Tuesday, December 1, 2015

COMICS READING FOR NOVEMBER: “Fear and loathing in Comics Land”

 


* 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. Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas (Top Shelf, 2015 ) *****
Writers: Hunter S. Thompson (novel); Troy Little (adaptation)/Artist: Troy Little
See my review HERE.

2. Oi Oi Oi! #6 (Comicoz, 2015) ***
Writers/artists: various
Kudos to Nat Karmichael for putting out another issue of this brave Aussie anthology, but I’m still not sure which audience it’s aiming for. Sales on some of the previous issues have been horrendous, so I hope Nat’s not losing too much money on this venture. This issue is very patchy, but the wrap-around cover by Eevien Tan is gorgeous, and I also enjoyed the sci-fi/horror tale by Ben Michael Byrne. Long-time local creator Dillon Naylor’s autobiographical pieces are the most mature and professional strips in this mag and finish Oi Oi Oi! #6 on a strong note. Where the comic goes from here, though, is another thing.

3. We Stand On Guard #5 (Image, 2015) ****¼
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan/Artist: Steve Skroce
4. Stray Bullets: Sunshine And Roses #9 (Image, 2015) *****
Writer/artist: David Lapham
5. Dark Corridor #4 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer/Artist: Rich Tommaso
A step down from previous issues. Too many pictures and not enough words considering what I’m paying for a single floppy. A cool car chase though.
6. Nailbiter #17 (Image, 2015) ****¼
Writer: Joshua Williamson/Artist: Mike Henderson

ComicBlock exclusives
7. Heroes Vengeance #1 (Titan, 2015) ***¼
Writers: Seamus Kevin Fahey & Zach Craley/Artist: Rubine
I wasn’t looking forward to this prelude to the new Heroes Reborn series. But hey! It’s got luchadores in it!
8. Lara Croft And The Frozen Omen #1 (Dark Horse, 2015) **
Writer: Corinna Bechko/Artists: Randy Green & Andy Owens (interior); Andy Park (cover)
I just do not care.
9. Back To The Future #1 (IDW, 2015) ***
Writer: Bob Gale, John Barber & Erik Burnham/Artists: Brent Schoonover & Dan Schoening (interiors); Agustin Padilla (Nerd Block cover)
I gave this away to a friend into BTTF, so it wasn’t a complete waste.

10.-25. Satellite Sam #1-15 & Satellite Sam Tijuana Bible (Image, 2013-15) ****
Writer: Matt Fraction/Artist: Howard Chaykin
An odd topic for Mr Fraction to tackle: the early days of TV. Still, this debauched crime noir tale builds to a satisfying climax after a slow start in the first three issues. Chaykin has the time of his life drawing near-naked women in sexy early 1950s lingerie. Really, the series is a cross between Mad Men and Chaykin’s own Black Kiss. Perversely entertaining.


26. The Bus by Paul Kirchner (Futura, 1987) *****
I loved this strip when I first read it in Heavy Metal in the early 80s. Earlier this year, I bought the latest Heavy Metal and found they were reprinting The Bus again. Not surprisingly, it’s easily the best thing in the mag. Kirchner’s surrealist take on the everyman experience enduring the daily bus commute was always entertaining. This strip collection is hard to find (as is the more recent reprinting). I’d given up on finding a copy till a friend randomly sent me a link to a website filled with The Bus strips. Inspired, I went straight to eBay and found this original edition of the book for only $13. Score!

