Friday, March 3, 2017

REVIEW: American Gods #1 (Dark Horse, 2017)


NEIL GAIMAN’S American Gods is one of my favourite novels of recent years and I look forward to seeing the TV show based on it. However, I have to say the first issue of this comic version left me A BIT COLD.
P. Craig Russell’s adaptation of Gaiman’s tale of ancient and modern gods clashing in the United States felt…CLUNKY. There’s a lot of Gaiman’s text that’s been jammed into every panel, making the comic feel very word-heavy with the pictures thrown in as an afterthought.
Speaking of the art, the main story features Hampton’s art over Russell’s layouts and it’s…well, not the BEST work I’ve ever seen those two do. The back-up story by Russell and Lovern Kindzierski is much better, as Russell is more hands-on with the pencils.
Don’t get me wrong: any comic with Neil Gaiman as the source material is going to be a joy to read. I don’t know…I guess I expected SO MUCH MORE from this comic – high expectations will do that to you.
Maybe the series will pick up with issue two – I’ll certainly pick it up. With that said, for those who haven’t read American Gods the novel, then this comic version could entice them to check it out.

American Gods #1 is published by Dark Horse and retails for US$3.99. It goes on sale March 15.
Writers: Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell/Artists: P. Craig Russell and Scott Hampton, P. Craig Russell and Lovern Kindzierski (interior); Glenn Fabry (cover)

RATING: 6.5 out of 10

Thursday, March 2, 2017

REVIEW: The Once And Future Queen #1 (Dark Horse, 2017)



DC maxi-series Camelot 3000 was one of my favourite titles during the 1980s. There are shades of that classic tale in Once And Future Queen, the first issue of which was released this week.
Most notably, the Arthurian myth is transported to the modern-day and there's some gender-bending going on, most notably King Arthur is now an arse-kicking, chess-playing (!) chick.
Merlin as a helmet-wearing astronaut only adds to the quirkiness.
The script by Knave and Kirkbride is still hitting its stride by the time the first instalment ends, but I feel confident it's going to be a quirky, fun ride for the rest of this five-issue mini-series.
Brokenshire's art is a joy to behold.
This comic could be the sleeper hit of 2017.
Once And Future Queen #1 is published by Dark Horse and is on sale RIGHT NOW.

Once And Future Queen #1 (Dark Horse, 2017) 
Writers: Adam P. Knave and DJ Kirkbride/Artist: Nick Brokenshire
RATING: 7.5 out of 10

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

COMICS READING FOR FEBRUARY: “Catching up (part 1)”

* NOW WITH STAR RATINGS (ala Wrestling Observer Newsletter PPV reports) *

NEW! HOW I RATE THE COMICS VIA THE GRANT MORRISON SCALE
*****     All-Star Superman, We3
****      Zenith, New X-Men (the early issues), Batman Inc., Batman & Robin, Dare, Arkham Asylum
***        Seven Soldiers
**         Final Crisis, Flex Mentallo
*           Marvel Boy
DUD (or lower) Nameless, later New X-Men and any of his hippy-dippy, pseudo-mystical crap

1. Quilte (Comix Tribe, 2016) ****
Writer: John Lees/Artist: Iain Laurie
From the team that brought us And Then Emily Was Gone comes another unsettling urban horror tale with a Scottish sensibility. This one-shot deals with a dream expert, Dr Quilte, who uses her unique abilities to help her patients conquer their fear of nightmares. But one day, she encounters a nightmare that may be too terrifying even for her to fix.
2. Comic Arf (Fantagraphics, 2008) ****
Editor: Craig Yoe/Writers & Artists: various
A really fun, respectful tribute/overview of some of the best (if not obscure) artists from comics and newspaper strips of the 20th century. The highlight is Yoe’s invitation to dozens of modern cartoonists to contribute the final panel to a series of one-page gags created by the legendary Milt Gross. R. Crumb, Jaime Hernandez, Peter Bagge, Mort Walker, art spiegelman and many more accept the challenge with varying results (although all are intriguing). A feature  on Argentine good girl artist Guillermo Divito is both educational and titillating. Really, the only low point in the book is a self-indulgent final section dedicated to...Craig Yoe. His sub-Victor Moscoso art doesn’t warrant such attention. Still, his dedication to publicising forgotten art does. I aim to get more in this series if I can find cheap copies online.
3. A.D. After Death Book Two (Image, 2016) *****
Writer: Scott Snyder/Artist: Jeff Lemire
Wow! This just keeps getting better and better. I can’t wait for the conclusion.
4. Dead Inside #3 (Dark Horse, 2017) *****
Writer: John Arcudi/Artist: Toni Fejzula (interior); Dave Johnson (cover)/Colours: Andre May
ANOTHER month, another instalment of what is rapidly becoming my favourite non-superhero title currently being published.
When we last left Detective Linda Caruso she was trying to talk down one of her friends from killing himself. Well, things go from worse to SHIT-BAD HORRIBLE this issue. People Linda cares about get hurt and killed left, right and centre this time round as shock after shock happens and the mystery of the prison murder deepens.
This is one dark rollercoaster we’re on, friends, courtesy of the masterful work of Arcudi. I, for one, do NOT want to get off the ride.
As always, Fejzula’s art is both gorgeously off-kilter and vaguely disturbing, like finding a dead mouse in the bottom of your sofa (true story – don’t ask). Or smelling something bad in your back room but you don’t know what it is or where it originates (that’s a future horror story, I’m sure – don’t ask).
5. Beast Wagon #1 (Changeling Studios, 2015) ***
Writer: Owen Michael Johnson/Artist: John Pearson
Talking animals in a zoo debate revolution on a stinking-hot day. Not sure if I fully understand what’s going on, but you can make up your own mind by reading the first issue for FREE HERE.

