Saturday, September 6, 2014

ADDENDUM: The worst comic of all time


AND I've read Faust...and comics drawn AND written by Rob Liefeld...and early 90s DC superhero comics...and those porno comics "starring" Lisa Ann and Marilyn Chambers...and the sick shit Barry Blair did for Aircel...and all those horrible Dell superheroes from the 1960s...and Siegel's Mighty Crusaders and......YOU GET MY DRIFT.
East Meets West #1 is worse than any of them.

COMICS READING FOR AUGUST: “Who guards the Guardians?”


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

HOW I RATE THE COMICS VIA THE ALAN MOORE SCALE
*****     Watchmen, Miracleman, V For Vendetta
****      From Hell, Supreme, Swamp Thing, Fashion Beast, League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (first two series)
***        Axel Pressbutton, Tom Strong
**         Promethea
*           LoEG: Century: 1969
DUD (or lower) any of his non-comics stuff


1. Guardians Of The Galaxy #0.1 (Marvel, 2013) ***¾
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artists: Steve McNiven & John Dell
2. Guardians Of The Galaxy: Tomorrow’s Avengers #1 (Marvel, 2013) ***½
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artists: various
3.-15. Guardians Of The Galaxy #1-13 (Marvel, 2013-14) ***
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artists: Steve McNiven & friends
After seeing 20 minutes of the GotG movie in 3D – and in anticipation of seeing the full movie in late August – I went back and reread the first seven issues of the “Marvel Now!” relaunch (which I first read last year) and then all the other GotG comics I’ve been religiously buying each month but not reading...till now.
And I have to say that while I liked 0.1 and Tomorrow’s Avengers, the main series has left a sour taste in my mouth.
The problem is that Marvel has positioned GotG as one of its major titles – along with Avengers, X-Men, etc. While this is cool and means they’re taking the series seriously (we probably could have guessed that by them getting Bendis on board as the writer), it also leads to the same problem the other main titles have. Which is...whenever there’s a major crossover event (of which there are seemingly 2-3 a year now), these titles get sucked into them. If you don’t buy every issue connected with the crossover event in question, then you don’t understand what the frig is going on. This is what’s happening when I read all these GotG issues back to back.
After a solid seven-issue start introducing the Guardians, new members Iron Man (what a blatant attempt to get the series off to a flying start, but that’s another story) and the universally displaced Angela (of Neil Gaiman and Spawn fame), we cop two issues of the Infinity crossover (#8-9), then parts one, four and six of “The Trial Of Jean Grey” (#11-13). As I didn’t get Infinity and I don’t read X-Men, much of this run makes no sense. Overall, I have a feeling of frustration reading GotG. How the hell will they collect these issues into a coherent run of TPBs? Ack – great art by a range of artists and fun dialogue from Bendis isn’t enough to salvage this series. So...why am I still buying it?
16.-19. Guardians Of The Galaxy #14-17 (Marvel, 2014) ****
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artists: Nick Bradshaw, Michael Oeming & Walden Wong
Finally, this series hits its stride due to the fact it isn’t being kicked about by stupid crossover events. This is a solid four-issue arc where the Guardians are all individually captured and put on trial for their “crimes”. How they escape and come to each other’s aid is rollicking old-fashioned sci-fi fun, kinda like the movie. Which is why I rate this arc so highly and hope that it augurs well for the future.
20.-21. Guardians Of The Galaxy: Galaxy’s Most Wanted (Marvel, 2014) ***
- back-up originally published in Thor #314 (Marvel, 1981)
Writer: Will Corona Pilgrim/Artist: Andrea Di Vito (main story)
Writer: Doug Moench/Artists: Keith Pollard, Dan Green & Pablo Marcos (Thor)
A fluffy tale of Rocket Raccoon and Groot being loveable rogues kicks off this one-shot. It’s okay but forgettable. The back-up yarn is an early appearance of Drax and it’s godawful. Like DUD awful. Marvel in the 80s was really shit.
22. 100th Anniversary Special: Guardians Of The Galaxy #1 (Marvel, 2014) ****
Writers: Andy Lanning & Ron Marz/Artists: Gustavo Duarte (interior); David Lopez (cover)
I didn’t follow the rest of this unique miniseries, but I thought the GotG one-shot was a hoot. I loved the fact that Rocket had morphed into a Donald Duck-type character with three nephews (ala Huey, Dewey and Louie). Maybe Marvel and Disney are trying to create further synergy here.
23.-24. Rocket Raccoon #1-2 (Marvel, 2014) ****
Writer/artist: Scottie Young
25.-26. Legendary Starlord #1-2 (Marvel, 2014) ****
Writer: Sam Humphries/Artists: Paco Medina & Juan Vlasco
Finally, someone is doing these GotG characters REAL justice. Both these series are lotsa fun. Starlord has a step-sister and she’s a bad-ass alien? Rocket has a bunch of jilted exes who want to kill him dead (and an evil doppelganger)? This stuff is seriously awesome!
27.-29. Star-Lord: Worlds On The Brink (Marvel, 2014) **
- originally published in Marvel Preview #14-15, Marvel Super Special #10 (Marvel, 1978-79)
Writers: Chris Claremont, Doug Moench/Artists: Carmine Infantino & Bob Wiacek, Gene Colan & Tom Palmer (interior), Steve McNiven (cover)
30.-33. Star-Lord: Tears For Heaven (Marvel, 2014) **
- originally published in Marvel Preview #18, Marvel Spotlight #6-7, Marvel Premiere #61 (Marvel, 1979-81)
Writer: Doug Moench/Artists: Bill Sienkiewicz, Tom Sutton & Bob McLeod (interior), Sara Pichelli (cover)
Starlord is a way cooler character nowadays. He was so shit in the 70s.
34.-35. Silver Surfer #4-5 (Marvel, 2014) ***½
Writers: Dan Slott/Artist: Michael Allred
Guest-starring 2014’s version of Wolverine...the Guardians Of The Galaxy. And The Defenders! Is this the end of the series? It certainly feels like it.