27. Thought Bubble 2015 (Image, 2015) ****
Writers/artists: various
The usual mixed bag you find with an anthology. This one is better than usual thanks to contributions by Farel Dalrymple (one of my favourite indie artists) and Nicholas Gurewitch (from The Perry Bible Fellowship).
28. Prime8: Creation #1 (TwoMorrows Publishing, 2001) *
Writers: Jon B. Cooke & Andrew D. Cooke/Artists: Chris Knowles, George Freeman, Bob Wiacek, Al Milgrom & David A. Roach (interior); Neal Adams (cover)
I got this one from Lone Star Comics because I saw it advertised in an old TwoMorrows mag, plus it had a pro wrestling theme. However, this super-apes/X-Men rip-off sucked big-time. It gave the word “clichéd” a bad name.
29. Deathwatch #1 (Harrier Comics, 1987) **
Writer/artist: Art Wetherell
Another comic that I tracked down because I read about it in a fanzine many years ago. It’s an oddball mix of DC-style 70s horror comics with a superhero/sci-fi motif thrown in for good measure. Inoffensive, really. Wetherell’s cartoony artwork is nice.
30. Southern Bastards #12 (Image, 2015) ****½
Writer: Jason Aaron/Artist: Jason Latour
31. Airboy #4 (Image, 2015) ****½
Writer: James Robinson/Artist: Greg Hinkle
A bit of a soft-cock, feel-good ending, but this was still – arguably – the best miniseries of 2015.
32. 8house #5 (Image, 2015) ****
Writers: Fil Barlow & Helen Maier/Artist: Fil Barlow
33. Portals #1 (Portals Productions, 2009) *
Writers/artists: various
A short indie anthology with continuing stories. Far too brief to gauge anything from each individual tale, and there was a 60-day wait between chapters. Pointless.
34.-36. Spider-Man Family #4 (Marvel, 2007) ***½
- includes reprints of Amazing Spider-Man #178 (Marvel, 1978) & Mary Jane #1 (Marvel, 2004)
Writers/artists: various
I got this ’cos the main strip co-stars Agents of ATLAS.
37. Empty Chamber Preview Ashcan (Caption Box, 2005) *
Writer: A. David Lewis/Artist: Jason Copland
Lame indie spy shenanigans.
38. Timeless Web Comic Preview (Satyr Play, 2009) **
Writer/artist: Mike Indovina.
39.-40. Jewish Hero Corps #1-2 (Shayach Comics, 2009) *½
Writer: Alan Oirich/Artist: Ron Randall
Arguably the weirdest comic I’ve read in some time. Thrill to the Yiddish superhero exploits of Menorah Man, Dreidel Maidel, Kipa Kid, Matzah Woman and more! Oi vey!
41.-42. In For The Krill #1-2 (Panic Productions, 2008) **½
Writers: Jill Brett & Greg Holfeld/Artist: Greg Holfeld
A crime noir tale involving penguins. Just one problem – most penguins look the same, so it’s hard to tell the characters apart. Oh well...
43. Collier’s #4 (Fantagraphics, 1998) ****
Writer/artist: David Collier
A wonderfully personal tale about a war veteran whose life – with all its flaws, quirks, small victories, petty bigotry and bungling errors – is defined by his actions as a sailor during WW1. This poignant tale is brilliantly observed and illustrated.
44.-47. Captain America: Patriot #1-4 (Marvel, 2010-11) ****
Writer: Karl Kesel/Artist: Mitch Breitweiser
A nicely told tale about how WW2’s Patriot became Captain America after the first two died (well, Steve Rogers didn’t die, but everyone thought he had). It’s a great yarn about a guy who never quite measured up to Cap, trying to fill some big boots at a time when the war is over and the USA’s new enemies aren’t so easily defined. This miniseries is a hidden gem.
48. Invincible Iron Man #1 (Marvel, 2015) ***½
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artist: David Marquez
I scored this free in my Marvel Collector Corps box. There’s a lot of talking in it, which is typical Bendis.
49. Island #4 (Image, 2015) ****
Writers/artists: various
I picked this up to read the latest, long-overdue instalment of Pop Gun War by Farel Dalrymple. Worth every penny.
50. The Tragical Comedy Or Comical Tragedy Of Mr Punch (VG, 1994) ****
Writer: Neil Gaiman/Artist: Dave McKean
A new, remastered version of this book has just been released and I asked for a preview copy of it months ago. I’d assumed the publishing company had ignored my request so, when I stumbled across a copy of the original book for only $17 I grabbed it. Then the review copy of the new edition arrived a week later. Damn. It’s great...of course.

