Tuesday, 31 December 2013

What I'm looking forward to in 2014!!!

2014 is here!!! This past year has been pretty roller coaster for me when it came to my comics, with great books like Daredevil still going strong and more image books finding their way onto my pull list, some of which didn't last long. However, while many new books got added, a fair few also ended, keeping my monthly comic list in a nice state of equilibrium.

However, the new year has arrived, and with a new year comes new comic books and there is a number of things amongst them that I'm definitely looking forward:

1. Revolutionary War - Remember Captain Britain and MI:13? Well I sure do!!! I loved that series and, having been about five years since it came out (and ended not long after), I miss the characters that made it a success. Therefore, this 'event' (for want of a better word) is the first thing I'm looking forward to in the new year (which is convenient as it comes out in January). With creators related to the old marvel UK franchise, I think it'll be something to see.

2. Robinson and Kirk on Fantastic Four - Marvel's first family is my biggest comic collection. I have issues going back ten years. Unfortunately, Matt Fraction's recent run was a flop in my eyes. However, with former Earth 2 writer James Robinson and Leonard Kirk, the artist for the previously mentioned Captain Britain series , making the panels, I've gotta say that I'm pretty much expecting a run that will than make up for the drivel currently being released.

3. The Fallout from Earth 2 - now, this is something that has really got me hooked. When Earth 2 came out, James Robinson and Nicola Scott gave us an fantastic series with an epic story and this has vastly improved in the last two issues when Tom Taylor replaced Robinson and brought in an evil Superman and new Batman. I'm now looking forward to where this series goes from here and, especially, if I was right with my theories about Fates prophecy.

4. Serenity: Leaves on the Wind - now this was a bit of a surprise for me and I only picked it up when I went back through the solicitations for the first three months of the year. However, the crew of the Serenity are back (yay!!!) with a new mini-series (and maybe series) which directly follows on from the film. What makes this even better is the fact that Jed Whedon (Joss's brother) is writing it, meaning that it should keep pretty close to continuity.

5. The continuation of Alex + Ada - Ok, here's how it is. Alex + Ada came out in November and has released two issues so far. Why am I so excited for it to continue? Because it is that bloody good!!! Alex + Ada is the best book I pick up (sorry Daredevil), either despite or because of it being very different to what I normally read. Regardless, I really can't wait to see what comes next there.

6. The Heavenly Chord part 2 - Since picking them up in May and August respectively, I've developed a big love for Indie books Afterlife Inc. and 7 String and keep looking forward to more of their stories. This should come about this year with the release of the heavenly chord part 2, which finishes of the crossover of these two books that started back in the summer. I enjoyed part one and really wanna know how the story finishes.

7. More indie books!!! - This year I've picked up more and more indie books/books that weren't the big two and (almost) every time I continue to be impressed. Think Tank, Snapshot, Point of Impact, Lazarus, Alex + Ada, all of these have been fantastic reads and, as a result, I'm totally looking forward to more books like this. The first three months (for me) will include Dead Body Road (which has admittedly started) and The Fuse as well as the Serenity mini, but I just hope there is more to come over the following nine months.

8. The end of Where is Jake Ellis?(maybe) - Now, this is more likely wishful thinking, but I'm looking forward to the final two issues of Where is jake Ellis?, although the question still remains if I'll get to see them this year. The last issue of this series came out last February and so it's been a bit of a wait (with no end in sight). However, if (by some miracle) the final two issues do come out this year, then I'll enjoy seeing what happens to the title character going forward.

9. More Aquaman trades - In 2013 I had the good fortune to pick up all three of the New 52 Aquaman trades....and they were GOOD!!! As a result, I'm really looking forward to volume 4, which will contain the final issues written by Geoff Johns. I'm also really hoping that volume 5 (the start of Jeff Parker's run) is released at the tail end of the year so I can keep up with the adventures of the king of Atlantis.

10. The Hawkeye trade - this was a bit of a late entry, but, during a recent discussion on the Immortal Iron Fist, I was recommended the current Hawkeye series as they shared a creative team. Now I was fortunate to pick up a free copy of issue one off Comixology during their whole 12 days of Christmas deal and I liked it, which certainly added to the incentive when picking up the trade. Now, I don't know if it is any good, but based on recommendations, I'm sure looking forward to finding out.

And so, that's pretty much everything that I'm looking forward to this year, although I have no doubt that more will follow as time goes on. I just have to hope that, while not all of these will meet my expectations, the large majority will certainly prove their worth to me. That said, only time will tell so, in the meantime, Happy New Year!!!


Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Are comic books becoming more like TV shows?

So, recently I read Think Tank #11 (my thoughts on that are here, towards the bottom) which at the end, as you'll know if you read it, contains four pages of additional content about the science behind the story. Now I really enjoy this part of each issue because A. it teaches me a thing or two and means I have some understanding of the technobabble in the story and B. It gives some insight into the thoughts of the creative team.

Now usually it is the former that gets my interest more (although, admittedly, not by much). However, on this occasion, it was the latter as Matt Hawkins notes told of the creative teams plans for this series.

According to these notes, due to people being put off the book because it is black and white, Hawkins and Ekedal were planning on changing the books format so to finish 'season 1' of Think Tank at issue 12, with the second season starting after a summer break, also returning in colour.

Now, it's not the colour change that made me take notice (although I like this series in black and white), but the change in format. This is now the second book in I know of to have unveiled plans like this. Previously, I read an interview with J. Michael Straczynski about Ten Grand (see here) and within this interview, he mentioned the plan to have twelve issue 'seasons' with a small three month break between them for the creative team to complete issues ahead of time.

Now, two series is co-incidence, it isn't a market wide change, but I find it interesting that comic books seem to be mimicking television series in this way. It's certainly ironic, given that there have been a growing number of comic book inspired tv shows being announced for the next couple of years very recently. Maybe this will be how indie comics release their books in future, a variant to Marvels 'volumes' that they seem to be pushing towards recently.

But if they are becoming more like TV shows, should we soon expect midseason finales/cliffhangers? Spinoffs or crossovers (although comics already do that)? Regardless, I look forward to see how Think Tank makes it work. Besides, in the grand scheme of things, as long as the book keeps coming out, what do I care how it comes out?

Monday, 9 December 2013

A weekend of old friends and new comics

It's always nice to see old friends. Even nicer still when you get to pick up new comic books at the same time. This is what the prior weekend got to be about as I arrived at Proud Lion Comics in Cheltenham for the book signing of Afterlife Inc. Volume 3 (which I have reviewed previously, see here) While there, not only did I get yet another in depth chat with Jon Lock about his creations (poor guy has now had me chew his ear off three times in a year), but also Proud Lion owner Ben Fardon, who I'd previously met years back when he was running a shop in Swindon. It was a good catch up within a beautiful shop (I should have made my way there sooner in my life) and I'll have to find more excuses to make that trip.

Of course, along with old friends is the obligatory weekly pick up of the new comic books which, this week, consisted of only three: Earth 2 #18, Daredevil: Dark Nights #7 and Think Tank #11. A small week to be sure, but after reading them all I'm certain that the small weeks are the best.

For instance, Earth 2 continues to go from strength to strength and issue 18 is no exception as the battle against Superman rages on while even more surprises are revealed to us by Batman. Now I remember having concerns when Tom Taylor took over from James Robinson as the scribe here, but after the first issue those fears were laid to rest, while after this one they were just truly obliterated. Taylor has ramped up the suspense without missing a beat while Nicola Scott's art continues to amaze. If there is one complaint about this book, it's the focus that is being placed on Superman and Batman while the cast which carried this title up until now are pushed back . Hopefully this doesn't become the standard for the book, but for now it has me at a place where I gotta know what happened next (especially to see if my theories on the prophecy are true).

