Sunday, February 10, 2013

Kirby Your Enthusiasm, ep. 26: "Best & Worst of 2012"



I READ 885 comics or graphic novels in 2012. Some were good, some were awesome...and some were DUDS.
This post lists all the very best (and worst) of the year, along with original comments by me (if any).
Along with this post, comes a 25-minute podcast with a few of my thoughts. It can be found HERE.

 
BEST of 2012:

THIS WAS A TOUGH YEAR. I read a lot of truly great comics that aren’t on this list: 4 to 4½ books that didn’t quite make the list. But here are the creme de la creme.

My Friend Dahmer (Abrams Comicsart, 2012) *****
Writer/artist: Derf Backderf
One of the best graphic novels I’ve ever read. Period.

Punk Rock And Trailer Parks (SLG, 2008) *****
Writer/artist: Derf
Fuck me, this is fantastic!  

 
Richard Stark’s Parker: The Score (IDW, 2012) *****
Writer/artist: Darwyn Cooke

FCBD: Mouse Guard, Labyrinth And Other Stories (Archaia Entertainment, 2012) *****
Writers/artists: various

Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman (Penguin Books, 1986) *****
Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began (Pantheon, 1991) *****

Uzumaki Vol. 1 (Viz, 2001) ****¼
Uzumaki Vol. 2 (Viz Media, 1998, 2002, 2012) *****
Writer/artist: Junji Ito
I hate manga but this creepy, spiral-obsessed horror comic is superb, and better than the unsettling movie that followed it.
One of the creepiest, dream-like horror books I’ve ever read. Genuinely unnerving stuff. So glad to see it get a reprint.

Peepholes (Blank Slate Books, 2011) *****
Writer/artist: Laurie J. Proud
Dark, warped, perverse, confusing in parts and altogether brilliant. And the artwork is just mind-blowing. Seek this collection of sinister short stories out now. NOW, I tells ya!

Miracleman #1-24 (Eclipse, 1985-93) *****
Writers: Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman/Artists: various
V For Vendetta #1-10 (DC, 1988-89) *****
Writer: Alan Moore/Artist: David Lloyd (with some assistance from Tony Weare)

WORST:
I was blessed in 2012 by the fact that I read very few UTTERLY SHITE books. No negative star horrors. But there were some genuine DUDS along the way, so here they are:

 
Enormous #1 (Image, 2012) DUD
Writer: Tim Daniel/Artist: Mehdi Cheggour
An enormous-sized dud. Way too much photo-referenced art and confusing to boot. Half the photo-referenced characters look like other characters. The storyline of nature gone wild and growing to Godzilla-like dimension had potential but the art really let it down. The only positives for Enormous was the oversized gimmick and the fact that my copy was damaged in transit to Kings Comics so I scored it for a paltry five bux. I passed it onto a mate afterwards. He probably won’t thank me for it after he reads it.

