Thursday, January 5, 2017

COMICS READING FOR DECEMBER: “Wrapping up loose ends”


* 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.-2. Island #9, 12 (Image, 2016) ***½  
Writers/Artists: various
I picked these up for the first two chapters of Aussie Fil Barlow’s remastered, recoloured 80s classic Zooniverse. They’re the clear highlight of both issues.
3. Spider Island: The Avengers #1 (Marvel, 2011) ***½
Writer: Chris Yost/Artist: Mike McKone
I bought this because it had Squirrel Girl in it. The storyline – where everyone in New York somehow gain Spider-Man’s powers – is pretty stupid. But this one-shot is kinda fun, especially the fact that Hawkeye has Spidey powers and just keeps getting stuck to everything.
4. Sam Wilson: Captain America #15 (Marvel, 2016) ***½
Writer: Nick Spencer/Artists: Angel Unzueta (interior); Paul Renaud (cover)
My friend AW gave me this issue because it had wrestling in it. It was nice to see D-Man again, although I had no idea he’d been reinvented as a gay bear. Whatever. The wrestling action is quite authentic – it’s a throwaway stand-alone issue, but I enjoyed it.
5. Watchdogs (Platinum Studios Comics, 2007) ***
 Writer: Fred van Lente/Artist: Brian Churilla
This is a weird thing. I picked it up at a Kings Comics sale for five bux, mainly for Churilla’s Oeming-style art. A dumb white couple buy a house in a shitty crime-ridden neighbourhood – haven’t these dudes heard of things like the internet and...oh, I dunno RESEARCH before you buy a cheap home next door to a crack den? It’s not a promising start to this graphic novel, but the story pick up when Sam joins forces with fellow white neighbour Mark to clean up the streets as masked vigilantes. As you do. The self-proclaimed Watchdogs brutally put a hurting on the local (black) drug lord and his gang, but things turn nasty when Sam learns that Mark is actually a neo-Nazi and Watchdogs is being franchised around the country to other white supremacists. Sam is soon on the run – framed with the crimes that he committed with Mark – and must join forces with the drug lord to take down Mark and his neo-Nazi cronies before they blow up half of New York. It’s all a bit Fight Club – and politically more than a tad dodgy – and, in the end, doesn’t quite work as a yarn. But, hey! It only cost me five bux.
6.-11. Drax Vol. 2: The Children’s Crusade (Marvel, 2016) ****
- originally published in Drax #6-11 (Marvel, 2016)
Writers: Cullen Bunn and CM Punk/Artists: Scott Hepburn, Scott Hanna and friends
I thought this series was great. Shame it died. Nice to see Planet Terry all grown up and acting like an idiot jock. And Fin Fang Farmer was a hoot.
12.-15. Billy The Kid’s Old Timey Oddities And The Orm Of Loch Ness (Dark Horse, 2013) ***¼
- originally published in Billy The Kid’s Old Timey Oddities And The Orm Of Loch Ness #1-4 (Dark Horse, 2012-13)
Writers: Eric Powell and Kyle Hotz/Artist: Kyle Hotz
16.-24. Jack Staff Vol. 4: Rocky Realities (Image, 2009) ****
- originally published in Jack Staff #13-20 and Jack Staff Special #1 (Image, 2007-09)
Writer/Artist: Paul Grist
I thought about NOT buying this trade, then decided to go for it because it was on special for only $10 from Kings (www.kingscomics.com). I have most of these issues at home, but have never got around to reading them because (a) I was missing a few issues in this final run, and (b) reading Jack Staff an issue at a time was a uniquely frustrating experience.
Done as a homage to the UK weekly comics that I collected as a child (Eagle, Battle, Action, Valiant and Lion, Hurricane, etc), Grist weaved a complicated tale around a group of super-powered identities including Union Jack-style masked hero Jack Staff, Becky Murdock Vampire Reporter, The Claw, Inspector Maveryk and so forth (along with loving nods to classic British TV sitcoms such as Steptoe And Son and Dad’s Army).
He would leap from one character to another every few pages (similar to the 2-or3-pagers that filled the weekly anthologies), but they all kinda linked up together to make a cohesive comic. Or that was Grist’s plan. A diabolical publishing schedule – there was literally a YEAR between #13 and #14 – plus his ambitious storytelling technique only led to confusion, poor sales and, ultimately, the demise of Jack Staff. Reading the last nine issues in one hit made the experience a little easier, but not much. I had to keep jumping back and forth to work out which characters were which and how they connected to the others, but once I committed myself, Rocky Realities was a challenging-but-worthwhile read. It’s a pity that Grist has seemingly abandoned Jack Staff – it would probably work way better as an online comic.

