Sunday, February 15, 2015

COMICS READING FOR JANUARY: “Can’t think of a bloody theme for this month”

* 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. Family Favourites Comic Weekly Vol. 1 No. 15 (L. Miller & Sons Ltd, 1954) **
Writers/Artists: various
A bunch of popular American newspaper strips compiled for an English audience: Gasoline Alley, Lil’ Orphan Annie, Dick Tracy, etc. Some nice nostalgia.
Writer: J. Torres/Artists: Todd Nauck & Lary Stucker (interior)/Sean Galloway (cover)
2. Oi Oi Oi! #3 (ComicOz, 2015) **¾
Writers/Artists: various
Blog review HERE.
3. Copperhead #5 (Image, 2015) ***½
Writer: Jay Faerber/Artist: Scott Godlewski
4. Wild’s End #3 (BOOM!, 2015) ***½
Writer: Dan Abnett/Artist: INJ Culbard
5. The Fade Out #4 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Sean Phillips 
6. Men Of Wrath #4 (Icon, 2015) ****
Writer: Jason Aaron/Artist: Ron Garney
7. Silver Surfer #8 (Marvel, 2015) ***¾
Writer: Dan Slott/Artist: Michael Allred  
8. Guardians 3000 #4 (Marvel, 2015) ***¾
Writer: Dan Abnett/Artist: Gerardo Sandoval (interior), Alex Ross (cover)
9. Deadly Class #10 (Image, 2015) ***½
Writer: Rick Remender/Artist: Wes Craig
10. The Woods #9 (BOOM!, 2015) ***
Writer: James Tynion IV/Artist: Michael Dialynas
11.-14. Future’s End #34-37 (DC, 2014-15) ***¾
Writers/artists: various
15. Black Science #11 (Image, 2015) ***
Writer: Rick Remender/Artist: Matteo Scalera
This series may have jumped the shark.
16. Miracleman Annual #1 (Marvel, 2015) ***½
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artist: Joe Queseda (The October Incident: 1966)
Writer: Peter Milligan/Artist: Michael Allred (Seriously Miraculous)
Two new tales (including one that was originally written in the late 80s) and an all-star cast of creators, but this special is lacking...something. It’s very good...just not great. Charging US$5 for it is also damn cheeky.
17. The Multiversity Guidebook (DC, 2015) ****
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artists: various
Alright, Morrison’s laying some serious groundwork here for DC’s future. This maxiseries is slowly getting interesting.
18. Twisted Tales #1 (Pacific, 1982) *
Writer: Bruce Jones/Artists: various
Was there ever a more overrated horror comic writer than Bruce Jones? Overwrought dialogue, text-heavy boxes that obscured the great art by Richard Corben and friends, and always with bleeding obvious “twist” endings. Not good, despite featuring some lovely Corben art on the cover and inside.
19.-20. Mind MGMT #29-30 (Dark Horse, 2015) ****
Writer/Artist: Matt Kindt
21.-22. Gotham By Midnight #2-3 (DC, 2015) ****½
Writer: Ray Fawkes/Artist: Ben Templesmith
My God! This is a terrific horror series – utterly compelling, yet repellent at the same time. I hope it survives the DC “reimagining” later this year but, somehow, I doubt it.
