Friday, July 31, 2009

Review - Unknown Soldier #10 (Vertigo, 2009)



Consider for a moment what you reasonably expect out of a comic book.

Personally, I look for a few things. I like to be entertained (obviously). I like to feel that I can connect to at least one of the characters in the book I am reading (in some, like The Walking Dead, I connect with many). I like to be suprised when I turn the page and I get something I was not expecting (but it has to be in a good way - Crossed can surprise me with its shocking violence but that doesn't mean it is a good thing). I don't want to be preached to. I don't want to feel that I am getting ripped off with lazy artistry or poor storytelling.

There are many things I look for in a comic book. Unknown Soldier pretty much delivers on all those fronts. It is a brutal and compelling story, with very human characters in a dreadful situation that is, as far as I know, as accurate a portrayal of a real life event as we are likely to get in a comic book. Take the current arc, 'Easy Kill', which deals with the main protaganist, the titular 'Unknown Soldier', engaged in a mission to assassinate an American Actress / Humanitarian, whose death would enable blame to be pinned on the reprehensible Lords Resistance Army (LRA) - an army containing of 'press-ganged' children. How many comics would want to tackle such a controversial, literate and potentially damaging storyline? In other hands this could be a travesty. In the hands of Dysart and Ponticelli, it is absolutley compelling, as gripping as a good movie.

Look at these panels from the latest issue - the detail of the physical portrayal of a man planting land mines is subtle and powerful. As a reader, I can understand that this man is engaged in an act of planting landmines. I understand the significance of the act. With these panels, we witness the preparations for murder. What follows next is astonishing, agonising and brilliant.





This comic book constantly asks the questions that you might ask if you had thought about a particular issue or problem for long enough. It does it in a solid, intelligent and thrilling way. Every issue is not long enough, yet at the same time there is more in one issue of Unknown Soldier than in the majority of other titles in any week of the year. Its qualities are numerous, its faults...well, I haven't found any. I cannot praise it high enough. Get the first trade 'Haunted House' if you don't believe me. It is out in Spetember.

Finally, a quick word on the cover art, from Dave Johnson. If the cover is the front door of the house (so to speak), then you get the impression that this house is a very nice house indeed. If that doesn't make sense, then let me just say that I thought the Soviet-era inspired cover, all righteous worker imagery, with that overcurrent of violence, does the contents of this book justice. That is high praise, considering the quality within.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Review - Dark Reign: Hawkeye #4 (Marvel, 2009)



Like the Marvel Zombies 4 limited series (which I have just reviewed), Dark Reign: Hawkeye started strongly. Now, at issue 4, I feel it is starting to sag a little, with the reveal of who / what is behind the multiple Bullseye sightings and the whole Bullseye army that faced Hawkeye (aka the real Bullseye) at the end of last issue. Well, it didn't shake me to the core, to be honest. In fact, it felt a bit limp, but it picked up toward the end. The problem is that, like so many other titles, you never get the feeling in this that Bullseye is in any real danger - and if he was, so what? Are you supposed to care that a cold-blooded Killer, a psychopath, could die at the hands of another?

The whole terrorism / counter-terrorism sub-plot, with Ben Urich investigating, is not really going anywhere, and is not particularly interesting to me. It is a shame, as Diggle is a good writer and he does what he can with the material, but this title is running out of steam, and could easily have been condensed into 3 or 4 issues as opposed to 5.

Overall, I don't really see the point. What do we learn about Bullseye? Not a lot. About the 'Dark Reign' - well maybe there is a little more colour and shade added to that storyline with these issues. I don't know a lot about the other Dark Reign titles, but I know there are a lot of them, but on this evidence, I am probably not the target market. I look forward to Diggles upcoming work on Daredevil, more so than the final issue of this series.

Verdict. I think this would have been great as a double sized one shot. It just doesn't have enough to sustain it over 5 issues. This time around, it gets a 6.5 out of 10.

Review - Marvel Zombies 4 #4 (Marvel, 2009)



So, the fourth iteration of the Marvel Zombies comes to its conclusion. Overall, Fred Van Lente and Kev Walker have conjured up a nice, compact tale of voodoo drenched dark horror, alleviated by the occasional appearances from the head of Zombie Deadpool, and his silent companion and means of transport, Simon Garth. They get to play their parts, with Deadpool getting the better of the deal (but hey, everyone loves Deadpool, so that's okay, right?).

The Midnight Sons, Man-Thing, The Hood - they all get their stories wrapped up. The plague cloud poses its threat. Hellcat makes a brief appearance. There are some Zombies in it, but this latest tale of the Marvel Zombies has been less concerned with the undead than a horror-mood. I think they managed to achieve it, making the title redolent of the many creature feature and horror titles that Marvel churned out in the 70's. This tone, with the added mysticism that the Dread Dormammu added to the proceedings, gave the title a unique and generally successful air. Okay, maybe the conclusion is a little too neat and tidy, a little too pat - but taken as a whole, I enjoyed this tale of the Midnight Sons, and the fact that Van Lente and Walker raided the C and D lists of Marvel characters (again, like they did in MZ 3) and made something compelling and worth reading. Was the last issue entertaining? Not as much as the first couple of issues. Will I be reading the next chapter in the Marvel Zombies saga?



