Friday, October 26, 2012

COMICS READING FOR SEPTEMBER: “Macabre overload”


Yes...it's another long-delayed report on what I've been reading lately.

* 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. Sidekick #8 (free with Comic Heroes #12, 2012) ***½
Writers/artists: various
I became interested enough to buy a couple of the graphic novels featured in it, so this English sampler anthology did its job.
2. Enormous #1 (Image, 2012) DUD
Writer: Tim Daniel/Artist: Mehdi Cheggour
An enormous-sized dud. Way too much photo-referenced art and confusing to boot. Half the photo-referenced characters look like other characters. The storyline of nature gone wild and growing to Godzilla-like dimension had potential but the art really let it down. The only positives for Enormous was the oversized gimmick and the fact that my copy was damaged in transit to Kings Comics so I scored it for a paltry five bux. I passed it onto a mate afterwards. He probably won’t thank me for it after he reads it.
3.-5. Epic Illustrated #2, #4 & #9 (Marvel, 1980-81) *
Writers/artists: various
My god these mags were bad. Heavy Metal Lite. I couldn’t even read half of the serials in this anthology – Jim Starlin’s Dreadstar is soooooo overrated. At least #2 has a cool Richard Corben cover.

6. Criminal Macabre: No Peace For Dead Men (Dark Horse, 2011) ***
Writer: Steve Niles/Artist: Christopher Mitten
7. Criminal Macabre/The Goon (Dark Horse, 2011) **½
Writers: Steve Niles & Eric Powell/Artist: Christopher Mitten
8.-11. Criminal Macabre: Cellblock 666 #1-4 (Dark Horse, 2008-09) ***
Writer: Steve Niles/Artists: Nick Stakal (interiors), Tim Bradstreet (covers)
The past couple of Criminal Macabre miniseries have really felt rushed – as if Niles was desperate to tie up loose ends before he moved onto bigger and better things. Cellblock saw him wrap up the Councillor Benson storyline – out of the blue, Benson’s exposed as an evil scumbag (this had NEVER been hinted at in the previous five years of storylines) and by the end of the miniseries, he’s locked away and no longer harassing Cal McDonald. In No Peace For Dead Men, Cal finally kills off his vampirised girlfriend and dies in the process...only to return as a ghoul. However, apparently, being an undead monster hasn’t changed his character one bit – he’s just waaaaay more indestructible. All in all, it feels like Niles was wiping the slate clean of old subplots in preparation for the big ghoul vs evil monster war he has brewing in the wings. I just wish he’d done a better job of wrapping up those dangling plotlines.
12.-26. Criminal Macabre Omnibus Vol. 1 (Dark Horse, 2011) ****
- previously printed in a bunch of comics from 2003-08
Writer: Steve Niles/Artists: various
I have practically ALL of these miniseries except for Supernatural Freak Machine which was a five-issue miniseries that IDW mysteriously cancelled after only three issues. It was a helluva series, too, with a major plot twist that I knew about (due to revelations in subsequent miniseries), but was still shocked to read here for the first time. Anyway, I picked up this omnibus cheap at Oz-Comicon in Melbourne, so it was worth finally reading this elusive miniseries. And re-reading all the old CM series was fun, too.
27. Criminal Macabre: The Iron Spirit (Dark Horse, 2012) ***½
Writer: Steve Niles/Artist: Scott Morse
This is almost like a kids’ storybook with thick cardboard pages, but it’s a very adult ghost tale with haunting illustrations by Morse. I really liked it, even though it’s ostensibly an overpriced one-shot comic.
28. Hairball: A Cal McDonald Mystery (IDW, 2002) ***
Writer: Steve Niles/Artist: Casey Jones
A very early Criminal Macabre tale – not too shabby.

