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...

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