Saturday, 22 October 2011

Issue #7: Ordering the burger nobody ever orders.

Hey all!  The pile of comics I have waiting to be read is almost scary, with my weekly pull list exceeding what I’ve been able to keep up with.  I’m still reading the third volume of the Bendis/Maleev Daredevil run, but I’m taking a break to read and review some DC number twos.  I’m not reviewing everything I’m reading or I’ll never get through it, but aside from those below I’ll give a quick mention to two other titles, simply because my opinion seems to differ with most critics. 

Firstly, there’s many putting the boots into Hawk & Dove, almost to a point where it’s considered the 52’s arsehole.  I just don’t think it’s that bad.  Maybe I like Liefeld’s art more than most.  Maybe I’m just not that jaded.  Yeah, Hawk’s a jerk, but it’s kinda funny.  Someone must be reading it, yeah?  Well it turns out that someone is me.  I’m a sucker for an underdog, so I’ll keep getting it for now.

Then there’s Action Comics.  The only opinion I’ve really encountered on this one is from Noncanonical, and they love it.  But I just can’t cop a Superman that threatens to break necks.  Superman’s absolute incorruptibility is his most enduring trait.  Superman is what all of humanity should aspire to be.  Take that away, and he’s just another powered up me or you, endlessly repeated in a thousand titles from any publisher on the racks.  This Superman is a prick, and it’s a wall I can’t get over to accept anything else Action may be offering.
I suppose there had to be one of these that everyone hated and I liked, and another everyone liked that I hated.  At least it spices up the blog a bit, eh?
I read some good stuff tonight, so on with the sharing of goodness…

Batwing #2   I’m proud to report that Batwing continues to impress me with it’s second offering, and looks to be a title I’ll stick with for a while.  The hardcore violence continues courtesy of machete swinging freak Massacre, while Batwing hits Bat-beats by ignoring physical recuperation to kick bad guy butt.  I’d like to see Batwing’s character and personal motivations fleshed out in future issues but for now this is pure adult superheroey goodness.  Love this art style, and love the blank canvas that “Africa’s Batman” can offer.  If you haven’t had a peek at Batwing yet it’s well worth a look.

O.M.A.C. #2   There’s an old school charm about O.M.A.C. that I can’t help but like.  Not that it looks like an old comic, but there’s these wonderful tinges of the golden age in some of the artwork, and some pages are divided simply into six square panels.  Add to this the subtle nods to 1960s Hulk and it seems I’m on to a little winner.  If that’s not enough, there’s a few touches of The X-Files to suck you in: a huge shadowy organisation, a self aware satellite using O.M.A.C. as it’s own personal errand boy, paranoia soaked messages from the satellite on random electronic screens, and genetic experimentation.  I had a feeling I should give this one a chance, and there’s really nothing in the new DC stable like it.

Swamp Thing #2   There’s a lot to like about Swamp Thing.  The shock horror angle will appeal to many.  The natural/psychedelic art and panel style will sway others.  But the strength of this book is the writing.  Scott Snyder understands how to make a reader want more, by filling the story with questions, and combining the explanations that are provided with ambiguity.  This reminded me of early Spawn where each revelation merely led to another layer of mystery.  The cover is beautiful too, echoing everything I liked about the front of the first issue, and I hope the theme continues.  I’d like to see Swamp Thing have a long run, because it’s going to be worth it.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Issue #6: The burger with "a goddamn nail" stuck in it.

I've had a mini break from this blog this week.  Having torn through and reviewed fifty two comics I've been taking a back seat and reading old Daredevil at a leisurely pace.  I also read Holy Terror, and have been holding back for a few days before writing about it.  Unlike my other reviews which I usually write within five minutes of reading the last page, I really wanted to chew this one over a little more carefully.

Frank Miller’s Holy Terror   Frank Miller’s Sin City was a masterpiece, an iconic slice of pulp, stained with sleaze, violence, and unique visual style.  It’s a huge favourite of mine, so when I saw Frank Miller had something new out I picked it up without hesitation.  The thing is, I’m still not sure what to make of Holy Terror.

The story begins with cat burglar Natalie Stack being pursued over rooftops by a man called The Fixer.  Her capture bizarrely culminating in a lustful embrace, the moment is shattered by a massive terrorist nailbomb.  What follows is a total orgy of revenge and over-the-top violence as The Fixer and Natalie torture, shoot and kill their way into the heart of the terrorist’s lair.
Firstly, a little background:  Holy Terror began as a Batman / Catwoman story, but without DC’s blessing some changes had to be made.  The problem is that apart from The Fixer being Batman with guns there is little to discern these two characters from their DC counterparts, in fact the similarities are glaringly obvious to the point where it becomes difficult to accept the story for what it is.  Natalie has sharp claws.  The Fixer has a cape.  Try not just mentally drawing pointy ears on their costumes as you flip through.

The whole war on terror theme can be somewhat confronting, with one particular torture scene blurring who the good guys really are, and the book is culturally insensitive at the best of times: “Jihad!” screams an attacker strapped with explosives, “Gesundheit”  replies The Fixer as he kicks him over the side of a building.  Still, they’re suicide bombing teenage hangouts and blowing up statues of liberty, so fuck ‘em, right?  Having seen Bush’s relentless pro-“War On Terror” propaganda on every news channel for years after the September 11 attacks, I’m not really convinced.

But this is Frank Miller.  It should be bold and brash, we should expect bad attitude, and there shouldn’t really be any good guys, right?  Is Holy Terror the conservative viewpoint gone wild, or a commentary on that very viewpoint itself?  Represented are voiceless faces of politicians and media personalities like a flashback of every moment TV had to say about that surreal day, as if all that opinion had no consequence after all.  This was probably my favourite part of the book.

