Saturday, February 15, 2014

COMICS READING FOR DECEMBER: “Only two months late? I blame the Nevermen”

* 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. The New Adventures Of The Human Fly #1 (Human Fly International, 2013) ***
Writers/artists: various
See my blog review HERE.

2.-4. Button Man: Get Harry Ex (Rebellion, 2013) ****
- originally published in 2000 AD #780-791, 904-919, 2001 & 1223-1233 (Rebellion, 1992-2013)
Writer: John Wagner/Artist: Arthur Ranson
An interesting take on all those movies like The Running Man, The Most Dangerous Game Alive, Tender Flesh, Turkey Shoot, etc. – except that there isn’t a hunter and the hunted, rather two hunters. And Harry is the king of the hunters, an ex-merc capable only of killing. A Button Man used as a pawn in a high-risk, high-stakes game by his master, The Voice. But when Harry decides to quit the game, he must fight for his life because “you can’t quit...not in this game”. Ranson’s realistic, gritty art is perfect for Wagner’s nourish, dark scripts. I’m so glad I got to read the full series in one hit (and scoring the book at 20% off during Kings Comics’ Black Friday sale was a bonus. That said, Australian shops holding Black Friday sales is as absurd as Australia celebrating other US-centric occasions such as Halloween. End of rant.)

5.-7. Wolverine/Nick Fury: Scorpio (Marvel, 2012) ***½
- originally published in Wolverine/Nick Fury: The Scorpio Connection (Marvel, 1989), Wolverine: Bloody Choices (Marvel, 1991), Wolverine & Nick Fury: Scorpio Rising (Marvel, 1994)
Writers: Archie Goodwin, Tom DeFalco & Howard Chaykin/Artists: Howard Chaykin John Buscema & Shawn McManus
I’m a sucker for yarns about Scorpio, the evil brother of Nick Fury. I’ve loved the character since I first read the tremendous “Who Remembers Scorpio?” arc in The Defenders #46-50. The Scorpio Connection was an original graphic novel that saw the character revived, this time as Jake’s twisted, brainwashed son, out for revenge against Uncle Nick. Of course, there’s a twist at the end to ensure the character wouldn’t disappear and remain of even greater relevance to Nick Fury. Goodwin’s script is tight and Chaykin is, well...Chaykin. Which is pretty damn good. The second yarn doesn’t feature Scorpio, just Fury vs Wolvie is classic Buscema...take that as you will. I always thought Big John was phoning in his work in the latter part of his career. But he’s still head and shoulders above “artist extraordinaire” McManus, who appears to have learned his art by reading Liefeld comics. Chaykin the writer is 180° away from Chaykin the artist. It’s a really ordinary “sequel” that completely deballs the new Scorpio character, reducing him to caricature. It’s a sad end to what was a promising character. Still, overall, I can’t fault a TPB that features Goodwin in his prime as a writer, and great art from Chaykin, plus good art from Buscema. I’ve bought less for more.

8. 7 Against Chaos (DC, 2013) ***½
Writer: Harlan Ellison/Artists: Paul Chadwick & Ken Steacy
Old-school sci-fi – I got a kick out of this...even if it DOES feel like it was written in the 1970s.
9. X-Men #106 (Marvel, 1977) ***
Writers: Chris Claremont & Bill Mantlo/Artists: Dave Cockrum, Bob Brown & Tom Sutton
The dreaded fill-in issue, made slightly more poignant by the fact that artist Brown died just before this went to print. I never liked Brown’s art on The Avengers, but he does a passable Cockrum in this tale of new X-men fighting old X-Men (they’re Danger Room fakes, it’s eventually revealed). I picked this mag in near-mint condition for three bucks from Elizabeth’s – it retails for US$180 in the same condition at Lone Star. So I can’t complain.

10. WCW #2 (Marvel, 1992) *
Writer: Mike Lackey/Artists: Ron Wilson & Don Hudson

11. Undertaker Halloween Special (Chaos!, 1999) *½
Writers: Jim & Dan Monti/Artists: Leonardo Jimenez & Don Hillsman

12. WWE Superstars #1 (Super Genius, 2013) ***
Writer: Mick Foley & Shane Riches/Artist: Alitha Martinez

The problem with just about every wrestling comic is that they SUCK on every level!
WCW was godawful and showed that the writer didn’t understand the first thing about wrestling or the personalities. For example, to have a heel champion, Lex Luger, face three faces (including lead hero Sting) in a handicap match...and WIN...only weakened the faces. Especially as Luger left the series with this issue (he’d jumped to WWF), so the writer didn’t even get the champ to do the traditional job on the way out of the territory. Who did Lackey think he was? Vince Russo? Wilson’s art showed that without photo references, he was hopeless in depicting action in the squared circle.
The Chaos! line was terrible, and Undertaker was probably the worse. The whole demons-war-for-souls-while-disguised-as-wrestlers shtick got tired quickly. The Monti brothers (who? And whatever became of these schlubs?) wrote in that turgid, sub-Thor style that stank. The hack artists (whatever became of these schlubs?) just did a gore-and-flame-filled sub-Liefeld style that was the absolute shits. So it was pretty much like every other Chaos! title at the time.
So now we have a new wrestling-themed series, co-written by Mick Foley no less, and featuring art from veteran Martinez. The idea of wrestlers living and working in a fictional metropolis called Titan City is a bit silly. The fact that there seems to be no other citizens other than WWE employees seems odd as well. Luckily, Foley rises above the lame plot to deliver tight dialogue and some touches of humour that makes this series a cut above practically any other series that’s been published. I’ll give it another issue or two to see if maintains its current reasonable standard.

