Tuesday, December 1, 2015

COMICS READING FOR OCTOBER: “The Powers that be”


* 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

I’VE changed my philosophy about buying “floppies” (single issues) over “trades” (TPBs). You hear about it in a short podcast I did recently. It can be found HERE.
1.-8. Powers #4-11 (Icon, 2010-12) ****
9.-20. Powers Bureau #1-12 (Icon, 2013-14) ****½
21.-25. Powers #1-5 (Icon, 2015- ) ****
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/Artist: Mike Avon Oeming
Pretty cool catching up on five years of Powers in one hit. If you don’t read Bendis’ back matter, then you can rip through an issue pretty quick. The feeling I got by the end of these issues is that not only being a copy the WORST JOB in Chicago. But being a cop alongside powers detectives Pilgrim, Sunshine and Walker is the WORST JOB in the world. You are almost guaranteed of getting bitchily insulted by Pilgrim or Sunshine or winding up as dead collateral damage when some super-powered guy attacks Walker. Sucks to be a cop in Bendis’ world.
Also the three main protagonists have all spied, betrayed and lied to each other in the 25 issues I’ve read, so I can’t work out why they’re all still friends. Maybe Powers isn’t meant to be read in one massive 25-issue hit ’cos the plot flaws become too obvious.
That said, this is easily one of the best cop/crime/superhero series on the racks right now – and it has been for at least five years.

26. Pizzazz #11 (Marvel, 1978) **½
[Star Wars] Writer: Archie Goodwin/Artists: Walt Simonson & Klaus Janson
[Hey Look] Writer/artist: Harvey Kurtzman
I’d always been fascinated by the ads for this ill-fated teen entertainment mag put out by Marvel in the late 70s. It was the sort-of mag that promised young readers everything, but even as an impressionable child I just KNEW it would never deliver on that promise. Nearly 40 years later, I finally read a copy and I was surprised to find that I was wrong. Oh, sure, there are plenty of horrible features on celebs and “teen” activities clearly written from the perspective of 30-something Jewish New Yorkers, but how could I completely hate a mag that featured classic Stars Wars characters and art by Simonson AND a 1949 reprint of a Kurtzman one-pager? Add an out-of-the-box feature on New York’s legendary CBGBs (which managed to be both cool and uncool, especially when it referred to KISS as a “punk” band) and Pizzazz was a helluva lot better than I imagined.

27.-29. Dark Corridor #1-3 (Image, 2015) *****
Writer/Artist: Rich Tommaso
Fucking brilliant film noir-style comics from the creator of The Horror Of Collier County. I’m so glad I picked up this title.
30. 8house #4 (Image, 2015) ****
Writers: Fil Barlow & Helen Maier/Artist: Fil Barlow
Beautiful artwork and an intriguing storyline from Fil, an Australian comics legend of the 1980s. 8house hadn’t caught my interest in previous issues, but I’ll definitely buy the next instalment to see where Fil and Helen take us with this sci-fi fantasy yarn. I may even pick up the previous three issues as well.
31. Wild’s End: The Enemy Within #1 (BOOM!, 2015) ****
Writer: Dan Abnett/Artist: LNJ Culbard
Our heroes from the first arc are back and now they’re prisoners of the British Army, being held for “questioning”. So now we have HG Wells-style Martian aliens mashed up with X-Files-like paranoia. Very cool. Sadly, it’s too expensive to keep reading, so I’ll wait for the trade now.

