Friday, December 23, 2011

Kirby Your Enthusiasm #16: "Two is better than none"


IT'S nearly the end of December so what better time to discuss what I read in November? So I talk about Asterix The Gaul, which I last read in the mid-70s. How does it stack up in 2011, nearly 50 years after it was first published?
Next, I discuss Super Giant Album #24, a blast from the past (1977 to be precise).
It's a fun 16:45 podcast, so please enjoy......and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! :)
http://kirbyyourenthusiasm.libsyn.com/webpage/kirby-your-enthusiasm-16-two-is-better-than-none-

Sunday, October 30, 2011

COMICS READING FOR OCTOBER: “Where’s my no-prize?”




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

HOW I RATE THE COMICS VIA THE ALAN MOORE SCALE
*****   Watchmen, Marvelman, V For Vendetta
****     From Hell, Supreme, Swamp Thing, Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?
***        League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the first two series), Axel Pressbutton, Tom Strong
**           Promethea
*             LoEG: Century: 1969
DUD  (or lower)     anything he’s written for Avatar or any of the non-comics drivel he shits out on a regular basis

1. The Official Marvel No-Prize Book #1 (Marvel, 1982) ***
Writer: Jim Owsley & friends/Artist: Bob Camp, Vnce Colletta & friends
No-prizes always fascinated me – I heard they were actually empty envelopes sent to people who pinpointed mistakes in Marvel mags. Well, this one-shot bravely acknowledges some of the greatest errors in Marvel history (up to 1982). Peter “Palmer”, Betty “Brant”, Hercules dragging Manhattan Island around via a couple of chains and several major (and not-so-major) continuity cock-ups. Plus Captain America’s legendary cry, “Only one of us is gonna walk out of here under his own steam...and it won’t be me!” Hilarious stuff.
2. Marvel Fanfare #34 (Marvel, 1987) ***
Writer: Alan Zelenetz/Artist: Charles Vess/Portfolios: Charles Vess; Mike Mignola
I’m not a huge fan of Asgardian tales, but this whimsical tale of the Warriors Three is kinda okay. The main reason I picked it up was due to the lovely early Vess art (including a portfolio at the end of the story). Plus there’s a Mignola portfolio – again, it’s nice to see his pre-Hellboy work.
3. FCBD: Ultimate X-Men #1 (Marvel, 2003) ***½
- originally published as Ultimate X-Men #1 (Marvel, 2001)
Writer: Mark Millar/Artists: Adam Kubert & Art Thibert
I liked it enough to order the first volume.
4.-5. Fear Itself #4-5 (Marvel, 2011) ***
Writer: Matt Fraction/Artist: Stuart Immonen
Thor killing Thing was kinda cool (even if it only last six panels before Franklin Richards revived him).
6. Fear Itself: The Deep #2 (Marvel, 2011) ***
Writer: Cullen Bunn/Artists: Lee Garbett & David Meikis
I’m not entirely blown away by the story or art, but it’s just a precursor to getting The Defenders back together, so I’ m down with that. Red She-Hulk is kinda cool.
7.-8. Fear Itself: Deadpool #2-3 (Marvel, 2011) ***½
Writer: Christopher Hastings/Artists: Bong Dazo & Joe Pimentel
Seriously, the best Fear Itself title out there – just a fun, stupid read that mocks what’s going on in the “main” titles. A supervillain called The Walrus? Bizarro were-creatures about to descend on an isolated town (shades of 30 Days Of Night there)? Deadpool getting smushed repeatedly? Great fun.
9. The Vertigo Gallery #1 (Vertigo, 1995) ***
Poster books are comics too, dammit! Many of the Vertigo characters get nice one-page illos by the likes of Chris Weston (The Invisibles), Steve Dillon (Preacher), Alex Toth (Sandman Mystery Theatre), Geof Darrow (Shade, The Changing Man) and Swamp Thing (John Totleben).
10. Vertigo Jam: Louer Than Noise #1 (Vertigo, 1993) ***½
Writers: various/Artists: various
Short tales from the likes of Neil Gaiman, Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon, Jamie Delano, Peter Milligan, Michael Allred...you can’t go wrong, can you?
11. Vertigo Preview (Vertigo, 1992) ***
A nice taster of what was to come, including an exclusive Sandman tale written by Gaiman. Nice.
12. Young Heroes In Love #1 (DC, 1997) ***¼
Writer: Dan Raspler/Artists: Dev Madan & Keith Champagne
Here’s a lil’ sleeper. This title only ran for 18 issues, but I may have to pick them all up after reading this promising first instalment. Seven young superheroes gather together to form a new super-team – The Young Heroes – but something’s not quite right with team leader Hard Drive. Why is he using his telepathic powers to control his team mates, including convincing Bonfire to fall in love with Thunderhead? Only the Sub-Mariner-like Frostbite suspects something is amiss. Hmmm...I’m intrigued to see where this series went – it seemed quite lighthearted and goofy for much of the first issue, then took a dark turn in the last few pages. I will have to investigate.  
13. Angel Stomp Future #1 (Avatar/Apparat, 2004) ***¼
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artist: Juan Jose Ryp
Ellis writes weirdness for weirdness’ sake sometimes. This bizarre one-shot about a future doctor who looks like a SuicideGirl would have felt at home in an early issue of Metal Hurlant. It’s the future...a future filled with anti-space exploration suicide cults, memes as human viruses, mad doctors in hotpants, extreme medical procedures and sexual horror. Oh...and the shittest old gag of all time thrown in for good measure. It’s entertaining, but you have to wonder why Ellis bothered. Just for the sheer hell of it, I guess. Ryp’s art is a sick joy, as usual.
14. Vescell #2 (Image, 2011) **
Writer: Enrique Carrion/Artist: John Upchurch
Upchurch draws nice plump chicks, but that’s not enough for me to stick with this confusing sci-fi/religious-themed yarn.
15. OMAC #2 (DC, 2011) ***¼
Writer: Dan DiDio/Artists: Keith Giffen & Scott Koblish
Continues to be fun and with the introduction of Maxwell Lord and Checkmate, this series grows more interesting. I look forward to #3.
16. The Shade #1 (DC, 2011) ***½
Writer: James Robinson/Artist: Cully Hamner
Not sure if this is a part of the New 52 Universe or a stand-alone maxiseries but, as a fan of Robinson’s Starman, I dug this first ish. Of course, I’m not sure where we go after the rather shocking (and graphic) ending but I’m sure we’ll find out next issue.
17.-18. Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. (DC, 2011) ***¼
Writer: Jeff Lemire/Artist: Alberto Ponticelli
19. Legion Of Monsters #1 (Marvel, 2011) ***¾
Writer: Dennis Hopeless/Artist: Juan Doe
These are the two big companies’ new monster titles and they stack up pretty nicely next to each other. However, I’ll give the nod to Marvel as LOM is just way more fun (and I’m a sucker for Elsa Bloodstone).

