); Rafael Albuquerque (cover)
82.-86. Birds Of Prey: Dead Of Winter (DC, 2007) ****
- originally published in Birds Of Prey #104-108 (DC, 2007)
87.-95. Superman: Mon-El – Man Of Valor (DC, 2010) ***½
- originally published in Superman #692-697, Superman Annual #14, Superman Secret Files 2009 #1 and Adventure Comics #11 (DC, 2009)
Writer: James Robinson/Artists: Fernando Dagnino, Bernard Chang and Javier Pina (interiors); Cafu (cover)


96.-102. Catwoman Vol. 2: Crooked Little Town (DC, 2003) ****¼
- originally published in Catwoman #5-10 and Catwoman Secret Files (DC, 2002)
103.-110. Catwoman Vol. 3: Relentless (DC, 2005) ****¼
- originally published in Catwoman #12-19 (DC, 2003)
111.-115. Catwoman Vol. 4: Wild Ride (DC, 2005) ****¼
- originally published in Catwoman #20-24 (DC, 2003)
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artists: Brad Rader; Michael Avon Oeming; Cameron Stewart, Rick Burchett; Mike Manley; Eric Shanower; Michael Lark; Javier Pulido; JG Jones and friends

116. Superman #155 (DC, 1962) ***
[“Superman Under the Green Sun!” and “The Blind Superman”] Writer: Bill Finger/Artists: Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye
["The Downfall Of Superman!”] Writer: Jerry Siegel/Artists: Curt Swan and George Klein (interior); Curt Swan and John Forte (cover)
A lame Superman comic, typical of the early 60s, but the fact that it has a short tale featuring then-super-popular pro wrestler Antonino Rocca makes it an interesting curio.
117. Action Comics #488 (DC, 1978) **¾
Writer: Cary Bates; Artists: Curt Swan & Frank Chiaramonte
118. Harley And Ivy: Love On The Lam (DC, 2001) ****
Writer: Judd Winick/Artist: Joe Chiodo
119.-121. The Superman/Madman Hullabaloo! #1-3 (DC, 1997) ***
Writer/Artist: Mike Allred
122.-124. Power Girl #97-99 (DC, 1978) **
Writer: Paul Levitz/Artists: Joe Staton, Joe Orlando and Dick Giordano
125.-131. Batman: Under The Hood Vol. 2 (DC, 2006) ***¾
- originally published in Batman #645-650 and Batman Annual #25 (DC, 2005-06)
Writer: Judd Winick/Artists: Doug Mahnke & friends
132. Superman vs Muhammad Ali: Deluxe Edition (DC, 2010) ***¾
- originally published in Superman vs Muhammad Ali DC Treasury Edition (DC, 1978)
Writer: Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams/ Artists: Neal Adams, Dick Giordano and Terry Austin (interior); Neal Adams (cover)





OTHER STUFF
133. Pubs Of The Inner West (self-published, 2015) ***¾
- originally published digitally in 2012-15 by rigozzi.tumblr.com
Writer/artist: Leigh Rigozzi
I’ve been to most of the pubs Leigh writes about in this moving slice of life of love, love lost, heavy drinking and violent vomiting. We can all relate to some or all of these things, surely?
Download your copy (and throw a few bux Leigh’s way) at https://zco.mx/LeighRigozzi/PubsOfTheInnerWest.

134. Fumetti (self-published, 2005) **
Writer/artist: Leigh Rigozzi
This earlier work is far more patchy – it’s all to do with smoke and images blending into other images, but it just doesn’t work.

135. Folding Kimono (self-published, 201?) ***½
Writer/Artist: Jem Yoshioka
This autobiographical comic talks about Jem’s identity problems being half-Japanese/half-New Zealander. Her feeling of emptiness and inability to understand one half of her heritage is reflected in the traditional kimono her grandmother gave her and Jem’s inability to look after it properly. A very engaging short piece and Jem’s artwork is great.

