Friday, November 2, 2012

COMICS READING FOR OCTOBER: “Fuck, I read some good shit this month!”

* NOW WITH STAR RATINGS (ala Wrestling Observer Newsletter PPV reports) *
*****   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. Marvel NOW! Previews #1 (Marvel, 2012) **¾
Writers/artists: various
Really nothing interests me in this latest Marvel relaunch except maybe FF, with writing by Matt Fraction and art by Mike Allred. I’ll give that a go, I guess. Actually, Secret Avengers, Avengers Arena and Guardians Of The Galaxy COULD be good. Maybe...
2. The Nazz #1 (DC, 1990) DUD
Writer: Tom Veitch/Artist: Bryan Talbot
Nice artwork by Talbot, but Veitch’s pretentious, at-times confused writing totally ruins this tale of how having godlike powers can corrupt a man’s soul. Or something like that.
3. The Secret Service #4 (Icon, 2012) ****¼
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: Dave Gibbons
Fuck me, this series is good. And it’s further proof that Millar is the most consistently entertaining writer in comics in 2012.
4. Fashion Beast #2 (Avatar, 2012) ****½
Writers: Alan Moore, Malcolm McLaren & Antony Johnston/Artist: Facundo Percio
Beautifully illustrated tale of fashion and faking it in an alternative near future where looking good is all that matters. This wonderful series goes to show that Moore really was at his peak in the mid-1980s.
5. The Rocketeer: Cargo Of Doom #2 (IDW, 2012) ***¼
Writer: Mark Waid/Artist: Chris Samnee
6. Skrull Kill Krew #1 (Marvel, 2009) ***
Writer: Adam Felber/Artists: Mark Robinson & Mike Getty
7.-11. Skrull Kill Krew (Marvel, 2006) ***
- originally published as Skrull Kill Krew #1-5 (Marvel, 1995-96)
Writers: Grant Morrison & Mark Millar/Artists: Steve Yeowell & Chris Ivy
Surprisingly ordinary. One might almost say overrated.
12. Earth 2 #5 (DC, 2012) ***½
Writer: James Robinson/Artists: Nicola & Trevor Scott
This series is slowly picking up steam and I’m starting to quite enjoy this reimagined JSA.
13. Duckman #1 (Topps, 1994) ***½
Writer: Stefan Petrucha/Artists: Craig Yoe Studio w/- Clizia & George Erling, Everett Peck
Pretty damn funny. A William S. Burroughs pastiche. I’ll go with that!
14. Fatale #8 (Image, 2012) ****
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Sean Phillips
15. The Hypernaturals #4 (BOOM!, 2012) ****
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning/Artists: Tom Derenick & Andrews Guinaldo
16. Worlds’ Finest #5 (DC, 2012) ***
Writer: Paul Levitz/Artists: George Perez & Dcott Koblish, Jerry Ordway, Wes Craig & Serge Lapointe (interiors); Jerry Ordway (cover)
17.-28. Global Frequency #1-12  (Wildstorm, 2002-04) ****¾
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artists: various
Just fucking superb.
29. Before Watchmen: Rorschach #2 (DC, 2012) ***¾
Writer: Brian Azzarello/Artist: Lee Bermejo (Rorschach)
Writer/Artist: John Higgins (The Curse Of The Crimson Corsair, **½)
30. Punk Rock And Trailer Parks (SLG, 2008) *****
Writer/artist: Derf
Fuck me, this is fantastic!  
31. Violent Cases (Tundra, 1987, 1991) ****½
Writer: Neil Gaiman/Artist: Dave McKean
A creepy ghost tale about an old gangster trying to escape his fate in rural England. I liked this a lot.
32. The Bodyssey (Fantagor Press, 1993) ***
Writers: Richard Corben & Simon Revelstroke/Artist: Richard Corben
Amazing art but this story is really meh. Makes sense when you realise it’s basically a string of pin-ups and old short stories tied together by a messy storyline about an inept barbarian on a mission. Way too much toilet humour, too. But, again, the art is incredible.
33. Uzumaki Vol. 2 (Viz Media, 1998, 2002, 2012) *****
Writer/artist: Junji Ito
One of the creepiest, dream-like horror books I’ve ever read. Genuinely unnerving stuff. So glad to see it get a reprint.
34.-36. Spandex: Fast And Hard (Titan Books, 2012) ****
- originally published in Spandex #1-3 (self-published, 2010?)
Writer/artist: Martin Eden
Already read the first two issues, but I’m keen to support a top bloke and his excellent darkly humorous comic about an all-gay superhero team. The third issue – about an alien called Nadir who uses technology to take over the world and then removes all the joy from it – was both dark and poignant. This is a GN well worth seeking out.
37. Peepholes (Blank Slate Books, 2011) *****
Writer/artist: Laurie J. Proud
Dark, warped, perverse, confusing in parts and altogether brilliant. And the artwork is just mind-blowing. Seek this collection of sinister short stories out now. NOW, I tells ya!
