Sunday, November 2, 2014

COMICS READING FOR OCTOBER: “We don’t need another hero...bear”



* 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.-6. Herobear And The Kid: The Inheritance (BOOM!, 2014) ***
- originally published in Herobear And The Kid #1-5, FCBD Summer Blast 2013 (BOOM!, 2013)
Writer/artist: Mike Kunkel
My 4yo son loves this book because it features clocks and a giant polar bear. I just wish I liked it’s preachy, vaguely Christian sentiments. The animation-style art is very nice.
7. The Multiversity: Society Of Super-Heroes #1 (DC, 2014) ***½
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artists: Chris Sprouse, Karl Story & Walden Wong
Very jumpy, jerky issue...but I think I can see a pattern coming together with this miniseries. Hopefully, next issue will answer a few more questions.
8. Future’s End: Harley Quinn #1 (DC, 2014) ***½
Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Amanda Conner/Artist: Chad Hardin
OOOOOH! A 3D, lenticular cover and lots of gratuitous bikini shots of Harley. That was $5.40 well-spent!
9. Original Sin: Thor & Loki: The Tenth Realm #5 (Marvel, 2014) ***
Writers: Jason Aaron & Al Ewing/Artists: various
So Angela is Thor’s sister. I worked that out in issue one. A ho-hum end to a less-than-impressive, patchily written and drawn miniseries.
10. Guardians Of The Galaxy #19 (Marvel, 2014) ***½
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artists: Ed McGuinness & friends
This Original Sin tie-in is actually pretty entertaining. A hogtied Star-Lord continues his story to Gamora about how he and Thanos escaped the Cancerverse, and the final fate of Richard “Nova” Rider”.
11.-16. The Sixth Gun Vol. 6: Not The Bullet, But The Fall (Oni Press, 2014) *****
- originally published in The Sixth Gun #36-41 (Oni Press, 2014)
Writer: Cullen Bunn/Artists: Tyler Crook, Brian Hurtt
17.-21. Colder #1-5 (Dark Horse, 2012-13) ****
22. Colder: The Bad Seed #1 (Dark Horse, 2014) ***½
Writer: Paul Tobin/Artist: Juan Ferreyra
Very creepy series returns in an even-creepier sequel. Nimble Jack may well be my fave new horror character of the decade. Let’s hope he doesn’t stay dead for too long.
22. The Fade Out #2 (Image, 2014) ****
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Sean Phillips
23. Copperhead #1 (Image, 2014) ***¾
Writer: Jay Faerber/Artist: Scott Godlewski
24.-27. Cutter #1-4 (Top Cow/Image, 2014) **
Writers: Robert Napton & Seamus Kevin Fahey/Artist: Christian DiBari (#1-3), Mann House (#4)
Very ordinary serial killer/slasher mystery series that doesn’t really go anywhere and ends abruptly. Oooooh, teenage bullies rape a chick, so her nutcase daughter seeks revenge 20 years later. Yawn! The last issue feels rushed, with a dreaded replacement artist, House, totally destroying the atmosphere built up by DiBari’s creepy artwork in the first three issues. The writing is pedestrian – I think Image needs to walk away from the serial killer theme for a while. That well is now empty.
28. Nailbiter #6 (Image, 2014) ***½
Writer: Joshua Williamson/Artist: Mike Henderson
29. Guardians 3000 #1 (Marvel, 2014) ***½
Writer: Dan Abnett/Artist: Gerardo Sandoval (interior), Alex Ross (cover)
30. Ordinary #2 (Titan, 2014) ***½
Writer: Rob Williams/Artist: D’Israeli
31. King! #2 (Blacklist Studios, 2007) **
Writer: Thomas Hall/Artist: Daniel Bradford
Elvis Presley as a cool monster hunter? I say, “Meh.”
32.-33. Oi Oi Oi! #1-2 (ComicOz, 2014) **½
Writers/artists: various
Read my thoughts on this Aussie anthology HERE.  
34. Sundowners #3 (Dark Horse, 2014) ***½
Writer: Tim Seeley/Artist: Jim Terry (interior); Chris Brunner (cover)
35.-38. Black Science #7-10 (Image, 2014) ***¾
Writer: Rick Remender/Artist: Matteo Scalera
39. Batgirl #35 (DC, 2014) ***¾
Writers: Cameron Stewart & Brenden Fletcher/Artists: Babs Tarr & Cameron Stewart
Batgirl for Gen Me in the twenty-teens? This could be fun, especially with subjects like revenge porn websites getting a run in the revamped series.
40. Adventures Of Superman #17 (DC, 2014) ***¾
Writers: various/Artists: various
The final issue of this old-school take on Superman is lovely – shame the series has been axed. Great to see some lovely Steve Rude art, topped by a classic cover of him teaming with Jack Kirby’s OMAC.
41. Guardians Of The Galaxy #20 (Marvel, 2014) ***½
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artists: Ed McGuinness & Valerio Schiti, Mark Farmer, Schiti & Mark Morales
Probably the pick of the Original Sin spin-off stories. At least it was a revelation that resolves a long-standing dangling plot line.
42.-43. The Field #3-4 (Image, 2014) ***½
Writer: Ed Brisson/Artist: Simon Roy
Bloody time paradoxes! They’ll get ya every time!