6. Comic Heroes #27 (Future, 2016) ****
Every time I buy a copy of this English mag I learn about at least 2-3 new titles worth pursuing, particularly BRITISH comics, which always makes it worth picking up from my local newsagency. This issue included articles about English titles The Troop and Beast Wagon. There’s even a brand-new Beast Wagon two-page strip (writer: Owen Michael Johnson/artist: Jay Gunn) in the mag, which is why I’ve included this issue as part of my reading list. It’s kinda cheating but who gives a fuck.
7. The Deadbeat #1 (Alterna, 2009) **½
Writer/Artist: Jeremy Massie
Groan…another take on “real people” as superheroes. This time, a deadbeat middle-aged super is confronted by the estranged superpowered daughter he thought was long dead. Didn’t wow me.
8. Chum #1 (Comix Tribe, 2016)
Writer: Ryan K. Lindsay/Artist: Sami Kivela
I read the ashcan of this “surf noir” a year ago and thought it had promise…then promptly forgot about it. I recently acquired 15 FREE Comix Tribe digital comics and the full first issue of Chum was one of them. OK then… this is kinda good – all femme fatales, compromised folk with complicated relationships, dirty money, brutal deaths and mysterious disappearances – but I’m not compelled to buy the next two issues of this three-part miniseries. So I guess it isn’t good enough.
9. Stray Bullets #20 (Image, 2017) *****
Writer/Artist: David Lapham
10.-14. Tokyo Ghost Vol. 2: Come Join Us (Image, 2016) ***
- originally published in Tokyo Ghost #6-10 (Image, 2016)
Writer: Rick Remender/Artist: Sean Murphy
After a promising start this eco-sci-fi nightmare yarn concluded in a pretty unsatisfactory way. Murphy’s art is great as always, but Tokyo Ghost is the first major misfire by Remender in several years. It’s nearly as bad as Low. What does it say about Remender’s writing when the only half-likable character is a psychotic mass-murderer called Davey Trauma? Honestly, I was rooting for him to destroy the world and kill everybody by the end of the series.


15.-19. Paper Girls Vol. 2 (Image, 2016) *****
- originally published in Paper Girls #6-10 (Image, 2016)
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan/Artist: Cliff Chiang
This time-travelling, mind-bending tale of four teens from the 1980s being thrown into the future and dealing with mysterious aliens with hidden (possibly evil) agendas is so fucking good. In fact, Vaughan turns it up a notch with this latest arc. You have to read this series – thoroughly recommended!
20.-24. Done To Death (IDW, 2011) ***¼
- originally published in Done To Death #1-5 (Markosia, 2006)
Writer: Andrew Foley/Artist: Fiona Staples
I picked this up for $10 at a Kings sale, and that’s about what it’s worth. I wondered why IDW published this book of a (then) five-year-old miniseries from a minor comics company...till I realised it was Fiona Staples’ first published work. Her art is primitive but still evocative – she’s evolved so much in the past decade. Done To Death mocks the “sparkly vampire” phenomenon and is kinda blackly funny. But it’s of little more than curiosity value beyond Staples’ fumbling first efforts.
25.-30. The Discipline Vol. 1: The Seduction (Image, 2016) **¼
- originally published in The Discipline #1-6 (Image, 2016)
Writer: Peter Milligan/Artist: Leandro Fernandez
English writer Milligan has explored this territory before – the world of mysterious sex cults, perversion and murder – in his odious The Extremist miniseries. The Discipline is merely a reworked, slightly more palatable version of The Extremist with better artwork. Melissa, a sexually frustrated rich housewife, is seduced by an ancient creature and initiated into a group called The Discipline. She is unwillingly brought into an age-old war between The Discipline and some werewolf-like critters known as The Stalkers. The Discipline’s motives are unclear – as is much of the plot – but I presume if this series continues, then everything will be explained. Melissa tries to quit The Discipline but is forced to stay and do their dirty work after they threaten to go after her sister. Sadly, Milligan establishes in EVERY FUCKING SCENE that Melissa’s sister is a CUNT, so why our heroine would stick her neck out for her is completely illogical. In fact, the series is pretty illogical as a whole and has NO likeable characters – I honestly couldn’t give a shit if Melissa lived or died. If it wasn’t for Fernandez’ gorgeous, sexy artwork I’d rate this TPB much lower.

