Thursday, May 21, 2015

KIRBY YOUR ENTHUSIASM, ep. 39: "Not crossovers, just cross"

IN WHICH Dann discusses how Marvel and DC drove him into the arms of Image courtesy of their endless, pointless crossovers and "big events".
He then gives a belated summary of his Free Comic Book Day scores earlier this month.
It's a touch over 30 minutes of comicy goodness and it can be downloaded HERE



Monday, May 11, 2015

COMICS READING FOR APRIL: “Hot-blooded”



* 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.-2 Children Of Fire #1-2 (Caliber Press, 1993) **¼
Writer/Artist: Brian Michael Bendis
Bendis is clearly a better writer than an artist.
3. Eating Raoul (Mercury Film, 1982) ***
Writer/artist: Kim Deitch
This is an oddball tie-in to promote the bizarre indie comedy of the same name. I remember seeing the first chapter published in Heavy Metal. The story is pretty damn strange and I’m tempted to track down the movie now, especially as it stars one of my fave actrines Mary Woronov.
4.-21. Vampirella Crimson Chronicles Maximum Vol. 1 (Harris, 2008) **½
- originally published in Vampirella #1-2, 8-9, 11-37 (Warren, 1969-74)
Writers/artists: various (interior); Jim Silke (cover)
I’m not sure why I bought this B&W collection...probably ’cos it was selling cheap on Lone Star. I went into reading this book with some trepidation as I always considered Vampirella a badly written T&A horror series. It certainly kicks off that way with the goofy introduction stories written by Forrest J. Ackerman. But once Archie Goodwin comes on board, the storyline kicks into gear and the quality of writing improves dramatically with the alien bloodsucker Vampi battling the evil Cult Of Chaos, whose members worship a demonic bible known as the Crimson Chronicles. Vampi is aided by a drunken magician called Pendragon and is pursued by relentless vampire killers Conrad and Adam Van Helsing. Goodwin’s strong scripts are brought to life by Jose Gonzalez’ exquisite artwork. His splash panels of our scantily clad heroine each issue are beautiful and he gives the supporting cast real character. Goodwin ties in Vampi with the Dracula mythology, then turns it on its head by having a newly-brought-back-to-life Drac repent for his past sins and try to be good. It’s an interesting journey as he tries to mend his evil ways, but keeps failing. Goodwin’s departure from the strip sees the quality of storytelling plummet, particularly the run of Flaxman Loew, who dumps the Van Helsings and reduces Pendragon to a drunken bum cracking bad puns. Even Vampirella’s ongoing struggle not to kill people for their blood – which gave her a noble, tragic quality – is summarily dismissed by Loew, who has Vampi killing bad guys willy-nilly. It’s a complete destruction of Goodwin’s carefully laid foundations and helps leave a sour note as this collection comes to an end. Only the artwork of Gonzales (and later Jose Ortiz) salvages something from the godawful scripts. Goodwin’s return to the helm in the final few pages gives hope that Vampirella was set to return to its former glory. But as it’s unlikely I’ll never pick up Volume 2, I guess that will have to remain a mystery to me.

22.-27. Ultimate X-Men Vol. 1: The Tomorrow People (Marvel, 2001) ***¼
- originally published in Ultimate X-Men #1-6 (Marvel, 2000-01)
Writer: Mark Millar/Artists: Adam & Andy Kubert, Art Thibert, Danny Miki
28.-34. Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 1: Power And Responsibility (Marvel, 2002) ***½  
- originally published in Ultimate Spider-Man #1-7 (Marvel, 2000-02)
Writer: Bill Jemas & Brian Michael Bendis/Artists: Mark Bagley, Art Thibert, Dan Panosian
Someone once said that the origin of Spider-Man was told by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1962 in 12 pages. Bendis and Jemas take SEVEN ISSUES to reach the same spot – welcome to 21st century comic book storytelling. But it’s still kinda fun to go on the journey.
Not the same for Millar’s flawed take on the X-Men. The most annoying subplot in his uneven book is the fact that Cyclops is a turncoat who betrays the X-Men’s peaceful principles, joins forces with Magneto’s terrorist organisation and is directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of hundreds (if not thousands) of people. Yet all is forgiven and he’s allowed to rejoin the X-Men at the end of this arc. Stupid! That said, the terrorism angle and post-terror attack clampdown on ordinary people’s civil liberties is ominous when you think this was written before 9/11. Mutants are openly hunted by Sentinels approved by the Federal Government. Replace the word “mutant” with “Muslim” and you have a chilling prophecy of the post-9/11 western world. That said, this book isn’t one of Millar’s finest moments.