23.-30. Desolation Jones #1-8 (WildStorm, 2005-07) ****
Writer: Warren Ellis/Artists: JH Williams III (#1-6); Danijel Zezelj (#7-8)
I think Warren Ellis is the most frustrating writer in comics today. He’s immensely talented with more ideas shat out in a day than most other writers have in a lifetime. He has one serious flaw, however...he can’t stay with a comic for long – he fears commitment. The guy has the attention span of a gnat. Seriously, has this guy ever stuck with a mainstream series for more than six issues? The guy jumps onto a comic – infuses it with greatness – then quits. And it’s worst with his creator-owned stuff. The cunt can’t finish ANYTHING. Take Desolation Jones. I read the first issue a while back and thought, “This is great! I must buy the rest of the run. There’s only eight issues, what an awesome maxiseries it must’ve been.” Then I found out it was actually an ongoing series that stopped after eight issues. No problem, I’m sure it was concluded neatly by Ellis, so as not to leave his fans dangling. Well, fuck me I was WRONG! The first six-issue arc – about ex-spook Desolation Jones being hired in LA to find a WW2 vintage porno starring Adolph Hitler – was suitably fucked up. “Five stars, easy,” I thought. Then the second arc kicks in and after two instalments...NOTHING. Ellis stopped doing the series (I assume due to poor sales) and never bothered to return to it. the series was left he did with newuniversal...and Fell...and Anna Mercury...and fucking everything else he’s ever done. Fuck you, Ellis! You make me love you and hate you at the same time!
31.-34. Savage Hulk #1-4 (Marvel, 2014) ***½
Writer: Alan Davis/Artists: Alan Davis & Mark Farmer
This series had an in interesting concept that gave me a real sense of déjà vu. It felt like I was reading the old 1970s series Rampaging Hulk again – the B&W series set in the early 60s that fleshed out the Hulk’s back story from that era and which was retroactively written out of continuity in the 80s. One of the big guest stars in that mag was The Uncanny X-Men, and a later incarnation of that group (c. X-Men #66) guest-star in the first arc of this series. There are also guest appearances from The Abomination and The Leader. It’s a surprisingly pedestrian tale – Davis is a far better artist than writer – but I still got a kick out of seeing the X-Men before they got Claremont’d.
35.-36. The New 52: Future’s End #38-39 (DC, 2015) ***¾
Writers/artists: various
37.-40. The Dead Boy Detectives #1-4 (Vertigo, 2001) ***¼
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artists: Bryan Talbot & Steve Leialoha (interiors); Dave McKean (covers)
 41. Justice League United #8 (DC, 2015) ***¼
Writer: Jeff Lemire/Artists: Neil Edwards, Jay Leisten  Keith Champagne (interior); Andrew Robinson (cover)
Legionnaires! Hooray!
42. Rocket Raccoon #7 (Marvel, 2015) ***¼
Writer: Skottie Young/Artists: Filipe Andrade (interior); Skottie Young (cover)
43.-44. Revival #27-28 (Image, 2015) ***¾
Writer: Tim Seeley/Artist: Mike Norton
45. Thor #172 (Marvel, 1970) **¾
Writer: Stan Lee/Artists: Jack Kirby & Bill Everett
Very pedestrian, by-the-numbers Thor tale about his willingness to sacrifice himself to save the life of that useless Jane Foster. Lovely Kirby art, but this series was so uninspired at this point.    
46. Jupiter’s Legacy #5 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: Frank Quitely
Not sure I appreciate Millar charging US$5 for his comix now but if he keeps delivering the goods like this issue, then I’ll put up with it. Jupiter’s Legacy wraps up Book One with some real punch and makes me salivate at the thought of Book Two.
47. Justice League #13 (DC, 2015) ***½
Writer: Keith Giffen & JM DeMatteis/Artist: Howard Porter
Blue Beetle, Booster Gold and, now, Ice? And she’s a goddess? I like the direction this comic’s going in and the fact that next issue sees the return of an evil (?) Fire makes it even better.
48. Nailbiter #9 (Image, 2015) ***½
Writer: Joshua Williamson/Artist: Mike Henderson
49. ShadowShow #3 (IDW, 2015) **
Writers/artists: various
I’ll always be grateful that this series re-sparked my interest in Ray Bradbury, but I give up on this series. It’s pretty ordinary.
50. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 (Marvel, 2015) **½
Writer: Ryan North/Artists: Erica Henderson (and cover); Maris Wicks  
Underwhelming – I thought I’d enjoy this first issue more. It feels like Batgirl Lite. I’ll give the series one more issue to win me over, then I’m outta here.  
