Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Reviews 30/04/08

A slow week last week. I'm starting to come to terms with the ideas that I'm in an abusive relationship with Morrisons Batman. No matter how bad the art gets, I keep coming back. I could handle Andy Kubert, to my mind the lesser of the two Kubert brothers, and inked by Jesse Delperdang who has done nice things for Kubert's art since Ka-Zar. The text story was heavy going but still had promise. JH Williams is a personal favourite so I was very happy for three issues. For about a year now, it's been relentless bad art. Batman 675, which years back would have been one of those special issues, Ryan Benjamin takes the ball and runs with it. Even Tony Daniel will have to work to achieve the level of thoughtless, amateurish rubbish that Grant Morrison gets to work with. I don't know what kind of editor gets to see this stuff in black and white before the colourist comes in and has to try to save it.Ryan Benjamin came onto the scene shortly after Tony Daniel in about '94 as part of one of Jim Lee's talent searchs, along with Travis Charest, J Scott Campbell, Aaron Weisenfeld, all of whom have gone on to better things. I can only hope for his sake, as I'm not malicious, that he had about an hour to draw these 22 pages. Storywise Morrison moves Batman more and more towards the breakdown he kees referring to in interviews and we get to see that its not Talia (Ras Al Ghul's daughter) who's behind these various future Batmen or the murder attempts on Bruce Wayne. Someone else is out to get him and knows his identity. Shoulda been good!
Marvel will make sure their A-list writers get the approriate level of artist, or at least the artist they want. Mark Millar seems to get whatever he wants, Bendis too yet DC's treatment of one of, hands down, their best writers on their flagship title gets...this. I think all of the above is what's gettng me really interested in Final Crisis. I've never read any of the other Crisis books and I'm sure it won't matter but at least I'll be able to pore over the art.
Moving on...
Spirit #16 came out and I loved it. I really enjoyed the breezy story, Spirit wondering around a film set, the Spirit splash was great and Paul Smith's art was excellent and less 'on model' than his previous issue. Lee Loughridge's colours are good and its all wrapped up in a Bruce Timm cover. If the last two issues were a little shakey and made you feel Darwyn Cooke took all the good stuff with him, I recommend checking out this issue.

My local comic shop here in BCN gave me some deservingly free comics for Free Comic Book Day which was a nice thought. One nice surprise in there was Hellboy and the Golden Army. An annoying film still cover, which I won't bother scanning, but a really nice story which is a comic ad-ap-ta-tion of the prologue to the second movie. Guillermo Del Toro says in the introduction that this is in the movie but told with puppets. Cool! The art is by Francisco Ruiz Velasco who drew Lone Wolf 2100 and apparently also works on designs for the second Hellboy movie. There's not really any Hellboy in it but Mignola scripts Professor 'Broom' telling the story to Hellboy Jr. All good.

I finished reading Michael "Heroes" Green's Batman:Lovers and Madmen HC collecting the story with Denys Cowan art from Batman Classified. Telling a story from Batman's early years and a new origin for the Joker, it has to be read with some suspension of disbelief; we all know the origin of the Joker ie our established favourite or mixture of various. Jack Napier kills Tom and Martha Wayne and sets his ironic destiny at the hands of Batman. Desperate, unamed, unfunny comic gets knocked into chemicals and comes out nuts and gorgeously drawn by Bolland. Those are my two. One's a film, one's a comic.
This book reads like a film, in a comic and the Joker looks like the pending Heath Ledger version. Like any sensible writer, he keeps Year One in play and the story shows bored/suicidal criminal who gets a a new lease of life after meeting Batman (like a reversal of JM DeMatteis' Going Sane story). Taken on it's own terms, out of DContinuity etc, the pacing's great, the characterisation of Alfred, Bruce, Batman, the Joker is all spot on. Denys Cowan and John FLoyd's art is great, nutty looking cartooning far from any previous published work by them. ILL's colouring is the best I've seen from them but still...Recommended!

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Almost Weakly

Back again to get up to date.
Now where to begin...?