THE THREE AMIGOS
31. The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari #1 (Amigo Comics, 2017) ****
Writer/Artist: Diego Olmos
This is a creepily enjoyable, faithful retelling of the 1920 German expressionist horror film. The sinister Dr Caligari and his somnambulist Cesare visit a rural town and murder follows in their wake. Francis and his fiancée Jane are rocked by the death of a close friend Alan, but who is the killer? The sleepwalking Cesare or someone else entirely? And is the sinister Dr Caligari the true villain who pulls the strings? Olmos’s stark B&W art is exquisite and makes use of light and dark in the same effective manner as the original movie. I look forward to reading the concluding instalment when it comes out.
32. Street Tiger #1 (Amigo Comics, 2017) ****½
Writer/Artist: Ertito Montana
HOLY SHITBALLS! I fucking love this comic – it’s violent, well-written, blackly funny and pretty damn great in every regard. Imagine if you took an artist like Adrian Tomine or Peter Bagge and told them to create the most grindhouse/kung fu/B-grade schlock action epic ever and THIS would be what they might come up with...if they were HALF AS GOOD as Spanish creator Ertito Montana. What I loved about the first issue in this four-part miniseries is that I was trundling along with the two main characters in the opening scene in a sushi bar as they bantered away about food... So I was totally knocked for a loop when a dude wearing a motorcycle helmet began bashing one of the guy’s head in with a baseball bat! It was soooooo Quentin Tarantino it hurt...IN A GOOD WAY (but not for the guy getting his brains turned into mashed potato, I suspect). The change-up in viewpoints, the casual banter between petty crooks and cops – this is like a comic version of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. And what’s the motive of this helmeted vigilante with a tiger emblem on his jacket going round Nam City (love that name, by the way) and offing crooks? The front cover calls Street Tiger a “revenge thriller”, so that intrigues me. The next issue will hopefully reveal all. Can’t wait.
33. Planet Of Daemons #3 (Amigo Comics, 2017) ***
Writer: Kevin Gunstone/Artist: Paul Moore
Hard to follow when I’v emissed the first two issues. It’s about witchcraft and Salem and “the eye of Lucifer” and succubuses. I was a bit lost, but that’s understandable.
All three titles are available as hard copies from Amigo (http://amigocomics.com/store/index.php). I assume they’ll be available in digital format from www.comixology.com at a later date.

34. El Gorgo! #3 (Gorgo A-Go-Go, 2010) ***
Writer: Mike McGee/Artist: Tamas Jakab
Took me ages to find this issue among my pile of STUFF, but I finally got around to reading it. This lucha libre/Cthulhu/Jack Kirby mash-up has its dynamic moments, even if Jakab’s art really isn’t up to scratch in parts. Sadly, this was the last we saw of the masked ape known as El Gorgo – its web site has been dormant since this issue came out.
35.-46. Sleeper: Season 2 (DC/WildStorm, 2009) ****½
- originally published in Sleeper: Season 2 #1-12 (DC/WildStorm, 2004-05)
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Sean Phillips
47.-50. Kill Or Be Killed Vol. 1 (Image, 2017) ****½
- originally published in Kill Or Be Killed #1-4 (Image, 2016)
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Sean Phillips

51.-57. Rough Riders Vol. 1: Give Them Hell (Aftershock, 2016) ****
- originally published in Rough Riders #1-7 (Aftershock, 2016)
Writer: Adam Glass/Artist: Patrick Olliffe

58.-63. City Of Tomorrow (DC/WildStorm, 2006) ***
- originally published in City Of Tomorrow #1-6 (DC/WildStorm, 2005)
Writer/Artist: Howard Chaykin

64.-73. A Train Called Love (Dynamite, 2016) *****
- originally published in A Train Called Love #1-10 (Dynamite, 2016)
Writer: Garth Ennis/Artist: Mark Dos Santos

74. Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu (Kodansha Comics, 2015) ****
- originally published as Itou Junji No Neko Nikki: Yon & Muu (Kodansha, 2009)
Writer/Artist: Junji Ito
A beautiful cat story filtered through the eyes of the world’s premier body horror writer/artist. It promises to be the most terrifying yarn ever, then turns out to be weirdly sweet.

75. Comic Heroes #28 (Future, 2016) ****½
Overviews of John Ostrander’s Suicide Squad, Claremont and Sienkiewicz’s New Mutants run and Captain Britain...a tribute to the late Darwyn Cooke...interviews with the Hernandez brothers, Joe Hill and Ed Brubaker...and a ton of insightful reviews. Fuck, I love this mag. This issue also has another brand-new Beast Wagon two-page strip (writer: Owen Michael Johnson/artist: Andy Bloor). Great stuff.