136. Tales From The Crypt #10 (Eerie Publications, 1968) **¼
Writers/artists: various
Nowhere near as gruesome as later Eerie comics, from what I can gather, this comic features hackneyed BandW “tales of terror” that are pretty anaemic and look like they’ve been drawn by sub-standard 1940s artists (probably because they were, who just redrew old 40s public domain tales to begin with). A curiosity, but little more.

137. Martian Comics #1 (Martian Lit, 2014) **¾
Writers:  Julian Darius and Kevin Thurman/Artist: Sergio Tarquini (interior)/Darick Robertson (cover)
This was sent to me as a PDF via email. I was intrigued...Jesus was a Martian? A curious premise, but it’s the back-up feature (in which Jesus WAS a Martian) that was interesting. The main story kinda drags and writer/creator/egotist Julian Darius thinks he’s some kinda shit-hot genius. He’s not.
I can’t be effed reading further issues.

138. Dream Police #9 (Image, 2016) ***½
Writer; J. Michael Straczynski/Artist: Sid Kotian
139. Palefire (Secret Acres, 2015) ****
Writer: MK Reed/Artist: Farel Dalrymple
140. Andre The Giant: Closer To Heaven (IDW, 2015) ****
Writer: Brandon Easton/Artist: Denis Medri


Friday, April 8, 2016

APRIL HORROR BLOCK: The opening


YAY! It arrived! Cool beans!

 The unveiling is ready.

 Wow! This box looks packed with stuff.

The T-shirt is Sadako from The Ring. That's pretty funky.

 A zombie door stop. Oh man...that's fucking cool! I'll use it for our door at work.

I'm not a big Walking Dead fan, but this mini-toy is neat.

I will keep this fuckery by my bed. It is extremely bloody handy!

 Meh. I'll give this to my mate AW.

An oven glove????? Oh yeah, finally! A gift I can give to Helen. 

 This keeps getting better and better. This gross tension doll is fun to squeeze, but when you do so, its "brains" get squished to the top of its head.

I had a flick through the mag before passing it on to AW. There were a few good articles this time round: a look back on Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (a woefully under-appreciated horror film) plus some cool reviews. Good stuff.

OVERALL THOUGHTS: Eight items and only one dud among them, so this was awesome value for money. Well done, HorrorBlock. I can't wait for next month's package.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

COMICS READING FOR MARCH: “The horror...the horror...”


* NOW WITH STAR RATINGS (ala Wrestling Observer Newsletter PPV reports) *

NEW! HOW I RATE THE COMICS VIA THE GRANT MORRISON SCALE
*****     All-Star Superman, We3
****      New X-Men (the early issues), Batman Inc., Batman And Robin, Dare, Arkham Asylum
***        Zenith, Seven Soldiers
**         Final Crisis, Flex Mentallo
*           Marvel Boy
DUD (or lower) Nameless, later New X-Men and any of his hippy-dippy, pseudo-mystical crap

