Friday, February 3, 2012

COMICS READING FOR DECEMBER: “Scooby snacks”


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. Heart #3 (Image, 2012) ***½
Writer: Blair Butler/Artist: Kevin Mellon
Funnily enough, the one thing this comic lacks IS heart. The MMA lifestyle – especially on the lower levels of the sport – is intelligently conveyed, but I just don’t give a toss about the main character. The art is fine, and I think Blair is growing as a writer. Only one issue to go, so we’ll see how it ends.
2. Animal Man #5 (DC, 2012) ****
Writer: Jeff Lemire/Artists: Travel Foreman & Dan Green
Easily the best title being put out by DC right now and one of the only New 52 titles I’ll stick with after this first arc ends.
3. The Defenders #2 (Marvel, 2011) ***½
Writer: Matt Fraction/Artists: Terry & Rachel Dodson
Another great issue that gives a nod to The Defenders’ past and throws them slam-bang into the heart of modern Marvel. The universe is about to be destroyed again? A little ho-hum but I’ll stick with it ’cos I enjoy everything else about this series.
4. DC Comics Presents: Elseworlds 100-Page Spectacular one-shot (DC, 2012) ****
- originally published as Elseworlds 80-Page Giant (DC, 1999)
Writers/artists: various
Made notorious at the time when DC withdrew and pulped this issue due to a contentious Superbaby-in-the-microwave-oven story by Kyle Baker, the comic has been given new life in 2012 and I was blown away by it. The talent on show here is staggering: Baker, Paul Pope, Kieron Dwyer and Ty Templeton, to name a few. But it’s the lesser-known (to me) creators that produce some stand-out work. One favourite is “The Reaching Hand”, a Lovecraftian tale involving detectives Harvey Dent and Bruce Wayne tackling undead monsters Ralph Dibny and Jimmy Olsen, who have the ability to stretch their bodies (writer: D. Curtis Johnson/artist: Aaron Lopresti). Another is “Dark Night Of The Golden Kingdom”, a Dark Knight Returns/Kingdom Come pisstake starring a balding fat Superman and his sidekick Batman (writer: T. Robert Peyer/artist: Ariel Olivetti). This one-shot is definitely worth a look-see.
5. Green Lantern: Secret Files & Origins 2005 (DC, 2005) **¾ (all for Darwyn Cooke)
Writers/artists: various
Yep, bought it solely for the Cooke art.
6.-7. Frankenstein And The Creatures Of The Unknown #2-3 (DC, 2011) **¼
Writer: Jeff Lemire/Artist: Ibraim Roberson, Alex Massacci (#2); Andy Smith & Keith Champagne (#3)
Completely undone by the New 52 reboot. OK, I guess. Just redundant.
8. Frankenstein: Agent Of S.H.A.D.E. #4 (DC, 2011) ***½
Writer: Jeff Lemire/Artist: Alberto Ponticelli
JG Jones’ covers in this series are fricking awesome!
9.-13.  Gladstone’s School For World Conquerors #2-6 (Image, 2011) ***½
Writer: Mark Andrew Smith/Artist: Armand Villavert
10.-15. Locke & Key: Welcome To Lovecraft (IDW, 2008) ***½
- originally published in Locke & Key: Welcome To Lovecraft #1-6 (IDW, 2008)
Writer: Joe Hill/Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez
Did you know Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son? I didn’t.
Engaging series – makes me want to buy more.
16. The Guild: Zaboo (Dark Horse, 2012) ***½
Writers: Felicia Day & Sandeep Parikh/Artist: Becky Cloonan; Evan Dorkin with Sarah Dyer (cover)
17.-21. Mystery Men #1-5 (Marvel, 2011) ***
Writer: David Liss/Artist: Patrick Zircher
An interesting Marvel-take on the pulp characters of the 1930s. Nice Baron Zemo cameo, too. However, Liss thinks he’s way clever than he is with his story. Still, I liked Zircher’s art.
22.-27. Deadpool MAX: Nutjob (Marvel, 2011) ***¾
- originally published in Deadpool MAX #1-6 (Marvel, 2011)
Writer: David Lapham/Artist: Kyle Baker
A comic featuring a mutant who I don’t particularly care about, a writer who hasn’t impressed me greatly in the past, along with an artist who can be a tad hit’n’miss...but this title came highly recommended to me, so I bought the trade. And guess what? It’s pretty fucking cool. And violent. And sexy. And offensive. I need to get volume two now.
28. Superior #7 (Icon, 2011) ****
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: Leinil Yu
A kick-ass ending to a great series. Millar smashed it out of the ballpark with this comic. Can’t wait to read his next few MillarWorld offerings.
29. Hotwire: Requiem For The Dead (Radical, 2009) ***½
Writers: Warren Ellis & Steve Pugh/Artist: Steve Pugh
I bought this one on a whim’cos it was cheap, but I really dug it. Ellis – with a little help from Pugh – is on song in this techno-punk tale of a ghost-hunting sexy detective (sounds clichéd, I know, but it isn’t). I’m digging up the other back issues now.
30. Wisdom #1 (Marvel, 2007) ***½
Writer: Paul Cornell/Artist: Trevor Hairsine
31. Catwoman #4 (DC, 2011) ***½
Writer: Judd Winick/Artist Guillem March
32.-33. Legion Of Monsters #3-4 (Marvel, 2011) ***¼
Writer: Dennis Hopeless/Artist; Juan Doe
Nice art but the storyline fell apart near the end. Still, I hope this leads to more series featuring these characters by this creative team.
34. Pornhounds #2 (indy, 2011) ****¼
Writer: Sharon Lintz/Artists: various
Check out my most recent podcast for my thoughts on this title.
35. The Defenders: Strange Heroes (Marvel, 2011) ****
Normally, handbooks are hit’n’miss, but I really enjoyed catching up on my favourite non-team and all the peripheral characters and events that have touched them since the 1970s. Lovely artwork, too.

