Thursday, 29 April 2010

What I got and why.

American Vampire #2 –Vampires aint always my bag, but I’m trying this out, and it hasn’t disappointed so far.
Scalped #37 – ‘cause it’s fucking great, as always.
Detective Comics #864 - I’m getting this because of the awesome JH Williams art and Greg Rucka’s take on Bat-Woma… WTF? Someone seems to have put Arkham Reborn #4 in between the covers of my Detective Comics! Fuck that. Question back-up strip is still strong though.
Streets of Gotham #11 – Liking the stories, loving the back-up. This is going strong for me.
Captain America #605 – Steve who? Sorry I was made deaf by how awesome Bucky is. Hating the Nomad back up strip.
Avengers vs Atlas #4 – This series hasn’t set my world on fire, but the Agents of Atlas are always great fun.
The Walking Dead #71- Another series that goes from strength to strength.
Stumptown #3 - I like crime, I like Greg Rucka, I like Stumptown.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Justice League Unlimited Review

Justice League Unlimited

#19 "The Justice Rangers Ride again" by Adam Beechen & Gordn Purcell

#36 "Wild Geese“ by Matteo Casali & Scott Cohn


Wowsers! Its comics, but for kids!

OK, so Action Ash is always going on at me for only liking “Adult Comics” full of shadows and misery, so I thought I’d buck the trend and pick up some shiny happy comics the whole family could enjoy. What I’ve gone for is a few randomly selected issues of Justice League Unlimited, the spin off from the superb Warner Brothers animated series. My scientific method of choosing the issues involved two factors; which ones are in the comic shop I’m in? and Which one’s have characters I like?

As I’ve probably mentioned before and will no doubt do again, my contact with the DC Universe of characters is mostly through the animations, but I’ve never thought to read the comics based in the Animated Universe. Why? Well, they tend to look a bit shit. Are they? Yes and no.

I went with “Wild Geese”, an issue that highlights The Question and “The Justice Rangers Ride again”, a time-travel romp which features a load of DC’s groovy western characters such as the legend that is Jonah Hex, alongside regular allies Bat Lash and El Diablo (the Ugly, the Bad and the Zorro Knock-Off).

They’re fast-paced 22 page rides featuring little or no continuity, which is a nice change, and although aimed squarely at the younger reader, they are definitely very enjoyable. The writing isn’t quite on par with the TV series though and it does feel kind of rushed and overly goofy in places. The art is by-the-numbers DCAU, which is no bad thing, but it could be a bit more adventurous.

The characterisation differences from DC Proper is noticeable; Jonah Hex is a far cry from the tough-as-shit, hard-as-Hellfire, motherless, son of a son-selling-bitch I’ve come to love in Gray and Palmiotti’s superlative current series, and The Question is very much Rorschach(extra)Lite rather than Vic Sage.

Three and a half cans of soda out of a possible Old No 7.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Bloc review

Action Ash
Valhallahan and I recently attended UniCon, a small comics convention at the University of Hertfordshire and part of their Uni comics festival. There were a lot of indie comics creators pimping their wares and local comics shops spreading the word.
So the two bad guys decided to get all pretentious and review some comics from the British indie scene.
First up:

Written by Oli Smith
Art by Oliver Lambden

A strange little tale about a stone man who gets washed up on the beach of a strange island populated only by floating blocks, which he then decides to smash. I know, weird right? However although it sounds like the scribblings of a retard, it was a genuinely enjoyable read. It immediately made me think of some kind of surreal platform/puzzle video game (something to think about guys) and I wanted to know what the hell was going to happen next. It's definitely the most original of the indie comics that I've seen around.

The art was really nice. Simple looking but deceptively detailed, with an impressive use of shading which gave it a depth it would not of otherwise had.

In summary, fun and original

Four floating blocks out of five.