1.-8. The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes (DC, 2010) ****½
- originally published in The Sandman #1-8 (DC, 1988-89)
Writer: Neil Gaiman/Artists: Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg and Malcolm Jones III (interiors); Dave McKean (covers)
9.-20. The Walking Dead Vols. 1-2 (Image, 2004) ***½
- originally published in The Walking Dead #1-12 (Image, 2003-04)
Writer: Robert Kirkman/Artists: Tony Moore (#1-6), Charlie Adlard (#7-12)
I had a first print copy of The Walking Dead #1 back in 2003. Do you know how much it’s worth now at Lone Star (mycomicshop.com)? $20,000. TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS!!! Fuck my life. I stopped buying this series after #25 and sold the lot for $25 on eBay. Fuck my life! I got sick of the torture porn and the never-ending bleakness. TWD was (and still is by all accounts) fucking depressing. Basiclaly, everyone’s gonna die and become zombies – nothing can save them. Rick is fucked up. God knows if any of the original support cast are still alive. Even if they were I’d never recognise them because Adlard is arguably the worst artist in the world. But I rebought the first 12 issues as trades a few years back and I just reread them in one hit. Kinow what? The early issues weren’t too bad. Pity Kirkman’s into torture porn. Fuck that guy. And, still, fuck my life.
21.-26. Bad Planet Vol. 1 (Raw Studios, 2010) ***
- originally published in Bad Planet #1-6 (Image, 2005-08)
Writers: Thomas Jane and Steve Niles/Artists: James Daly III, Lewis LaRosa, Tim Bradstreet and Dave Kendall (interiors); Basil Gogos (cover); Dave Stevens, Berni Wrightson, etc (other art)
27.-31. Chew Vol. 2: International Flavor (Image, 2010) ***¾
- Chew #6-10 (Image, 2009-10)
Writer; John Layman/Artist: Rob Guillory
32. Nailbiter #20 (Image, 2016) ***¾
Writer: Joshua Williamson/Artist: Mike Hendeson
33.-36. Marvel Zombies 3 #1-5 (Marvel, 2008-09) ***¾
Writer: Fred Van Lente/Artists: Kev Walker (interior); Greg Land (cover)
37.-40. Marvel Zombies 4 #1-5 (Marvel, 2009) ***¾
Writer: Fred Van Lente/Artists: Kev Walker (interior); Greg Land (cover) 
41.-45. Marvel Zombies Return #1-5 (Marvel, 2009) ***½
Writer: Fred Van Lente/Artists: various (interior); Arthur Suydam (cover) 
46.-50. Marvel Zombies 5 #1-5 (Marvel, 2010) *****
Writer: Fred Van Lente/Artists: various
51. Marvel Zombies: Evil Evolution #1 (Marvel, 2010) ***
Writer: Karl Kesel/Artists: various
52.-56. Marvel Zombies Supreme #1-5 (Marvel, 2011) ***½
Writer: Frank Marraffino/Artists: Fernando Blanco and Jason Paz (interior); Michael Komarck (covers)
57.-61. Zombies Christmas Carol #1-5 (Marvel, 2011) **¾
Writers: Charles Dickens and Jim McCann/Artists: David Baldeon and friends (interior); Michael Kaluta (covers)
62.-66. Marvel Zombies Destroy! #1-5 (Marvel, 2012) ***
Writers: Frank Marraffino (#1-2); Peter David (#3-5)/Artists: Mirco Pierfederici (#1-2, #4-5 interior); Al Barrionuevo and Rick Magyar (#3 interior); Mike Del Mundo (covers)
67.-78. Black Hole (Jonathan Cape, 2005) ****¾
- originally published in Black Hole #1-12 (Fantagraphics, 1995-2004)
Writer/Artist: Charles Burns
---------------------------------------------

79.-83. Tokyo Ghost Vol. 1: The Atomic Garden (Image, 2016) ***¾
- originally published in Tokyo Ghost #1-5 (Image, 2015-16)
Writer: Rick Remender/Artist: Sean Murphy
84.-85. Stratu’s Diary Comix Nov.-Dec. 2015 (self-published, 2015) ***
Writer/artist: Stratu
Stratu’s epic diary is completed! And he’s inspired me to do my own comic in 2016. Wish me luck!

DIGITAL COMIX!
86.-91. Epochalypse #1-6 (Legendary Comics, 2014-15) ***
Writer: Jonathan Henesey/Artists: Shane Davis (#1-6 interior), Pete Woods (#6 interior); Shane Davis (#1 cover), Steve Mannion (#2 cover), Dave Johnson (#3-6 covers)
This series – about a time catastrophe that saw 600 years of history compressed into one time period – had a really strong start as time cops hunted down citizens who held anachronistic objects that could jeopardise the world’s fragile state. But the series dropped in quality as the issues continued and various sub-plots arose that only muddied the central storyline. The last two issues were confusing and unsatisfying .Henesy clearly plotted this series to run more than six issues, but #7 hasn’t surfaced in more than a year so I suspect Epocalypse is...ahem, history.

JOIN THE CARAVAN OF LOVE
I receive free Aussie comics every week courtesy of caravanofcomics.com, but I haven’t reviewed any of them, so here are my brief thoughts on a slab that I read the other day.