And then, there was the penultimate issue of Daredevil: Dark Nights, which continued the man without fear's high paced team up with Misty Knight in Miami as they track their witness and the man who kidnapped him, the kingpin called King (what an original name). Issue 7 had the unfortunate luck of suffering from what I call mid-story fatigue, in that it appeared to struggle for material to fill in the gap between the beginning and the end. Nonetheless, the book was still a lot of fun as Palmiotti continued to give us a street-smart, fun Daredevil displayed in the loud, vibrant art given to us by Thorny Silas. While it was most likely the weak issue of the week, I still loved it and will be sad when this mini-series ends.

Finally, there came Think Tank #11, which turns out to also be the penultimate issue of the series (apparently, Think Tank is going into a seasons format, just like TV), as David Loren once again escapes in order to rescue his girl, although is his escape and rescue simply part of someone else's master plan? I've said it before (maybe too many times) and I'll say it again; I love this series. Matt Hawkins and Rashan Ekedal continue to provide a fun, engrossing story that seems WAY to far from the end for it to be wrapped up in the next issue. However, with a cliffhanger like this issue has, that might be easier than I think.

So, that was my comics related fun for this week (or, more accurately last week, as it's now Monday when I wrote this). Hopefully next week will be just as enjoyable as I get to read the new issues of Alex + Ada and Lazarus, along with seeing the beginning of Dead Body Road.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Crumbles!! Cracking the prophecy of Earth 2.

Crumbles...the queen! It crumbles. green!
Crumbles, the queen. Speed broken! The child, the resurrected hope. Angel in the slaughter. They come from the fires! The alien. Crumbles green. It crumbles.

Prophetic words indeed!! This is what was said by Dr Fate during the events of Earth 2 issue 17 (which was pretty awesome by the way) after he'd had his ass handed to him by Brutal.

Now, since it came out, I've seen a few things on the net about what it means and I too have really wondered if it could spell out what to expect from Tom Taylor and Nicola Scott's run or if is just random words spoken by a crazy person. Of course, as it's Dr Fate, I suspect it's the former, so I figured I'd have a look.

(Warning, spoilers are present below.)

"Crumbles...the queen! It crumbles. Green!" - So, who is the queen? I think, given the shock reveal at the end of issue 16, it isn't a stretch to assume the Wonder Woman may return (though it also may refer to Fury, WW's daughter). As for green, that's obviously Green Lantern.

Speed broken! - gotta be the Flash. Is badly injured or even killed maybe?

The child, the resurrected hope. - now, I suspect this means Lois Lane/Red Tornado as A. She's the Generals child, B. She's back from the dead and C. Sam Lane refers to her as the 'only hope'.

"Angel in the slaughter." - might be a bit of a stretch, but it think this is Hawkgirl.

"They come from the fires!" - an invading army from the fire pits, as implied when captain Steel returned from them looking in bad shape.

The alien. - this is either Superman, or the maybe even Darkseid (if he comes out of the fires).

It crumbles - crumbles is the most used word but the term is more often 'it crumbles', suggesting a thing. I think this is the earth dying, or crumbling apart in this case.

So, I think this 'prophecy' means that once the queen arrives, the flash will die, red tornado will rise up and join the fight with Hawkgirl and, as more monsters arrive from the fire pits, Superman will kill the Green Lantern which, as the avatar of life in this world, will cause the Earth to die.

This is probably totally wrong but, if I am, I'll be interested to see how far off I will be.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Afterlife Inc. Vol. 3: Lifeblood Advance Review

I received an email a couple of days back from Jon Lock, an awesome writer/creator whom I had first met back in May at the Bristol Expo, asking me if I would be interested in reading an advance copy of his new title, Afterlife Inc Volume 3: Lifeblood, the previous two volumes of which I'd really enjoyed immensely (See my thoughts on those here).

Obviously, I couldn't say yes fast enough!!!

Lifeblood, the third volume of Jon's terrific Afterlife Inc. series, brings about the return of Jack Fortune, App, Nuriel and rest of the gang for another action packed adventure that comes about as they continue to run their heavenly enterprise. This time round, as Jack is putting plans in place to make living in heaven easier and more efficient to all (and causing friction with other board members in the process), the company you can believe in is finding itself at odds, underprepared and overwhelmed with a new cult emerging on the fringes of Empyrean, one which may just have links an ancient evil that none of the board expected, and might not survive.

And so, once again, I let my mind be taken on the ride of a lifetime, just as this books foreword tells you to expect. Lifeblood, like it's predecessors, is a tour de force of a story that plunges you at break neck speeds through an epic location and equally epic event. From the second I picked this up, I just couldn't put it down and I was gripped by every twist, turn, funny quip and brutal fight scene that could be thrown at me. With every panel beautiful and every character charming, the only upsetting thing for me about the entire reading experience came about when I reached the end, knowing I had no story left to follow after that final page.
Based on his last two volumes, I think that Jon Lock is a truly terrific writer but with Lifeblood It is possible that he's excelled himself. This is quite possibly his masterpiece, with each character seeming so alive in his writing, the story flows beautifully with an almost flawless pacing. There is no sluggishness to this book, no clunkiness in its text, I couldn't pull myself away from this book and not once did it struggle to keep my attention. This title's writing is truly brilliant and, I think, could go toe-to-toe with almost any work of any big name writer going. In fact, If there is one downside to this book it's that not all the main cast get enough screentime, with Temp and Nuriel losing out here. However, with a main cast of eight characters and 75% of them having major parts in the story, it's a flaw that can be easily forgiven (though really like reading Nuriel).

As for the art, well what else can I say, I still loved it!! Ash Jackson, Nathan Ashworth and Taz Ashworth have once again excelled themselves with fantastically vibrant colours and each panel displaying so much detail. Much like the writing, the art has evolved as, while it continues to embody the Templesmith-esque style it now pulls off a rather more retro look. This is possibly due to richer detail, though helped by the colours, which are far more bold than in the previous volumes, greatly enhancing the visuals throughout. Again like the writing, the art in the last two arcs was amazing, but with this volume it feels as though it has reached perfection.

When I read volumes one and two, I said that Afterlife Inc. was a series you could believe in. However, after reading volume three I have far greater belief in that statement. Jon Lock told when I first met him that his plan was for three volumes and, if that's the case, this is a fantastic finale to what is quite possibly one of the best series I've read, I could wish some more well known books were this good. I just hope the creators can continue their stories in some form going forward, but even if they can't then that's ok, because this has been one hell of a ride!!

Afterlife Inc. Vol. 3: Lifeblood will be released next weekend at Thought Bubble in Leeds. If you end up being there, pick it up. Actually, on second thought, pick up all three volumes because ( and Trust me on this) you won't regret it.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Alex + Ada #1 Review

Alex + Ada #1
Alex + Ada #1 is the first part of the first story from Jonathan Luna in three years (though I have to admit this is the first thing of his I've read) which, upon reading the solicit for it back in September, I found myself inexplicably drawn because of it's cover and very unique synopsis. Here, Luna (along with help from Sarah Vaughan) looked to create a scif-fi Romeo and Juliet story that I, for some unknown reason. wanted to check out.

The premise is a simple one; Alex is a young man with a good life; nice job, good friends, loving family. But his life is also a very lonely one as he lives alone and avoids the company of others. But on his birthday he receives, as a present, an X5, the most realistic android on the market.

Now, I've read this issue three times since I've got it and I've gotta admit, though it took me some time, I really enjoyed it. I suspect my biggest problem was this is not a normal comic book as I usually buy; there are no superheroes, no action set pieces, this is just a story about a guy living his life after losing love. I think that's what has appealed to me after getting over the difficult transition from what I normally read to this, this is a character that everyone can relate to at some point in their lives.

A match made in (silicon) heaven??