Hell yes - and it looks like we are going to be getting some Suydam covers as the franchise reinvents itself again - by going back to the characters from the first 2 Marvel Zombies series.

Verdict - I found this series gave diminishing returns, after a strong opening. However, there was still enough to keep you entertained in the finale. A 7 out of 10 for this issue, and an 8 out of 10 for the series overall (though I must admit to liking Marvel Zombies 3 a little bit more).

Review - Citizen Rex (Dark Horse, 2009)



This is the new Hernandez Brothers book, and the solicitation for issue 1 reads;

"What compels life without a soul?"

Comics legends Gilbert and Mario Hernandez join forces to present a bizarre, sexy view of the future and what it means to be human. Twenty years ago, the most famous, lifelike robot in the world was engulfed in scandal, arrested, and deactivated. Since then, an anti-robot movement has developed, while body modification is in and prosthetic limbs have become hot, black-market items.

Stories like these are the stock-in-trade of gossip columnist Sergio Bauntin, whose startling revelations earn him the constant scrutiny of both the mob and the city's mysterious investigators, the Truth Takers. When Sergio catches wind of sightings of the long-missing robot celebrity CTZ-RX, all of these interests will collide in violence and intrigue.


Well, let me say that the art is, of course, gorgeous, in that Love and Rockets way, and the story involves you straight from the start, even if it is a bit disorienting. Talk of 'dog-piling' and 'truth-takers' abound, and the mysterious artifact at the start of the book (with the graffiti statement 'Why?' splashed across its imposing granite flank) moves out of view, but just lingers, a question unanswered....like so many others throughout this first issue,

The story tends to focus on Sergio Bauntin and his robot assistant Hazel - Sergio is 30 and his life is a mess, a socialite blogger who has had enough run-ins with authority to make his Father despair and his Aunts investigate his funding for the forseeable future...

Elsewhere we have the conundrum of Crime Boss Tango Bangaree and his link to Renata Skink and Sigi Skink, Renata's pneumatic daughter? What does it all have to do with prosthetic limb removal and prosthetic limb sharks?

Well, no doubt these questions will get answered in a charming and attractive way. Although Citizen Rex #1 poses nothing but questions and puzzles in this debut issue, there is enough charisma and personality about this book to leave you wanting more. In other words, it is very, very good.

Verdict. It is going on my pull list. 9 out of 10.

Links!

http://www.darkhorse.com/Comics/15-586/Citizen-Rex-1

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Boys #35 solicitation for October 2009 (and news of a reprint of issue #1)




THE BOYS #35

Written by Garth Ennis, art and cover by Darick Robertson.

Origins time! In the first of the two part "Nothing Like It In The World", Mother's Milk tells Hughie the story of his life to date- his upbringing in Harlem, the secret of his massive strength, the catastrophe that struck his family, and the unforgettable boxing championship disaster that led him to join The Boys.

32 pages, $2.99.



also (and I think this is really neat);

THE BOYS #1 DYNAMITE EDITION

Written by Garth Ennis, art and cover by Darick Robertson.

Dynamite Entertainment never actually had the honor of publishing issue #1 of the Boys (Dynamite started with #7), but now is going to do it! But, not just reprinting issue #1, but charging just $1 for it! First Boys story! Features previews of the collections and more!

40 pages, $1.

The Boys: Herogasm #6 solicitation for October 2009




THE BOYS: HEROGASM #6

Written by Garth Ennis, art by John McCrea, cover by Darick Robertson.

The Boys are forced into action as a surprise development threatens to reveal their presence on Isla McFarlane. The Supes are leaving - but exactly what has happened to the Homelander, and what are his intentions now that Vought have set the scene for Vic the Veep's next great political leap forward? Sudden death and shocks galore, as Herogasm shudders to its gasping, spurting climax.

32 pages, $2.99.

Charlie Adlard interviewed in The Times (2009)

Nice article (a bit on the short side), details a bit about Charlie Adlard's career and his work with Robert Kirkman. No spoilers.

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/article6617758.ece

Monday, July 27, 2009

All new Walking Dead Spoliers from beyond 'Fear The Hunters' (2009)

WARNING - Spoilers!



"The Walking Dead" protagonist Rick Grimes will be donning a new police uniform in "Hope," an upcoming storyline that puts the cast of the book in an unusually civilized location. Over the last several issues, Rick and his fellow survivors have been traveling to Washington, D.C. in hopes of finding salvation from the zombie crisis – though none of them could've anticipated what they'd find near the nation's capital.