76. Cyberines #1 (Red Anvil Comics, 2015) ½*
Writers: Joe Martino and RJ Micheals/Artists: Cory Hamscher and Pow Rodrix
Generic superheroics of the lowest order. The plot is rudimentary and clunky. The dialogue is atrocious. As for the artwork…sheeeeeeesh! At times it’s almost feels like the artists have forgotten to illustrate linking panels and I felt as if I was constantly missing something important. For example: the main superhero is in an alleyway with his girlfriend, then he’s pulling somebody out of an overturned car, then he’s attacked by a supervillain. That’s literally three panels right there – my head was spinning by the lack of flow in the graphic storytelling. Of the two, Hamscher is mildly better in a sub-Eric Larsen kinda way. The only positive factor saving this comic from being a DUD is that there are two sympathetic Muslim characters in the comic, including a Muslim superhero. So…y’know, yay for that, I guess.
77. Crack Comics #63 (Image, 2011) ****
Writers/Artists: various
Shame the Next Issue Project ended after this issue.
78.-82. Snotgirl Vol. 1: Green Hair Don’t Care (Image, 2017) ****
- originally published in Snotgirl #1-5 (Image, 2016)
Writer: Bryan Lee O’Malley/Artist: Leslie Hung
The genius behind Scott Pilgrim comes up with an intriguing, revolting, topical story. I really enjoy the mystery here – is everything happening to fashion blogger Snotgirl real or the hallucinations caused by her allergy medicine?
83. Astral (self-published, 2016) ***¾
Writer: Alex Chung/Artist: Louie Joyce
Beautifully illustrated sci-fi love tale.
84. Stray Bullets: Sunshine And Roses #21 (Image, 2017) *****
Writer/Artist: David Lapham
85. Extremity: Ashcan #1 (Image, 2017) ***¾
Writer: Daniel Warren Johnson/Artist: Mike Spicer
86.-91. Scooter Girl (Image, 2017) ****
- originally published in Scooter Girl #1-6 (Oni Press, 2003-04)
Writer/Artist: Chynna Clugston Flores
92.-96. Deadpool & The Merc$ For Money Vol. 1: Mo’ Mercs, Mo’ Monkeys (Marvel, 2017) ****
- originally published in Deadpool & The Merc$ For Money #1-5 (Marvel, 2016-17)
Writer: Cullen Bunn/Artist: Iban Coello
97. Doc Weird’s Thrill Book! #3 (Pure Imagination Publishing, 1988) ***
- featuring Frankenstein in Prize Comics #8 (Prize Publications, 1940)
Writer/Artist: Dick Breifer
Captain Science in Captain Science (Avon, 1951)
Writer: unknown/Artists: Joe Orlando and Wally Wood
Avenger in Space Detective (Avon, 1951)
Writer: unknown/Artist: Wally Wood
Vic Torry in Vic Torry And His Flying Saucer (Fawcett, 1950)
Writer: unknown/Artist: Bob Powell
98.-101. Britannia Vol. 1 (Valiant, 2017) ****
- originally published in Britannia #1-4 (Valiant, 2016)
Writer: Peter Milligan/Artists: Juan José Ryp (interiors), Cary Nord (covers)
My first-ever Valiant trade, and nicely priced, too. This Roman-era detective tale is quirky and violent. In fact, I’m surprised it wasn’t an Avatar book.
102.-107. Outcast Vol. 4: Under Devil’s Wing (Image, 2017) *****
- originally published in Outcast #19-24 (Image, 2016-17)
Writer: Robert Kirkman/Artist: Paul Azaceta

This series shits all over Kirkman’s other big horror series, The Walking Dead, even though it’s essentially the same story: a small band of heroes battling against a horde of evil creatures. The one big difference is that Outcast offers HOPE to the readers – good may triumph over evil in the end. Unlike TWD where we know EVERYONE’S fucked. But this series is really hitting its stride now and remains one of the few titles I can’t wait to read when the trade comes out every six months.


Monday, February 13, 2017

REVIEWS: The Cabinet of Dr Caligari #1 & Street Tiger #1 (Amigo, Jan. 2017)



The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari #1 (Amigo Comics, 2017)
Writer/Artist: Diego Olmos
This is a creepily enjoyable, faithful retelling of the 1920 German expressionist horror film. The sinister Dr Caligari and his somnambulist Cesare visit a rural town and murder follows in their wake. Francis and his fiancée Jane are rocked by the death of a close friend Alan, but who is the killer? The sleepwalking Cesare or someone else entirely? And is the sinister Dr Caligari the true villain who pulls the strings? Olmos’s stark B&W art is exquisite and makes use of light and dark in the same effective manner as the original movie. I look forward to reading the concluding instalment when it comes out.
RATING: 8/10

Street Tiger #1 (Amigo Comics, 2017)
Writer/Artist: Ertito Montana
HOLY SHITBALLS! I fucking love this comic – it’s violent, well-written, blackly funny and pretty damn great in every regard. Imagine if you took an artist like Adrian Tomine or Peter Bagge and told them to create the most grindhouse/kung fu/B-grade schlock action epic ever and THIS would be what they might come up with...if they were HALF AS GOOD as Spanish creator Ertito Montana. What I loved about the first issue in this four-part miniseries is that I was trundling along with the two main characters in the opening scene in a sushi bar as they bantered away about food... So I was totally knocked for a loop when a dude wearing a motorcycle helmet began bashing one of the guy’s head in with a baseball bat! It was soooooo Quentin Tarantino it hurt...IN A GOOD WAY (but not for the guy getting his brains turned into mashed potato, I suspect). The change-up in viewpoints, the casual banter between petty crooks and cops – this is like a comic version of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. And what’s the motive of this helmeted vigilante with a tiger emblem on his jacket going round Nam City (love that name, by the way) and offing crooks? The front cover calls Street Tiger “a weird revenge thriller”, so that intrigues me. The next issue will hopefully reveal all. Can’t wait.
RATING: 9/10

* Both titles are available as hard copies from Amigo. I assume they’ll be available in digital format from Comixology at a later date.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

COMICS READING FOR JANUARY: “No monthlies, please...we’re British!”


* NOW WITH STAR RATINGS (ala Wrestling Observer Newsletter PPV reports) *

NEW! HOW I RATE THE COMICS VIA THE GRANT MORRISON SCALE
*****     All-Star Superman, We3
****      Zenith, New X-Men (the early issues), Batman Inc., Batman & Robin, Dare, Arkham Asylum
***        Seven Soldiers
**         Final Crisis, Flex Mentallo
*           Marvel Boy
DUD (or lower) Nameless, later New X-Men and any of his hippy-dippy, pseudo-mystical crap