Jonathan Luna has put together a well thought out start to this story and I think he has executed it flawlessly. The story is fantastically realistic (being a guy whose previously suffered depression, every aspect of Alex's social interations ran true with me) but it's the art that really makes this book great.

This book is so light and crisp. Some might say it's simple art, but for me that's its draw. Alex+Ada doesn't try to be complicated, but instead gives everything needed to tell the story, and boy does it. Every panel tells this story greater than the words that accompany them. The wordless panels in fact put across Alex's isolated nature to a T and just brings out my sympathy for him.

I was concerned after the first read through that this title wouldn't amount to much, but after looking at it again I'm glad I looked again. This was a beautiful issue and if the rest of the series is like this then it's gonna be one hell of a story.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Superior Spider-man Team-up Special #1 review

The final part of
'Arms of the Octopus'
So, I've just finished reading Superior Spider-man Team-up Special #1 (boy, that's quite a mouthful), the final part of the 'Arms of the Octopus' story which began within the All New X-Men Special and continued in the Indestructible Hulk Special . Now say what you will about the story as a whole (and I might just do that later), but I found this issue to be, well pretty good actually.
So, what's it about? Well, as it follows on from the other two specials, this Spidey special picks up the story right where they left off, with Spidey, Hulk and the X-men battling past bad guys Doc Ock adn Abomination as well as the forces that brought them to the present. The only difference here, much like the other two books, is that the narration now comes from Spidey and not either Banner or Beast.

Spidey should have kept these
arms for his regular series.
Now, once again Mike Costa takes up the writing duties, providing the overall plot a sense of continuity and, I've gotta admit, he has done a real good job with this issue. Unlike the Hulk special, which just seemed like dead weight for most of it, this Spidey special was far more engrossing than I was expecting, with Costa putting across an interesting, albeit creepy and arrogantly dislikable, Spider-man. If there is one downside here, it's (like the other two specials) the X-men (other than Beast), who seem to do nothing but take up panel space, although they have more of a prescence here than in the last two installments. It would have been nice to see them contribute more, although it's a minor gripe in the grand scheme of things.

Where the issue stumbles is with the art. Michael Dialnyas takes over duties and, unfortunately, his isn't a style I can get on bored with. There isn't anything inherently wrong with it, I just find the art in this title very inferior to a lot of the other books I pick up, and certainly the weak link in regards to the art within this crossover.

Despite that though, I still enjoyed this Superior Spider-man Team-up Special and, given I picked up the rest of the crossover I'm glad I did, as the story certainly had a satisfying conclusion, even if everything returned to the status quo. That said, if I could do it all again, I probably wouldn't. This story was good, just not that good.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Digital or Print? What's best when reading comics?

I'm having a bit of dilemma at the moment, although it's (thankfully) not too life threatening (though maybe it is given how much I love comics). After previously pondering what I should cull from my comic book pull list as I head into 2014 (see here ), I started to then look forward and see what new titles I could pick up and replace them, immediately finding two titles which are, somewhat, rather appealling to me. These titles are Alex + Ada, a (presumably) 12 issue series by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughan (released in November), and Dead Body Road, a six issue series brought to us by Justin Jordan and Matteo Scalera (released in December). Now, the problem I've got isn't whether I should buy either book but in what format of should I buy them. Should I pick them up in print or digitally?

My collection in its digital glory (for now??)
Now, here's a little backstory. Up until this point I deal primarily in print issues. I've got 1000 single issue comics stored in a cupboard full of boxes as well a good bookcase full of trades. Everything I normally buy is physical, in your hands comics from a bricks and mortar shop (or several, as it's been in my lifetime). In truth Digital has not been something I've acknowledged until recently when I've started picking up mini-series that are on sale (Kingdom Come, The Nightly News, Superman: Birthright) or redeeming codes found in the back of Marvel's $3.99 books (Indestructible Hulk, Uncanny X-Force, Daredevil: End of Days). However, despite these trips into cyber comics, I've never picked up items from my pull list on the day they are released until recently with the All-New X-men and Indestructible Hulk specials, which are detailing the Arms of the Octopus story.However, now I'm eyeing up this new series the question I'm asking myself is 'do I pick them up digitally?' This is an enticing prospect and here's why. Like I said previously, my comic books fill a cupboard and a bookcase and that's just a thousand single issues and if I keep buying them that'll soon not be enough storage. A print copy takes up space and eventually it'll get to the point that I have to sell them (which i'm loathe to do). If I pick them up on digital, that's just nothing in terms of space. I could hold 16 gigs worth of comics on an Ipad which is about the same size as a trade. Then there's picking them up. At present, I pick up my comics from a shop, in the town centre, which I can't reach until the Saturday when I'm not at work, three days after their release. With Digital I can pick them up on the day which they are released.

However, there is then the downsides of digital. First up is the cost. Because I'm a regular customer of my local shop with an ongoing standing order, I'm eligible for 10% discount which, when on a budget, is not a bad thing. By going digital there is a pretty good chance I'm going to spend more on comics. There is also the collectibility of print, as if I did ever sell them, a print comic is likely to be worth more than a digital copy. Also, I kind of enjoy having a real, physical 'thing' in my hands to look at. However, the big issue against digital is the fact of enjoyability. Now, I don't know about anyone else but, while I enjoy reading comics on my ipad, I find them so much more enjoyable when they are real comics in my hands. I don't know why but this is how it is and I'm hesitant to get digital comics if they impede the reason I buy comics in the first place.

So, what do I do? With Alex + Ada being released in only a couple of weeks I'm more then likely going to use it as a test case and buy it digitally. I'm really tempted to do it as I continually worry that I'm running out of space at home, but I can't help but feel that digital comics take something away from the experience of reading them.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Daredevil: Life after Mark Waid?

Ok, so I don't know if it is true or false but it seems, having just read this this, Mark Waid's critically acclaimed run on Daredevil is coming to an end.
Daredevil #1. Where it all began
Now, there isn't any guarantee that this is true as, though Bleeding Cool's source is the Daredevil letter pages at the back of the comic, the way it is written could hint at some more subtle meaning (though I've got to admit, I don't know what). Therefore, it could simply be that Bleeding Cool are just making smoke and panicking me.

But, if it is true, where do I go from here......

I have to ask myself the question, in light of my planning to reduce the size of my pull list, is Mark Waid (and, presumably, Chris Samnee)'s departure a got time for me to jump ship from the Man without Fear's main title? I'm severely tempted, and here's why:
Waid gave us everything,
including new villains
Since coming on board, Mark Waid has created the boss of all comic books. It is without a doubt the best thing you can read on shelves at the moment, immensely surpassing anything else in quality, story, tone, you name it. I've got to admit that this book has been so good that I'm not sure anyone can come along and beat it, which forms the main foundation of my dilemma. I like Daredevil, a lot. Both the book and the character mean a lot to me (possibly more than Fantastic Four, surprisingly) and yet, if this is the best Daredevil story I've read (which is entirely possible) then the only way to go, quality wise, is down.
If Waid's going, so to must
 Samnee (I guess)
I saw it before with Fantastic Four (twice), most notably with the end of Jonathan Hickman's run. Hickman wrote a fantastic (pardon the pun), epic story during his time with the first family and, for me, it was a work of art that his successor, Matt Fraction just failed to live up to. As a result, Fraction's run has not impressed (as I've mentioned previously), causing me to consider dropping the book due to it not entertaining me.

So, with that in mind, should I stay on Daredevil and have my heart broken (again)? I could be wrong and the next creative team either maintain a similar quality level (or even surpass it)? Well, yeah, that is a possibility, but is it worth taking the risk when the alternative is the decimation of my appreciation for this book due to shoddy sub-standard storytelling? So, for Daredevil, is there life after Mark Waid? I hope so but, given past experience, I doubt it.