"D.C. is going to be somewhat of a utopia compared to what they have been living in," Kirkman revealed. "They're going to find a pocket of civilization that is pretty much intact. It's somewhere on the outskirts of D.C., a suburban area that has pretty much walled an area off. We're going to meet those people, and our characters are going to intermingle with their society. There's conflict that arises from all of this, obviously, but there's going to be at least one issue where they're drinking tea!"


After spending a multitude of issues in the safe confines of a prison, it might appear that "The Walking Dead" is retreading old ground with its move to a closed-off utopian society, but Kirkman suggested that readers give the new direction a chance. "I imagine that this'll be another case where people say, 'I don't know how he's gonna pull this one off. How's he going to keep this going?' I've been hearing that since issue #8," he argued. "On the surface, I can see how people might think, 'Yeah, they're going to be totally safe now!' I'd just say, trust me. There's a multitude of story avenues that I can go through with this set up. It's a logical evolution of the series for me. It's something that I've had planned for a good long while. It's going to be cool, and I think that in reading the book for as long as people have, being walled in with a bunch of normal people in a seemingly normal, protected area may not end up being as great as it seems. There are problems that could arise from that."

What kind of problems, you ask? For starters, it might not be so easy for our heroes to adjust to a quasi-normal society given what they've been through. "Imagine living life for over a year where the only rule was survive," Kirkman argued. "Now, they're coming into an area where there are vastly more rules. They may have grown so accustomed to their way of living that going back to normal society could seem completely alien to them. It's going to be a rough transition, and some people are going to transition better than others."

Additionally, the survivors won't be getting totally complacent, as zombies will remain a part of the book. "There's gonna be supply runs," he revealed. "Everyone's going to get a job. Some of those people's jobs will be expanding the safe zone wall. So there's going to be construction working against the zombies. There's going to be dangers, everything that comes with trying to survive in a walled-in society. You're going to have to eventually go out of there – it's just that when you're done going out, you get to go home and have a dinner party. Part of the conflict coming up is going to be, 'Is Rick double dipping? Did he bite that chip and put it back in the dip?!' These are the things they're going to have to deal with again!"

If the "The Walking Chip" sounds a tad stale to you, at least Kirkman is enthralled by the idea. With both "Invincible" and "The Walking Dead," Kirkman said that he's constantly developing new stories that excite him. "I've always wanted to do long, sprawling runs on books, and it just so happens that it's happened on two creator-owned books that I control completely," he said. "Being able to ride that out for the long haul and lay out these choices and turns, do everything I can to keep things interesting and compelling, I only get more excited. My excitement level is as high as it's ever been, and I'm continually coming up with where the next place to go is, what the next arc in the book is."


and here is a future cover from the 'Hope' arc;




taken from http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=22212

Forthcoming Attractions (anticipated releases this week - 29.07.2009)










My picks this week;

DARK REIGN HAWKEYE #4 MARVEL COMICS
MARVEL ZOMBIES 4 #4 MARVEL COMICS
ULTIMATUM #5 MARVEL COMICS
UNKNOWN SOLDIER #10 DC COMICS



All of the weeks releases can be seen here


So, this week sees the end of a couple of titles. The latest iteration of Marvel Zombies concludes with Marvel Zombies 4 #5, with the Sons of Midnight....I forgot what they were doing to be honest, but it involves Zombies. I must admit that this MZ4 is not quite as good as MZ3, but it does have some terrific atmosphere, even though the plot has meandered and just left me feeling a bit....so what?

Ultimatum, on the other hand, does inspire some strong emotions amongst readers, and it is not hard to see why. Essentially a platform to 'clear the decks' in preparation for a reboot of the Ultimate Marvel Universe, Ultimatum has managed to rid Marvel of some of its better known, and better loved, Ultimate characters in some undignified and churlish ways. Ultimatum #5 promises to be no less spectacular and controversial, as the final showdown between Magneto and the remaining Heroes approaches. I must admit I find it crass and vulgar and in terms of story there is not a lot to it - but it is compelling in its own way.

Elsewhere, Dark Reign Hawkeye #4 has Hawkeye aka Bullseye still fighting himself, in more ways than one. The big one for me this week is Unknown Soldier #10, with the 'Easy Kill' arc ratcheting up the tension in what is proving to be a truly great comic book.


Previews

Dark Reign Hawkeye #4 preview

Marvel Zombies 4 #4 preview


Links

Ultimatum #5 at Marvel

Unknown Soldier #10 at Vertigo

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Review - Captain Britain & MI13 #15 (Marvel, 2009)



Farewell, Captain Britain. For now, no doubt, as we should see him (and hopefully MI13) in some form or other in the future. For now, though, one of the finest titles in recent times has come to an end, with the conclusion of 'Vampire State'. It is hard to be objective about this as I was aware of this being an end to a great title, but the issue wrapped the current story up and left us with the impression that this team would carry on - there was no disbanding of the line-up.