All Star Superman great. It's not controversial to say so. However, it's getting better. Frank Quietly made the choice towards the end of his X-Men issues to ditch inkers as he felt no-one managed to make it look how he wanted. It's taken a while (ie all of WE3 and the previous nine issues of All Star Supes) but this is the first issue I didn't read wincing at bits that I wish he'd inked or had someone else ink.
The storytelling, grace, detail and sense of scale that he's always had hasn't gone anywhere and Morrison is stripping the sory back to the absolute minimum of text etc but the book is so rewarding on a reread. Highlight of this issue are a great Lex Luthor moment, the innovative illustration of Superman's X-Ray vision (above) and Superman creating a mini universe to see what would have happened if he'd never 'come' to Earth (below).

Continuing with Superman, Action Comics 863 finished up the Superman and the Legion of Superheroes arc. Difficult to to remove any image to show without damaging the resolution of the story. No beat is wasted by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's art, as repeatedly mentioned before is great. I was left wanting more and I'll get more. IN future though, when James Robinson starts on Superman, Action and Superman will run closely together and crossing over. This pisses me off a bit as I like James Robinson but I'm really not sure about the regular artist on the book (Renato Guedes). IT's really souless and I'd already stopped getting the Busiek Superman because of it.
We'll see.
More Superman (what the f*ck's going on). Well Darwyn Cooke and the Justice League New Frontier Special which came out about a month ago. Cooke's written the whole thing and drew half of it, a missing scene from his mega mini New Frontier. A conflict aluded to but only briefly in the series is ellaborated on, Batman Versus Superman. The whole thing is told on three panel per page and feels a little like storyboards. Everything is set up perfectly. Batman stages the fight in a junk yard so the lead will screw up Superman's X-ray vision and then doesn't stop hammering at him. Interesting too are mentions of Batman stuff that retroactively forshadows Dark Knight Returns; interesting because Cooke was very outspoken about Miller's Dark Knight Strikes. However as much as New Frontier was very settled in time because of Cooke's research and structuring of the series within the "real" events of the DC silver age, these nods to Dark Knight, for me, secure it as part of DCs future.
The back ups in the book are good too. The director of the DC:NF cartoon, Dave Bullock does a great Robin and Kid Flash story and Darwynn Cooke's frequent collaborator Jay Bone does a fun Wonder Woman/Black Canary strip.
Oh and DAVE STEWART colors it all.
Which reminds me...the Eisner nominees were announced this week, reminding me how out of touch I am for the for the most part ( but Richard Isanove nominated for best colourist!?!?!?!? Awards are always controversial but bloody finger's really not on the pulse.
Moving on, in my last review of Loveless, I mentioned that it was one of the series I pick up just for the art, when its drawn by Daniel Zezelj. This latest one stand alone story makes me question my judgement. While the art is superb and the colours a perect fit, the story is incredible. Really great. X ammount of years after the main story takes place, a couple of gangsters turn up to hide at a farm house and lie low. They're pretty callous and the old man lives alone and tells 'em a story of when he was a kid, racing horses in a touring racing team. The reveal at the end isn't necessary (though I still shalln't spol it) but if you've read 100 bullets, this is similar to the Kennedy issue. Pick it up, if only when Zezelj is drawing it. Great stuff!
Along with Loveless from Gosh I received issue one of Suitcase Nuke #1. The comic's funny, very well drawn with creative layouts and story telling. I don't, however, know what Wangchung is. Regardless the comic was a really pleasant surprise (I've met him) and I recommend checking out his stuff at
The book also inspired me to flex my polish poster muscle for the first time in ages, the result of which you can see at the bottom of this post.