LET ENGLAND SHAKE
1.-8. TV Action + Countdown #69, 70, 76, 81, 83-84, 88-89 (IPC, 1972) **½
Writers: unknown/Artists: Gerry Haylock, Frank Langford and friends
An interesting mix of TV dramas – Dr Who (with the Jon Pertwee version), Hawaii Five-0 and The Persuaders! – and the Gerry Anderson animated shows like Thunderbirds, Stingray and Captain Scarlet. Lovely art but the stories are pretty dull (except for Dr Who, I guess).
9. Battle Picture Weekly Summer Special (IPC, 1978) **
Writers/Artists: unknown
10.-14. Battle-Action Jan. 21, Feb. 4-11, June 3-10 (IPC, 1978) **½
Writers: unknown/Artists: Carlos Ezquerra and friends
When Action folded, it merged with the more successful Battle, so the best strips from the more violent Action were watered down (Dredger and Hellman) or altered to be more war-like (Spinball became Spinball Wars) and brought in to accompany regular Battle strips like The Sarge, Joe Two Beans, Major Eazy (a Clint Eastwood rip-off) and Johnny Red. The writing wasn’t good and was kinda formulaic. Series after series would start off with a group of characters (each one usually defined by one gimmick) and they would get killed off one by one till there was only the lead character left. Hell, there were THREE strips with that same angle in this run: Spinball Wars, Johnny Red and The Sarge. But the art – especially Ezquerra’s work – was outstanding in each issue.

15. Fantastic #30 (Power, Sept. 9, 1967) ***
16. Terrific #37 (Power, Dec. 23, 1967) ***
17. Pow! and Wham! #59 (Power, March 2, 1968) ***
18. Smash! and Pow! incorporating Fantastic #147 (Power, Nov. 23, 1968) ***
19.-22. The Mighty World Of Marvel #2, 7, 98, 100 (Marvel UK, 1972-74) ***
Writers: Stan Lee and friends/Artists: Jack Kirby and friends
England reprinted Marvel, but it didn’t really gel in the weekly anthology format. Thor, Spider-Man, Hulk, Fantastic Four, The Avengers... they’re made for monthlies.

23.-28. The Best of 2000AD Monthly #99-100, 103-105, 110 (Fleetway, 1993-94) ****¼
Writers: Grant Morrison, Alan Grant, Pat Mills and friends/Artists: Steve Yoewell, Simon Bisley, Kevin O’Neill and friends
Classic A.B.C. Warriors, Torquemada, Judge Anderson and Zenith action.
29.-34. 2000AD #668, 670, 792-794, 796 (Fleetway, 1990-92) ****
Writers/Artists: various
The best and worst of this legendary anthology. The best? Zenith and a great crossover of Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog. The worst? Kola Kommandos really sucked.
35. Starlord (IPC, Sept. 16, 1978) ***
Writers/Artists: various
Honestly, back then, I preferred Starlord over 2000AD. Strontium Dog and Ro-Busters eventually jumped to 2000AD, with the latter morphing into A.B.C. Warriors.

AND ONE FRENCH SERIES (ALTHOUGH REPRINTED IN ENGLAND):
36.-38. The Chimera Brigade Vols. 1-3 (Titan Comics, 2014-15) ***¾
- originally published as La Brigade Chimerique (L'Atalante, 2009-2010)
Writers: Fabrice Colin and Serge Lehman/Artist: Gess
Pre-war super-heroics with a distinct Gallic sensibility. Delicious.

FLOGGING A DARK HORSE
39. Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire (Dark Horse, 2017) *****
Writer: Neil Gaiman/Artist: Shane Oakley
Review HERE.

40.-41. Dead Inside #1-2 (Dark Horse, 2016-17)
Writer: John Arcudi/Artist: Toni Fejzula
Review HERE.

42.-43. Shadow On The Grave #1-2 (Dark Horse, 2016-17)
Writer/Artist: Richard Corben
Review HERE.

44. Codo in The Legend Of The Golden Taco (self-published, 2012) ***½
45. Codo: Adventures in Flandersland (self-published, 2013) ***½
Writer/Artist: Nicola Hardy
Delightfully fluffy stories by one of my favourite zinesters. Check out more of Nicola’s work at http://secret-envelope.tumblr.com/ and follow her on Twitter (@secretenvelope).

46. Mini Comix Double Shot: Dope Fiend Monkey/Mini Monsters And Super Oddballs (Almost Normal Comics, 201?) ***
47. Legends of Midget Wrestling (Almost Normal Comics, 201?) ****
Writer/Artist; Warren E. Elliott
Some unique, cleverly designed, informative and funny mini-comix from WEE. I especially loved Legends of Midget Wrestling with its beautifully brief bios of Little Beaver, Darling Dagmar, Sky Low Low and Diamond Lil. I heartily recommend these publications. Head to www.almostnormalcomics.com for details. Or email Warren at wee@almostnormalcomics.com.


SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMETHING NEW
48.-57. The Private Eye HC (Image, 2015) *****
- first published online (Panel Syndicate, 2013-14)
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan/Artist: Marcos Martin
Hit the Parramatta Library and found some awesome stuff there. I was gonna spend some serious coin to buy The Private Eye online, but the first thing I saw when I walked into the graphic novel section was this title. I read it and loved it – the idea of everybody in society having masked identities in a post-internet world was amazing as it deals with privacy issues that are so prevalent right now. This was first published as a webcomic, but the deluxe Image hardcover release is pretty lush, although a bit awkward to read in the horizontal format. Marcos Martin’s artwork reminded me a lot of the decadent line work of the late Guido Crepax. That’s a GOOD thing.
58.-63. The Trial Of Captain America (Marvel, 2011) **¾
- first published in Captain America #611-615, 615.1 (Marvel, 2010-11)
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artists: Daniel Acuña (#611); Butch Guice and Stefano Gaudiano with friends (#612-615); Mitch Breitweiser (#615.1)
I’d long been curious about this arc (especially after enjoying Brubaker’s “Death Of Captain America” arc), but this was just...STUPID. Promising start and a great idea, but just horribly executed in the end. The art was nice, though.
64. Batman: Noël (DC, 2011) ***
Writer/Artist: Lee Bermejo

Lee’s art in this stand-alone hardcover is gorgeous. Just beautiful. Five stars. Which, thankfully, makes up for his writing, which is BEYOND SHIT. Torturous, laboured, lame. Stick to drawing, Lee, and don’t worry your pretty little head about the words in future.