The conclusion to the Vampire invasion was handled well enough, althoughsome of the earlier issues in this arc were stronger in my opinion. The arrival of the cavalry midway through this issue was a nice touch, even though there appearance was fleeting, and to an extent, pointless, like a substitute coming on in the last 2 minutes of a football match - you rarely get to chance to shine in that sort of scenario.

There was a sort of happy ending to give you that warm fuzzy feeling, and helped (a little) to soften the blow that I will not be reading this title again. I plan to do a review of the whole series in the coming days, so I can try to convey how good Captain Britain & MI13 was.

Verdict. So sad this has now ended, but at least it went out with the quality control as high as ever. 8 out of 10

Comic of the Week (22/07/2009)



The comic of the week for the unbridled joy of music that is channeled into its pages. Yes - a comic book about 2 DJ's in a booth discussing nothing much apart from what music to play on a Saturday night gig gets the comic of the week. It is a charming, handsome book, that leaves you smiling and happy. That's great, isn't it?

Elsewhere, Immortal Weapons #1, featuring the tragic tale of Fat Cobra was an excellent tale told well by Jason Aaron and a team of artists, and Captain Britain & MI13 #15 drew the curtain on the latest Captain Britain title - it will be sadly missed.

Image of the Week (22/07/2009)



Goodbye, Captain - for now.

Taken from the final issue of Captian Britain & MI13 #15 (Marvel) - whichi is on sale now.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Solicitation for The Walking Dead #66 (Image, 2009)




THE WALKING DEAD #66
story ROBERT KIRKMAN
art & cover CHARLIE ADLARD & CLIFF RATHBURN

THE HUNT CONCLUDES! Nothing will ever be the same.

RETAILER WARNING: MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR ALL AGES

OCTOBER 14 32 PAGES / BW $2.99



ooohhh....exciting stuff. As this is the last of the 'Fear The Hunters' arc, this promises to be explosive, and the pile of bodies (well, I think I can make out at least 2) at the bottom of the cover only confirm it. Interesting that the perspective of the Hunters is quite similar to Rick Grimes in the last bloody encounter in The Walking Dead - issue #48;



as if these covers are thematically linked by the contents within, signifying misfortune and death...not too long to find out anyway - 3 months and counting...

Review - Immortal Weapons #1 (Marvel, 2009)



First, some history;

The Immortal Weapons are fictional characters, each a champion of one of the Seven Capital Cities of Heaven in the Marvel Comics Universe. The group consists of Bride of Nine Spiders, Dog Brother #1, Fat Cobra, Iron Fist, Prince of Orphans, Tiger's Beautiful Daughter and formerly the Steel Phoenix. The Immortal Weapons first appear in The Immortal Iron Fist #8 (September 2007) and were created by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and David Aja.

taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immortal_Weapons

See also here.

So, in this limited series from Marvel, issue #1 concerns itself with Fat cobra, who hires a man called Carmichael to document his 111 year life. His expectations of this tale are quickly dashed against the truth - his story is wild and varied, but his origins are inconspicuous. Jason Aaron's mix of fantasy, fact and fiction, both within the Marvel universe and real world - Elvis makes an appearance that is worth waiting for -creates a clever, absorbing tale. The art is wonderful throughout, and there is a mix of artists, but Mico Suayan handles the main story, giving Fat Cobra a vivd and realistic appearance, with other artists coming in to detail some of the kinetic action scenes.

The wine-and-women loving Fat Cobra has a compelling reason to hear his story recounted - he wishes to recall above all else how he defeated the great snake Xiang Yao and became the champion of his Heavenly City. The answer to that question is stunning and caps off a superlative tale of tragedy and triumph.

The little details will also keep you busy (Aaron subverting the names of fighting moves and applying them to the act of sex. Although not shown graphically, the 'Heaving Tiger Love Hug' gives you enough detail to go on with.

I cannot reccomend it enough - a pleasant surprise from Jason Aaron and the team of artists. Based on this, I think I need to go and check on Aaron's critically acclaimed 'Scalped' (from Vertigo).

Verdict - A great tale told well. It grabs you from the start, with the engaging Fat Cobra having a story to tell that could easily transcend a single comic book. As it is, this is an exercise in economy and great comic book storytelling. Let's hope the other Immortal Weapons issues live up to this one. 9 out of 10.

Review - Phonogram 2: Singles Club #4 (Image, 2009)



Look at that picture. That is Seth Bingo and the Silent Girl. They are the stars of this superb installment of the superb 'Singles Club' series. If you think that 2 DJs working their 'magic' in a booth would not make for a comic book, please expand your horizons. Concerned with nothing more than 2 people trying to get people to dance on a Saturday night, this works for 2 reasons;

1) The art is exquisite - these are beautiful young people portrayed by McKelvie as stunningly beautiful young people. The framing, the expressions, the little movements of the characters are all wonderful.

