Thursday, May 28, 2015

QUICK ZINE REVIEW: Catwoman 75


BATMAN'S biggest love interest and one of his most fascinating foes/allies, Catwoman, is 75 years old this year. But, for some strange reason, DC isn't celebrating the occasion.
So Jennifer Wu decided to do something about it by putting out her own zine, Catwoman 75, which a friend bought at the recent zine fair at Sydney's MCA.
It's a brief read (mainly drawings in the 24-page B&W A5 zine), but I liked the look of it (not surprising considering Jen's a graphic designer by trade).
If you want to pick up your own copy...well, good luck. This was a limited run of 30 copies, but Jen may have a few spares floating around.
Contact her by heading to www.jenniferwu.com.au or email her at hullo@jenniferwu.com.au.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

KIRBY YOUR ENTHUSIASM, ep. 39: "Not crossovers, just cross"

IN WHICH Dann discusses how Marvel and DC drove him into the arms of Image courtesy of their endless, pointless crossovers and "big events".
He then gives a belated summary of his Free Comic Book Day scores earlier this month.
It's a touch over 30 minutes of comicy goodness and it can be downloaded HERE



Monday, May 11, 2015

COMICS READING FOR APRIL: “Hot-blooded”



* 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.-2 Children Of Fire #1-2 (Caliber Press, 1993) **¼
Writer/Artist: Brian Michael Bendis
Bendis is clearly a better writer than an artist.
3. Eating Raoul (Mercury Film, 1982) ***
Writer/artist: Kim Deitch
This is an oddball tie-in to promote the bizarre indie comedy of the same name. I remember seeing the first chapter published in Heavy Metal. The story is pretty damn strange and I’m tempted to track down the movie now, especially as it stars one of my fave actrines Mary Woronov.
4.-21. Vampirella Crimson Chronicles Maximum Vol. 1 (Harris, 2008) **½
- originally published in Vampirella #1-2, 8-9, 11-37 (Warren, 1969-74)
Writers/artists: various (interior); Jim Silke (cover)
I’m not sure why I bought this B&W collection...probably ’cos it was selling cheap on Lone Star. I went into reading this book with some trepidation as I always considered Vampirella a badly written T&A horror series. It certainly kicks off that way with the goofy introduction stories written by Forrest J. Ackerman. But once Archie Goodwin comes on board, the storyline kicks into gear and the quality of writing improves dramatically with the alien bloodsucker Vampi battling the evil Cult Of Chaos, whose members worship a demonic bible known as the Crimson Chronicles. Vampi is aided by a drunken magician called Pendragon and is pursued by relentless vampire killers Conrad and Adam Van Helsing. Goodwin’s strong scripts are brought to life by Jose Gonzalez’ exquisite artwork. His splash panels of our scantily clad heroine each issue are beautiful and he gives the supporting cast real character. Goodwin ties in Vampi with the Dracula mythology, then turns it on its head by having a newly-brought-back-to-life Drac repent for his past sins and try to be good. It’s an interesting journey as he tries to mend his evil ways, but keeps failing. Goodwin’s departure from the strip sees the quality of storytelling plummet, particularly the run of Flaxman Loew, who dumps the Van Helsings and reduces Pendragon to a drunken bum cracking bad puns. Even Vampirella’s ongoing struggle not to kill people for their blood – which gave her a noble, tragic quality – is summarily dismissed by Loew, who has Vampi killing bad guys willy-nilly. It’s a complete destruction of Goodwin’s carefully laid foundations and helps leave a sour note as this collection comes to an end. Only the artwork of Gonzales (and later Jose Ortiz) salvages something from the godawful scripts. Goodwin’s return to the helm in the final few pages gives hope that Vampirella was set to return to its former glory. But as it’s unlikely I’ll never pick up Volume 2, I guess that will have to remain a mystery to me.