 
44. Marvel 75th Anniversary Celebration #1 (Marvel, 2014) ****½
Gorgeous art, lovely stories. A fun read, topped off by an excellent Alex Ross cover. Bruce Timm’s artwork on Stan Lee’s first-ever yarn (a Captain America short story from 1941) is a gem. Most of exciting of all is a new Alias yarn by Bendis and Gaydos that hints at Jessica Cage’s imminent return as a super-powered PI. I welcome that move!
45.-47. Southern Bastards #3-5 (Image, 2014) ****
Writer: Jason Aaron/Artist: Jason Latour
What a bunch of magnificent bastards. My favourite new ongoing series.
48. Death Rattle #5 (Kitchen Sink, 1986) ***
Writer/artists: various
A mixed bag of a horror anthology. The early 50s Basil Wolverton reprint of “Robot Woman” is a clear highlight.
49.-52. Jupiter’s Legacy #1-4 (Image, 2013-14) ****
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: Frank Quitely
Of course, I was asking for trouble with these procrastinating creators. Four issues in 13 months, then nothing since March. Will there ever be a #5? Probably not. Pity.
53. Men Of Wrath #1 (Icon, 2014) ***¾
Writer: Jason Aaron/Artist: Ron Garney
I didn’t think Aaron could write about any bigger bastards than the ones in Southern Bastards. I was wrong. There are some baaaaad bastards in this new series.
54.-56. Deadly Class #6-8 (Image, 2014) ***½
Writer: Rick Remender/Artist: Wes Craig
57. The Human Fly #1 (Marvel, 1977) **½
Writer: Bill Mantlo/Artist: Le Elias
58. Charlton Premiere #1 (Charlton, 1967) *
Writers/artists: various
I only got this mediocre new superhero showcase for Grass Green’s art on “The Shape”, and even that is a letdown compared to his later work.
59. The Multiversity: The Just (DC, 2014) ***
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artist: Ben Oliver
I have no fucking idea what’s happening. But it looks nice.
60. Starlight #6 (Image, 2014) ***½
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: Goran Parlov
A weirdly good-but-unsatisfying conclusion to this Flash Gordon pisstake. Parlov’s art is beautiful, though.
61. Wild’s End #2 (BOOM!, 2014) ****
Writer: Dan Abnett/Artist: LNJ Culbard
I love this series and its ability to shock me. Killing off one of the major characters in only the second issue? Kudos, Mr Abnett, kudos.
62.-65. She-Hulk #6-9 (Marvel, 2014) ***½
Writer: Charles Soule/Artists: Ron Wimberly (#6 interior), Javier Pulido (#7-9 interior), Kevin Wada (covers),
#6 was strange, with She-Hulk just letting a fascinating mystery slip through her fingers after she and her staff were nearly killed researching the case. I assume Soule will return to this dangling plotline at a later date. The new storyline about Steve “Captain America” Rogers on civil trial for a 70-year-old murder, with Matt “Daredevil” Murdoch as the prosecuting attorney, is a return to form, and #9 ends on a cool cliffhanger. Can’t wait for the next issue.
66. 13 Coins #1 (Titan, 2014) **
Writers: Martin Brennan & Michael B. Jackson/Artist: Simon Bisley
You know this supernatural horror yarn is all about the artwork when Bisley’s name is listed ahead of the two writers on the cover. That said, his not-his-finest-effort artwork is still head and shoulders the best thing about this by-the-numbers comic. Overall, a bit of a yawn.
67.-69. Protectors Inc. #7-9 (Image, 2014) ***¼
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski/Artists: Gordon Purcell & Andrew Pepoy
JMS is weaving a compelling Powers-like murder thriller and I look forward to the series’ conclusion next issue. But Purcell’s art? Goddamn – it’s fucking horrible.


70.-74. Ballistic #1-5 (Black Mask, 2013-14) ***
Writer: Adam Egypt Mortimer/Artist: Darick Robertson
Cronenberg meets William Burroughs. I have no idea what this series was on about, but it was an insane trip.
75.-81. Locke & Key: Alpha & Omega (IDW, 2014) *****
- originally published in Locke & Key: Alpha #1-5 & Locke & Key: Omega #1-2 (IDW, 2012-13)
Writer: Joe Hill/Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez
Knowing Hill, I didn’t expect a happy ending to this excellent series, and we didn’t get one...not quite. Bode’s return from the grave felt like a cop-out at first. Then again, the Locke family have gone through so much pain and anguish during this series that I can forgive Hill this one indulgence. All in all, a very satisfying – if bittersweet – end to an excellent series.
82. Nowhere Men #6 (Image, 2013) ***½
Writer: Eric Stephenson/Artist: Nate Bellegarde
Scientists as rock stars? What a fascinating concept. I enjoyed this unique take on the Beatles, but somehow forgot to read the final issue. I’ve rectified that oversight now.
83. Trees #2 (Image, 2014) **
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artist: Jason Howard
Proof positive that not everything Ellis writes is good. This is just dull.
84. Monster Menace #1 (Marvel, 1993) **½
Writers/artists: various
A reprint of classic 50s monster tales with art by Kirby, Ditko, etc, plus a new Kyle Baker cover.
85.-86. Legendary Star-Lord #3-4 (Marvel, 2014) ***½
Writer: Sam Humphries/Artists: Paco Medina & Juan Vlasco (#3), Freddie Williams II (#4)
87.-88. Rocket Raccoon #3-4 (Marvel, 2014) ***¾
Writer/artist: Skottie Young
89.-91. Moon Knight #6-8 (Marvel, 2014) ***½
Writers: Warren Ellis (#6), Brian Wood (#7-8)/Artists: Declan Shalvey (#6), Greg Smallwood (#7-8)
Sad to see Ellis leave this new series (not surprised, but sad all the same). But Wood seems to have picked up the reins nicely, keeping Ellis’s reinvention of the schizophrenic superhero going, but adding a few little twists and making the series ongoing rather than stand-alone tales. I’ll stick with this title a while longer.
92. Velvet #6 (Image, 2014) ***¾
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Steve Epting
93. Duostar Racers #1 (IDW, 2008) *
Writer/artist: Ashley Wood
Is there anyone more pretentious than this Aussie “artist”? Nice drawings, mate, but not great. Crap writer. And has he ever finished ANYTHING? This was supposed to be the first of a two-part series about drug-crazed illegal racing drivers. Where’s part two, ya lazy cunt?! Too busy creating and selling uber-expensive dollies in Singapore, eh?
94. Cap’n Dinosaur (Image, 2014) ***½
Writer: Kek-W/Artist: Shaky Kane
I have no idea how these one-shots get off the ground and who buys them...but I’m glad they’re out there. Insane mash-ups/“tributes” to classic 50s and 60s superhero and horror comics. I dig them.
95. The Book Of Ants (Artisan, 1998) **¾
Writer: Darren Aronofsky/Artist: Edward Ross Flynn
A strange reimagining of movie director Aronofsky’s Pi, featuring lots of ants and Flynn’s evocative artwork.
96. The Fountain (Vertigo, 2005) **¾
Writer: Darren Aronofsky/Artist: Kent Williams
Beautifully drawn-but-confusing tale set simultaneously in the past, present and future. It’s about cancer and immortality. Beyond that, I have no real idea. Apparently, it got turned into a film. Did anyone see it?