2) The script and dialogue. Any comic that references one of the best singles ever (Johnny Boy 'You are the generation that bought more shoes and you get what you deserve') deserves applause. Any comic that manages that, a dig at Hard-Fi and a superb panel that reveals the magic of Blondie's 'Atomic' deserves to be read by everyone at least once. So please, find it at your LCS and buy it.

By the way, check out the stunning Johnny Boy track here;
Johnny Boy, 'You are the generation that bought more shoes and you get what you deserve' video

They even manage to namecheck the Pixies and they play CSS 'Lets make love and listen to death from above', one of the greatest summer singles ever. I can say no more than this about this comic book - it is exquisite, charming and life-affirming.

Verdict. The best 'Phonogram 2' issue yet. It makes me want to stop reading and listen to some music instead. 9.5 out of 10.

Review - The Boys: Herogasm #3 (DE, 2009)



More of the same at 'Herogasm', which means more T & A and inventive sexual scenarios, including, this time around, an activity involving one of those overworked hookers and a dog. Yes, Herogasm #3 contains bestiality - though it is unclear whether or not the dog is a superdog or not. Lucky dog, maybe, but whether he has super powers is to be confirmed. Looking at the various configurations of flesh, sexual positions, sexual couplings, drugs and general debauchery, I must admit to being jaded by it all - but the Supes, of course have more stamina and staying power - this is their one big party of the year, right? Maybe that is the point - the reader is supposed to feel exhausted just watching them.

This issue concerns itself with a couple of plots, one being The Boys putting a plan into action, using an analogue of the Fantastic Four (and primarily that iteration of the Thing) as a diversion tactic. It is a kidnap, and apart from Hughie being involved in an encounter with Black Noir, it all goes to plan. Hughie, however, is more than a bit perturbed by the days events. Don't know what Black Noir actually did, but it looked pretty graphic and painful. The other plot development is a concerned with a downed Trans Pacific airline which was en-route from Sydney to LA. With no survivors, this is obviously a tragedy, and a conscientious Vought American exec has seen a copy of the last flight transmissions, and there is mention of a flying naked...and that is all we get. Seems as if Herogasm spilled out (sorry) into the skies, and collateral damage resulted. Time for the hush-up.

I am more than a bit confused about the continuity between Herogasm and the main Boys title. Is it set before most of 'The Self-Preservation Society'? I assume so as The Female is still operational.

Some of the Convention / Herogasm talk - on Superhero politics, on animosity between Heroes and Villains mingling, on the fact that some of the smaller companies heroes may get bumped off due to the 'crossover' event that is Herogasm (they may die due to excess, it gets spun and retold as a heroic death) - that was all cool.

With everything that is going on, you are pleasantly surprised by the end reveal - when you see the target of The Boys kidnapping. Tethered to a chair and having suffered a bit at the hands of Butcher and Co, it is a great moment. Herogasm #3 continues this mini-series with some intriguing story threads put in place, and some dark and twisted humour. Is it as good as The Boys? Nearly. I just wish the continuity issue could be resolved, as it seems as if this event is not in 'real-time' with the main title, but is a recent occurence, and that slightly spoils the enjoyment.

Verdict. Ennis comes up trumps again, weaving several plot strands and giving us a great ending. Apart from the continuity gripe, this is still good stuff. 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Incoming: Sweet Tooth (Vertigo, due September, 2009)

As I love Post Apocalypse fiction, and especially in Comic Books, I am pretty excited by this new series on the excellent Vertigo imprint (usually a sign of quality);




Solicitation for Issue 1;

Written by Jeff Lemire; Art and cover by Jeff Lemire

From out of the deep woods and the mind of acclaimed indie cartoonist Jeff Lemire (THE NOBODY, The Essex County Trilogy) comes a new Vertigo monthly ongoing series like no other! After being raised in total isolation, Gus – a boy born with deer-like antlers – is left to survive in an American landscape devastated a decade earlier by an inexplicable pandemic. Even more remarkable is that Gus is part of a rare new breed of human/animal hybrid children who have emerged in its wake, all apparently immune to the infection.

Enter Jepperd, a violent, hulking drifter who soon takes in Gus and promises to lead him to "The Preserve," a fabled safe-haven for hybrid children. Along the way they'll have to contend with science militias, deadly scavengers, rival bounty hunters, and hybrid worshipping cultists as they fight to make it to safety and solve the mysteries of this deadly new frontier.

This bizarre and haunting new series is boldly written and illustrated by Eisner-nominated creator Jeff Lemire and elegantly colored by fellow Eisner nominee Jose Villarubia. A little boy with antlers, a big man with guns, a world without hope – SWEET TOOTH #1 ships in September for only $1.00! Plus, don't miss a free preview of this title in August's JACK OF FABLES #37!


