Saturday, 24 December 2016

Plans for 2017

So, the new year is finally here! Much like pretty much everyone else, I have to say I'm glad to see the back of 2016 for, on top of idiotic referendums, inmates now (or soon to be) running superpowered asylums and the great losses of those who gave us hope, Faith, Starman and Yippee Ki Yay, I've personally have taken a bit of a beating from the year of hell (hey, a Star Trek reference).

Fortunately, it's over now and with 2017 being about a day old I've started to put together a massive list of resolutions and plans for the next 365 days (no leap year this year right?). Of course, while most relate to my everyday life, there are a few that are to do with my comicing, of which I thought I'd just jot down here.

So, here they are....

1. Read like my life depends on it! My first comics resolution may see a little obvious but there is a reason for it being on my list. It recently occured to me that I have a (somewhat) big collection at home and much of I've never read more than once. I mean, what's the point of keeping these comics if I only ever read them once and, therefore, I want to get more into my comic reading so that I may enjoy some of these books all over again. As for any comics I don't enjoy, well, that's where resolution number two comes in.

2. Trim down my collection. In truth, my need to read all my previously bought/currently owned comics comes with an ulterior motive. My wife and I recently realised how cluttered our home is and our big plan is to have a clear out to make things more manageable. As this is the plan in general, I'd like to do my bit and any comics I read which no longer hold my interest will most likely be donated away (either back to my LCS to be offered to other comics readers or to a local school for the kids to read). By doing this, I'd like to think I can streamline my collection and also free up enough space to comforably pick up new comics, which leads me nicely into resolution number 3.

3. Build up my pull list. While 2016 saw my overall pull list somewhat crumble down to almost nothing as my love of the medium started to wane, in the final few weeks I found something of a resurgence of my comic book addiction. Because of this, I have decided to increase my monthly comic budget and with it grow my pull list a little (or maybe even a lot by the year's end). Options have already presented themselves with this resolution, as Daredevil may be making a return to my pull list and DC Rebirth titles make me interested, and so the real trick will be keeping the list's growth manageable.

4. 40 reviews in 52 weeks a.k.a support small press more. In truth, this resolution, referring to the many comic reviews I hammer out for Pipedream Comics, may be the most manageable out of all of them. However, it is still on this list because it is something I wish to achieve for two simple reasons; 1. It improves my writing skills and 2. It gives me a greater opportunity to read more small press comics, which I've progressively found to be holding its own with the quality of the big two. It's because of this second reason that I want to maintain a large number of reviews, as small press, as well as the smaller publishers like Aftershock, Alterna, Thrillbent, Titan and others, deserve more visibility and support, to which these reviews are the only way I know how.

5. Write, write, write!!! My final resolution, fitting in (to a degree) with the last one does seem a little vague and this is with good reason. This is because, in the end, all I want to do wish write more, whether it be more reviews on Pipedream, opinion pieces, blog post or maybe even something else which is a little different (ideas of which I have in my head). By doing this I can get more of what's in my head down on paper, making it more permanent, as well as improving my style (as mentioned before).

And there it is, a list of the things I want to do within comics, both to do with my collecting, my reading AND my reviewing. I have to admit, that I think it's unlikely that I will achieve all (or even any) of them as a young family and nine to five job does tend to make free time limited. However, it's nice to have an ambition (or five) to aim for so good luck to me.

Hopefully, I'll be able to mention some success with these come 2018.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Dropping Serenity

So, having finished reading the second issue of this latest story arc, I've got to admit I'm pretty much ready to drop Serenity.

I'm a big fan of the Firefly show and the Serenity film which came after it. I'm also a big fan of the various comics which have come out, charting the further tales of Captain Mal Reynolds and his crew, with a copy of every single one of them in one format (print) or another (digital).

Therefore, when I saw the solicitations for the new Serenity: No Power in the 'Verse mini-series, it felt like a no-brainer to add it to my pull list, especially given how much I loved the previous 'Leaves on the Wind' run.

However, two issues in and, while Leaves on the Wind felt to reinvigorate my love of this universe, No Power in the 'Verse has felt like a real drop in terms of its enjoyment.

