Thursday, December 1, 2016

COMICS READING FOR NOVEMBER: “A five-star kinda month”

* NOW WITH STAR RATINGS (ala Wrestling Observer Newsletter PPV reports) *

*****     All-Star Superman, We3
****      New X-Men (the early issues), Batman Inc., Batman And Robin, Dare, Arkham Asylum
***        Zenith, Seven Soldiers
**         Final Crisis, Flex Mentallo
*           Marvel Boy
DUD (or lower) Nameless, later New X-Men and any of his hippy-dippy, pseudo-mystical crap

IT WASN’T meant to turn out like this, but I read ONLY great comics and graphic novels in November, and nearly all of them were FIVE STARS. How good is that? Let’s see what passed by my eyeballs...

1. Stray Bullets: Sunshine And Roses #19 (Image, 2016) *****
Writer/Artist: David Lapham
2. Hieronymus (Knockabout, 2015) *****
Writer/Artist: Marcel Ruijters
An “unauthorised” – yet thoroughly researched – biography on one of the great Dutch artists, Hieronymus Bosch, who captured Medieval hell on Earth in his frightening paintings. Mega-talented Ruijters captures Bosch’s everyday life, and it’s pretty horrible – but it provided plenty of inspiration for his horrific art.
3. Goldtiger (2000AD, 2016) *****
Writer: Guy Adams/Artist: Jimmy Broxton
This mock biography of an obscure, Modesty Blaise-style action strip from the 1960s is pure brilliance. Just read this article to get the full story about this fascinating project.

4. Get Jiro: Blood And Sushi (Vertigo, 2016) *****
Writer: Anthony Bourdain and Joel Rose/Artists: Alé Garza (interior); Dave Johnson (cover)
A prequel to equally brilliant Get Jiro from 2012.
5.-10. Southern Bastards Vol. 3: Homecoming (Image, 2016) *****
- originally published in Southern Bastards #9-14 (Image, 2015-16)
Writers: Jason Aaron (#9-11, 13-14); Jason Latour (#12)/Artists: Jason Latour (#9-11, 13-14); Chris Brunner (#12)
I’d already read four of these issues (because they took so damn long to come out I thought I’d avoided that particular reprint and had hit all-new issues. Wrong! Still, it was great to reread this whole chapter again in one hit. Amazing story. Some real bastards down south, y’all. Hey, we know that even better after the US election, right?
11. Belushi: On A Mission From God (One Peace Books, 2014-16) ****¼
Writer: Alberto Schiavone/Artist: Matteo Manera
My first non-five-star comic for the month, but still pretty damn good. I won’t say this graphic biography necessarily gives you a better understanding of the fast life and premature death of comic genius John Belushi, but at least you’ll have a feel for what he went through. Maybe it lost something in the translation from the Italian original. Manera’s art is scratchy in a John Lennon-kinda way, but it grew on me.
12. Catwoman: Election Night #1 (DC, 2016) ****½
(Catwoman) Writer: Meredith Finch/Artists: Shane Davis, Igor Vitorino and Michelle Delecki
(Prez) Writer: Mark Russell/Artists: Ben Caldwell and Mark Morales
I bought this for the final story in the prematurely-cut-short Prez series. But the Catwoman yarn was great, too – what with its allusions to Hillary Clinton AND President-elect Donald Trump.
13.-18. Nailbiter Vol. 5: Bound By Blood (Image, 2016) *****
- originally published in Nailbiter #21-25 and Nailbiter/Hack/Slash one-shot (Image, 2016)
Writer: Joshua Williamson/Artist: Mike Henderson