35.-36. The New 52: Future’s End #47-48 (DC, 2015) ***½
Writers/artists: various
Wait...wait...I got through 48 issues...four friggin’ months...and the series ends...exactly where it started? With nothing resolved?! Fuck you, DC!!!
37. Guardians 3000 #6-7 (Marvel, 2015) ****
Writer: Dan Abnett/Artists: Nico Leon (interior); Alex Ross (#6 cover); Gerardo Sandoval (#7 cover)
38. The Black Hood #2 (Dark Circle Comics, 2015) ****½
Writer: Duane Swierczynski/Artist: Michael Gaydos
39. Gonzo (Abrams ComicArts, 2010, 2012) ****
Writer: Will Bingley/Artist: Anthony Hope-Smith
A cracking biography that inspired me to seek out more of Hunter S. Thompson’s work (on film and in written form).
40.-41. Stratu’s Diary Comix (self-published, 2015)
Writer/artist: Stratu
Read my thoughts about this comic HERE.
42. Secret Identities #3 (Image, 2015) ****¼
Writers: Jay Faerber & Brian Joines/Artist: Ilias Kyriazis
43. Copperhead #6 (Image, 2015) ***½
Writer: Jay Faerber/Artist: Scott Godlewski
44. Revival #29 (Image, 2015) ****¼
Writer: Tim Seeley/Artist: Mike Norton (interior); Jenny Frison (cover)
45. The Fade Out #5 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Sean Phillips 
46. Jupiter’s Circle #1 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Mark Millar/Artists: Wilfredo Torres (interior); Frank Quitely (cover)
A first part of this lovely 1950s noir tale serves as an excellent prelude to Jupiter’s Legacy. The retro art of Torres is a joy.
47. The Fox #1 (Dark Circle, 2015) ***¾
Writers: Dean Haspiel & Mark Waid/Artist: Dean Haspiel
48. Chrononauts #2 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: Sean Murphy
49. Howard The Duck #2 Marvel, 2015) ****½
Writer: Chip Zdarsky/Artists: Joe Quinones & Joe Rivera
50. Kaijumax #1 (Oni Press, 2015) ****¼
Writer/artist: Zander Cannon
Godzilla meets Oz. Very frightening. Very good. The scene where the monster prison inmates are working out using gym equipment that resembles cities (to crush) or ships (for lifting) was very clever.
51. Guardians Team-Up #4 (Marvel, 2015) ***¼
Writer: John Layman/Artist: Otto Schmidt

52. Guardians Of The Galaxy #25 (Marvel, 2015) ***
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artist: Valerio Schiti
53. Legendary Star-Lord #10 (Marvel, 2015) ***
Writer: Sam Humphries/Artists: Paco Medina & Juan Vlasco  
I am so over The Black Vortex crossover.

54. Guardians Of The Galaxy: Best Story Ever (Marvel, 2015) ***
Writer: Tim Seeley/Artists: Reilly Brown, Iban Coello & Jacopo Camagni
It wasn’t.
55. Rocket Racoon #10 (Marvel, 2015) ***¼
Writer: Skottie Young/Artists: Jake Parker (interior); Skottie Young (cover)
56.-57. Bedlam #10-11 (Image, 2013-14) ***
Writer: Nick Spencer/Artists: Ryan Browne (interior); Frazer Irving (cover)
58.-59. Arthur Suydam’s Demon Dreams (Pacific, 1984) ***¼
Writer/artist: Arthur Suydam
60. Intense! #2 (Pure Imagination, 1993) ***
Writer/artist: Basil Wolverton
B&W reprints of public domain Wolverton stories from the 1940s and 50s. Fun stuff.
61. God Hates Astronauts #7 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Ryan Browne/Artists: Jordan Boyd (interior); Ryan Browne (main covers)
62. Black Science #13 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Rick Remender/Artist: Matteo Scalera
63. The Multiversity: Ultra Comics (DC, 2015) ***
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artist: Doug Mahnke & friends
What? The? Fuck????
64. The Woods #12 (BOOM!, 2015) ***
Writer: James Tynion IV/Artist: Michael Dialynas
65. Southern Bastards #7 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Jason Aaron/Artist: Jason Latour
66. Gotham By Midnight #5 (DC, 2015) ****½
Writer: Ray Fawkes/Artist: Ben Templesmith
67. Dream Police #6 (Image, 2015) ***½
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski/Artist: Sid Kotian
68.-69. Justice League #32-33 (DC, 2014) ***½
Writer: Geoff Johns/Artists: Doug Mahnke & Heith Champagne
The Doom Patrol joins the New 52. And Lex Luthor joins the Justice League. Intriguing. Pity it all means nothing now that DC is rebooting (again) for Convergence and Divergence.





Sunday, May 3, 2015

Kirby Your Enthusiasm, ep. 38: "The Funnies!"


IT'S a special on-the-road edition of KYE as Helen and I discuss newspaper cartoon strips: which ones we read as children, which ones we avoided and why Helen didn't like Doonesbury. We also examine why our kids have become so obsessed with Peanuts and Calvin & Hobbes
And why that's a cool thing.
We also find time to digress and talk in-depth about the Mr Men series of books.
The outro theme this episode is the Peanuts TV special theme.
I've also thrown in a Doonesbury public service announcement, Mr Butts Goes To Washington, from 1990 for your aural pleasure.