]

Solicitation for Issue 2;

Written by Jeff Lemire; Art and cover by Jeff Lemire

"I would crawl over broken glass to read this." –Jason Aaron (SCALPED,Wolverine )

Vertigo's most unusual and terribly cool post-apocalyptic road-trip epic is unstoppable. The innocent deer/boy Gus is forced from his forest sanctuary into the almost annihilated world of men where he's desperately led by a different kind of force of nature: A cold killer who promises the only chance of salvation. Get onboard the buzz bandwagon with the ongoing series mash-up of horror, high adventure and friendship by Eisner-nominated storyteller Jeff Lemire (THE NOBODY, Essex County Trilogy).
Vertigo 32pg. Color $2.99 US Mature Readers
On Sale October 7, 2009

Unknown Soldier #13 Solicitation (Due October 2009)




UNKNOWN SOLDIER #13
Written by Joshua Dysart
Art by Pat Masioni
Cover by Dave Johnson
Beginning a 2-issue arc that will introduce American audiences to the work of Democratic Republic of Congo artist Pat Masioni. Accompanied by a former child soldier, the Unknown Soldier begins a journey across the most intensive expanse of the war zone Moses has experienced yet. But what’s on the other side for these two? Redemption for their killings – or damnation?
On sale October 28 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • MATURE READERS

Monday, July 20, 2009

Forthcoming Attractions (anticipated releases this week - 22.07.2009)





This week sees the end of the current Captain Britain title. Sad to see it go, as it quickly transcended its 'Secret Invasion' origins and became something more than another iteration of a Superhero title (with a nod to the British). It was gripping, and the final arc - Vampire State, which concludes with this issue - has been one of the best stories of the year so far. Elsewhere, The Boys: Herogasm #3 continues its debauched run, with The Boys firmly in the picture (should be fun, and bloody). Phonogram 2 may help me get over the loss of Captain Britain with some fine UK indie scene tales. Here are this weeks picks;

MAY090787 BOYS HEROGASM #3 £2.15 DYNAMIC FORCES
MAY090494 CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI 13 #15 £2.15 MARVEL COMICS
JAN092400 PHONOGRAM 2 #4 (OF 7) SINGLES CLUB £2.40 IMAGE COMICS


All of the weeks releases can be seen here

The Boys: Herogasm #3
The Occasional Death At Herogasm Isn't That Unusual, But How One Member Of Fantastico Checks Out Is Nothing Short Of Spectacular. In The Resultant Chaos The Boys Make Their Move - On A Target That May Not Be All He Seems. Hughie, Meanwhile, Runs Smack Into Black Noir In The Worst Possible Way, While Jack From Jupiter Spills A Few More Secrets To A-Train. And Speaking Of Secrets, What Does The Man From Vought-American Want With Vic The Veep...?

Captain Britain & MI13 #15
“VAMPIRE STATE” The final battle with Dracula is here! Can what’s left of MI13 possibly defeat the most brilliant military strategist alive (or at least undead)? Who is Gloriana and what role does Dr. Doom play in this whole thing?

Phonogram 2: Singles Club #4
They're the Single Club's DJ ogres: Seth Bingo and the Silent Girl. But do sensitive hearts beat within shallow breasts? Hell, no. Join us for a story of sarcasm, extreme sarcasm and solipsistic snobbishness. Remember: they're laughing at you. You may as well laugh at them. PLUS two back-up stories showcasing the dazzling art of DAVID LAFUENTE (Hellcat) and CHARITY LARRISON (Busted Wonder).

Previews

Herogasm #3 preview (Note - NSFW)

Captain Britain & MI13 #15

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Image of the Week (15/07/2009)



The mundanity of evil. The Hunters congregate in the most inconspicuous of surroundings.

Image taken from page 21 of The Walking Dead #63. Art by Charlie Adlard.

Comic of the Week (15/07/2009)



Although not a stand out issue, there was enough going on to justify The Walking Dead #63 being the title of the week. The introduction of the Hunters as a real threat came good, with an air of mystery and menace, and deadly, cold logic. The last panel was a scream - especially for one of the main characters in the book....

Elsewhere, Young Liars #17 hurtles us towards the titles finale, which wraps up next time with issue #18. I cannot help but feel that an ending is being forced upon David Lapham, and it makes me sad reading this issue. That is about all I have to say on that subject.