13. Justice League 3000 #1 (DC, 2014) ***½
Writer: Keith Giffen & JM DeMatteis/Artist: Howard Porter
After 2½ years, I’ve pretty much given up on DC’s “The New 52”. I tend to only pick up stuff that’s non-continuity, like Batman B&W, Batman ’66 and this wacky new title. In the year 3000, clones of the JLA are born to fight evil corporations, but this isn’t the team that we remember. Superman’s an arrogant jerk, Wonder Woman is a psychotic killer, Flash is a coward who vomits regularly, Green Lantern doesn’t have real GL powers and Batman is...well, Batman’s still Batman. But they all hate each other. It’s an interesting premise that I look forward to seeing develop. Just as long as they keep these guys the hell away from the rest of “The New 52” universe.

14.-18. The Sixth Gun: Sons Of The Gun (Oni Press, 2013) ****
- originally published in The Sixth Gun: Sons Of The Gun #1-5 (Oni Press, 2013)
Writers: Cullen Bunn & Brian Hurtt/Artist: Brian Churilla
A nice collection of the miniseries that explores the background of the General’s horsemen who originally wielded four of the Six Guns. Both poignant and creepy.

19. Giant-Size Sidekick #7 (from Comic Book Heroes #20, 2013) **
Writers/artists: various
20. Harley Quinn #0 (DC, 2014) ***½
Writers/artists: various
I got it for the single page of Darwyn Cooke art.
21. Krampus! #1 (Image, 2013) ***
Writer: Brian Joines/Artist: Dean Kotz
A society of Santa Clauses? That’s gold.
22.-26. Rip In Time #1-5 (Fantagor Press, 1986) ***½
Writer: Bruce Jones/Artist: Richard Corben

27.-31. The Nevermen (Dark Horse, 2001) ***
- originally published in Dark Horse Presents #148-150, The Nevermen #1-4 (Dark Horse, 1999, 2001)
32.-34. The Nevermen: Streets Of Blood #1-3 (Dark Horse, 2003) **¾
Writer: Phil Amara/Artist: Guy Davis
These two series seemed to show promise, but ultimately the idea of a retro future city filled with quirky, mysterious heroes and monstrous villains fell down due to haphazard, at-times confusing scripts. Davis’s art is exquisite, though.

35. Stan Lee’s Mighty 7 #1 (Stan Lee Comics, 2012) **½
Writers: Stan Lee, Tony Blake & Paul Jackson/Artists: Alex Saviuk & Bob Smith
The usual hackery from the Great One – and would we expect any less from a 90-year-old who’s 50 years past his prime? That said, I’m stunned this series only went three issues before legitimately being optioned for a movie, which apparently is why they stopped making it. A Mighty 7 movie? I await it with baited breath. Saviuk’s art is nice (and he’s a nice guy to boot, having met him in Supanova earlier this year).

36. The James Gang #1 (London Night Studios, 1993) *
Writer: Bob Smith/Artists: Budd Root (interiors), Mike Hoffman (cover)
This is some of Root’s earliest published work. The future Cavewoman artist knew his strengths (busty topless chicks) even back then. Hoffman’s cover is more Kirby than Wood, but he was at the start of his career, too. He’d develop that art style in coming years. The alternative America story is pure strident bullshit with a weird anti-white/militant ethnic bent that seems really out of place in the early 90s. The historic nature of the artwork is the only reason why this title is still in my collection.

37. Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes by Matt Kindt (First Second, 2013) ****
38. Richard Stark’s Parker: Slayground by Darwyn Cooke (IDW, 2013) ****
Both of these graphic novels are great...but missing an element to make them classics. This is easily the weakest Parker adaptation to date (I blame the source material). As for Kindt, he’s taking his “king of weirdness” title too seriously and this oddball crime mystery gets too weird and convoluted for its own good.

39.-42. Deathmatch Vol. 2: A Thousand Cuts (BOOM!, 2013) ****
- first published in Deathmatch #5-8 (BOOM!, 2013)
Writer: Paul Jenkins/Artist: Carlos Magno


fabulous heretic said...

How good is Batman 66.

Dann said...

I don't mind it. Bought the first two issues. Is it worth picking up the rest?