20. Perry – Unser Mann Im All #131 (A Farm, 2006) UNRATED
Writers: Kai Hirdt & Karl Nagl/Artists: Vincent Brumeister & Simone Kesterton
21. Mona (???, 1996) UNRATED
Writer: ??/Artist: Jule Jensen
A GERMAN friend sent me these two adult comics, which I could only look at as I don’t read the language. Mona appears to be a reprint or oneshot from some German porno featuring a series of mediocre, two-page toon strips starring the busty nympho Mona. Reminds of some of the two-pagers I used to commission for RED-HOT PEOPLE back in the day. Perry is basically a straight sci-fi strip with tits. The artwork’s not bad in that European style. Pity I couldn’t follow the storyline.

22.-23. The Big Guy And Rusty The Boy Robot (Big Guy Comics/Dark Horse, 1996) ****
- originally published in The Big Guy And Rusty The Boy Robot #1-2 (Dark Horse, 1995-96)
Writer: Frank Miller/Artist: Geof Darrow
Awesome, oversized mega-violence in the classic Frank Miller style. Darrow’s art is beautiful and grotesque all at the same time.
24. Frank Miller’s Holy Terror (Legendary, 2011) ***
It starts out with promise – in fact, some of the sequences hauntingly evocative – but this Batman/Catwoman pastiche/right-wing fantasy degenerates real fast to a pretty messy, confusing conclusion. Miller has done better. But he’s never been more fascist.
25. Optic Nerve #12 (Drawn & Quarterly, 2011) ****
Writer/artist: Adrian Tomine
Exquisite.

26. Marvel Universe vs Wolverine #1 (Marvel, 2011) ***¼
Writer: Jonathan Maberry/Artist: Laurence Campbell, Mike Kaluta (cover)
Not as dumb as I’d been led to believe.
27. Suicide Girls #2 (IDW, 2011) **¾
Writers: Steve Niles, Missy Suicide and Brea & Zane Grant/Artists: David Hahn & Cameron Stewart, Cameron Stewart (cover & posters)
Stewart draws good wanking material, but any comic that needs FOUR writers is in serious trouble. Female empowerment? SuicideGirls ad? Left-wing future fantasy? Freedom of expression diatribe? Naaaaaah, just overpriced wanking material.
28. The Red Wing #4 (Image, 2011) **¾
Writer: Jonathan Hickman/Artist: Nick Pitarra
Unless there’s a sequel coming, this was a confusing yarn with an unsatisfying ending.
29. Legion: Secret Origin #1 (DC, 2011) ***½
Writer: Paul Levitz/Artists: Chris Batista & Marc Deering
I got a LoSH ring! I got a LoSH ring! Story...not bad so far.
30. Halcyon #5 (Image, 2011) ****
Writers: Marc Guggenheim & Tara Butters/Artist: Ryan Bodenheim
A fantastic and, dare I say it, unexpected ending to a thought-provoking story.
31. Captain Swing And the Electrical Pirates Of Cindery Island (Avatar, 2011) ***½
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artist: Raulo Caceres
32.-34. Butcher Baker #3-5 (Image, 2011) ***½
Writer: Joe Casey/Artist: Mike Huddleston
Casey’s egotistical ramblings aside, this is a kick-arse, post-modernist superhero yarn. Huddleston’s Sienkowicz-style artwork is a pleasure to behold.
35. Strange Adventures #1 (Vertigo, 2011) ***
Writers/artists: various
Thankfully, reading this anthology inspired me NOT to pick up the new Spaceman series – it looks very mediocre in this preview. Best story in the book? Jeff Lemire’s tragic reimagining of a kooky old sci-fi character called Ultra The Multi-Alien. A close second was the equally tragic Post Modern Prometheus by Kevin Colden. The Paul Pope cover is a joy, too.
36.-37. Annihilators #3-4 (Marvel, 2011) ***¾
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning/Artists: Tan Eng Huat & Victor Olazaba (Annihilators)/Timothy Green II (Rocket Raccoon)
I love Rocket Raccoon.
38. Paul Mason Portfolio: SDCC 2011 (Black House, 2011) **¾
39.-44. Absolution #1-6 (Avatar) ****
Writer: Christos Gage/Artist: Roberto Viacava
45. The CBLDF Presents Liberty Annual 2011 (Image, 2011) ***
Writers/artists: various
46. The Unexpected (Vertigo, 2011) ***
Writers/artists: various
47.-49. I Hate Gallant Girl (Image, 2008-09) **½
Writers: Jim Valentino & Kat Cahill/Artist: Seth Damoose
This tale of a spurned reality TV superhero wannabe becoming a legit superhero started really well but went to hell literally on the last page of issue two. Setting things up for a sequel that never comes is pointless, so issue three was a waste, too. Shame.

50. Voodoo #1 (DC, 2011) ***
Writer: Ron Marz/Artist: Sami Basri
51. Catwoman #1 (DC, 2011) ***¼
Writer: Judd Winick/Artist: Guillem March
I felt like a dirty old man buying these two comics. Having said that, I’ve grabbed issue two of Catwoman, which has promise. Voodoo – now that it’s moved out of the strip club setting – is no longer required reading.

52. Jennifer Blood #5 (Dynamite, 2011) ***
Writer: Garth Ennis/Artist: Kewber Baal
I’ll finish this story arc, then I’m done. Ennis can do so much better.
53. Star Trek/Legion Of Super-Heroes #1 (IDW, 2011) ***
Writer: Chris Roberson/Artists: Jeffrey & Philip Moy, Phil Jimenez (cover)
A cute gimmick, but I’ll give it another issue to see where this is headed. So far, we haven’t seen Mr Spock square off against Brainiac 5.
54. Annihilators #3-4 (Marvel, 2011) ***¾
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning/Artists: Tan Eng Huat & Andrew Hennessy (Annihilators)/Timothy Green II (Rocket Raccoon)
I lurve Rocket Raccoon!
55. Fear Itself #6 (Marvel, 2011) **¾
Writer: Matt Fraction/Artist: Stuart Immonen
56.-57. Fear Itself: The Deep #3-4 (Marvel, 2011) ***½
Writer: Cullen Bunn/Artists: Lee Garbett, David Meikis & John Lucas
The Defenders are back! Huzzah!

NOTE: There will be no comics reading list for November, as I won’t be reading any. Instead, I will be too busy spending the entire month writing a novel. Yes, it’s true! I’m doing it as part of National Novel Writing Month, which you can read about at www.nanowrimo.org. See youse in December.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Kirby Your Enthusiasm, ep. 15: "No fear!"