25. Eightball #7 (Fantagraphics, 1993) ****
Writer/Artist: Daniel Clowes
I think I might already have this issue somewhere in my spare room, but I haven’t read the issue in more than 20 years, so it’s basically brand-new to me again. The usual depressing Clowes brilliance.

26-29. Black Science Vol. 5: True Atonement (Image, 2016) ****½
- originally published in Black Science #22-25 (Image, 2016)
Writer: Rick Remender/Artist: Matteo Scalera
I nearly gave up on this series, but I’m so glad I didn’t. The last two arcs have really picked up the pace, even though the title is fucking bleak right now, but I expect things to get better come the next arc. I mean it has to, surely?
30.-34. Deadly Class Vol. 4: Die For Me (Image, 2016) *****
- originally published in Deadly Class #17-21 (Image, 2016)
Writer: Rick Remender/Artist: Wes Craig
Speaking of bleak, this series is about as dark as it comes. I mean, I’m not sure how Remender can keep the series going when the three main characters FUCKING DIED in the final issue of this arc. High school sucks at the best of times, but when it’s a school of assassins and the only way to graduate is to kill the non-affiliated freaks and geeks, it’s MURDER. Just love Deadly Class – top-notch art and storytelling. I’m genuinely looking forward to finding out where Remender goes from here.

35. Faith #1 (Valiant, 2016) ***½
Writer; Jody Houser/Artists: Pere Pérez, Marguerite Sauvage, Colleen Doran and friends
I’ve mainly kept clear of Valiant since its recent rebirth, but my mate AW passed this comic onto me and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. It’s a gentle tale of an overweight superhero trying to maintain her secret identity in a new city while battling her arch-nemesis (who turns out to be a stud movie star). I liked the fact that Faith is fat, but it’s not an issue to her or anyone else, it’s just how she is. Anyway, I dug this first issue way more than I expected and I may have to pick up the first trade when it comes out.

36. Fiction Illustrated: Chandler (Byron Preiss, 1977) ***¼
Writer/Artist: Jim Steranko
This graphic novel is legendary and I had a hard time tracking it down. But having read Chandler, I found it to be a mediocre, sub-Dashiell Hammett short story about a down-on-his-luck private detective hired by a man to find the person who killed him (by giving him a slow-acting poison). The ending is telegraphed. It’s meant to be cynical, but comes off as clichéd. Steranko’s illustrations accompanying the text are mainly perfunctory although a few are great. The poor quality of the printing on this once-cheap paperback novel doesn’t help matters. Still, it’s one of the first graphic novels and I’m glad to have it in my collection, even though it’s really not that good.