It's 33+ minutes of vehicular hilarity. Download it HERE.
Duke from 'Doonesbury'

If you want "the funnies" sent to your inbox every day, then head to Go Comics and order as many as you like. It's pretty cool and dirt-cheap.

Meanwhile, below are samples of some of the other strips we talk about in this episode.


B.C.





Snake Tales


Gary Larson's 'The Far Side'

Saturday, May 2, 2015

COMICS READING FOR MARCH: “Ya want me to bop you with this lollipop?”


* 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. Hellboy: House Of The Living Dead (Dark Horse, 2011) ****
Writer: Mike Mignola/Artists: Richard Corben (interior); Mike Mignola (cover)
The Frankenstein monster, werewolves, vampire women...and luchadors! Plus gorgeous Richard Corben artwork! Fantastic (if typical) Hellboy horror action.
2. The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple (First Second, 2014) ***
I love Farel’s art, but this sci-fi yarn is very confusing. It was hard to follow in parts and ultimately unsatisfying. Beautiful art, though.
3.-4. Silver Surfer #9-10 (Marvel, 2015) ***¾
Writer: Dan Slott/Artist: Michael Allred
5.-8. Future’s End #42-45 (DC, 2015) ***¾
Writers/artists: various
9.-14.Young Liars Vol. 1: Daydream Believer (Vertigo, 2008) ***
- originally published in Young Liars #1-6 (Vertigo, 2008)
Writer/artist: David Lapham
Lapham creates one of the greatest comics of all time, Stray Bullets. It is the PERFECT comic. But everything else he does is so hit’n’miss. Young Liars is a good example: unlikable characters, castration, midget rape, transvestites and nose-biting. Unpleasant for unpleasant’s sake. And not particularly well-written either.
15. Stray Bullets: Sunshine And Roses #1 (Image, 2015) *****
Writer/artist: David Lapham
The perfect comic.
16. The Multiversity: Mastermen (DC, 2015) ***½
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artists: Jim Lee & friends
17. Howard The Duck #1 Marvel, 2015) ****½
Writer: Chip Zdarsky/Artist: Joe Quinones
18.-19. Guardians Team-Up #1-2 (Marvel, 2015) ***¾
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artists: Art Adams (#1); Stephane Roux & Jay Leisten (#2)
20. Legendary Star-Lord #9 (Marvel, 2015) ***½
Writer: Sam Humphries/Artists: Paco Medina & Juan Vlasco
21. All-New X-Men #38 (Marvel, 2015) ***½
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
22. Marvel Universe Guardians Of The Galaxy #1 (Marvel, 2015) ***¼
So Very Young: Writer: Mairghread Scott/Artist: Adam Archer
Star-Lord: Writer/Artist: Joe Caramagna   
23. Justice League United #8 (DC, 2015) ***
Writer: Jeff Lemire/Artists: Neil Edwards, Jay Leisten  Keith Champagne (interior); Dan Hipp (Mars Attacks! variant cover)
Another uninspired conclusion to a Legion of Super-Heroes yarn where Brainiac 5 pulls some pseudo-scientific bullshit out of his arse to save the universe..again.
24. Justice League 3000 #13 (DC, 2015) ***½
Writer: Keith Giffen & JM DeMatteis/Artist: Howard Porter
25. Justice League Europe #32 (DC, 1991) **¾
Writers: Keith Giffen & Gerard Jones/Artists: Darick Robertson & John Beatty
The league teams up with the Doom Patrol...kinda. Goofy stuff.
26. Gotham By Midnight #4 (DC, 2015) ****½
Writer: Ray Fawkes/Artist: Ben Templesmith
27. Suiciders #1 (Vertigo, 2015) ***¼
Writer/artist: Lee Bermejo
28. Batgirl #39 (DC, 2015) ***½ 
Writers: Cameron Stewart & Brenden Fletcher/Artists: Babs Tarr & Cameron Stewart
29. Terminal Hero #5 (Dynamite, 2015) ****
Writer: Peter Milligan/Artist: Piotr Kowalski
30. The Black Hood #1 (Dark Circle Comics, 2015) ****½
Writer: Duane Swierczynski/Artist: Michael Gaydos
Finally, an Archie superhero done right.
31. Curb Stomp #1 (BOOM!, 2015) **¾
Writer: Ryan Ferrier/Artist: Devaki Neogi (interior); Tula Lotay (cover)
32. Thor Annual #1 (Marvel, 2015) ***½
Writers/Artists: various
On yarn is penned by ex-WWE wrestler CM Punk. It’s passable.
33. MPH #5 (Image, 2015) ***¼
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: Duncan Fegredo
34. The Woods #11(BOOM!, 2015) ***
Writer: James Tynion IV/Artist: Michael Dialynas
35. Men Of Wrath #5 (Icon, 2015) ****
Writer: Jason Aaron/Artist: Ron Garney
36.-61. Herbie Archives Vols. 1-3 (Dark Horse, 2008-09) *****
- originally published in Forbidden Worlds #73, 94, 110, 114, 116; Unknown Worlds #20; Herbie #1-23 (American Comics Group, 1958-1967)
Writer: Shane O’Shea/Artist: Ogden Whitney
Quite possibly the most extraordinary, bizarre, sad, desperate, loveable, strange comic I’ve ever read. An obese autistic child, who is bullied by his overbearing father and kids at school, fantasises that he is an omnipotent superhero who can travel anywhere in the universe, have amazing unreal adventures and is friends with everyone from the US President to the Queen and historical figures, who he visits whenever he travels back in time. Herbie uses the power of lollipops to achieve his fantastical aims as he loses himself deep in a fantasy world where he is loved and respected, unlike the real world. Well, that’s MY interpretation of this crazy comic and I’m sticking to it!