BY THE WAY, THE MOVIE WAS FANTASTIC!

36. Neverwhere #1 (Vertigo, 2005) ****
Writers: Neil Gaiman (novel) & Mike Carey (adaptation)/Artist: Glenn Fabry
The comics adaptation of Gaiman’s critical and commercial hit novel gets off to a cracking start. An easy read and Fabry’s art is delightful. I’m definitely buying the rest of this.
37. Snowpiercer Vol. 1 (Titan, 1984, 2014) ***½
Writer: Jacques Lob/Artist: Jean-Marc Rochette
What inspired the movie. Pretty good, but I don’t need to read Vol. 2.
38. The Originals (Vertigo, 2004) ***½
Writer/artist: Dave Gibbons
Was this really published 10 years ago? My, how time flies. I liked this retro/future remake of Quadrophenia. Great art, snappy fashions, kinda pedestrian storyline. Then again, Gibbons is an artist, not a writer. Still, I don’t know why he set essentially a 60s tale in the far future? It felt unnecessary.


39.The Multiversity #1 (DC, 2014) ***
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artist: Ivan Reis
Listen to my podcast about this comic HERE.

40. The Fade-out #1 (Image, 2014) ****
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Sean Phillips
More gritty, noir action from Mr Ed. Lovely stuff. Looking forward to the next instalment...also, it inspires me to get off my arse and read the rest of Fatale.
41. A1 #4 (Epic, 1992) **
Writers/artists: various
How could a comic featuring the talent of Dave McKean, Peter Milligan, Jamie Hewlett and Roger Langridge be so.....ordinary?
42. Kafka: The Executiion (Fantagraphics, 1989) ***¾
Writer/artist: Leopoldo Durañona
I remember reading a few of these dark adaptations of Franz Kafka’s work in Heavy Metal (or was it Epic Magazine?). Anyway, this one-shot collects a bunch of them and they’re all fucking disturbing.
43. Starlight #5 (Image, 2014) ****
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: Goran Parlov
It only takes five minutes to read, but this comic is a rollicking, old-fashioned, swashbuckling sci-fi comic. It’s lots of fun.
44. The Sundowners #1 (Dark Horse, 2014) ***¾
Writer: Tim Seeley/Artists: Jim Terry (interior), Chris Brunner & Rico Renzi (cover)
A quirky start to this series about a superhero self-help group. Are these people delusional whackjobs or real superheroes caught in the middle of a bizarre conspiracy. I’m leaning towards the latter.


45. Blade #2 (Buccaneer, 1989) *
Writer: Seab Mercer/Artists: Tony Harris, Eamon Glennon & Chris Renfroe (interior); Craig Hamilton, Tony Harris & Michael Pierce (cover)
An unpleasant, confusing Faust rip-off, featuring homophobic writing by Mercer. I guess he can be forgiven somewhat as he was only a dumb schoolkid at the time. It's hard to believe that Harris went on to be THE great Tony Harris of Starman fame.
46. Dream Police #4 (Image, 2014) ***½
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski/Artist: Sid Kotian
47. Guardians Of The Galaxy #18 (Marvel, 2014) ***
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artist: Ed McGuinness & Mark Farmer
48.-50. Two-Step #1-3 (WildStorm, 2003-04) ***
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artists: Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti
A throwaway miniseries that takes SEVEN months to reach the third issue? What the fuck, Warren Ellis?
51.-53. Reload #1-3 (WildStorm, 2003) ***
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artists: Paul Gulacy & Jimmy Palmiotti
Gulacy is overrated.
54.-56. Anna Mercury 2 #1-3 (Avatar, 2009) ***½
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artist: Facundo Percio
Goddamn you, Ellis. Where’s the rest of this bloody series?