29. The Victories #2 (Dark Horse, 2012) ***
Writer/Artist: Michael Avon Oeming
30. the Creep #1 (Dark Horse, 2012) ***¾
Writer: John Arcudi/Artist: Jonathan Case
A slow-burning detective yarn featuring a Rondo Hatton look-alike as the main character. This promises to be an unpleasant-but-enjoyable ride.
31.-35. Air Vol. 1: Letters From Lost Countries (Vertigo, 2009) ****
- originally published in Air #1-5 (Vertigo, 2008)
Writer: G. Willow Wilson/Artist: MK Perker
A quiet little achiever. A really entertaining political/magic realism/romantic thriller. Yep, it’s all that and more. I look forward to reading the second volume.
36. Revival #3 (Image, 2012) ***¾
Writer: Tim Seeley/Artist: Mike Norton
This is described as “rural noir”, but “supernatural noir” fits it better. Along with Brubaker and Phillips’ Fatale, Image has this sub-genre sewn up.
37. Extermination #4 (BOOM!, 2012) ***¾
Writer: Simon Spurrier/Artists: Jeffrey Edwards & V. Ken Marion
This book may have weak art but the story is insane. If Batman was an obsessed nutcase and Superman was a sadistic rapist, then you’d have a slight feel for what this title is about. If their rivalry for the love of Catwoman led to a worldwide alien Armageddon, then you’d have an even better idea. If only Extermination had better artwork.  
38. Punk Rock Jesus #3 (Vertigo, 2012) ****
Writer/artist: Sean Murphy
39. It Girl! And The Atomics #2 (Image, 2012) ***½
Writer: Jamie S. Rich/Artists: Mike Norton (interior); Michael & Laura Allred (cover)
40.-41. Idolized #0-1 (Aspen, 2012) ***¾
Writer: David Schwartz/Artist: Micah Gunnell
Do we really need ANOTHER comic on the concept of a reality TV series for superheroes – already admirably done by Wildguard and America’s Got Powers – or is this just flogging a dead horse? Well, as it turns out, this series shows some real promise. The names of the heroes and teams are getting more and more stupid, but I really like the idea of a rookie wannabe desperate to win the comp, so she can join the world’s No. 1 superteam and take revenge on the villain who killed her parents.
42. Before Watchmen:  Comedian #3 (DC, 2012) ***½
Writer: Brian Azzarello/Artist: JG Jones
Writer/artist: John Higgins (The Curse Of The Crimson Corsair)
43. Before Watchmen:  Nite Owl #3 (DC, 2012) ****
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski/Artists; Andy & Joe Kubert, Bill Sienkiewicz
Writer/artist: John Higgins (The Curse Of The Crimson Corsair)
44. Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre #3 (DC, 2012) ****
Writer: Darwyn Cooke/Artist: Amanda Conner
Writer/artist: John Higgins (The Curse Of The Crimson Corsair)
45. Before Watchmen: Minutemen #3 (DC, 2012) ****
Writer/artist: Darwyn Cooke
Writer/artist: John Higgins (The Curse Of The Crimson Corsair)
46. Spike: A Dark Place #2 (Dark Horse, 2012) ***¼
Writer: Victor Gischler/Artists: Paul Lee & Andy Owens (interior);  Jenny Frison (cover)
47. Fashion Beast #1 (Avatar, 2012) ****½
Writers: Alan Moore, Malcolm McLaren & Antony Johnston/Artist: Facundo Percio
Originally a movie script and it shows. I wish it might still get made one day, but this will do nicely in the meantime. Beauty & The Beast in a near-future world where fashion rules. I love this tale.
47. Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 9 #13 (Dark Horse, 2012) ***¼
Writer: Andrew Chambliss/Artists: Georges Jeanty & Nathan Massengill (interiors)/Phil Noto (cover)
48.-55. Mighty TV Comic #1314-1316, 1337-1338, 1402, 1404, 1415 (Polystyle Publications, 1977-79) *
Writers/artists: various
I bought these British weekly comics many years ago on eBay in a deranged state of nostalgia. Mighty TV Comics was one of the first comics I ever bought as a kid and I seem to recall the issue I bought had a giant poster of Leela (the savage warrior woman who was Tom Baker’s sexy assistant in Doctor Who for a time). So it definitely had an impact on my developing psyche. Reading the comic 35 years later and I can’t believe I ever wasted money on it. The comic had the gimmick of being a tabloid comic that folded out into a broadsheet. However, that just meant the badly-drawn comics were blown up to twice their usual size, something that the art doesn’t warrant or deserver. Lame one-page gag strips featuring the likes of Tom & Jerry and the Pink Panther were broken up by longer serious strips such as Dr Who and Star Trek, the latter easily the pick of them as it appears to be an American reprint (possibly from the Gold Key run). I also