62.-63. Secret Identities #1-2 (Image, 2015) ****¼
Writers: Jay Faerber & Brian Joines/Artist: Ilias Kyriazis
A corrupt police commissioner gets a super-villain mole to infiltrate a JLA-style super-team with plenty of skeletons in their closet. But why? This mystery is building nicely.
64.-65. C.O.W.L. #8-9 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Kyle Higgins & Alec Siegel/Artists: Rod Reis (interiors), Trevor McCarthy (covers)
66. The New 52: Future’s End #40-41 (DC, 2015) ***½
Writers/artists: various
67. Rocket Raccoon #8-9 (Marvel, 2015) ****
Writer: Skottie Young/Artists: Filipe Andrade (#8 interior); Jake Parker (#9 interior); Skottie Young (covers)
68.-69. Nameless #1-2 (Image, 2015) ****¼
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artist: Chris Burnham
Lovecraft meets Kubrick’s 2001? I can dig that.
70. Batgirl: Endgame #1 (DC, 2015) **
“Writers”: Cameron Stewart & Brenden Fletcher/Artist: Bengal (interior); Rafael Albuquerque (cover)
Nice art, shame about the story. Dialogue-free comics are cool...except when you’re paying $6.25 for a comic that takes less than five minutes to read.
71. Batgirl #40 (DC, 2015) ***
Writers: Cameron Stewart & Brenden Fletcher/Artist: Babs Tarr & Cameron Stewart (interior); Cameron Stewart (cover)
The story arc ends before the Convergence “event” begins, which is a perfect jumping off point for me. Fuck DC.
72. Shadow Show #4 (IDW, 2015) ***
Writers/artists: various
73. Moon Knight #12 (Marvel, 2015) ***½
Writer: Brian Wood/Artist: Greg Smallwood (interior); Declan Shalvey (cover)
Goodt!
74. Moon Knight #13 (Marvel, 2015) **½
Writer: Cullen Bunn/Artists: Ron Ackins, Tom Palmer, Walden Wong & Victor Olazaba (interior); Declan Shalvey (cover)
With the previous creative team walking, to be replaced by a far inferior team trying to recreate the magic of Warren Ellis’s first arc...well, it’s the perfect time to walk away from this series, especially with the Secret Wars “event” about to kick off. Fuck Marvel.
75. Strange Sports Stories #1 (Vertigo, 2015) **
Writers/artists: various
Not worth the US$5 price tag.
76. Mind MGMT #31 (Dark Horse, 2015) ****
Writer/artist: Matt Kindt
The final arc begins! I get all my Dark Horse comics sent to me digitally, but I still buy hard copies of this entertaining series. It needs to be held in the reader’s hands, I reckon.
77. Nailbiter #10 (Image, 2015)
Writer: Joshua Williamson/Artist: Mike Henderson
Things get darker. Who knew that was even possible?
78. Nailbiter / Hack/Slash (Image, 2015) ***
Writers/artists: various
A fun lil’ crossover that adds a bit of back story to the Nailbiter storyline.
79. Revival #28 (Image, 2015) ****¼
Writer: Tim Seeley/Artist: Mike Norton (interior); Jenny Frison (cover)
80. God Hates Astronauts #6 (Image, 2014-15) ****
Writer: Ryan Browne/Artists: Jordan Boyd (interior); Ryan Browne (main covers)
81.-82. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2-3 (Marvel, 2015) ****¼
Writer: Ryan North/Artist: Erica Henderson
OK. I’m glad I stuck with this series, because it’s swiftly become one of the few Marvel series I still enjoy. Funny, whimsical, absurd. And next issue Squirrel Girl faces off with...Galactus! Can’t wait.
83. All-New X-Men #39 (Marvel, 2015) ***¼
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
84. Guardians Team-Up #3 (Marvel, 2015) ***¼
Writer: Sam Humphries/Artist: Mike Mayhew
85. Marvel Universe Guardians Of The Galaxy #2 (Marvel, 2015) ***
Writer: Mairghread Scott/Artist: Adam Archer
86. Black Science #12 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Rick Remender/Artist: Moreno Dinisio
After losing its way (and my interest) for the past few issues, this dark take on Lost In Space trope has taken a strong turn for the better. Really keen to see how our heroes – who seem to now be unwitting villains – cope with the news that their dimension-hopping is destroying the planets they visit.
87. Bitch Planet #3 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick/Artist: Robert Wilson IV
Love this series. You go, girls!
88. Chrononauts #1 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: Sean Murphy
Stupid and overpriced, but damn this is a fun read. What if Bill & Ted were super-intelligent and invented time travel? Yeah, they’d cause bulk havoc and this series takes that particular ball and runs with it.
89. Velvet #9 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Steve Epting
90. Stray Bullets: Sunshine And Roses #2 (Image, 2015) *****
Writer/artist: David Lapham
Comics perfection.
91. Nemo: River Of Ghosts (Top Shelf, 2015) ****¾
Writer: Alan Moore/Artist: Kevin O’Neill
If this graphic novel is truly the end of The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen saga, then it ended strongly after a few mid-series hiccups. The story of uber-pirate Janni Nemo on a mad mission to the heart of South America to fight Nazis is pretty damn cool.