92. If You Follow Me On Instagram by Andrew Fulton (self-published, 20??) **½
Four-in-one panels that evaporate as you read them. Some panels are profound, others not so much.
93. Legend Of The White Stag by Alex E. Clark (self-published, 2013) **¾
Cute lil’ horror tale about a mermaid in a creek in what I assume is rural Australia.
94. Lars The Last Viking Goes To The End Of The World by Matt Taylor (self-published, 2011) **¾
Nice art, but the story about a death metal-playing lonely viking was too cutesy and a bit lame.
95. If A Tree Falls by Nic Lawson (self-published, 20??) ***½
A short, sweet tale about a lumberjack who has a change of heart.
96. Inscapes by Safdar Ahmed (self-published, 2015) ***¾
A powerful collection of strips and drawings detailing the frustrations of a Muslim dealing with getting hammered by the destructive actions of Islamic terrorists on one side and Islamophobes who seek to blame ALL Muslims for the actions of a few extremists. Powerful, thought-provoking material. From the website: “Safdar is a Sydney-based comic artist, academic and co-founder of Refugee Art Project, for which he conducts art workshops with refugees and asylum seekers. In 2015, Safdar won a Walkley Award in the artwork category for his documentary webcomic, Villawood: Notes From An Immigration Detention Centre.
97. Judee by Lachlan Conn (self-published, 2015) ****
Beautifully surreal comic about a giant cavewoman. Very Crumbesque/Weirdo comic-style artwork. An unexpected gem.
98. Imagined Mysteries by Anthony Woodward (self-published, 2015) ****
The death of Leonard Nimoy is the starting point of Anthony’s thoughtful look at religious intolerance, man’s inability to see the bigger picture and what Mr Spock represented to humanity. Strangely moving, powerful comix.
99. Combat Trousers by Jonathan King (self-published, 2015) **¾
Just silly stuff from this NZ creator. A war yarn where a pair of trousers leads a platoon.
100. Not Quite Right by AzzaMcKazza (self-published, 201?) ***½
Wacky, well-drawn humour strips. I liked it a lot.
101. Darkest Night #1 (Siberian Productions, 2012) **¼
Writer/artist: Hayden Fryer
Poorly written, amateurishly drawn romance comic that’s the first in a trilogy, apparently. I’ll skip the next two instalments, I think.

102. Lucha Underground: Rey Mysterio #1 (El Rey Network, 2016) ***
Writers: Justin Ortiz, Christopher DeJoseph, Fabian Rangel Jr/Artist: AC Osorio
103. Lucha Underground: Mil Muerte #1 (El Rey Network, 2016) ***
Writers: Justin Ortiz, Christopher DeJoseph, Fabian Rangel Jr/Artists: Tony Gregori (interior); AC Osorio (cover)

104. Howard The Duck: The Newspaper Strips Vol. 1 (self-published, 2016) ***
- originally published daily by Marvel, 1977
Writer: Steve Gerber/Artist: Gene Colan
The first chapter of the are HTD newspaper strip can be found at http://bronzeageofblogs.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/howard-duck-newspaper-strip-pop-syke.html. I saved the high-res JPEGs and laid them out into an 18-page zine that I then printed out. You can read the first chapter at the blog and you can contact me at danhelen@idx.com.au and I’ll send you a copy of my zine (with colour front cover featuring rare fan-commissioned art by Val Mayerik).
To learn more about Howard’s strip and its troubled short life (it ended in 1978 and didn’t appear in many newspapers at all), check out http://nemsworld.com/howard/.

105. -106. Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades Of The World’s Greatest Comics by Les Daniels (Harry N. Abrams Inc., 1991) ****
- features the following strips: “Vengeance!”, Sub-Mariner #35 (Marvel, 1954); “Duel To The Death With The Vulture!”, The Amazing Spider-Man #2 (Marvel, 1963); “This Man...This Monster!”, Fantastic Four #51 (Marvel, 1966); Wolverine in “The Hunter” (technically unpublished, 1987)
Writers: Bill Everett, Stan Lee, Chris Claremont/Artists: Bill Everett, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott; Marshall Rogers and Randy Emberlin
I’ll have an upcoming podcast reviewing Les’s book, along with his other book looking at 60 years of DC Comics.