22.-27. Ultimate X-Men Vol. 1: The Tomorrow People (Marvel, 2001) ***¼
- originally published in Ultimate X-Men #1-6 (Marvel, 2000-01)
Writer: Mark Millar/Artists: Adam & Andy Kubert, Art Thibert, Danny Miki
28.-34. Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 1: Power And Responsibility (Marvel, 2002) ***½  
- originally published in Ultimate Spider-Man #1-7 (Marvel, 2000-02)
Writer: Bill Jemas & Brian Michael Bendis/Artists: Mark Bagley, Art Thibert, Dan Panosian
Someone once said that the origin of Spider-Man was told by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1962 in 12 pages. Bendis and Jemas take SEVEN ISSUES to reach the same spot – welcome to 21st century comic book storytelling. But it’s still kinda fun to go on the journey.
Not the same for Millar’s flawed take on the X-Men. The most annoying subplot in his uneven book is the fact that Cyclops is a turncoat who betrays the X-Men’s peaceful principles, joins forces with Magneto’s terrorist organisation and is directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of hundreds (if not thousands) of people. Yet all is forgiven and he’s allowed to rejoin the X-Men at the end of this arc. Stupid! That said, the terrorism angle and post-terror attack clampdown on ordinary people’s civil liberties is ominous when you think this was written before 9/11. Mutants are openly hunted by Sentinels approved by the Federal Government. Replace the word “mutant” with “Muslim” and you have a chilling prophecy of the post-9/11 western world. That said, this book isn’t one of Millar’s finest moments.

35.-36. The New 52: Future’s End #47-48 (DC, 2015) ***½
Writers/artists: various
Wait...wait...I got through 48 issues...four friggin’ months...and the series ends...exactly where it started? With nothing resolved?! Fuck you, DC!!!
37. Guardians 3000 #6-7 (Marvel, 2015) ****
Writer: Dan Abnett/Artists: Nico Leon (interior); Alex Ross (#6 cover); Gerardo Sandoval (#7 cover)
38. The Black Hood #2 (Dark Circle Comics, 2015) ****½
Writer: Duane Swierczynski/Artist: Michael Gaydos
39. Gonzo (Abrams ComicArts, 2010, 2012) ****
Writer: Will Bingley/Artist: Anthony Hope-Smith
A cracking biography that inspired me to seek out more of Hunter S. Thompson’s work (on film and in written form).
40.-41. Stratu’s Diary Comix (self-published, 2015)
Writer/artist: Stratu
Read my thoughts about this comic HERE.
42. Secret Identities #3 (Image, 2015) ****¼
Writers: Jay Faerber & Brian Joines/Artist: Ilias Kyriazis
43. Copperhead #6 (Image, 2015) ***½
Writer: Jay Faerber/Artist: Scott Godlewski
44. Revival #29 (Image, 2015) ****¼
Writer: Tim Seeley/Artist: Mike Norton (interior); Jenny Frison (cover)
45. The Fade Out #5 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Sean Phillips 
46. Jupiter’s Circle #1 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Mark Millar/Artists: Wilfredo Torres (interior); Frank Quitely (cover)
A first part of this lovely 1950s noir tale serves as an excellent prelude to Jupiter’s Legacy. The retro art of Torres is a joy.
47. The Fox #1 (Dark Circle, 2015) ***¾
Writers: Dean Haspiel & Mark Waid/Artist: Dean Haspiel
48. Chrononauts #2 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: Sean Murphy
49. Howard The Duck #2 Marvel, 2015) ****½
Writer: Chip Zdarsky/Artists: Joe Quinones & Joe Rivera
50. Kaijumax #1 (Oni Press, 2015) ****¼
Writer/artist: Zander Cannon
Godzilla meets Oz. Very frightening. Very good. The scene where the monster prison inmates are working out using gym equipment that resembles cities (to crush) or ships (for lifting) was very clever.
51. Guardians Team-Up #4 (Marvel, 2015) ***¼
Writer: John Layman/Artist: Otto Schmidt

52. Guardians Of The Galaxy #25 (Marvel, 2015) ***
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artist: Valerio Schiti
53. Legendary Star-Lord #10 (Marvel, 2015) ***
Writer: Sam Humphries/Artists: Paco Medina & Juan Vlasco  
I am so over The Black Vortex crossover.

