Tuesday, April 2, 2013

COMICS READING FOR MARCH: “The British invasion continues”

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

*****    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. Dinosaurs vs Aliens (Dynamite, 2012) ***¼
Writers: Grant Morrison & Barry Sonnenfeld/Artist: Mukesh Singh

Exquisite art, an interesting idea (aliens as cowboys, intelligent dinosaurs as Indians), but this is only part one of a bigger story. Where’s part two, Mr Morrison?

2. SVK (Berg, 2011) ***
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artist: D’Israeli

An adequate spy yarn gets gussied up with digital trickery via a UV light (that comes with the comic) revealing hidden speech balloons and other important messages. You can read the book twice (once without the light, once with) and the second time has more depth due to the UV. But, ultimately, it’s just another form of gimmickry, ala 3D comics. It can’t hide the fact that Ellis is slumming it in this comic (although it’s nice to see him pair up with former Lazarus Churchyard co-conspirator D’Israeli). Also, this was the most expensive comic I’ve ever bought. Disappointed just a little? Yes.

3. Simon Spector #1 (Avatar/Apparat, 2004) ***½
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artist: Jacen Burrows

4. Frank Ironwine #1 (Avatar/Apparat, 2004) ***¾
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artist: Carla Speed mcNeil

5. Quit City #1 (Avatar/Apparat, 2004) ***¼
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artist: Laurenn McCubbin

In 2004, Ellis wrote four one-shots that were intended as his vision of how pulp tropes might have developed into comics in the 21st century if superheroes hadn’t got in the way. I’ve already enjoyed the sci-fi/steampunk tale Angel Stomp Future a few years back, and I finally got round to reading the other three. Quit City (aviator hero) is the weakest due to McCubbin’s awkward art heavily relying on photo references. Simon Spector (Doc Savage-style hero) has nice art by Burrows but the tale is forgettable. I most enjoyed Frank Ironwine (intelligent police detective), not for the tale as such but the realisation that this was Ellis laying the groundwork for the novel he’d write eight years later, Bone Machine. It’s interesting to see how that novel’s protagonist is basically Ironwine with less of a drinking problem and a different name. Of the four titles, I wish Ellis had kept on producing Frank Ironwine stories.

6.-9. Jack Cross #1-4 (DC, 2005-06) ***¼
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artist: Gary Erskine

10. Nemo: Heart Of Ice (Top Shelf, 2013) ****
Writer: Alan Moore/Artist: Kevin O’Neill

11. Supergod (Avatar, 2009) ***¾ 
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artist: Garrie Gastonny

12.-14. Neil Gaiman’s Midnight Days (Vertigo, 1999) ***½
- originally published in Swamp Thing Annual #5, Hellblazer #27 & Sandman Midnight Theatre (Vertigo, 1989-99)
Writer: Neil Gaiman/Artists: various

15. Angel Fire (Carlton, 2007) ***
Writer: Chris Blythe/Artist: Steve Parkhouse

Whoever wrote Jacob’s Ladder should totally sue these guys for plagiarism

16. Kill Your Boyfriend (Vertigo, 1998. Originally published 1995) ***¼
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artists: Philip Bond & D’Israeli

17. Hell Eternal (Vertigo, 1998) ***½
Writer: Jamie Delano/Artist: Sean Phillips

 18.-32. Nemesis The Warlock Vol. 1 Books 1-4 (Rebellion, 2010) ***½
- originally published in 2000AD (IPC, 1980-83)
Writer: Pat Mills/Artists: Kevin O’Neill; Jesus Redondo; Bryan Talbot

33. Kickback (Dark Horse, 2006) ***¼
Writer/artist: David Lloyd

34.-40. Kick-Ass 2 (Icon, 2012) ***¾
- originally published in Kick-Ass 2 #1-7 (Icon, 2010-11)

41. Hit-Girl #5 (Icon, 2013) ***¾
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: John Romita Jr

42. Tales From Beyond Science (Image, 2013) ***½
- originally published in 2000AD (IPC, 1992, 1994)
Writers: Mark Millar; John Smith; Alan McKenzie/Artist: Rian Hughes

43.-46. Yesterday’s Tomorrows (Image, 2010) ****
- originally published in various magazines
Writers: various/Artist: Rian Hughes

I love Hughes’ 1950s retro art, and these two books are chockers with it, but the absolute highlight for me comes in Yesterday’s Tomorrows with the complete Dare (written by Grant Morrison), which originally ran in Revolver, then Crisis magazines from 1990-91. A grim reimagining of the Dan Dare mythos – this is just brilliantly bleak storytelling.

47.-48. Fashion Beast #6-7 (Avatar, 2013) ****
Writers: Alan Moore, Malcolm McLaren & Antony Johnston/Artist: Facundo Percio

49. Happy! (Image, 2013) ***¼
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artist: Darick Robertson

A kinda flat ending. Not one of Morrison’s best efforts. Leave the nasty stuff to Mark Millar and Garth Ennis, eh?

50. America’s Got Powers #5 (Image, 2013) **¾
Writer: Jonathan Ross/Artist: Bryan Hitch

Is it me or has this series gone completely to hell? I may need to re-read the bloody thing next month from start to finish, but right now I’m struggling to follow the story and I’ve lost interest in all the characters. Also, it feels like the storyline has changed mid-track and I don’t like where it’s going now. Disappointing fifth issue, but I’ll see how the damn thing concludes.

51.-53. Fury: My War Gone By (MarvelMAX, 2013) ****¼
Writer: Garth Ennis/Artist: Goran Parlov

Quite possibly the best ongoing series Marvel is putting out right now. A war comic masquerading as a retelling of Nick Fury’s lost years before he joined S.H.I.E.L.D. This latest arc features a pre-Punisher Frank Castle, but he’s still just as scary. I just love this series to death – who knew Marvel could publish genuinely entertaining non-cape stuff? J