37.-41. Velvet Vol. 3: The Man Who Stole The World (Image, 2016) *****
- originally published in Velvet #11-15 (Image, 2016)
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Steve Epting
42.-46. Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10 Vol. 2: I Wish (Dark Horse, 2015) ****
- originally published in Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10 #6-10 (Dark Horse, 2014)
Writers: Christos Gage (with Nicholas Brendon for #7)/Artists: Cliff Richards, Karl Moline and Andy Owens (#6); Rebekah Isaacs and Richard Corben (#8-11); Steve Morris (main covers)
I got rid of all my old Buffys in a massive clean-up earlier this year, but Helen found this trade for 50 cents in a library book sale. Reading it in one hit made me realise why I loved the series so much. Gage is a fantastic writer who perfectly captures Joss Whedon’s take on the Scooby Gang – I’m really not sure why I gave up on Buffy. Ah well.
P.S. The cameo three-pager by Corben is exquisite, too.
47.-53. Jessica Jones: Avenger (Marvel, 2016) ****¼
- originally published in New Avengers #38 and 47, New Avengers Annual #3, New Avengers (2nd series) #8 and 31, What If Jessica Jones Had Joined the Avengers?, and material from Jessica Jones NYCC Comic #1 Amazing Spider-Man #601 and Marvel 75th Anniversary Celebration (Marvel, 2008-14).
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artists: Michael Gaydos and friends

54.-63. I Zombie Vol. 4: Repossessed (Vertigo, 2012) ****¼
- originally published in I Zombie #19-28 (Vertigo, 2012)
Writer: Chris Roberson/Artists: Michael Allred, except J. Bone (#21) and Jim Rugg (#24)
I finally read the end of this series after several years’ delay. Scored it for $15 at a Kings Comics sale. It took me a bit to suss out all the characters, but it was fun to read the end of this series in one hit. The last issue ending is a bit lame, but the rest of the trade is pretty damn terrific.
64. A.D. After Death Book One (Image, 2016) *****
Writer: Scott Snyder/Artist: Jeff Lemire
One of the most extraordinary, moving comics I’ve read in some time. Beautiful. I can’t wait to read the next book.
65.-70. Chronicles Of Wormwood (Avatar, 2007) ****¼
- originally published in Chronicles Of Wormwood #1-6 (Avatar, 2007)
Writer: Garth Ennis/Artist: Jacen Burrows
71. Chronicles Of Wormwood: The Last Enemy (Avatar, 2007) ***¾
Writer: Garth Ennis/Artist: Rob Steen
 72.-76. Invader Zim Vol. 3 (Oni Press, 2016) ****¼
 - originally published in Invader Zim #11-15 (Oni Press, 2016)

XMAS HOLIDAY READING
77. Big Fat Little Lit (Puffin Books, 2006) ****
- various selections originally published in Little Lit book series (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2000-03)
Edited by Art Spiegelman & Francoise Mouly
Writers/Artists: Gahan Wilson, Neil Gaiman, Daniel Clowes, Charles Burns, Ian Falconer, Jules Feiffer, Walt Kelly, David Sedaris, Maurice Sendak, Joost Swarte, Basil Wolverton and more
Jones and I were in a second-hand bookshop in Adelaide during the Christmas holidays when I found this amazing book. “Want me to buy it for you, Jones?” I asked. “No,” she replied. So I bought it for myself. How could I resist a roster of literary and artistic talent like the names I listed above? Anyway, it was a steal for $8 and a joy to read. And guess what? Jones enjoyed reading it, too. Some of the stories scared her younger brother Dash, but you can’t have everything, I guess.
78. Hotspur Book For Boys 1985 (D.C. Thomson & Co., 1984) **¾
Writers/Artists: unknown
This hardback annual of the classic English weekly comic came out in the mid-80s but it could have been published in the mid-60s – it’s very British and very old-fashioned. There are two superhero strips that caught my eye – King Cobra and, of greater interest to me, Spring-Heeled Jack – but they’re pretty lame and the costumes are practically identical. The rest of the strips are a mish-mash of action and sporting strips, all of them featuring the curious English comic convention of alliterative titles: Flying Fury (WW2 fighter pilot), Dim Dan (thick working class stiff), One-Minute Murphy (a lazy soccer player who does nothing for 89 minutes, but is a goal-kicking match-winner for 60 seconds), Medic Muldoon (WW2 soldier), Handsome Harry (aspiring boxer), etc. The writing and B&W artwork is uninspired. One oddball strip – Cast, Hook and Strike – is set in the Australian outback and strives to be reasonably accurate with place names, flora and fauna, etc. The only glaring problem is the unknown scripter’s belief that Australians use the expression “Flaming Ada!” all the time. Weird.
79. The Avengers #14 (Newton, 1976) **
- originally published in The Avengers #18 (Marvel, 1965) and Tales Of Suspense #66 (Marvel, 1965)
Avengers: Writer: Stan Lee/Artists: Don Heck and Dick Ayers; Iron Man: Writer: Stan Lee/Artists: Don Heck an dmickey Demeo
Don Heck has to be the worst mainstream artist of all time. The B&W artwork here is abominable. Lee’s writing is functional and not much else.
80.-81. Super Adventure Comic #68 (Planet Comics, 1974) ***
- JLA story originally published in JLA #107 (DC, 1973)
82. Superman Family Adventures #11 (DC, 2013)

