* NOW WITH STAR RATINGS (ala Wrestling Observer Newsletter PPV reports) *
NEW! HOW I RATE THE COMICS VIA THE GRANT MORRISON SCALE
***** All-Star Superman, We3
**** Zenith, New X-Men (the early issues), Batman Inc., Batman & Robin, Dare, Arkham Asylum
*** 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
LET ENGLAND SHAKE
1.-8. TV Action + Countdown #69, 70, 76, 81, 83-84, 88-89 (IPC, 1972) **½
Writers: unknown/Artists: Gerry Haylock, Frank Langford and friends
An interesting mix of TV dramas – Dr Who (with the Jon Pertwee version), Hawaii Five-0 and The Persuaders! – and the Gerry Anderson animated shows like Thunderbirds, Stingray and Captain Scarlet. Lovely art but the stories are pretty dull (except for Dr Who, I guess).
9. Battle Picture Weekly Summer Special (IPC, 1978) **
10.-14. Battle-Action Jan. 21, Feb. 4-11, June 3-10 (IPC, 1978) **½
Writers: unknown/Artists: Carlos Ezquerra and friends
When Action folded, it merged with the more successful Battle, so the best strips from the more violent Action were watered down (Dredger and Hellman) or altered to be more war-like (Spinball became Spinball Wars) and brought in to accompany regular Battle strips like The Sarge, Joe Two Beans, Major Eazy (a Clint Eastwood rip-off) and Johnny Red. The writing wasn’t good and was kinda formulaic. Series after series would start off with a group of characters (each one usually defined by one gimmick) and they would get killed off one by one till there was only the lead character left. Hell, there were THREE strips with that same angle in this run: Spinball Wars, Johnny Red and The Sarge. But the art – especially Ezquerra’s work – was outstanding in each issue.
15. Fantastic #30 (Power, Sept. 9, 1967) ***
16. Terrific #37 (Power, Dec. 23, 1967) ***
17. Pow! and Wham! #59 (Power, March 2, 1968) ***
18. Smash! and Pow! incorporating Fantastic #147 (Power, Nov. 23, 1968) ***
19.-22. The Mighty World Of Marvel #2, 7, 98, 100 (Marvel UK, 1972-74) ***
Writers: Stan Lee and friends/Artists: Jack Kirby and friends
England reprinted Marvel, but it didn’t really gel in the weekly anthology format. Thor, Spider-Man, Hulk, Fantastic Four, The Avengers... they’re made for monthlies.
23.-28. The Best of 2000AD Monthly #99-100, 103-105, 110 (Fleetway, 1993-94) ****¼
Writers: Grant Morrison, Alan Grant, Pat Mills and friends/Artists: Steve Yoewell, Simon Bisley, Kevin O’Neill and friends
Classic A.B.C. Warriors, Torquemada, Judge Anderson and Zenith action.
29.-34. 2000AD #668, 670, 792-794, 796 (Fleetway, 1990-92) ****
The best and worst of this legendary anthology. The best? Zenith and a great crossover of Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog. The worst? Kola Kommandos really sucked.
35. Starlord (IPC, Sept. 16, 1978) ***
Honestly, back then, I preferred Starlord over 2000AD. Strontium Dog and Ro-Busters eventually jumped to 2000AD, with the latter morphing into A.B.C. Warriors.
AND ONE FRENCH SERIES (ALTHOUGH REPRINTED IN ENGLAND):
36.-38. The Chimera Brigade Vols. 1-3 (Titan Comics, 2014-15) ***¾
- originally published as La Brigade Chimerique (L'Atalante, 2009-2010)
Writers: Fabrice Colin and Serge Lehman/Artist: Gess
Pre-war super-heroics with a distinct Gallic sensibility. Delicious.
FLOGGING A DARK HORSE
39. Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire (Dark Horse, 2017) *****
Writer: Neil Gaiman/Artist: Shane Oakley
40.-41. Dead Inside #1-2 (Dark Horse, 2016-17)
Writer: John Arcudi/Artist: Toni Fejzula
42.-43. Shadow On The Grave #1-2 (Dark Horse, 2016-17)
Writer/Artist: Richard Corben
44. Codo in The Legend Of The Golden Taco (self-published, 2012) ***½
45. Codo: Adventures in Flandersland (self-published, 2013) ***½
Writer/Artist: Nicola Hardy
Delightfully fluffy stories by one of my favourite zinesters. Check out more of Nicola’s work at http://secret-envelope.tumblr.com/ and follow her on Twitter (@secretenvelope).
46. Mini Comix Double Shot: Dope Fiend Monkey/Mini Monsters And Super Oddballs (Almost Normal Comics, 201?) ***
47. Legends of Midget Wrestling (Almost Normal Comics, 201?) ****
Writer/Artist; Warren E. Elliott
Some unique, cleverly designed, informative and funny mini-comix from WEE. I especially loved Legends of Midget Wrestling with its beautifully brief bios of Little Beaver, Darling Dagmar, Sky Low Low and Diamond Lil. I heartily recommend these publications. Head to www.almostnormalcomics.com for details. Or email Warren at email@example.com.
SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMETHING NEW
48.-57. The Private Eye HC (Image, 2015) *****
- first published online (Panel Syndicate, 2013-14)
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan/Artist: Marcos Martin
Hit the Parramatta Library and found some awesome stuff there. I was gonna spend some serious coin to buy The Private Eye online, but the first thing I saw when I walked into the graphic novel section was this title. I read it and loved it – the idea of everybody in society having masked identities in a post-internet world was amazing as it deals with privacy issues that are so prevalent right now. This was first published as a webcomic, but the deluxe Image hardcover release is pretty lush, although a bit awkward to read in the horizontal format. Marcos Martin’s artwork reminded me a lot of the decadent line work of the late Guido Crepax. That’s a GOOD thing.
58.-63. The Trial Of Captain America (Marvel, 2011) **¾
- first published in Captain America #611-615, 615.1 (Marvel, 2010-11)
Writer: Ed Brubaker/Artists: Daniel Acuña (#611); Butch Guice and Stefano Gaudiano with friends (#612-615); Mitch Breitweiser (#615.1)
I’d long been curious about this arc (especially after enjoying Brubaker’s “Death Of Captain America” arc), but this was just...STUPID. Promising start and a great idea, but just horribly executed in the end. The art was nice, though.
64. Batman: Noël (DC, 2011) ***
Writer/Artist: Lee Bermejo
Lee’s art in this stand-alone hardcover is gorgeous. Just beautiful. Five stars. Which, thankfully, makes up for his writing, which is BEYOND SHIT. Torturous, laboured, lame. Stick to drawing, Lee, and don’t worry your pretty little head about the words in future.