Planetary art by John Cassaday.
Planetary art by John Cassaday.
Reviews of Luthor Strode v.1, Avengers Arena v.1, Walking Dead v.18 & Happy v.1
Tribute to Trades made right: Locke and Key
Tribute to Trades made right: Locke and Key
Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Mike Wolfer
Here we go again, Garth Ennis, Avatar press, zombies…. blah blah blah. Do I really need another book like this in my life? Short answer, YES! Stitched isn’t just another zombie survival book. Full of stupid people aimlessly stumbling around in the dark trying to escape being bitten by the undead. Imagine Black Hawk Down meets Gravel and your a lot closer to the premise than “just another crossed.”
US Marines and a translator are on a mission to retrieve a squad of SAS soldiers stranded in Afghanistan. Before they even have a chance to start looking their helicopter crashes and most jump to safety. Almost immediately they are set upon by the mysterious stitched. Supernaturally reanimated undead, controlled by an ancient cult of Islamists, not that their fussed about the war or who they kill.
The way the Stitched are controlled makes things a little more difficult than just chopping off heads with an axe. Even for the battle hardened soldiers. After meeting up with the remnants of the SAS squad the book focuses on the Soldiers trying to make their way across ravaged desert in a desperate attempt to contact HQ and get evacuated. Although shortly becomes a hunt for an infamous human trafficker and takes more than a few twists by the superb ending.
Ennis is a big fan of military history and you can tell with this book how much he researches every detail of active service duty to bring you an ultra realistic view of modern soldiers, techniques and equipment. The characters are given plenty of room to breathe in the first few issues and you get to know them individually and really root for them as a rag tag team. The supernatural elements are fantastically written, even after all these years of zombie books the Stitched are really creepy and effective bad guys.
Was not familiar with Mike Wolfer’s art but can’t find a single fault. A lot of time has went into creating backgrounds and villages and the characters are instantly recognizable after introductions. He has done a superb job of capturing emotions, whether it’s terror on a local Arab Shepperd or the gritty determination in the soldiers faces.
If your a fan of Horror, Military or just good comics then pick this up, Ennis delivers yet again!
Batman & Robin: Batman Reborn
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Frank Quitely & Philip Tan
How do I admit the following without opening myself up to ridicule for being a moron? The truth is that when it comes to this comic I simply just don’t get it. Which is a crying shame as I genuinely am a big fan of both creators, not least because they are Scottish :)
I’m not the worlds biggest Batman fan so I am probably always going to be more critical of it than a character I love but I honestly went into this with an open mind as it’s been a bit of a cult hit. That’s the first reason I picked this book up with the second being just how damn nice the trade looked. I’ll buy almost anything if it is presented well. The only other positive thoughts I have towards it are that the art while Frank Quitely is in charge is superb. Dynamic chase sequences around a beautifully crafted Gotham and characters showing genuine emotions are just two of the highlights from Frank.
So what didn’t I enjoy about this book? How much time do you have? It’s like Grant wrote it drunk, the dialogue and character interactions are just awful. People seem to burst into sentences in the most unnatural way and conversations seem to just trail off with little explanation. Dick Grayson’s inner struggle between wanting to do Bruce proud while thinking he isn’t good enough to wear the mantle is beyond cliche and gets boring by page 3. I find Damien a little less offensive as at least he has the tiniest but of mystery to him, despite his actions almost always being fairly predictable there is still that element of the unknown.
These character portrayals are nothing compared to the villains. How could guys like The Pink Flamingo and Dr Pyg (that’s not how you spell pig, silly!) exist in a modern comic?It’s not like these are ridiculous, obscure villains reinvented for a modern age, they’re just ridiculous. Can’t work out if Pyg is just an all out insane bad guy with no motivation like the Joker etc. Or is he meant to be a crazy mad scientist e.g Doc Ock stylee? The script, bouncing all over the place like it does, unfortunately makes little effort to explain it either way. I don’t have the energy to start ranting about the Pink Flamingo, just google image him and try not to die inside.
Someone told me that it is an example of a “pop” comic. Which admittedly I had to google and research just what this entailed. Basically awful dialogue and everything camped up to the max. To be honest if I had known this I obviously wouldn’t of picked the book up and your eyes wouldn’t be bleeding reading all this. I suppose a giveaway should of been the best/worst blurb I have ever seen on the back of a trade. Simply the following. “Clever”
One more boot into this arc has to be Philip Tan’s art from issues #4 onwards. Only made worse by coming after Frank’s pages of beauty. He’s obviously tried to copy Frank’s style in an effort to keep the book fluid but it just comes across as a poor imatation.