Also funny Zeb Wells and Bachalo finished their three part Spidey story this week in Amazing 557. This is very much the kind of story which would've bee given a mini or have been relegated to Tangled Web (a place for good solid Spidey stories which don't fit into the convoluted continuity). However, thanks to a load of convoluted continuity, there's now a new unconvoluted continuity so while some stuff might go over your head, you can enjoy what you're reading. As my mate Anthony pointed out, if Spidey was that good every month, we wouldn't miss it. Chris Bachalo's seamingly involved in the colouring of the book, from what I understand, directing the colourist so it looks like he coloured it himself. It looks great, though yet again Tim Townsend ducks out just before the end of the three issues and while Bachalo's pretty hard to overpower/ruin, the art suffers a little for it. Could be worse though, Barry Kitson's on the next arc.
Couple of last mentions of things I can't scan cause it'll f*ck the books up.
The new recoloured Killing Joke has a healthy pricetag but is really gorgeous. I had the book in black and white, which I love, but would never have imagined anyone else colouring it other than the very lively John Higgins. I had a happy moment at Alan Moore's signing at Gosh when he agreed that the Batman Annual story he did with George Freeman (love letter coming soon) was a better Batman story than Killing Joke. It's questionable of course whether its supposed to be a Batman story at all.
Picked up the Mad Archives volume 2 a few weeks back and though I'm dipping in and out (as I feel I have to with really old comics) it's plain gorgeous. Not much to add really, just don't assume it's the weakest link in the EC stable until you've looked at what Wally Wood's capable of with Kurtzman.
Lastly, a friend bought me a book (in the form of giving me the money for me to pick it up). I chose the collection of Michael (Heroes) Green and Denis Cowan's Batman Confidential arc. I'll give it the full review next time but so far, really liking it.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008


Here we go. Brief recap of my reads from the past month due to waiting and waiting, keeping loyal before finding out my order'd been missed. For the most part I'm up to date and even read a couple of new things that I'd otherwise not have picked up.
In no particular order...

I picked up Kick Ass #1 and subsequently #2 in the out of a sense of keeping my finger on the pulse and always hoping for the best for JRJR. For the record, I get the idea that Mark Millar is 1) a really nice guy b) loves to publicise/overpublicise himself and thirdly, operates in his own bubble in the world of comics.
Every interview I've heard with him tells us how the artist he's working with is the best currently working in comics. Steve McNiven has something, Tommy Lee Edwards is a great illustrator, and Bryan Hitch has come a long way baby. John Romita Jr is probably the closest his claim comes to validity. His art on Kick Ass plays to one his many strengths which is street level. The book looks gorgeous, inked by Tom Palmer who couldn't do any wrong over such a great draftsman. The colourist Dean White also did a great job over him on Black Panther.
The problems start with what I think is Mark Millar's weak point; the high concept. Warren Ellis used to suffer the same thing for me. You come up with a great idea. "A+B=Wow. Now to add to the idea and you have a story". The problem with this is that you get the nice element of surprise at the newness in the firstplace, enjoy it all the way through but can never go back to it. Twelve issues of Wolverine by JRJR, inked by Klaus Janson and I just couldn't go back and read it.
Kick Ass already has that feeling for me. If I get a slow week I might continue with it and keep you posted but I'm not optimistic.
To get it all out of the way, I also picked up the Morrison Batman I'd missed. The story's taken an up swing and has a great Batman moment at the end to remind me why I'm sticking with it but the art attached backs up my feelings about Tony Daniel. Roll on the fill-in issues.

