Sunday, October 30, 2011

COMICS READING FOR OCTOBER: “Where’s my no-prize?”




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

HOW I RATE THE COMICS VIA THE ALAN MOORE SCALE
*****   Watchmen, Marvelman, V For Vendetta
****     From Hell, Supreme, Swamp Thing, Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?
***        League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the first two series), Axel Pressbutton, Tom Strong
**           Promethea
*             LoEG: Century: 1969
DUD  (or lower)     anything he’s written for Avatar or any of the non-comics drivel he shits out on a regular basis

1. The Official Marvel No-Prize Book #1 (Marvel, 1982) ***
Writer: Jim Owsley & friends/Artist: Bob Camp, Vnce Colletta & friends
No-prizes always fascinated me – I heard they were actually empty envelopes sent to people who pinpointed mistakes in Marvel mags. Well, this one-shot bravely acknowledges some of the greatest errors in Marvel history (up to 1982). Peter “Palmer”, Betty “Brant”, Hercules dragging Manhattan Island around via a couple of chains and several major (and not-so-major) continuity cock-ups. Plus Captain America’s legendary cry, “Only one of us is gonna walk out of here under his own steam...and it won’t be me!” Hilarious stuff.
2. Marvel Fanfare #34 (Marvel, 1987) ***
Writer: Alan Zelenetz/Artist: Charles Vess/Portfolios: Charles Vess; Mike Mignola
I’m not a huge fan of Asgardian tales, but this whimsical tale of the Warriors Three is kinda okay. The main reason I picked it up was due to the lovely early Vess art (including a portfolio at the end of the story). Plus there’s a Mignola portfolio – again, it’s nice to see his pre-Hellboy work.
3. FCBD: Ultimate X-Men #1 (Marvel, 2003) ***½
- originally published as Ultimate X-Men #1 (Marvel, 2001)
Writer: Mark Millar/Artists: Adam Kubert & Art Thibert
I liked it enough to order the first volume.
4.-5. Fear Itself #4-5 (Marvel, 2011) ***
Writer: Matt Fraction/Artist: Stuart Immonen
Thor killing Thing was kinda cool (even if it only last six panels before Franklin Richards revived him).
6. Fear Itself: The Deep #2 (Marvel, 2011) ***
Writer: Cullen Bunn/Artists: Lee Garbett & David Meikis
I’m not entirely blown away by the story or art, but it’s just a precursor to getting The Defenders back together, so I’ m down with that. Red She-Hulk is kinda cool.
7.-8. Fear Itself: Deadpool #2-3 (Marvel, 2011) ***½
Writer: Christopher Hastings/Artists: Bong Dazo & Joe Pimentel
Seriously, the best Fear Itself title out there – just a fun, stupid read that mocks what’s going on in the “main” titles. A supervillain called The Walrus? Bizarro were-creatures about to descend on an isolated town (shades of 30 Days Of Night there)? Deadpool getting smushed repeatedly? Great fun.
9. The Vertigo Gallery #1 (Vertigo, 1995) ***
Poster books are comics too, dammit! Many of the Vertigo characters get nice one-page illos by the likes of Chris Weston (The Invisibles), Steve Dillon (Preacher), Alex Toth (Sandman Mystery Theatre), Geof Darrow (Shade, The Changing Man) and Swamp Thing (John Totleben).
10. Vertigo Jam: Louer Than Noise #1 (Vertigo, 1993) ***½
Writers: various/Artists: various
Short tales from the likes of Neil Gaiman, Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon, Jamie Delano, Peter Milligan, Michael Allred...you can’t go wrong, can you?
11. Vertigo Preview (Vertigo, 1992) ***
A nice taster of what was to come, including an exclusive Sandman tale written by Gaiman. Nice.
12. Young Heroes In Love #1 (DC, 1997) ***¼
Writer: Dan Raspler/Artists: Dev Madan & Keith Champagne
Here’s a lil’ sleeper. This title only ran for 18 issues, but I may have to pick them all up after reading this promising first instalment. Seven young superheroes gather together to form a new super-team – The Young Heroes – but something’s not quite right with team leader Hard Drive. Why is he using his telepathic powers to control his team mates, including convincing Bonfire to fall in love with Thunderhead? Only the Sub-Mariner-like Frostbite suspects something is amiss. Hmmm...I’m intrigued to see where this series went – it seemed quite lighthearted and goofy for much of the first issue, then took a dark turn in the last few pages. I will have to investigate.  
13. Angel Stomp Future #1 (Avatar/Apparat, 2004) ***¼
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artist: Juan Jose Ryp
Ellis writes weirdness for weirdness’ sake sometimes. This bizarre one-shot about a future doctor who looks like a SuicideGirl would have felt at home in an early issue of Metal Hurlant. It’s the future...a future filled with anti-space exploration suicide cults, memes as human viruses, mad doctors in hotpants, extreme medical procedures and sexual horror. Oh...and the shittest old gag of all time thrown in for good measure. It’s entertaining, but you have to wonder why Ellis bothered. Just for the sheer hell of it, I guess. Ryp’s art is a sick joy, as usual.
14. Vescell #2 (Image, 2011) **
Writer: Enrique Carrion/Artist: John Upchurch
Upchurch draws nice plump chicks, but that’s not enough for me to stick with this confusing sci-fi/religious-themed yarn.
15. OMAC #2 (DC, 2011) ***¼
Writer: Dan DiDio/Artists: Keith Giffen & Scott Koblish
Continues to be fun and with the introduction of Maxwell Lord and Checkmate, this series grows more interesting. I look forward to #3.
16. The Shade #1 (DC, 2011) ***½
Writer: James Robinson/Artist: Cully Hamner
Not sure if this is a part of the New 52 Universe or a stand-alone maxiseries but, as a fan of Robinson’s Starman, I dug this first ish. Of course, I’m not sure where we go after the rather shocking (and graphic) ending but I’m sure we’ll find out next issue.
17.-18. Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. (DC, 2011) ***¼
Writer: Jeff Lemire/Artist: Alberto Ponticelli
19. Legion Of Monsters #1 (Marvel, 2011) ***¾
Writer: Dennis Hopeless/Artist: Juan Doe
These are the two big companies’ new monster titles and they stack up pretty nicely next to each other. However, I’ll give the nod to Marvel as LOM is just way more fun (and I’m a sucker for Elsa Bloodstone).