Thursday, 17 October 2013

Indestructible Hulk Special #1 Review

So, another small week for me, but it was a week that saw the continuation of Marvel's 'Arms of the Octopus' storyline, the special issue crossover which had began a couple of weeks back in the pages of All New X-Men Special #1. Now it was time for part two to continue that story within a second series special, this time the book being Indestructible Hulk Special #1.

Picking up where All New X-Men's special left off, the narrative switches perspective from X-Men's Beast to the Jade Giant's alter ego, Bruce Banner as he explains how, after performing Hulk's latest mission for S.H.I.E.L.D. (which subsequently saw the best Hulk to Banner reversal technique ever) he is called upon by Spider-Man and the New X-Men (as seen at the end of the last issue) to provide insight into the Gamma Irradiated Young Doctor Octopus that appeared previously. After a bit of investigating Banner came to the conclusion the X-men reached previously that a temporal anomaly has brought past versions of characters to the present, which is seemingly confirmed when the (supposedly) dead Abomination begins tearing up the city, resulting in the good Doctor to get a little bit angry....

Note the Hulk's receding hairline.
This special maintains writer Mike Costa from part one of the story (although the artist is different). However, despite the consistency in the writing skill, this issue didn't feel quite as engrossing as All New X-Men. I think the main problem here is that Indestructible Hulk Special #1 feels a lot like filler, especially introductions and catch ups between characters, some which were played out previously, giving a very repetitve feel. This is most likely the biggest problem of the issue as it takes a lot of space which could have been replaced by necessary plot development or action. That said, this 'filler' dialogue isn't the only problem as the art doesn't really help in my mind. I'm sure Jake Wyatt is a good artist (though I've not seen any of his other stuff) but I just didn't like how this issue was drawn, with the depictions of Hulk and Abomination most likely being the worst culprits.

I think if Arms of the Octopus had been a two issue story it might have worked well. However, in this additional issue Hulk (despite narrating as if he's the main character) feels a lot like a guest star in what is meant to be his own title. It's not a terrible is but, although the Abomination thread does help move the overall plot forward with a unexpected twist, it all feels like too much effort for too little reward. Oh well, maybe Spidey's issue can make up for it.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The year end comic book cull

So, the year is nearly over. Ok, well not really as it is only October, but as Previews has released the comic book solicitations going all the way up to December, for me it's about time I did some clearing out of my pull list ready for the new year. Now, I don't have that many books in comparison to some people I know, but I'm a guy with a mortgage to pay, mouths to feed etc, etc. and so my comic book budget is pretty conservative and with such a conservative budget, new books are prevented from being looked out without cutting away some of the fat.

With that in mind, I've gone through my list and thought long and had about what should stay and what should go and this is the end result:

Daredevil (Marvel) - I could say that this book has been ok. I could say that this book takes up precious space. I could say improvements need to be made here. I could say these things, but they'd be a lie!!! Daredevil is time and again the best book I pick up. With consistency like that there really isn't an option, Daredevil is staying. No more can be said. - Safe

Daredevil: Dark Nights (Marvel) - Honestly, there is only one thing that makes this not as good as the ongoing series above; the fact that this is only an eight issue series. Going into the new year, there is only one issue left, but Daredevil: Dark Nights is that good that I'm not willing to quibble over one issue. - Safe

Lazarus (Image) - I think, for me, Lazarus has one thing going for it that a lot of other books just don't have; Greg Rucka and Michael Lark (Ok, that's two things). I'm a big fan of both those guys and while Lazarus isn't perfect, it's still well thought out and incredibly interesting. With that in mind I'm confident this title will go in leaps and bounds and am willing to take the risk. - Safe

Think Tank (Image) - Think Tank has had its bump in the road, but its still come out swinging and it not only entertains me but makes me feel smarter (like the tagline promises). I still enjoy the book immensely and I plan to see where it goes. Besides, I rant that more people should read it and don't like to be a hypocrite. - Safe

The Activity (Image) - Ahh, the Activity. My longest running non Marvel/DC comic book (god that is sad, I should really have more). Continues to be strong, although its almost constant late release dates bugs me enough to consider dropping. Nonetheless, it's staying. - Safe (just)

Ten Grand (Image) - I gotta admit, I'm a little taken with Ten Grand and its unique, supernatural spin on the decade old Noir stereotype. That said, what drew me to this book was Ben Templesmith's art and now he's gone I'm not sure if the subject matter is enough to keep me invested. That said, I'm not willing to write it off just yet. - Uncertain

Earth 2 (DC Comics) - I love Earth 2. The main reason for that is that it's pretty isolated from the rest of the New 52, allowing it a great degree of freedom. However, though its art is fantastic, its writing has been known to be a bit clunky in places and the abrupt departure of James Robinson has put me off a bit. Then again, Tom Taylor is taking over and I hear he's got game, so I'm willing to give him a shot. - Uncertain

Indestructible Hulk (Marvel) - I had such high hopes for this series when it first came out. I mean, it's written by Mark Waid, you know, the guy writing gold over on Daredevil. Sadly, after the first couple of issues this series has just lost any interest to me. Now the Daredevil arc kept my attention and this Agent of TIME arc might just save the book on my list, but I'm skeptical at this point. - Cut

Mass Effect: Foundations (Dark Horse) - I'll be honest, there are times I think that the only reason I pick up these Mass Effect series is because I love the games so much (and I do, I REALLY do). With Foundations, I'm in two minds, the first issue was....adequate while the second issue was better. I'm an issue behind but while I suspect the series will not be of top quality, I suspect my completionist tendencies will save it from the chop. Serious thinking still required here. - Uncertain

FF (Marvel) - When the series was first conceived way back when, I was skeptical. However, what Hickman did with it turned me around. Now when Fraction took over I thought without doubt, it was one of the best books going. I'm inclined not to think that anymore as since Fraction jumped ship (and maybe a little before) this series has gotten much more non-sensical and a chore to read. Rather sad really as it started off with such promise. - Cut

Fantastic Four (Marvel) - Now this is the moment my heart breaks. I've got over 10 years of Fantastic Four issues. I have from the beginning of Waid's run all the way to present day. However, I guess that the series just hasn't recovered from Hickman's stellar run as it's been difficult to invest myself in. Now the Fraction's run (along with FF) ends in January and while I had planned to do the unthinkable and cut it, the recent reveal of James Robinson and Leonard Kirk as the new creative team has me more than tempted. - Safe (for now)

Where is Jake Ellis? (Image) - Ahh, Where is Jake Ellis? Well, that's actually a good question as an issue hasn't been released since the last new year. I'm tempted to cut it, not because it's not good but because I'm not sure if the last two issues will be released in my lifetime. That said, because it probably won't come out any time before the Superman/Batman movie, I might just leave it on, it's not like it costs me anything by not coming out. - Safe (by some miracle)

So, there it is. At the end of that, I could only bring myself to cut two books (although, I'm thinking Ten Grand will also get the chop, as will Fantastic Four if the new creative team doesn't meet expectations). That said, the book that have been hit are Marvel books (even if, sadly, one is a Fantastic Four-related book), which given my increasing love for creator owned work of late, may not turn out to be a bad thing. Of course, if any one who reads this wants to weigh in then please do, any excuse to not make a decision about comic books being cut.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Comics for the week: 09-Oct-2013

This week has been a bit of a small week when it's come to what needed picking up from my pull list and so I figured I'd just write about them together and save myself some time. The pick ups were, overall, pretty good with Think Tank #10, which is a damn good series that I was totally looking forward to, and America's got Powers #7, which finally (after a VERY long time since the first issue's release) saw the conclusion to Jonathan Ross' first (that I know of) foray into comics.