Friday, February 10, 2017

REVIEW: Dead Inside #3 (Dark Horse, Feb. 2017)



ANOTHER month, another instalment of what is rapidly becoming my favourite non-superhero title currently being published.
When we last left Detective Linda Caruso she was trying to talk down one of her friends from killing himself. Well, things go from worse to SHIT-BAD HORRIBLE this issue. People Linda cares about get hurt and killed left, right and centre this time round as shock after shock happens and the mystery of the prison murder deepens.
This is one dark rollercoaster we’re on, friends, courtesy of the masterful work of Arcudi. I, for one, do NOT want to get off the ride.
As always, Fejzula’s art is both gorgeously off-kilter and vaguely disturbing, like finding a dead mouse in the bottom of your sofa (true story – don’t ask). Or smelling something bad in your back room but you don’t know what it is or where it originates (that’s a future horror story, I’m sure – don’t ask).
Dead Inside is published by Dark Horse. Issue three goes on sale February 15.

Dead Inside #3 (Dark Horse, Feb. 2017)
Writer: John Arcudi/Artist: Toni Fejzula (interior); Dave Johnson (cover)/Colours: Andre May


RATING: 10 out of 10

Friday, February 3, 2017

Kirby Your Enthusiasm, Ep. 47: Best and Worst of 2016


Listen to my podcast HERE.


COMICS READ in 2013: 807

COMICS READ IN 2014: 1179

COMICS READ IN 2015: 1222
--------------------------------------------------

COMICS READ IN 2016:
JAN. 105
FEB. 101
MAR. 108
APR. 140
MAY 146
JUN. 100
JUL. 95
AUG. 119
SEP. 115
OCT. 100
NOV. 69
DEC. 82
Total comics and GNs read in 2016: 1280

