Wednesday, July 23, 2014

COMICS REVIEW: Kranburn


KRANBURN is a local comic that deserves your support. I picked up the first three issues at OzComicon in Melbourne two years ago, but only read them last month. It's a post-apocalyptic tale set in what's left of Melbourne and its surrounding areas. A bunch of survivors must fend off a growing horde of wasteland savages while not tearing themselves apart in the walled settlement they live in. Imagine Mad Max 2 crossed with The Walking Dead (or maybe Crossed) and you get an idea where Kranburn is coming from.
The comic is now up to issue 10. So you need to check out what writer/artist Ben Michael Byrne  is doing. It's savage, it's action-packed, it features NOSE BITING. What's not to love about it?



Digital for sale at: http://feccomics.bigcartel.com/
 

Monday, July 21, 2014

COMICS READING FOR JUNE: “Hello, Mr Davis...thank you for everything”


 
* 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.-5. Captain Britain (Marvel, 2002/05) ****
-originally published in X-Men Archives#2 (partial), #3-7 (Marvel, 1995). Prior to that, published in various Marvel UK weekly titles
Writer: Alan Moore/Artist: Alan Davis
6.-10. Captain Britain (Marvel, 1988) ***½
- originally published in various Marvel UK weekly titles
Writers: Alan Davis & Jamie Delano/Artist: Alan Davis
The first Captain Britain arc is uneven but has enough wonderfully weird ideas –including sneaky appearances by Young Marvelman and Marvelman – that I enjoyed it a lot. But when Davis (occasionally joined by Delano) takes over the writing helm for the second arc, things fall apart. Maybe it’s because a weekly instalment has to move the story along pretty fast, but reading the second arc in one hit is tough going. Characters change personalities and motives in the seeming blink of an eye. So...uneven and unsatisfying. Still, Davis’s art is exquisite.
And I got the first volume signed by Davis at Supanova, so I’m not complaining.

11.-16. Squadron Supreme: Death Of A Universe (Marvel, 2006) ***
-originally published in Squadron Supreme: Death Of A Universe, Thor #280, Avengers #5-6, 1998 Annual, Squadron Supreme: New World Order (Marvel, 1989-98)
Writers: Mark Gruenwald & friends/Artists: Paul Ryan, George Perez & friends
A confusing, ultimately dissatisfying collection of the key tales in the history of Marvel’s JLA rip-off following the original, underrated Squadron Supreme maxiseries. Plot holes, inconsistent characterisations, massive continuity errors...this nine-year history of an alternative Earth’s super-team is littered with beautiful art and generally woeful writing. Also, the squadron’s arrival on our Earth between Death Of A Universe and Avengers #5 – documented in several issues of the Quasar series in the early 90s – is regrettably omitted from this TPB. In its place, we’re given a nonsensical (I assume fill-in) issue of Thorthat screws with the squadron’s continuity (it’s horribly drawn by a slumming Wayne Boring from a woeful script by Don & Maggie Thompson and Roy Thomas). It’s the nadir of an ultimately underwhelming collection. Still, I got it signed by Paul Ryan at Supanova in mid-June, so I’m happy.

17.-21 Afterlife With Archie Vol. 1: Escape from Riverdale (Archie Comics, 2014) ****½
- originally published in Afterlife With Archie #1-5 (Archie Comics, 2013-14)
Writer: Roberto Aguirre Sacasa. Artist: Francesco Francavilla
Read my blog entry about this graphic novel HERE.

22. Green Lantern/Superman: Legend Of The Green Flame (DC, 2000) ****
Writer: Neil Gaiman/Artists: various
The story behind this oddball prestige-format comic would take forever for me to document (look it up online). Ultimately, it’s a byproduct of Action Comics Weekly’s demise in the mid-80s combined with the Crisis On Infinite Earths upheaval that fucked up the entire DC line. This early Gaiman script was scrapped due to discarded continuity, but was thankfully revived 12 years later in this delightful story that features artwork from Frank Miller, John Totleben, Mike Allred and others. A forgotten gem that I was very happy to unearth in Elizabeth’s Bookshop.



23. Christopher Daniels and Kazarian Wrestle AW YEAH COMICS! #1 (Aw Yeah, 2014) ***
Writers: Franco Aureliani, Christopher Daniels/Artists: Franco Aureliani, Art Baltazar, Denver Brubaker, Frankie Kazarian, Scott “Scoot” McMahon
Former TNA wrestlers Christopher Daniels and Kazarian of tag team Bad Attitude sip a very special apple martini (actually a bottle of Super Secret Inter-Dimensional Transit Potion) that sends them to the Aw Yeah! universe. It’s soon a tag team war between Bad Attitude, Action Cat and Adventure Bug. This is the benefit of digital comics. Paying $3 to read an online version was totally worthwhile. It’s a fluffy 5-10-minute fun read. But if I’d tried to buy a hard copy direct from the company, it would have cost me $20 (inc. Airmail p&h), and I would’ve been extremely pissed off. So yay for digital, in this case from Comixology (www.comixology.com).