54. Guardians Of The Galaxy: Best Story Ever (Marvel, 2015) ***
Writer: Tim Seeley/Artists: Reilly Brown, Iban Coello & Jacopo Camagni
It wasn’t.
55. Rocket Racoon #10 (Marvel, 2015) ***¼
Writer: Skottie Young/Artists: Jake Parker (interior); Skottie Young (cover)
56.-57. Bedlam #10-11 (Image, 2013-14) ***
Writer: Nick Spencer/Artists: Ryan Browne (interior); Frazer Irving (cover)
58.-59. Arthur Suydam’s Demon Dreams (Pacific, 1984) ***¼
Writer/artist: Arthur Suydam
60. Intense! #2 (Pure Imagination, 1993) ***
Writer/artist: Basil Wolverton
B&W reprints of public domain Wolverton stories from the 1940s and 50s. Fun stuff.
61. God Hates Astronauts #7 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Ryan Browne/Artists: Jordan Boyd (interior); Ryan Browne (main covers)
62. Black Science #13 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Rick Remender/Artist: Matteo Scalera
63. The Multiversity: Ultra Comics (DC, 2015) ***
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artist: Doug Mahnke & friends
What? The? Fuck????
64. The Woods #12 (BOOM!, 2015) ***
Writer: James Tynion IV/Artist: Michael Dialynas
65. Southern Bastards #7 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Jason Aaron/Artist: Jason Latour
66. Gotham By Midnight #5 (DC, 2015) ****½
Writer: Ray Fawkes/Artist: Ben Templesmith
67. Dream Police #6 (Image, 2015) ***½
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski/Artist: Sid Kotian
68.-69. Justice League #32-33 (DC, 2014) ***½
Writer: Geoff Johns/Artists: Doug Mahnke & Heith Champagne
The Doom Patrol joins the New 52. And Lex Luthor joins the Justice League. Intriguing. Pity it all means nothing now that DC is rebooting (again) for Convergence and Divergence.





Sunday, May 3, 2015

Kirby Your Enthusiasm, ep. 38: "The Funnies!"


IT'S a special on-the-road edition of KYE as Helen and I discuss newspaper cartoon strips: which ones we read as children, which ones we avoided and why Helen didn't like Doonesbury. We also examine why our kids have become so obsessed with Peanuts and Calvin & Hobbes
And why that's a cool thing.
We also find time to digress and talk in-depth about the Mr Men series of books.
The outro theme this episode is the Peanuts TV special theme.
I've also thrown in a Doonesbury public service announcement, Mr Butts Goes To Washington, from 1990 for your aural pleasure.

It's 33+ minutes of vehicular hilarity. Download it HERE.
Duke from 'Doonesbury'

If you want "the funnies" sent to your inbox every day, then head to Go Comics and order as many as you like. It's pretty cool and dirt-cheap.

Meanwhile, below are samples of some of the other strips we talk about in this episode.


B.C.





Snake Tales


Gary Larson's 'The Far Side'

Saturday, May 2, 2015

COMICS READING FOR MARCH: “Ya want me to bop you with this lollipop?”