57. East Meets West #1 (Innovation, 1990) -*****
Writer: Paul Power/Artist: Paul Power, Nestor Redondo & friends
The worst comic ever. Ever. Power is an Aussie artist and noted movie storyboard artist (Top Gun, Predator, etc), but this comic is a fucking mess. Confusing plotting, bad layouts, dull writing, "heroic" characters with few redeeming qualities, muddy-as-shit colouring. Just so amateurishly bad on so many levels, especially as it came from a "professional" company. The fact that true talents like Redondo, Dave Rocketeer Stevens lent their assistance to this abortion of a series makes it even sadder.
58.-63. Justice League Beyond: Konstriction (DC, 2013) ***¾
- originally published in Justice League Beyond Digital Chapters #1-16 (DC, 2012)
Writers/artists: Derek Fridolfs & Dustin Nguyen/Additional art: Eric Nguyen, James Brouwer, Ben Caldwell
It seems the DC series I enjoy most are the ones set in the future and removed (or mostly removed) from current New 52 continuity. I enjoy Justice League 3000 and I’m finally getting into the Batman from Batman Beyond (who has a personality similar to Marvel’s Spider-Man) in DC’s animated universe, now that he’s a featured player in Future’s End. Picking up this trade was a no-brainer as it has Batman and a bunch of JL characters (or their children, protégés, etc). It’s set in the near future but whether it’s in the “real” DC universe or the animated one, I couldn’t say. Anyway, I enjoyed it a lot.


64. Heartland(Vertigo, 1997) ***½
Writer: Garth Ennis/Artist: Steve Dillon
On the back of Preacher’s success, Ennis could write anything for DC and it would get published, it seems. This slow-moving tale of love, family, selective childhood memories and betrayal in Belfast in 1994 is kinda self-indulgent, but entertaining all the same.
65. Dalgoda #1 (Fantagraphics, 1984) **¾
Writer: Jan Strnad/Artist: Dennis Fujtake
Two things strike me about this shaggy dog tale about canine aliens interacting with a paranoid, aggressive mankind: 1. Jan Strnad is not a very good writer, AND 2. $2.25 was a fucking helluva lot to pay for a comic in 1984.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Kirby Your Enthusiasm, ep. 34: My Life With Neil Gaiman


IN WHICH I talk about my history with the quirky English writer and how it grew to an obsessive love thanks to Amanda Fucking Palmer.
Plus my review of Grant Morrison's MULTIVERSITY #1.
20 minutes. Check out the podcast HERE.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

COMICS READING FOR JULY: “Happy 75th birthday, Batman!”



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

HOW I RATE THE COMICS VIA THE ALAN MOORE SCALE
*****     Watchmen, Miracleman, V For Vendetta
****      From Hell, Supreme, Swamp Thing, Fashion Beast, League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (first two series)
***        Axel Pressbutton, Tom Strong
**         Promethea
*           LoEG: Century: 1969
DUD (or lower) any of his non-comics stuff

1.-6. Graphic Ink: The DC Comics Art of Frank Quitely (DC, 2014) *****
- some pieces originally published as Batman And Robin #1-3 (writer: Grant Morrison, 2009), The Sandman: Endless Nights (writer: Neil Gaiman, 2003) and The Invisibles Vol. 3 #1 (writer: Grant Morrison, 2000)
Finally finished this book and it’s amazing. Quitely’s artwork is stunning and rises well above even some of the less-than-stellar stories he was given. Sheer brilliance.

7. The Undertaker Morton Stone #1 (Gestalt, 2014) ***¾
Writer: Gary Chaloner/Artists: Ben Templesmith (inc. Cover); Ashley Wood
The Undertaker Morton Stone has been locked up in Corkscrew Asylum for two years. Now he's come home to Thunderhead Cemetery and his darling (but deceased) wife, Lucinda. With his dead dog Cryptoe by his side, Morton is hellbent on finding the real Toe Nail Clipper Killer, Mr Noddy.
8. The Undertaker Morton Stone #2 (Gestalt, 2014) ****
Writer: Gary Chaloner/Artists: Gary Chaloner; Ashley Wood (interior); Ben Templesmith (cover)
The Undertaker Morton Stone and his faithful hound, Cryptoe are on the trail of the tosser Mr. Noddy. Little do they realise that Nod, the Toe Nail Clipper Killer, is on the lookout for Morty as well! Can the Undertaker get to split Noddy's corpus callosum with his spade, while avoiding that pesky a-hole Lt. Aubrey Turgid? Does Morton's spunky sister Sophie have all the clues? And are they all prepared for the dark, manky road they will have to travel to get to the munted truth?