If you would like to check out the artist got to

Friday, 23 April 2010

Earth Day

Happy Earth Day!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Spider-Man: Fever #1

Spider-Man: Fever #1
Brendan McCarthy & Steve Cook

Whoa Daddy-O, what a total trip! There were all kinds of whacky fly-guys and one gone daddy in red and blue ninja pyjamas beatin’ on some bald feather-man. Some Errol Flynn lookin’ square in a cape was there too. Momma, am I going goofy?

Sorry what? Oh right, the review.

Spider-Man Fever is a wonderfully bizarre crossover with Dr Strange, psychedelia supplied by Brendan McCarthy on Story and Art duties. Now I wouldn’t like to cast aspersions on the character of Mr McCarthy, but this trippy little number didn’t come from evenings sipping Horlicks in front of Eastenders. It’s nice to see Doc Strange in a tale with visuals worthy of his Ditko roots and that’s what we get here, a Ditko-looking journey of lost souls and kooky spider-people. A great choice for anyone looking for an off beat journey into mystery with two (okay, One and a half) of Marvel’s most iconic characters.

Three and a half spiked Tizers out of Five

Swap shop Massacre! The story of Shunka.

Scalped #36
A Fine Action of an Honorable and Catholic Spaniard
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Davide Furno
Cover by Jock

Action Ash
In return for me nominating Valhallahan to read Flash #1, he chose an issue of Scalped for me. Here goes.
I liked it!
I've never read any Scalped before, but this makes me want to check it out. The story in this issue is a great crime/gangsta yarn of a bad ass native American with a secret that he really doesn't want getting out. I'm not gonna say what it is, for not wanting to ruin the story's surprise element, but I think the theme is handled well and without use of offensive stereotype. It felt more like reading a good tv crime drama as opposed to a comic book.

The art was stereotypical of the crime comic style but very good. I'm not a massive fan of this style but when it's done well I like it alot and this was one of those cases.

I'll definitely pick up the next issue

Four blood stained Tomahawks out of Five!

*scroll for spoilers*
I must admit, when it comes to reviewing Scalped, I’m coming from a completely biased standpoint, which is why I picked the latest issue for this week’s Swapshop Massacre. I’ve been a fan since the beginning of this series and look forward to my slice of Scalped misery and excitement every month, I think there was a happy moment in there somewhere but I can’t be sure. Numpty that he is, Action Ash has never read Scalped and my aim was indeed to school him. School him good.

This issue focuses on Shunka, one of Red Crow’s thugs who’s been in the background up till now, and takes him out of the Rez on business where he gets stuck in with a bit of sex and violence. What makes this story stand out a bit more is that the sex is between two chaps. This issue makes some startling points about the extreme difficulties faced by gay men in the Native American community, but don’t be thinking this is a “very special episode” of Scalped. This is hardboiled, hard-hitting drama, and sets the story up for some righteous vengeance to come. Having said that, this is Scalped, and absolutely anything can happen. It’s edge of the seat stuff.

Four and a half blood soaked bed sheets out of five.

The Not-So-Secret Lives of Super Heroes: Origins #1

The Credible Hulk!

As ever, you can still find my pictures at

Tuesday, 20 April 2010


Swap Shop Massacre! Two reviews for the price of one! In this feature we nominate each other a comic to read and review. The idea of this is to read something we wouldn't necessarily buy and give you lucky people our irredeemable opinions on them.
Let the Massacre begin!

The Flash #1

The Dastardly Death of the Rogues

Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul

Action Ash
My first thoughts on this comic (after the erection had died down a bit) were "This is really nice!". The artwork of Francis Manapul is unique yet it echoes the same playful charm that Scott Kolins brought to the Flash on his run of the series. Central city is a hectic place to live and you really get a feel of that through the art, the detail of the backgrounds allowing you to see the citizens going about their daily lives in the hurried manner that they're used to. Also, and most importantly for a Flash comic I suppose, Manapul's depiction of speed is great. Using the old school technique of speed lines (and plenty of them) and a few after images of the Flash really gets the job done.

The story is fun and light hearted and begins with a cool little chase that is an awesome way to start off a series. It kept my attention and has a cliffhanger that makes me more than curious about the next issue.