Writers: Franco and Art Baltazar; Artist: Art Baltazar

Thursday, December 1, 2016

COMICS READING FOR NOVEMBER: “A five-star kinda month”


* 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

IT WASN’T meant to turn out like this, but I read ONLY great comics and graphic novels in November, and nearly all of them were FIVE STARS. How good is that? Let’s see what passed by my eyeballs...

1. Stray Bullets: Sunshine And Roses #19 (Image, 2016) *****
Writer/Artist: David Lapham
2. Hieronymus (Knockabout, 2015) *****
Writer/Artist: Marcel Ruijters
An “unauthorised” – yet thoroughly researched – biography on one of the great Dutch artists, Hieronymus Bosch, who captured Medieval hell on Earth in his frightening paintings. Mega-talented Ruijters captures Bosch’s everyday life, and it’s pretty horrible – but it provided plenty of inspiration for his horrific art.
3. Goldtiger (2000AD, 2016) *****
Writer: Guy Adams/Artist: Jimmy Broxton
This mock biography of an obscure, Modesty Blaise-style action strip from the 1960s is pure brilliance. Just read this article to get the full story about this fascinating project.

4. Get Jiro: Blood And Sushi (Vertigo, 2016) *****
Writer: Anthony Bourdain and Joel Rose/Artists: Alé Garza (interior); Dave Johnson (cover)
A prequel to equally brilliant Get Jiro from 2012.
5.-10. Southern Bastards Vol. 3: Homecoming (Image, 2016) *****
- originally published in Southern Bastards #9-14 (Image, 2015-16)
Writers: Jason Aaron (#9-11, 13-14); Jason Latour (#12)/Artists: Jason Latour (#9-11, 13-14); Chris Brunner (#12)
I’d already read four of these issues (because they took so damn long to come out I thought I’d avoided that particular reprint and had hit all-new issues. Wrong! Still, it was great to reread this whole chapter again in one hit. Amazing story. Some real bastards down south, y’all. Hey, we know that even better after the US election, right?
11. Belushi: On A Mission From God (One Peace Books, 2014-16) ****¼
Writer: Alberto Schiavone/Artist: Matteo Manera
My first non-five-star comic for the month, but still pretty damn good. I won’t say this graphic biography necessarily gives you a better understanding of the fast life and premature death of comic genius John Belushi, but at least you’ll have a feel for what he went through. Maybe it lost something in the translation from the Italian original. Manera’s art is scratchy in a John Lennon-kinda way, but it grew on me.
12. Catwoman: Election Night #1 (DC, 2016) ****½
(Catwoman) Writer: Meredith Finch/Artists: Shane Davis, Igor Vitorino and Michelle Delecki
(Prez) Writer: Mark Russell/Artists: Ben Caldwell and Mark Morales
I bought this for the final story in the prematurely-cut-short Prez series. But the Catwoman yarn was great, too – what with its allusions to Hillary Clinton AND President-elect Donald Trump.
13.-18. Nailbiter Vol. 5: Bound By Blood (Image, 2016) *****
- originally published in Nailbiter #21-25 and Nailbiter/Hack/Slash one-shot (Image, 2016)
Writer: Joshua Williamson/Artist: Mike Henderson


