Sunday, January 18, 2015

COMICS REVIEW: Oi Oi Oi! #3 (ComicOz, 2015)

MORE noble intentions from editor Nat Carmichael with his brave local anthology, but this is yet another hit’n’miss issue.
It starts well with a striking  wrap-around cover by David Follett who, until very recently, was a long-time contributor to People magazine (where I’m news editor).
Inside, the best contribution by a country mile is a fun colour sci-fi piece written by Mark Hobby and drawn by Ben Michael Byrne (creator of the underrated Kranburn).
The other strips are pretty forgettable – a couple of them commit the worst sin of all, being serials in a quarterly publication. Ain’t nobody got time to follow a quarterly serial, yo.
Again, I question who Oi Oi Oi! is aiming for? It’s a relatively literate, adult comic being sold among the kids’ comics in newsagencies. It’s mostly B&W. Some of the strips are throwaway one-panel gags (the kind you’d find in old men’s mags); others are just mediocre page-fillers.
A new issue is due in April and I hope it comes out. But unless something happens to shake up the present format, I don’t see Oi Oi Oi! having a long-term future in what is an extremely difficult marketplace.
Especially as Nat himself writes on his blog that sales on the first issue "came to 552 copies (of a 5000 print run). You don't need me to do the maths for you. That's 11% sold. Totally disappointing. But one I resolved to share with you."
Yep, unless something dramatic happens, I foresee a grim future for this anthology. And that's a real shame.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

COMICS READING FOR NOVEMBER: “I’m just an old-school fool”


* 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 Graveyard Book Vol. 2 (Bloomsbury, 2014) *****
Writer: Neil Gaiman (novel), P. Craig Russell (adaptation)/Artists: P. Craig Russell & friends

2.-3. Kiss Comix #46, #51 (Ediciones La Cupola, 1995) ***
4.-11. El Vibora #169, #180-182, #184, #191, #199-200 (Ediciones La Cupola, 1993-96)
Writers/artists: various
Spanish porn comix that also feature reprints of various US indie classics such as Hate, Love & Rockets and Tank Girl. The Euro-strips range from inept to hot to super-hot to perverse to disturbing. Those wacky furriners! To be honest, I couldn’t really “read” these mags, but some of them provided plenty of entertainment...if you get my drift.

12. DC Special #5 (DC, 1969) ***
Writers: various/Artist: Joe Kubert
A funny, self-effacing meta-look at the live and art of Joe Kubert. With cartoon kid cameos from Andy and Adam.
13. DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #24 (DC, 1982) **½
Writers/artists: various
This is “The House Of Mystery” special, which means lots of lame horror yarns with predictable, dull “twist” endings. The only thing saving this collection is lovely art by the likes of Wally Wood, Alex Toth and Berni Wrightson.
14. Metamorpho #15 (DC, 1967) **½
Writer: Bob Haney/Artists: Sal Trapani & Charles Paris
I’d heard this was DC’s attempt to parody the Fantastic Four’s cosmic storylines – the world-conquering Thunderer is a midget as opposed to the gigantic Galactus – and it certainly has a lot of Stan Lee’s bombastic dialogue and a sequence featuring “Kirby krackle”. The story is kinda lame but wackily enjoyable, especially Haney’s failed attempts to use “hip” lingo. I actually found the various house ads way more fun to read.
15. DC Comics Presents #52 (DC, 1982) **¾
Writer: Paul Kupperberg/Artists: Keith Giffen & Sal Trapani
Superman teams up with the “new” Doom Patrol to combat an outta control Negative Woman and psycho new villain Ambush Bug (!) Yes, before he became a lovable nutjob as scripted by Giffen, Bug was a deranged killer (he murders a politician at a parade in this issue in front of TV cameras for no reason). While the story is pedestrian, I loved Giffen’s in-jokes. There are several large balloons of fictional characters in the parade and if you look carefully you see that Giffen’s slipped in homages to Elfquest, Cerebus and Judge Dredd. I enjoyed that.
16. Superman #20 (DC, 1988) ***
Writer: John Byrne/Artists: John Byrne & Karl Kesel
17.-18. Supergirl #8-9 (DC, 1983) ***
Writer: Paul Kupperberg (Supergirl), Tamsyn O’Flynn (Lois Lane #8), Joey Cavalieri (Lois Lane #9)/Artists: Carmine Infantino & Bob Oksner (Supergirl), Bob Oksner & Dick Giordano (Lois Lane #8), Bob Oksner & Dave Hunt (Lois Lane #9), Gil Kane (covers)
19.-22. Doom Patrol #89, #109, #118, #123 (DC, 1964-73) ****
Writer: Arnold Drake/Artists: Bruno Premiani (interiors), Bob Brown (covers #89, #118, #123), Bruno Premiani (cover #109)
- Doom Patrol #123 originally published in Doom Patrol #95 (DC, 1965)

23. Colder: The Bad Seed #2 (Dark Horse, 2014) ****
Writer: Paul Tobin/Artist: Juan Ferreyra
24. Sundowners #4 (Dark Horse, 2014) ***½
Writer: Tim Seeley/Artists: Jim Terry (interior); Chris Brunner (cover)
Intriguing story, but let down by Terry’s mediocre art.
25.-36. Revival #14-25 (Image, 2013-14) ****
Writer: Tim Seeley/Artists: Mike Norton (interior); Jenny Frison (cover)
37. Revival/Chew #1 (Image, 2014) ***½
Revival: Writer: Tim Seeley/Artists: Jim Terry (interior); Chris Brunner (cover)
Chew: Writer: John Layman/Artist: Rob Guillory

38. The Arrival (Lothian, 2006, 2014) *****
Writer/artist: Shaun Tan
Superb stuff by a talented Aussie. Tremendously powerful. 