9. Headlocked: The Last Territory Convention Special (Visionary Comics, 2014) ***½
Writer: Michael Kingston/Artists: Michel Mulipola (interior); Jill Thompson (credit page); Jerry “The King” Lawler (cover)
Kingston’s Kickstarter project to finish this insider look into the world of pro wrestling nears fruition. This is the first issue (albeit as a low-res PDF) off the factory line. From Lawler’s Saturday Evening Post-esque cover to the gritty’n’grim-but-intriguing story itself, this is a comic worth getting and supporting, especially as he a lot of big-name wrestlers besides Lawler involved with the project. Learn more about Headlocked at www.headlockedcomic.com and facebook.com/groups/233916990073920/#!/headlockedcomic.

10.-13. Marvel Universe: Guardians Of The Galaxy: Cosmic Team-Up (Marvel, 2014) ***
- originally published in Marvel Universe: Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes #18, Marvel Universe: Ultimate Spider-Man #22, Marvel Universe: Hulk: Agents Of S.M.A.S.H. #4, Incredible Hulk #271 (Marvel, 1982, 2013-14)
Writers/artists: various
A mixed bag of adapted tales from various animated TV series, linked by GotG appearances. Of the first three, USM is probably the funniest, although Hulk is also a lighthearted read. The fourth tale – featuring Rocket Raccoon’s debut – is typical godawful early 80s Marvel writing by Bill Mantlo, with slumming art from Sal Buscema.
14. Stray Bullets: Killers #4 (Image, 2014) ****
Writer/artist: David Lapham
15. Moon Knight #5 (Marvel, 2014) ****½
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artist: Declan Shalvey
Ellis finally hits his stride with this ultra-violent, poetic-yet-almost-wordless tale of Moon Knight rescuing a kidnap victim from an apartment building filled with thugs. Annoying then to learn that this is his second-to-last issue. Fuck.
16.-17. The Woods #2-3 (BOOM!, 2014) ***½
Writer: James Tynion IV/Artist Michael Dialynas
The teachers and jocks go all Lord Of The Flies on the student body as this “school-mysteriously-shipped-to-a-hostile-planet” tale picks up steam. Nasty and getting nastier.
18. The Royals: Masters Of War #6 (Vertigo, 2014) ***¼
Writer: Rob Williams/Artists: Simon Coleby & Gary Erskine
A strangely dissatisfying end to this alternative WW2 miniseries that held some promise at the beginning. In the end it all just, kinda, petered out.
19. The United States Of Murder Inc. #3 (Icon, 2014) ***½
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artist: Michael Avon Oeming
20. Justice League 3000 #8 (DC, 2014) ***½
Writers: Keith Giffen & JM DeMatteis/Artists: Keith Giffen & Howard Porter
21. Original Sin #5 (Marvel, 2014) ****
Writer: Jason Aaron/Artists: Mike Deodato (interior), Julian Totino Tedesco (cover)
22.-23. Original Sins #2-3 (Marvel, 2014) ***¾
Writers/artists: various
24. Original Sin: Thor & Loki: The Tenth Realm #1 (Marvel, 2014) ***½
Writers: Jason Aaron & Al Ewing/Artists: Lee Garbett & Simone Bianchi (interior), Dale Keown & Jason Keith (cover)
25. Original Sin: Hulk vs Iron Man #1 (Marvel, 2014) ***½
Writers: Mark Waid & Kieron Gillen/Artists: Mark Bagley & Andrew Hennessey (interior), JG Jones (cover)
26. Infinity Man And The Forever People #1 (DC, 2014) ***
Writers: Keith Giffen & Dan DiDio/Artists: Keith Giffen & Scott Koblish