Blackest Night #1 was great fun, even though I haven't read an issue of Green Lantern before. There is a great build up to a terrible event, a real sense of foreboding. Pleasantly surprised - art was great, I could follow most (if not all) of what was going on - got the big themes though. Great stuff.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Jaws influence on Cover art (1970s - )

This is the original iconic Jaws poster art;



and these are a selection of comic book cover art inspired by that original image (see below). You will notice the recently solicited 'Deadpool Merc With A Mouth' cover, and also from the last 18 months the XXXombies cover from Image Comics. Going further back in time you have Action comic, who had Hook Jaw as a Jaws inspired Character, and the Jaws 2 comic serialization and the (inevitable) Mad magazine parody;













Review - Deadpool #12 (Marvel, 2009)



Okay, so there is no meat suit or arrow through the head, but this wrap up of the Bullseye vs Deadpool story ends as it began - quirky, funny, immediately forgettable. And as I said before when I reviewed Deadpool, the immediacy and throwaway nature of the title is not a bad thing. The resolution to the battle between the 2 killers ends logically (Marvel are not going to be killing off either of their more charismatic characters after all) but that is when things get weird, as the ending is surprisingly downbeat. In fact, you would reasonably assume that Deadpool #12 was the final issue in the series - but as Deadpool is rapidly becoming a franchise to match the likes of Wolverine, that is not going to be happening any time soon. Still, it was a bit jarring considering the humour and relative frivolity that had gone before it.

There is a 4x4 versus Missile scene, a lock-up full of deadly weaponry that Deadpool treats like some men treat their Garden Sheds and Deadpools love of Tacos and Potato Chips. See? He is just a regular guy.......

Verdict. Overall this storyline was entertaining, amusing, daft - this issue lacked the inventiveness of a 'meat suit' and the humour was maybe a little too dark - that ending was either really really dark humour or just plain bizarre. Still, it gets a 7 out of 10, and for the arc overall, an 8 out of 10.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Great Covers - upcoming Deadpool Merc With a Mouth solicits (Marvel, 2009)





Okay, so they aren't the most original ideas - the Jaws parody cover was used about 18 months ago on Image Comics XXXombies - but when the art is by Arthur Suydam who is complaining? So, Deadpool Merc With a Mouth issues 2 & 3, with cover art parodies of the film posters for Jaws and the awesome Dawn of the Dead. Great stuff.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Review - The Walking Dead #63 (Image, 2009)



The hunt for Dale takes up pretty much all of this issue, but we also get to know the answer to a question that has been at the forefront of recent Walking Dead activity - but more of that later. The Walking Dead has some slower installments, that are neccesary as Kirkman likes to put all his pieces of plot into position before flicking his finger and the whole thing topples over like one of those Domino tracks. This issue is one of those, with ruminations on God and Christianity, the survival of the group against the need to find the missing Dale, further clues on Zombie lifespan and Rick and Abraham leading from the front.

But more than that, you finally get to see the Hunters, and without wanting to give away too much, you finally find out what their motivation is. It is pretty grim, but also logical. There is one panel that have this group (the Hunters) sitting around a garden bench in a backyard at night, the reflection of an open fire of some sort reflected in patio doors. In that one panel, the mundane collides with the horror of the situation that people are in. You find out later why the panel is so horrible, and the flames are a clue....I am saying too much here. The art in that scene is brilliant - gloomy, seemingly innocuos but with an undercurrent of menace. Adlard delivers so much good work, but sometimes he nails it to perfection, and in that panel he really gets it good. Just read it.

Back to the 'burning question resolved' I mentioned earlier. There is some focus on 'Father' Gabriel Stokes, and the question of whether or not he is in league with the Hunters. Well, maybe it gets answered in issue 63...but maybe not. Who can tell what twists and turns Kirkman has in store? Stokes certainly tells a good story, and maybe he is a good actor?

The Hunters are still fairly shadowy, and the terror they induce with their anonymity is palpable. You do get to meet Chris, though, and he exudes a perverse banality, complete with good manners, that leaves you needing to back off from the page in revulsion.

The final panel is pure Kirkman and Adlard genius. I will say no more, other than this - with 3 more to go on this arc, I get the feeling that next time around we will start to see some people heading for the chopping board. Figuratively speaking, of course.....

Verdict. You may expect to see more fall by the wayside, so you may be slightly disapointed with the body count, but trust me - this issue delivers, and that reveal ending is one of the best that Kirkman has come up with yet. 9 out of 10

Monday, July 13, 2009

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? #1 - 5 page preview (2009)


This somehow missed my list for picks of the weeks releases, but Boom! studios are releasing 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' #1 this week, and majorspoilers.com have a 5 page preview;

5 page preview at majorspoilers

Whatever Happened to Comic of the Week and Image of the Week last week?

Simply put, I only read 1 title - The Strange Adventures of HP Lovecraft, so that was my title of the week, but with nothing to compare it against the whole thing seemed a little redundant - same for the Image of the Week post.