19. Rules Of Summer by Shaun Tan (Lothian, 2013) *****
This is fabulous.
20.-22. The Sixth Gun Book 9: Boot Hill (Oni Press, 2016) *****
- originally published in The Sixth Gun #48-50 (Oni Press, 2016)
Writer: Cullen Bunn/Artist: Brian Hurtt
23.-27. The Saviours (Image, 2016) *****
- originally published in The Saviours #1-5 (Image, 2016)
28. Attack On Titan Anthology (Kodansha Comics, 2016) *****
Writers/Artists: various
29. Murder by Remote Control (Dover, 2016) ****½
- originally published by Ballantine Books, 1986
Writer: JanWillem Van De Wetering/Artist: Paul Kirchner
30.-35. Huck Book 1: All-American (Image, 2016) *****
- originally published in Huck #1-6 (Image, 2016)
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
36.-40. Invader Zim Vol. 2 (Oni Press, 2016) *****
- originally published in Invader Zim #6-10 (Oni Press, 2016)
Writers/Artists: various
41. The Rattler (Image, 2016) *****
Writer: Jason McNamara/Artist: Greg Hinkle
I bought this graphic novel for Greg’s art, but Jason’s supernatural noir tale is gripping. I loved the tale, which reminded me a lot the original film version of The Vanishing.
42.-46. Power Man And Iron Fist Vol. 1: The boys Are Back In Town (Marvel, 2016) *****
- Power Man And Iron Fist #1-5 (Marvel, 2016)
Writer: David Walker/Artist: Sanford Greene (#1-4); Flaviano (#5)

47.-53. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 3: Squirrel, You Really Got Me Now (Marvel, 2016) *****
- originally published in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1-6 and Howard The Duck #6 (Marvel, 2016)
Writers: Ryan North with Chip Zdarsky (HTD #6)/Artists: Erica Henderson (SG #1-6), Joe Quinones and friends (HTD #6)
54.-58. Howard The Duck Vol. 1: Duck Hunt (Marvel, 2016) ****¼
- originally published in Howard The Duck #1-6 and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6 (Marvel, 2016)
Writers: Chip Zdarsky with Ryan North (SG #6)/Artists :Joe Quinones and friends (HTD #1-6); Erica Henderson (SG #6)
Obviously, I read HTD #6 and SG #6 the first time round, so I didn’t read them again.
This is a more poignant, nuanced HTD. Silly, yes – but sad, too. And it gets sadder in the next volume.
59.-63. Howard The Duck Vol. 2: Good Night, And Good Duck (Marvel, 2016) *****
- originally published in Howard The Duck #7-11
Writer: Chip Zdarsky /Artists: Kevin Maguire (#7); Joe Quinones and friends (#8-11)
With special guest stars...Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones...well, interstellar versions of them anyway. Did you know Howard’s life is being run by intergalactic creators, who throw all sorts of weird shit at him like The Collector and mentally unstable Sentinels? Yep, this final arc gets very meta as Chip and Joe deal creatively with the idea of a HTD series being cancelled...again. Very enjoyable if sad. Still, with a bit of luck, he’ll be back one day. Howard always comes back.
64.-68. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 4: I Kissed A Squirrel And I Liked It (Marvel, 2016) *****
- originally published in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7-11 (Marvel, 2016)
Writer: Ryan North /Artists: Erica Henderson and friends (#7-10), Jacob Chabot (#11)
Read this comic and learn more about counting with binary numbers and tree lobsters than you ever thought possible!
69. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up The Marvel Universe (Marvel, 2016) *****
Writers: Ryan North/Artists: Erica Henderson and friends
An original hardcover graphic novel because too much Squirrel Girl is never enough. This pisstake on The Punisher Kills The Marvel Universe sees Doreen get taken down by the only person powerful enough to do so: her evil clone. What happens when Bad SG (aka Allene) attempts to defeat every superhero and super-villain in the world? Well, she does so with ease. This novel is such a delight to read. Such a delight.