OI VEY! A review of new Aussie comic "Oi! Oi! Oi" #1&2



CONGRATS to Aussie anthology OI OI OI! to getting its second issue onto local newsstands, a rare feat for any comic - let alone an Australian title - in 2014.
My question is: WHO THE FUG IS BUYING IT...apart from me, that is?
Oi Oi Oi! - a terrible name for a comic, by the way - is published by ComicOz, the imprint of Queenslander Nat Karmichael, who's also published classic collections of John Dixon's Air Hawk and Monty Wedd's Ned Kelly newspaper strips.
There's certainly nothing wrong with the anthology's intent: to showcase the best Aussie talent around... Of course, quality is subjective and I've found both issues uneven.

Oi Oi Oi! #1 (published in June) had strong contributions from Tony Thorne, Glen Le Lievre and Dillon Naylor, plus a fine cover from MAD artist Anton Emdin.
Other efforts are not so good, most notably a monster/sci-fi yarn by SCAR Studios (Steve Carter and Antoinette Rydyr). These guys have been pumping out the same sexually violent gore for 30 years without a hint of irony or growth .
I thought their contribution was inappropriate for a newsstand magazine situated next to more kid-friendly comics such as Scooby-Doo and The Simpsons. They also made Oi Oi Oi! look dated. SCAR's piece is easily the weakest thing in the first issue.

Oi Oi Oi! #2 (on sale now) is an improvement over the first issue. Having an all-women's issue is a welcome touch, while the addition of some colour pages helps make Caitlin Major and Scarlette Baccini's stories the strongest contributions. Again, the overall quality is patchy and, without wanting to sound too prudish, I question the amount of nudity and sex featured in a comic that's being sold in the children's section of newsagencies. Also, $7.95 seems a steep price for an indie B&W Aussie anthology comic. You'd be hard-pressed to get comics geeks paying that much at their local comic shop, let alone parents forking it over for their kids at a newssstand.

In summary, Oi Oi Oi! is a noble effort and worthy of your support.
But are noble efforts enough in 2014 to get people's support? I don't think so.


REVIEW: 22 Panels (That Always Work) @ Kinokuniya, Sydney


FANS of Wally Wood, Australian cartoonists and free champagne were in attendance at the launch of the 22 Panels exhibition at Kinokuniya Books in Sydney's CBD last Thursday night.
I drank far too much reasonably priced Australian sparkling wine, but it didn't diminish my enthusiasm for the pieces I sw.
The exhibition showcases 22 original panels from some of our finest pop culture artists, celebrating Wood's legendary cheat sheet/advice to aspiring artists titled "Wally Wood's 22 Panels Taht Always Work!!"
Brilliant talent such as Anton Emdin, Frantz Kantor, David Blumenstein, Dave Follett, Bruce Mutard, Glen Le Lievre and Glenn Lumsden provide their own take on Wally's panels. (And there isn't a weak piece in the collection.)
For comic book fans with a sense of history (and a love of local artists), it's a fun exhibition and it's open to the public until November 15. Check it out at The Wedge Gallery, Kinokuniya, Level 2, The Galeries, 500 George Street, Sydney.
Get more info about it at

Sunday, October 12, 2014

COMICS READING FOR SEPTEMBER: “Totally not gay...well, a bit”



* 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.-26. Tom Of Finland: The Complete Kake Comics (Taschen, 2014) *****
- originally published in Kake #1-26 (various publishers, 1968-86)
Writer/artist: Tom of Finland
Not everyone’s cup of tea, but there’s no denying Tom’s artistic talent and his single-minded...er, vision. Luckily, I’m secure enough in my sexuality to appreciate Kake (pronounced “Cocky”) and his wordless adventures. This is a beautifully produced book, as you’d expect from Taschen.

27.-40. Fatale #12-24 (Image, 2013-14) ***¾
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Sean Phillips
Hardly the most satisfying ending in the world (almost predictable), but still a lot of fun on the journey to the finale.

41. The Graveyard Book Vol. 1 (Bloomsbury, 2014) *****
Writer: Neil Gaiman (novel), P. Craig Russell (adaptation)/Artists: P. Craig Russell & friends
My "6yo forever" daughter loves this faithful adaptation. I do, too. We both can't wait for volume two.

42. Wild’s End #1 (BOOM!, 2014) ***¾
Writer: Dan Abnett/Artist: INJ Culbard
43. MPH #3 (Image, 2014) ****
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: Duncan Fegredo
44. Velvet #7 (Image, 2014) ****
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Steve Epting


45.-47. Original Sin #6-8 (Marvel, 2014) ***¼
Writer: Jason Aaron/Artist: Mike Deodato (interior), Julian Totino Tedesco (cover)
48.-50. Original Sin: Hulk vs Iron Man #.3.2-3.4 (Marvel, 2014) ****
Writers: Mark Waid & Kieron Gillen/Artists: Luke Ross (interiors), JG Jones (covers)
51.-53. Original Sin: Thor & Loki: The Tenth Realm #5.2-5.4 (Marvel, 2014) ***½
Writers: Jason Aaron & Al Ewing/Artists: Lee Garbett, Simone Bianchi & friends (interiors); Dale Keown, Simone Bianchi (covers)  
54.-55. Original Sins #4-5 (Marvel, 2014) ****
Writers/artists: various
The core series ended with a whimper, not a bang. So Fury was some kinda intergalactic cop who helped The Watcher commit suicide? Erm...okaaaaay.
The two spin-offs had their moments, with the Hulk vs Iron Man mini the superior series.
But the surprise package was Original Sins, featuring a quirky Young Avengers story, plus fascinating short tales featuring some strong writing.