IT’S THE FUCKING BATMAN MONTH

27.-28. Batman: Detective Comics #28-29 (DC, 2014) ***¾
Writer: John Layman/Artists: Aaron Lopresti & Art Thibert (interior), Jason Fabok (cover)
I reread the first instalment from Detective Comics #27 and was inspired to read the rest of the “Gothtopia” storyline. It was pretty good, but kinda petered out by #29.
29. Batman/Judge Dredd: Vendetta In Gotham (DC, 1993) ***
Writers: Alan Grant & John Wagner/Artists: Cam Kennedy (interior), Mike Mignola (cover)
30.-31. Batman/Judge Dredd: Die Laughing #1-2 (DC, 1998) ***¼
Writers: Alan Grant & John Wagner/Artists:Glenn Fabry, Jim Murray, Jason Brashill
32.-43. Batman: Hush (DC, 2009) ***½
- originally published in Batman 608-619, Wizard #0 (DC, 2002-03)
Writer: Jeph Loeb/Artist: Jim Lee
Merely OK. A little overrated, to be honest.
44.-47. Batman: Mad Love And Other Stories (DC, 2009) ****½
- originally published in The Batman Adventures: Mad Love, The Batman Adventures Annual #1-2, etc (DC, 1994-99, 2003)
Writer: Paul Dini/Artists: Bruce Timm & friends
48.-53. Batman: The Widening Gyre (DC, 2010) ***¾
- originally published in Batman: The Widening Gyre #1-6 (DC, 2009-10)
Writer: Kevin Smith/Artists: Walter Flanagan & Art Thibert (interior), Bill Sienkiewicz (covers)
54.-57. Batman: The Man Who Laughs (DC, 2008) ***½
- originally published in Detective Comics #784-86 and Batman: The Man Who Laughs (DC, 2003, 2005)
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artists: various
Ed retells the Joker’s first battle against a neophyte Batman and it’s great. His depiction of the psychotic, murderous Joker is pretty chilling in his pure, insane love of chaos and evil. The three-parter is a more by-the-numbers detective yarn co-starring the Golden Age Green Lantern. It’s probably the weakest Brubaker tale I’ve ever read.
58. Batman: Detective Comics #27 (DC, 2014) ****
Writers/artists: various
Got this free at Kings Comics as part of the 75th anniversary celebrations (also scored a free Frank Miller Batman mask and a sweet cupcake!). Sure, this is now the THIRD time I’ve read this issue (or parts thereof), but this freebie also contains a reprint of the first tale of “The Bat-Man” from the original Detective Comics #27 (May 1939) by Bob Kane and Bill Finger. Plus a sneak preview of Brad Meltzer’s reimagining of the same yarn with design work by Chip Kidd. Makes me want to catch the rest of it in the upcoming Batman: A Celebration of 75 Years.
59.-65. Batman: Under The Hood Vol. 1 (DC, 2005) ***½
- originally published in Batman #635-641 (DC, 2005)
Writer: Judd Winick/Artists: Doug Mahnke, Paul Lee, Tom Nguyen & Cam Smith (interiors); Matt Wagner (covers)
While I liked the way Winick continued the idea begun by Jeph Loeb in Hush, dealing with the return from the grave of Jason Todd as the demented vigilante Red Hood, I thought it ended kinda flat. But the Black Mask is an awesome villain.
66.-71. DC’s Greatest Imaginary Stories Vol. 2 (DC, 2010) ***
- originally published in a bunch of mags (DC, 1959-60, 1962-65, 1969, 1978)
Writers/artists: various
These feature a bunch of Batman and Robin yarns that range from silly (but entertaining) to just plain dull.
72. Batman: Death By Design (DC, 2012) ***¾
Writer: Chip Kidd/Artist: Dave Taylor
I picked this up on special during Kings’ “Batman’s 75th Anniversary Day” celebrations. I can see why they had so many remaindered copies: I can’t imagine too many fanboys being into book design and architecture. Still, if you ARE, then this is the perfect book for you as Kidd has filled this slim hardcover with both. The story’s a good noir mystery with a 1940s/50s-feel. I liked it, probably more when I reread the ending. Still...not surprised it didn’t sell well.
73. Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga #1 (DC, 2014) ****
Writer/artist: Jiro Kuwata
Speaking of Chip Kidd, I first read Kuwata’s version of Batman in his Batmanga book several years back. This new digital weekly series is reprinting the complete run of the original Batman manga from the 60s! It’s dumb in that typical “Batman of the 1960s” style, but with a vicious Japanese manga bent. Anyway, the first instalment features Batman and Robin’s first encounter with the seemingly unkillable Lord Death Man. Good stuff.
74. Just Imagine Stan Lee’s Batman (DC, 2001) *
Writer: Stan Lee/Artist: Joe Kubert (main story)
Writer: Michael Uslan/Artist: Michael Wm. Kaluta (back-up)
Cover artists: Joe Kubert; Adam Hughes
75. Detective Comics #600 (DC, 1989) *
Writer: Sam Hamm/Artists: Denys Cowan, Dick Giordano & Frank McLaughlin (main story); Will Eisner, Bernie Wrightson, Neal Adams, etc (pin-ups)
This comic perfectly sums up everything that sucked about Marvel and DC in the late 80s and early 90s. A huge milestone in Batman’s publishing history is treated to poor printing, bog roll-paper quality, and a horribly written and illustrated main story that made me nearly fall asleep as I plodded through it. Oh...and by this stage in his career, every man and his dog knew Bruce Wayne was Batman and that he had a freaking cave under Stately Wayne Manor. Not good at keeping secrets are we, Bats? The only saving grace to this shockingly bad tribute issue are the pin-ups by the likes of Eisner (Batman teaming up with The Spirit), Walt Simonson and Mike Zeck. But this is pretty inept overall.
76. Gotham By Gaslight (DC, 1989) **
Writer: Brian Augustyn/Artists: Michael Mignola & P. Craig Russell
This “alternative history” version of Batman sees him do battle with Jack The Ripper in 19th century Gotham City. It’s kinda lame, has huge plot holes and I worked out the killer’s identity within the first five pages. Mignola’s art is lovely though.
77.-78. Elseworld’s Finest #1-2 (DC, 1997) ***¼
Writer: John Francis Moore/Artists: Kieron Dwyer & Hilary Barta
Mid-30s Doc Savage-style action featuring very different versions of Superman, Batman, Lex Luthor and others. It’s passable, light fluff. But nothing great.
79.-85. Batman Black & White Vol. 2 (DC, 2002) ****
- originally published in Gotham Knights #17-49 (DC, 2001-02)
Writers/artists: various
86.-96. Batman Black & White Vol. 3 (DC, 2007) ***¾
- originally published in Gotham Knights #1-16 (DC, 2001-04)
Writers/artists: various