ComicBlock comics for October:
32. Deadpool vs Thanos #1 (Marvel, 2015) ***½
Writer: Tim Seeley/Artists: Elmo Bondoc (interior); Tradd Moore & Mat Wilson (cover)
Not a big Deadpool fan but this was kinda funny.
33. Mad Max: Fury Road: Max #1 (Vertigo, 2015) **½
Writers: George Miller, Mark Sexton & Nico Lathouris/Artists: Mark Sexton (interior); Jim Lee (NerdBlock variant cover)
Okay parts, lame in others. I like how this comic works the original Mad Max trilogy into the history of the new film. This miniseries is actually a prequel to Fury Road and it starts strongly, but has a flat ending to the first issue. I see no need to buy the next issue (especially as it’s US$4.99 a copy).
34. Mirror’s Edge: Exordium #1 (Dark Horse, 2015) ***¼
Writer: Christofer Emgard/Artists: Mattias Haggstrom & Robert Sammelin (interior); Robert Sammelin (cover)
Sci-fi meets dystopian future meets parkour. Read worse.
35. Danger Girl: Renegade #1 (IDW, 2015) ***
Writer: Andy Hartnell/Artist: Stephen Molnar (interior); Juan N. Cabal (NerdBlock variant cover)
Nice good girl art by Molnar, but I’m not into Danger Girl.

36. Batman ’66 #27 (DC, 2015)
Writer: Jeff Parker/Artists: Scott Kowalchuk (interior); Michael Allred (cover)
Lucha libre! Bane! Santo! Mil Mascaras!
37. Paper Girls #1 (Image, 2015) ***½
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan/Artist: Cliff Chiang
Vaughan! The 80s! Newspapers! Aliens!
Meh...I’ll wait for the trade.
38. Tokyo Ghost #1 (Image, 2015) ***¾
Writer: Rick Remender/Artist: Sean Murphy
Seriously fucking good cyberpunk sci-fi yarn. Gruesome and disturbing as hell. I must get the next issue.
39. We Stand On Guard #4 (Image, 2015) ****¼
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan/Artist: Steve Skroce
40. Starve #5 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Brian Wood/Artist ;Danijel Zezelj
A bit of a flat ending to the first arc. I’ll get the next arc as a trade. I sense a theme in my comicbook-collecting from now on.
41. Nailbiter #16 (Image, 2015) ****¼
Writer: Joshua Williamson/Artist: Mike Henderson
42. Minimum Wage: So Many Bad Decisions #6 (Image, 2015) *****
Writer/artist: Bob Fingerman
Thus ends the next (and possibly final) arc to this tremendous series. Rob is such a fuck-up. He sure gets a lot of pussy though.
43. Southern Bastards #11 (Image, 2015) ****½
Writer: Jason Aaron/Artist: Jason Latour
44. Copperhead #9 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Jay Faerber/Artist: Scott Godlewski
45. Groot #5 (Marvel, 2015) ****
Writer: Jeff Loveness/Artists: Brian Kesinger (interiors); Declan Shalvey & Jordie Bellaire (covers)
46. Secret Identities #7 (Image, 2015) ***½
Writers: Jay Faerber & Brian Joines/Artist: Ilias Kyriazis
Another superhero yarn bites the dust at Image. At least loyal readers got an ending. It had some real promise, but comes across very rushed in this final instalment.
47.-51. Rat God HC (Dark Horse, 2015) ****
- originally published by Rat God #1-5 (Dark Horse, 2015)
Writer/Artist: Richard Corben
I had to buy a copy of this hard-copy book, even though I have digital copies of the original issues. Because you have to have Corben as hard copy to truly appreciate his greatness. Now, this Lovecraftian/Native American mythology mash-up isn’t particularly good – Corben’s weakness has always been his writing – but at age 75 his art is as powerful as ever. Beautiful, beautiful stuff.
Pity fans are getting bogged down by the whole self-censorship issue. If Corben wants to eliminate bald vagina from the collected edition, then that’s his right (as long as he wasn’t pressured into it by Dark Horse).
52. A Train Called Love #1 (Dynamite, 2015) ***¾
Writer: Garth Ennis/Artists: Marc Dos Santos (interior); Russ Braun (cover)
Not bad. I’ll wait for the trade now.
53.-58. Outcast Vol. 2: A Vast And Unending Ruin (Image, 2015) ****
- originally published in Outcast #7-12 (Image, 2015)
Writer: Robert Kirkman/Artist Paul Azaceta

