Friday, January 6, 2012

COMICS READING FOR DECEMBER: “Bulletproof!”


* 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. Shame Itself #1 (Marvel, 2011) ***¼
Writers/artists: Various
Humour anthologies are always hit and miss but this one has its moments, particularly as the guest writers (including The Daily Show’s Wyatt Cenac) have such a great time skewering Marvel. Fear Itself gets a hammering but so do crossovers in general. Not the greatest mag ever, but one or two strips will make you smile. Which isn’t half-bad, really.
2. The Prowler In White Zombie #1 (Eclipse, 1988) DUD
Writer: Michael H. Price/Artist: Gerald Forton & Graham Nolan
You have to wonder where Eclipse went wrong in the 80s, but this piece of underwritten, shoddily drawn trash is a great place to start. It’s biggest crime is that this masked detective-meets-Bela Lugosi tale is utterly dull.
3.-7. Scarlet #1-5 (Icon, 2010-11) ****
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artist: Alex Maleev
Ignore the scary politics of this tale of corruption, revenge and social revolution. Just enjoy the ride as Bendis does his best to make us not only care for his cop-killer anti-heroine, but also make us accomplices to her crimes. Ballsy stuff and Maleev’s art is sensational.
8.-13. The Bulletproof Coffin #1-6 (Image, 2010) ***½
Writer: David Hine/Artist: Shaky Kane
It wound up being way too meta for my tastes and the last issue kinda disappeared up its own arse, but I dug a lot of this retro/creepy/superhero spoof yarn. Kane’s art was very underground for a mainstream company, but  kinda dug it.
14. Miracleman #8 (Eclipse, 1986) *½
I got it to help complete my Miracleman collection. The issue loses a half star for cat yronwode’s arrogant attempt to insert herself into Alan Moore’s story. Still the Mick Anglo reprints are nice. The back-up preview of The New Wave is forgettable.  
15. Frankenstein And The Creatures Of The Unknown #1 (DC, 2011) ***
Writer: Jeff Lemire/Artist: Israim Roberson
16. Fear Book #1 (Eclipse, 1986) **½
Early reprints of Steve Bissette and Rick Veitch’s horror work.
17. Doktor Sleepless Manual (Avatar, 2008) *
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artist Ivan Rodriguez
Essentially worthless, but at least it saved me forking out bux for the full Doktor Sleepless series. Probably a low point in Ellis’s career.
18. Professor Om #1 (Innovation, 1990) –**
Writer/Artist: Paul Power
I hate to slag off an Aussie creator but this is the worst fucking drivel I’ve read in many years. Just horrible on so many levels. Bad dialogue, nonsensical plot, racist in parts and the art is inconsistent and, frankly, not very good. Add to it an out-of-date early 70s Aussie underground feel and this is just the shittiest thing I’ve ever had the misfortune of reading.
19.-20. Headlocked: The Tryout #2-3 (Markosia, 2008) ***
Writer: Michael Kingston/Artist: Randy Valiente
21. The Nobody by Jeff Lemire (Vertigo, 2009) ****¼
22.-26. Point Blank (Wildstorm, 2003) ****½
- originally published in Point Blank #1-5 (Wildstorm, 2002-03)
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artists: Colin Wilson & Simon Bisley (covers)
A superb crime noir whodunit featuring superheroes. Grim as fuck – the only decent Grifter tale I’ve ever read, too. The ending is cruel but brilliant and leads beautifully into the excellent Sleeper series.
27. The Stuff Of Legend, Vol. 1: The Dark (Th3rd World Studios, 2010) ****
Writers: Mike Raicht & Brian Smith/Artist: Charles Paul Wilson III
The stuff of greatness. A scary bedtime story for adults. Loved this to death and I can’t wait to read Volume 2.
28. Nightcat (Marvel, 1991) –*
Writers: Jim Salicrup, Barry Dutter & Stan Lee/Artists; Denys Cowan & Jimmy Palmiotti, Joe Jusko (cover)
Superbly horrible. So bad in fact, I’m writing a feature on it for the first issue of my new zine ROGUE.
29. Moongirl #2 (Red 5 Comics, 2011) *½
Writers: Tony Trov & Johnny Zito/Artist: The Rahzzah
Pretentious name aside, The Rahzzah’s art is interesting but unsuited for a retro-style comic set in the 50s. The script is kinda confusing, too. Not sure whether this series is worth pursuing, frankly.