Definitely going to take some grief over this review, I imagine the word “iconic” is going to come into play, but sorry guys. This is the worst comic I have read in 2013 and will be astounded if something manages to beat it.
Scalped volume 1.
Writer. Jason Aaron
Artist. R.M Guera
Been a big fan of Aaron’s work at Marvel for a few years now but was reluctant to pick up Scalped as I hadn’t heard a thing about it. Although in fairness the fact that it’s Vertigo and lasted 10 volumes should of been a giveaway to its immense quality.
So I always thought Noir stories were set in depression era America. But Scalped, possibly the finest example of Noir work i’ve read, is set on an Indian reserve in the modern day. I find that fascinating. Out with the main plot and characters Scalped acts as an incredibly detailed social study of the Native Americans and the role they play in todays modern, colonized US. Long story short, it’s depressing!
The book centres around Dashiel Bad Horse and his return to the “Rez” after more than a decade away. Having been sent away by his mother for his own good. Upon return he’s deputized by tribal leader Red Crow. A brilliant narrative device by Aaron as we get to know the Rez, its inhabitants and their quirks alongside Dash.
It would be far to spoilery to go into more of the story. It’s action packed to say the least. A heartbreaking story of family, poverty, corruption and racial divides. And if you see the final twist coming then I doth my cap to you as you’re much smarter and more handsome than myself.
Art is provided competently by R.M Guera although can be hard to distinguish characters from each other at times. More because of the messy Noir style as a lot of time has been spent on individual character design.(pretty much fixed by v2) Coloured with a very muted pallet that suits the story perfectly.
Please go buy Scalped so I have other people to talk to about it. I bought v1 last week and I’m on v6 already. It just keeps getting better!!!
As a kid I would devour any US comics i could get my hands on. Other “pursuits” in my teenage years soon made me forget all about them until one, day 6 years ago I was in HMV in Buchanan street and laid my weary old man eyes on this fantastic looking, massive Planet Hulk paperback. It was love at first sight. The book clearly stood alone outwith years of then, baffling continuity and appeared to about nothing more than the hulk smashing the shit out of an entire planet.
Upon completion I was sure of two things. I wanted to read more of Marvel’s comics and I wanted to read them in this collected format. This was my secret origin as trade waiter and I wanted to share the pros and cons of collecting comics this way with you beautiful people.
When I started to look at books on Amazon (eventually went with New Avengers v1 and Astonishing X-men v1) I never thought it possible that I would one day be waiting on Trades to come out. There is just so much to choose from.
Oh but it happens, a couple of years and a heavy amount of strain on my marriage later I was at volume 12 of New Avengers (and a couple of hundred other trades as well) and Siege was just coming out in singles. And here are where the cons start. If you are at all worried about spoilers then tradewaiting ain’t for you. If you find yourself getting a little OLD about your comics then trades turn you into a full fledged maniac, screaming at Marvel staff on Twitter because they changed the spine design half way through a series or collected some cap from the 70’s at the back of your new Thor trade and charge you twice the price. Personally I think Image, IDW, Darkhorse and Marvel make much nicer books than DC and spend more time thinking about how they work together.
Even with the aforementioned problems I still love collecting and displaying my trades. Not the best picture though. I’m the middle of moving them and building new shelf. I’ve got half as more again, out on loan. Trades make it a lot easier to get other people into comics. I dropped 16 volumes of The Walking Dead off to my dad and he read them in two days. I doubt he would of sat and done the same with one hundred single issues. People can take them to work or on the bus etc. Which greatly increases the chance of somebody actually reading them. You get to see a lot process work. Scripts, concept art, unused covers and often all the variant covers released with the included issues. Cost can vary wildly between issues and books but if you use Amazon you are still more like to save money buying TPB’s. Personally I think you should support a local comic shop if you have one but even I’m starting to get some books from amazon as I notice more and more coming into my comic shop at £19+.