I honestly wondered whether kids would appreciate SG, despite seeing all those pix in the letters pages of young girls cosplaying as Doreen, because there was too much back story and SG history to take in. And then the other night I was looking for the graphic novel, turned around and found my nine-year-old daughter reading it. Jones quite liked it and is now reading Vol. 4 (yes, she’s reading the series backwards. So sue her). Anyway, despite not knowing anything about Doreen or her supporting cast, she thinks the series is “good”. So there you go.
WOW! I hit the minimum of 50 comics but didn't come close to 100. But who cares, quality trumps quantity every time. I read nothing less than four stars - that makes November the best month of comics reading I've ever had.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

COMICS READING FOR OCTOBER: “Oh, 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

HORROR comics don’t usually work for me, but goddamn I’ve collected my fair share over the years. Some have been genuinely terrifying (Revival, 30 Days Of Night,Nailbiter), others pretty damn entertaining (Criminal Macabre) while others have been...CRAP. To celebrate Halloween (and my 31 Days Of Horror film project), I decided to read at least ONE horror comic a day. Let’s see how I went, what I read and whether any of them were any good.

1. Chicken Soup For Satan #1 (Asylum Press, 2003) **½
Writer: Robert Steven Rhine/Artists: various
2. Satan Gone Wild #1 (Asylum Press, 2004) ***
Writer: Robert Steven Rhine/Artists: various
Gross-out B&W horror comix – more ridiculous than genuinely scary. Hilary Barta is the pick of the artists in Satan Gone Wild.
3.  Cthulhu (Dark Oz, 2015) *
Writer: Darren Koziol/Artists: various
Decay is a flawed but hardy magazine-sized anthology that’s been around for six years and keeps on ticking. It’s spawned a few spin-off titles, like Retro Sci-Fi (which I like) and this offer from last year, the more US market-friendly, regular comic-sized Cthulhu, featuring tales taken from Decay #12. It’s a great idea and there’s only one letdown: it’s SHIT. Koziol is a mediocre writer but he’s not helped being coupled by some of the most inept artists in this country. How a veteran legend like Glenn Lumsden got roped in with the rest of these nuffies is beyond me. The only thing that horrified me about Cthulhu is that it got published once, let alone TWICE.
4. Blood Club #2 (Kitchen Sink, 1992) ****
Writer/Artist: Charles Burns
5.-6. The Thing From Another World #1-2 (Dark Horse, 1991-92) ***½
Writer: Chuck Pfarrer/Artist: John Higgins
Picking up where we left off from the John Carpenter version of The Thing, Pfarrer reveals what happend to MacReady and Childs after their camp blew up. Turns out that the alien shapeshifter is still alive and well. But are either or both men infected, too?
This is actually an effective lil’ micro-series and the artwork by Higgins is sensational.
7. McBlack (Black House Comics/Black Glass Press, 2011) **
Writer: Jason Franks/Artists: Jason Franks and Dave Gutierrez
8. McBlack Two Shot (Black Glass Press, 2012) **½
Writer: Jason Franks/Artists: Jason Franks, Dave Gutierrez, Bruce Mutard, Luke Pickett, Rhys James and John Stewart (interior); Rhys James (cover)
Poorly drawn ultra-violence with an indestructible lead character with no motivation and no characterisation, just bad one-liners. He’s Freddy Krueger if Krueger was a puppet made from a toilet roll.
9.-14. The Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred #1-6 (Image, 2012) ****
Writer: David Hine/Artist: Shaky Kane
Utterly bizarre sequel to an equally bizarre first series. William S. Burroughs-style comic cut-ups, warped superheroes, zombie trading cards, dioramas, beatnik horror stories and a killer clown. Arguably the weirdest thing I’ve read this year.
15. Dia De Los Muertos  #1 (Image, 2013) **¾
Writers/Artists: various
16. Horror In The Dark #4 (Fantagor Press, 1995) ***
Writers/Artists: Richard Corben and friends
Not one of the better Corben comics he’s ever done.
17.-21. Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand #1-5 (Dark Horse, 2012) ***¾
Writers: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi/Artists: Tonci Zonjic (interiors); Dave Johnson (covers)
22. Lobster Johnson: The Prayer of Neferu (Dark Horse, 2012) ***½
Writers: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi/Artists: Wilfredo Torres (interiors); Tonci Zonjic (covers)
23. Lobster Johnson: Caput Mortuum (Dark Horse, 2012) ***½
Writers: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi/Artist: Tonci Zonjic
24. Lobster Johnson: Satan Smells A Rat (Dark Horse, 2013) ***½
Writers: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi/Artist: Kevin Nowlan
25.-26. Lobster Johnson: A Scent Of Lotus #1-2 (Dark Horse, 2013) ***¾
Writers: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi/Artists: Sebastián Fiumara (interiors); Tonci Zonjic (covers)
27. Museum Of Terror Vol. 2: Tomie 2 (Dark Horse, 2006) ****¼
Writer/Artist: Junji Ito
Not as terrifying as the more random horror-oriented MOT Vol. 3, but this themed manga has its unsettling, scary moments. These tales, first printed from 1995-2000 in Monthly Halloween and Nemuki magazines, are about a beautiful and manipulative woman (or girl, depending on the story) called Tomie. She drives every man she encounters to madness and murder. Even if she’s killed she can regenerate. Selfish, narcissistic and manipulative, this force of nature exists to ruin and destroy the lives of the people she crosses paths with. Probably the pick of them is the tale of the guys who use Tomie’s ground-up flesh to create the world’s most intoxicating sake. Sick shit. The babysitter dealing with a demonic infant Tomie is also creepy as fuck.
28. Courtney Crumrin Tales: A Portrait Of The Warlock As A Young Man (Oni Press, 2005) ***¾
29.-38. Courtney Crumrin #1-10 (Oni Press, 2012-13) ***¾
Writer/Artist: Ted Naifeh