Burt Ward: Boy Wonder/Wrath Of The Titans Classic (Bluewater Comics, 2012) DUD
Writers: Darren Garnick & Burt Ward (Burt Ward); CW Cooke (Titans)/Artist: Ramon Salas
Voltron: Shelter From The Storm (Viedia, 2012) DUD
Writer: Brian Smith/Artist: Jacob Chabot
Utter shit.
FCBD: Mega Man (Archie, 2012) DUD
Writer: Ian Flynn/Artist: Patrick Spaziante (interior), Chard Thomas, Fabio Redivo and Evan Stanley (cover)
FCBD: The Intrinsic (Arcana, 2012) DUD
Writers: Sean Patrick O’Reilly, Casey Jones & Erik Hendrix/Artist: Allan Otero
My Name Is Mud #1 (Incognito Comics, 1994) DUD
Writer/artist: Brian Denham
Before it got picked up by Maximum Press, MNIM got one self-published issue. I wonder if the Maximum dudes read it before offering Denham a deal. Confusing art – at times quite good, at other times very amateurish – dumb storyline, unlikable characters with confused motives, and appalling dialogue. This is utter shit. Of course, Maximum never did anything with MNIM either and it disappeared (thank goodness). Denham, however, went on to become a pretty good artist and does a lot of steampunk cheesecake pin-ups for Antarctic Press these days.
Judo Girl #1 (Alias Enterprises, 2005) DUD
Writer: Terrence Gripe/Artists: Nador Balan, Nick Schley & Sven Dyson (interior), Jimmy Taylor, Mark Brooks and Nadir Balan (covers)
Gara Galaxy #1 (Dead Dog Comics, 2004?) DUD
Writers: Chazz DeMoss & Joel Moen/Artists: Clint Hilinski (interior); Rudy Garza, Mojo & 12:21 (cover)
The Nazz #1 (DC, 1990) DUD
Writer: Tom Veitch/Artist: Bryan Talbot
Nice artwork by Talbot, but Veitch’s pretentious, at-times confused writing totally ruins this tale of how having godlike powers can corrupt a man’s soul. Or something like that.
Gun Nut Funnies (self-published, 2011) DUD
Writer/artist: Karno
A truly disturbing, paranoia-filled, pro-gun rant masquerading as a self-help manual. Yep, if you spend your life walking round a’feared that you may have to shoot someone dead one day, then deal with “the corrupt system” afterwards…well, this comic’s for you. Befriending lawyers on gun ranges, carrying a video camera pen on your person, life’s just a bed of roses for this idiot. I don’t know what happened to “Karno” in the past, but it’s totally fucked up his outlook on life – I would NOT want to live inside his head. For contact details, email author Kjartan Arnorsson at kjartana@comcast.net.
Kill The Face #3 (ACE Comics, 1987) DUD
Writer: Joe Gill/Art: Steve Ditko & Rick Altergott
The nice Alex Toth cover saves this from negative stars, but this terrible comic single-handedly destroyed any interest I have in Ditko’s post-Spidey work. I gather he had a heavy hand in these scripts and it shows: ineptly written, heavy-handed and nonsensical in parts. This by-the-numbers superhero vs drug dealers shite was clearly written by dudes who’ve never touched the stuff. Cocaine users are depicted as the worst kind of heroin junkies. And clearly Gill and Ditko don’t know how police procedure works either. Godawful on every level. Even Ditko’s pencils are rudimentary and inker Altergott sucks arse. The back-up strip Who Dunnit (anonymous writer/art by Fred Guardineer) is nicely rendered, even if the murder mystery storyline is boring. Not sure if it’s a reprint or not. ACE Comics was clearly an ambitious line that promised way more than it could deliver. The Face (a public domain superhero from the 1940s) now resides in the Dynamite universe.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

REVIEW: No More Heroes #4


No More Heroes #4 (self-published, 2012) ***½
Writer: Gordon McLean/Artist: Caio Oliveira

This self-published four-part series from England was excellent value (only $1.60 per PDF download) and I really enjoyed the first three chapters, especially Caio’s Gary Chaloner/Kevin Maguire-style art. Basically, a random guy called Sid receives a mobile phone message asking if the caller should kill himself. Thinking it a joke – and urged on by his drunken mates – Sid texts back, “Yes.” When he later finds out the call came from superhero Dark Justice , who’s just been found dead, he’s filled with remorse. Especially when Dark Justice’s sidekick Black Fury turns up seeking answers. Meanwhile, deranged mass murderer Jack Slaughter is killing a bunch of people. This is the case that sent Dark Justice into deep depression in the first place. At the end of part three, Black Fury had finally captured Jack Slaughter and we were waiting for the big reveal of his secret identity. Well, the last chapter was, frankly, a bit of a letdown. I know Gordon wanted to have a swerve in that Jack Slaughter turns out to be some nobody not connected with any of the main characters. The gender swerve is good, but the fact that she’s just some random really deflates the storyline. While there are some good tense moments during the issue – including a flashback to Dark Justice’s final moments – I felt a little empty at the end of it. Still, I suspect this isn’t the last we see of Black Fury and Jim, who’s now wearing the hood of Dark Justice. Will there be another series of No More Heroes? I hope so. I think Gordon and Caio show a lot of promise – despite my misgivings about the conclusion, I really did enjoy the miniseries. I urge superhero fans to seek it out at nomoreheroescomic.wordpress.com or “No More Heroes Comic” on Facebook.

Monday, February 4, 2013

No more heroes? Say it ain't so!