Forthcoming Attractions (anticipated releases this week - 15.07.2009)







Good week this week - it always is when The Walking Dead and the soon-to-be-departed Young Liars are due to ship. The Walking Dead is terrifically exciting right now, but I hope that the ending of Young Liars (with only one more episode after #17) will not feel too rushed. For light relief we have Deadpool fighting Dark Reign Hawkeye (aka Bullseye). So, my picks of the week are;

DEADPOOL #12 MARVEL COMICS
WALKING DEAD #63IMAGE COMICS
YOUNG LIARS #17 DC COMIC


Solicitation information on this weeks picks;

Deapool #12
“BULLSEYE,” Part 3 As the chaos and wanton destruction of their continued battle reaches critical mass, both Deadpool and Bullseye come to the same realization: They don’t want this to end!

The Walking Dead #63
The Hunt continues! Who will be the next to fall?

Young Liars #17
Danny suffers the horrible effects of looking through the hole in the wall, causing a rift between himself and Loreli. Loreli turns to Danny's archrival, Puss-Bag, for comfort, which leads to a night of violence and horror. And history repeats itself as the spider's plan is revealed...



5 page preview of Deadpool #12

5 page preview of Walking Dead

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cradlegrave is the reason I have returned to reading 2000AD after 20 years away (2009)



I think it was the cover (above) of prog 1633 that did it for me. That got my attention, and what followed from that was TWLB reacquainting itself with that fine institution 2000AD. A joy it is too.

I gave up on the comic in 1989, when other things became more important, because 2000AD had just got a lot less interesting. As I recall, Zenith was about the only thing keeping me interested, with Dredd and Strontium Dog leaving me cold (the latter due to the fact Carlos Ezquerra had been replaced by Simon Harrison on art). Also, Deadline and Crisis were titles catering more to my needs. So, after 8 years of reading and collecting 2000AD I canceled my subscription at Deer Park newsagents.

Cradlegrave is a comic strip. For the first 2 issues you would not see anything fantastical or horrific, other than the horror that can be other peoples lives, as Cradlegrave is set in the Ravenglade Estate (nicknamed "Cradlegrave" after the ‘ravenglade’ sign loses a few of the letters and an enterprising soul renames the estate).



It is set somewhere in Lancashire. It follows the story of teenage Shane Holt, who has recently been released from Thorn Hill young offenders institution. What you get is a well paced drama of a young man coming to terms with life outside of the offenders institution and trying to stay on the right side of the law.



The detail that goes into all this is superb (and the devil is in the details) – Shanes mom celebration of his homecoming, which consists of a few ‘tins’ of lager and a night in front of the television.



Or the scenes at a house party with girls taking pictures of themselves on a cell phone,

or the relative drama of Shanes dog imminently giving birth to pups, or Shanes attempts to keep his best mate, Callum, at arms length. Only slowly does information leak through about why Shane was in prison – for arson – and then at the end of the third installment, we get the first jolt, the first shocking moment. To say more would ruin it and I will say no more, but like the rest of these initial installments it is handled with superior skill – the writing of John Smith and the art of Edward Bagwell combine to give you a fully realized kitchen sink drama of a ‘rough’ estate in England with the blurry unease of terror creeping in from the edges. It is nothing less than superb, and I believe will rank amongst the best stories that 2000AD has ever hosted.

If it was just Cradlegrave, then I would be happy with my decision to try 2000AD once again. But there is more, with recent strip ‘Zombo’s bizarre mix of ‘Lost’ and a subservient, but lethal Zombie on a planet called ‘Deathworld’ providing humour,



gore and throwaway lines about clone love that give the story real depth.
Also, ‘Savage’, which is a long-running sequel to the equally long running ‘Invasion’ from the very early days of 2000AD (it appeared in the first issue, and the test pressing ‘prog 0’). In an alternate future, the ‘Volgans’ (an analogue of the Cold War era Soviet Union) are occupying Great Britain and the rest of Europe, and Bill savage is the leader of the resistance. The strip, one of the few in black and white, is a tense, gritty affair that pays tribute to the early days of 2000ad (and by association, other IPC titles of the time such as Action and Battle) while having a distinctive modern feel – gone are the Invasion tics and tropes of ‘giving the Volgans what for’, replaced with more subtle power plays, intrigue and bursts of graphic violence.



Slaine, after over 25 years of appearances in 2000AD, looks incredible in its new title, 'Slaine the Wanderer';



On top of all that, you need strong Judge Dredd stories to really make the title work, and in the recent ‘Sex Tournament’ strip ‘The Performer’,



and the powerful ‘Backlash’, you have both humour and strong political allegories that are not ham fisted, and were always some of the main attractions to the character and his world.

2000AD is getting something right - after the talent drain to the US in the 1980s and early 90's that saw the likes of Alan Moore, Grant Morrison and Brian Bolland depart the title, the likes of John Smith and the (evergreen) Pat Mills prove that the UK's longest running Science Fiction weekly is still providing the neccesary 'Thrill Power' to us Earthings.