Monday, May 7, 2012

COMICS READING FOR APRIL: “Over the Rainbow (but I didn't make 50 issues for the month)”

* 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. Axa 5 (Ken Pierce, Inc, 1984) **½
Writer: Donne Avenell/Artist: Enrique Romero
This collection of newspaper strips starring the sexy – often nude – future warrior woman Axa wandering Earth following an age-old catastrophe brought back fond memories for me reading her weekly adventures in The Melbourne Truth during the early 80s. The strip was written by Englishman Avenell, but was the creation of Spanish artist Romero. It ran for years in The Sun in England. This collection is a rollicking read – as most daily adventure strips have to be – and Romero’s art (generally) is a stand-out. He sure knows how to draw naked women.
2. Gun Nut Funnies (self-published, 2011) DUD
Writer/artist: Karno
A truly disturbing, paranoia-filled, pro-gun rant masquerading as a self-help manual. Yep, if you spend your life walking round a’feared that you may have to shoot someone dead one day, then deal with “the corrupt system” afterwards…well, this comic’s for you. Befriending lawyers on gun ranges, carrying a video camera pen on your person, life’s just a bed of roses for this idiot. I don’t know what happened to “Karno” in the past, but it’s totally fucked up his outlook on life – I would NOT want to live inside his head. For contact details, email author Kjartan Arnorsson at kjartana@comcast.net.
3. Showman? The Bret Braddock Adventures, Vol. 2: Overtime Approved (self-published, 2012) ****
Writer/artist: David Blumenstein
The probably true story of hideous “entrepreneur” Bret Braddock continues in David’s biting, absurd look at the making of a children’s animated TV series. Bret is an arrogant idiot and he surrounds himself with highly paid sycophantic idiots. But the biggest idiots are the nice folk who work long hours for little pay to make Bret’s stupid TV show, The Magic Kofta, come to life. If it wasn’t so funny, it’d be pathetic. There’s a happy ending…of sorts. To order your copy, write to Nakedfella Productions, PO Box 361, Flinders Lane, Vic, 8009, AUSTRALIA, email office@docklandsentertainment.com,or head to www.nakedfella.com.
4. Hilly Rose’s Space Adventures #1 (Astro Comics, 1995) **
Writer/artist: BC Boyer
Nice Eisner-style art by the guy behind Eclipse’s The Masked Man, but it’s ruined by pedestrian scripts and lame humour. Meh.
5. Kill The Face #3 (ACE Comics, 1987) DUD
Writer: Joe Gill/Art: Steve Ditko & Rick Altergott
The nice Alex Toth cover saves this from negative stars, but this terrible comic single-handedly destroyed any interest I have in Ditko’s post-Spidey work. I gather he had a heavy hand in these scripts and it shows: ineptly written, heavy-handed and nonsensical in parts. This by-the-numbers superhero vs drug dealers shite was clearly written by dudes who’ve never touched the stuff. Cocaine users are depicted as the worst kind of heroin junkies. And clearly Gill and Ditko don’t know how police procedure works either. Godawful on every level. Even Ditko’s pencils are rudimentary and inker Altergott sucks arse. The back-up strip Who Dunnit (anonymous writer/art by Fred Guardineer) is nicely rendered, even if the murder mystery storyline is boring. Not sure if it’s a reprint or not. ACE Comics was clearly an ambitious line that promised way more than it could deliver. The Face (a public domain superhero from the 1940s) now resides in the Dynamite universe.
6. OMAC #1 (DC, 1991) **½
Writer/artist: John Byrne
Pleasant B&W art, but I can’t think of a single reason why I’d buy any further issues of this prestige-format four-issue series.
7. Nexus: The Origin (Rude Dude Productions, 2007) ***
Writer: Mike Baron/Artist: Steve Rude
I think I’ve already read this before. The Dude’s art is nice as always and Baron does a good job recapping the origin of the superhero with a tragic destiny. Of course, whenever I see Rude’s work I think to myself, “Oh how the mighty have fallen.” Arrogance will only take you so far, arsehole.
8.-9. Loose Ends #1-2 (12-Gauge, 2011) ****½
Writer: Jason Latour/Artist: Chris Brunner
I fucking love this southern noir tale of desperate drug runners and fallen women in dead-end towns. Hell, I drove through a few of those when I travelled round the States. Love this comic. Brunner’s art is sensational. Word is the fourth and final issue will be published soon. Bloody hope so!