36.-53. Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season Eight #23-40 (Dark Horse, 2009-2011) **
Writers/Artists: various
54. BTVS: Season Eight: Willow (Dark Horse, 2009) **
Writer: Joss Whedon/Artists: Karl Moline & Andy Owens
55. BTVS: Season Eight: Tales Of The Vampires (Dark Horse, 2009) **
Writer: Becky Cloonan/Artist: Vasilis Lolos
56. BTVS: Season Eight: Riley (Dark Horse, 2010) *
Writer: Jane Espenson/Artist: Karl Moline
57.-61. BTVS: Season Nine #1-5 (Dark Horse, 2011-12) ****
Writers/Artists: various
62.-66. Angel & Faith #1-5 (Dark Horse, 2011) ****¼
Writer: Christos Gage/Artists: Rebekah Isaacs (#1-4), Phil Noto (#5)
Buffy Season 8 ended with a whimper, too long and too blah. Angel is the big bad...no, he isn’t...yes, he is. Xander gets creepy close with Dawn. Ozz is a Buddhist werewolf. Spike captains a ship full of bugs. Buffy’s a superhero. Blah. By the time Angel murdered Giles, I’d ceased to care. As had many long-suffering readers, I suspect.
The oneshots were equally dull.
Thankfully, Joss Whedon has taken heed of all the fan criticisms and complaints and rebooted Buffy Season Nine to the point that it’s a real joy to read...so far. Good old Buffy and Spike fighting vampires (or “zompires” as they are now with no magic in the world) and a bunch of people wanting to kill her – good stuff. A surprise, but even more enjoyable, is the oddball coupling of flawed vampire Angel and rogue Slayer Faith in their new series. This complementary series has been a real hoot courtesy of Gage’s...ahem, engaging writing. The idea of Angel seeking redemption by bringing Giles back to life is both perverted and sweet all at once. As is the idea of him having absorbed some of Giles’ essence (and quirky mannerisms). #5 was the absolute highlight – a single issue starring Harmony, now a superficial vampire Hollywood starlet. Let’s hope this upward swing in season nine continues.

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