107.-108. I Am A Hero Omnibus 1 (Dark Horse, 2016) ****
Writer/artist: Kengo Hanazawa
- originally published in I Am A Hero Vols. 1 and 2 (Shogakukan, 2009)

Zombie manga! I’m so glad this got sent to me. I’ll discuss it more in my next podcast. J


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

COMICS READING FOR FEBRUARY: “The Meh 52”


* NOW WITH STAR RATINGS (ala Wrestling Observer Newsletter PPV reports) *

NEW! HOW I RATE THE COMICS VIA THE GRANT MORRISON SCALE
*****     All-Star Superman, We3
****      New X-Men (the early issues), Batman Inc., Batman & Robin, Dare, Arkham Asylum
***        Zenith, Seven Soldiers
**         Final Crisis, Flex Mentallo
*           Marvel Boy
DUD (or lower) Nameless, later New X-Men and any of his hippy-dippy, pseudo-mystical crap

1.-3. Worlds’ Finest #6-8 (DC, 2013) ***¼
Writers: Paul Levitz/Artists: Kevin Maguire (#6-7 Huntress sequence); George Perez & Sandra Hope (#6-7 Power Girl sequence); George Perez, Cafu, Cliff Richards (#8)
4.-6. Earth 2 #6-8 (DC, 2013) ***¼
Writer: James Robinson/Artists: Nicola Scott & Trevor Scott (#6); Yildiray Cinar & Trevor Scott (#7); Yildiray Cinar, Ryan Winn & Ruy Jose (#8)
7.-15. Batman Incorporated #6-13, Special #1 (DC, 2013) ***¾
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artists: Chris Burnham & friends
16.-19. O.M.A.C. #5-8 (DC, 2012) **¾
Writers: Dan DiDio & Jeff Lemire/Artists: Keith Giffen & Scott Koblish
20.-26. Catwoman #6-12 (DC, 2012) ***
Writer: Judd Winick/Artists: Guillem March (#6); Adriana Melo & friends (#7-12)
27.-36. Frankenstein, Agent Of S.H.A.D.E. #5-12, 0 (DC, 2012) ***¾
Writer: Jeff Lemire (#5-10); Matt Kindt (#11-12, 0)/Artists: Alberto Ponticelli & friends
37. Men Of War #8 (DC, 2012) ***
Writers: Jeff Lemire & Matt Kindt/Artist: Tom Derenick
38.-44. Animal Man #6-11, Annual #1 (DC, 2012) ****
Writer: Jeff Lemire/Artists; John Paul Leon, Travel Foreman & Jeff Huet (#6 interior); Steve Pugh, Travel Foreman & Jeff Huet (#7-8 interior); Steve Pugh (#9-10 interior); Alberto Ponticelli & Wayne Faucher (#11 interior); Timothy Green II & Joseph Silver (Annual #1 interior); Travel Foreman (#6-10, Annual #1 covers); Steve Pugh (#11 cover)
This is the prelude to the “RotWorld” storyline that ran through several titles, and it’s still damn creepy. Second-string superhero Buddy “Animal Man” Baker learns that his 4yo daughter Maxine is a powerful elemental, an “Avatar for the Red”. But the Avatar for the Rot – who’s revealed in the final panel of #11 as old Swamp Thing foe Arcane – wants to get his hands on Maxine. On the run from an army of rotting zombie animals, Buddy and his family go searching for the Avatar of the Green, Swamp Thing, so they can fight Arcane and restore balance to the world. Many hardships and personal tragedies ensue, not least of which is Buddy Baker’s death (don’t worry, he gets better).
The art teams change regularly but maintain a remarkable uniform style, but it’s Lemire’s terrific writing – building layers of dread and suspense – that make Animal Man far and away the best series in the New 52 line. Bring on the crossovers and mini-“event”.