The story, which follows on from the seeds planted in LOTW, sees Mal and the crew embark on a search and rescue mission for a friend, but ending up getting caught up in between another revolution and the evil Alliance operatives River could have been a part of.

Now this, on paper, sounds perfectly fine to me as it takes a lot of the beats from that last story and so should come off just as well. Unfortunately, two issues in and the story just feels really disjointed and rather laborious to read. It makes me wonder if Serenity can only be written by a Whedon as Chris Roberson does an ok job (Mal's voice sounds pretty spot on) but the story just doesn't seem to flow for me, feeling a little bit clunky.

That said, Georges Jeanty the art is still 'God Damn' gorgeous (see what I did there!), giving a nice sense of continuity from the last arc, and being real easy on my eye. If I were able to bypass the general story and focus solely on the art I might keep getting this book just for what it looks like.

However, that's not why I read comics and while the story isn't terrible, it also isn't captivating enough for me to justify spending a quarter of my budget on it, especially when there are other books which I'm tempted to look at.

And so, as sad as it is for me to say, Serenity has to get canned. I might pick up the remaining issues at a later date if I have some spare change but, for now, I think I'll look for something else to read.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Return to Daredevil?

This has been a thought brewing in my head for a couple of weeks now. Ever since I saw the it in the February solicits I've found myself constantly 'should I return to Daredevil?'

It's now been almost six months since I dropped Charles Soule and Ron Garney's run on Daredevil with issue 7 after a lacklustre first arc and my being unable to get into the series up until my exit. So far, this has not been a restful decision and I'm glad to say that I haven't really given the book a second thought.

However, that appears to have changed now with the release of the February 2017 solicits and, in particular, the synopsis of Daredevil issue 17. While I still have trouble getting interested in anything Marvel brings out, seeing this new issue of a character I've been invested in since Bendis was writing him does have me a little tempted to come back for a couple of reasons.
For starters, this issue's synopsis touts how it's the beginning of the story about how Murdock was able to get his secret identity back. Now, this is something I struggled with in the issues I had bought because how on Earth did the character undo that little secret. By magic? A deal with the devil (ironically)? This was something which always made me wonder and bothered me when it was (seemingly) treated as unimportant but now it is being focused on I'm interested to see what Soule has come up with (which I think might involve the Purple Man given the arc's title).
And then there is the cover and the woman in the front in Matt Murdock's arms. While initially dismissing this as just some new love interest for our hero, I changed my tune when I saw this tweet this tweet from Soule confirming that it is in fact Waid creation and all-round awesome character Kristen McDuffie. This is another bonus for me as (if you hadn't have guessed) I'm a big fan of the character and was really bummed when she got cast aside at the beginning of this volume. Therefore, I'm intrigued to find out what became of her between the last Waid/Samnee issue and the first Soule/Garney one.

However, while I think these are both solid reasons there are also equally good reasons to stick to my guns and not go back to the man without fear. The first of these are, as always the price of an issue because at $3.99, this is still an expensive purchase for a guy on a limited budget. If the price was reduced to $2.99 I'd be happier with picking Daredevil back up but having to spend a whole extra dollar for a digital code I don't want means that, in British money, I'm having to find an extra 80p (because if I buy, I will buy print like I always have for DD). This might not be much but it adds up, especially when I'm already buying other books.

Of course, my biggest reason comes from another of Soule's tweets when answering a question on whether the series is going twice monthly. While Soule's response appears to be light-hearted, it also doesn't state that it isn't (while, admittedly, not confirming that it is). As such, if Daredevil is going to go twice monthly from, say, March then that is going to be twice as much as I am currently fretting over and, in all honesty, more money than I can even think to consider. Therefore, I'd rather look at books which are guaranteed to be if a stable cost for the foreseeable future and not waste my precious budget on an issue of a comic which can't be a long term option for me.

And that's pretty much it for me, my choice with an equal number of pros and cons (there is another con that I'd need to retrieve the runs missing issues, but that's not really a major concern, I can get them whenever). However, while a part of me is very tempted to pick up issue 17 and possibly beyond, another part of me thinks maybe I should move on to something else worthy of my time. I've got some time before I need to ask my Local Comic Shop to hold a copy for me, but hopefully a decision will come to mind soon. For now though, I am sure wishing I had better decision making capabilities.