Saturday, February 2, 2013

COMICS READING FOR JANUARY: “Back to school”


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

HOW I RATE THE COMICS VIA THE ALAN MOORE SCALE
*****    Watchmen, Miracleman, V For Vendetta
****       From Hell, Supreme, Swamp Thing, Fashion Beast, League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen (first two series)
***         Axel Pressbutton, Tom Strong
**           Promethea
*              LoEG: Century: 1969
DUD (or lower) any of his non-comics stuff

1. It Girl! #5 (Image, 2012) ***
Writer: Jamie S. Rich/Artists: Mike Norton (interior), Michael & Laura Allred (cover)
2.-3. Extermination #7-8 (BOOM!, 2012) ***½
Writer: Simon Spurrier/Artists: V. Ken Marion (interior), Tom Derenick (cover)
A surprisingly powerful and poignant end to an interesting maxi-series. And the bad guy turned out to not be such a bad guy after all.
4. Colder #1 (Dark Horse, 2012) ***¾
Writer: Paul Tobin/Artist: Juan Ferreyra
Nasty.
5. The Victories #5 (Dark Horse, 2012) ***
Writer/Artist: Michael Avon Oeming
A better ending than this series deserved, if you ask me.
6. Marvel NOW! Previews #2 (Marvel, 2013) **½
Writers/Artists: various
I have no desire to start buying any of these series, despite the nice art, good writing and possibly intriguing storylines. Why? Because none of it means nothing. In a year’s time, all the plot developments will be superceded by another giant crossover “event” – one that is sure to “rock the Marvel Universe to its core”. And, frankly, I just don’t give a shit anymore. 
7.-8. The Amazing Spider-Man #661-662 (Marvel, 2011) ***½
Main story writer: Christos Gage/Artists: Reilly Brown & Victor Olazaba (interior), Ed McGuinness & Morry Hollowell (cover)
9. Avengers Academy Giant-Size #1  (Marvel, 2011) ***¾
Writer: Paul Tobin/Artists: David Baldeon & Jordi Tarragona (interior), Ed McGuinness (cover)
10. The Secret Service #5 (Icon, 2013) ****¼
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: Dave Gibbons
11. The Whistling Skull #1 (DC, 2013) ***¼
Writer: B. Clay Moore/Artist: Tony Harris
A continuation of the Elseworlds first explored in the JSA Liberty Files a few years back. Gorgeous art, quirky story. Just not sure what to make of it as yet. I’ll give the six-issue series another shot, but there are too many questions so far, and not enough satisfactory answers.
12. The Black Beetle #0 (Dark Horse, 2013) ***
Writer/artist: Francesco Francavilla
Intriguing enough to make me check out the upcoming miniseries. I’m a sucker for pulp heroes. Nothing earth-shattering or groundbreaking though.

13.-40. Avengers Academy #13-14, 14.1, 15-39 (Marvel, 2011-12) ****
Writer: Christos Gage
Interior artists: Sean Chen & Scott Hanna (#13-14.1, 21); Tom Raney, Scott Hanna and/or Andrew Hennessy (#15-16, 19-20, 23); Chen & Hennessy (#17); Andrea Di Vito (#18); Tom Grummett & Cory Hamscher (#24-26, 29-31, 34, 37-39, with Rick Ketchum on #38); Karl Moline & Jim Fern (#27-28); Timothy Green II & Jeff Huet (#32-33); Andrea Di Vito (#35-36).
Cover artists: Billy Tan & Leonardo Olea (#13-20); Rodin Esquejo (#21-25); David Yardin (#26); David LaFuente & Christina Strain (#27-28); Giuseppe Camuncoli & Jim Charalampidis (#29-39).
41.-43. Avengers Arena #1-3 (Marvel, 2013) ***¼
Writer: Dennis Hopeless/Artist: Kev Walker (interior); Dave Johnson (cover #1), Chris Bachalo & Tim Townsend (cover #2), Greg Horn (cover #3).
Listen to my podcast HERE to get my thoughts on these two series.