97.-101. Juice Squeezers Vol. 1: The Great Bug Elevator (Dark Horse, 2014) ****
- originally published in Dark Horse Presents #26-28 and Juice Squeezers #1-4  (Dark Horse, 2013-14)
Writer/artist: David Lapham


102. Bunny & Rink #1 (Ninja Cafe Comics, 2014) **½
Writer: Zach Dominello/Artist: Seb Dominello
TV cartoons like Adventure Time and Regular Show have a lot to answer for. Now, a ton of shitty cartoonists with a “hipster” sense of humour think they can write and draw post-ironic kids’ comics that “adults will loooooove, too”. This painfully obvious attempt is about two ninjas: Rink manages a cafe while Bunny is a platypus. They meet, become friends, beat up other ninjas and get home in time to watch rasslin’ (yes, that’s the only reason why I bought it). Scrappy art, hip “humour”...I can see the demographic they’re going for. It’s just not me, thank fuck. Glad I only bought this for a buck as a digital comic.
103.-105. Future’s End #8-10 (DC, 2014) ****
Writers/artists: many



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

COMICS REVIEW: Kranburn


KRANBURN is a local comic that deserves your support. I picked up the first three issues at OzComicon in Melbourne two years ago, but only read them last month. It's a post-apocalyptic tale set in what's left of Melbourne and its surrounding areas. A bunch of survivors must fend off a growing horde of wasteland savages while not tearing themselves apart in the walled settlement they live in. Imagine Mad Max 2 crossed with The Walking Dead (or maybe Crossed) and you get an idea where Kranburn is coming from.
The comic is now up to issue 10. So you need to check out what writer/artist Ben Michael Byrne  is doing. It's savage, it's action-packed, it features NOSE BITING. What's not to love about it?



Digital for sale at: http://feccomics.bigcartel.com/
 

Monday, July 21, 2014

COMICS READING FOR JUNE: “Hello, Mr Davis...thank you for everything”


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

HOW I RATE THE COMICS VIA THE ALAN MOORE SCALE
*****     Watchmen, Miracleman, V For Vendetta
****      From Hell, Supreme, Swamp Thing, Fashion Beast, League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (first two series)
***        Axel Pressbutton, Tom Strong
**         Promethea
*           LoEG: Century: 1969
DUD (or lower) any of his non-comics stuff


1.-5. Captain Britain (Marvel, 2002/05) ****
-originally published in X-Men Archives#2 (partial), #3-7 (Marvel, 1995). Prior to that, published in various Marvel UK weekly titles
Writer: Alan Moore/Artist: Alan Davis
6.-10. Captain Britain (Marvel, 1988) ***½
- originally published in various Marvel UK weekly titles
Writers: Alan Davis & Jamie Delano/Artist: Alan Davis
The first Captain Britain arc is uneven but has enough wonderfully weird ideas –including sneaky appearances by Young Marvelman and Marvelman – that I enjoyed it a lot. But when Davis (occasionally joined by Delano) takes over the writing helm for the second arc, things fall apart. Maybe it’s because a weekly instalment has to move the story along pretty fast, but reading the second arc in one hit is tough going. Characters change personalities and motives in the seeming blink of an eye. So...uneven and unsatisfying. Still, Davis’s art is exquisite.
And I got the first volume signed by Davis at Supanova, so I’m not complaining.