56. Wolverine: Bloodlust (Marvel, 1990) ***
Writers/artists: Alan Davis & Paul Neary
57.-64. Futures End #11-18 (DC, 2014) ***¾
Writers/artists: various
65. The Sundowners #2 (Dark Horse, 2014) ***¾
Writer: Tim Seeley/Artists: Jim Terry (interior), Chris Brunner with Rico Renzi (cover)


66.-105. Sweet Tooth #1-25, Vols 5&6 (Vertigo, 2009-13) *****
- originally published in Sweet Tooth #1-40 (Vertigo, 2009-13)
Writer: Jeff Lemire/Artists: Jeff Lemire & friends
106.-110. Nailbiter #1-5 (Image, 2014) ***¾
Writer: Joshua Williamson/Artist: Mike Henderson
Listen to my podcast about Nailbiter and Sweet Tooth HERE.

111.-116. Justice League Beyond: In Gods We Trust (DC, 2014) ***¾
- originally published in Justice League Beyond Digital Chapters #17-25, Superman Beyond Digital Chapters #11-20 (DC, 2013)
Writers/artists: various

117. Void (Titan, 2014) ***
Writer: Herik Hanna/Artist: Sean Phillips
I worked out the “twist” ending to this sci-fi/horror yarn on the first page. Hackneyed Hanna sucks huge sweaty black balls as a writer. But at least Phillips’ art is nicely gruesome.
118.-121. Marvel Adventures: The Avengers: Thor And Captain America (Marvel, 2011) ***
- first published in Super Heroes #13-16 (Marvel, 2008-09)
Writers/artists: various

122.-123. Fil Barlow’s Rex Vectar & Fil Barlow’s Zooniverse (Zoonitoons, 1986, 1992, 2013) ****
Writer/artist: Fil Barlow
I’m a sucker for this amazing Aussie artist’s work. These booklets, featuring some reprinted work from decades earlier, are a lovely taster of the new work to come (hopefully soon). Hurry up, Fil! While we're waiting, check out his website HERE.

124. Get Lost #1 (NCG, 1987) **¾
- originally published in Get Lost #1 (Mikecross Publications, 1954)
Writers/artists: Ross Andru, Mike Esposito & friends; Paul Gulacy (cover artist)
A B&W reprint of a sub-Mad rip-off from the 50s. Mediocre.
125. World’s Worst Comics Awards #1 (Kitchen Sink Comix, 1990) ***
Writer: James. I. Schumeister/Artist: Rich Larson
126.-129. Deathmatch Vol. 3 (BOOM!, 2014) ***
- originally published in Deathmatch #9-12 (BOOM!, 2013)
Writer: Paul Jenkins/Artist: Carlos Magno
What a disappointing ending to an extremely promising series. A convoluted, rabbits-pulled-out-of-their-arses deus ex machine resolution. Just a mess. It really left a bitter taste in my mouth.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Kirby Your Enthusiasm, ep. 35: "The FEAR."


IN WHICH Dann is joined by his wife Helen on a road trip across Australia to discuss fear: in comics, in life and in movies.


Topics covered include Nailbiter (Image, 2014; Writer: Joshua Williamson/Artist: Mike Henderson) and Sweet Tooth (Vertigo, 2009-13; Writer/artist: Jeff Lemire)...serial killers in South Australia during the 1970s and 80s, and how they affected our childhood perception of the world...movies such as the original Ring (aka Ringu, Japan, 1998) the original The Vanishing (aka Spoorloos, Holland/France, 1988) and Joy Ride (aka Roadkill, USA, 2001).
It's 43+ minutes in a noisy car spread over five days. It's epic, it's only tangentially about comics and I think it's my best podcast to date. Enjoy!
Download it HERE.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

ADDENDUM: The worst comic of all time



AND I've read Faust...and comics drawn AND written by Rob Liefeld...and early 90s DC superhero comics...and those porno comics "starring" Lisa Ann and Marilyn Chambers...and the sick shit Barry Blair did for Aircel...and all those horrible Dell superheroes from the 1960s...and Siegel's Mighty Crusaders and......YOU GET MY DRIFT.
EastMeetsWest #1 is worse than any of them.

COMICS READING FOR AUGUST: “Who guards the Guardians?”