19. Rules Of Summer by Shaun Tan (Lothian, 2013) *****
This is fabulous.
20.-22. The Sixth Gun Book 9: Boot Hill (Oni Press, 2016) *****
- originally published in The Sixth Gun #48-50 (Oni Press, 2016)
Writer: Cullen Bunn/Artist: Brian Hurtt
23.-27. The Saviours (Image, 2016) *****
- originally published in The Saviours #1-5 (Image, 2016)
28. Attack On Titan Anthology (Kodansha Comics, 2016) *****
Writers/Artists: various
29. Murder by Remote Control (Dover, 2016) ****½
- originally published by Ballantine Books, 1986
Writer: JanWillem Van De Wetering/Artist: Paul Kirchner
30.-35. Huck Book 1: All-American (Image, 2016) *****
- originally published in Huck #1-6 (Image, 2016)
Writer: Mark Millar/Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
36.-40. Invader Zim Vol. 2 (Oni Press, 2016) *****
- originally published in Invader Zim #6-10 (Oni Press, 2016)
Writers/Artists: various
41. The Rattler (Image, 2016) *****
Writer: Jason McNamara/Artist: Greg Hinkle
I bought this graphic novel for Greg’s art, but Jason’s supernatural noir tale is gripping. I loved the tale, which reminded me a lot the original film version of The Vanishing.
42.-46. Power Man And Iron Fist Vol. 1: The boys Are Back In Town (Marvel, 2016) *****
- Power Man And Iron Fist #1-5 (Marvel, 2016)
Writer: David Walker/Artist: Sanford Greene (#1-4); Flaviano (#5)

47.-53. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 3: Squirrel, You Really Got Me Now (Marvel, 2016) *****
- originally published in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1-6 and Howard The Duck #6 (Marvel, 2016)
Writers: Ryan North with Chip Zdarsky (HTD #6)/Artists: Erica Henderson (SG #1-6), Joe Quinones and friends (HTD #6)
54.-58. Howard The Duck Vol. 1: Duck Hunt (Marvel, 2016) ****¼
- originally published in Howard The Duck #1-6 and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6 (Marvel, 2016)
Writers: Chip Zdarsky with Ryan North (SG #6)/Artists :Joe Quinones and friends (HTD #1-6); Erica Henderson (SG #6)
Obviously, I read HTD #6 and SG #6 the first time round, so I didn’t read them again.
This is a more poignant, nuanced HTD. Silly, yes – but sad, too. And it gets sadder in the next volume.
59.-63. Howard The Duck Vol. 2: Good Night, And Good Duck (Marvel, 2016) *****
- originally published in Howard The Duck #7-11
Writer: Chip Zdarsky /Artists: Kevin Maguire (#7); Joe Quinones and friends (#8-11)
With special guest stars...Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones...well, interstellar versions of them anyway. Did you know Howard’s life is being run by intergalactic creators, who throw all sorts of weird shit at him like The Collector and mentally unstable Sentinels? Yep, this final arc gets very meta as Chip and Joe deal creatively with the idea of a HTD series being cancelled...again. Very enjoyable if sad. Still, with a bit of luck, he’ll be back one day. Howard always comes back.
64.-68. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 4: I Kissed A Squirrel And I Liked It (Marvel, 2016) *****
- originally published in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7-11 (Marvel, 2016)
Writer: Ryan North /Artists: Erica Henderson and friends (#7-10), Jacob Chabot (#11)
Read this comic and learn more about counting with binary numbers and tree lobsters than you ever thought possible!
69. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up The Marvel Universe (Marvel, 2016) *****
Writers: Ryan North/Artists: Erica Henderson and friends
An original hardcover graphic novel because too much Squirrel Girl is never enough. This pisstake on The Punisher Kills The Marvel Universe sees Doreen get taken down by the only person powerful enough to do so: her evil clone. What happens when Bad SG (aka Allene) attempts to defeat every superhero and super-villain in the world? Well, she does so with ease. This novel is such a delight to read. Such a delight.

I honestly wondered whether kids would appreciate SG, despite seeing all those pix in the letters pages of young girls cosplaying as Doreen, because there was too much back story and SG history to take in. And then the other night I was looking for the graphic novel, turned around and found my nine-year-old daughter reading it. Jones quite liked it and is now reading Vol. 4 (yes, she’s reading the series backwards. So sue her). Anyway, despite not knowing anything about Doreen or her supporting cast, she thinks the series is “good”. So there you go.
WOW! I hit the minimum of 50 comics but didn't come close to 100. But who cares, quality trumps quantity every time. I read nothing less than four stars - that makes November the best month of comics reading I've ever had.