Politics and controversy aside, this is a visual feast for fans of Miller’s artwork.  Silhouetted bomb shrapnel in the form of nails and razor blades rain on the reader from the pages.  Sharp stroked shards of ink add intensity, pain or speed to scenes, every jump death-defying, every punch a jawbreaker.  Ultimately you’ll get the most out of this if you pick it up for the visuals and treat the content as an interesting side-point.

- Jem

Monday, 3 October 2011

Issue #5: The Death Of Point Ones On Comic Burger

Wow!  I’ve just read the remaining issues in DC’s 52, and while there have been a few misses, generally this has been a very entertaining month in comics.  The 52 have also sold shitloads, which is great for the comic industry at a time when sales were much needed.  I’ve read stuff I would normally never have bothered with, discovered talent I’ve never heard of, expanded my knowledge of the DC universe and blown more cash on comics in a thirty day period than I ever thought sane. 
If you’ve read all of these reviews you’ll notice I’ve already committed to quite a few issue #2s, and while I may not review them all I’ll endeavour to follow up on what I’ve started here enough to keep it interesting.  Ah fuck it, maybe I will write something on all of them.  I’ve had fun doing it.
Alright, here’s the last of my 52 reviews.  Enjoy.  And buy All Star Western because it’s shit hot.

The Fury Of Firestorm #1   While there’s not much here for me to get sucked into buying issue #2, there are some points worth making about this one.  Firstly, writer Gail Simone seems to understand that stories written about teenagers don’t have to be written for teenagers, and some of the problems I had with Blue Beetle and Static Shock are nowhere to be seen here.  The frustrations of the characters, while teenage in nature, are believable.  There’s a nasty team of goons slaughtering their way to the source of Firestorm’s power, and an almost unseen corporate nasty pulling the strings.  Could have potential but I’m overloaded with stuff right now so I’ll let this slip through the cracks.


Green Lantern: New Guardians #1   This is more confusing and requires more visits to Lanternpedia than the other Lantern books I’ve savaged.  The strange thing is I like New Guardians.  Perhaps it’s because at this point my expectations were lowered, so I could just get on with it.  The cover basically gives away the last page, and I want to know where it will go.  Why does a ring from each corps converge on Kyle?  Will there be some allegiance between these characters?  Will I regret caring?  By the way, Lanternpedia is not a real website, but considering how confusing the Green Lantern backstory is for new readers, it fucking should be.

I, Vampire #1   Not too shabby at all, this one.  Initially a little confusing as to what’s-happening-when, due in no small part to some very heavy ink work that hides facial features to the point of making characters unrecognisable, but it ties together halfway through.  There’s a nice reference to super heroes too that gently reminds you this book is still a part of the DC Universe, and that what’s happening in Superman, while not really relevant to proceedings here, is still based in the same world.  Great artwork by Andrea Sorrentino reminded me a little of Szymon  Kudranski’s recent work on Spawn, which I love.  Well worth a look.


Justice League Dark #1   It’s very early days for this team, and if you’re interested in where it’s going you may want to hold off for the trade.  Character introductions are very brief, and their motivations for teaming up feel like they could be four or five issues away.  I’ve put the boots into other issues in the 52 for needing their hand held by Batman.  Justice League Dark features Bats again, and Superman, Wonder Woman and Cyborg all join in too.  There’s actually more of the Justice League team in this than some of the characters that belong to this book (or in Justice League #1 for that matter).  And if one more character says anything about Shade’s vest I’ll scream.  Not for me.

The Savage Hawkman #1   Written by Tony S. Daniel and drawn by Philip Tan, there’s decent reason to pick up The Savage Hawkman based on the attached talent alone.  Science collides with the supernatural, indeed there seems to be an air of X-Files all over this until we actually get to Hawkman being Hawkman, with a beginning that works like a TV pre-credits sequence, followed by a plot about alien artifacts and the shit hitting the fan.  It’s not going to set the world on fire but it’s fun enough to check out.

Superman #1   ***WARNING! SPOILERS!***  Superman was the one DC title I was collecting before the 52, and really just because, you know, it’s Superman!  I was enjoying it to a point, but this book just got so much better with the relaunch!  It begins with the analogy of the demolition of the old Daily Planet building to make way for the new fancy tower, and there’s discussion about the future of print media I also found interesting when comparing it to what’s going on with comics lately.  Superman faces a threat in the form of an alien fire monster, which while shrouded in mystery origin and motivation wise, acts as a device for Supes to do what he does best, the true victory being a personal one when Clark Kent gets front page for writing about it, sticking it to digital media in style.  I would have collected this anyway, but Superman is shaping up to be a much improved title and a top 5 in the 52 for me.  I like it much more than Action Comics too.

Teen Titans #1   Of all the team books in the 52, Teen Titans is a cut above.  It echoes Justice League in that we are only introduced to half of the team within one issue, but crap like Legion Lost shows how introducing everyone immediately can fall flat fast.  Red Robin takes centre stage here, and the story ties into Superboy #1 quite nicely.  Artist Brett Booth has drawn a sweet looking superhero book that deserves to be on your pull list, and if my best friend wasn’t already intending to collect this, I definitely would (I’ll just read his).  Teen Titans is looking the goods.

Voodoo #1   Given the recent accusations of some titles in the 52 about their attitudes towards women you could be forgiven for dismissing Voodoo for more of the same shit right from page one.  The whole thing is pretty much set in a strip club.  Give it a go though, because there’s a little more going on.  Besides, there’s also a strong female character in Agent Fallon, who’s smart and tough, and the character with the most to offer so far in this book.  I like where this one is going.  I’ll have a look at the next issue.

Thanks again.

- Jem