A Load Of Rot
45.-63. Animal Man #12, Swamp Thing #12, Animal Man #13, Swamp Thing #13, Swamp Thing Annual #1, Frankenstein, Agent Of S.H.A.D.E. #13, Swamp Thing #14, Animal Man #14, Frankenstein, Agent Of S.H.A.D.E. #14, Animal Man #15, Swamp Thing #15, Frankenstein, Agent Of S.H.A.D.E. #15, Animal Man #16, Swamp Thing #16, Animal Man #17, Swamp Thing #17, Animal Man #18-19, Swamp Thing #18 (DC, 2012-13) **¾
Writers: Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt & Scott Snyder/Artists: various
Basically, a piss-poor preview of the highly overrated and frustrating Future’s End maxiseries that ran a year later. A nightmare future, loads of weird groupings of superheroes with former villains, and former heroes with supervillains. A nonsensical Batman invention that saves the day (seemingly pulled from the writers’ collective arsehole), then the inevitable “we’ll send you back in time so you can stop this horrible future from ever happening” – and they do. The only thing that salvages this crossover is the downbeat, surprisingly human ending, particularly in Animal Man. Buddy Baker goes through hell to save his family and the planet, but still ultimately fails to save his son from death. If only the rest of “Rotworld” could have been that powerful.

64. Frankenstein, Agent Of S.H.A.D.E. #16 (DC, 2013) ***
Writer: Matt Kindt/Artist: Alberto Ponticelli

65.-76. The Shade #1-12 (DC, 2011-12) ***
Writer: James Robinson/Artists: Cully Hamner (interior #1-3), Darwyn Cooke & J. Bone (interior #4), Javier Pulido (interior #5-7), Jill Thompson (interior #8), Frazer Irving (interior #9-11), Gene Ha (interior #12); Tony Harris (covers)
The Shade was one of the most intriguing characters from Robinson’s run on Starman in the 1990s, so I was happy to buy this 12-issue maxiseries. It starts strongly with Shade surviving an assassination attempt by Deathstroke and setting out to find the man who hired him, which turns out to be one of his descendants. From there, we get a potted history of The Shade with individual stories and arcs that vary in quality. Artistically, the three-issue run by Irving looks fantastic. But the storyline lost my interest near the end and the conclusion (a brief origin story) felt oddly rushed...as if Robinson intended this series to be more than 12 issues, but got told to wrap it up early (due to poor sales, I presume). The final issue even has a heading that states its the first chapter in a longer arc, yet it’s all over 20 pages later. Odd.

77.-78. Deadpool & The Merc$ For Money #1/Spidey #1 (Marvel, 2016) ****
[Deadpool] Writer: Cullen Bunn/Artists: Salva Espin (interior); Declan Shalvey (cover)
[Spidey] Writer: Robbie Thompson/Artists: Nick Bradshaw
79. Guardians Team-Up #5 (Marvel, 2015) ***½
Writers: Andy Lanning & Andy Schmidt /Artists: Gustavo Duarte (interior); Humberto Ramos (cover)
80.-85. Guardians Team-Up Vol. 2: Unlikely Story (Marvel, 2016) ***¾
- originally published in Guardians Team-Up #6-10 & Deadpool Team-Up #883) (Marvel, 2011, 2015)
Writers/Artists: various

86. Sidekick (included in Comic Heroes #22) (Future, 2014) ***
Writers/artists: various
87.-89. Stratu’s Diary Comix Aug.-Oct. 2015 (self-published, 2015) ***
Writer/artist: Stratu
The mundane, the fascinating, the horrifying, the melancholy...it’s all here in Stu’s daily diary.
90.-95. Prez Vol. 1: Corndog-in-Chief (DC, 2016) ***¾
- originally published in Prez #1-6 (DC, 2015)
Writer: Mark Russell/Artists: Ben Caldwell & friends
A decidedly witty, subversive, non-DCish series that updates and smartens up the old 1970s Prez series. Lost its way a little in the middle, but overall a big thumbs up on this title.
96.-101. Spider-Man’s Tangled Web Vol. 1 (Marvel, 2001) ****
- originally published in Spider-Man’s Tangled Web #1-6 (Marvel, 2001)
Writers/Artists: various