I'M JOINED this time around by special guest Mark Williamson as we talk about Fear Itself, the return of The Defenders, the trailer for the new Avengers film and DC's latest reboot of their universe. Mark also explains why he's always preferred Marvel over DC.
It's 35+ minutes of fun comics talk. Enjoy!
http://kirbyyourenthusiasm.libsyn.com/webpage

Sunday, October 16, 2011

COMICS READING FOR SEPTEMBER: “Their names are legion”


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

HOW I RATE THE COMICS VIA THE ALAN MOORE SCALE
*****    Watchmen, Marvelman, V For Vendetta
****       From Hell, Supreme, Swamp Thing, Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?
***         League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the first two series), Axel Pressbutton, Tom Strong
**           Promethea
*              LoEG: Century: 1969
DUD  (or lower)     anything he’s written for Avatar or any of the non-comics drivel he shits out on a regular basis

I RECENTLY bought a bunch of first issues from Lone Star (www.mycomicshop.com/) to see whether any of them would be worth purchasing the entire series. Here's what I discovered:

1. Steampunk: Catechism (Wildstorm, 2000) *
Writer: Joe Kelly/Artists: Chris Bachalo & Richard Friend
I love steampunk but this is just a mess. Kelly’s script shows promise but Bachalo draws everything in that late 90s sub-Chaos! style, which means you can’t follow a single fucking thing that’s happening on the page. Maybe this improved once it became a regular series...but I doubt it.
2. Fantastic Four: First Family #1 (Marvel, 2006) ***½
Writer: Joe Casey/Artists: Chris Weston & Gary Erskine
Now THIS is a series that I’ll acquire after reading this intriguing first issue. What happened when the FF first went through that cosmic storm? For sure, the government wasn’t happy with them stealing a rocket ship and piloting it illegally into outer space. And then there was the cosmic radiation that irrevocably changed their physical make-ups. Surely, the boffins wanted to probe and prod these unique individuals. This six-part miniseries explores the immediate aftermath of the accident that created the Fantastic Four. The first instalment was pretty damn good.
3. FCBD: Batman Adventures #1 (DC, 2003) **¾
Writer: Ty Templeton/Artists: Rick Burchett & Terry Beatty
Nothing inherently wrong with it, but I won’t be buying another issue.
4. Batman: City Of Light #1 (DC, 2003) **½
Writers: The Pander Brothers & Mark Paniccia/Artists: The Pander Brothers & Alvaro Lopez
I love, love, LOVE the Pander Brothers’ art but the story – Batman loses his mojo after accidentally crippling a kid – is wrong. Batman isn’t a wuss and shit happens in his line of work. So I’m not buying a Batman who turns into a whiny bitch because of a bit of collateral damage. But the art’s exquisite. Still, I’m not buying the next seven issues.
5. Curse Of The Weird #1 (Marvel, 1993) ***
Classic monster reprints from the 50s featuring artwork by Steve Ditko, Basil Wolverton, Russ Heath and Bill Everett. Fun schlock but no need for me to go out of my way to grab anymore.
6. The Extremist #1 (Vertigo, 1993) ***
Writer: Peter Milligan/Artist: Ted McKeever
I’m surprised this full-on yarn even got off the ground at a conservative company like DC. Sexual perversion, ultra-violence, decadence, bisexuality, a virtual Sodom and fucking Gomorrah. Judy’s husband used to be a masked superhero/killer/pervert called The Extremist. After he was murdered, she takes over the role, discovering her new self and losing her old self in the process. This comic was pretty fucking hardcore for a mainstream title. I’m curious enough to seek out the other three issues.
7. Fanboy #1 (DC, 1999) **
Writers: Mark Evanier & Sergio Aragones/Artists: Sergio Aragones with Jerry Ordway, Bernie Wrightson, etc.
Aragones is a fucking god so I have to blame Evanier for the utter lameness of this comic. Justifying being a comics fanboy to other fanboys is a little like wanking over your own photo, I suggest.
8. The L.A.W. #1 (DC, 1999) *
Writer: Bob Layton/Artists: Dick Giordano & Bob Layton
Wow – a miniseries featuring all of Charlton’s superheroes as they defend a DC superhero-less world. Nice try but I believe some far more talented folk already did this tale in 1986. It was called Watchmen. This perfunctory tale, Mr Layton, is NO Watchmen.
9. Bloody Mary #1 (DC/Helix, 1996) *
Writer: Garth Ennis/Artist: Carlos Ezquerra
Dear Garth, if you’re going to set your tale “in the future”, don’t make it 2012. Otherwise, it’ll seem quite stupid when someone reads it in 2011. Secondly, don’t set up a preposterous premise like Europe declaring war on the UK and the US, and think it’s gonna make any goddamn sense to the reader. Finally, don’t go all high-tech on us, then have one of your top military figures talk about receiving “a fax”. BWAH-hahahahahaha! That’s what happens when you write a sci-fi yarn JUST BEFORE the internet took off. Still, nice art by Ezquerra.
10. American Dream #1 (Marvel, 2008) *
Writer: Tom DeFalco/Artists: Todd Nauck & Scott Koblish
Forgettable.
11. Defenders Of The Earth #1 (Marvel/Star, 1987) *
Writers: Stan Lee & Bob Harras/Artists: Alex Saviuk & Fred Fredericks
How could you fuck up a series featuring The Phantom, Mandrake The Magician AND Flash Gordon? Give it to a past-his-prime Stan Lee and some Marvel hacks and tell them to write it for juvenile appeal only. Make sure you throw in a bunch of stupid kids to make the series “more kid-friendly”. Give The Phantom superpowers like Animal Man (’cos he’s kinda non-superheroish otherwise). And give Mandrake random magical powers that make no goddamn sense. Alright, I almost gave this abortion another chance when the team discovered Ming The Merciless had killed Dale Arden. But it turns out it was a red herring and she’s really alive after all. What a copout.
12. Accelerate #1 (Vertigo, 2000) *½
Writer: Richard Kadrey/Artists: The Pander Bros.
It’s weird – I love the Pander brothers’ art but so many of the projects they’ve attached their names to have been...well, let’s be blunt, SHIT. This is a typical post-apocalyptic tale filled with angry teenagers, trendy drugs and violence against authority. Ho-hum. Nice artwork, though.
13. Captain America: What Price Glory? #1 (Marvel, 2003) *½
Writer: Bruce Jones/Artists: Steve Rude & Mike Royer
Good writer – check. The Rudester channelling his best Jack Kirby artwork – check. So why is this story such a letdown? It’s just lame and kinda forced. Cap gets hired to go to Vegas to rescue an older mobster’s daughter from another mobster? I just didn’t get it. Meh.

ONTO other stuff from a recent Lone Star haul:

14. Fantastic Four Roast (Marvel, 1982) DUD
Writer: Fred Hembeck/Artists: Fred Hembeck & friends
Whoa, this sucked. Why did Hembeck think he was funny? Maybe to retarded 10-year-olds, but that’s about it. Utter shite.
15. Fantastic Four Ashcan (Marvel, 1994) *
Writers/artists: various
The FF were totally in the toilet when this B&W mini-sized overview of the team’s history was released. Mr Fantastic was “dead”, the original FF had split up, Franklin Richards had been magically aged to 16 years and now ran a darker, lamer FF called Fantastic Force. It makes you almost glad that Rob Liefeld came along to fuck everything up before the original FF got restored to their original glory in 1998 and a lot of the early 90s history was quietly retconned out of existence. The Mike Mignola wrap-around cover is nice, if slightly muddy.