Sunday, March 15, 2015

COMICS READING FOR FEBRUARY: “Down with the sickness”

I SPENT much of February sick, including nearly two weeks in bed, so I got a lot of reading done.

* 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. Lorelei Presents: House Macabre #1 (StarWarp Concepts, 2015) **¼
Writers: Steven A. Roman & Dwight Jon Zimmerman /Artists: Uriel Caton & Chuck Majewski, Lou Manna, John Pierard, Juan Carlos Abraldes Rendo (interior); Louis Small Jr (cover)
Sexy succubus plays hostess to several uninspiring House Of Mystery-style tales with “twist” endings. Not awful. You can buy the comic in digital or hard-copy formats from www.starwarpconcepts.com.
2. The Collector #21 (Bill G. Wilson, 1970) -**
3.-6. Rocket’s Blast Comicollector #141, 142, 148, 150 (James Van Hise, 1978-79) **
Writers/artists: various
I bought a bunch of comics fanzines from the 1970s/early 80s for a buck each at Elizabeth’s in January. I’ve slowly worked my way through all of them and I will write my bloggy thoughts on them down the road.
But I do want to list a few here, because some zines ACTUALLY featured comic strips and I think that makes them count as comics.
The Collector’s editor and publisher Bill G. Wilson wrote and drew Hyperman, a sub-standard, three-pager featuring his hero posing against black backdrops, confronting a generic bald villain and knocking him out. I don’t know how, but Wilson managed to “write” and “draw” an eight-panel strip where every single panel bears no logical relationship to the panel that precedes it. What’s even more incredible, he somehow managed to get industry veteran Don Newton to ink this abortion. Maybe ‘cos Newton started out as a contributor to RBCC in the 60s, he felt a sense of obligation to a new generation, perhaps.
RBCC (which is much easier on the tongue than its clunky full name) had a couple of semi-regular strips. Pertwillaby Papers by Don Rosa (#141, 142, 148, 150) was a pseudo-intellectual sci-fi fantasy mash-up that was horrible on most levels. Pertwillaby is a cocky, naive young scientist who gets caught up in crazy adventures (travelling to the centre of the earth or travelling back in time to King Arthur’s Court) with a motley crew of friends and ne’er-do-wells. While Rosa’s cartoony art is fine, it’s his writing that lets him down. He gives Pertwillaby huge chunks of fake science bullshit to spout that fills up large portions of every panel. Most of the supporting characters talk in accents, making it a challenge to decipher their speech balloons The worst culprit is the Nazi scientist Prof. Viktor Smyte. Rosa also uses Smyte’s character to make several offensive gas oven jokes that really should have been excised by the editor before publication. Anyway, I can only assume editor Van Hise indulged Rosa because he contributed so many other more entertaining items to the fanzine. But still...Pertwillaby Papers was the shits.
The other semi-regular strip was Twilight Of The Heroes (#141-142), written and drawn by Ron Wilber. Ostensibly it’s a pre-Punisher Kills The Marvel Universe story where a bunch of DC and Marvel heroes are murdered one by one by a mysterious villain. Wilber uses the strip to fulfil his two fantasies in life: to see the two big companies’ characters fight alongside each other (Sub-Mariner with Aquaman, Batman with Captain America, etc) and to draw Wonder Woman topless. He “succeeds” on both counts. *clapclapclap*
#141 also includes a remarkable eight-page tale titled The Secret Files Of Dr Drew, reprinted from Rangers Comics (c.1949-50). It was written and drawn by Jerry Grandenetti, but at first glance it looks like it was the work of Will Eisner. Not surprising, really, as Jerry ghosted on The Spirit in the late 40s. Beautiful, pre-Code spookiness.
#142 celebrates Spielberg’s new movie with a short strip titled Close Encounters Of The Nerd Kind (Writers: Jim Jones & Ronald Wilber/Artist: Ronald Wilber), which looks at an alien masquerading as a human who plays an alien on a TV show. Cute idea.
#148 has the fascinating first instalment of The Mutant Handbook, an illustrated essay about the X-Men, written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by Scott McLeod.