39.-42. 30 Days Of Night #1-4 (IDW, 2011-12) ***½
Writer: Steve Niles/Artist: Sam Kieth
 43.-46. 30 Days Of Night: Night, Again #1-4 (IDW, 2011) ***½
Writer: Joe R. Lansdale/Artist: Sam Kieth
 47.-50. Epilogue (IDW, 2009) ***½
- originally published in Epilogue #1-4 (IDW, 2008)
Writer: Steve Niles/Artist: Kyle Hotz
 Steve mines that vampire vein for all he’s worth. A vampire superhero? Sure, why not?

51.-56. Revival Vol. 7: Forward (Image, 2016) ****
- originally published in Revival #36-41 (Image, 2016)
Writer: Tim Seeley/Artist: Mike Norton
57.-60. Billy The Kid’s Old Timey Oddities And The Ghastly Fiend Of London #1-4 (Dark Horse, 2010) ***¾
(Billy The Kid) Writer: Eric Powell/Artist: Kyle Hotz
(The Goon) Writer/Artist: Eric Powell
The longest title in comic-book history, surely? Still, I’ll give credit to Powell for weaving an historic horror yarn that features The Elephant Man, the world’s first serial killer HH Holmes, Mr Hyde AND Jack The Ripper – and treats them with utter disdain. It’s still a cool yarn – and very flippant in that Eric Powell style – but he has no reverence for the classics and true crime history. Is that a good thing? You tell me.
The Goon tale at the back of each issue is mindless, clubbering fun and allows Powell to take a few vicious shots at superhero comix.