* 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. Guardians Of The Galaxy #0.1 (Marvel, 2013) ***¾
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artists: Steve McNiven & John Dell
2. Guardians Of The Galaxy: Tomorrow’s Avengers #1 (Marvel, 2013) ***½
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artists: various
3.-15. Guardians Of The Galaxy #1-13 (Marvel, 2013-14) ***
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artists: Steve McNiven & friends
After seeing 20 minutes of the GotG movie in 3D – and in anticipation of seeing the full movie in late August – I went back and reread the first seven issues of the “Marvel Now!” relaunch (which I first read last year) and then all the other GotG comics I’ve been religiously buying each month but not reading...till now.
And I have to say that while I liked 0.1 and Tomorrow’s Avengers, the main series has left a sour taste in my mouth.
The problem is that Marvel has positioned GotG as one of its major titles – along with Avengers, X-Men, etc. While this is cool and means they’re taking the series seriously (we probably could have guessed that by them getting Bendis on board as the writer), it also leads to the same problem the other main titles have. Which is...whenever there’s a major crossover event (of which there are seemingly 2-3 a year now), these titles get sucked into them. If you don’t buy every issue connected with the crossover event in question, then you don’t understand what the frig is going on. This is what’s happening when I read all these GotG issues back to back.
After a solid seven-issue start introducing the Guardians, new members Iron Man (what a blatant attempt to get the series off to a flying start, but that’s another story) and the universally displaced Angela (of Neil Gaiman and Spawn fame), we cop two issues of the Infinity crossover (#8-9), then parts one, four and six of “The Trial Of Jean Grey” (#11-13). As I didn’t get Infinity and I don’t read X-Men, much of this run makes no sense. Overall, I have a feeling of frustration reading GotG. How the hell will they collect these issues into a coherent run of TPBs? Ack – great art by a range of artists and fun dialogue from Bendis isn’t enough to salvage this series. So...why am I still buying it?
16.-19. Guardians Of The Galaxy #14-17 (Marvel, 2014) ****
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artists: Nick Bradshaw, Michael Oeming & Walden Wong
Finally, this series hits its stride due to the fact it isn’t being kicked about by stupid crossover events. This is a solid four-issue arc where the Guardians are all individually captured and put on trial for their “crimes”. How they escape and come to each other’s aid is rollicking old-fashioned sci-fi fun, kinda like the movie. Which is why I rate this arc so highly and hope that it augurs well for the future.
20.-21. Guardians Of The Galaxy: Galaxy’s Most Wanted (Marvel, 2014) ***
- back-up originally published in Thor #314 (Marvel, 1981)
Writer: Will Corona Pilgrim/Artist: Andrea Di Vito (main story)
Writer: Doug Moench/Artists: Keith Pollard, Dan Green & Pablo Marcos (Thor)
A fluffy tale of Rocket Raccoon and Groot being loveable rogues kicks off this one-shot. It’s okay but forgettable. The back-up yarn is an early appearance of Drax and it’s godawful. Like DUD awful. Marvel in the 80s was really shit.
22. 100th Anniversary Special: Guardians Of The Galaxy #1 (Marvel, 2014) ****
Writers: Andy Lanning & Ron Marz/Artists: Gustavo Duarte (interior); David Lopez (cover)
I didn’t follow the rest of this unique miniseries, but I thought the GotG one-shot was a hoot. I loved the fact that Rocket had morphed into a Donald Duck-type character with three nephews (ala Huey, Dewey and Louie). Maybe Marvel and Disney are trying to create further synergy here.
23.-24. Rocket Raccoon #1-2 (Marvel, 2014) ****
Writer/artist: Scottie Young
25.-26. Legendary Starlord #1-2 (Marvel, 2014) ****
Writer: Sam Humphries/Artists: Paco Medina & Juan Vlasco
Finally, someone is doing these GotG characters REAL justice. Both these series are lotsa fun. Starlord has a step-sister and she’s a bad-ass alien? Rocket has a bunch of jilted exes who want to kill him dead (and an evil doppelganger)? This stuff is seriously awesome!
27.-29. Star-Lord: Worlds On The Brink (Marvel, 2014) **
- originally published in Marvel Preview #14-15, Marvel Super Special #10 (Marvel, 1978-79)
Writers: Chris Claremont, Doug Moench/Artists: Carmine Infantino & Bob Wiacek, Gene Colan & Tom Palmer (interior), Steve McNiven (cover)
30.-33. Star-Lord: Tears For Heaven (Marvel, 2014) **
- originally published in Marvel Preview #18, Marvel Spotlight #6-7, Marvel Premiere #61 (Marvel, 1979-81)
Writer: Doug Moench/Artists: Bill Sienkiewicz, Tom Sutton & Bob McLeod (interior), Sara Pichelli (cover)
Starlord is a way cooler character nowadays. He was so shit in the 70s.
34.-35. Silver Surfer #4-5 (Marvel, 2014) ***½
Writers: Dan Slott/Artist: Michael Allred
Guest-starring 2014’s version of Wolverine...the Guardians Of The Galaxy. And The Defenders! Is this the end of the series? It certainly feels like it.

BY THE WAY, THE MOVIE WAS FANTASTIC!

36. Neverwhere #1 (Vertigo, 2005) ****
Writers: Neil Gaiman (novel) & Mike Carey (adaptation)/Artist: Glenn Fabry
The comics adaptation of Gaiman’s critical and commercial hit novel gets off to a cracking start. An easy read and Fabry’s art is delightful. I’m definitely buying the rest of this.
37. Snowpiercer Vol. 1 (Titan, 1984, 2014) ***½
Writer: Jacques Lob/Artist: Jean-Marc Rochette
What inspired the movie. Pretty good, but I don’t need to read Vol. 2.
38. The Originals (Vertigo, 2004) ***½
Writer/artist: Dave Gibbons
Was this really published 10 years ago? My, how time flies. I liked this retro/future remake of Quadrophenia. Great art, snappy fashions, kinda pedestrian storyline. Then again, Gibbons is an artist, not a writer. Still, I don’t know why he set essentially a 60s tale in the far future? It felt unnecessary.


39.The Multiversity #1 (DC, 2014) ***
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artist: Ivan Reis
Listen to my podcast about this comic HERE.

40. The Fade-out #1 (Image, 2014) ****
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Sean Phillips
More gritty, noir action from Mr Ed. Lovely stuff. Looking forward to the next instalment...also, it inspires me to get off my arse and read the rest of Fatale.
41. A1 #4 (Epic, 1992) **
Writers/artists: various
How could a comic featuring the talent of Dave McKean, Peter Milligan, Jamie Hewlett and Roger Langridge be so.....ordinary?
42. Kafka: The Executiion (Fantagraphics, 1989) ***¾
Writer/artist: Leopoldo Durañona
I remember reading a few of these dark adaptations of Franz Kafka’s work in Heavy Metal (or was it Epic Magazine?). Anyway, this one-shot collects a bunch of them and they’re all fucking disturbing.
43. Starlight #5 (Image, 2014) ****
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: Goran Parlov
It only takes five minutes to read, but this comic is a rollicking, old-fashioned, swashbuckling sci-fi comic. It’s lots of fun.
44. The Sundowners #1 (Dark Horse, 2014) ***¾
Writer: Tim Seeley/Artists: Jim Terry (interior), Chris Brunner & Rico Renzi (cover)
A quirky start to this series about a superhero self-help group. Are these people delusional whackjobs or real superheroes caught in the middle of a bizarre conspiracy. I’m leaning towards the latter.