Now Jonah Hex, moving on and up is just a joy. I found one I hadn't noticed in Previews, while desperately seeking my fix. Plus a new one. Great, (generally) stand alone stories by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray that I'd read every month if I didn't have to pay for 'em. I'm spoiled for working in a comic shop in the past to the point of only buying books I feel I'm gonna keep wanting to go back to. Fortunately, every xth issue is drawn by Jordi Bernet who has a mixture of classic styles in his own, not the least of which is Alex Toth, and I feel a bit of John Buscema, Dan DeCarlo there too. As you'll see from the scans, it's just fuggin gorgeous. The stories give him plenty to work with, in terms of environment, characters, violence and comedy and is completely faithful to Michael Fleisher and Garcia-Lopez stories from the 70s. Pick it up!
Wolverine's on a roll. The regular monthly has a three parter by Jason (Scalped) Aaron with Wolverine hunting to kill Mystique, who's generally a treacherous bitx, and great for it, but really screwed the X-Men during the recent X-Men crossover. This was one of those great meetings of the stars. Ron Garney who's comics I always want to buy the writing lets him down, Jason Aaron who's great and, well so far so good. Lastly Wolverine who's a character I love to read done well.
Ron Garney's drawing it, at his absolute best, adapting his style for every project and to this one bringing a lot of John Buscema, shot straight from pencils which gives it a good, rough, Klaus Janson finish. His story telling is great and fluid and his Wolverine is great.
The story is twisty-turny, violent and fun and recommended for Wolverine fans, not however recommended for people that don't like Wolverine.Marvel Knights Logan is by Brian K (he's good) Vaughn and drawn by Eduardo Risso. Dean White colours and while its loud, its also good. A good water colour vibe without the apparent colour blindness that afflicts Richard (three tone) Isanove or Guy (one tone) Major. Dave Stewart makes it look easy and has plenty of peers to show that its not.

Its Risso so its gorgeous. Its Risso Wolverine so it can't go too wrong for me. Plenty of reviewers have gone on about another lost Logan love and another surprise, old enemy who needs revenging and to be honest, I don't know what they want. There's really not too much to add to the character. Get over it. Don't read comics you know aren't going to offer you something new because you only disappoint yourself.
George Pratt wrote and drew a great looking Wolverine story called Netsuke a while back. It bombed, isn't collected's not following the 'formula'. Wolverine+Revenge...Wolverine+Loser at Love=...Wolverine+PLus World War 2=...
This is just a good Wolverine story...And its gorgeous.
Bachalo's just come on for his first arc on Spider-Man with the funny and fun Zeb Wells who never disappoints me and Tim Townsend inking who does him the most justice of any inker (close second of Richard Friend).
I, for one, don't care about Spider-Man's marriage, deal with the devil, dead/dying/alive aunt. I've been seeing scans of pages here and there for a while so I was stuck for what to scan. Hence a good Spidey picture! This is one of those 'does what it says on the tin' reads. If you like the look, pick it up. I thought it was great.Paul Smith on the Spirit. I was excited by the prospect but found the experience jarring. One minute its Paul Smith, the next its Eisnery. Good fun, good Lee Loughridge colours, good fun Aragones and Evanier story...though Cooke is missed. Both Ploog and Smith, I feel, are being overly reverant in dealing with Eisner's flagship character. They could both relax a bit. Regardless, I'll stick about, though I'm really, really dreading Waldon Wong (deadline corrector) who only seems to emerge from the shadows of comics shadows to ink great artists into the ground when they can't meet deadlines.The Iron Man movie's coming and so there's a lot of Iron Man comics about. This is one of the few I jumped at. I fked up a bit and bought the issues, not banking on a collection as Joe Casey+Great Idiosyncratic Aquired Taste Art generally= Critical acclaim, commercial flop.
Great, contempory, year one type story by Casey, incredible art by Eric Canete (see the blog links above) and DAVE STEWART on colours! The quality starts there! Saturfaction guaranteed! Seek it out or buy the book in a couple of months!
To be continued with All Star Supes, New Horizon Special and Action Comics.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Absent Without Leave

Hello cruel world,
Contrary to my slanderous accusations of poor couriers causing delays here in Barcelona, it was in fact a clerical error at my comics shop here that left me without comics for a month : (
I've got a couple of Jonah Hexs, Iron Man Enter The Mandarin, Amazing Spider-Man, Killing Joke Reissue, The Spirit, Batman, Action Comics,Wolverine, Logan, All Star Superman and Kick Ass.
I'm now up to date and will get a load of reviews up over the next few days. In the meantime, here's one of those reminders that no matter how much we love to see creators working on their own stuff (particularly Mignola), there's something about seeing 'em cut loose on Kirby, Ditko etc.
These images are from the Upper Deck Trading Cards so you're probably seeing these bigger than published size.
Watch this Space!