Monday, 28 December 2015

Hopes and plans for 2016.

So, as 2016 is here, I feel like I should be planning ahead.

I did this last year with a list of things I want to see, so I thought I'd do it again. The difference this time round is I've split the list in two categories; hopes and plans.

The hopes are what I want to see, the plans are what I want to do (nice and easy that way)

1. Return of the Fantastic Four - Unless a meteor strikes and wipes out 20th Century Fox, I do not see this happening. However, given how much I love this book, I still really, really hope Marvel brings it back. Hell, I'll even write it, I've got some ideas (give me a call Marvel)!!!! But, regardless, this book was what got all your others off the ground, so bring it back, the first family deserve that much respect.

2. Cheaper comics - I know I'm not alone on this one but a few cheaper comics would really help with my ever shrinking pull list. Most books are now $3.99 and, while all creators deserve the money they get, I do wish comics cost a little less so I could buy a few more.

3. A Max Landis inspired/written Superman - I read Action Comics from #1 to 21 of the new 52 as well as Superman #42 and I've kept my ear to what's going on there of late. I have to admit though that I'm not liking what they are doing with him. Therefore I really hope, in 2016, DC move away from Emo Superman and move towards something more like what Max Landis is doing in his Superman American Alien series. Hell, get him to write it, I don't care. All I know is if I wanted to read Batman, I'd read Batman! Oh, on the note......

4. A Renae De Liz written Wonder Woman series - I've just found out that the Legend of Wonder Woman is actually a digital first and have picked up the first chapter, followed by further instalments as its really good. The thing is, while I've not read much Wonder Woman in my time, I've heard about the recent depiction and how the character seems really dark. So, like the Landis/Superman thing, I really hope De Liz can write what I've so far read in Legend as the main series. Now that I'd be willing to buy.

5. Lots more cool indie comics - when I say that I of course mean Chunks 3, 7String vol. 3, After
I've Inc. vol. 4, more Midnight man and more Rachael Smith comics. But of course I mean I really hope I can get hold of loads more great indie books which I've yet to o come across.

1. Re-read some old comic series - late into last year, I had a real desire to read some old comics and after reading Silver Surfer: Requiem I decided to read more of them. So I've thought up several series and these include:
Fantastic Four
Secret Warriors
Justice League Generation Lost
The Activity
The Immortal Iron Fist
Black Panther: Most dangerous man alive
Captain Britain and Mi:13
Young Avengers (all issues from all series)
Point of Impact

2. Finish my top secret writing project - I've been working on something since for a couple of months now and had intended to finish it in time for the birth of my first child. Now, it's not likely to happen in that time (I have until the start of April) but I'd still like to finish in 2016.

3. Sell some comics - I need to make some space and so I need to shift some comics. The problem is I don't know how or to where, I just know I have to. Hopefully a solution will reveal itself during the year, but I hope it's quick as I don't want my kid using comic boxes to prop up the crib.

4. Make a decision on completing my run of the Massive - I keep umming and aching this. I own the first 15 issues of Brian Wood's the Massive and, while I found it very hot and coldin places, I can't seem to bring myself to get rid of it. But a half finished story isn't really a story and so I need to make the decision, but the final 15 issues or not! 

5. Frame some signed comics - this isn't really a major comic plan, but I couldn't think of anything else and so thought I'd use this to round out the five. But I have a load of signed comics at home, sat in a box, which deserve better placement. Hence I should frame them and put them on a wall (along with a Superman wedding special which was a wedding gift).

And that's it. Hopefully all the plans will be carried out in 2016.

As for the hopes, well I won't expect miracles, but always have faith.

2016, my last year of comics (maybe)

Now that title doesn't seem as final as maybe I'd hoped, but then that's probably because I'm hoping it doesn't happen.

However, if the next year doesn't work out as hoped, 2016 will be the final year I write about comics on here (and maybe even collect them).

The reason for this is simple: I don't enjoy comics like I used to!

It's rather heartbreaking to finally, after 13 or so years, stop loving comics like I used to but the main crux of it is there are two things which have changed for me; time and quality.

With the first it's a simple thing. I'm married now and my wife is expecting our first child. As a result of both of these (as well as a house to keep tidy) my free time has decreased to maybe an hour a day, a length of time which will only decrease as I start a new job which I need to put masses of effort in so that I impress and extend the contract from 6 months to indefinite. As a result of all of this, comics have to take a back seat.

Also, I have a suspicion my wife dislikes this hobby of mine which, understandably, takes up a lot of space in our small home. Therefore, by no longer collecting and maybe even selling off a few issues, maybe I can make her a little happier.

As for the second, it's a little more complicated. I've noticed in the last couple of years a distinct change in comics, specifically the big two. While Marvel has changed their whole universe to take more of a look and feel of their cinema/tv universe, DC seems to have gone really dark and, in my mind, morbid with all their books. For me, neither of these have greatly appealed and has seen the number of books I collect from both publishers reduce as they have become a lot more 'corporate'.

This leaves only Image as a source of good comics but, because of their varied nature, I'm not able to find many titles which really take my fancy and so I don't have many books left on my pull list as 2015 closes. A number I don't see increasing any time soon.