45. Blade #2 (Buccaneer, 1989) *
Writer: Seab Mercer/Artists: Tony Harris, Eamon Glennon & Chris Renfroe (interior); Craig Hamilton, Tony Harris & Michael Pierce (cover)
An unpleasant, confusing Faust rip-off, featuring homophobic writing by Mercer. I guess he can be forgiven somewhat as he was only a dumb schoolkid at the time. It's hard to believe that Harris went on to be THE great Tony Harris of Starman fame.
46. Dream Police #4 (Image, 2014) ***½
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski/Artist: Sid Kotian
47. Guardians Of The Galaxy #18 (Marvel, 2014) ***
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artist: Ed McGuinness & Mark Farmer
48.-50. Two-Step #1-3 (WildStorm, 2003-04) ***
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artists: Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti
A throwaway miniseries that takes SEVEN months to reach the third issue? What the fuck, Warren Ellis?
51.-53. Reload #1-3 (WildStorm, 2003) ***
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artists: Paul Gulacy & Jimmy Palmiotti
Gulacy is overrated.
54.-56. Anna Mercury 2 #1-3 (Avatar, 2009) ***½
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artist: Facundo Percio
Goddamn you, Ellis. Where’s the rest of this bloody series?

57. EasMeets West #1 (Innovation, 1990) -*****
Writer: Paul Ppower/Artist: Paul Ppower, Nestor Redondo & friends
The worst comic ever. Ever. Ppower is an Aussie artist and noted movie storyboard artist (Top Gun, Predator, etc), but this comic is a fucking mess. Confusing plotting, bad layouts, dull writing, "heroic" characters with few redeeming qualities, muddy-as-shit colouring. Just so amateurishly bad on so many levels, especially as it came from a "professional" company. The fact that true talents like Redondo, Dave Rocketeer Stevens lent their assistance to this abortion of a series makes it even sadder.
58.-63. Justice League Beyond: Konstriction (DC, 2013) ***¾
- originally published in Justice League Beyond Digital Chapters #1-16 (DC, 2012)
Writers/artists: Derek Fridolfs & Dustin Nguyen/Additional art: Eric Nguyen, James Brouwer, Ben Caldwell
It seems the DC series I enjoy most are the ones set in the future and removed (or mostly removed) from current New 52 continuity. I enjoy Justice League 3000 and I’m finally getting into the Batman from Batman Beyond (who has a personality similar to Marvel’s Spider-Man) in DC’s animated universe, now that he’s a featured player in Future’s End. Picking up this trade was a no-brainer as it has Batman and a bunch of JL characters (or their children, protégés, etc). It’s set in the near future but whether it’s in the “real” DC universe or the animated one, I couldn’t say. Anyway, I enjoyed it a lot.


64. Heartland(Vertigo, 1997) ***½
Writer: Garth Ennis/Artist: Steve Dillon
On the back of Preacher’s success, Ennis could write anything for DC and it would get published, it seems. This slow-moving tale of love, family, selective childhood memories and betrayal in Belfast in 1994 is kinda self-indulgent, but entertaining all the same.
65. Dalgoda #1 (Fantagraphics, 1984) **¾
Writer: Jan Strnad/Artist: Dennis Fujtake
Two things strike me about this shaggy dog tale about canine aliens interacting with a paranoid, aggressive mankind: 1. Jan Strnad is not a very good writer, AND 2. $2.25 was a fucking helluva lot to pay for a comic in 1984.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Kirby Your Enthusiasm, ep. 34: My Life With Neil Gaiman


IN WHICH I talk about my history with the quirky English writer and how it grew to an obsessive love thanks to Amanda Fucking Palmer.
Plus my review of Grant Morrison's MULTIVERSITY #1.
20 minutes. Check out the podcast HERE.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

COMICS READING FOR JULY: “Happy 75th birthday, Batman!”



* 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.-6. Graphic Ink: The DC Comics Art of Frank Quitely (DC, 2014) *****
- some pieces originally published as Batman And Robin #1-3 (writer: Grant Morrison, 2009), The Sandman: Endless Nights (writer: Neil Gaiman, 2003) and The Invisibles Vol. 3 #1 (writer: Grant Morrison, 2000)
Finally finished this book and it’s amazing. Quitely’s artwork is stunning and rises well above even some of the less-than-stellar stories he was given. Sheer brilliance.

7. The Undertaker Morton Stone #1 (Gestalt, 2014) ***¾
Writer: Gary Chaloner/Artists: Ben Templesmith (inc. Cover); Ashley Wood
The Undertaker Morton Stone has been locked up in Corkscrew Asylum for two years. Now he's come home to Thunderhead Cemetery and his darling (but deceased) wife, Lucinda. With his dead dog Cryptoe by his side, Morton is hellbent on finding the real Toe Nail Clipper Killer, Mr Noddy.
8. The Undertaker Morton Stone #2 (Gestalt, 2014) ****
Writer: Gary Chaloner/Artists: Gary Chaloner; Ashley Wood (interior); Ben Templesmith (cover)
The Undertaker Morton Stone and his faithful hound, Cryptoe are on the trail of the tosser Mr. Noddy. Little do they realise that Nod, the Toe Nail Clipper Killer, is on the lookout for Morty as well! Can the Undertaker get to split Noddy's corpus callosum with his spade, while avoiding that pesky a-hole Lt. Aubrey Turgid? Does Morton's spunky sister Sophie have all the clues? And are they all prepared for the dark, manky road they will have to travel to get to the munted truth?