LEGION CONFUSION

16.-23. JLA: The Lightning Saga (DC, 2008) **½
- originally published in JLA #0, 8-12 & JSA #5-6 (DC, 2006-07)
Writers: Brad Meltzer & Geoff Johns/Artists: various
24.-29. Superman And The Legion Of Super-Heroes (DC, 2008) ***¾ 
- originally published in Action Comics #858-863 (DC, 2007-08)
Writer: Geoff Johns/Artists: Gary Frank & Jon Sibal
30. Action Comics #864 (DC, 2008) ***
Writer: Geoff Johns/Artists: Joe Prado & Jon Sibal
31.-35. Final Crisis: Legion Of 3 Worlds #1-5 (DC, 2008-09) ***
Writer: Geoff Johns/Artists: George Pérez & Scott Koblish
After reading the three story arcs that reintroduced the current incarnation of the LoSH to the DC Universe, all I can say is, “Um...wha...?” Talk about confusing. Really unnecessarily confusing. But Superman And The Legion Of Super-Heroes was a great, stand-alone tale about a racist superhero group inspired by the warped teachings of Superman warring against the LoSH. The other two arcs just felt kinda forced: “Let’s get the original Legion back and make our readers jump through a few logical hoops in the process.”
30.-37. Superman: Mon-El (DC, 2010)
- originally published in Action Comics Annual #10, Superman #684-690, Action Comics #874, Superman: Secret Files 2009 #1 (DC, 2009)
Writer: James Robinson/Artists: Renato Guedes & José Wilson Magalhães & friends
This story shouldn’t have worked as they’re fucking with Superman timelines in a sense. But it’s still kinda cool seeing a naive, dying Mon-El hanging out on 21st century Earth and acting as Metropolis’s defender while Superman was visiting New Krypton. To be honest, Robinson did a great job with this run.
38.-55. Adventure Comics #0-12/515, #516-520 (DC, 2009-11) ***¼ (averaged out over all those issues)
Writers: Geoff Johns, Paul Levitz/Artist: Francis Manapul, Kevin Sharpe & Mario Alquiza, etc
Wow. As if Legion continuity wasn’t confusing enough, then try to follow it through this title, which also had to contend with crossovers such as “Blackest Night” and “Last Stand Of New Krypton” – it’s literally impossible to follow. That said...I certainly enjoyed ASPECTS of Adventure Comics. Adventure #0 reprinted the LoSH’s first appearance in Adventure #247 (writer: Otto Binder/artist: Al Plastino) back in the late 50s, and the back-up by Johns and Manapul sets the groundwork for Lex Luthor and Brainiac launch their new plot of revenge against the new Superboy, Connor Kent. Superboy was the main story for Adventure #1-6 (with the old numbering ghosted behind it) – when he wasn’t sharing that honour with a Superboy Prime yarn that was linked to “Blackest Night”. I kinda enjoyed the idea of Connor attempting to be just like Superman while worrying that he was also displaying traits of his father, Lex Luthor. It culminated in a chilling full-length conclusion in #6 where Luthor uses his genius to cure his invalid sister (just to prove he can), then immediately returns her to her vegetative state (just to prove he can). Never has a Superman tale more eloquently displayed the selfishness, brilliance and insane evil that is Lex Luthor. Kudos to Mr Johns. The final story focussing on Connor is a big “Blackest Night”-related tale with a possessed Superboy fighting Wonder Girl ((writers: Tony Bedard, artists: Travis Moore & friends). Meanwhile, the at-this-point only-occasional back-up LoSH tales (#1-4) were setting up threads that would come together in later issues when the Legion joined with Superboy in Adventure #8-11 (writers: Sterling Gates & James Robinson/artists: Travis Moore, Eduardo Pansica, Eber & Julio Ferreira) to battle Luthor and Brainiac in the “Last Stand Of Krypton” story that ran across several Superman-related titles. It seems quite complicated and I felt quite dislocated reading these yarns. From #8-11 there was also a back-up yarn about a Kryptonian spy infiltrating some secret human army run by Lois Lane’s dad. That was okay, I guess (writer: Eric Trautmann/artist: Pier Gallo). #11 wrapped everything up, mainly dealing with the end of Mon-El’s run on 21st century Earth.
From #12 onwards (which resumed the title’s old numbeing at #13/516), the Legion took over as the main story with Levitz taking over as the writer (and Kevin Sharpe, Marlo Alquiza and Marc Deering handling the art duties). The comic ran stand-alone tales fleshing out old Legion stories (similar to those back-up tales that used to appear in Classic X-Men), giving more depth to what happened in the original LoSH continuity. And they also starred the original Superboy, not Connor Kent. Confused? So was I. I stopped reading last month just as Lightning Lad had been killed (#520). Frankly, these stories weren’t particularly inspiring. The back-up feature starred The Atom (writer: Jeff Lemire/artists: Mahmud Asrar & John Dell), who I care nothing for.
Wow! After writing that recap, no wonder I felt so confused reading this title.
56.-57. The Brave And The Bold #34-35 (DC, 2010) ***¾
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski/Artist: Jesus Saiz
JMS has copped a lot of (fair) criticism in recent years, but when the dude actually bothers to write something, he does a great job. This throwaway two-parter is a perfect example. #34 sees the classic LoSH go back in time to meet with the classic Doom Patrol to save Earth in the 31st century from a black hole. Along the way, the two teams encounter a few odd anomalies that they can’t explain, but they save the day anyway. #35 explains away the odd occurrences. It sees the classic Legion Of Substitute Heroes try to steal the LoSH’s thunder and save Earth from the black hole. So they steal a time bubble and go back in time, but instead of finding the Doom Patrol they meet The Inferior Five instead. Between these two inept groups, they nearly destroy Earth, but somehow fail to do so. It’s clever and surprisingly funny. AND...JMS finds a clever way to bring the 70s-based Inferior Five to 2010. Of course, they’ve probably been retconned out of existence courtesy of the new 52 Universe. Ah, well...
58.-59. Legion Of Super-Heroes #1-2 (DC, 2005) ****
Writer: Mark Waid/Artist: Barry Kitson
No. 2 was single-handedly the most enjoyable LoSH issue I’ve read this year...with a great punchline that actually made me smile. I may have to pick up Waid & Kitson’s full run on this particular version of the LoSH.
60. The Brave And The Bold #5 (DC, 2007) ***
Writer: Mark Waid/Artists: George Pérez & Bob Wiacek
Batman meets the LoSH (or a version of them at least). It’s part of some convoluted six-parter. Nice to see a “caveman” like Bats outwit his 31st century foes.
61.-67. The Legion: Foundations (DC, 2004) **½
 - originally published in The Legion #25-30 & The Legion Secret Files 3003 (DC, 2003-04)

Superboy (Connor Kent version) and the Legion taking on Darkseid and Darkseid? Kinda okay, nothing special – and totally retconned out of Legion history now, I suspect.
68. Supergirl Annual #2 (DC, 2010) ***
Writer: Sterling Gates/Artists: Matt Camp & Marco Rudy
Supergirl meets a version of the Legion and teams with Brainiac 5 to battle Satan Girl, who’s enslaved Earth. It’s fine.
69. Supergirl And The Legion of Super-Heroes #35 (DC, 2007) **½
Writer: Tony Bedard/Artist: Dennis Calero
I preferred this version when it was more light-hearted.  This is all very “grim”.
70.-73. DC Comics Presents Legion Of Super-Heroes #1 (DC, 2011) ***½

- originally published in Legionnaires 79-80 & Legion Of Super-Heroes #122-123 (DC, 1999-2000)
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning/Artists: Olivier Coipel & Andy Lanning
Yet another incarnation of the Legion – the version where they renamed everyone to eliminate all the “lads” and “lasses” – but this stand-alone four-parter is kinda cool. Earth gets invaded (again) by an evil called the Blight and most of the Legion are corrupted by evil. It’s up to the young Legionnaires who are left to save them. Mon-El is in the thick of things. A fun lil’ tale...one day I’ll collect this full run of the comic as well.