20. Perry – Unser Mann Im All #131 (A Farm, 2006) UNRATED
Writers: Kai Hirdt & Karl Nagl/Artists: Vincent Brumeister & Simone Kesterton
21. Mona (???, 1996) UNRATED
Writer: ??/Artist: Jule Jensen
A GERMAN friend sent me these two adult comics, which I could only look at as I don’t read the language. Mona appears to be a reprint or oneshot from some German porno featuring a series of mediocre, two-page toon strips starring the busty nympho Mona. Reminds of some of the two-pagers I used to commission for RED-HOT PEOPLE back in the day. Perry is basically a straight sci-fi strip with tits. The artwork’s not bad in that European style. Pity I couldn’t follow the storyline.

22.-23. The Big Guy And Rusty The Boy Robot (Big Guy Comics/Dark Horse, 1996) ****
- originally published in The Big Guy And Rusty The Boy Robot #1-2 (Dark Horse, 1995-96)
Writer: Frank Miller/Artist: Geof Darrow
Awesome, oversized mega-violence in the classic Frank Miller style. Darrow’s art is beautiful and grotesque all at the same time.
24. Frank Miller’s Holy Terror (Legendary, 2011) ***
It starts out with promise – in fact, some of the sequences hauntingly evocative – but this Batman/Catwoman pastiche/right-wing fantasy degenerates real fast to a pretty messy, confusing conclusion. Miller has done better. But he’s never been more fascist.
25. Optic Nerve #12 (Drawn & Quarterly, 2011) ****
Writer/artist: Adrian Tomine
Exquisite.