9. Headlocked: The Last Territory Convention Special (Visionary Comics, 2014) ***½
Writer: Michael Kingston/Artists: Michel Mulipola (interior); Jill Thompson (credit page); Jerry “The King” Lawler (cover)
Kingston’s Kickstarter project to finish this insider look into the world of pro wrestling nears fruition. This is the first issue (albeit as a low-res PDF) off the factory line. From Lawler’s Saturday Evening Post-esque cover to the gritty’n’grim-but-intriguing story itself, this is a comic worth getting and supporting, especially as he a lot of big-name wrestlers besides Lawler involved with the project. Learn more about Headlocked at www.headlockedcomic.com and facebook.com/groups/233916990073920/#!/headlockedcomic.

10.-13. Marvel Universe: Guardians Of The Galaxy: Cosmic Team-Up (Marvel, 2014) ***
- originally published in Marvel Universe: Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes #18, Marvel Universe: Ultimate Spider-Man #22, Marvel Universe: Hulk: Agents Of S.M.A.S.H. #4, Incredible Hulk #271 (Marvel, 1982, 2013-14)
Writers/artists: various
A mixed bag of adapted tales from various animated TV series, linked by GotG appearances. Of the first three, USM is probably the funniest, although Hulk is also a lighthearted read. The fourth tale – featuring Rocket Raccoon’s debut – is typical godawful early 80s Marvel writing by Bill Mantlo, with slumming art from Sal Buscema.
14. Stray Bullets: Killers #4 (Image, 2014) ****
Writer/artist: David Lapham
15. Moon Knight #5 (Marvel, 2014) ****½
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artist: Declan Shalvey
Ellis finally hits his stride with this ultra-violent, poetic-yet-almost-wordless tale of Moon Knight rescuing a kidnap victim from an apartment building filled with thugs. Annoying then to learn that this is his second-to-last issue. Fuck.
16.-17. The Woods #2-3 (BOOM!, 2014) ***½
Writer: James Tynion IV/Artist Michael Dialynas
The teachers and jocks go all Lord Of The Flies on the student body as this “school-mysteriously-shipped-to-a-hostile-planet” tale picks up steam. Nasty and getting nastier.
18. The Royals: Masters Of War #6 (Vertigo, 2014) ***¼
Writer: Rob Williams/Artists: Simon Coleby & Gary Erskine
A strangely dissatisfying end to this alternative WW2 miniseries that held some promise at the beginning. In the end it all just, kinda, petered out.
19. The United States Of Murder Inc. #3 (Icon, 2014) ***½
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artist: Michael Avon Oeming
20. Justice League 3000 #8 (DC, 2014) ***½
Writers: Keith Giffen & JM DeMatteis/Artists: Keith Giffen & Howard Porter
21. Original Sin #5 (Marvel, 2014) ****
Writer: Jason Aaron/Artists: Mike Deodato (interior), Julian Totino Tedesco (cover)
22.-23. Original Sins #2-3 (Marvel, 2014) ***¾
Writers/artists: various
24. Original Sin: Thor & Loki: The Tenth Realm #1 (Marvel, 2014) ***½
Writers: Jason Aaron & Al Ewing/Artists: Lee Garbett & Simone Bianchi (interior), Dale Keown & Jason Keith (cover)
25. Original Sin: Hulk vs Iron Man #1 (Marvel, 2014) ***½
Writers: Mark Waid & Kieron Gillen/Artists: Mark Bagley & Andrew Hennessey (interior), JG Jones (cover)
26. Infinity Man And The Forever People #1 (DC, 2014) ***
Writers: Keith Giffen & Dan DiDio/Artists: Keith Giffen & Scott Koblish