38. Before Watchmen: Rorschach #2 (DC, 2012) ****
Writer/Artist: Darwyn Cooke
Writer/Artist: John Higgins (The Curse Of The Crimson Corsair, **)
39. Marvel Zombies: Halloween (Marvel, 2012) ***½
Writer: Fred Van Lente/Artist: Alessandro Vitti (interior); Francesco Francavilla (cover)
40. Cyberforce #1 (Top Cow, 2012) ½*
Writer: Marc Silvestri & Matt Hawkins/Artists: Khoi Pham & Sal Regla
I don’t care if I got this for free. I don’t care if it’s a relaunch of an immensely popular 1990s series. It’s confusing, it’s it’s outdated, it’s pointless. Buh-bye.
41. The Zaucer Of Zilk #1 (IDW, 2012) ***½
Writers: Brendan McCarthy & Al Ewing/Aritst: Brendan McCarthy
A psychedelic head-fuck. I really dug this.
42. It Girl! And The Atomics #3 (Image, 2012) ***¾
Writer: Jamie S. Rich/Artists: Mike Norton (interior); Mike & Laura Allred (cover)
43.-52. V For Vendetta #1-10 (DC, 1988-89) *****
Writer: Alan Moore/Artist: David Lloyd (with some assistance from Tony Weare)
Having really enjoyed Moore’s Fashion Beast to date, it got me thinking about some of his other classic series from the early-to-mid-80s. So I decided to reread V – much to my surprise, I discovered I was missing both #3 & #6. I eventually tracked them down and recently reread the complete series. And holy mother of God! It’s sooooo fucking good. This was Moore at his absolute peak and Lloyd’s art is incredibly moody and evocative. Sequential storytelling doesn’t get any better than this, folks.
53.-54. The Heckler #1, #4 (DC, 1992) *
Writers: Keith Giffen, Tom & Mary Bierbaum/Artists: Keith Giffen & Malcolm Jones III
I think the worst thing DC ever did was given Giffen his head to write “comedy”. Sure, he was fine on the relaunched Justice League when tempered by JM DeMatteis, but given full control Giffen becomes an incredibly self-indulgent wanker (just read any of his Ambush Bug series if you don’t believe me). The Heckler was particularly annoying and I’ll be damned if I read any more of it.
55. Punk Rock Jesus #4 (Vertigo, 2012) ****
Writer/artist: Sean Murphy
56.-59. Criminal: The Last Of The Innocent #1-4 (Icon, 2011) ****
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Sean Phillips
60.-65. Saga Vol. 1 (Image, 2012) ****¼
- originally published in Saga #1-6 (Image, 2012)
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan/Artist: Fiona Staples
I had no problems with my copy – unlike some Amazon buyers – and I certainly had no problems with the price ($13.95 from Kings Comics, not including my usual 10% members’ discount). All in all, this beautifully written “Romeo & Juliet in space” tale has me salivating for future volumes. Great stuff!
66. Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #2 (DC, 2012) ***¼
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski/Artist: Adam Hughes
Writer/Artist: John Higgins (The Curse Of The Crimson Corsair, **)
67. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 #14 (Dark Horse, 2012) ***½
Writers: Jane Espenson & Drew Z. Greenberg /Artists : Karl Moline & Andy Owens (interior) ; Phil Noto (cover)
68. the Creep #2 (Dark Horse, 2012) ***½
Writer: John Arcudi/Artist: Jonathan Case
A bit slow-moving and starting to get predictable. I hope the pay-off isn’t gonna be another child abuse storyline, which are becoming so passe in all forms of entertainment right about now.
69. New Crusaders #2 (Red Circle, 2012) **¾
Writer: Ian Flynn/Artists: Ben Bates & Gary Martin
Ugh...another bunch of teenagers becoming superheroes. I dunno whether I can stick with this title for much longer.  Although the back-up tale weaving all the previous incarnations of Mighty Crusaders from past decades together into a seamless timeline is entertaining (writer: Ian Flynn/artists: Mike Norton & Terry Austin). Maybe I’ll stick with this title for ONE more issue...grumble, grumble...
70. Mind MGMT #5 (Dark Horse, 2012) ****
Writer/artist: Matt Kindt
71. Fury Max #6 (Marvel, 2012) ****
Writer: Garth Ennis/Artist: Goran Parlov
72. Hit-Girl #3 (Icon, 2012) ***¾
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: John Romita Jr
73. Mars Attacks The Savage Dragon #1 (Topps, 1996) *
Writer: Dwight Jon Zimmerman/Artists: Claude St Aubin & Larry Mahlstedt (interior); Hugh Haynes, Armando Gil & Ed Hannigan (cover)
74. Superman: Red Son (DC, 2004) ****¼
- originally published in Superman: Red Son (DC, 2003)
Writer: Mark Millar/Artists: Dave Johnson & Kilian Plunkett, Andrew Robinson & Waldon Wong
75. Alien: The Illustrated Story (Titan Books, 1979, 2012) ***¼
Writer: Archie Goodwin/Artist: Walter Simonson.
