Friday, 31 July 2015

Top 5 comics for July 2015

I have to admit, July seems to have just flown by. I don't know if it's been a new job or if life has just been steady with no hassle or troubles, but July seems to have left me with little impact.

Well, almost little impact.

One thing July has done to be memorable is give me lots of comics to read, which is surprising given how I was expecting a slow month on the comic book front. For that I guess I can thank Pipedream comics because not only did they give me more books to read but a more varied array of them, both in terms of content and also in terms of how much I enjoyed them.

So, let's get to my top five for July.

5. Copperhead #9 (Image) - I've always said that Copperhead is like Firefly, after the train job, in the town they robbed from. Well one thing Firefly missed was a posse, but that's ok because now I've got to see one. I really enjoyed the pace this issue moved at, as character interactions and dynamics were shored up while they made their trip. This premise should have been a page in a book, but it got stretched out over the issue and done well. Reminds me why I love this book. The escaped prisoner subplot intrigues me enough not to hurt either.

4. The Black Hood #1-5 (Archie Comics) - Now, I've already reviewed the first four issues elsewhere but, damn, Black Hood was good. It seems like a cheat to put all five issues in as a single entry, but it was just really difficult to pick between them as they were all equally engrossing and beautiful. It was like going back in time and reading Bendis's Daredevil all over again, only instead it was a disfigured cop becoming a vigilante and not a blind lawyer. As superheroes comics are getting more annoying to me, this was a nice reminder that there are still some good ones out there.
3. Lazarus #18 (Image) - Last month I said Lazarus deserved a permanent top 5 spot and, once again, it proves it doesn't need charity; it can get a top 5 spot all on its own. Lazarus has always been a slow burn book compared to most others I read, but it's always the level of detail which makes it a must read. This happens here again with multiple plot threads running, all of them keeping me hooked to the story and then of course there's the cliffhanger which, while seeming anti-climatic, you just know will be drawn out and be more awesome than you expected. I'm already getting the shakes just waiting for the next issue.

2. Daredevil #17 (Marvel) - I've had a bit of trouble adjusting to DD's move to San Francisco (don't know why, but just have) but it's been proving itself again of late. Issue 17 though, despite a bit of confusion at the start (I'd forgotten how the last issue ended) was fantastic. Maybe I'm getting sadistic but watching Murdocks happy life appear to literally crumble around is just too good not to read. Also, the Kingpin is an obvious attempt to connect it to the TV show but he's written so well here I'm not gonna moan. And then there's Ikari's return....oh there's just so much!!! The next issue is the end and while I'll miss Waid and Samnee's on the book I just have to know how it ends (I'm calling it and saying Kirsten McDuffie is killed off).

1. Black Science #16 (Image) - Ah, Black Science, the Rocky Balboa of my comic collection. When I started doing a top 5 it languished just outside, but this year has steadily moved up the ranks and now it gets the number one slot. Issue 16 is phenomenal and that's an understatement as the book which I've always said is a cross between Time Tunnel and Flash Gordon goes it now less Time Tunnel and more Flash Gordon. Worlds are saved, people die (seriously, Remender is getting brutal with all the killing), alien armies emerge and Rebecca turns out to be a serious problem to the now descimated anarchist league. This has turned into a great book, and I'm not sure I can wait until November for the next part.

So, there it is. My top 5 and, if I do say so myself, what a top 5!! With four of my five ongoings on this list, it at least gives me comfort that I am picking good books and not just buying tat for the sake of it (although Earth 2 might be the exception to that rule). The only downside is that as most are Image books it means extended waits for the next instalments. Oh well, all good things come to those who wait right? In the meantime, after writing this I may just read them all again.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The Heart of Time

Several months ago I made a decision to begin making donations on a regular basis to comic book kickstarters to help more indie comics enter the world, not much but just a little something to help. Sadly, I then lost my job almost immediately and that plan went out of the window,

Though not before I donated to the campaign for the Heart of Time, a light hearted time travel story by Sarah Millman, a creator I had the privilege to meet at True Believers.

Well, this week I received the fruits of my donation in the post (and fortunately my dog didn't do much damage).

The Heart of Time by Sarah Millman, with a
couple of other goodies which came with.
For those not in the know, the Heart of Time tells the story of Amelia who, along with her pug Gertrude, has adventures through history on the back of a time travelling scooter, on the way picking up a Victorian inventor who tries to repair her mode of transport.

Well, I've now read the whole book from cover to cover and I've gotta say that I really do like this book, as it's such a sweet and charming title with a real subtle humour and gorgeous, bright and cheery art. As I looked at every page, taking a moment to just sit back and look at the page as a whole, I couldn't help but smile at the sheer optimism that seemed to just shine from them. It's yet another refreshing story which doesn't need action to be enjoyable (they seem to be making more and more).

As for the story, it was a quaint tale, but what really intrigued me were some of the time-travel influenced plot points which were only touched upon here. These were something to do with other, more nefarious time travellers as well as the hint that a bike wasn't actually needed to time traveller (I'm trying to be vague here as I don't want to give out spoilers (though I suspect I already have)).

However, there is one issue with the Heart of Time which I struggled with and that was the personality of main character Amelia, who came across as very brash and stand offish. Of course, while hints are given as to why she is this way and she may mellow in future instalments but for me, now, it seemed a little difficult to get behind her as a protagonist, preferring to speed on to the Arthur moments.

Of course, this doesn't change the fact that, overall, Heart of Time is still a lovely book and I'm glad that I made a donation/investment towards its creation. I look forward to more of this story because I really wanna know more about that villain guy.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

The October 2015 solicits!!!

