Monday, May 11, 2015

COMICS READING FOR APRIL: “Hot-blooded”



* 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.-2 Children Of Fire #1-2 (Caliber Press, 1993) **¼
Writer/Artist: Brian Michael Bendis
Bendis is clearly a better writer than an artist.
3. Eating Raoul (Mercury Film, 1982) ***
Writer/artist: Kim Deitch
This is an oddball tie-in to promote the bizarre indie comedy of the same name. I remember seeing the first chapter published in Heavy Metal. The story is pretty damn strange and I’m tempted to track down the movie now, especially as it stars one of my fave actrines Mary Woronov.
4.-21. Vampirella Crimson Chronicles Maximum Vol. 1 (Harris, 2008) **½
- originally published in Vampirella #1-2, 8-9, 11-37 (Warren, 1969-74)
Writers/artists: various (interior); Jim Silke (cover)
I’m not sure why I bought this B&W collection...probably ’cos it was selling cheap on Lone Star. I went into reading this book with some trepidation as I always considered Vampirella a badly written T&A horror series. It certainly kicks off that way with the goofy introduction stories written by Forrest J. Ackerman. But once Archie Goodwin comes on board, the storyline kicks into gear and the quality of writing improves dramatically with the alien bloodsucker Vampi battling the evil Cult Of Chaos, whose members worship a demonic bible known as the Crimson Chronicles. Vampi is aided by a drunken magician called Pendragon and is pursued by relentless vampire killers Conrad and Adam Van Helsing. Goodwin’s strong scripts are brought to life by Jose Gonzalez’ exquisite artwork. His splash panels of our scantily clad heroine each issue are beautiful and he gives the supporting cast real character. Goodwin ties in Vampi with the Dracula mythology, then turns it on its head by having a newly-brought-back-to-life Drac repent for his past sins and try to be good. It’s an interesting journey as he tries to mend his evil ways, but keeps failing. Goodwin’s departure from the strip sees the quality of storytelling plummet, particularly the run of Flaxman Loew, who dumps the Van Helsings and reduces Pendragon to a drunken bum cracking bad puns. Even Vampirella’s ongoing struggle not to kill people for their blood – which gave her a noble, tragic quality – is summarily dismissed by Loew, who has Vampi killing bad guys willy-nilly. It’s a complete destruction of Goodwin’s carefully laid foundations and helps leave a sour note as this collection comes to an end. Only the artwork of Gonzales (and later Jose Ortiz) salvages something from the godawful scripts. Goodwin’s return to the helm in the final few pages gives hope that Vampirella was set to return to its former glory. But as it’s unlikely I’ll never pick up Volume 2, I guess that will have to remain a mystery to me.

22.-27. Ultimate X-Men Vol. 1: The Tomorrow People (Marvel, 2001) ***¼
- originally published in Ultimate X-Men #1-6 (Marvel, 2000-01)
Writer: Mark Millar/Artists: Adam & Andy Kubert, Art Thibert, Danny Miki
28.-34. Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 1: Power And Responsibility (Marvel, 2002) ***½  
- originally published in Ultimate Spider-Man #1-7 (Marvel, 2000-02)
Writer: Bill Jemas & Brian Michael Bendis/Artists: Mark Bagley, Art Thibert, Dan Panosian
Someone once said that the origin of Spider-Man was told by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1962 in 12 pages. Bendis and Jemas take SEVEN ISSUES to reach the same spot – welcome to 21st century comic book storytelling. But it’s still kinda fun to go on the journey.
Not the same for Millar’s flawed take on the X-Men. The most annoying subplot in his uneven book is the fact that Cyclops is a turncoat who betrays the X-Men’s peaceful principles, joins forces with Magneto’s terrorist organisation and is directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of hundreds (if not thousands) of people. Yet all is forgiven and he’s allowed to rejoin the X-Men at the end of this arc. Stupid! That said, the terrorism angle and post-terror attack clampdown on ordinary people’s civil liberties is ominous when you think this was written before 9/11. Mutants are openly hunted by Sentinels approved by the Federal Government. Replace the word “mutant” with “Muslim” and you have a chilling prophecy of the post-9/11 western world. That said, this book isn’t one of Millar’s finest moments.