24. Minimum Wage #6 (Image, 2014) ****½
Writer/Artist: Bob Fingerman
I’m marking down this issue for TWO reasons: 1. It’s the last instalment in this arc and Fingerman won’t be putting out another issue till 2015. Boo! 2. He’s running a contest in this ish to find the clues he’s sprinkled throughout this issue and ID the British sitcom they’re from. Do you think I can work it out? Fuck, no! And neither can everyone else I've asked. Damn you, Fingerman, damn you to hell.
25.-28. White Like She TPB (Fantagraphic Books, 1998) **¾
- originally published in White Like She #1-4 (Dark Horse, 1994)
Writer/Artist: Bob Fingerman
One of Bob’s less successful efforts, this sci-fi tale of a middle-aged black man having his brain transplanted into a teenage white gal’s body is too try-hard and preachy when it comes to tackling gender and racial politics in America in the 90s. The art is a little too stiff, hyper-realistic yet unreal for my tastes as well. Bob got more into a more cartoony-yet-natural-feeling groove with Minimum Wage a few years later. Let’s chalk this down to “noble experiment” and move on.

29. Epic #1 (Comix Tribe, 2014) ***½
Writer: Tyler James/Artist: Fico Ossio
Cartoony art aside, this is a fun superhero yarn about a high school kid who attains superpowers. His Kryptonite? Pretty women!  Good stuff from Mr James.
30. The Astonishing Lloyd Llewellyn #3 (Fantagraphic Books, 1986) **¾
Writer/Artist: Daniel Clowes
Early, uneven sci-fi/hard-boiled detective mash-up by a pre-Eightball Daniel Clowes. Not entirely good, to be honest. I’m so glad I scored this rare-as-hen’s teeth comic for a mere $3 from Elizabeth’s in Pitt Street, Sydney rather than chase down the even-rarer trades online and waste my money.


40.-55. Burger Force #1-16 (self-published, 2009-14) ****
Writer/Artist/”Director”: Jackie Ryan
I interviewed Aussie creator Jackie about her remarkable, off-kilter photo-comic two years back at OzComicon in Melbourne and a lot has happened for her since then. Multiple awards, a successful 16-issue run and one of her “lead models/characters”, Remi Hii, is now a noted, award-winning TV actor in his own right. This surreal/60s spy pastiche/black comedy is wonderful and easily the best comic being produced in Australia today. Pick up all 16 issues to date NOW at www.burgerforce.com.

56. EAP’s Morella and the Murders In The Rue Morgue (Dark Horse, 2014) ***
Writer/artist: Richard Corben
57.-60. It Came! #1-4 (Titan Comics, 2013) ***½
Writer/artist: Dan Boultwood
61. Death Sentence #1 (Titan Comics, 2013) ***½
Writer: Montynero/Artists: Mike Dowling (interior), Montynero (cover)
62. Ordinary #1 (Titan Comics, 2014) ***½
Writer: Rob Williams/Artist: D’Israeli
63. That’s Because You’re A Robot (Image, 2014) ***¼
Writer: David Quantick/Artist: Shaky Kane
64. Real Heroes #3 (Image, 2014) ***¼
Writer: Bryan Hitch/Artists: Bryan Hitch & Paul Neary w/- Andrew Currie
65. The Many Harold Holts Of Space And Time (self-published, 2014) ***½
Writer: Ryan K. Lindsay/Artist: Louie Joyce
66.-68. Kranburn #1-3 (FEC Comics, 2011-12) ***
Writer/artist: Ben Michael Byrne


69. Retro Sci-Fi Tales #1 (DarkOz, 2014) ***½
Writers/artists : various
Beautiful quality, full-colour comic featuring  an eclectic line-up of writers and artists. Very inconsistent in quality, but some real highlights in this mag including Michal Dutkiewicz’s gorgeous cheesecake cover, plus solid interior work from Douglas Holgate, Alister Lockhart and Greg Holfeld.
70. Starlight #4 (Image, 2014) ***¾
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: Goran Parlov
71. MPH #2 (Image, 2014) ***¾
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: Duncan Fegredo
72.-74. Future’s End #5-7 (DC, 2014) ***¾
Writers/artists: various
75. Spacehawk #4 (Dark Horse, 1992) ***
Writer/artist: Basil Wolverton
Classic artwork from the Golden Age.
76. She-Hulk #5 (Marvel, 2014) ****
Writer: Charles Soule/Artist: Ron Wimberly
77. Justice League 3000 #7 (DC, 2014) ***¾
Writers: Keith Giffen & JM DeMatteis/Artists: Keith Giffen & Howard Porter
78. The Returning #4 (BOOM!, 2014) ***¼
Writer: Jason Starr/Artist: Andrea Mutti
79. Moon Knight #4 (Marvel, 2014) ****
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artist: Declan Shalvey
80. The United States of Murder Inc. #2 (Icon, 2014) ***¾
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artist: Michael Avon Oeming
81. The Royals: Masters Of War #5 (Vertigo, 2014) ***½
Writer: Rob Williams/Artists: Simon Coleby & Gary Erskine
82.-83. Original Sin #3-4 (Marvel, 2014) ****
Writer: Jason Aaron/Artists: Mike Deodato (interior), Julian Totino Tedesco (cover)
84. Original Sins #1 (Marvel, 2014) ***¾
Writers/artists: various
85. Silver Surfer #3 (Marvel, 2014) ***½
Writer: Dan Slott/Artist: Michael Allred
86.-87. Dream Police #2-3 (Image, 2014) ***½
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski/Artists: Sid Kotian (interior), Sid Kotian & Bill Farmer (cover)
88.-93. Graphic Ink: The DC Comics Art of Frank Quitely (DC, 2014) *****
- some pieces originally published as Batman: Scottish Connection (writer: Alan Grant, 1998) and The Kingdom: Offspring #1 (writer: Mark Waid, 1999)
I started reading this at the end of the month and I got up to page 190 of this awesome book. To be continued...