59. KFC: The Colonel Of Two Worlds (DC, 2015) *
Writers: Shaine Edwards & Tony Bedard/Artists: Tom Derenick & Trevor Scott (interior); Tom Grummett & Trevor Scott (cover)
An horrific advertorial for KFC that I picked up for free from Comixology.com. An evil Colonel Sanders from Earth-3 comes to Earth-1 and teams up with Captain Cold and The Mirror Master to make bad chicken. Then the good Col. Sanders arrives to kick his arse and tell everyone why KFC makes the best fried chicken on Earth (or Earth-1, that is). The Flash and Green Lantern stand around looking impotent. Arguably the lamest superhero comic of the 21st century.
60. First Wave Special #1 (DC, 2011) ***½
Writer: Jason Starr/Artist: Phil Winslade (interior); JG Jones (cover)
61. Stray Bullets: Sunshine And Roses #8 (Image, 2015) *****
62. Doc Savage #14 (DC, 2011) **½
Writer: JG Jones/Artist: Qing Ping Mui (interior); JG Jones (cover)
63. CBLDF Liberty Annual 2015 (Image, 2015) ***
Writers/artists: various
The usual strident mix of good and not-so-good tales about censorship. Art Spiegelman’s one-pager – which was originally to be published in the Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer-edited “censorship” issue of New Statesman magazine earlier this year before it got dropped due to fears of an Islamic backlash – gets a run here and it’s the clear highlight.
64. Survivors’ Club #1 (Vertigo, 2015) ***¼
Writers: Lauren Beukes & Dale Halvorsen/Artists: Ryan Kelly (interior); Bill Sienkiewicz (cover)
65. The Twilight Children #1 (Vertigo, 2015) *****
Writer: Gilbert Hernandez/Artist: Darwyn Cooke
$4.99 for the first issue? Fuck me! Good thing this is just about the best new comic I’ve read in 2015. Gilbert rises above his usual overrated, mediocre self to deliver a strong script and Darwyn is fucking ON SONG. But damn! $4.99 an issue? Yeah...you guessed it, I’ll wait for the trade.