Firstly, Think Tank #10, which picked up where #9 left off, with David having been capture by his own superiors and locked up in a secret base (how very James Bond of him). However, with some help from an old friend, David breaks out and gets ready to save his girl and escape his employers once and for all, unaware that they intend to permanently fire him as a scapegoat for the fallout that has come from the use of his genetic weapon previously.

Now, after a shaky start (I'm not sure the opening press release would be wholly realistic. Do Governments really tell the world about secret military operations?) Think Tank continued to go strong, appearing to go back to the premise that originally enticed me to the book; escaping!!! Matt Hawkins and Rashal Ekedal continue to do sterling work with this book as the story really has me hooked as well as art thatis just beautiful and, i think, surpasses most other books on the shelves. Stuff I read online (as well as Hawkins own notes in the back pages) imply that the end may be near for Think Tank, and I after reading this I wonder if this is the first issue that gets the ball rolling toward the finale. Well, whether it is or isn't is regardless, I keep loving this book and so I'll be back next month for the next issue.

On the other hand, the same can't be said for the other book I picked up, as America's Got Powers #7 is the finale of a mini-series that (I think) has taken longer to release than a lot of full length ongoings. To explain the whole story would take a while (plus after taking so long, I'm not sure I remember it all), but in America people have been given superpowers and placed in a battle Royale type event. However, things get out of hand when one kid gives absolute power to another guy, who then threatens the world to bow to him. This is where this issue picks up, with the Military about ready to blow this super-powered folks off the map, Tommy Watts (the as mentioned 'one kid') must use his latent power to prevent world war 3.

Just from writing that feels like my brain dumped a way too much info. Now I previously said that this week was pretty good, but when I reference that to this comic, it is simply because it is now over. I don't know if I just lost enthusiasm due to the long wait between issues, but reading this was a chore and didn't really feel like a decent enough pay off at the end. In fact, the final page simply made it out that this series was a pointless prelude to something similiar that will occur in a sequel series. In the end the only thing I liked about this series at the end was the art, although Bryan Hitch's work alone is not worth the time I've had to wait. In the end though, I'm happy with the issue because the series is over and I can now bag it, back it and box it.

So, yeah, in the end I kinda lied at the start. In terms of quality the week wasn't that good as only half the books were worth reading. But, then again, the other half I don't have to pick up again so I count that as a plus (though it would have been better if I didn't have a real need to complete series that turn out bad).

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Review: Daredevil Dark Nights #5 - the devil vs the gnome

For me, Daredevil has really been going all guns blazing of late. While the main series has been nothing but top quality work from the great Mark Waid and Chris Samnee, a couple of fantastic mini-series have been released alongside: first the terrific End of Days by Briab Michael Bendis (arguably Daredevil's best writer in the last decade) and David Mack, which has then been followed (judging from  the first four issues) by a series with just as much quality. Thankfully, Daredevil: Dark Nights #5 continues this with the conclusion to its second story.
Continuing from the previous issue, while the Avengers continue fighting a giant monster in the heart of the city, Daredevil has tracked the criminal borrower-esque Buggit to his cousins home, who's been killed. With revenge on his mind, Buggit escapes with a bomb and, for Daredevil, it's a race against time to get across the city to reach the gnomes target, all the while saving lives and stopping super-criminals who are taking advantage of all the chaos.

As I pick up this issue, I find myself feeling a mix of fear and excitement because Shadowlands is still fresh in my memory and though up to now this series has been one of the two best series I pick up (the other, ironically, being Daredevil's ongoing), I'm always weary that it will come crashing down. Thankfully, Marvel keep dodging this bullet and have done so once again, with David Lapham finishing this two part story with some real flare and writing Daredevil perfectly.

In honesty, there is very little wrong with this issue, or even this series as a whole (although, the last three issues could change that) and if there was one thing I had to pick on then it would be the art not being as colorful as Chris Samnee's within the regular series. Of course, that's just unfair of me to say as Lee Loughridge has drawn this story with some real grit and style, keeping the issues in tone with the characters noir place in the Marvel U.

I'll be honest, I think DC should take notes as this is what Action Comics should be to Superman; an anthology series that focuses on 'day in the life' stories of a character to compliment the ongoing series. Daredevil: Dark nights is exactly that to me in that it has told two beautiful stories that aren't reliant on the constant goings on of Daredevil proper and the fact that the stories so far have been told so expertly by great creators is a testament to both them and the character. I'm already looking forward to the next issue and I'm gonna try and not fear it falling short, because I'm now skeptical it will happen.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Review: All New X-men special #1

This week I decided to do something a little different. It's a very rare occasion when I pick up a comic book that isn't usually on my pull list and it's an even rarer occasion that I pick up a comic that is part of crossover, but this month I found myself tempted for the Arms of the Octopus story that is being brought out across three separate specials. Therefore, this week saw the start of that story with the release of the All New X-men special #1.

The story comes from the perspective of (the younger, blue fur less) Hank McCoy who, along with the east of the original X-men (sans Angel), has travelled to the heart of New York City to take in the sights. However, while seeing the world of the future, chatting up young ladies and visiting old professors, Hank and the gang are attacked by the original Dr Octopus, Otto Octavious. Now this might seem like a not so strange occurrence, except that Ock is dead and his soul is currently housed within the body of the Superior Spider-man, who just happens to be in the area to help and is none too pleased with this new Doc Ock showing up.
I gotta be honest, I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting when I picked up this issue, but in the end I'm glad I did. Writer Mike Costa (who I haven't honestly never seen any previous work of) comes up trumps with this story with the youthful Hank making an incredibly charming lead above all the other X-men. After years of dead Jeans, Blue Hanks and evil Scotts, I found it nice to revisit the original cast with a very 'time gone by' attitude that appeared here. This was probably helped by Kris Anka and Jordie Belaire's work on the art, which has a very simple, elegant, 'yesteryear' look. It is truly gorgeous collaboration and I'm kinda hoping that they are working on all three for their beautiful art isn't limited to the past x-men but to the present day Spider-man who is a joy to look at and read. Costa has written this guy in a truly creepy, arrogant manner that I just love to hate while Anka and Belaire have somehow made him look ultra modern while the rest of the book keeps that elegant days gone look. If Spidey is written and drawn like this in the series proper then I'm tempted to pick up those back issues.

Hank certainly knows how to impress a girl
That said, there was still some room for improvement, particularly in the characterisation of the other X-men, who feel a bit two dimension against the fully fleshed Hank. Also, Ock and Spidey's motives and connections could have been better explained, instead of hoping the reader knows what is going on elsewhere (good thing I read on the internet). However, I guess that would require a much larger issue than what £2.99 could afford, although hopefully the other two specials that complete this story will be able to emphasisea mere fleck on some of these problems.
Overall though, this is a fun little issue, which not only makes me wonder where the story will go from her, but also teases the the appearance of the final hero to have a special grace this arc. Indestructible Hulk special #1 comes out in a couple of weeks to continue the story and I'm looking forward to see if it will maintain this great start to the story. I can only hope I guess.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Melksham Comic-Con Aftermath: 7 Strings, the Musical Star Wars

Now, before I talk about the book itself, I'm gonna point out two things. 1. Because I picked up so much reading material at Melksham Comic-Con last month, I've decided that anything I write about regarding said books is going to have a nice little "Melksham Comic-Con Aftermath" banner in the title (just like the big publisher comics). 2. Yes, what I wrote is true and 7 Strings is the musical Star Wars, but we'll get to that.

7 String Volume 1 by Nich Angell
So, yeah, anyway I've finally been able to get back to all the books I picked up (which is a shame, because they all look really promising) and I figured that I would start with the book I had failed to pick up at the Bristol Comic-Con; Nich Angell's 7 String. Now the premise of this book is a little different what what I'm normally into (but then I think I said the same about Afterlife Inc.), set in a very musically inspired world, Zachary Briarpatch has come across a most unique of weapons; a seven string sword (as all the weapons here have strings and musical themes) and sets out to avenger the death of his mother at the hands of a megalomaniacal villain who is out to conquer everything. What follows is Zach's journey towards finding his enemy, while the world around him gears up to war and other characters are introduced from these various sides of the coming conflict.