35.-36. The New 52: Future’s End #47-48 (DC, 2015) ***½
Writers/artists: various
Wait...wait...I got through 48 issues...four friggin’ months...and the series ends...exactly where it started? With nothing resolved?! Fuck you, DC!!!
37. Guardians 3000 #6-7 (Marvel, 2015) ****
Writer: Dan Abnett/Artists: Nico Leon (interior); Alex Ross (#6 cover); Gerardo Sandoval (#7 cover)
38. The Black Hood #2 (Dark Circle Comics, 2015) ****½
Writer: Duane Swierczynski/Artist: Michael Gaydos
39. Gonzo (Abrams ComicArts, 2010, 2012) ****
Writer: Will Bingley/Artist: Anthony Hope-Smith
A cracking biography that inspired me to seek out more of Hunter S. Thompson’s work (on film and in written form).
40.-41. Stratu’s Diary Comix (self-published, 2015)
Writer/artist: Stratu
Read my thoughts about this comic HERE.
42. Secret Identities #3 (Image, 2015) ****¼
Writers: Jay Faerber & Brian Joines/Artist: Ilias Kyriazis
43. Copperhead #6 (Image, 2015) ***½
Writer: Jay Faerber/Artist: Scott Godlewski
44. Revival #29 (Image, 2015) ****¼
Writer: Tim Seeley/Artist: Mike Norton (interior); Jenny Frison (cover)
45. The Fade Out #5 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Sean Phillips 
46. Jupiter’s Circle #1 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Mark Millar/Artists: Wilfredo Torres (interior); Frank Quitely (cover)
A first part of this lovely 1950s noir tale serves as an excellent prelude to Jupiter’s Legacy. The retro art of Torres is a joy.
47. The Fox #1 (Dark Circle, 2015) ***¾
Writers: Dean Haspiel & Mark Waid/Artist: Dean Haspiel
48. Chrononauts #2 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: Sean Murphy
49. Howard The Duck #2 Marvel, 2015) ****½
Writer: Chip Zdarsky/Artists: Joe Quinones & Joe Rivera
50. Kaijumax #1 (Oni Press, 2015) ****¼
Writer/artist: Zander Cannon
Godzilla meets Oz. Very frightening. Very good. The scene where the monster prison inmates are working out using gym equipment that resembles cities (to crush) or ships (for lifting) was very clever.
51. Guardians Team-Up #4 (Marvel, 2015) ***¼
Writer: John Layman/Artist: Otto Schmidt

52. Guardians Of The Galaxy #25 (Marvel, 2015) ***
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artist: Valerio Schiti
53. Legendary Star-Lord #10 (Marvel, 2015) ***
Writer: Sam Humphries/Artists: Paco Medina & Juan Vlasco  
I am so over The Black Vortex crossover.

54. Guardians Of The Galaxy: Best Story Ever (Marvel, 2015) ***
Writer: Tim Seeley/Artists: Reilly Brown, Iban Coello & Jacopo Camagni
It wasn’t.
55. Rocket Racoon #10 (Marvel, 2015) ***¼
Writer: Skottie Young/Artists: Jake Parker (interior); Skottie Young (cover)
56.-57. Bedlam #10-11 (Image, 2013-14) ***
Writer: Nick Spencer/Artists: Ryan Browne (interior); Frazer Irving (cover)
58.-59. Arthur Suydam’s Demon Dreams (Pacific, 1984) ***¼
Writer/artist: Arthur Suydam
60. Intense! #2 (Pure Imagination, 1993) ***
Writer/artist: Basil Wolverton
B&W reprints of public domain Wolverton stories from the 1940s and 50s. Fun stuff.
61. God Hates Astronauts #7 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Ryan Browne/Artists: Jordan Boyd (interior); Ryan Browne (main covers)
62. Black Science #13 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Rick Remender/Artist: Matteo Scalera
63. The Multiversity: Ultra Comics (DC, 2015) ***
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artist: Doug Mahnke & friends
What? The? Fuck????
64. The Woods #12 (BOOM!, 2015) ***
Writer: James Tynion IV/Artist: Michael Dialynas
65. Southern Bastards #7 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Jason Aaron/Artist: Jason Latour
66. Gotham By Midnight #5 (DC, 2015) ****½
Writer: Ray Fawkes/Artist: Ben Templesmith
67. Dream Police #6 (Image, 2015) ***½
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski/Artist: Sid Kotian
68.-69. Justice League #32-33 (DC, 2014) ***½
Writer: Geoff Johns/Artists: Doug Mahnke & Heith Champagne
The Doom Patrol joins the New 52. And Lex Luthor joins the Justice League. Intriguing. Pity it all means nothing now that DC is rebooting (again) for Convergence and Divergence.





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