39. Shadow Show #1 (IDW, 2014) ***¾
Writers: Joe Hill & Jason Ciaramella/Artists: Charles Paul Wilson III & Jeremy Mohler (interior); Gabriel Rodriguez (cover)
40. Gotham By Midnight #1 (DC, 2014) ***¾
Writer: Ray Fawkes/Artist: Ben Templesmith
41.-44. Stray Bullets: Killers #5-8 (Image, 2014) ****
Writer/artist: David Lapham
45. Hero Comics 2014 (IDW, 2014) ***¼
Writers/artists: various
46. Avengers #309 (Marvel, 1989) **¾
Writer: John Byrne/Artists: Paul Ryan & Tom Palmer
The Great Lakes Avengers appear in a cameo – this is the only reason why I bought it.
47. Weird Wonder Tales #19 (Marvel, 1976) **¾
Writers/artists: various
A classic monster reprint, but this issue is significant as it reprints the origin of Dr Druid (originally called “Dr Droom”) and Groot (from Tales To Astonish #13). Plus a delightful B. Krigstein-drawn tale called “The Hypnotist” (from Astonishing Tales #47).
48. Dream Police #5 (Image, 2014) ***½
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski/Artist: Sid Kotian
49. Wild’s End #3 (BOOM!, 2014) ***½
Writer: Dan Abnett/Artist: INJ Culbard
50. The Fade Out #3 (Image, 2014) ****
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Sean Phillips 
51. Men Of Wrath #2 (Icon, 2014) ****
Writer: Jason Aaron/Artist: Ron Garney
52. She-Hulk #10 (Marvel, 2014) ***¾
Writer: Charles Soule/Artists: Javier Pulido (interior); Kevin Wada (cover)
53.-54. Silver Surfer #6-7 (Marvel, 2014) ***¾
Writer: Dan Slott/Artist: Michael Allred  

55. Dead Of Night #6 (Marvel, 1974) **½
Writers/Artists: various
My blog and podcast about this comic HERE.

56. Young Allies 70th Anniversary Special #1 (Marvel, 2009) ***½
Writers: Roger Stern, Stan Lee, Ray Gill/Artists: Paolo Rivera, Bob Oksner [main story]
57. Mystic Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1 (Marvel, 2009) ***
Writer/artist: David Lapham; Juan Doe (cover art) [main story]
58. Daring Mystery 70th Anniversary Special #1 (Marvel, 2009) ****
Writer: David Liss/Artists: Jason Armstrong (interior); Val Staples (cover) [main story]
59. All Winners 70th Anniversary Special #1 (Marvel, 2009) ****
Writer: Karl Kesel/Artists: Steve Uy (interior); Daniel Acuna (cover) [main story]
60. All Select Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1 (Marvel, 2009) ****
Writer: Marc Guggenheim/Artist: Javier Pulido (Blonde Phantom)
Writer/artist: Michael Kupperman (Marvex) [main stories]
61. Marvel Mystery 70th Anniversary Special #1 (Marvel, 2009) ***½
Writer: Tom DeFalco/Artists: Chris Burnham (interior); Paolo Rivera (cover) [main story]
62. USA Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1 (Marvel, 2009) ****
Writer: John Arcudi/Artists: Steve Ellis (interior); Clint Langley (cover) [main story]
63. Captain America Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1 (Marvel, 2009) ****
Writer: James Robinson/Artist: Marcos Martin [main story]
64. Miss America Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1 (Marvel, 2009) **
Writer: Jen Van Meter/Artists: Andy MacDonald (interior); Eaglesham & McCaig (cover) [main story]