11.-16. Squadron Supreme: Death Of A Universe (Marvel, 2006) ***
-originally published in Squadron Supreme: Death Of A Universe, Thor #280, Avengers #5-6, 1998 Annual, Squadron Supreme: New World Order (Marvel, 1989-98)
Writers: Mark Gruenwald & friends/Artists: Paul Ryan, George Perez & friends
A confusing, ultimately dissatisfying collection of the key tales in the history of Marvel’s JLA rip-off following the original, underrated Squadron Supreme maxiseries. Plot holes, inconsistent characterisations, massive continuity errors...this nine-year history of an alternative Earth’s super-team is littered with beautiful art and generally woeful writing. Also, the squadron’s arrival on our Earth between Death Of A Universe and Avengers #5 – documented in several issues of the Quasar series in the early 90s – is regrettably omitted from this TPB. In its place, we’re given a nonsensical (I assume fill-in) issue of Thorthat screws with the squadron’s continuity (it’s horribly drawn by a slumming Wayne Boring from a woeful script by Don & Maggie Thompson and Roy Thomas). It’s the nadir of an ultimately underwhelming collection. Still, I got it signed by Paul Ryan at Supanova in mid-June, so I’m happy.

17.-21 Afterlife With Archie Vol. 1: Escape from Riverdale (Archie Comics, 2014) ****½
- originally published in Afterlife With Archie #1-5 (Archie Comics, 2013-14)
Writer: Roberto Aguirre Sacasa. Artist: Francesco Francavilla
Read my blog entry about this graphic novel HERE.

22. Green Lantern/Superman: Legend Of The Green Flame (DC, 2000) ****
Writer: Neil Gaiman/Artists: various
The story behind this oddball prestige-format comic would take forever for me to document (look it up online). Ultimately, it’s a byproduct of Action Comics Weekly’s demise in the mid-80s combined with the Crisis On Infinite Earths upheaval that fucked up the entire DC line. This early Gaiman script was scrapped due to discarded continuity, but was thankfully revived 12 years later in this delightful story that features artwork from Frank Miller, John Totleben, Mike Allred and others. A forgotten gem that I was very happy to unearth in Elizabeth’s Bookshop.



23. Christopher Daniels and Kazarian Wrestle AW YEAH COMICS! #1 (Aw Yeah, 2014) ***
Writers: Franco Aureliani, Christopher Daniels/Artists: Franco Aureliani, Art Baltazar, Denver Brubaker, Frankie Kazarian, Scott “Scoot” McMahon
Former TNA wrestlers Christopher Daniels and Kazarian of tag team Bad Attitude sip a very special apple martini (actually a bottle of Super Secret Inter-Dimensional Transit Potion) that sends them to the Aw Yeah! universe. It’s soon a tag team war between Bad Attitude, Action Cat and Adventure Bug. This is the benefit of digital comics. Paying $3 to read an online version was totally worthwhile. It’s a fluffy 5-10-minute fun read. But if I’d tried to buy a hard copy direct from the company, it would have cost me $20 (inc. Airmail p&h), and I would’ve been extremely pissed off. So yay for digital, in this case from Comixology (www.comixology.com).

24. Minimum Wage #6 (Image, 2014) ****½
Writer/Artist: Bob Fingerman
I’m marking down this issue for TWO reasons: 1. It’s the last instalment in this arc and Fingerman won’t be putting out another issue till 2015. Boo! 2. He’s running a contest in this ish to find the clues he’s sprinkled throughout this issue and ID the British sitcom they’re from. Do you think I can work it out? Fuck, no! And neither can everyone else I've asked. Damn you, Fingerman, damn you to hell.
25.-28. White Like She TPB (Fantagraphic Books, 1998) **¾
- originally published in White Like She #1-4 (Dark Horse, 1994)
Writer/Artist: Bob Fingerman
One of Bob’s less successful efforts, this sci-fi tale of a middle-aged black man having his brain transplanted into a teenage white gal’s body is too try-hard and preachy when it comes to tackling gender and racial politics in America in the 90s. The art is a little too stiff, hyper-realistic yet unreal for my tastes as well. Bob got more into a more cartoony-yet-natural-feeling groove with Minimum Wage a few years later. Let’s chalk this down to “noble experiment” and move on.

