Saturday, 29 November 2014

Novembers comics (most of them anyway).

Prior to last Saturday, it had been more than three weeks since I'd been to my local comic shop to pick up the print issues from my pull list, quite posibly the longest amount of time I've gone without picking up my stash (I'm honestly amazed I didn't get the shakes from withdrawal). However, on the plus side, this long wait meant it wasn't only a one or two issue pickup, but seven whole comics (though, admittedly, three were from the same series) for me to go through and keep the fun going for a litle bit longer.

So, without further adieu, here's what I have been reading this past week:

First up has been Lazarus #13, which has got to be one of my favourite comic books at the moment. While this issue did little to advance the plot which dominates the books third arc (following the reveal at the end of the previous installment, I thought this was still a fantastic issue thanks to the detailed portayal into the various Lazari, giving insight into just what interesting characters they are in their own right, not to mention the beautifully stylised art that was perfect in every panel. Though the solicits have given me an idea as to where this arc is going to go(bye bye Joaquim), it doesn't change just how much I want to read the next issue right now.

Instead, I was then treated to Daredevil #10, which may not have been the best comic series in my eyes since the characters move to San Fransisco but was without a doubt the best single issue I've read this month (or most others). The reason for this, again, isn't the plot (though that was good) but how Waid and Samnee depicted depression throughout. THIS is what made this issue great for me as, being a depression sufferer, it nailed perfectly exactly how it feels when you get to your lowest ebb as well as giving narrative to parts of the suffering which can't be described accurately. I loved this book immensely because of this and anyone who wants an insight into depression (or specifically my mind) should read it.

Next up I read Batgirl #36, which continued the Babs relocation to Burnside while she faced a couple of motorbike stealing, manga cosplaying assassins. Unfortunately, as beautiful as the art is (and I think it's gorgeous) and as good as the story is, I just couldn't get into the book. This is annoying because there isn't any real reason to dislike this title and both the art and writing are top notch. My only assumption is that I can't relate to the college student characterisation, although the overall mystery big bad is what is keeping me on board, for now.

So I continued on to Fantastic Four #13, which continued the first family's downfall, but began their return with Ben Grimm's prison escape, while Reed Richards' captor forces his help with the abduction of the FF kids. Unfortunately for me, this issue really started off confusing with action panels everywhere which didn't seem to mesh with what I remember from the prior installment. That said, the title did improve as it moved to Ben's prison break and set up the team's rise from the ashes. While issue 13 was a little off putting, with only five issues left, I'm confident that Robinson and Kirk can cap off the series well. Therefore I'm considering this a blip.

Meanwhile, the same might not be the same after reading Earth 2: World's End #'s 6, 7 & 8, which continued the Earth 2's heroes battle with Apokolips for survival. Issues 6 and 7 were very difficult to read and with so much jumping about between the various story points making it hard to care about what is going on. However, issue 8 was a much better affair as it felt a lot more interesting and was much more cohesive and put together, made more enjoyable to me with the art of the last few pages as the Flash searched for his mother. Overall, I'm in the fence with World's End and, while I doubt I'll drop it before it end, I do hope issue 8 is a turning point.

And so, that was my November (well, most of it) and while it started off well, I felt that the quality trailed off with each comic I read. Maybe it's a case of reading too much in one go and I need to cut down the numbers (or buy more regularly) but hopefully it's more a case that I'm not giving the books I struggle with the proper attention. Maybe the December issues will be more on my wavelength.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Comic publishers are clearing my pull list for me.

So, two things happened to me this week.

The first, was early on (like Monday) when I decided that I would let many of the series I collect reach their end before I started picking up any new books. The reason was simple; I'd gotten completely frustrated with having to stay within my budget while picking up current books I was enjoying and choosing new books which looked awesome. I needed a clean slate.

Then, ironically, the second thing happened; the February solicits were released which announced, amongst other things, that Daredevil #13 is the beginning of the final story by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee.


In truth, as terrible news as it is, this was bound to happen sooner or later. Waid and (to a lesser extent) Samnee have been on the book for quite a while and, while their first volume was truly awesome, I haven't found this recent run to be as good (though still good).

The thing that makes me laugh (or rather smirk in a humourous manner) is that barely a week after thinking point 1 that point 2 occurs.

Is someone reading my mind?

And this isn't the only book from my pull list coming to an end. In the last few months it has been announced that, from my list, Fantastic Four, Earth 2, Earth 2 World's End and Batgirl are all ending by April (Earth 2 and Batgirl, the latter still being on probation with me, are on hiatus during Convergence), with Alex + Ada (presuming it doesn't continue beyond the expected 15 issues) concluding by June. And now with Daredevil ending, this sees my pull list shrink to only three books; Black Science, Copperhead and Lazarus.

This is fortunate timing for me as it allows my pull list to be cleared out and lets me to focus on rebuilding my montly purchases. It also releases me from my years-old problem of struggling to let go of books I'm not enjoying just to because I might miss something after I've stopped reading it, which has always been an issue when it comes to dropping comics which aren't cutting it with me.

Therefore, I just have to say thank you to Marvel and DC (and to a lesser extent Image) for this confluence of events which has allowed my pull list to be naturally culled so it can be remade going forward as leaner, smarter, better. I just hope some of your future books meet those standards.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Digital Week.

It's been a while since I wrote anything here, which is a shame but sadly can't be helped. Sometimes, real life has to take priority and comic books have to fall by the wayside a little (as much as it kills me to say). That said, hopefully now things (such as wedding aftermath) have calmed down some I can get back to writing here more.

I figured I'd start here with a good, old, trusty rundown of this week comics, all of which (conveniently) were digital books.