BEST of 2016:
***** or better
Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #5 [Crayon Butchery Variant Cover; b&w interior] (Marvel, 2006) *****
Story: Warren Ellis/Art: Stuart Immonen
God, this was a fun series. I’m totally gonna have to go back and read it again soon. And you can colour in this issue. Awesome!
Stray Bullets: Sunshine And Roses #10-19 (Image, 2015-16) *****
Writer/artist: David Lapham
Kaptara Vol. 1: Fear Not, Tiny Alien (Image, 2015) *****
- originally published in Kaptara #1-5 (Image, 2015)
Writer: Chip Zdarsky/Artist: Kagan McLeod
A perverse, camp sci-fi reinterpretation/pisstake of He-Man and...The Smurfs? Brilliance!
Marvel Zombies 5 #1-5 (Marvel, 2010) *****
Writer: Fred Van Lente/Artists: various
The Invincible Iron Man Vol. 1 (Marvel, 2010) *****
- originally published in The Invincible Iron Man #1-19 (Marvel, 2008-09)
Writer: Matt Fraction/Artist: Salvador Larroca
Fucking awesome mature (as in MATURE) superhero action. First, Tony Stark faces his worst fears when terrorists use Iron Man technology to create bloody mayhem around the world. Seems an old enemy’s son has decided to target Stark. Then, following the Skrull invasion, Stark and SHIELD are out, Norman Osborne and HAMMER are in. Tony decides to stop Osborne from accessing top-secret documents by storing them in his brain, then slowly deleting the info using Iron Man tech. Only problem is, the process is making him dumber and deader by the minute. How can Stark – using increasingly older and more outdated Iron Man armour – defend himself against the likes of the Sub-Mariner, Madame Masque, Crimson Dynamo and Osborne himself in the guise of the Iron Patriot?
This is amazingly well-written, beautifully illustrated comics. Sophisticated superheroes? Who woulda thunk it?
The Invincible Iron Man Vol. 2 (Marvel, 2012) *****
- originally published in The Invincible Iron Man #20-33 (Marvel, 2009-11)
Writer: Matt Fraction/Artists: Salvador Larroca; Jamie McKelvie
Graphic Ink: The DC Comics Art Of Darwyn Cooke (DC, 2015) *****
- originally published in a bunch of comics (DC, 1985-2015)
Read my blog review HERE.
Batman: Ego And Other Tails (DC, 2007) *****
- originally published in Batman: Ego, Selina’s Big Score and other titles (DC, 2000-05)
3 comics
The Twilight Children (Vertigo, 2016) *****
- originally published in The Twilight Children #1-4 (Vertigo, 2015-16)
Writer: Gilbert Hernandez/Artist: Darwyn Cooke
Darwyn’s final project and it’s a fitting tribute to his genius. Gilbert’s magic realism doesn’t always grab me in Love And Rockets, but here married to Darwyn’s extraordinary art helps take it to another level. Love, lust, betrayal, aliens, CIA agents and weird glowing orbs make this book a must-read.
Catwoman: The Dark End Of The Street (DC, 2002) *****
- originally published in Detective Comics #759-762, Catwoman #1-4 (DC, 2001-02)
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artists: Darwyn Cooke, Mike Allred and Cameron Stewart
Crites’ Colouring Book by Tom Crites (Headpress, 2016) *****
Saga: Vol. 6 (Image, 2016) *****
- originally published in Saga #31-36 (Image, 2016)
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan/Artist: Fiona Staples
The best comic series out there continues to bring me great joy. After a few missteps in volumes four and five, this one is a fine return to great form. Just perfect. Sci-fi, romance, war stories, erotica and, now, Orange Is The New Black makes this the genre mash-up to beat all mash-ups.
The Wild Party (Pantheon Books, 1994) *****
- originally published in 1928
Writer: Joseph Moncure March/Artist: Art Spiegelman
Incredible re-release of a classic poem about a debauched party. Art has done so many illustrations for this version that it’s practically a graphic novel. So I’m including it here.
Deadly Hands Of Criminal (Image, 2016) *****
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Sean Phillips
Starve Vol. 2 (Image, 2016) *****
- originally published in Starve #1-5 (Image, 2016)
Writer: Brian Wood/Artist: Danijel Zezelj
Dave Stevens Selected Sketches & Studies Vol. 2 (Bulldog Studios, 2003) *****
Limited edition sketchbook. Sadly, unnumbered and unsigned.
Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker #1-6 (Dynamite, 2011) *****
Writer: Garth Ennis/Artist: Darick Robertson
The Boys #55-72 (Dynamite, 2011-12) *****
Writer: Garth Ennis/Artists: John McCrea, Darick Robertson, Russ Braun
Man, does Garth Ennis hate superheroes or what?
Fantastic work by the great man and a satisfying conclusion to this brutal, at-times offensive, but always entertaining series.
Sink #1 (Comix Tribe, 2016) *****
Writer: John Lees/Artist: Alex Cormack
About as violent and disturbing a comic as I’ve read this year. Horrifying in parts – you’ll never see Glasgow in the same light again.
Hieronymus (Knockabout, 2015) *****
Writer/Artist: Marcel Ruijters
An “unauthorised” – yet thoroughly researched – biography on one of the great Dutch artists, Hieronymus Bosch, who captured Medieval hell on Earth in his frightening paintings. Mega-talented Ruijters captures Bosch’s everyday life, and it’s pretty horrible – but it provided plenty of inspiration for his horrific art.
Goldtiger (2000AD, 2016) *****
Writer: Guy Adams/Artist: Jimmy Broxton
This mock biography of an obscure, Modesty Blaise-style action strip from the 1960s is pure brilliance. Just read this article to get the full story about this fascinating project.
Get Jiro: Blood And Sushi (Vertigo, 2016) *****
Writer: Anthony Bourdain and Joel Rose/Artists: Alé Garza (interior); Dave Johnson (cover)
A prequel to equally brilliant Get Jiro from 2012.
Southern Bastards Vol. 3: Homecoming (Image, 2016) *****
- originally published in Southern Bastards #9-14 (Image, 2015-16)
Writers: Jason Aaron (#9-11, 13-14); Jason Latour (#12)/Artists: Jason Latour (#9-11, 13-14); Chris Brunner (#12)
I’d already read four of these issues (because they took so damn long to come out I thought I’d avoided that particular reprint and had hit all-new issues. Wrong! Still, it was great to reread this whole chapter again in one hit. Amazing story. Some real bastards down south, y’all. Hey, we know that even better after the US election, right?
Nailbiter Vol. 5: Bound By Blood (Image, 2016) *****
- originally published in Nailbiter #21-25 and Nailbiter/Hack/Slash one-shot (Image, 2016)
Writer: Joshua Williamson/Artist: Mike Henderson
Rules Of Summer by Shaun Tan (Lothian, 2013) *****
This is fabulous.
The Sixth Gun Book 9: Boot Hill (Oni Press, 2016) *****
- originally published in The Sixth Gun #48-50 (Oni Press, 2016)
Writer: Cullen Bunn/Artist: Brian Hurtt
The Saviours (Image, 2016) *****
- originally published in The Saviours #1-5 (Image, 2016)
Attack On Titan Anthology (Kodansha Comics, 2016) *****
Writers/Artists: various
Huck Book 1: All-American (Image, 2016) *****
- originally published in Huck #1-6 (Image, 2016)
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
Invader Zim Vol. 2 (Oni Press, 2016) *****
- originally published in Invader Zim #6-10 (Oni Press, 2016)
Writers/Artists: various
The Rattler (Image, 2016) *****
Writer: Jason McNamara/Artist: Greg Hinkle
I bought this graphic novel for Greg’s art, but Jason’s supernatural noir tale is gripping. I loved the tale, which reminded me a lot the original film version of The Vanishing.
Power Man And Iron Fist Vol. 1: The boys Are Back In Town (Marvel, 2016) *****
- Power Man And Iron Fist #1-5 (Marvel, 2016)
Writer: David Walker/Artist: Sanford Greene (#1-4); Flaviano (#5)
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 3: Squirrel, You Really Got Me Now (Marvel, 2016) *****
- originally published in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1-6 and Howard The Duck #6 (Marvel, 2016)
Writers: Ryan North with Chip Zdarsky (HTD #6)/Artists: Erica Henderson (SG #1-6), Joe Quinones and friends (HTD #6)
Howard The Duck Vol. 1: Duck Hunt (Marvel, 2016) ****¼
- originally published in Howard The Duck #1-6 and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6 (Marvel, 2016)
Writers: Chip Zdarsky with Ryan North (SG #6)/Artists :Joe Quinones and friends (HTD #1-6); Erica Henderson (SG #6)
Obviously, I read HTD #6 and SG #6 the first time round, so I didn’t read them again.
This is a more poignant, nuanced HTD. Silly, yes – but sad, too. And it gets sadder in the next volume.
Howard The Duck Vol. 2: Good Night, And Good Duck (Marvel, 2016) *****
- originally published in Howard The Duck #7-11
Writer: Chip Zdarsky /Artists: Kevin Maguire (#7); Joe Quinones and friends (#8-11)
With special guest stars...Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones...well, interstellar versions of them anyway. Did you know Howard’s life is being run by intergalactic creators, who throw all sorts of weird shit at him like The Collector and mentally unstable Sentinels? Yep, this final arc gets very meta as Chip and Joe deal creatively with the idea of a HTD series being cancelled...again. Very enjoyable if sad. Still, with a bit of luck, he’ll be back one day. Howard always comes back.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 4: I Kissed A Squirrel And I Liked It (Marvel, 2016) *****
- originally published in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7-11 (Marvel, 2016)
Writer: Ryan North /Artists: Erica Henderson and friends (#7-10), Jacob Chabot (#11)
Read this comic and learn more about counting with binary numbers and tree lobsters than you ever thought possible!
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up The Marvel Universe (Marvel, 2016) *****
Writers: Ryan North/Artists: Erica Henderson and friends
An original hardcover graphic novel because too much Squirrel Girl is never enough. This pisstake on The Punisher Kills The Marvel Universe sees Doreen get taken down by the only person powerful enough to do so: her evil clone. What happens when Bad SG (aka Allene) attempts to defeat every superhero and super-villain in the world? Well, she does so with ease. This novel is such a delight to read. Such a delight.
I honestly wondered whether kids would appreciate SG, despite seeing all those pix in the letters pages of young girls cosplaying as Doreen, because there was too much back story and SG history to take in. And then the other night I was looking for the graphic novel, turned around and found my nine-year-old daughter reading it. Jones quite liked it and is now reading Vol. 4 (yes, she’s reading the series backwards. So sue her). Anyway, despite not knowing anything about Doreen or her supporting cast, she thinks the series is “good”. So there you go.
Deadly Class Vol. 4: Die For Me (Image, 2016) *****
- originally published in Deadly Class #17-21 (Image, 2016)
Writer: Rick Remender/Artist: Wes Craig
Speaking of bleak, this series is about as dark as it comes. I mean, I’m not sure how Remender can keep the series going when the three main characters FUCKING DIED in the final issue of this arc. High school sucks at the best of times, but when it’s a school of assassins and the only way to graduate is to kill the non-affiliated freaks and geeks, it’s MURDER. Just love Deadly Class – top-notch art and storytelling. I’m genuinely looking forward to finding out where Remender goes from here.
Velvet Vol. 3: The Man Who Stole The World (Image, 2016) *****
- originally published in Velvet #11-15 (Image, 2016)
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Steve Epting
A.D. After Death Book One (Image, 2016) *****
Writer: Scott Snyder/Artist: Jeff Lemire
One of the most extraordinary, moving comics I’ve read in some time. Beautiful. I can’t wait to read the next book.