65. Virtual Doonesbury by GB Trudeau (Andrews & McMeel, 1996) ****
Apart from the fact that all the computer and internet gags are painfully outdated, this is another fine slice of Doonesbury life. Love me some Duke.
66. Legendary Star-Lord #5 (Marvel, 2014) ****
Writer: Sam Humphries/Artists: Paco Medina & Juan Vlasco
67. Rocket Raccoon #5 (Marvel, 2014) ****
Writer: Scottie Young/Artists: Jake Parker & Scottie Young (interior); Scottie Young (cover)
68. Batgirl #36 (DC, 2014) ***¾
Writers: Cameron Stewart & Brenden Fletcher/Artists: Babs Tarr & Cameron Stewart (interior); Cameron Stewart (cover)
69. Real Heroes #4 (Image, 2014) ***
Writer/artist: Bryan Hitch
70. Velvet #8 (Image, 2014) ****
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Steve Epting
71.-74. Nightworld #1-4 (Image, 2014) DUD
Writer: Adam McGovern/Artist: Paolo Leandri
I can understand an artist wanting to draw like Jack Kirby, because if you’re gonna ape someone’s style, you might as well crib from the best (right, Ron Frenz?). But why the fuck would you wanna WRITE like Jack Kirby? This is just about the worst comic I’ve read this year and it’s due to the overwrought, hamfisted scripts of McGovern. I know he’s trying to emulate Kirby’s Fourth World stuff, but that was SHIT – nice art, shame about the words. It’s the same here (only much, much less as it’s sub-Kirby, not the real thing). Avoid!

75. Futures End: Justice League United #1 (DC, 2014) ***½
Writer: Jeff Lemire/Artists: Jed Dougherty (interior)/Mike McKone (cover)
76. Futures End: Justice League #1 (DC, 2014) ***½
Writer: Jeff Lemire/Artists: Jed Dougherty (interior); Mike McKone (cover)
Oooooh, 3D covers! An evil Captain Atom! And Legion of Super-Heroes characters everywhere! Niiiiiice.

77. Nailbiter #7 (Image, 2014) ****
Writer: Joshua Williamson/Artist: Mike Henderson
Guest-starring Brian Michael Bendis??? This is actually a lotta fun.
78.-80. Justice League United #5-6, Annual #1 (DC, 2014) ***½
Writer: Jeff Lemire/Artists: Timothy Green II & Joe Silver (#5 interior); Neil Edwards & Jay Leisten (#6 & Annual interior); Mike McKone (cover #5); Andrew Robinson (cover #6 & Annual)
81. Ordinary #3 (Titan, 2014) ***½
Writer: Rob Williams/Artist: D’Israeli
82. Murky World (Dark Horse, 2012) ****
Writer/artist: Richard Corben
83.-84. Copperhead #2-3 (Image, 2014) ***½
Writer: Jay Faerber/Artist: Scott Godlewski
85. Guardians 3000 (Marvel, 2014) ***¾
Writer: Dan Abnett/Artist: Gerardo Sandoval (interior), Alex Ross (cover)
86. Deep State #1 (BOOM!, 2014) ***
Writer: Justin Jordan/Artist: Ariela Kristantina
87. MPH #4 (Image, 2014) ***½    
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: Duncan Fegredo
88.-91. Terminal Hero #1-4 (Dynamite, 2014) ****
Writer: Peter Milligan/Artist: Piotr Kowalski
This is really fucked up.
92. Chesty Sanchez #2 (Antarctic Press, 1996) DUD
Writer: Steve Ross/Artists: Scott Michaud & Jayne Wu
93. Protectors Inc. #10 (Image, 2014) ***
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski/Artists: Gordon Purcell & Andrew Pepoy (interior); Ben Templesmith (cover)
So glad this superhero crime series is over. Badly drawn and kinda predictable. You can do better, JMS.
94. Image Firsts: Pretty Deadly #1 (Image, 2013-2014) ½*
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick/Artist: Emma Rios
Pretty awful.
95. Multiversity: Pax Americana (DC, 2014) ****
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artist: Frank Quitely
I have no idea what’s going on but this “tribute” to Watchmen is lovely.
96. Guardians Of The Galaxy #21 (Marvel, 2014) ***½
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artist: Valerio Schiti
97. Moon Knight #9 (Marvel, 2014) ***½
Writer: Brian Wood/Artists: Greg Smallwood (interior); Declan Shalvey (cover)
98. Deadly Class #9 (Image, 2014) ***½
Writer: Rick Remender/Artist: Wes Craig
99. Batman ’66: The Lost Episode (DC, 2014) ****
Writers: Harlan Ellison & Len Wein/Artists: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez & Joe Prado (interior); Alex Ross (cover)
An unused script by Ellison for the 60s Batman TV series finally sees the light of day. Very nice.
100.-102. Batman/Deathblow: After The Fire (DC, 2013) **
- originally published in Batman/Deathblow: After The Fire #1-3 (DC, 2002)
Writer: Brian Azzarello/Artists: Lee Bermejo, Tim Bradstreet & friends
103-104. The October Faction #1-2 (IDW, 2014) ***
Writer: Steve Niles/Artist: Damien Worm

Kirby Your Enthusiasm, ep. 36: "The horror of childhood nostalgia"

YOUR host Dann Lennard is joined once again by his wife Helen as we travel cross-country at Christmas. And what better way to spend our time than discussing this obscure Marvel reprint title from the mid-70s. Why did this mediocre title filled with 50s Atlas horror reprints leave such a lasting impression on my psyche as a boy? Find out in this podcast.
Recorded on December 21, 2014 (my apologies about the poor sound quality - the tape recorder was a tad too close to the air-conditioner).
Check it out HERE.