* 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. Hellboy: House Of The Living Dead (Dark Horse, 2011) ****
Writer: Mike Mignola/Artists: Richard Corben (interior); Mike Mignola (cover)
The Frankenstein monster, werewolves, vampire women...and luchadors! Plus gorgeous Richard Corben artwork! Fantastic (if typical) Hellboy horror action.
2. The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple (First Second, 2014) ***
I love Farel’s art, but this sci-fi yarn is very confusing. It was hard to follow in parts and ultimately unsatisfying. Beautiful art, though.
3.-4. Silver Surfer #9-10 (Marvel, 2015) ***¾
Writer: Dan Slott/Artist: Michael Allred
5.-8. Future’s End #42-45 (DC, 2015) ***¾
Writers/artists: various
9.-14.Young Liars Vol. 1: Daydream Believer (Vertigo, 2008) ***
- originally published in Young Liars #1-6 (Vertigo, 2008)
Writer/artist: David Lapham
Lapham creates one of the greatest comics of all time, Stray Bullets. It is the PERFECT comic. But everything else he does is so hit’n’miss. Young Liars is a good example: unlikable characters, castration, midget rape, transvestites and nose-biting. Unpleasant for unpleasant’s sake. And not particularly well-written either.
15. Stray Bullets: Sunshine And Roses #1 (Image, 2015) *****
Writer/artist: David Lapham
The perfect comic.
16. The Multiversity: Mastermen (DC, 2015) ***½
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artists: Jim Lee & friends
17. Howard The Duck #1 Marvel, 2015) ****½
Writer: Chip Zdarsky/Artist: Joe Quinones
18.-19. Guardians Team-Up #1-2 (Marvel, 2015) ***¾
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artists: Art Adams (#1); Stephane Roux & Jay Leisten (#2)
20. Legendary Star-Lord #9 (Marvel, 2015) ***½
Writer: Sam Humphries/Artists: Paco Medina & Juan Vlasco
21. All-New X-Men #38 (Marvel, 2015) ***½
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
22. Marvel Universe Guardians Of The Galaxy #1 (Marvel, 2015) ***¼
So Very Young: Writer: Mairghread Scott/Artist: Adam Archer
Star-Lord: Writer/Artist: Joe Caramagna   
23. Justice League United #8 (DC, 2015) ***
Writer: Jeff Lemire/Artists: Neil Edwards, Jay Leisten  Keith Champagne (interior); Dan Hipp (Mars Attacks! variant cover)
Another uninspired conclusion to a Legion of Super-Heroes yarn where Brainiac 5 pulls some pseudo-scientific bullshit out of his arse to save the universe..again.
24. Justice League 3000 #13 (DC, 2015) ***½
Writer: Keith Giffen & JM DeMatteis/Artist: Howard Porter
25. Justice League Europe #32 (DC, 1991) **¾
Writers: Keith Giffen & Gerard Jones/Artists: Darick Robertson & John Beatty
The league teams up with the Doom Patrol...kinda. Goofy stuff.
26. Gotham By Midnight #4 (DC, 2015) ****½
Writer: Ray Fawkes/Artist: Ben Templesmith
27. Suiciders #1 (Vertigo, 2015) ***¼
Writer/artist: Lee Bermejo
28. Batgirl #39 (DC, 2015) ***½ 
Writers: Cameron Stewart & Brenden Fletcher/Artists: Babs Tarr & Cameron Stewart
29. Terminal Hero #5 (Dynamite, 2015) ****
Writer: Peter Milligan/Artist: Piotr Kowalski
30. The Black Hood #1 (Dark Circle Comics, 2015) ****½
Writer: Duane Swierczynski/Artist: Michael Gaydos
Finally, an Archie superhero done right.
31. Curb Stomp #1 (BOOM!, 2015) **¾
Writer: Ryan Ferrier/Artist: Devaki Neogi (interior); Tula Lotay (cover)
32. Thor Annual #1 (Marvel, 2015) ***½
Writers/Artists: various
On yarn is penned by ex-WWE wrestler CM Punk. It’s passable.
33. MPH #5 (Image, 2015) ***¼
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: Duncan Fegredo
34. The Woods #11(BOOM!, 2015) ***
Writer: James Tynion IV/Artist: Michael Dialynas
35. Men Of Wrath #5 (Icon, 2015) ****
Writer: Jason Aaron/Artist: Ron Garney
36.-61. Herbie Archives Vols. 1-3 (Dark Horse, 2008-09) *****
- originally published in Forbidden Worlds #73, 94, 110, 114, 116; Unknown Worlds #20; Herbie #1-23 (American Comics Group, 1958-1967)
Writer: Shane O’Shea/Artist: Ogden Whitney
Quite possibly the most extraordinary, bizarre, sad, desperate, loveable, strange comic I’ve ever read. An obese autistic child, who is bullied by his overbearing father and kids at school, fantasises that he is an omnipotent superhero who can travel anywhere in the universe, have amazing unreal adventures and is friends with everyone from the US President to the Queen and historical figures, who he visits whenever he travels back in time. Herbie uses the power of lollipops to achieve his fantastical aims as he loses himself deep in a fantasy world where he is loved and respected, unlike the real world. Well, that’s MY interpretation of this crazy comic and I’m sticking to it!
62.-63. Secret Identities #1-2 (Image, 2015) ****¼
Writers: Jay Faerber & Brian Joines/Artist: Ilias Kyriazis