I do collect some singles now, some things are just to good to wait for. Uncanny X-force, Hawkeye, most new no.1’s and most events as I’m a total sucker for big marketing. So I hope this rambling helps anyone thinking about starting a collection and if you’re a newbie or serious collector of trades and wanna chat spines hit me up on here or twitter @sciencepie. Finally!! What are you guys favourite collections? For me it has to be Locke & Keye. The books an artwork in itself!
What am I up to I hear you ask? Oh nothing much, just furiously masturbating to Leinil Yu’s Cover to Indestructible Hulk #5
Thoughts on Marvel NOW! (So far)
Being Marvels no 1 fanboy it’s fair to say I was more than a little excited for Marvels NOW! Relaunch. Seeing some of my favourite creators like Fraction, Remender and Hickman finish some of the most successful runs in modern comics and start fresh with new characters and teams. The repositioning of writers and artists teased by marvel was worthy of fangasms far and wide. I must admit however to being a little underwhelmed by the majority of the #1 issues so far. AvX was a good event as a whole but the ending and lead into the NOW (not a) reboot felt about as unnatural and editorally forced as it’s possible to be in comics.
There is, of course some absoloute stand out great titles. Waid and Yu’s Indestructible Hulk is probably at the the top of the list so far. Waid has built a career on doing something different with characters and Hulk is no exception, clearly working off his unexpected popularity from the latest Avengers movie he’s bringing him back into the main MU proper for the first time since the pre Greg Pak era and working hard on the often forgotten character of Bruce Banner as well. Two other hits for me have been Aaron’s Thor and Hickman’s Avengers. The first being as close to a heavy metal ballad as it’s possible for a comic to be and the latter reeks of Hickman’s trademark big picture, long story, style and is clearly going to reward long term readers. The title that has caught me most by surprise has been the new Deadpool, a character I had pretty much giving up on reading during Daniel Way’s run and his general 5 year over saturation. The new book is beautifully drawn and delightfully written in a way that returns Deadpool to being a title that is funny for its humour and not just ridiculousness.
So these titles obviously make the pull, Deadpool and Avengers in singles and the rest I will trade. I was really disappointed with Kieron Gillen’s Iron Man. I couldn’t believe it’s yet another Iron Man arc that has started with the old “bad guys using stark tech for bad guy stuff” cliche that every single Iron Man story I’ve ever read has. Not to mention Greg fucking Land and his inability to draw more than one kind of face. Remender on Captain America was another book That was keeping me awake at night with girlish excitement and while Romita’s art was stronger than has been for years, the story was confusing, pointless and dull.
The next disappointment might cause a fight as I’ve heard a lot of people on the twitters speak of nothing but love for it. uncanny Avengers, the misunderstood poster child of Marvel NOW. I’m one of those X fans who likes the X-Men in their own little corner of the MU, doing X-Men things. Cassidy’s art is nowhere near as good as his Astonishing hey day and most of his costumes are just mental. Reminders concepts are pretty cool and might work better on something like X-Force but I’m really struggling with the stupid henchman, unmotivated villain and inane character banter on this flagship title plus a lot of it directly contradicts the whole point of AvX. I admit to being a little more intrigued by issue 2 so I’m willing to keep buying through the first arc.
Obviously NOW has only just begun and like I say I’m underwhelmed but by no means calling it a failure, if anything I’m clearly in the minority anyway. Still looking forward to Gillen’s Avengers Academy, a book which will definitely lean to his strengths as a writer and Slott’s Superior Spider-Man will be worth looking into. I expect over the first year things will shuffle about and find there feet much like it has in DC’s new 52. Still a great time to be reading comics!
Y the last man TPB covers from Vertigo
Locke and key #6
It’s that time of week again. Independent creator owned small comics publishing promotion time! ICOSCPP is what the kids are calling it!
This week it is my absoloute pleasure to bring you something more than a little special from Gordon Robertson, writer @slackergordon and Cuttlefish, artist @CuttlefishComic
Hilariously detailing both creators lifes as they deal/dealt with the news that would leave most men broken and proving that laughter (and actual medicine) is the best medicine.
Check it out guys and as always please reblog and share the love for small indy comics!
I’m sure the boys would also want me to share the following from their site.
Here’s some links for info and advice
Only one piece of advice I can offer..
Don’t ignore the signs. If you do, it may kill you….what part of that don’t you get?
Really looking forward to volume 2 of Fraction’s Defenders. One of the more interesting books out in the last couple of years