TIME OUT FOR...
A quick whinge. Colourists are just dudes with fancy crayons who colour in between the lines. They don’t deserve their only credit on the fucking cover of a comic book. Jesus!

10. Red Rocket 7 #1 (Dark Horse, 1997) ****¼
Writer/artist: Mike Allred
Fucking sensational comic about an alien and his experience living through the birth and growth of rock’n’roll in America. It’s a sci-fi epic and rock history tour spun into one trippy tale by Allred. I cna’t wait to read the rest of this series.
11.-33. Marvel Essential Captain America Vol. 1 (Marvel, 2010) ***¾
- originally published in Tales Of Suspense #59-99, Captain America #100-102 (Marvel, 1964-68)
Writer: Stan Lee/Artists: Jack Kirby, Gil Kane and friends
I fucking love Kirby’s artwork, but too much Stan Lee bombast in one sitting did my head in. Repetition was the key to Stan’s writing. And while this is fine in monthly 10-page doses, it wears thin when you read four years’ worth of material in one sitting. Still, Kirby’s art is brilliant as always and this collection features some classic moments: the introduction of Batroc The Leaper, The Red Skull, Agent Sharon Carter and so much more. There’s also a hidden gem in the heart of this massive volume: Gil Kane’s delightful run from #88-91, relating a Red Skull encounter in fine style. 
34. Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo: Free Special Edition Preview (Vertigo, 2012) **¾
Writer: Denise Mina/Artists: Leonardo Manco & Andrea Mutti
You’ve read the books, you’ve watched the original Swedish films, you’ve seen the inferior American version. Now, read the comic! Actually, it’s not too shabby and, as I’ve not had anything to do with the books and films, caught my interest. I may get this title.
35. Gearhearts Steam-Punk Glamor Revue #1 (Antarctic Press, 2011) **
What the world needs – steampunk porn. What the world DOESN’T need – softcock steampunk “glamma”. Get your tits out, ladies! I hate any softcore porn mag where the articles are more interesting than the pictorials.
36.-38 WE3 (Vertigo, 2005) ****¼
- originally published in WE3 #1-3 (Vertigo, 2004)
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artist: Frank Quitely
A quick read (I read the graphic novel twice in a half-hour train trip), but insanely good. And weirdly moving (especially if you own a pet dog, cat or rabbit).


39. Legends Of Arzach: Gallery Four: The Rock Of Everlasting Despair (Tundra, 1992) ****
Not really a comic, but I read it in honour of the late, great Moebius. This set of portfolio prints features full-colour pin-ups by the likes of Richard Corben and John Buscema. Plus there are B&W illos by Moebius himself in a prose section that chronicles theongoing adventures of his iconic sci-fi hero. Good stuff.
40. Lady Mechanica #3 (Aspen, 2012) **½
Writer/artist: Joe Benitez
I buy this comic for the steampunk imagery and the good-girl pin-ups of the title character. I don’t buy it for the plot, especially when it degenerates into page after page of long-winded, repetitive dialogue that leads nowhere. Benitez is no writer, that’s for sure.


41. The Rainbow Orchid Vol. 1 (Egmont, 2009) ****¼
Writer/artist: Garen Ewing
I’ve hear about this Tintin-like pastiche adventure yarn forever, and loosely followed Ewing’s trials and tribulations in getting it published. Well, Volume 1 came out quietly and I stumbled across it in Adelaide at a remaindered bookstore. Picked it up, read it and bloody loved it. Tintin fans would approve, but me? I can’t stand Tintin and I STILL loved it. Anyway, after reading the first volume I was moved to buy the next two volumes off Amazon.co.uk. Can’t wait to read them.  


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