MOVING ON...
74. Black Dynamite: Slave Island (Ape Entertainment, 2011) ***¼
Writer: Brian Ash/Artist: Jun Lofamia
Righteous!
75. Batman: Gotham Knights #23 (DC, 2002) ** (*** for the Darwyn Cook back-up feature)
Yep, bought his for Darwyn Cooke.
76. Jennifer Blood #4 (Dynamite, 2011) **¾
Writer: Garth Ennis/Artist: Marcos Marz
Rapidly running out of steam, and Marz’s artwork appears to be getting worse. I’ll finish this arc, then probably dump this title.
77. OMAC #1 (DC, 2011) ***¼
Writer: Dan DiDio/Artists: Keith Giffen & Scott Koblish
A promising start to “The New 52!” – I like Giffen’s homage to Jack Kirby’s bombastic art style. Brings back fond memories of his work on The Defenders in the late 70s. I’ll stick with this one for a while.   
78. Vescell #1 (Image, 2011) ***
Writer: Enrique Carrion/Artist: John Upchurch
Body-swapping, fairies, detective noir, cyberpunk and big tits. All with a vague European sensibility. The plot doesn’t make much sense but I’m a sucker for well-drawn female arses. I’ll give this another issue.
79. Bug #1 (Marvel, 1997) *
Writer: Todd DeZago/Artists: Derec Aucoin, Rich Faber & Ralph Cabrera
An utterly pointless one-shot that sees the Micronauts’ Bug battle Annihilus through recent history and inadvertently launch the Marvel Universe. Should’ve been fun but I was bored. I also suspect I was the only person who bought this mag.
80. Generation X Underground Special (Marvel, 1998) **½
Writer/artist: Jim Mahfood
A kinda cool idea – doing a B&W zine-style comic to cash in on Marvel’s hot X-super team. Pity I was never a Generation X fan.
81. House Of Mystery #36 (Vertigo, 2011) **½ (all for Darwyn Cooke)
Yep, another comic that I bought purely for Cooke’s art.
82. The Guild: Clara (Dark Horse, 2011) ***½
83. JLA: Earth 2 (DC, 2000) ****
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artist: Frank Quitely
Morrison at his mind-bending best. And Quitely’s art is exquisite, as always. The Crime Syndicate (Ultraman, Owlman, Superwoman, etc) have never seemed so decadently evil and perverse.  
84. La Mano del Destino #1 (Castle & Key, 2011) ***
Writer/artist: J. Gonzo
Not the best wrestling comic out there right now, but a promising start. I’ll keep buying to see where this leads.
85. The Red Wing #3 (Image, 2011) ***
Writer: Jonathan Hickman/Artist: Nick Pitarra
The next issue better blow me away, ‘cos this has been kinda MEH so far.
86. Brilliant #1 (Icon, 2011) **
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artist: Mark Bagley
Not really.




Sunday, September 18, 2011

My comics reading for August, 2011

COMICS READING FOR AUGUST: “Fuck Alan Moore”
* NOW WITH STAR RATINGS (ala Wrestling Observer Newsletter PPV reports) *

HOW I RATE THE COMICS VIA THE ALAN MOORE SCALE
*****    Watchmen, Marvelman, V For Vendetta
****       From Hell, Supreme, Swamp Thing, Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?
***         League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the first two series), Axel Pressbutton, Tom Strong
**           Promethea
*              LoEG: Century: 1969
DUD  (or lower)     anything he’s written for Avatar or any of the non-comics drivel he shits out on a regular basis

1. League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century: 1969 (Top Shelf, 2011) *
Writer: Alan Moore/Artist: Kevin O’Neill
Listen to Kirby Your Enthusiasm (http://kirbyyourenthusiasm.libsyn.com/kirby-your-enthusiasm-episode-14-comics-creating-controversy) for my thoughts on this latest turd shat out by Mr Moore.
2.-11. Final Crisis TPB (DC,2009) ***
- originally published in Final Crisis #1-7, Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1-2, Final Crisis: Submit #1 (2008-09)
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artists: JG Jones and many others
12. Just Imagine Stan Lee’s Catwoman (DC, 2002) * (all for Darwyn Cooke)
Writer: Stan Lee/Artists: Chris Bachalo & Richard Friend/Back cover art: Adam Hughes
Just imagine...Catwoman would look like Black Widow and have a personal life that’s part Millie The Model and part Peter Parker. In other words...lame. At least the back-up (writer: Michael Uslan/artists: Darwyn Cooke & Mike Allred) is passable.
13.-20. Marvel: 1602 (Marvel, 2005) ***½
- originally published in Marvel: 1602 #1-8 (Marvel, 2005)
Writer: Neil Gaiman/Artists: Andy Kubert & Richard Isanove/Cover art: Scott McKowen
A really interesting idea, even if it features the bloody X-Men. But at least there’s no Wolverine stinking up the yarn.
21. Batman: Arkham Asylum (DC, 1989) ***½
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artist: Dave McKean
Weird.
22.-26. Fables: Legends In Exile (Vertigo, 2002) ****
Writer: Bill Willingham/Artists: Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha & Craig Hamilton/Cover art: James Jean, Alex Maleev
- originally published in Fables #1-5 (Vertigo, 2002)
Only just got into this series, but I really dug the idea of the characters from fables – the Big Bad Wolf, Snow White, Little Boy Blue, Old King Cole, etc – living in exile in New York City. The plot in this first arc was a bit convoluted, but didn’t detract from the overall story. I dug this very much and will track down more trades soon.
27. Fables #75 (Vertigo, 2008) ****
Writer: Bill Willingham/Artist: Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Andrew Pepoy & more
28. Fables #100 (Vertigo, 2011) ****¼
Writer: Bill Willingham/Artist: Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Andrew Pepoy & more
I picked up all the Fables titles at Elizabeth’s Books for about $12 in total. So it was nice to read the series’ beginnings plus two later pivotal episodes in the series. I just dug the hell out of Fables.
29. Blandman (Eclipse, 1992) DUD
Writer: Fred Schiller/Artists: Bill Maus & Bob Hanon
How the mighty had fallen – in the mid-80s, Eclipse produced groundbreaking titles like Miracleman. By 1992, they were vomiting out shitty Vertigo parodies like this. Godawful in-jokes (and not funny ones either). Horrible in every way.
30.-34. Anna Mercury (Avatar, 2008) ***¼
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artist: Facundo Pecio
Rollicking sci-fi adventure yarn featuring a beautiful heroine. Your usual entertaining stuff from Mr Ellis.
35. Anna Mercury Artbook (Avatar, 2009) ***
Artists: various
Good-girl art done good.
36. Comeback Kings #1 (Ardden, 2011) ***
Writers: Mat Sullivn & Gabe Guarente/Artist: Ethan Young
This idea is pretty dumb – “dead” icons Tupac Shakur, Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison, Andy Kaufman and Bruce Lee are actually an elite team of super-spies – but it’s written with such joie de vivre, and the art is more than competent, so I actually got a buzz reading it. I really hope there’s a second ish.
37. Lady Mechanika #2 (Aspen, 2011) ***¼
Writer/artist: Joe Benitez
I love steampunk.
38. Desolation Jones #1 (Wildstorm, 2005) ****
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artist: JH Williams III
An unexpected treat. This short-lived indie series reminds me of Hellblazer, but it’s got its own style as well. Jones is kinda like a private detective for the ex-spy community exiled to LA. We meet him as he’s trying to recover some missing porn films starring Adolph Hitler. If this series maintains the quality of the first issue, I can’t wait to read the other seven.
39. City Of Silence #3 (Image, 2000) *
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artist: Gary Erskine
You can’t hit home runs every time. This final ish in a three-part series is just really lame cyber-punk. Pffft.
40. Baltimore: The Plague Ships (Dark Horse, 2010) ***¼
Writer: Mike Mignola & Christopher Golden/Artist:  Ben Stenbeck
41. Art & Story #1 (James D. Denney, 1976) **
High-quality fanzine that I picked up for a buck at Elizabeth’s in Sydney. Columns by CC Beck and Nicola Cuti (on E-Man years before he revived the title for First Comic)
42. Pacific Presents #1 (Pacific, 1982) ***½
Writer/artist: Dave Stevens (The Rocketeer)
Writer/artist: Steve Ditko (The Missing Man)
Dave Stevens AND Steve Ditko lunacy? That’s frigging awesome!
43. Calvario Hills #1 (Fantagraphics, 2007) **¾
Writer/artist: Marti
Very high quality weirdness. The racism was unsettling. As was the surrealism. A little bit Hernandez Bros. in nature. Just weird.