#150 has a special Fred Hembeck strip titled The Fred Hembeck No One Cares About, detailing his painful attempt to be a non-humorous superhero artist, which ended in one brutal meeting with hack DC inker Vince Colletta. Looking at his original “serious” art, I’m glad Mr Hembeck stuck with the funny stuff.
That same issue has Inside The RBCC!, a bit of whimsy by Wilber to celebrate the milestone issue.
There’s also The RBCC Artists’ Jam, starring Hembeck, Rosa and a few future superstars like Marc Hempel, Hilary Barta, RC Harvey, Kerry Gammill, Dennis Fujitake, Bret Blevins and Steve Bissette.
Bissette also contributes a one-page artists’ profile that’s the most professional artwork in all the RBCCs I read.
There’s a bonus Pertwillaby Papers centrespread which isn’t half-bad, because it features Giger’s Alien murdering most of the cast.
Finally, Jim Kuzee contributes Future History Comic Chronicles, a bit of sci-fi fluff that was pretty far off the mark about what would become of Marvel and DC in the future of “2000”.
7. The Black Vortex: Alpha (Marvel, 2015) ***½
Writer: Sam Humphries/Artists: Ed McGuinness with Kris Anka, Mark Farmer, Jay Leisten & Mark Morales
The new X-Men/Guardians Of The Galaxy crossover at least has a sense of humour to it, which makes it far more readable than the usual X-Men tosh. I don’t like the new demonic look of The Beast, though.
8. The United States Of Murder Inc. #6 (Icon, 2015) ****
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artist: Michael Avon Oeming
9.-14. C.O.W.L. #2-7 (Image, 2014) ****
Writer: Kyle Higgins & Alec Siegel/Artists: Rod Reis (interiors #2-7), St├ęphane Perger (#4), Elsa Charretier (#6); Trevor McCarthy (cover)
15.-35. Marvel Masterworks: The Fantastic Four Vol. 1 (Marvel, 2009) & Marvel Essential: The Fantastic Four Vol. 1 (Marvel, 2008) *****
- originally published in The Fantastic Four #1-20 & Annual #1 (Marvel, 1961-63)
Writer: Stan Lee/Artists: Jack Kirby & friends
This is kinda weird. Without a doubt, this is a classic superhero comic told by the industry’s two biggest legends. But there’s no doubt that re-reading them 54 years later does reveal some...shortcomings to the title. Lee focuses so much on dumb intra-quartet bickering that it wears thin pretty quick. Invisible Girl is depicted as truly feeble and worthless. The team’s origin is just so fucking dumb. Did NO-ONE notice that a scientist, his girlfriend and her 16yo brother were stealing a space ship to ‘beat the Commies” to outer space. Isn’t that a criminal offence?
Surprisingly, Kirby’s art comes across as quite primitive (compared to what he went on to produce in the mid-to-late 60s), not helped by some shoddy inking by the likes of Dick Ayers and Sol Brodsky (the one exception comes in FF #13 when the inking is handled by Steve Ditko, who does a “Wally Wood” and stamps his own inimitable style to Kirby’s pencils).
And while I should appreciate the relative diversity of super-villains on display in these first 21 issues (as opposed to, say, Fawcett’s Captain Marvel, which featured Dr Sivana practically every issue), there’s still waaaaaay too much Sub-Mariner and Doctor Doom in these early issues.
That said, I KNOW that these were revolutionary stories back in 1961, so I need to look at them from that perspective rather than my jaded 2015 perspective.
And y’know, if I do that, these stories fucking rock.
36. The Woods #10 (BOOM!, 2015) ***
Writer: James Tynion IV/Artist: Michael Dialynas
37.-38. The New 52: Future’s End #40-41 (DC, 2015) ***¾
Writers/artists: various
40.-45. Outcast Vol. 1: A Darkness Surrounds Him (Image, 2015) ****
- originally published in Outcast #1-6 (Image, 2014-15)
Writer; Robert Kirkman/Artist: Paul Azaceta
46. The Mystery Play (Vertigo, 1994) ***¼
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artist: Jon J. Muth
One of Grant’s more pretentious, obscure comics. An escaped lunatic masquerades as a cop while attempting to solve the murder of “God”, the star of a small-town passion play. Yep, pretty pretentious.
47. Neil Gaiman’s Only The End Of The World Again (Oni Press, 2000) ***½
- originally published in Oni Double Feature #6-8 (Oni Press, 1998)