44 . FF #2 (Marvel, 2013) ***½
Writer: Matt Fraction/Artist: Michael Allred
I’m officially hooked and I love this series so far. Pity it’s only gonna last a few issues ‘cos modern readers can’t handle Allred’s quirky retro style. Still, I’ll ride this donkey till it falls over.
45.-62. I, Zombie #1-18 (Vertigo, 2010-11) ***¼
Writer: Chris Roberson/Artist: Michael Allred (except Gilbert Hernandez, #12; Jay Stephens, #18)
A nice zombie, a were-terrier, a 1960s ghost. Vampires, mummies and the Bride of Frankenstein. Plus Dead Presidents. It’s all soooooooo hip and cool. Yawn. Fuck you, Roberson. I won’t be wasting my money on buying the trades for the rest of this series. Great retro art by Allred as usual, though.
63.-66. The Secret History Of D.B. Cooper #2-5 (Oni Press, 2012) ***¼
Writer/artist: Brian Churilla
I went back and grabbed the rest of this series after reading the first ish as part of my “20 First Issues Project”. Nice Ba/Moon-style art by Churilla, but the story of a notorious kidnapper actually being a sword-wielding CIA assassin just didn’t grab me.
67-68. Pulp Fantastic #2-3 (Vertigo, 2000) ***½
Writers: Howard Chaykin & David Tischman/Artists: Rick Burchett (interior), Chaykin & Burchett (cover)
Film noir, pulp noir...it’s never the ending that you care about (’cos it rarely makes sense due to all the red herrings and vast cast of suspicious characters) – it’s the journey we enjoy. The action, the violence, the witty one-liners...that’s what I love. I guess sci-fi noir is no different. This Maltese Falcon pisstake has its moments, but I couldn’t fathom the ending at all. However, I loved the journey. This was another “20 First Issues Project” title that I followed up on. Glad I did.
69.-70. Fashion Beast #4-5 (Avatar, 2012) ****¼
Writers: Alan Moore, Malcolm McLaren & Antony Johnston/Artist: Fercundo Percio
This just keeps getting better and better.
71. Happy #3 (Image, 2013) ***½
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artist: Darick Robertson
72. Nowhere Men #2 (Image, 2013) ***¾
Writer: Eric Stephenson/Artist: Nate Bellegarde
73. America’s Got Powers #4 (Image, 2013) ***½
Writer: Jonathan Ross/Artist: Bryan Hitch
74. Idolized #4 (Aspen, 2013) ***¼
Writer: David Schwartz/Artist: Pasquale Qualano   
75.-76. Fatale #10-11 (Image, 2012) ***¾
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Sean Phillips
77. Punk Rock Jesus #6 (Vertigo, 2013) ***½
Writer/Artist: Sean Murphy
A flat, less-than-satisfactory ending to what was overall a pretty damn good series.
78. Comic Heroes Presents #2 (with Comic Heroes #15, 2012) *
Writers/Artists: various
Samples from a bunch of DC titles including Fables, Superman and Sword Of Sorcery. None of them interested me, not even Fables.
79. Giant-Size Sidekick #2 (with Comic Heroes #15, 2012) ***
Writers/Artists: various
This is the first time I’ve read this anthology and gone, “Ah, there’s nothing I want to buy from this issue.”

MY GOOD mate AW handed me several old comics the other day. He said he’d got a bunch of them from a friend who bought them cheap from somewhere else. AW grabbed what he wanted and passed the rest onto me. Here’s what I thought of the stuff worth checking out (a few went  unread onto my giveaway pile).
80. Satan’s Six #1 (Topps, 1993) *** (for Kirby’s art), DUD for everything else
Writers: Jack Kirby, Tony Isabella/Artists: Jack Kirby & friends
This hodge-podge mess is basically a shitty story by Isabella shaped around eight pages of loosely scripted art by the King just before he died. Five losers in Limbo are given the chance to redeem themselves and enter Hell by stealing souls for Satan. And they’re supposed to be good guys..? Anyway, Kirby’s pencils are nice, especially on the page guest-inked by Frank Miller (what a combination!), but the other art by Image-wannabe John Cleary and Armando Gil is beyond hideous.
81. the Bionic Woman #2 (Charlton, 1978) -*
Writer/artist: unknown
A horrible TV tie-in series that makes me want to smash my head repeatedly on a teevee set. Perfunctory plotting, dull art and a nasty edge of misogyny winding its way through the entire odious issue. I can’t even bring myself to keep this comic for camp purposes.
82. Craftsman Bolt-on System Saves The Justice League #1 (DC, 2012) **½
Writer:  Joshua Williamson/Artist: Christian Duce
A shameless freebie comic that was probably handed out in hardware stores while promoting Craftsman’s new gadget, but Duce’s artwork is really nice. I hope to see more of his etchings.
83. Warlock And The Infinity Watch #1 (Marvel, 1992) *½
Writer: Jim Starlin/Artists: Angel Medina & Terry Austin
Starlin is a better artist than a writer. I suspect Medina would probably make a better writer than an artist (Angel fears background detail and even reliable Austin can’t save his scratchings). Overall, this comic is mostly harmless.
84. Wonder Woman #1 (DC, 1986) ***
Writers: Greg Potter & George Pérez/Artists: George Pérez & Bruce Patterson
A passable-if-overwrought relaunch of Wonder Woman with a heavy reliance on Greek mythology and implied rape. George’s art is very nice, though.

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