noted with interest that Mighty TV Comic “incorporated” (i.e. “absorbed”) both Tom & Jerry Weekly and TV Action (the latter being a particularly good weekly comic in the late 60s and early 70s). By January 1979, TV Comic (as it was now called) wasn’t so mighty. It was a straight tabloid in the tradition of other weekly mags, but at least the paper quality was better (and not the toilet paper that was used two years earlier). The action strips were now Charlie’s Angels (woefully drawn), Dr Who (not much better) and a non-TV related strip, The Kicktail Kid, about Buzz Blaze and his skateboard. Yes, it was pretty awful, but the art was surprisingly nice – I suspect it was done by David Lloyd (later of V For Vendetta fame), but I could be wrong. What surprised me most about TV Comic was how little value for money it was – only 16 pages for 10p (or 25c in Aussie money). That was terrible!
56. Wolverine Annual #1 (Marvel, 2012) **¾
Writer: Alan Davis/Artists: Alan Davis & Mark Farmer
The wrap-up to this year’s ClanDestine storyline. Surprisingly mediocre. But Davis’s art was gorgeous as usual.
57. The Infernal Man-Thing #3 (Marvel, 2012) **
Writer: Steve Gerber/Artist: Kevin Nowlan
Man-Thing original tale from Savage Tales #1 (1971)
Writers: Gerry Conway & Roy Thomas/Artist: Gray Morrow
Not really worth reviving this overwritten old Gerber tale, but at least Nowlan’s art is nice to look at.
58. America’s Got Powers #3 (Image, 2012) ***¼
Writer: Jonathan Ross/Artist: Bryan Hitch
59. Angel & Faith #13 (Dark Horse, 2012) ***¼
Writer: Christos Gage/Artist: Rebekah Isaacs (interior), Steve Morris (cover)
60. Sidekick #9 (free with Comic Heroes #13, 2012) ***½
Writers/artists: various
Convinced me to buy both Absalom: Ghosts Of London and Spandex: Fast And Hard, so this anthology sampler again did its job.
61. Gangland #2 (Vertigo, 1998) *** ½
Writers/artists: various
Weird crime yarns featuring a swag of great artists including Richard Corben.
62.-63. Hyper-Actives #0-1 (Alias Enterprises, 2005-06) **¾
Writer: Darin Wagner/Artist: Clint Hilinski
Super-brats who are more interested in fame and fortune than saving folk. It’s been done before, but I’ll reserve judgment on this miniseries till I read the last three issues. 
64. Nevada #1 (Vertigo, 1998) ***¼
Writer: Steve Gerber/Artists: Phil Winslade & Steve Leialoha
I have a story to tell about Nevada, but I’ll save it till I read the rest of this six-issue miniseries. I like what I’ve read so far.
65.-66. Sebastian O #2-3 (Vertigo, 1993) ***½
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artist: Steve Yeowell
Underrated nasty miniseries from Mr Morrison.
67. Will Eisner’s Quarterly #1 (Kitchen Sink Comix, 1983) ***
Lots of Eisner art, so who’s complaining? Plus a Neal Adams interview that reveals how artistically bankrupt he’d become by the early 80s.
68.-71 The Ride Vol. 1 (Image, 2007) ****
- originally published The Ride #1-2, The Ride: 2 For The Road & The Ride: Foreign Parts (12 Gauge Comics, 2007)
72. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Comic Book #1 (Marvel, 1991) **
Writer: Evan Dorkin/Artists: Evan Dorkin & Stephen DeStefano
Somehow more annoying yet less funny than the movies.
73.-76. Nick Fury, Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Who Is Scorpio? (Marvel, 2000) ***
- originally published in Nick Fury #1-3,5 (Marvel, 1968) **
Writer/Artist: Jim Steranko & friends
Beautiful art but my God! Steranko couldn’t write to save his life. Awful yarns, although Scorpio would go on to become a fascinating character in the hands of others
77. Animal Man #0 (DC, 2012) ***
Writer: Jeff lemire/Artist: Steve Pugh
78. Earth 2 #0 (DC, 2012) ***¼
Writer: James Robinson/Artist: Tomas Giorello
79. The Hypernaturals #3 (BOOM!, 2012) ***¾
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning/Artists: Tom Drenick & Andres Guinaldo
80. New Crusaders #1 (Red Circle, 2012) ***
Writer: Ian Flynn/Artists: Ben Bates & Gary Martin
81. World’s Finest #0 (DC, 2012) ***
Writer: Paul Levitz/Artist: Kevin Maguire
82. Hell Yeah #5 (Image, 2012) **
Writer: Joe Keatinge/Artists: Andre Szymanowicz & Fabio Redivo
Aaaaaaand I’m outta here.
83.-85. No More Heroes #1-3 (self-published, 2012) ***½
Writer: Grodon Mclean/Artist: Caio Oliveira
86. Marvel Super Heroes #3?? (Marvel & ACP, 2012) **
Writers/Artists: various
A kiddies licensed comic featuring The Avengers, Captain America and Dr Strange. Now with free stickers!

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