44.-46. The Rampaging Hulk #5, #6, #8 (Marvel, 1977-78) ***
Writers: various/Artists: various
My fave Hulk series ever. Fuck Marvel for retconning it out of existence. And each mag only cost me a buck from Elizabeth’s. Bargain!
47. Marvel Vault: The Defenders (Marvel, 2011) **½
Writers: Kurt Busiek & Fabaian Nicieza/Artists Marg Bagley & Andrew Hennessy
48. The Tattered Man (Image, 2011) **¾
Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray/Artist: Norberto Fernandez
Fuck – ANOTHER Holocaust revenge yarn? When was WW2 again? Isn’t it time we moved on? Sheeeesh.
49. Marvel Vault: The Incredible Hulk And The Human Torch (Marvel, 2011) **
Writers: Jack C. Harris & Karl Kesel/Artists: Steve Ditko & Karl Kesel
50. The Red Wing #2 (Image, 2011) ***¾
Story: Jonathan Hickman/Artist: Nick Pitarra
Aha! The plot thickens...
51. DC Comics Presents: The Metal Men 100-Page Spectacular (DC, 2011) ****
Writers: Keith Giffen & JM DeMatteis/Artists: Kevin Maguire & Mark Farmer
I’m loving these DC reprints – and this one has been my fave so far.
 52. Teen Titans Lost Annual #1 (DC, 2008) ***½
Writer: Bob Haney/Artists: Jay Stephens & Mike Allred
Just a fun, dumb, 60s-tribute comic. Beatle-esque aliens, John F. Kennedy being kidnapped to another world, classic Teen Titans action. This one’s a lotta fun.
53. RetroActive 1970s: Wonder Woman (DC, 2011) **½
Writer: Dennis O’Neil/Artist: J. Bone
54. Batman: Gotham Adventures #33 (DC, 2001) **¾
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artists: Brad Rader & John Lowe   
55. Tides Of Hope (Supanova Publication, 2011) ***
Writers/artists: various
Some nice contributions for a good cause.
56. 50 Girls 50 #1 (Image, 2011) *
Writers: Doug Murray & Frank Cho/Artist: Axel Medellin
If I’m gonna fork out dough for a good-girl comic, I want Frank Cho doing the ART, not the friggin’ WRITING. Lame.
57. Lorna: Relic Wrangler #1 (Image, 2011) **
Writer: Micah S. Harris/Artists: various
A Lara Croft/Raiders Of The Lost Ark/Buffy mash-up that could’ve been so much better. The Darwyn Cooke cover is the best thing about this one-shot.
58. Hero Comcis 2011 (IDW, 2011) ***
Writers/artists: various
It’s for a good cause. The creepy tale by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth and Mike Dringenberg is the clear highlight of the issue.
59. Moon Girl #1 (Red 5 Comics, 2011) ***
Writers: Tony Trov & Johnny Zito/Artist: The Rahzzah
Everyone working on this 50s-retro superhero comic have names like they’re extras on The Sopranos.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kirby Your Enthusiasm, episode 14: Comics creating controversy

IN WHICH I talk at length about the controversy surrounding Robert Crumb's late withdrawal from the Graphic Festival in Sydney, Australia. Who's really to blame here?
Also I review League Of Extraordinary Gentlement: Century: 1969 and suggest that Alan Moore should visit a shrink rather than subject readers to his expensive psycho-sexual problems.
Running time: 29min30sec.
http://kirbyyourenthusiasm.libsyn.com/kirby-your-enthusiasm-episode-14-comics-creating-controversy

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

COMICS READING FOR JULY: “It’s oh so random...and I didn't make 50!"


* NOW WITH STAR RATINGS (ala Wrestling Observer Newsletter PPV reports) *
HOW I RATE THE COMICS VIA THE ALAN MOORE SCALE
*****   Watchmen, Marvelman, V For Vendetta
****     From Hell, Supreme, Swamp Thing, Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?
***        League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Axel Pressbutton, Tom Strong
**           Promethea
*             WildC.A.T.S.
DUD  (or lower)     anything he’s written for Avatar or any of the non-comics drivel he shits out on a regular basis

1. Weird Western Tales #24 (DC, 1974) **
Writers: Michael Fleischer & Russell Carley/Artist: Noly Panaligan
THIS is your typical Jonah Hex yarn, neither good nor bad. Just kinda there. A blind Hex and a Shakespeare-spouting actor ride through the desert while keeping one step ahead of a murderous pair of brothers intent on avenging their other brother’s death at Hex’s hand. Filipino Noly is quite the revelation – never seen his stuff before and it’s not too shabby.

2.-7. Transmetropolitan: Lust For Life (Vertigo, 2009) ****
- originally published in Transmetropolitan #7-12 (Vertigo, 1998)
Writer: Warren Ellis/Penciller: Darick Robertson/Inker: Rodney Ramos
I don’t understand a third of what Ellis is banging on about in this gonzo cyber-punk thriller, but this second volume fucking rocks! Spider Jerusalem is the Hunter S. Thompson of the 21st century!