Therefore, I figure that at the end of 2016, which is this blogs 5th birthday, it'll be time to stop writing here and focus on grown-up life (along with reviews at pipedream comics, which I plan to continue should time allow). It will have been a fun five years of writing down my thoughts but if I have no more comics I won't have much to write about.

Of course, none of this may happen. I may find that better comics hit the shelves, I have more time than I expected in order to read them and I'm able to reach a compromise between my family and my hobby. That's why there's a maybe!

But it's a big maybe, one too big to believe will happen. So, if this my last year of comics, I'm going to try and get as many thoughts down as I can before my time is up.

I doubt that'll happen either, but sometimes I'm just too damn optimistic ;-) 

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

My favourites of 2015!!!

So, 2015 is (almost) over!!!

Ok, not quite as it's Christmas Eve Eve, but comics are pretty much done for me this year with many changes to my pull list, lots of con attendances and plenty of reviews meaning that I've been able to read a LOT of books.

And because I enjoyed doing it last year, I figured I'd list out my favourite comic related stuff for the past 12 months (this time with a few extra categories)!!!

Favourite Comic Book Issue: Superman: American Alien #1. Ok, this was a late entry to the year but, oh my God, what a late entry!! Just a month earlier I'd picked up Superman #42 and felt it , along with what I'd read from Action Comics, DC was doing the character a disservice. But Max Landis changed my thinking right here and it's ingrained optimism had me going back time and again.

Runner-Up: Fantastic Four #645. Totally got screwed at the eleventh hour, otherwise it would have been my favourite. The FF's final issue was just so beautiful a send off for the characters and because it is my favourite book, I just couldn't place it anywhere else.

Favourite Comic Book Series: Black Science. Last year, Black Science was a book which was middle of my list. This year, it totally hit high gear with something and is now my number one. It was exciting, action-packed, intense and I couldn't put it down. It's been so good, even a 2-3 month hiatus couldn't put me off it.

Runner-Up: Daredevil. Here was another book which seemed to achieve a miracle with me in this last year. The 1st volume of the Waid/Samnee run was near perfect and so I struggled to get into the 2nd volume and DD's move to San Francisco. Well, the book really picked up it's game in the run up to the end and, so, deserves my praise for it.

Favourite Comic Book Writer: Greg Rucka (Lazarus/Black Magick). I was stuck here with a three way tie, but then Black Magick #1 came out and solidified my decision. The Poison and War arcs on Lazarus have been incredible and Black Magick's first issue was stunning. Both books have been so well written, I expect more of the same next year.

Runner-Up: (Tie) Mark Waid (Daredevil)/Rick Remender (Black Science). Like I said, it was a three way tie and so it makes sense the other two tie for runner up. Besides that, both Waid and Remender made me turn 180 on their books (as stated above) and so they both deserve acknowledgement.

Favourite Comics Book Artist: Babs Tarr (Batgirl). You know, it really was a shame that I couldn't get into Batgirl because Babs Tarr's art is so gloriously beautiful. It is so refreshingly different, that even if I couldn't get into the book, I'm glad I bought issues just for their panels.

Runner-Up: Nicola Scott (Black Magick). I swear, I REALLY love Nicola Scott's art. Her stuff on Earth 2 was terrific and her work on Black Magick's first issue was a thousand times better still. She lost out simply because Black Magick has only one issue. Next year she'll have top spot, I'm sure.

Favourite Comic Book Inker/Colourist: Chiara Arena (Black Magick). This decision became really easy after one panel. This panel:

Really, what more needs to be said?

Runner-Up: Matt Milla (Daredevil). Much like the winner, maybe I'm being presumptive, basing this on a single issue at the end of the year. However, while picking up the new Daredevil wasn't entirely a good thing, the nior-esque monochrome, gold and red that Milla used here is just SO beautiful that I couldn't resist making him the runner-up.

Favourite Independent Comic Book: Porcelain/Bone China (Improper Books). Ok, I'm cheating a bit but I've literally read both of these in the last week but I sure wish I had gotten round to reading them sooner. This is a truly gorgeous series with an unbelievably wonderful story which, and if I never read anything else again then I'll still be happy.

Runner-Up: (Tie) House Party (Rachael Smith)/Chunks (Matt Garvey). Until a week ago, these two were slugging it out for top spot, then Porcelain arrived. House Party is a slice of real life comic which is written so beautifully. Chunks could be the funniest thing I've ever read. These are great books who lost out at the last minute and so I'm happy to cheat here.

Favourite Comic Book Character: Johanna Carlyle (Lazarus). OMHG!!! This character was a truly despicable character when Lazarus first started, but the most recent arc (17-20) has made her just so much more interesting. I truly hate this character, but I have to know where she goes next.

Runner-Up: Kirsten McDuffie (Daredevil). She almost won. Almost. Waid wrote such a strong female character here who was every inch the equal to Daredevil. There's one issue with her on the cover holding a gavel. That's what clinched it for me. Pray Marvel don't kill her off.

Favourite Comic Convention: True Believers Comic Festival 2015. Definitely my favourite Con of the year. True Believers did everything right. It was glorious, I had so much fun and, as a result, it just pipped Melksham to the post.