The Heavenly chord - First up, I was sent an advance copy of Jon Lock and Nich Angell's new crossover. Now I had previously read and written about part one, but on this occasion I was sent the whole story to review, which I subsequently did over at Pipedream Comics and, I gotta admit, it was a pleasure to read it because a lot of those characters are just written so damn well and the art was to die for (If you are at Thoughtbubble this weekend, you should totally buy it).

Alex + Ada #10 - After the (very enjoyable) work was done, I moved on to pleasure, starting with the always fantastic Alex + Ada, of which issue 10 only continued that trend. The saw Ada and Alex reunite while some of Alex's friends find out about her sentience. Of course, when I think back to the story it never seems overly exciting compared to all those superhero books, but yet I'm finding it so much better than those same superhero books. The story is so beautiful and moving (and a little thought provoking) while the art is still fantastic. Two thirds of the way through the run and I'm convinced the story can only end badly, but given how mesmerising this book is every issue, I really hope not.

Copperhead #3 - From that point you'd think 'the only way is down', but fortunately Copperhead #3 manages to keep me enthused with a whole different kind of book which continues Clara and Boo investigating the Sewell family massacre while at the same time Clara needs to look after her son. Again, it doesn't sound like much of a story when I recite it, but with this book it's watching the slow burn story unfold which is what makes this book so hard to put down, right until that final page reveal that totally hit me, not to mention art that actually looks western-esque. I remember reviewing the first issue and all I could think was 'this is the Sheriff's story of the train job episode from Firefly'. Three issues in, I'm still thinking that.
The Kitchen #1 - Then, finally, I decided to treat myself to something else on a whim, mostly because Multiversity recommended it (repeatedly). The Kitchen tells the story of three wives who, when their Irish gangster husband are sent to prison, have to take over their business in order to keep living. Issue one is a very well written issue with beautiful art which makes it look just like the 70's, unfortunately for me it just wasn't my thing and struggled to keep me engrossed.

And that was it. I did have two print books out this week, but being unable to reach the comic shop stopped me from picking them up for a couple of weeks (ahh, the downside of actually having to go to a place).

Oh, well, just means more to get when I finally get there.


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The end of Earth 2?

Please note that, prior to writing this I had not read beyond Earth 2 #28 and Earth 2: World's End #5. P.S. Some spoliers.

It's no secret (like my previous posts will indicate) that I've really been digging Earth 2 since DC started that series over two years ago. Whereas Earth 1 (where damn near every other DC book resides) feels like it is trapped by it's own continuity as well as company directives, Earth 2 has always had a real sense of freedom regarding the stories it can tell.

However, since Earth 2: World's End began at the start of October, I've noticed a big drop in the quality of the franchise (Is that the word??) which I find worrying in what is DC's only book which has been consistently different and interesting enough to keep picking up.

But why has this book so suddenly dropped it's standards? I have some theories: 

Not enough material - The thing which springs to mind to me first of all is the possibility that, when all is said and done, there just isn't enough story set within Earth 2 to justify having 5 books a month (one monthly series and one weekly series). Since World's End started, I've noticed that Earth 2 has become something of an anthology series, used to detail the minutia of the world, while World's End takes over the main 'war' story. If that's the case then, for me, I could do without Earth 2 as I only have so much to spend on comics and am not really interested in the origins of the Furies unless it influences the story. Of course, if there isn't enough material then the blame could be placed right at the door of......

Future's End/Convergence - The Earth 2 tie-in to Futures End gave everyone a brief insight into the future: Earth 2 will be lost and their characters moved to Earth 1. Now presuming that this ends up being the case, then Earth 2 will be a dead series come Convergence next April. But the story needs to be wrapped up in order to 'converge' (see what I did there) with the rest of the DCU and, presumably, for Earth 2, there is more to wrap up than can be done in 6/7 issues. Hence a 24 part weekly series. This then begs a new question......

Executive Interference - I said earlier that the main Earth 2 series has always felt like it has a remarkable amount of freedom for a DC book, but given that it's current trajectory appears to be in line with where Future's End concludes, I'm under the impression that the high ups might have taken a more direct interest into where the title goes and how it gets there and everyone knows how well things turn out when cthey are made by committee (remember the Green Lantern movie). If this IS the case, then it could explain another factor....

New Creative Team - When the book started way back when, James Robinson was writing and Nicola Scott was drawing and this book was pretty good. Then Robinson left and Tom Taylor came on board, and then Earth 2 totally blew away the competition. Now both Taylor and Scott are gone, replaced by a long list of creators over the two Earth 2 books and it is since then I've found the drop in quality to have begun. Now, I'd heard rumours that Robinson got kicked off the book because his plans didn't mesh with DC's and one could assume Taylor got the same marching orders if he didn't agree with this ongoing story, replacing him with more complient writers. Of course, that doesn't mean the talent on the book is sub-standard, Marguerite Bennett in particular is a great writer to have on board. So if it isn't any of the prior reasons aren't right, there is always one more....

Is it me? - People's taste over time change. My best example is that I went from listening to Rap as a teen (I know, what was I thinking) to rock and metal as an adult. The same goes for comic books, with my pull list looking nothing like it did five plus years ago. If this book has lost itself in my eyes it might simply be that what I want from a book is no longer the same as it was when I picked up and loved issue 1.

So, what do I do now? Well, spend good money after bad on a book I dislike seems very counterintuitive, but yet I still suck at not finishing things. Therefore, I might stick with both titles until World's End finishes and, if the series' haven't improved, then I will drop them from my ongoings. That way, earth 2 still has time to rise from it's own ashes and wow me once again.