Lovely art and a chilling adaptation of the film – probably one of the best comics adaptations ever. But Goodwin’s script is soooo over-written.  Nowhere near the masterpiece many claim it to be.
76. Idolized #2 (Aspen, 2012) ***¾
Writer: David Schwartz/Artist: Micah Gunnell & Pasquale Qualano
77. Before Watchmen: Ozymandias #3 (DC, 2012) ***
Writer: Len Wein/Artist: Jae Lee
Writer/Artist: John Higgins (The Curse Of The Crimson Corsair, **)
78. Blink: FYI IDK (ONWARDStudio, 2008) ***
Writer/artist: Max Ink
Self-published slice-of-life tale about friends chatting about the pros and cons of the internetz. I liked it.
79. Blink: Let It Be As It Is (ONWARDStudio, 2006) **¾
Writer/artist: Max Ink
A maudlin, slightly self-indulgent story about friends discussing John Lennon. Nice art but a weaker story than FYI IDK.
80. ScriptGraphics Small Press #? (BPP, 2008) *
Writer/artist: Darrell Goza
Comic fanzine featuring sample pages of artwork by Darrell (a Facebook friend). Darrell’s art is usually quite strong, but the samples here are very ordinary. Disappointing.
81. Batman Inc. #0 (DC, 2012) ***¼
Writers: Chris Burnham & Grant Morrison/Art: Frazer Irving
82. Happy! #1 (Image, 2012) ***¼
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artist: Darick Robertson
A shaky start but it has bizarre promise. I’ll stick with the title  while longer.
83. Angel & Faith #14 (Dark Horse, 2012) ***¼
Writer: Christos Gage/Artist: Rebekah Isaacs (interior), Steve Morris (cover)

84. Digital Webbing Presents #12 (Digital Webbing, 2003) ***
Writers/artists: various
Fair-to-average anthology highlighted by some early Ryan Bodenheim art, plus a short strip featuring Super Hero Happy Hour (writer: Dan Taylor/artist: Chris Fason)
85. Digital Webbing Presents #22 (Digital Webbing, 2005) ***
Writers/artists: various
Another Super Hero Happy Hour strip, this time in colour, was the only reason why I bought this ish.
86. Dr Blink Superhero Shrink #0 (Dork Storm Press, 2004) **½
Writer: John Kovalic/Artist: Christopher Jones
A psychologist deals with superheroes. Has its moments. Also features a short Super Hero Happy Hour strip.
87.-91. Super Hero Happy Hour #1-5 (GeekPunk, 2002-04) ***
Writer: Dan Taylor/Artist: Chris Fason
Entertaining strip about heroes and villains who meet regularly at a pub to drink away their problems. The strip falters when Fason tries to draw action, but when it sticks to head shots discussing pub lore and spouting one-liners, the chunky art’s fine.
92. Hero Happy Hour Super Special (GeekPunk, 2004) ***¼
Writers/artists: various
In the hands of other creators, this title really blossoms. A fun anthology.
93. Super Deluxe Hero Happy Hour (IDW, 2006) **
Writer: Dan Taylor/Artist: Chris Fason & Jim Clarke
Hero Happy Hour falls over when the action leaves the bar and the special degenerates into a pedestrian heroes-fight-alien-invasion yarn. When a hero is killed in the line of duty, the story becomes downright maudlin and the quirky charm of the original series is lost. Then, to completely undercut the drama, it’s subsequently revealed that the entire story is “not real”. There are “DVD extras” where the “actors” talk about making a “movie”. It’s weird, jarring and just doesn’t work. A really flat ending to what had been, up to that point, a mildly entertaining funny superhero strip.
This series is still around on the interwebz. Check it out at Hero Happy Hour.
94. Lady Rawhide Ashcan (Topps, 1995) *
Writer: Don McGregor/Artist: Esteban Maroto
A weird hybrid of a typical Image-style slut-hero title with a traditional swashbuckling adventure strip, direct from the Topps’ Zorro comic. McGregor’s text is torturous (as always) while Maroto’s artwork is muted and kinda pedestrian. With that kinda mash-up, you can imagine how unimpressive this comic was.
95.-99. Six Guns #1-5 (Marvel, 2012) ***½
Writer: Andy Diggle/Artist: Davide Gianelice
A nice modern reworking of some old Marvel western heroes.
100. The Victories #3 (Dark Horse, 2012) ***¼
Writer/Artist: Michael Avon Oeming
101.-102. Batman Incorporated #3-4 (DC, 2012) ***½
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artist: Chris Burnham
103. ScriptGraphics Small Press #? (BPP, 200?) *
Writer/artist: Darrell Goza
Darrell’s take on the Doom Patrol (the 70s version). Art is primitive. I’ve seen him do much better.