This four-issue miniseries is worth your support and a PDF download only costs one pound (approx. AUD$1.60) per ish. Great art and an intriguing storyline.


http://www.nomoreheroescomic.wordpress.com/

Saturday, February 2, 2013

COMICS READING FOR JANUARY: “Back to school”


* 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. It Girl! #5 (Image, 2012) ***
Writer: Jamie S. Rich/Artists: Mike Norton (interior), Michael & Laura Allred (cover)
2.-3. Extermination #7-8 (BOOM!, 2012) ***½
Writer: Simon Spurrier/Artists: V. Ken Marion (interior), Tom Derenick (cover)
A surprisingly powerful and poignant end to an interesting maxi-series. And the bad guy turned out to not be such a bad guy after all.
4. Colder #1 (Dark Horse, 2012) ***¾
Writer: Paul Tobin/Artist: Juan Ferreyra
Nasty.
5. The Victories #5 (Dark Horse, 2012) ***
Writer/Artist: Michael Avon Oeming
A better ending than this series deserved, if you ask me.
6. Marvel NOW! Previews #2 (Marvel, 2013) **½
Writers/Artists: various
I have no desire to start buying any of these series, despite the nice art, good writing and possibly intriguing storylines. Why? Because none of it means nothing. In a year’s time, all the plot developments will be superceded by another giant crossover “event” – one that is sure to “rock the Marvel Universe to its core”. And, frankly, I just don’t give a shit anymore. 
7.-8. The Amazing Spider-Man #661-662 (Marvel, 2011) ***½
Main story writer: Christos Gage/Artists: Reilly Brown & Victor Olazaba (interior), Ed McGuinness & Morry Hollowell (cover)
9. Avengers Academy Giant-Size #1  (Marvel, 2011) ***¾
Writer: Paul Tobin/Artists: David Baldeon & Jordi Tarragona (interior), Ed McGuinness (cover)
10. The Secret Service #5 (Icon, 2013) ****¼
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: Dave Gibbons
11. The Whistling Skull #1 (DC, 2013) ***¼
Writer: B. Clay Moore/Artist: Tony Harris
A continuation of the Elseworlds first explored in the JSA Liberty Files a few years back. Gorgeous art, quirky story. Just not sure what to make of it as yet. I’ll give the six-issue series another shot, but there are too many questions so far, and not enough satisfactory answers.
12. The Black Beetle #0 (Dark Horse, 2013) ***
Writer/artist: Francesco Francavilla
Intriguing enough to make me check out the upcoming miniseries. I’m a sucker for pulp heroes. Nothing earth-shattering or groundbreaking though.

13.-40. Avengers Academy #13-14, 14.1, 15-39 (Marvel, 2011-12) ****
Writer: Christos Gage
Interior artists: Sean Chen & Scott Hanna (#13-14.1, 21); Tom Raney, Scott Hanna and/or Andrew Hennessy (#15-16, 19-20, 23); Chen & Hennessy (#17); Andrea Di Vito (#18); Tom Grummett & Cory Hamscher (#24-26, 29-31, 34, 37-39, with Rick Ketchum on #38); Karl Moline & Jim Fern (#27-28); Timothy Green II & Jeff Huet (#32-33); Andrea Di Vito (#35-36).
Cover artists: Billy Tan & Leonardo Olea (#13-20); Rodin Esquejo (#21-25); David Yardin (#26); David LaFuente & Christina Strain (#27-28); Giuseppe Camuncoli & Jim Charalampidis (#29-39).
41.-43. Avengers Arena #1-3 (Marvel, 2013) ***¼
Writer: Dennis Hopeless/Artist: Kev Walker (interior); Dave Johnson (cover #1), Chris Bachalo & Tim Townsend (cover #2), Greg Horn (cover #3).
Listen to my podcast HERE to get my thoughts on these two series.