Now, earlier when I said that 7 String is the musical Star Wars, I meant it. Nich Angell has written a story that, while having no resemblance at all, felt like that great trilogy (the prequels don't count) the further I read, with a great example being the introduction of the character Tuner, who immediately made me think 'Yoda!!!' Of course, this doesn't discount from the title being incredibly engaging and showing off a world that is incredibly in depth with a story that shows a lot of heart, told with visuals that are just gorgeous somewhere between manga, steampunk and the more mainstream. In fact there is one panel that depicts one of the many cities in this world where I looked and thought 'That looks like the Fifth Element!!'

This book is a beautiful little title which, after reading a lot of mainstream series that have caused me to have doubts, it's nice that this is so epic and sweet that it renews my faith in the medium. In fact, if this book has any flaws it is that it doesn't seem to spend too much time with the main characters, focusing on what makes them tick. However, given this is only the beginning of this epic story, you just know that more about them will be revealed in the future installments.

So, in short, what am I saying? Is this 7 String as good as Star Wars? No, to me it's better and I'm seriously looking forward to where the story goes in chapter 2.

Friday, 20 September 2013

My dilemma about the Massive

So, I've been hammering through my very big backlog of a pull list (and I'm almost there, surprisingly) but last night though, as I'm starting to reach the end, I decided to focus on The Massive which, for me, has so far been anything but good. However, when I got to the most recent issue I came upon a serious surpirse that's left me questioning my plans for this series.

In case you've not read it, The Massive by Brian Wood and a rotating artist every arc (although mostly Garry Brown) tells the story of the Kapital, a ship under the command of Callum Israel, leader of the Environmental group Ninth Wave (which is kinda like Greenpeace, even down to the big, water polluting ship) who, in the aftermath of the world ending event called the 'crash', searches the high seas for the Kapital's sister ship the Massive, which has been missing since the world went belly up.

Now, when I first read the premise behind this book, I found it to be an interesting concept and, as I was beginning to wade into the unknown waters of creator owned titles at the time, thought this might be worth a look. Indeed as the first six issues came and went, I thought that maybe this could be a nice little sleeper hit, as the characters and world, as well as its past, were greatly fleshed out. However, from that point on my opinion of the Massive started to sink like the Titanic as the stories being told maintained a somewhat confusing status quo and while the characters and world continued to receive layers, the underlying questions (Where is the Massive? How did the crash occur?) continued to remain unimportant to the book. Eventually, the book just became laborous to read and it was becoming a rather costly chore and, as a result, issue 13 was my breaking point and I decided that the arc that was beginning (which would end at issue 15) would be the last where I follow Callum and the gang.

However, here is where the problem comes in. Although issue 14 continued to feel unimpressive, providing me with the knowledge that maybe I'd made the right decision, issue 15 completely blew that opinion out of the water. In a remarkable change of tone, the final issue of the 'Americana' arc, while not really answering the questions that are still yet to be resolved, became a lot easier and more of an enjoyable read, helpd by the crisper colours within the artwork. I've gotta say that this was quite possibly the most enjoyable issue of the series that I've read.

So, here's my dilemma. To I kick this series to the curb or not? In honesty, this series is tagged to be 30 issues long and will, most likely, not finish until next Christmas. This will mean £40 down the drain between now and then if the series continues to be as uninspiring as it has been prior to this most recent issue. That said, I'm a completionist (my need to get a perfect gamerscore on Xbox will attest to that) and if this is a sign of better things to come, then I want to have the whole story.

I'm probably going to just drop it now, as one blinding issue can't make up for several which display absolute boredom. A comic should be collected to be enjoyed, not because its only halfway through a story. I've been given no reason to care thus far and there are plenty other books I would enjoy that I could buy instead.

Of course, if anyone out there reads the Massive and wants to convince me otherwise then go for it, I'm always looking to be proven wrong.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

New Home, New Layout, Same old comics (for now)

Wow. It's been two months?? Doesn't Time fly when you're moving house!!!

It doesn't quite feel so long since I last wrote anything although, thinking about it it feels just that long since I read anything comic book related. Sadly, my comic book addiction has had to take a back seat while me and my beautiful lady moved to somewhere a bit bigger (which could store my already substantial collection of comics). Thankfully, now the new pad is (more or less) set up and computers are up and ready to use, I can get back to writing the crap I enjoy writing about on here.

Of course, not talking about comics hasn't exactly kept me totally away, during those five/ten minute breaks between working, packing and moving I have come back and totally overhauled the look of this blog, which I thought looked a little too dull. Now it isn't finished and, being a perfectionist I'll probably do a George Lucas and overhaul it again later, but all being well it's an improvement.

So, in two months, what have I missed? Well, quite a bit it seems. Not only have I got a big backlog of books to catch up on (and damn is it big), I missed out on talking about the casting of Batman for the Superman sequel, DC forcing more creative teams out, DC causing controversy (seems DC were very busy) and the goods I picked up at the Melksham Comic Con at the tail end of August (Yep, I did make time for that).

So, a fair bit to miss I guess. Well, hopefully I can come back from the dead a little now and get back to giving my two cents, as well as quell my comic book withdrawal symptoms. Hopefully Marvel and (more likely DC) will have more interesting stuff to happen as well as (more likely NOT DC) more good books to come out soon.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Review: Demon Knights #22

So, after putting this post off in favour of trying to convince the world (and hopefully succeeding, eventually) to check out Think Tank (see here if interested), I did consider just not writing something about Demon Knights #22. However, given that I don't have many issues left of DC medievel Justice League, and as I write more about this book than any other (see here, here, here, here, here, here and here), I figured I should take advantage of saying what I think about the series while I still can.
Demon Knights #22 by
Robert Venditti and
Chad Harkin

And so, the story picks up where the previous issue ended, with the Demon Knights now in possession of the Holy Grail, while Vandal Savage is left behind, captured by the giants whom the Grail was in possession of. Of course, Savage being Savage, he's more than happy to betray for his own ends and so happily offers the Giants the knowledge as to where his teammates will go. Therefore, while returning to Al Jabr's city for rest and resupply, the remaining Knights find themselves face to face with an army of giants (with a captured Savage in tow) in a battle for the Grail, which has already shown what it can do on the Horsewoman.

Al Jabr should really take
better care of the Grail.
I'm gonna be so sad to see this series go, as Demon Knights has such a fun read with a dry sense of humour and this issue is no exception. Robert Venditti has picked up the voices of these characters without skipping a beat and i think has displayed them more than capably since taking over the series. As for the art, while I was a bit taken back in the last issue by Hardin's art as it wasn't Chang and I suck at dealing with change, however, I'm used to it now and I really love this style. Chad Hardin has placed artwork that is very off kilter to what is about at the moment, with the whole issue resembling the a dream sequence almost, especially with a kind of hue to the panels. It's truly beautiful work and makes me sad there isn't much of it in this book left to appreciate.

Unfortunately, this book is a slight let down in comparison to much of Venditti's run, though I think that may be because of its status as the penultimate issue. Given that only the final installment remains, I can forgive that here there is an awful lot of exposition as, no doubt, the creative team are trying to get their ducks in a row in order to finish with a big action piece. Also, I just realised that Etrigan, arguably the main character of the book, does not appear at all, but again this might be just saving him for the whole of the next issue (in which case, bye bye Jason Blood)

Overall, this book, even though it's a low point for the series, was still very enjoyable (especially the panels where they are attacked by common thieves, like common thieves could take them out) and, despite the final panel which I truly disliked (in a similar vein to the whole Batgirl thing at the start of New 52), I really can't wait to see how this series wraps up and (if possible) where these characters end up.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

people should be buying Think Tank

I''ll be honest, when I woke up this morning this post was not what I was planning to write about. I'd intended to write about Demon Knights #23 (seeing as I'd read it practically minutes before leaving for work), but it seems life doesn't quite go as planned (though at nearing 30, I should know that by now).