51.-55. Wonder Man: My Fair Super Hero (Marvel, 2007) ***
- originally published in Wonder Man: My Fair Super Hero #1-5 (Marvel, 2007)
This oddball take on My Fair Lady sees Wonder Man reminiscing in the far future about the time – post-Avengers Disassembles – he took a bet to rehabilitate psycho assassin Ladykiller. I think Wonder Man was still a good guy at this stage – to be honest, I’ve lost track of the Avengers over the past 8-9 years. Last I heard he was a kinda villain, but who really knows or cares? In this miniseries he’s kinda good but he does some pretty nasty shit (kidnapping is not nice, y’all). The tale is weird – one part creepy (Wonder Man holds a young woman hostage till she develops Stockholm Syndrome and falls in love with him) and one part maudlin (an immortal Wonder Man wandering a barren Earth, while recalling his past). Is it an alternative future we’re looking at? An imaginary tale? I’m not sure. Still, it was nice to see Wonder Man teaming up with The Beast (looking far too furry/cutesy for my liking) and Ms Marvel.

56. Spike: A Dark Place #5 (Dark Horse, 2012) ***
Writer: Victor Gischler/Artists: Paul Lee, Cliff Richards & Andy Owens (interior); Jenny Frison (cover)
57.-60. Willow #2-5 (Dark Horse, 2012-13) ***¼
Writer: Jeff Parker/Artists: Brian Ching & Jason Gorder (interior); David Mack (cover)
61.-62. Buffy The Vampire Slayer #16-17 (Dark Horse, 2012-13) ***
Writer: Andrew Chambliss/Artists: Georges Jeanty & Dexter Vines (interior); Phil Noto (cover)
63.-65. Angel & Faith #16-18 (Dark Horse, 2012-13) ***½
Writer: Christos Gage/Artists: Rebekah Isaacs (interior); Steve Morris (cover)
66. Angel & Faith #19 (Dark Horse, 2013) ***¾
Writer: Christos Gage/Artists: Rebekah Isaacs (interior); Steve Morris (cover)
I stopped buying Dark Horse titles (except Mind MGMT) in 2012 and that included all my Buffy-related series. I now get everything sent to me digitally through my job, which saves a shitload of money. But I stopped reading the Buffy-verse titles anyway. Sooooo...now that I’m cleaning up my collection and getting rid of a bunch of comics, I finally got around to reading the last few issues in my to-be-read file so i can sell them on eBay.
Surprise, surprise – I really enjoyed the final Angel & Faith arc in my collection, of which I had three of four issues. I bought the last issue of the arc from Comixology. It was good fun to see Spike return to one of the main series of the Buffy-verse (is that a thing?), even if he did temporarily turn evil near the end of it.
I finished off two miniseries, Spike and Willow, as well. Willow was the better of the two, but it kinda petered out into feel-good bullshit. I’m happy I didn’t waste anymore money on these titles.

67. Moral Ambulance by ohmzutt (self-published, 201?) ***
Vaguely disturbing sketches of various people. Yep, disturbing’s the right word. Look at more of his/her work at instagram.com/explore/tags/zuttsketchbook.

68. Hello Spain! It’s Me! by Marc Conaco III (self-published, 201?) ***
A cute travelogue about Marc’s trip to Spain. Obviously, he loved the place. See more of his pleasant linework at mcthree.co.nz.

69. Catwoman #46 (DC, 2015) ***¼
Writer: Genevieve Valentine/Artists: David Messina and Gaetano Carlucci (interior); Darwyn Cooke & Warner Bros. Animation (Looney Tunes Variant Edition cover)
Bought it for the Darwyn Cooke cover, obviously. Curiously, the brag box states the cover was drawn by J. Bone, but the cover is definitely Cooke (it even has his signature. I know Bone apes Cooke’s art style, but he clearly fooled someone at DC).
70. Flex Mentallo #1 (Vertigo, 1996) ***¾
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artist: Frank Quitely
71. Consumed #1 (Platinum Studios, 2015) DUD
Writer: Asa Shumskas-Tait/Artists: Dennis Budd & Joe Caramagna (interior); Joseph Michael Linsner (cover)
Pointlessly boring romance/horror mash-up. Glad I only paid $2 to read it.
72. Doc Savage #13 (DC, 2011) DUD
Writer: JG Jones/Artists: Qing Ping Mui (interior); JG Jones (cover)
73.-78. Atomic Robo Vol. 1: Atomic Robo And The Fightin’ Scientists of Tesladyne (Red 5 Comics, 2009) ****
- Atomic Robo #1-6 (Red 5 Comics, 2007-09)
I wanted to hate this series, but I read it and really enjoyed it. It’s kinda like Hellboy, but not really.