8. Salt Water Taffy: The Legend Of Old Salty (Oni Press, 2008) ***½
Writer/Artist: Matthew Loux
Good all-ages fun. Beautiful art and deliriously surreal.

9. Astronauts In Trouble: One Shot, One Beer (AIT/Planet LAR, 2000) **
Writer: Larry Young/Art: Charlie Adlard
Picked this up cheap ‘cos I thought it’d be a funny one-shot about a pub that’s on the moon. Turns out it was part of an ongoing series of books with some big-arsed convoluted storyline that I couldn’t follow for shit. Adlard’s art may be bad now, but at least he’s consistent – he was equally bad 11 years ago. All his characters look the same, even the chicks.  Young’s writing showed promise – whatever became of the guy, I wonder?

10. Godzilla: Kingdom Of Monsers #2  (IDW, 2011) **½
Writers: Eric Powell & Tracy Marsh/Pencils: Phil Hester/Inks: Bruce McCorkindale
I love Hester’s art but I’ve never been a fan of the Japanese monsters. That said, Powell’s yarn is fine for what is.

11. Fear Itself: Prologue: Book Of The Skull (Marvel, 2011) ***
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Penciller: Scot Eaton/Inker: Mark Morales
12.-13. Fear Itself #1, #3 (Marvel, 2011) ***
Writer: Matt Fraction/Artist: Stuart Immonen
14. Fear Itself: The Deep #1 (Marvel, 2011) ***¼
Writer: Cullen Bunn/Pencils: Lee Garbett/Inks: David Meikis
15. Fear Itself: Deadpool #1 (Marvel, 2011) ***½  
Writer: Christopher Hastings/Pencils: Bong Dazo/Inks: Joe Pimentel
The Fear Itself “Marvel event” is actually quite promising from what I’ve read so far (thanks for the lend, Dubbs). Sure, I’ll never PAY for any of these comics, but I’ll happily read them for free. Of what I’ve seen, the main storyline is suitably epic and destructive. The Deep is cool ‘cos it’s reuniting The Defenders (sorta) and Deadpool treats the whole storyline with the disrespect it deserves and, hence, is the best series of the lot. And what's not to love about an artist who calls himself "Bong Dazo"?

16. Image Firsts: Dynamo 5 #1 (Image, 2011) **
- originally published in 2007
Story: Jay Faerber/Artist: Mahmud A. Asrar
Kinda dull.

17. The Guild: Bladezz (Dark Horse, 2011) ***¼
Story: Felicia Day & Sean Becker/Artist: Andrew Currie
Fun little read with great art by Currie. Probably the best of The Guild one-shots so far.

18.-23. Villains United TPB (DC, 2005) ***½ 
- originally published in Villains United #1-6 (2005)
Writer: Gail Simone/Pencillers: Dale Eaglesham & Val Semeiks/Inkers: Wade Von Grawbadger & Prentis Rollins
24.-29.  Secret Six TPB (DC, 2007) ***¾
- originally published in Secret Six #1-6 (2006-07)
Writer: Gail Simone/Penciller: Brad Walker/Inker: Jimmy Palmiotti
30.-36.  Secret Six TPB (DC, 2009) ***½ 
- originally published in Secret Six (regular series) #1-7 (2008-09)
Writer: Gail Simone/Penciller: Nicola Scott/Inker: Doug Hazlewood/extra inks: Rodney Ramos/extra art: Pete Woods, Javi Pina
Listen to episode 13 of Kirby Your Enthusiasm podcast to hear my thoughts on these three trades.

37. The Red Wing #1 (Image, 2011) ***½
Writer: Jonathan Hickman/Artist: Nick Pitarra

38. The Abnormals Special #1 (self-published, 2010?) ***½
Writer/artist: Grant Springford

39. Rodd Racer (Image, 2011) ***¾
Writer/artist: Toby Cypress
At the end of this one-shot, Toby thanks a bunch of people, but there’s one glaring omission: Ashley Wood. Cypress owes a lot of his artistic style to the Aussie artist, so I think Mr Cypress owes Mr Wood an apology for the oversight. Anyways, this comic’s about Rodd Racer, a down-on-his-luck racing car driver in some kinda alternative 1936 Earth who’s trying to win one last road race so he can pay back the money he owes to a Yakuza scumbag. Trouble is, the villain wants Rodd to lose the race (and preferably not finish it in a terminal fashion).  I really don’t know what to make of this book: a part of me loves the living fuck out of it. And a part of me found the spelling typos and “Look at me, I’m so fucking hip” attitude of this book extremely annoying. In the end, the former overpowered the latter. This is a great “arty” graphic novel. There. I’ve said it.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

REVIEW: The Abnormals Special #1


THEY'RE a team of superheroes, but they’re not nice guys...they’re the Abnormals. The first issue sees a creepy assortment of robots, demons and even scarier critters overcome some malevolent ghosts in London’s underground. It’s a portent of evil things to come. Nice artwork and some interesting characterisations by writer/artist: Grant Springford (the man behind another great independent comic I liked, Pest Control).
Anyways, this is a nice start to a promising new series. Check out Grant’s work at www.theabnormals.co.uk.

Bad timing


I enjoyed the first issue of The Red Wing (Image) - written by Jonathan Hickman and illustrated by Nick Pitarra - about fighter pilots waging a war in time.

It's an interesting concept - pity I read the comic AFTER I read this article that says scientists have proven that time travel is impossible.

Dammit.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Kirby Your Enthusiasm, episode 13: "The Dirty Writer"


A RAMBLING discourse this time round. Firstly, I plug the shit out of a bunch of podcasts and websites:
* Mike Pindell's Comic Book Attic (http://comicbookattic.libsyn.com/)
* Derek Coward's Comic Book Noise (http://www.comicbooknoise.com/), AND
* Harry Cee's The Next Issue (http://thenextissue.podomatic.com/)

Also, The Next Issue has its own Facebook group at http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/167476376654249/?ap=1. So does this blog at http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/251545944859184/?ap=1.

And a final few plugs to:
* Lone Star Comics (http://www.mycomicshop.com/), AND
* Amazon.co.uk (http://www.amazon.co.uk/).

I think that's the lot. :)

Next, I rave about sci-fi authors, including Philip Jose Farmer and his intriguing Riverworld and Wold Newton family concepts. Finally, I review the first three TPBs of Gail Simone's Secret Six. Flawed but fun reading.

Running time: 46 minutes

http://kirbyyourenthusiasm.libsyn.com/kirby-your-enthusiasm-episode-13-the-dirty-writer-

Please email me with your thoughts at Dann.Lennard@gmail.com or contact me on the KYE Facebook group page.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I love Adrienne Curry


THE story of the Queen of Twitter getting booted out of a comics convention due to her too-revealing Aeon Flux outfit is here.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

SVK (a review by Michael Hier)


SVK by Warren Ellis and D'Israeli.
Published by design studio Berg

www.getsvk.com

"Thomas Woodwind. A man of six feet or so, quite lean, with a good Patrick Stewart-ish skull fuzzed with very short pale hair. Paranoid eyes. Tending to very long black coats, with poacher’s pockets sewn on the inside.. A bluetooth earpiece cupping each ear. Black gloves – no fingerprints, reduction of epithelials."