The reason why I changed my topic started like this; as I got to work I quickly checked my emails before starting the day, where I found an update email from twitter about those I follow (God bless my twitter feed). I normally just skim through it but today I spotted a tweet by Rashan Ekedal which spoke of Think Tank and included this link, which has Matt Hawkins (Think Tank's writer) asking people to buy his book.

Now, there could be any number of reasons why this was written (ok, not really but you never know), but, to me, what this letter says is that Think Tank is in a bit of trouble. The thing I don't get though is why? I've been reading Think Tank since it began last year and overall, despite the odd niggle I've loved it. It's a fantastic book, I mean it's probably the second book I talk most about (ironically after Demon Knights) as I've mentioned it (to put it mildly) here, here, here and here (somewhere).

So, what is Think Tank? Well, in a nutshell, it tells the story of David Loren a genius working for the U.S. military in a think tank (hence the title) to build them weapons of the future. However, Loren has gotten tired of what he does and wants out, despite not being allowed to leave and so, using his intellect and the gadgets he creates, begins planning a way to escape from his high-tech office/prison.

Now this might sound far-fetched (and it's a comic, of course it is), but it is also fun. What I like about this title is that there is nothing else like it. This isn't a standard military book, but about a single man within and this isn't a book about James Bond, this is a book about Q, if Q were an cocky, arrogant ass. What is essentially here though is that Hawkins and Ekedal have put together a story of just an average guy (who, granted isn't quite so average) trying to escape a job he hates and live his life. I mean, who can't relate to that? Granted I don't have armed soldiers chasing me down were I to quit, but that's the basic premise under the outlandishness.

What's more is that this book is so filled with depth in all its forms. The secondary characters are so well rounded, all with their own agendas. From Mirra and Manish, to Sejic and Clarkson every one of these characters are just as intriguing as the lead for their own reasons (and the fact I remember all these characters off the top of my head is another testament to this book). Then there is the final pages of each issue, the science class pages. This book could just have gadgets made up on the fly and I woudln't care, but Matt Hawkins takes his time to explain every little technological detail to show how believable this book could be. This pages are wonderfully insightful and shows me a technical side of myself I didn't realise I had.

Then, of course, there is the art. I love a lot of artwork, but Rashan Ekedal's work is just real special. His soft pencils and the black and white colour scheme are just so beautiful that you you can't help but fall in love with each panel. What's more is his consistency!! In eight issues I don't think I've seen one off panel (or if there was it was so minor I never noticed), which just goes to show how good this guy is and how much he loves the material.

Of course, this book isn't perfect, as the change from a four issue mini to an ongoing felt a little bumpy, but in the grand scheme what book is? This book is an incredibly engrossing read and more people deserve to see it. I know I write this for myself, but if what I write here were to make one difference in the world, then I hope keeping this book going would be it. It's a book in a class all of its own and a successful one at that. Everyone should either hunt down the first eight issues or the two trades that contain them in readiness for issue 9, because when you read a comic book, don't you wanna read one that you not only enjoy but makes you smarter? For me, this one does both and I hope it continues for a good long time.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

thinks Daredevil #28 is further proof this series is the best.

It's been one of those weeks just gone. Nothing but sun and heat (I'm already wishing winter would return) has kind of eaten up both my time and energy. Both of these things have, sadly, taken me away from the majority of my comics. With only four books picked up this week (normal numbers have resumed after the ten book pickup last time), it should have been easy to get through them all, but instead I was only able to make time for one of them. How glad I am then that I went for the one series that is, by far, the best I pick up and how glad I am that Daredevil #28 didn't let me down (like I had any doubt) and further proves that this is the best series on the shelves.

Issue 28 kinda started off a whole new arc after the last issues conclusion to the whole Ikari/Mastermind arc that had been going since number 1. With Foggy Nelson is still recovering from the Cancer he'd been diagnosed with recently, the man without fear was shown to be juggling his everyday costumed heroics with running their firm single-handed and being moral support for the ill Foggy. However, all this juggling seems trivial when his newest client turns out to be the bully from his childhood who gave him the name "Daredevil", who claims has been set up because he was once part of supervillain group the Sons of the Serpent (the who???), thus starting off this new story with a metaphorical bang ( and a literal one at the end in fact).

In truth, the story is simple set up for the overall arc, but it isn't the story that's the draw here; it's the contributions of the creative team. I could talk great things about Mark Waid all day (I only don't because I get half hour lunches when I write this), but it feels like in this book he excels himself. Waid writes his characters so well, that I can't help but fall in love with them, even the former childhood nemesis of Matt Murdock who comes across as a character you want to hate, is also fleshed out in a way that I could only feel sympathy for him. Then, there's the script in general, which once again see Waid recap another part Daredevil's origin which not only contributes to the current story, but also helps keep the exposition in this issue interesting and further fleshes out the already meaty characters in such a seamless fashion.

And then there's the art. Wow the art!! The artwork throughout this run has been just terrific, with Chris Samnee more than stepping up to the plate. However, this wasn't Chris Samnee the time round, it was Javier Rodriguez who drew this issue, which stunning for how consistent I find his stuff in comparison to another artists work. This entire issue looks identical to every issue prior and, I think that's the best compliment you can give an artist. I think it takes real skill to capture another artists style perfectly, especially one which is so beautifully retro in the first place.

Now, I'll confess that this issue is a little quieter than many of the recent ones, but that isn't a negative as I think this 'quiet' issue is still vastly superior to the top issues of any top series on the shelves at present. It's a great starting point within a mesmerizing book for a story that I just can't wait to read. Thankfully, the next instalment will be out later in the month. Score!! If said it once and I'll say it again; Everybody should be reading this book!!!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Is the Justice League too powerful (for film)??

So, last week I wrote a post about how (well, I think anyway) the recently released Man of Steel movie was a mistake to release first if DC/Warner are intending it to be a stepping stone towards a Justice League movie, in a similar way Iron Man was the first step towards the Avengers (if you haven't read it, well just click here). Well, I noticed that that post interested a fair few people (either that or just one guy lots of times) and, while I still think it's valid, I talked to a few of my friends in the CBNAH group on facebook afterwards and it was here that I was given a different notion that also made me think about writing this follow-up.

* There may be small spoilers regarding Man of Steel and Iron Man 3 below, just to be of warning.

The notion I was given was; what if Man of Steel was set in a time after all the other heroes were introduced? Kinda like the Incredible Hulk is how I understand that. In the Avengers lead up (for those not yet aware of either the films, or the common knowledge that I like to hear my own voice), while Iron Man was the first film released, the Incredible Hulk was the second, released just a couple of months later. However, towards the end of Iron Man 2 we discover that, chronalogically , The Incredible Hulk is the fourth (or fifth, depending on where you think the Cap movie goes), following Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and Thor. So basically this is the same idea that could be applied to Man of Steel; instead of beginning the crossover, it's (storyline wise) merely a step along the path.

However, this is where my new question comes into play. Are the Justice League too powerful (individually speaking) for a shared film universe? Ok, so lets assume that MoS (that's what I'm calling Man of Steel from here on, because I'm sick of writing it) isn't the first, but is like the last, set after Origin films for GL, Aquaman, Flash, Wonder Woman and the Batman Trilogy (assuming that's canon at the moment). If it is the case that before Superman announced himself there were other superheroes who could fly, run fast and use rings to make giant weapons, then surely they would have been mentioned or seen in MoS.