Writers: Neil Gaiman & P. Craig Russell/Artist: Troy Nixey
48.-51. Fury: My War Gone By #10-13 (Marvel, 2013) ****
Writer: Garth Ennis/Artist: Goran Parlov
52. Barbarians And Beauties #1 (AC Comics, 1990) *
Writers: unknown/Artists: Joe Orlando & Wally Wood, John Giunta, Sid Greene, Larsen
Old Avon reprints from the early 1950s. Unremarkable, dull stuff, even the Captain Science strip featuring some primiive Orlando art inked by Wood.
53. The Age Of Heroes #3 (Image, 1997) **¾
Writer: James D. Hudnall/Artist: John Ridgway
Innocuous B&W sci-fantasy that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Warrior magazine 15 years earlier.
54. Vertigo Double Shot: Young Liars/House Of Mystery (Vertigo, 2008) ****
- originally published in Young Liars #1 & House Of Mystery #1 (Vertigo, 2008)
Young Liars: Writer/artist: David Lapham
House Of Mystery: Writer: Matthew Sturges, Bill Willingham/Artists: Luca Rossi, Ross Campbell (interior) Sam Weber (cover)
House Of Mystery is genuinely disturbing. I’ll try to buy the first volume one day. I already have Young Liars Vol. 1 – the first issue was excellent.
55.-58. The Squidder #1-4 (IDW, 2014) **¾
Writer/artist: Ben Templesmith
I love Ben’s artwork but he proves once again that he can’t write very well.
59.-63. God Hates Astronauts #1-5 (Image, 2014-15) ***¾
Writer: Ryan Browne/Artists: Jordan Boyd (interior); Ryan Browne (main covers)
64.-67. Imperial #1-4 (Image, 2014) ***¼
Writer: Steven T. Seagle/Artist: Mark Dos Santos
If you had to choose to be the world’s only superhero and have the best girlfriend in the world, what would you choose? Surprisingly, the working-class schlubs in this miniseries gives up God-like powers for some chick. Go figure.
68. The Mighty Thor #199 (Marvel, 1972) ***½
Writer: Gerry Conway/Artists: John Buscema & Vince Colletta
The very first comic I ever owned. Distribution in Australian newsagencies was so spotty in the 70s, however, that I never saw Thor #200.
69.-76. Caper #5-12 (DC, 2004) ***
Writer: Judd Winick/Artists: John Severin (#5-8); Tom Fowler (#9-12)
Fun crime reads and Severin’s art is a joy to behold, but these final eight issues aren’t a patch on the opening arc.
77.-80. Justice Society of America #1-4 (DC, 2007) ***½
Writer: Geoff Johns/Artists: Dale Eaglesham (pencils) & Art Thibert (inks #1) & Ruy Jose (inks #2-4); Alex Ross (cover)
I gave up on the previous JSA series, but I finally picked up the start of the second modern-day run of my fave super-group for...um, some reason. It was alright, but I doubt I’ll pick up the rest of the run, especially as it’s all been retrospectively erased by the New 52.
81. Justice League United #10 (DC, 2015) ***
Writer: Jeff Lemire/Artists: Neil Edwards, Jay Leisten & Keith Champagne
82. Justice League 3000 #14 (DC, 2015) ***½
Writers: Keith Giffen & JM DeMatteis/Artists: Andy Kuhn (interior); Howard Porter (cover)
83. Guardians Of The Galaxy #24 (Marvel, 2015) ***¼
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artist: Valerio Schiti
The Black Vortex crossover continues. Not sure what to make of it so far.
84. Image Firsts: Wytches #1 (Image, 2014-15) ***¾
Writer: Scott Snyder/Artist: Jock
This is pretty damn horrifying. I’m gonna have to buy the first trade when it comes out.  
85. Wild’s End #6 (BOOM!, 2015) ***½
Writer: Dan Abnett/Artist: LNJ Culbard
An interesting take on the War Of The Worlds mythology comes to a somewhat abrupt end, as if Abnett got word that sales were poor and decided to wrap up the storyline before the series was axed. This issue felt very rushed.
86. Guardians 3000 #5 (Marvel, 2015) ***¾
Writer: Dan Abnett/Artist: Gerardo Sandoval (interior), Alex Ross (cover)
87. Southern Bastards #7 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Jason Aaron/Artist: Jason Latour
88-89. She-Hulk #11-12 (Marvel, 2015) ***½
Writer: Charles Soule/Artists: Javier Pulido (interior); Kevin Wada (cover)
So this series wasn’t axed after all. It was always meant to be a 12-issue maxiseries. That’s a relief – still, shame it’s gone. Series ended a bit flat, but it’s nice to know that She-Hulk and friends will still have a supporting role in the new Howard The Duck series.