A corrupt police commissioner gets a super-villain mole to infiltrate a JLA-style super-team with plenty of skeletons in their closet. But why? This mystery is building nicely.
64.-65. C.O.W.L. #8-9 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Kyle Higgins & Alec Siegel/Artists: Rod Reis (interiors), Trevor McCarthy (covers)
66. The New 52: Future’s End #40-41 (DC, 2015) ***½
Writers/artists: various
67. Rocket Raccoon #8-9 (Marvel, 2015) ****
Writer: Skottie Young/Artists: Filipe Andrade (#8 interior); Jake Parker (#9 interior); Skottie Young (covers)
68.-69. Nameless #1-2 (Image, 2015) ****¼
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artist: Chris Burnham
Lovecraft meets Kubrick’s 2001? I can dig that.
70. Batgirl: Endgame #1 (DC, 2015) **
“Writers”: Cameron Stewart & Brenden Fletcher/Artist: Bengal (interior); Rafael Albuquerque (cover)
Nice art, shame about the story. Dialogue-free comics are cool...except when you’re paying $6.25 for a comic that takes less than five minutes to read.
71. Batgirl #40 (DC, 2015) ***
Writers: Cameron Stewart & Brenden Fletcher/Artist: Babs Tarr & Cameron Stewart (interior); Cameron Stewart (cover)
The story arc ends before the Convergence “event” begins, which is a perfect jumping off point for me. Fuck DC.
72. Shadow Show #4 (IDW, 2015) ***
Writers/artists: various
73. Moon Knight #12 (Marvel, 2015) ***½
Writer: Brian Wood/Artist: Greg Smallwood (interior); Declan Shalvey (cover)
Goodt!
74. Moon Knight #13 (Marvel, 2015) **½
Writer: Cullen Bunn/Artists: Ron Ackins, Tom Palmer, Walden Wong & Victor Olazaba (interior); Declan Shalvey (cover)
With the previous creative team walking, to be replaced by a far inferior team trying to recreate the magic of Warren Ellis’s first arc...well, it’s the perfect time to walk away from this series, especially with the Secret Wars “event” about to kick off. Fuck Marvel.
75. Strange Sports Stories #1 (Vertigo, 2015) **
Writers/artists: various
Not worth the US$5 price tag.
76. Mind MGMT #31 (Dark Horse, 2015) ****
Writer/artist: Matt Kindt
The final arc begins! I get all my Dark Horse comics sent to me digitally, but I still buy hard copies of this entertaining series. It needs to be held in the reader’s hands, I reckon.
77. Nailbiter #10 (Image, 2015)
Writer: Joshua Williamson/Artist: Mike Henderson
Things get darker. Who knew that was even possible?
78. Nailbiter / Hack/Slash (Image, 2015) ***
Writers/artists: various
A fun lil’ crossover that adds a bit of back story to the Nailbiter storyline.
79. Revival #28 (Image, 2015) ****¼
Writer: Tim Seeley/Artist: Mike Norton (interior); Jenny Frison (cover)
80. God Hates Astronauts #6 (Image, 2014-15) ****
Writer: Ryan Browne/Artists: Jordan Boyd (interior); Ryan Browne (main covers)
81.-82. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2-3 (Marvel, 2015) ****¼
Writer: Ryan North/Artist: Erica Henderson
OK. I’m glad I stuck with this series, because it’s swiftly become one of the few Marvel series I still enjoy. Funny, whimsical, absurd. And next issue Squirrel Girl faces off with...Galactus! Can’t wait.
83. All-New X-Men #39 (Marvel, 2015) ***¼
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
84. Guardians Team-Up #3 (Marvel, 2015) ***¼
Writer: Sam Humphries/Artist: Mike Mayhew
85. Marvel Universe Guardians Of The Galaxy #2 (Marvel, 2015) ***
Writer: Mairghread Scott/Artist: Adam Archer
86. Black Science #12 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Rick Remender/Artist: Moreno Dinisio
After losing its way (and my interest) for the past few issues, this dark take on Lost In Space trope has taken a strong turn for the better. Really keen to see how our heroes – who seem to now be unwitting villains – cope with the news that their dimension-hopping is destroying the planets they visit.
87. Bitch Planet #3 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick/Artist: Robert Wilson IV
Love this series. You go, girls!
88. Chrononauts #1 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: Sean Murphy
Stupid and overpriced, but damn this is a fun read. What if Bill & Ted were super-intelligent and invented time travel? Yeah, they’d cause bulk havoc and this series takes that particular ball and runs with it.
89. Velvet #9 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Steve Epting
90. Stray Bullets: Sunshine And Roses #2 (Image, 2015) *****
Writer/artist: David Lapham
Comics perfection.
91. Nemo: River Of Ghosts (Top Shelf, 2015) ****¾
Writer: Alan Moore/Artist: Kevin O’Neill
If this graphic novel is truly the end of The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen saga, then it ended strongly after a few mid-series hiccups. The story of uber-pirate Janni Nemo on a mad mission to the heart of South America to fight Nazis is pretty damn cool.