It's been a busy couple of weeks for me, meaning I've not had as much time to think about all the recent comic news as I would have liked. As a result, there hasn't really been much for me to write about here and was pretty certain this week would be another postless week.

So, thank god the solicitations for this October were released online!!!

Now, I've been through the releases over the last few days and I've picked out everything which has taken my fancy (which sadly isn't much). They are:

All-new, All-Different Marvel Point One #1 (Marvel) - I have to confess, since the cancellation of Fantastic Four in April, I've given Marvel titles a wide berth (with the exception of Waid/Samnee's Daredevil run), partly out of spite and partly because I've not found anything worthy of my time. Now, whether this is because their quality has degraded or just a change in my tastes, I figured picking up this taster one shot might help me see some of these new books in a different light.

Black Magick #1 (Image) - A noir story about a cop who is also a witch sounds a little different and interesting, but the premise is not what is drawing me to this title. What has me wanting to pick this up is Greg Rucka (the awesome writer of Lazarus) and Nicola Scott (the terrific artist of Earth 2) bringing it to life. This is a good example of how, sometimes, it's not the plot which entices me but the creative team behind it.

Earth 2: Society #5 (DC) - I'm writing this post about 12 hours after reading issue two and, I've got to admit I'm on the fence. After the first issue I was expecting a return to form for what will soon be the final superhero book in my pull list. However, issue 2 was a bit confusing and off putting and, in truth, I'm only considering returning for Jorge Jimenez's tremendous art. That said, I've dropped books for less, so while I'm willing to give it a bit more of a chance now, November solicits may paint a different picture.

Think Tank #2 (Image) - Now for all I know, this second volume of Think Tank may not live up to the first, which I absolutely loved. Sadly, as I haven't seen the new issue 1 due to solicits being advanced creatures there is no way of knowing yet, but the chance to see David Loren go crazy, as well as the goodwill that first run earned from me, means I'm more than happy to assume I'll be getting issue 2.

So, that's it!! Not much I know, but when very little appeals and the ongoing series I do like skip releasing their new issues for a month, a short list is what you should expect.

Oh well, maybe Novembers solicits will give me more substance (like Joss Whedon's Twist and Mark Millar's Huck).

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Top 5 comics for June 2015

This month has been a fun old month for me. A change in job has meant my wife has been collecting all the comics on my standing order (with which she did a sterling job).

It has also been a month which has seen DC launch a whole bunch of new issue 1's (of which I picked up four), while Marvel have practically shut up shop to focus on Secret Wars (of which I've not touched). Along with these, I've also been reviewing a few for Pipedream which has, in the end, allowed me to get a fair few books read within the last thirty days.

Of course, as usual, I can only have a top 5, so here they are.

5. Earth 2: Society #1 (DC Comics) - Earth 2 was a great series which got totally screwed over (in my opinion) when DC meddled and gave use the mess which was Worlds End. Well, it looks like this particular ship has been righted with Earth 2: Society, which I thought was a great return to form. What I really loved about this book was Jorge Jimenez's art, which was outstanding from his depiction of the new Batman to the cityscape in the background. While the plot was a bit 'cards close to the chest', the cliffhanger ending really has me hooked to come back. This was the only great DC book out of five this month, hence it (only just) beating out Daredevil and Supers.

4. Lazarus #17 (Image) - By this point, I think I'm just going to give Lazarus a permanent top five place and have done with it. Issue 17 began the war which had been set up at the end of the conclave arc and, once again, Rucka has set the intrigue level up to maximum. I am so looking forward to seeing Forever at her most formidable, which I'm assuming is the plan and it was nice to see the return of Barrett family members. Although it was more a set up issue, hence its drop to fourth, it was still (unsurprisingly) a more quality book than most of the rest.

3. Black Science #15 (Image) - A few issues ago, I was starting to suspect Black Science just wasn't my thing. Well, I'm glad I stuck at it as Remender has his characters turn an corner and become more of the pulp sci-fi heroes I was expecting as the Anarchist league attempt to cure a killer virus within the Roman universe, all the while trying to avoid being killed. When it is at its best, there is nothing wrong with this book and I get to see that again here as the story flows at a heart quickening pace and in full, gloriously beautiful panels and when finished off with a shocker of an ending, it makes me glad I'm still here for the ride.

2. Airboy #1 (Image) - Airboy was a book which hit me totally out of left field. While it had initially intrigued me in previews, budgetary limits had decide not to get it. Well, thank God for my Pipedream Comics gig, which saw me get asked to read it and, boy do I not regret it. My full review can be found here but it's suffice to say that this is a visually stunning book with a severely perverse, but engrossing story. In short, I'm glad I got to read this and am looking for financing to continue going forward, it was that good. In fact it only lost first place because of.....

1. Alex + Ada #15 (Image) - Quite possibly the most incredible comic book series I have ever read, this final issue of Alex + Ada deserved top slot both on its own merits and on one of the entire run as this love story reaches its end to show what becomes of our heroic star crossed lovers. While I will admit, that the ending seemed to tie up a little too neatly, this issue was a beautiful finale which tied up all the loose ends and really got me close to tears of happiness (though that didn't happen, I'm a guy after all). The only downside is that it's over, but it was a tremendous end to a fantastic series which I intend to get in hardcover edition just as soon as it's available.

And so, that's the end of June. Next month, I'm debating whether to change up to a top three as I've had to seriously cut my pull list or simply include them all from best to worst (or good to not as good). In the meantime though, I can relish in the (mostly) good memories this month's stash brought me, especially as I try to forget the poor DC books which came amongst them.

Note: All photos courtesy of Comixology (because I'm not that good at photography).