Thursday, 29 August 2013

Issue #32: Superbarking for diversity!

The blog is a bit DC heavy.  I admit that.  It’s a direct reflection of my comic reading habits.  So I’d just like to go on record that I think IDW and Dark Horse put good stuff out too, and some of the Image stuff these days is really top notch.  Note to self: read more Image.
I’ve taken my neglectful blogging habits into account this week in an effort to help even things up a bit.  The scoresheet for number of reviews this week reads:

          DC:                         1
          Marvel:                    2
          Image:                     2
          Dark Horse:           1

I really should have picked up something from IDW too.  Some of their licenses are pretty sweet.  Maybe next time.  For now, enjoy a somewhat more diverse Comic Burger.

Ten Grand #4   I fell in love with the artwork of Ben Templesmith last year when I picked up Fell, so when I noticed he had a new title, written by J. Michael Straczynski, I picked it up knowing I’d be on to something good.  Ten Grand is part angry modern noir, part supernatural horror, and echoes the sort of heaven versus hell stuff I’ve always liked about Spawn.  There’s even a love story that serves as the main characters motivation.  Joe is a private investigator of sorts for the downtrodden, and he’ll take any job for ten thousand dollars.  If Joe is killed, he gets to see his girlfriend, Laura, in heaven for five minutes before he returns to life on earth.  The real hook here for me is all the sigil magic stuff he’s into, and the background he narrates to us on how demons, angels and ghosts all work.  This issue sees things take a worse turn for Joe as his investigations lead to the conclusion that there is a hole in heaven, and Laura may be in horrible danger in the afterlife.  The story is compelling enough, but it’s the unique art style that is the real hook.  Templesmith’s work conveys a deep gloomy mood that breathes a sick form of life into some of society’s darkest corners, creating strong contrast when the near-neon magic lights jump off the page.  Well worth a look.

Spawn #234   I’ve been waiting for the right issue of Spawn to come along so I could write something about it here.  Spawn was the first comic I seriously collected, and short of a gap of about fifteen issues, I’ve picked them up and backtracked to build a collection in the making since 1995, so to ignore this labour of love on my blog for so long seems almost weird.  But here’s the thing: Spawn has almost dripfed it’s details all this time, the only event issues really being every fiftieth (#50,#100, #150, etc.).  Spawn is a slow burn that expects you to remember details from years ago, because everything happens for a reason and fits into the big picture somewhere along the line.  I’ve actually been saving up about a year’s worth of issues, then smashed through them this week, and I have to say it’s the best way to read it.  At 234 issues, if you haven’t been onboard all this time (and I’m the only person I know who has) you can get them all now in an impressive set of matching trade paperbacks (with remastered colours too, I believe).  For those who once read Spawn, it’s a bit of a different beast now, all but shedding it’s superhero feel for something different in tone, if not theme, thanks to the beautiful digital artwork of Szymon Kudranski.  Fans from the Capullo era may delight, as I did, in The Curse featuring in this issue, and an appearance by Haunt as well, and with these two super violent characters in the same space it gets pretty red and splashy.  Love it.  Always have.

Secret Avengers #7   Sorry Marvel, but I’m going to have to give Secret the chop.  I began with this title in its first volume because I like the mish-mash team with not-Captain America Steve Rogers at the helm.  I liked it even more once Captain Britain joined and brought sci-fi with him, and I will always remember fondly the dream run this book enjoyed when Warren Ellis took over for six issues.  Then along came Marvel Now, and a confusing reboot.  Now I liked the first issue where the premise was set up about the operative having their memories changed so as not to remember the details of the black ops missions they were conducting, and to me that’s where I thought the meat of the story was going to come from.  But it’s been a wasted opportunity, replaced by SHIELD politics and confusing details, and this issue is guilty in spades.  Add to that the Hulk-in-armour thing which makes no fucking sense at all.  Why would Hulk have armour?  It’s like riveting some plastic hockey armour to a tank.  And it looks bad, like Bruce Banner was sitting in a silver Ford Fiesta and hulked out with some of it still stuck around him.  I’m not even sure why he turns up with a bunch of patriot robots and everything blows up here either.  Taskmaster is in there too, always thought he was a shit character.  And Hawkeye’s here, but take my advice, if you want a good Hawkeye book, buy Hawkeye.  Grrr, arrrgh!!!!  Fuck, it’s such a mess.  I’m sorry, but that’s one less Marvel title I’m picking up, and that leaves not many at all.  Actually, I’m not sorry.  Marvel owes me an apology.