IT’S THE FUCKING BATMAN MONTH

27.-28. Batman: Detective Comics #28-29 (DC, 2014) ***¾
Writer: John Layman/Artists: Aaron Lopresti & Art Thibert (interior), Jason Fabok (cover)
I reread the first instalment from Detective Comics #27 and was inspired to read the rest of the “Gothtopia” storyline. It was pretty good, but kinda petered out by #29.
29. Batman/Judge Dredd: Vendetta In Gotham (DC, 1993) ***
Writers: Alan Grant & John Wagner/Artists: Cam Kennedy (interior), Mike Mignola (cover)
30.-31. Batman/Judge Dredd: Die Laughing #1-2 (DC, 1998) ***¼
Writers: Alan Grant & John Wagner/Artists:Glenn Fabry, Jim Murray, Jason Brashill
32.-43. Batman: Hush (DC, 2009) ***½
- originally published in Batman 608-619, Wizard #0 (DC, 2002-03)
Writer: Jeph Loeb/Artist: Jim Lee
Merely OK. A little overrated, to be honest.
44.-47. Batman: Mad Love And Other Stories (DC, 2009) ****½
- originally published in The Batman Adventures: Mad Love, The Batman Adventures Annual #1-2, etc (DC, 1994-99, 2003)
Writer: Paul Dini/Artists: Bruce Timm & friends
48.-53. Batman: The Widening Gyre (DC, 2010) ***¾
- originally published in Batman: The Widening Gyre #1-6 (DC, 2009-10)
Writer: Kevin Smith/Artists: Walter Flanagan & Art Thibert (interior), Bill Sienkiewicz (covers)
54.-57. Batman: The Man Who Laughs (DC, 2008) ***½
- originally published in Detective Comics #784-86 and Batman: The Man Who Laughs (DC, 2003, 2005)
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artists: various
Ed retells the Joker’s first battle against a neophyte Batman and it’s great. His depiction of the psychotic, murderous Joker is pretty chilling in his pure, insane love of chaos and evil. The three-parter is a more by-the-numbers detective yarn co-starring the Golden Age Green Lantern. It’s probably the weakest Brubaker tale I’ve ever read.
58. Batman: Detective Comics #27 (DC, 2014) ****
Writers/artists: various
Got this free at Kings Comics as part of the 75th anniversary celebrations (also scored a free Frank Miller Batman mask and a sweet cupcake!). Sure, this is now the THIRD time I’ve read this issue (or parts thereof), but this freebie also contains a reprint of the first tale of “The Bat-Man” from the original Detective Comics #27 (May 1939) by Bob Kane and Bill Finger. Plus a sneak preview of Brad Meltzer’s reimagining of the same yarn with design work by Chip Kidd. Makes me want to catch the rest of it in the upcoming Batman: A Celebration of 75 Years.
59.-65. Batman: Under The Hood Vol. 1 (DC, 2005) ***½
- originally published in Batman #635-641 (DC, 2005)
Writer: Judd Winick/Artists: Doug Mahnke, Paul Lee, Tom Nguyen & Cam Smith (interiors); Matt Wagner (covers)
While I liked the way Winick continued the idea begun by Jeph Loeb in Hush, dealing with the return from the grave of Jason Todd as the demented vigilante Red Hood, I thought it ended kinda flat. But the Black Mask is an awesome villain.
66.-71. DC’s Greatest Imaginary Stories Vol. 2 (DC, 2010) ***
- originally published in a bunch of mags (DC, 1959-60, 1962-65, 1969, 1978)
Writers/artists: various
These feature a bunch of Batman and Robin yarns that range from silly (but entertaining) to just plain dull.
72. Batman: Death By Design (DC, 2012) ***¾
Writer: Chip Kidd/Artist: Dave Taylor
I picked this up on special during Kings’ “Batman’s 75th Anniversary Day” celebrations. I can see why they had so many remaindered copies: I can’t imagine too many fanboys being into book design and architecture. Still, if you ARE, then this is the perfect book for you as Kidd has filled this slim hardcover with both. The story’s a good noir mystery with a 1940s/50s-feel. I liked it, probably more when I reread the ending. Still...not surprised it didn’t sell well.
73. Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga #1 (DC, 2014) ****
Writer/artist: Jiro Kuwata
Speaking of Chip Kidd, I first read Kuwata’s version of Batman in his Batmanga book several years back. This new digital weekly series is reprinting the complete run of the original Batman manga from the 60s! It’s dumb in that typical “Batman of the 1960s” style, but with a vicious Japanese manga bent. Anyway, the first instalment features Batman and Robin’s first encounter with the seemingly unkillable Lord Death Man. Good stuff.
74. Just Imagine Stan Lee’s Batman (DC, 2001) *
Writer: Stan Lee/Artist: Joe Kubert (main story)
Writer: Michael Uslan/Artist: Michael Wm. Kaluta (back-up)
Cover artists: Joe Kubert; Adam Hughes
75. Detective Comics #600 (DC, 1989) *
Writer: Sam Hamm/Artists: Denys Cowan, Dick Giordano & Frank McLaughlin (main story); Will Eisner, Bernie Wrightson, Neal Adams, etc (pin-ups)
This comic perfectly sums up everything that sucked about Marvel and DC in the late 80s and early 90s. A huge milestone in Batman’s publishing history is treated to poor printing, bog roll-paper quality, and a horribly written and illustrated main story that made me nearly fall asleep as I plodded through it. Oh...and by this stage in his career, every man and his dog knew Bruce Wayne was Batman and that he had a freaking cave under Stately Wayne Manor. Not good at keeping secrets are we, Bats? The only saving grace to this shockingly bad tribute issue are the pin-ups by the likes of Eisner (Batman teaming up with The Spirit), Walt Simonson and Mike Zeck. But this is pretty inept overall.
76. Gotham By Gaslight (DC, 1989) **
Writer: Brian Augustyn/Artists: Michael Mignola & P. Craig Russell
This “alternative history” version of Batman sees him do battle with Jack The Ripper in 19th century Gotham City. It’s kinda lame, has huge plot holes and I worked out the killer’s identity within the first five pages. Mignola’s art is lovely though.
77.-78. Elseworld’s Finest #1-2 (DC, 1997) ***¼
Writer: John Francis Moore/Artists: Kieron Dwyer & Hilary Barta
Mid-30s Doc Savage-style action featuring very different versions of Superman, Batman, Lex Luthor and others. It’s passable, light fluff. But nothing great.
79.-85. Batman Black & White Vol. 2 (DC, 2002) ****
- originally published in Gotham Knights #17-49 (DC, 2001-02)
Writers/artists: various
86.-96. Batman Black & White Vol. 3 (DC, 2007) ***¾
- originally published in Gotham Knights #1-16 (DC, 2001-04)
Writers/artists: various

97.-101. Juice Squeezers Vol. 1: The Great Bug Elevator (Dark Horse, 2014) ****
- originally published in Dark Horse Presents #26-28 and Juice Squeezers #1-4  (Dark Horse, 2013-14)
Writer/artist: David Lapham


102. Bunny & Rink #1 (Ninja Cafe Comics, 2014) **½
Writer: Zach Dominello/Artist: Seb Dominello
TV cartoons like Adventure Time and Regular Show have a lot to answer for. Now, a ton of shitty cartoonists with a “hipster” sense of humour think they can write and draw post-ironic kids’ comics that “adults will loooooove, too”. This painfully obvious attempt is about two ninjas: Rink manages a cafe while Bunny is a platypus. They meet, become friends, beat up other ninjas and get home in time to watch rasslin’ (yes, that’s the only reason why I bought it). Scrappy art, hip “humour”...I can see the demographic they’re going for. It’s just not me, thank fuck. Glad I only bought this for a buck as a digital comic.
103.-105. Future’s End #8-10 (DC, 2014) ****
Writers/artists: many