BOUGHT FROM COMIXOLOGY.COM
79. Unmasked #4 (Gestalt, 2015) ****
Writer: Christian Read/Artist: Gary Chaloner
At last! The conclusion to this fantastic super-villain tale. What’s more important: to be anonymous and safe or villainous and constantly in danger? Our two protagonists choose the latter and, let’s just say, the sex is WAAAAAY BETTER when you are a serious outlaw. The ending to this final chapter is shocking yet somewhat not surprising when you’ve seen what came before. No...actually, it was pretty shocking Just a great ending to a great miniseries. Check it out.
80. All Star #1 (NBM, 2014) ***½
Writer: Jesse Lonergan/Artist: Jesse Lonergan
Slice-of-life, small-town high school and baseball fun. I might buy the next issue.
81. Revenge #4 (Image, 2014) *
Writer: Jonathan Ross/Artist: Ian Churchill
Gory, boobs-filled stupidity. So glad I only bought this online at Comixology, so it didn’t cost much. At least I’ve finally read the bloody thing.


82. Jill: Part-Time Lover by Kevin J. Taylor (Amerotica, 2000) **½ 
I first read Taylor’s work in The Girl, a miniseries from the early 1990s that I either found second-hand or, more likely, discovered in the “adult” section at the Adelaide Comic Centre during one of my frequent weekend trips to the big smoke during that period. Of course, I loved the dumb sex scenes but, mostly, I really enjoyed Taylor’s artwork. The guy did (does?) know how to draw beautiful women. When I moved to Sydney in the late 90s and started work at People mag, it wasn’t long before I crossed paths with Mr Taylor’s work again. We used to get catalogues from NBM’s various erotic subsidiaries, including Amerotica. Through work I purchased several of Kev’s graphic novels in the early 2000s and “reviewed” them (aka ran several sexy pix to fill a few pages) in People. And I “inherited” the books once we’d finished with them.
They then sat in my “to-read” pile for over a decade and I finally got around to reading one, Jill, the other day.
Fifteen years later, I still enjoy Taylor’s artwork – especially his pin-ups – but the storylines are pretty fucked up. Jill is a black nympho who decides to become a high-priced hooker to pay the bills (and also because she craves sex all the time). After that set-up, it’s scene after scene of Jill being fucked by men with impossibly large cocks. It’s pretty rough sex and borders on non-consensual at times. I know it’s “all a fantasy”, but Taylor’s writing leaves a lot to be desired. Oh, and of course, AIDS, STDs and condoms don’t exist in this fantasy world either. I think Jill’s biggest crime is that it’s just kinda...boring. The lead character shags a bunch of guys, walks off to meet another client, then shags again. Making dull porno is probably Taylor’s biggest crime – that said, I’m pretty certain Jill isn’t his best yarn by a long shot. I’ll have to check out the other books in my collection before I can give a full appraisal of his work.

83.-86. The Rocketeer: Cargo Of Doom #1-4 (IDW, 2012) ***½
Writer: Mark Waid/Artist: Chris Samnee
87.-90. The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror #1-4 (IDW, 2013) ***
Writer: Roger Langridge/Artists: J. Bone (interior); Roger Langridge (#1 subscription cover); Walter Simonson (#2-4 regular cover)
91.-94. The Rocketeer & The Spirit: Pulp Friction #1-4 (IDW/DC, 2013) ***
Writer: Mark Waid/Artists: Paul Smith (#1 interior); Loston Wallace & Bob Wiacek (#2 interior); J. Bone (#3-4 interior); Paul Smith (#1-2 cover); J. Bone (#3-4 cover)
I love The Rocketteer but these miniseries are only fair-to-middling – the first series is the best and the team-up with The Spirit is the least satisfying.
95. Groot #6 (Marvel, 2015) ***¾
Writer: Jeff Loveness/Artists: Brian Kesinger (interior); Declan Shalvey (cover)
The final issue and really kinda cool. A feel-good ending and I didn’t even care. 
96. Giant-Size Action Planet Halloween Special (Action Planet, 1998) **¾

Writers/artists: various 

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