90. Savage Sword of Criminal (Image, 2015) *****
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Sean Phillips
This loving homage to Marvel’s B&W magazine line in the 1970s is glorious. Phillips slips in and out of his usual Criminal art style (which is the main story set in the 70s) to the more psychedelic, Spanish/Filipino-styled barbarian artwork we saw in Conan and even the Warren B&W titles. Phillips even apes a Joe Jusko-style cover. This is a fucking masterpiece.


91. The Castaways (Absence Of Ink Comic Press, 2002) ****¾
Writer: Rob Vollmar/Artist: Pablo G. Callejo
I read about this graphic novel in an ad in Farel Dalrymple’s Pop Gun War comic. Looked intriguing and I found a cheap copy at Lone Star (mycomicshop.com). Set in America during the Depression, it’s about a boy who leaves home on a quest to make money to send home to his struggling family. Along the way, he befriends an old black hobo and learns the brutal reality of riding the rails in the 1930s. It’s a short, harsh-but-beautiful tale. A forgotten gem that deserves to be rediscovered by a larger audience.
92. Marvel Superheroes #7 (Marvel, 1991) ½* (for Steve Ditko’s art)
Writers/artists: various
This 100-page anthology sums up all that was horrible and shitty about Marvel (and DC) in the early 90s. Grim, bitter superheroes...psychotic supervillains...brutal deaths of innocents...inept writing and shitty art by no-name talent, most of whom I’ve never heard of (Barry Dutter? Larry Alexander? Gary Hartle?)...blurgh. Naturally, to sell the thing to gullible punters, the lead story stars the X-Men. Then there’s crappy back-up tales featuring C-grade superheroes like Cloak & Dagger, The Shroud (partially redeemed due to Ditko’s pencils, the only decent thing in the whole comic) and Marvel Boy. The latter tale was the only reason why I bought the bloody thing because it features a pro wrestling storyline. I’m such a mark for pro wrestling...
93.-96. Power & Glory #1-3, Power & Glory Holiday Special (Malibu, 1994) **
Writer/artist: Howard Chaykin
Howie tries to do an “adult” superhero yarn, which boils down to soft-core sex scenes, a tranny bad guy and pedo jokes. Also, Chaykin just isn’t a very good writer, even though the idea of a government-made, fake superhero for marketing pruposes is interesting. His art is nice, but overall Chaykin’s yarn is a FAIL.
97.-99. Hercules Unbound #1, 7-8 (DC, 1975-77) **
Writers/artists: various
All for the Wally Woods inks, man. All for the inks.
100. Evaristo: Deep City (Catalan, 1986) **¾
Writer: Francisco Solano Lopez/Artist: Carlos Sampayo
Cops’n’crime short story collection set in Argentina. Lots of brutality, official corruption and unexpected pathos. I feel these Argentine stories have lost something in the translation, but Sampayo’s B&W art is gorgeous. And hell, I only paid $1 for it.
101. Sex #8 (Image, 2013) DUD
Writer: Joe Casey/Artist: Piotr Kowalski
Well, after finally reading the final issue of the first arc, I can safely say that this is THE MOST OVERRATED COMIC BEING PUBLISHED TODAY. And Joe Casey is a self-absorbed shithead with an overblown opinion of himself, his writing ability and his “place” in the comic industry. This final issue was boring and anticlimactic, probably a bit like having sex with Casey. Luckily, it was over quickly...which is probably a bit like having sex with Casey as well. Utter shit.
102. Drawn And Quarterly #9 (Drawn And Quarterly, 1992) ***½
Writers/artists: various
A mixed bag of an anthology, starring the likes of David Mazzucchelli, Peter Kuper and Seth. The highlight is Michael Dougan’s “Kentucky Fried Funeral”, a grim, blackly comic tale of the author’s time working in a funeral home while suffering a relationship (and mental) breakdown. I mean, I assume it’s autobiographical.
103. Merchants Of Death #1 (Eclipse, 1988) *½
Writers/artists: various
Middling war and action tales from Euro-creators, plus an out-of-place spy yarn written by a young Kurt Busiek.
104. Breckinridge Elkins: Mountain Man (breckinridgeelkins.com, 2010-14) ****
Writers: Robert E. Howard (original story) & Gary Chaloner (adaptation)/Artist: Gary Chaloner
This is a 30-page online story adapted from the original book by the creator of Conan the Barbarian. It’s a classic tall tale about a backwoods bumpkin in rural America, a case of mistaken identity, a bare-knuckle fist fight and a bunch of gun-toting, trigger-happy cowboys. It’s funny and silly, but Chaloner’s art is a joy to behold. I’m glad he finally got around to finishing it. It was reprinted in Savage Sword #7-9 (Dark Horse, 2014).
105. Heavy Metal Vol. XVII No. IV (Metal Mammoth Inc., 1992) ***
Writers/artists: various
Richard Corben, Garry Leach, Bill Sienkiewicz, Rick Geary and a complete edition of Serpieri’s Druuna: Creatura. And yet, the mag is still kinda...meh.
106. Weirdo #10 (Last Gasp, 1984) ***½
Writers/artists: various

Crumb! Bagge! Beaut underground-style goodness!