Runner-Up: Melksham Comic-Con 2015. It wasn't really fair as Melksham was SO good this year. Great in depth conversations with creators, great, topical panels and tonnes of the good stuff (comics). It more than made up for my lacklustre trip to Sheffield's Con.

Favourite Comic Book inspired TV show: Daredevil. This was an easy decision, without a doubt. From Theme music to final scenes, story to action, costume to atmosphere; Daredevil had everything for me and if all the other Netflix shows are half as good (as Jessica Jones was deffo more than half) then they'll be awesome!

Runner-Up: The Flash. I was going to give the runner-up slot to Jessica Jones but then I remembered something. Jessica Jones hasn't given me Rogues, Gorilla Grodd, Jay Garrick or King Shark. The Flash has, and it's been so totally comic booky and fun while doing it.

Favourite Comic Book Movie: Ant-Man. Before both movies came out, I expected these films to be swapped around here, but Ant-Man showed it was the bigger film (figuratively speaking) to me. It was pure awesomeness, with a good representation of my favourite Ant-Man, Scott Lang.

Runner-Up: Avengers: Age of Ultron. On the flip side, Avengers AoU, was really cool with some great characters added to the roster, but it lost out to the little man in my eyes because it bogged itself down too much (I really need to rate this Marvel movies now, 1 - 12). It got 2nd place due to the lack of competition.

And so, that's that! Like I said, a few extra categories this year, but I figured I'd had a little more time to think about these things. Sadly, my choices seemed limited to only a handful of comics which is a sign of my current pull list size.

Hopefully next year I can get a few more books on the roster and open out the field a little bit more.

Friday, 18 December 2015

December Comics (well, some of them).

I'm cramming real hard to try and get everything I want to write about written before Christmas and the New Year, so expect a lot of thoughts over the holiday period.

Today, I thought I'd post my musings on some of Decembers comics. I say some because issues at my LCS has meant that certain books (Black Magick, Where is Jake Ellis?) were not placed in my folder when I was last in there.

Thankfully though, a few digital books and a birthday present has, at least, meant that I still talk about a few things.

So first on the reading list was Black Science #18, which picked up direct from issue 17 and helped me clarify that the Godworld arc was really a trip to fix McKay's damaged psyche. But, as well as helping me clarify the premise, this was an all round better issue and felt like a real return to form as the pace picked up and Grant faced his fears alongside his brother. I have to be honest, while I've enjoyed the adventurous, very pulpy nature of Black Science since it's beginning, delving into Grant's damaged past was really insightful and, hopefully, will make him a much more noble (for want of a better word) protagonist going forward. So now I'm back on board after that prior bump in the road, although I have to admit that I'm unsure of where it can go next as this plot point seems to have been resolved. Oh well, I have faith in Remender and Scalara because they've done so well so far.

Next up I read Daredevil #1, which wasn't a planned purchase as I was still avoiding Marvel. However, as my wife bought it for me as a birthday present I figured I'd give it a read and see if Charles Soule and Ron Garney could keep me hooked liked their predecessors. This all-new (all-different apparently) volume saw the man without fear return to New York, go to work as a prosecutor, get a black outfit and pick up a sidekick. Unfortunately, while the art was absolutely gorgeous, having this really washed out noir look crossed with a Schindler's list colour scheme (lots of red standing out), the story struggled to do anything for me. I know that the book takes place eight months after Secret Wars (sigh), but there are just too many plot holes preventing me from understanding how Matt Murdock has gotten his secret identity back and why he's at odds with Foggy (oh, and where's Kirsten McDuffie?). Also, Matt comes off as a bit of a jerk compared to the Waid/Samnee run, which also helps put me off. As a result, I'm a little put off by this and am now only considering issue 2 because of the awesome visuals and the hope that some of my questions will be answered, though I'd say the outlook is good.

So, with those two read I finally (yesterday morning in fact) finished up by reading Superman: American Alien #2, which saw the now teenager Clark who, upon finding a terrible crime having occurred in Smallville, takes it upon himself to track down those responsible. After reading this issue, I have to admit I wasn't as hooked as I was with issue 1, as it came off as darker and not as fantastical (with good reason though). However, despite that I still really enjoyed this issue as Clark did the whole rebellious teen bit while at the same time showing another sign of becoming the Man of Tomorrow. I also really liked this month's artist as Tommy Lee Edwards' work really gave a Black Hood vibe, which suited the more brutal tone of the story. If there is one thing which I really liked though was the number of people who know about Clark's secret. It kind of makes sense that others in Smallville would know more about him and, as a result, help protect him, so I hope we see more of it. Overall, it was still a good read and the added bonus at the end certainly helps make me want to come back for more. That said, I just hope the future instalments don't have such a dark, Man of Steel-esque tone.

So, that's December done (unless a miracle occurs and I can get back to the LCS before Xmas) for me, with any remaining books not being read until January. However, I've got 12 days of Comixology to read until then and, all being well, good Black Magick and Lazarus issues will make the delay worth the wait.

But until then, Merry Christmas. Hope everyone (especially me) gets lots of comics!!!