51.-52. Legendary Star-Lord #7-8 (Marvel, 2015) ***
Writer: Sam Humphries/Artists: Freddie Williams & Paco Diaz (interior); Paco Medina (cover)
This series is spinning its wheels a bit in these issues, setting things up for The Black Vortex crossover event to kick in.
53. SIP Kids #2 (Abstract Studio, 2015) ***
Writer/artist: Terry Moore
Overpriced, sub-Peanuts comedy from the Strangers In Paradise/Rachel Rising creator. I’ll steal any future issues off the net. Fuck Terry Moore.
54. Dark Age: A Collection Of Fantasy Art (Dark Age Productions, 1982) ****
Artists: various
This was one of 20 late 70s/early 80s mags (and a few comics) I picked up for a buck each at Elizabeth’s in Sydney last month. The haul included quite a few fanzines, which I’ll review on the blog at a later date. This high-quality art book really doesn’t count as a comic, but fuggit, I’m adding it to the list. The back cover is a glorious Corben piece I’ve never seen anywhere else. Inside is a ton of sci-fi and fantasy pin-ups and illos by the likes of Jeff Jones, John Severin, Berni Wrightson, Vaughn Bode, Barry Windsor-Smith, Wally Wood, Alex Nino, Michael Kaluta and more! Lovely stuff.
55. Bitch Planet #2 (Image, 2015) ***¾
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick/Artist: Valentine De Landro
56. Moon Knight #11 (Marvel, 2015) ****
Writer: Brian Wood/Artists: Greg Smallwood with Giuesppe Camuncoli (Interiors); Declan Shalvey (cover)
57. Batgirl #38 (DC, 2015) ***¾
Writers: Cameron Stewart & Brenden Fletcher/Artists: Babs Tarr & Cameron Stewart
58. Terminal Hero #5 (Dynamite, 2015) ****
Writer: Peter Milligan/Artist: Piotr Kowalski
59. The October Faction #4 (IDW, 2015) ***
Writer: Steve Niles/Artist: Damien Worm
60. Guardians Of The Galaxy #23 (Marvel, 2015) ***½
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artists: Valerio Schiti (interior); Christian Ward (cover)
61.-82. Showcase Presents All-Star Comics (DC, 2014) ****
- originally published in All-Star #58-74, DC Special #29, Adventure Comics #461-466 (DC, 1976-79)
Writers: Paul Levitz & friends/Artists: Joe Staton, Wallace Wood & friends
My New Year’s Resolution was to read a DC Showcase or Marvel Essentials book a month and I kicked off with this Showcase volume.

I loved this Justice Society of America series when I was a kid – when I first saw it, Joe Staton was drawing the series and I dug his artwork a lot. Years later, I tracked down earlier issues and marvelled at some of Wally Wood’s finest mainstream work. Even though I have most of the original colour comics, I bought this cheap trade to collect the JSA’s final stories after All-Star folded and they were relegated to Adventure Comics. Those issues are now prohibitively priced (I have no idea why), so this was a very cheap way of completing my collection. As is the case with all 1970s DC and Marvel comics, the writing is overblown and full of clichés (e.g. Power Girl is an aggressive, unpleasant feminist while Wildcat is an out-of-touch, ageing male chauvinist pig). But I love that Superman (who is the original 1940s Superman of Earth Two and, therefore, the FIRST superhero) is regarded as the father of all superheroes – a man who can arrive at a site filled with warring costumed do-gooders and stop them fighting just by his presence alone. It’s fantastic imagery that got me hooked on the JSA for life. If nothing else, pick up this volume to appreciate Wood’s input. He was the inker on All-Star #58-62, then he main artist on All-Star #63-65 (he even co-wrote #65 with Paul Levitz). His final two issues on the series see the JSA take on Vandal Savage in the era of King Arthur, and they’re magnificent. 

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