66.-67. The Fade Out #9-10 (Image, 2015) *****
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artist: Sean Phillips
Now things are getting good.
68.-69. The Spirit #3-4 (Dynamite, 2015) ****½
Writer: Matt Wagner/Artists: Dan Schkade (interior); Eric Powell (cover)
70. All-Star Section Eight #5 (DC, 2015) ****¼
Writer: Garth Ennis/Artist: John McCrea
71.-72. Invader Zim #3-34 (Oni Press, 2015) **** ½
Writer: Eric Trueheart & Jhonen Vasquez /Artists: Aaron Alexovich & Megan Lawton
This series is finally hitting its stride and reading like an episode of the old series. I genuinely found this issue funny.
73.-74. Revival #33-34 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Tim Seeley/Artist: Mike Norton (interior); Jenny Frison (cover)
75. Agents of Atlas #1 (Marvel, 2015) ****
Writer: Tom Taylor/Arists: Steve Pugh (interior); Leonard Kirk & Carlos Cabrera (cover)
I hate Secret Wars, but I loved this one-shot, even if they DID kill off Gorilla Man. I hoping that will be retconned once the series ends.
76. Astro City #28 (Vertigo, 2015) *****
Writer: Kurt Busiek/Artists: Gary Chaloner & Wade Von Grawbdger (interior); Alex Ross (cover)
Chaloner rules!
77. Villains For Hire #0.1 (Marvel, 2012) ***½
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning/Artists: Renato Arlem (interior); Patrick Zircher & Andry Troy (cover)
78.-83. Nevada #1-6 (Vertigo, 1998) ***
Writer: Steve Gerber/Artists: Phil Winslade & Steve Leialoha
A promising comic about a Las Vegas dancer and her pet ostrich battling a mobster with a lava lamp for a head while a bizarre serial killer butchers folk in a big Vegas casino. However, Vertigo falls apart under its trippy pretentiousness by the fourth issue. Pity.
84. Numb (self-published, 2006) ***½
Writer/Artist: Joshua Kemble
A cool tale about a lovelorn author with writer’s block looking for a new muse.
85. Odd Comics (Fanatic Press, 2009) *
Writer: Dan Burke/Artist: Dan Burke (interior); Dave Herring (cover)
Below-par sub-MAD magazine fare.
86. HMM? #1 (Altered Fates Entertainment, 2004) *
Writers/Artists: the usual gang of idiots
More wannabe MAD crap. Poorly printed, too.
87. Wavemakers #1 (Blind Bat Press, 1990) ***
Writers: various/Artists: various (interior); Brad W. Foster (cover)
A solid indie anthology featuring the likes of Foster, Matt Howarth and Bernie Mireault. The best story is a nasty post-apocalypse tale called “Civilized Stuff” by Earl Geier: murder, incest, cannibalism and more nastiness.
88. The Verdict #1 (Eternity Comics, 1987) **
Writer: Martin Powell/Artists: Dean Haspiel (interior); Howard Chaykin (cover)
Below-par superhero comic made slightly better by the Chaykin cover. It appears he’s signed this issue that I possess, so I guess I’ll hang onto it.
89. Ultra Klutz #1 (Onward Comics, 1986) DUD
Writer/Artist: Jeff Nicholson
A woefully horrible Ultraman/Godzilla pastiche. Really shithouse considering I’d heard such good things about this series many years ago.
90. Hi-Horse #3 (self-published, 2002) **
Writers/artists: various
Mixed bag of eclectic work in this patchy anthology. “A Turnip’s Progress”, Andrice Arps’ pastiche of 18th century cartoons (with spirally speech balloons and old-timey language), is easily the pick of the strips.
91. Nameless #5 (Image, 2015) ****
Writer: Grant Morrison/Artist: Chris Burnham
92. Dredd: Top Of The World, Ma-Ma (Rebellion, 2012) ****
Writer: Matt Smith/Artists: Henry Flint (interior); Greg Staples (cover)
A free promo comic I received at work promoting the new Dredd movie. Very cool as promos go.
93.-94. Oni Double Feature #4-5 (Oni Press, 1998) ****
“A River In Egypt” – writer/artist/cover: Bill Sienkiewicz (#4-5)
“The Return Of Cheetahman – writer/artist: Mike Allred (#4)
Bacon – writer/artist: Troy Nixey (#4)
“Zombie Kid” – writer/artist/cover: Jim Mahfood (#5)
“Double Feature” – writer/artist: Ed Brubaker (#5)
A great anthology featuring some tremendous contributors.
95. Thought Bubble 2012 (Image, 2012) ****
Writers/Artists: various
96. Marvel October Previews (Marvel, 2015) **½
Writers/Artists: various
Squirrel Girl...Karnak...Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. ... Yeah, I’m buying these trades.
97. Ray Bradbury Comics #1 (Topps, 1993) ***½
Writers/artists: various
Bradbury tales featuring incredible talent like Bill Stout, Antoni Garces, Richard Corben and Al Williamson. Corben’s tale is a modern retelling of Williamson’s original tale, reprinted from E.C. Comics.

AdHouse of fun
98. Supermag by Jim Rugg (AdHouse Books, 2013) ****
99.-100. Pope Hats #3-4 by Ethan Rilly (AdHouse Books, 2012-15) *****
101. The Secret Voice #1 by Zack Soto (AdHouse Books, 2005) ***½
102. Mort Grim by Doug Fraser (AdHouse Books, 2005) *****
103. UR by Eric Haven (AdHouse Books, 2014) *****
104. Skyscrapers Of The Midwest #4 by Joshua W. Cotter (AdHouse Books, 2007) ***¼
105. White Clay by Thomas Herpich (AdHouse Books, 2012) **

Read my blog review of these publications HERE.

The Strange World of John Jacobs
106. Far Frontier #1 (Madison Comics, 1984) unrateable
107.-108. Power Stars #1-2 (Madison Comics, 1985) unrateable

Read my blog review of these publications HERE.



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