WORST of 2016:
Nameless #6 (Image, 2015) DUD
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artist: Chris Burnham
Unfathomable, tedious, odious, needlessly gory shite of the highest order. Morrison disappears up his own anus once again. Avoid.
The Fifth Force featuring Hawk & Animal #2 (Antarctic Press, 1999) -*
Writer/Artist: uncredited
Easily the worst wrestling comic ever produced. Overpriced, stupid, pointless.
Aski – Rumble in the Lost Temple #1 (Lucha Comics, 2014) DUD
Writer: Roberto Mercado/Artist: Kundo Krunch
I don’t ask much from a wrestling comic except be well-written and well-drawn. Aski fails in both categories. But even bad artwork can be forgiven if a story makes sense and is fun to read. But this comic is just shit on every level. Poorly structured action scenes that succeed in both being mundane and predictable. A plot that hinges on our hero’s friends being two of the dumbest arseholes on the planet is also a turn-off.  When a luchador says, “Don’t go into the jungle – it’s full of criminals and dangerous animals”, don’t then deliberately ignore him, get attacked by a deadly animal and kidnapped by criminals. That doesn’t make you plucky and gutsy adventurers, it makes you FUCKWITS. Anyway, this comic is terrible.
AWF: Amazon Wrestling Federation #1 (Xigency Studios Inc., 2013) -*
Writer/Artist: Joe D. McFee
This weird, slightly fetishy comic shows the very worst of what’s on offer at Comixology. Poorly drawn, badly written tale about an Amazonian college basketballer in love with a nerdy tutor who wins a wrestling promotion in a poker game (I’m not kidding here). At the same time, the basketballer decides to become a pro wrestler. The sheer amateurishness of this comic is positively painful. Somehow, this comic reached four issues!
Worlds Collide #1 (DC/Milestone, 1994) DUD
Writers/Artists: various and shit
I only bought this crap for the free stickers. Godawful crossover – no wonder Milestone folded. It should stay folded.