I might be knit-picking this, but I'm a fan of continuity. I mean, when the Kryptonian invade, why does the military not make a mention to the Amazonian chick who deflects bullets, the fish man or the .... well, the Flash (I guess I can't think of another name for him)? Are they all (though this might be legit for GL) offworld? It doesn't make sense to me how DC/Warner could ignore the white elephant in the room (or, in this case, the brightly dressed superhero in the world) whichever direction they plotted these movies, MoS first or last (or in the middle, of course).

This brings me to the heart of my pondering; are the JL too powerful to exist together on film? I think yes, simply because as cool as it would be to see these titans of the comics world come together on film, they are all individually too powerful to simply disappear when they are not wanted. This is even more the case when you think that GL and Supes's rogues galleries are almost all alien villains, are you saying the other characters would realistically sit back upon another alien invasion just because it is a 'solo film'?

I mean with the Avengers it was a different story (somewhat). Neither Cap nor Iron Man were particularly powerful, at least not without chemical or technological aid (I can foresee manhood related jokes going with that line) and while Hulk is the most powerful there is (or so the character constantly claims in the comics) he is a tad unpredictable and not exactly reliable for full-time heroics like the others. Therefore, while they were pretty bad-ass as a team, none of these characters are inherently 'mighty' enough to just appear in one of the others solo films to clean up their messes (although, it seems they might be on hand to provide counselling sessions in post credit scenes). In fairness, there is one Avenger who could possibly manage this role of being too powerful and that is Thor, although he is indeed on a mission in space (someone actually used that clichĂ©?) in the sense that he's an alien.

So, I've probably waffled on a bit about this, but my general point is that the characters of the Justice League are, in my opinion, too powerful (for film) and that if DC/Warner are gonna go abouts setting up a Justice League movie in the same vein as the Avengers, they should expect large pay checks to the actors playing those characters for all the cameos they'll do in each others films. Of course, I know not to underestimate large hollywood studios eager to make a lot of money on previously successful formulas, so I'm sure someone will make it work.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Got through Sheltered #1 and its world hasn't ended...yet.

Ok, so back to what I do best (or worst, depending on you're point of view I guess); reading comics. After a two week hiatus, I popped in and picked up a big-ass haul of nine books (that's big for me) before being recommended Sheltered #1 by the guy behind the counter (who, admittedly, hasn't always recommended the best books), the new (self certified) pre-apocalyptic tale by Ed Brisson and Johnnie Christmas. Because it was recommended (and because my friend Tim wants to know what it's like) I figured I'd read Sheltered's premier issue first.
Sheltered #1 by Brisson and Christmas
(that's Johnnie, not Father)

There are some spoilers. I don't normally mention it, but I gave some away in a previous post, so, this time, you have been warned.

The premise behind this is a bit of a twist compared to the standard fare of apocalyptic books on the shelves (which, to be fair, is a few. Question, is this genre the only thing Image releases?), with the book being set just before the generic, vaguely named world-ending event (although that could just be smoke, right?). Set in an unnamed part of the American wilderness (well, we can assume this), the book follows a survivalist camp as they prepare for the overthrowing of the government and living 'off the grid'. However, the twist comes as the survivalists kids decide to stage a coup and take over from their parents in a scene that makes me think of The Lord of the Flies.

I gotta admit, when I saw this book released in previews, the idea behind it certainly had me interested, with the only reason it didn't hit my pull list being that I'm having to save cash for a wedding. So, being recommended it in the shop did not meet a great deal of resistance and, in some ways, this decision has been rewarded. Sheltered is a very interesting premise (as previously mentioned) and the story is written incredibly well, culminating in a fantastic cliffhanger that makes me totally want the next issue. However, for the most part, I really struggled to stay invested in this issue, with questionable editing in places, a rather hit and miss collection of artwork (although, knowing me, I probably don't know how to properly appreciate the work) and no real sign of a main character to invest in.

I'm trying to be a little more ruthless with the books I collect after the Action Comics debacle (I shouldn't have waited until issue 21 before cancelling that series) and so I don't want to spend money on anything but what is the best in my eyes. With Sheltered, I'm inclined to say "thanks but no thanks", but I think the overall story has potential to be something that can deliver a really different take on the 'end of the world' genre. In the end, I'm undecided about this, though it might be back for an issue 2, but only if one of my other issue ones (Lazarus and Batman/Superman) turn out to be even more disappointing.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

"DC/Warner made a mistake leading their Justice League with Man of Steel"

Wow. I didn't realize how long it had been since I'd written in here. To be fair, it was kind of what I wanted; to take some time away from writing and focus on important things (not that comic books aren't important) like my FiancĂ©, my home and life in general (as well State of Decay on the Xbox 360, which is bloody awesome and has resulted in me now needing to be treated for video game addiction). Of course, one of the things I have managed to do now I've better time-managed my life was go and see Man of Steel, which I struggled to see upon it's release. Thankfull I managed to get down to the big screen to view it (after arranging a day off work, just so I could) and, I gotta admit, it's good. True there are problems here and there (I counted that a lot of people knew Superman was Clark Kent throughout the film) but overall it was good.

However, since watching it I've pondered about the film, the story and what comes next and it was at that moment that something occured to me; if DC are gonna go Avengers and make a Justice League movie, then surely having Superman/Man of Steel come out first was a big mistake?!

Now, before I go on I'll bring in some context (because I like to, despite anyone who cares probably knowing this already). Way back when (like early 2000's) comic book starting becoming movies, but they were all seperate from each other. Spider-man wouldn't meet Wolverine, Superman wouldn't meet Batman and so on until, one day, Marvel became their own studio and got ambitious. After making Iron Man they said "here's an idea, lets take four big characters, give them each a film and then put them together for the Avengers". At that point they got some strange looks and replies like "it'll never happen", "it's too ambitious", and the general consensus that it would fail. But then, low and behold, it made a fortune.

So now, DC looked at this and said "we want some of that action". The only problem was that after Superman and Batman, their character's films tanked (hello Green Lantern) and, also, their current Batman franchise was very self-contained. Nonetheless, they decided to press ahead and brought out Man of Steel as it's first step towards a Justice League movie.

Now, this makes perfect sense for DC to let Supes first out of the block; he is a cultural icon and brand the world over (I heard Zack Snyder say in an interview the Superman symbol was second only to the christian cross in being recognized), which will get in the non-comic loving fans, and, also, he is the only DC character (besides Batman) who is popular enough to successfully carry his own film.

However, the problem with starting with Man of Steel is the character of Superman himself. I mean, It's Friggin Superman!!!! This is the strongest, fastest (well, almost), most god-like character within DC's stable and now he has been introduced to a world which will not be self-contained to him alone. In my opinion this can mean only one thing; Henry Cavill's going to get a lot of gigs cameoing as the big blue boy scout for many years to come. I mean, you just know that whatever big bad happens in the world, with the focus being on whatever character, Superman exists, so it can only be expected for him to show up to lend a hand/save the day. Green Lantern has to save the world from Parrallax (again)? Well, fear not as the Man of Tomorrow can lend a hand. Aquaman needs to protect the land-lovers from the pyschotic Black Manta? Doing worry, Big Blue has his back. Things like that. In fact, the only ones who could be safe from such influence is Batman and the Flash (simply because street crime might not be so high on Supes' list of priorities).

Of course, this is just conjecture at present. I mean, DC/Warner probably have a dozen of the best screenwriters in Hollywood writing the other tie-in films and giving valid reasons as to why Superman isn't available to stop the big bads (ten to one that it'll almost always be a "mission in deep space" ala Supergirl), but I'd put good money that any self-respecting fan who is following the build-up the same way they did the Avengers will watch these films as they come along and say "Hey, so why isn't Superman showing up to help in all this?"