Killjoys #1   Gerard Way’s The Umbrella Academy didn’t quite do it for me the way it did for some people.  Still, it was enjoyable enough and I thought I’d take a punt on his current project, Killjoys.  Usually a trek into unknown comic territory is worth it, but I was lost here.  Is it tied into some musical project I’m not aware of?  Is there some grounding I’m supposed to have?  Because it seems this one’s for teenagers only.  Maybe I’m too old and angry, but I called bullshit on a post apocalyptic refuge in the desert where a bunch of teens hang out and play video games.  The draculoid’s masks that turn what you see into horrible illusion were cool, but I guess I require a little more (or any) background on the characters before I can invest in this many being introduced at once.  It’s been ages since I bought anything from Dark Horse.  Maybe I’d be better off with something Star Wars, but sorry kids, I’ll be treading a little more cautiously with gambles on new stuff in future, Killjoys ruined the party for me.

Trinity Of Sin: Pandora #1   This comic is hardly going to set the world on fire, but as a corner of the DC 52 universe, particularly around mini-series event time, it looks like Pandora will be important.  The art and story are serviceable, and this first issue, billed as a “Prequel To Trinity War” does it’s job nicely enough.  I got a better kick out of its ties to the Shazam story that featured in the back half of Justice League this year, and obviously if you want to get a third tier new character off the ground, tying it into existing continuity convincingly is the way to go.  Look, it’s not awesome, it’s not shit if you are invested in what DC are doing, but I probably wouldn’t continue with it unless it serves as a book to tie up the threads in the New 52.  This was one of the number ones I missed (that’s all of them caught up with now, I believe) and I had to settle for a second printing as the initial run sold out quite quickly, so there must be a few folks down for it.

Venom #39   Whoa, Venom’s heating up!  A bit of background: a student of Flash Thompson’s named Andi figured out her teacher is Venom, but before he had a chance to talk to her, Venom’s chief pain-in-the-arse Jack O Lantern attacked Andi and murdered her father.  To protect Andi, Venom shared part of the symbiote with her.  In this issue, we learn Venom is unable to call the Andi symbiote back, and he has to do his best to reel in a teenage girl Venom who has just witnessed her father’s murder.  Okay, it might sound a little gimmicky, but I’m finding it a lot of fun.  I’m happy to see Marvel sit on this plot for a while, I can see the whole unruly student/imperfect teacher story branching off into plenty of directions.  Venom has been a bit up and down, much like most of the Marvel stuff (see above), but it’s on a bit of a hot streak here and I’m looking forward to where it will go.

Thanks kids.  DC villain's month is right around the corner!  I wonder how those 3D covers will scan...

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Issue #31: The burger that moos at you.

I’ve happened across a couple of other Burger themed blogs this week.  I can hardly bitch about them too much, as shortly after creating this blog I realised it shared a name with a burger joint in Brooklyn, but given that it’s half a planet away and that this blog is meat free, coupled with the fact that no-one seemed to give a shit, I’m happy to accept the coincidence.

The first one is Comics Burger.  At least, I think it’s a blog, but so far all I can turn up is a facey page that’s locked up tight on info until I become a friend.  It seems to be in South America, and seems to have very little to do with actual comics, apart from a couple of photos from cons.  The other one, well…. I’ll not name it here because it shares my home city (God forbid I start some kind of blog war, because I would likely lose utterly).  It gets a million more hits than mine.  Despite the theme in common it’s a world away from what I offer.  The woman that writes it is way cuter than me, and has more energy in a ten minute youtube vid than my headache prone, hockey jersey wearing butt can muster in a six month period.

What I do here is really from a very tired person’s perspective.  I write it in the hopes that a few of you out there can relate.  I mostly read comics about superheroes because I’m jaded from living in a world where we have the Illuminati in place of the Justice League (last time I mentioned the Illuminati the post rated pretty hot, so I thought I’d put it out there again).  The whole nerd culture explosion of recent years seems to be pretty overblown, loud and obnoxious to me.  I’d frankly rather stay at home and read comics.