26. Marvel Universe vs Wolverine #1 (Marvel, 2011) ***¼
Writer: Jonathan Maberry/Artist: Laurence Campbell, Mike Kaluta (cover)
Not as dumb as I’d been led to believe.
27. Suicide Girls #2 (IDW, 2011) **¾
Writers: Steve Niles, Missy Suicide and Brea & Zane Grant/Artists: David Hahn & Cameron Stewart, Cameron Stewart (cover & posters)
Stewart draws good wanking material, but any comic that needs FOUR writers is in serious trouble. Female empowerment? SuicideGirls ad? Left-wing future fantasy? Freedom of expression diatribe? Naaaaaah, just overpriced wanking material.
28. The Red Wing #4 (Image, 2011) **¾
Writer: Jonathan Hickman/Artist: Nick Pitarra
Unless there’s a sequel coming, this was a confusing yarn with an unsatisfying ending.
29. Legion: Secret Origin #1 (DC, 2011) ***½
Writer: Paul Levitz/Artists: Chris Batista & Marc Deering
I got a LoSH ring! I got a LoSH ring! Story...not bad so far.
30. Halcyon #5 (Image, 2011) ****
Writers: Marc Guggenheim & Tara Butters/Artist: Ryan Bodenheim
A fantastic and, dare I say it, unexpected ending to a thought-provoking story.
31. Captain Swing And the Electrical Pirates Of Cindery Island (Avatar, 2011) ***½
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artist: Raulo Caceres
32.-34. Butcher Baker #3-5 (Image, 2011) ***½
Writer: Joe Casey/Artist: Mike Huddleston
Casey’s egotistical ramblings aside, this is a kick-arse, post-modernist superhero yarn. Huddleston’s Sienkowicz-style artwork is a pleasure to behold.
35. Strange Adventures #1 (Vertigo, 2011) ***
Writers/artists: various
Thankfully, reading this anthology inspired me NOT to pick up the new Spaceman series – it looks very mediocre in this preview. Best story in the book? Jeff Lemire’s tragic reimagining of a kooky old sci-fi character called Ultra The Multi-Alien. A close second was the equally tragic Post Modern Prometheus by Kevin Colden. The Paul Pope cover is a joy, too.
36.-37. Annihilators #3-4 (Marvel, 2011) ***¾
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning/Artists: Tan Eng Huat & Victor Olazaba (Annihilators)/Timothy Green II (Rocket Raccoon)
I love Rocket Raccoon.
38. Paul Mason Portfolio: SDCC 2011 (Black House, 2011) **¾
39.-44. Absolution #1-6 (Avatar) ****
Writer: Christos Gage/Artist: Roberto Viacava
45. The CBLDF Presents Liberty Annual 2011 (Image, 2011) ***
Writers/artists: various
46. The Unexpected (Vertigo, 2011) ***
Writers/artists: various
47.-49. I Hate Gallant Girl (Image, 2008-09) **½
Writers: Jim Valentino & Kat Cahill/Artist: Seth Damoose
This tale of a spurned reality TV superhero wannabe becoming a legit superhero started really well but went to hell literally on the last page of issue two. Setting things up for a sequel that never comes is pointless, so issue three was a waste, too. Shame.

50. Voodoo #1 (DC, 2011) ***
Writer: Ron Marz/Artist: Sami Basri
51. Catwoman #1 (DC, 2011) ***¼
Writer: Judd Winick/Artist: Guillem March
I felt like a dirty old man buying these two comics. Having said that, I’ve grabbed issue two of Catwoman, which has promise. Voodoo – now that it’s moved out of the strip club setting – is no longer required reading.

52. Jennifer Blood #5 (Dynamite, 2011) ***
Writer: Garth Ennis/Artist: Kewber Baal
I’ll finish this story arc, then I’m done. Ennis can do so much better.
53. Star Trek/Legion Of Super-Heroes #1 (IDW, 2011) ***
Writer: Chris Roberson/Artists: Jeffrey & Philip Moy, Phil Jimenez (cover)
A cute gimmick, but I’ll give it another issue to see where this is headed. So far, we haven’t seen Mr Spock square off against Brainiac 5.
54. Annihilators #3-4 (Marvel, 2011) ***¾
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning/Artists: Tan Eng Huat & Andrew Hennessy (Annihilators)/Timothy Green II (Rocket Raccoon)
I lurve Rocket Raccoon!
55. Fear Itself #6 (Marvel, 2011) **¾
Writer: Matt Fraction/Artist: Stuart Immonen
56.-57. Fear Itself: The Deep #3-4 (Marvel, 2011) ***½
Writer: Cullen Bunn/Artists: Lee Garbett, David Meikis & John Lucas
The Defenders are back! Huzzah!

NOTE: There will be no comics reading list for November, as I won’t be reading any. Instead, I will be too busy spending the entire month writing a novel. Yes, it’s true! I’m doing it as part of National Novel Writing Month, which you can read about at www.nanowrimo.org. See youse in December.

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