What sets this noir-ish detective type caper (Ellis describes it as “Franz Kafka’s Bourne Identity”) apart from a normal comic is of course the invisible ink elements and the accompanying SVK torch which allows the reader to view these extra elements. The thing that makes this more than just a gimmick is the very clever way in which this feature is woven directly into the narrative, to say more is too much of a spoiler for anyone who does get their hands on one of these.

The writing is typical Ellis, smart and darkly humorous, the artwork by D'Israeli is clean, crisp and simple printed in black and blue tones and also elements in the invisible ink. Set in a slightly futuristic London this experimental publication can be read on it's own and is a good read as such but when read through with the additional elements revealed by the torch (a slightly larger than credit card sized bit of kit) it takes on a whole new level.

In addition to the main story there is a foreword by William Gibson and short essays by futurist Jamais Cascio and comics expert Paul Gravett, the latter of which I found very interesting.

At £10 plus postage and handling it is not for those with just a passing interest but if you are a fan of Ellis' work and/or want to see something outside the usual scope of comics it is worth getting on the mailing list for the second print run (the first having sold out very quickly indeed. The cost reflects that this is not just a comic but a comic and an object published and distributed in a non-traditional manner, you won't find this in your local comic emporium any time soon.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Kirby Your Enthusiasm, episode 12: "Put heading here"


IN WHICH I get my days confused (I recorded this on a Friday, not a Saturday) and give a shout-out to various cool comics podcasts I listen to:
The Comic Book Attic (http://comicbookattic.libsyn.com/)
And another great resource is The Comics Podcasts Network (http://www.comicspodcasts.com/).

I wrap up this podcast with a tale about my most recent haul from the fantastic Elizabeth's Bookshop in Pitt Street, Sydney. Learn more about this second-hand bookstore at http://www.elizabethsbookshop.com.au/.
If you want to tell me about some other comics podcasts I might like, please email me at Dann.Lennard@gmail.com.

Running time: 25 min.

Monday, July 4, 2011

COMICS READING FOR JUNE: “If it’s June it must be Brubaker”


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

HOW I RATE THE COMICS VIA THE ALAN MOORE SCALE
*****    Watchmen, Marvelman, V For Vendetta
****       From Hell, Supreme, Swamp Thing, Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?
***         League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Axel Pressbutton, Tom Strong
**           Promethea
*              WildC.A.T.S.
DUD  (or lower)     anything he’s written for Avatar or any of the non-comics drivel he shits out on a regular basis

1.-12. Sleeper Season One (Wildstorm, 2009) ***¾
- originally published in Sleeper #1-12 (2003-04)
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Sean Phillips
Goddamn, this was good! Not great – it lost momentum in the middle issues, but a pretty good noir tale (even if it does feature superheroes). If you like Ed's Criminal series, then this is a worthwhile read as well.

13. Secret Avengers #12 (Marvel, 2011) ***
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artists: Will Conrad & Mike Deodato
A strangely unsatisfying ending to Brubaker’s run (which he’d kicked into high gear with the Max Fury/Shang-Chi storyline. Mysterious immortal hero-turned-villain John Steele was also a nice addition, but his “origin” in #11-12 lacked oomph. I hope Warren Ellis has more fun with him when he starts his run on this title in a few issues.

14.-19. Incognito #1-6 (Icon, 2008-09) ****
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Sean Phillips
20.-24. Incognito: Bad Influences #1-5 (Icon, 2010-11) ***¼
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Sean Phillips
While I loved, loved, LOVED the first miniseries (the idea of a vicious supercrim forced into witness protection and having to spend his life with “normals” was a cool concept), the second miniseries fell flat. Ed stated he didn’t know where Bad Influences was heading – he wrote it on the fly as an experiment in writing...and it shows. I’m sure there’ll be a third instalment, but I’m a bit worried it’s just gonna wind up as a nastier rehash of Daredevil vs Kingpin in prison from a few years back. I guess we’ll find out.

25.-48. Daredevil by Ed Brubaker & Michael Lark Omnibus Vol. 1 (Marvel, 2009) ***¾
- originally published in Daredevil #82-105 (Marvel, 2006-09)
Starts out strong with the “Daredevil in prison” storyline. Foggy Nelson dies? Holy fuck! That blew me away – pity it was a big work. But the series went downhill for a bit with the “Daredevil in Europe storyline, but it all kicked back into top gear for the “Daredevil vs Mr Fear” arc and ended with an absolutely gut-wrenching final couple of issues. Great stuff.

49. Captain America #600 (Marvel, 2009) ***¾
Writers: Ed Brubaker & friends/Artists:  Butch Guice & friends
Steve’s alive? Hooray! Nice back-up tales, too and the 1940s-era reprint is one I haven’t read before. Good stuff.

50.-55. Captain America: Reborn (Marvel, 2010) **¾
- originally published in Captain America: Reborn #1-6 (Marvel, 2009-10)
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artists: Bryan Hitch & Butch Guice
Strangely disappointing. While it was nice to see Steve Rogers return, Ed did it in a pretty lame way. And I still don’t quite get why the Red Skull wanted to send Rogers back in time. Why not just kill the fucker stone fucking dead? And the end sequence of the two Captain Americas fighting a giant Red Skull was just ridiculous. Still, I liked that Skull’s daughter, Sin, now looks like him courtesy of a nasty explosion.
56.-73. Daredevil by Ed Brubaker & Michael Lark & Stefano Gaudiano Omnibus Vol. 2 (Marvel, 2010) ***¾
- originally published in Daredevil #105-119, #500, Annual #1 and Daredevil: Blood Of The Tarantula (Marvel, 2008-10)
Daredevil’s wife is insane, but shit just keeps getting worse for Daredevil in Brubaker’s second half of his legendary run. Lady Bullseye (which could have been a stupid Bullseye rip-off, but kinda works), Black Tarantula, Dakota North and the return of The Owl AND The Kingpin. This is a fitting conclusion to the series and the final issue’s denouement is a shocker. All in all, after reading this 100+ issue run by Bendis and Brubaker I have to say, Daredevil is the LAST guy I’d have as a friend, relative or lover. You’re just gonna wind up dead, insane or mind-fucked.


OTHER STUFF:
74.-79. Daredevil: Father (Marvel, 2006) ***
- originally published in Daredevil: Father (2004-06)
Writer: Joe Quesada/Artists: Joe Quesada, Danny Miki & Richard Isanove
It’s nice that Joe dedicated this book to his dad, but y’think his old man would’ve been happier with a tale less clichéd and derivative? What you have is another tired serial killer yarn while Joe does his best to ape Frank Miller (covers, certain splash pages) and Rob Liefeld. The wacky new Latino supergroup, The Santerians, thrown into the mix are kinda interesting, but the rest of the tale is meh. Only read this if you score it cheap (or, like me, it’s a lender from a friend. Thanks, Matt!).

80. THB #4 (Horse Comics, 1995) **½
Story/art: Paul Pope
This was a nice rare find from Elizabeth’s Bookshop in Pitt St, Sydney. I adore Pope’s artwork, but goddamn! He’s a pretentious motherfucker.