44 . FF #2 (Marvel, 2013) ***½
Writer: Matt Fraction/Artist: Michael Allred
I’m officially hooked and I love this series so far. Pity it’s only gonna last a few issues ‘cos modern readers can’t handle Allred’s quirky retro style. Still, I’ll ride this donkey till it falls over.
45.-62. I, Zombie #1-18 (Vertigo, 2010-11) ***¼
Writer: Chris Roberson/Artist: Michael Allred (except Gilbert Hernandez, #12; Jay Stephens, #18)
A nice zombie, a were-terrier, a 1960s ghost. Vampires, mummies and the Bride of Frankenstein. Plus Dead Presidents. It’s all soooooooo hip and cool. Yawn. Fuck you, Roberson. I won’t be wasting my money on buying the trades for the rest of this series. Great retro art by Allred as usual, though.
63.-66. The Secret History Of D.B. Cooper #2-5 (Oni Press, 2012) ***¼
Writer/artist: Brian Churilla
I went back and grabbed the rest of this series after reading the first ish as part of my “20 First Issues Project”. Nice Ba/Moon-style art by Churilla, but the story of a notorious kidnapper actually being a sword-wielding CIA assassin just didn’t grab me.
67-68. Pulp Fantastic #2-3 (Vertigo, 2000) ***½
Writers: Howard Chaykin & David Tischman/Artists: Rick Burchett (interior), Chaykin & Burchett (cover)
Film noir, pulp noir...it’s never the ending that you care about (’cos it rarely makes sense due to all the red herrings and vast cast of suspicious characters) – it’s the journey we enjoy. The action, the violence, the witty one-liners...that’s what I love. I guess sci-fi noir is no different. This Maltese Falcon pisstake has its moments, but I couldn’t fathom the ending at all. However, I loved the journey. This was another “20 First Issues Project” title that I followed up on. Glad I did.
69.-70. Fashion Beast #4-5 (Avatar, 2012) ****¼
Writers: Alan Moore, Malcolm McLaren & Antony Johnston/Artist: Fercundo Percio
This just keeps getting better and better.
71. Happy #3 (Image, 2013) ***½
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artist: Darick Robertson
72. Nowhere Men #2 (Image, 2013) ***¾
Writer: Eric Stephenson/Artist: Nate Bellegarde
73. America’s Got Powers #4 (Image, 2013) ***½
Writer: Jonathan Ross/Artist: Bryan Hitch
74. Idolized #4 (Aspen, 2013) ***¼
Writer: David Schwartz/Artist: Pasquale Qualano   
75.-76. Fatale #10-11 (Image, 2012) ***¾
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Sean Phillips
77. Punk Rock Jesus #6 (Vertigo, 2013) ***½
Writer/Artist: Sean Murphy
A flat, less-than-satisfactory ending to what was overall a pretty damn good series.
78. Comic Heroes Presents #2 (with Comic Heroes #15, 2012) *
Writers/Artists: various
Samples from a bunch of DC titles including Fables, Superman and Sword Of Sorcery. None of them interested me, not even Fables.
79. Giant-Size Sidekick #2 (with Comic Heroes #15, 2012) ***
Writers/Artists: various
This is the first time I’ve read this anthology and gone, “Ah, there’s nothing I want to buy from this issue.”

MY GOOD mate AW handed me several old comics the other day. He said he’d got a bunch of them from a friend who bought them cheap from somewhere else. AW grabbed what he wanted and passed the rest onto me. Here’s what I thought of the stuff worth checking out (a few went  unread onto my giveaway pile).
80. Satan’s Six #1 (Topps, 1993) *** (for Kirby’s art), DUD for everything else
Writers: Jack Kirby, Tony Isabella/Artists: Jack Kirby & friends
This hodge-podge mess is basically a shitty story by Isabella shaped around eight pages of loosely scripted art by the King just before he died. Five losers in Limbo are given the chance to redeem themselves and enter Hell by stealing souls for Satan. And they’re supposed to be good guys..? Anyway, Kirby’s pencils are nice, especially on the page guest-inked by Frank Miller (what a combination!), but the other art by Image-wannabe John Cleary and Armando Gil is beyond hideous.
81. the Bionic Woman #2 (Charlton, 1978) -*
Writer/artist: unknown
A horrible TV tie-in series that makes me want to smash my head repeatedly on a teevee set. Perfunctory plotting, dull art and a nasty edge of misogyny winding its way through the entire odious issue. I can’t even bring myself to keep this comic for camp purposes.
82. Craftsman Bolt-on System Saves The Justice League #1 (DC, 2012) **½
Writer:  Joshua Williamson/Artist: Christian Duce
A shameless freebie comic that was probably handed out in hardware stores while promoting Craftsman’s new gadget, but Duce’s artwork is really nice. I hope to see more of his etchings.
83. Warlock And The Infinity Watch #1 (Marvel, 1992) *½
Writer: Jim Starlin/Artists: Angel Medina & Terry Austin
Starlin is a better artist than a writer. I suspect Medina would probably make a better writer than an artist (Angel fears background detail and even reliable Austin can’t save his scratchings). Overall, this comic is mostly harmless.
84. Wonder Woman #1 (DC, 1986) ***
Writers: Greg Potter & George Pérez/Artists: George Pérez & Bruce Patterson
A passable-if-overwrought relaunch of Wonder Woman with a heavy reliance on Greek mythology and implied rape. George’s art is very nice, though.