29. Epic #1 (Comix Tribe, 2014) ***½
Writer: Tyler James/Artist: Fico Ossio
Cartoony art aside, this is a fun superhero yarn about a high school kid who attains superpowers. His Kryptonite? Pretty women!  Good stuff from Mr James.
30. The Astonishing Lloyd Llewellyn #3 (Fantagraphic Books, 1986) **¾
Writer/Artist: Daniel Clowes
Early, uneven sci-fi/hard-boiled detective mash-up by a pre-Eightball Daniel Clowes. Not entirely good, to be honest. I’m so glad I scored this rare-as-hen’s teeth comic for a mere $3 from Elizabeth’s in Pitt Street, Sydney rather than chase down the even-rarer trades online and waste my money.


40.-55. Burger Force #1-16 (self-published, 2009-14) ****
Writer/Artist/”Director”: Jackie Ryan
I interviewed Aussie creator Jackie about her remarkable, off-kilter photo-comic two years back at OzComicon in Melbourne and a lot has happened for her since then. Multiple awards, a successful 16-issue run and one of her “lead models/characters”, Remi Hii, is now a noted, award-winning TV actor in his own right. This surreal/60s spy pastiche/black comedy is wonderful and easily the best comic being produced in Australia today. Pick up all 16 issues to date NOW at www.burgerforce.com.

56. EAP’s Morella and the Murders In The Rue Morgue (Dark Horse, 2014) ***
Writer/artist: Richard Corben
57.-60. It Came! #1-4 (Titan Comics, 2013) ***½
Writer/artist: Dan Boultwood
61. Death Sentence #1 (Titan Comics, 2013) ***½
Writer: Montynero/Artists: Mike Dowling (interior), Montynero (cover)
62. Ordinary #1 (Titan Comics, 2014) ***½
Writer: Rob Williams/Artist: D’Israeli
63. That’s Because You’re A Robot (Image, 2014) ***¼
Writer: David Quantick/Artist: Shaky Kane
64. Real Heroes #3 (Image, 2014) ***¼
Writer: Bryan Hitch/Artists: Bryan Hitch & Paul Neary w/- Andrew Currie
65. The Many Harold Holts Of Space And Time (self-published, 2014) ***½
Writer: Ryan K. Lindsay/Artist: Louie Joyce
66.-68. Kranburn #1-3 (FEC Comics, 2011-12) ***
Writer/artist: Ben Michael Byrne


69. Retro Sci-Fi Tales #1 (DarkOz, 2014) ***½
Writers/artists : various
Beautiful quality, full-colour comic featuring  an eclectic line-up of writers and artists. Very inconsistent in quality, but some real highlights in this mag including Michal Dutkiewicz’s gorgeous cheesecake cover, plus solid interior work from Douglas Holgate, Alister Lockhart and Greg Holfeld.
70. Starlight #4 (Image, 2014) ***¾
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: Goran Parlov
71. MPH #2 (Image, 2014) ***¾
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: Duncan Fegredo
72.-74. Future’s End #5-7 (DC, 2014) ***¾
Writers/artists: various
75. Spacehawk #4 (Dark Horse, 1992) ***
Writer/artist: Basil Wolverton
Classic artwork from the Golden Age.
76. She-Hulk #5 (Marvel, 2014) ****
Writer: Charles Soule/Artist: Ron Wimberly
77. Justice League 3000 #7 (DC, 2014) ***¾
Writers: Keith Giffen & JM DeMatteis/Artists: Keith Giffen & Howard Porter
78. The Returning #4 (BOOM!, 2014) ***¼
Writer: Jason Starr/Artist: Andrea Mutti
79. Moon Knight #4 (Marvel, 2014) ****
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artist: Declan Shalvey
80. The United States of Murder Inc. #2 (Icon, 2014) ***¾
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artist: Michael Avon Oeming
81. The Royals: Masters Of War #5 (Vertigo, 2014) ***½
Writer: Rob Williams/Artists: Simon Coleby & Gary Erskine
82.-83. Original Sin #3-4 (Marvel, 2014) ****
Writer: Jason Aaron/Artists: Mike Deodato (interior), Julian Totino Tedesco (cover)
84. Original Sins #1 (Marvel, 2014) ***¾
Writers/artists: various
85. Silver Surfer #3 (Marvel, 2014) ***½
Writer: Dan Slott/Artist: Michael Allred
86.-87. Dream Police #2-3 (Image, 2014) ***½
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski/Artists: Sid Kotian (interior), Sid Kotian & Bill Farmer (cover)
88.-93. Graphic Ink: The DC Comics Art of Frank Quitely (DC, 2014) *****
- some pieces originally published as Batman: Scottish Connection (writer: Alan Grant, 1998) and The Kingdom: Offspring #1 (writer: Mark Waid, 1999)
I started reading this at the end of the month and I got up to page 190 of this awesome book. To be continued...