30.-31. OMAC #3-4 (DC, 2011) ***
Writer: Dan Didio/Artists: Keith Giffen & Scott Koblish
32.-35. Animal Man #1-4 (DC, 2011) ****
Writer: Jeff Lemire/Artists: Travel Foreman & Dan Green
Genuinely creepy stuff from Lemire. I like Travel’s art very much.
36-39. Sandman Mystery Theatre: The Tarantula (Vertigo, 1995) *½
- originally published  in Sandman Mystery Theatre #1-4 (Vertigo, 1993)
Write: Matt Wagner/Artist: Guy Davis
Considering how great I heard this title was, I found this first collection kinda dull. Unpleasant but dull. With mediocre artwork, to boot.
40. Frankenstein: Agent Of S.H.A.D.E. #3 (DC, 2011) ***¼
Writer: Jeff Lemire/Artist: Alberto Ponticelli
41. Suicide Girls #3 (IDW, 2011) **
Writers/artists: a committee
Lots of tits, so I can’t complain I guess. Cameron Stewart’s girly pin-ups are cool.
42.-43. Catwoman #2-3 (DC, 2011) ***¼
Writer: Judd Winick/Artist Guillem March
Came for the Bat-sex, stayed for the cool story and art.
44.-45. Annihilators: Earthfall (Marvel, 2011) ***¼
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning/Artists: Tan Eng Huat & Andrew Hennessy
Ronan is badass.
46.-47. Superior #5-6 (Icon, 2011) ****
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: Leinil Yu
Superhero comics with balls. I love this and I can’t wait to read the final chapter.
48. Superior: World Record Special #1 (Icon, 2011) ***¼
Writers/artists: various
49. Legion Of Monsters #2 (Marvel, 2011) ***½
Writer: Dennis Hopeless/Artist; Juan Doe
Better than DC’s version.
50. Jennifer Blood #6 (Dynamite, 2011) ***¾
Writer: Garth Ennis/Artist: Kewber Baal
A perfect ending to Ennis’s fantastical blood-soaked revenge tale.  And now that he’s quit the series, it’s the perfect jumping-off point for me.
51. Villains For Hire 0.1 (Marvel, 2011) **
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning/Artist: Renato Arlem
52. Legion: Secret Origin #2 (DC, 2011) ***½
Writer: Paul Levitz/Artists: Chris Batista & Marc Deering
53. Star Trek/Legion Of Super-Heroes #2 (IDW/DC, 2011) ***
Writer: Chris Roberson/Artists: Jeffrey & Philip Moy
One for the geeks, I think. Still hasn’t grabbed me yet.
54. Mudman #1 (Image, 2011) ***
Writer/artist: Paul Grist
Promising start.
55.-56. Heart #1-2 (Image, 2011) ***
Writer: Blair Butler/Artist: Kevin Mellon
57.-58. Joe Palooka #1-2 (VJIB, 2011) **¾
Writers: Joe Antonacci & Mike Bullock/Artist: Fernando Peniche
To be honest, I preferred Heart over Joe Palooka. Both MMA-themed comics aren’t great, but I prefer Heart’s realism. Still, Antonacci’s enthusiasm is infectious (I interviewed him for UFC mag). I hope both titles succeed.
59. The Defenders #1 (Marvel, 2011) ***½
Writer: Matt Fraction/Artists: Terry & Rachel Dodson
Theeeeeeeey’re baaaaaaaaack! And I couldn’t be happier. And with Fraction at the helm, you know they’re gonna be major players in Marvel for the foreseeable future.
60.-61. The Shade #2-3 (DC, 2011) ***¼
Writer: James Robinson/Artist: Cully Hamner
This maxi-series feels like it’s treading water, possibly because it’s 12 issues long so Robinson appears to be doing a lot of padding out. Anyway, #2 saw Shade get better (despite having his head cut off the previous issue). #3 saw him travel to Australia – it’s always interesting to see Yanks try to “do” my country justice and, to his credit, Robinson almost succeeded (thankyou, Wikipedia). His two major flaws?  Calling the Northern Territory the “northern territories”. But most glaring of all? Making the NSW Chief of Police an Aborigine. Full marks for political correctness, son, but anyone who’s lived over here knows how racist the police are. As if an Aborigine would ever rise to the top of the police force in NSW. Hell, I can’t even recall ever seeing an Aboriginal policeman in Sydney, full stop. Anyway, apart from that, issue three was fine, but this storyline better start going somewhere fast.