So if you are satisfied with the scribblings of a thirty-something (fuck, alright, thirty six) reading comics in the western suburbs in between coffee and cigarettes, swearing and inventing tortures for creative teams that fall short, while telling you that Grant Morrison, Greg Capullo and Marc Silvestri are some of the greatest people alive, then welcome aboard and welcome back.  For those of you that just visit to copy and paste my scans, fuck it, you guys are cool too.

Threshold  Presents The Hunted #1   This one of those number ones that passed me by earlier in the year, however now that I’ve tracked it down and read it it appears the universe was trying to tell me something.  The initial premise of an intergalactic Running Man seems to be enough to build something potentially fun and/or crazy on, but it’s a wasted opportunity here.  The characters are twats.  The dialogue is at times indecipherable.  And in an effort to exclude me from plausibly investing myself in the story, there’s another fucking human Green Lantern.  Or Ex-Green Lantern.  Some backstory may have actually interested me a little, but nope.  This comic should have been cool, but it’s a mess.  There’s a Larfleeze “issue zero” of sorts tacked on the end that’s much better.  Hopefully writing these back to back, Keith Giffen learned that if you are going to make your characters be buttholes, make them funny buttholes.

The Movement #1   Another first issue that has taken a little while to get around to, however this one was much more enjoyable.  The Movement seems to be some sort of flipside to Green Team, as the setting is a destitute and rough end of town – dark alleys, corrupt cops and street kids.  As an additional flipside to Green Team, it’s also good.  There’s a formula to the issue ones I have enjoyed, and it’s that there needs to be questions about the story for the reader to be interested in enough to buy the next issue (and the next and the next, goddamnit) for the answers, especially stories like this that are away from the Justice League characters.  Gail Simone has nailed this, and although I don’t have room for it I’m seriously considering adding this to my monthly list.  There’s another reason though: the artwork Freddie Williams II has a nice Capullo influence in some parts, suitable to the material that for me conjured early Spawn in style and tone.  I liked it.  Fuck it, I’m going to start buying it.

Batman Incorporated #13   Grant Morrison’s Batman Incorporated, the only book to truly survive the cull that made way for DC’s 52.  Returned from the Lazarus pit, the story was allowed to play out in the new universe until it’s final issue this month.  Batman Inc. even busted into mass media when Damian Wayne met his horrible end, and while that was arguably the apex of the story, there’s still enough violence, shock and cows to keep a smile on your face before it goes out of business.  In a way, I view this book as a Talia story, and Morrison presents her as everything she should be: sexy, evil, and absolutely twisted by her own sense of destiny, and she’s never stooped lower in her pursuit of that destiny than in the pages of this book.  It’s almost as if it’s not enough for her to just win (she could probably do that quite easily), but her victory must also be a grand tale of conquest, perhaps why she throws Batman one of her swords to duel her to the end, rather than just butchering him with both of them.  Morrison finishes with an epilogue that provides the League Of Shadows with a new nefarious plan, perhaps to give himself a re-entry point should he decide to return to the character, perhaps to throw one of the keys to the Bat-kingdom on the ground to see who’ll pick it up.  Batman Incorporated has been the Bat-universe’s messy genius little brother who refused to go away, and I look forward to re-reading the whole bloody lot uninterrupted, and in order this time.

Superior Spider-Man #14   Superior Spidey has been one of the very few Marvel books I’ve found to be consistently entertaining, and it’s a huge oversight on my part not to present one of the issues post Amazing Spider-Man #700 until now.  For those not aware, that issue marked the point where Otto Octavius successfully implemented his plan to transfer his consciousness out of his disease ridden and dying old body into that of Peter Parker, so long story short, Otto Octavius is now Spider-Man, and while he wants to do good, his methods are pretty villainous and un-Spidey.  With Otto recently mentally pushing the last remnants of Peter’s voice in his head out (just when it looked like Peter was about to return), it’s all Otto, who isn’t afraid to slash crims to ribbons and blackmail Mayor Jameson to achieve his ends.  This issue sees Spider-Man unleash his robot army and “spiderlings” on Shadowland, going absolutely bananas on the base of Wilson Fisk.  But what of the spiderbots protocol of ignoring anything related to the Goblin?  Damn this is getting good.  Spidey is the best it’s been in ages, thanks to Marvel being brave enough to take a huge leap with their flagship character.  Bravo.

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DC Villain's Month reviews coming soon.  Thanks kids.