61.-65. Black Eyed Kids Vol. 1: The Children (Aftershock, 2016) ***½
- originally published in BEK #1-5 (Aftershock, 2016)
Writer: Joe Pruett/Artist Szymon Kudranski
I love the BEK phenomenon but this yarn hasn’t quite grabbed me yet, possibly because Pruett’s dialogue is a bit too bombastic and preposterous in parts. The artwork and feeling of dread throughout this book is pretty great, though. But until we find out exactly how these seemingly indestructible monsters can be killed, then it’s all a bit bleak to me. Also, I know it’s relatively new, but I’m not super-keen on the BEK mythology being fucked with already. Adult BEKs? I don’t think so. I may give Vol. 2 a shot, but it’ll have to improve a lot in the writing department for that to happen.
66.-69. Criminal Macabre: Final Night (Dark Horse/IDW, 2013) ***¾
- originally published in Criminal Macabre: Final Night #1-4 (Dark Horse/IDW, 2012-13) 
Writer: Steve Niles/Artist: Christopher Mitten
A Criminal Macabre and 30 Days Of Night crossover and a suitably gruesome conclusion to the 30 Days Of Night saga.
70,-75. Chronicles Of Wormwood: The Last Battle (Avatar, 2011) ****½
- originally published in Chronicles Of Wormwood: The Last Battle (Avatar, 2009-10)
Writer: Garth Ennis/Artist: Oscar Jimenez
I loved this trade. It’s a helluva idea, the Antichrist and Jesus Christ being best mates and hanging out in New York City. Gory in parts, funny in others, full-on blasphemous in others. And Garth Ennis features arguably the most horrific Australian caricature since Bazza McKenzie, Pope Jacko.
76.-79. Criminal Macabre: The Eyes Of Frankenstein #1-4 (Dark Horse, 2013) ***½
Writer: Steve Niles/Artist: Christopher Mitten
80. Sink #1 (Comix Tribe, 2016) *****
Writer: John Lees/Artist: Alex Cormack
About as violent and disturbing a comic as I’ve read this year. Horrifying in parts – you’ll never see Glasgow in the same light again.
81.-84. Satan’s Six #1-4 (Topps, 1993) **
Writer: Tony Isabella/Artists: John Cleary and Armando Gil, Jack Kirby and friends
Several pages of classic Kirby art and a couple of trading cards don’t make a great comic. This concept is half-baked at best, but it’s even worse in the hands of a hack like Isabella and a godawful early 90s-style artist like Cleary. Guest appearances by Troma’s Lloyd Kaufman and Jason Vorhees can’t save things. The in-jokes and meta-references are more annoying than anything else.
85.-87. Buzzard #1-3 (Dark Horse, 2010) ***½
(Buzzard) Writer/Artist: Eric Powell
(Billy The Kid’s Old Timey Oddities) Writer: Eric Powell/Artist: Kyle Hotz
88.-97. Mr Monster #1-10 (Eclipse, 1985-87) ****
Writer: Michael T. Gilbert and friends/Artists: Michael T. Gilbert, William F. Loebs and friends
Very funny, very violent 80s sci-fi/horror mash-ups by Gilbert, Loebs and other big names from the 80s including Alan Moore and Keith Giffen. In addition, a couple of issues ran some tremendous pre-Comics Code horror reprints by industry legends Basil Wolverton and Steve Ditko...till the readers rejected the reprints concept. Pity. A great lil’ fun read. It’s a shame the B&W comics boom (and bust) of the late 80s hurt Mr Monster’s sales and eventually killed this title. Actually, the long wait between issues probably didn’t help either.
98.-100. Fang #1-3 (Sirius Entertainment, 1995) **½
Writer/Artist: Kevin J. Taylor
Taylor loves drawing women’s arses, even in a sci-fi-tinged vampire strip. No wonder he went into porn comix. I've always loved his fetishistic artwork, but his writing isn't his strong point. The story is confusing and pretentious.