The only thing I want to know is, what about Wally West? Personally, I think Wally is the best Flash. He's more interesting than the goody two shoes Barry Allen and I started reading Flash comics because of him. Now Mr Allen is back from the dead, are they just gonna sideline West and hope suckers forget him? They better not *shakes fist*

All in all 5 skid marks out of 5. Super Geil!

Like Ash, "My Flash" is Wally West, having been introduced to the character through the DC animated universe and through comic books that were written when I was actually alive. Unlike Ash, I’ve not really been following the Wally West’s adventures aside from the odd cameo in things that are actually good. So did this bold new/tired old direction win me over?

I didn’t like the book quite as much as my esteemed co-reviewer, for a start, my jeans remained un-tented, but I didn’t hate it. I do totally agree about the art, it has a real energy, particularly the kinetic opening chase which is masterfully conveyed. The story left me a bit cold though, it was a nice breeze through the new status quo of the old/new/old Mr Flash-Man, but I don’t really care that much, and you can’t make me, Johns!

Three (rusty) skid marks out of five

The Savage Axe of Ares #1

The Savage Axe of Ares #1
Red Mercury by Gregg Hurwitz & C P Smith
The Gods Answer All Prayers by John Barber & Jefte Palo
Bonebomb Babylon by Ted McKeever
Wojna by Duane Swierczynski

*Contains minor spoilers for The Savage Axe of Ares and a major one for Siege #2*

Red Mercury opens up this anthology, and is probably my favourite of the bunch. The story follows a pair of “soviet turncoats” trying to get to the Yankees to sell them some McGuffin or other with Ares playing the role of their grim guardian angel. It feels like something from Weird War Tales and is the better for it if you ask me, it’s a creepy little tale, with a twist in the end that you can probably see from a mile away, but it didn’t hamper my enjoyment. The art was a bit uneven in places, but I felt it complimented the creepy ‘real-world’ feel of the story nicely.

Making the most of the fact that our swarthy protagonist has been around since before Mary’s unplanned pregnancy The Gods Answer All Prayers is set in the distant past. As Ash pointed out, this is more like a classic Conan tale, but if Conan was even more of a bastard. Conan (a typo-but that says it all really) battles a giant snake and wins a Pyrrhic victory for a capricious princess. It’s a bit too much like a Conan tale to be honest, but it has got a nice commentary from Ares.

Thirdly comes the insanely titled Bonebomb Babylon, Ted McKeever’s contribution to this curate’s egg. I know that Ted McKeever’s artwork has its fans but I can’t say I number among them. I’ll admit it has a certain frenetic charm, but well, it’s ugly. Really, really ugly. He actually seems to be reigning in the ugly a bit here, but I doubt he’ll win over many new fans with his additions to the Marvel Magazines. The story’s quite light and quite Hellboy, I can’t imagine people will be talking about it for years to come.

This brings us to Wojna, the illustrated text piece, which, (alongside the monochrome nature of the issues) is what makes Marvel’s magazines stand out from the multitude of one-shots and anthologies that are released in any given month. I must admit, I’ve skipped them in the previous magazines I’ve read and probably would have again were I not reading this to review. Set far in the past again and taking the same approach to the character as seen in Red Mercury, we see Ares, the twisted guardian, seen through the eyes of a less than great soldier, a technique which, when used too regularly, runs the risk of turning the lead into little more than a host for other people’s stories, like The Crypt Keeper or more relevantly, Death in Weird War Tales. In the accompanying illustrations, Leonardo Manco, proves again that he draws a mean Ares, delivering the best rendition of the character here.

This anthology feels like a tryout for the character’s future direction if/when he’s returned to life in the Marvel universe. There are a lot of possibilities, but I wonder if Ares could sustain a series of his own. Much like Namor, he is a great addition to Marvel universe as an obnoxious sod who finds himself fighting on the side of the angels when it suits him, but he’s not quite likeable enough to hold this reader’s interest for too long. Perhaps this is why we are shown him through another’s eyes for the majority of this issue. Taken out of the context of the Marvel universe as he is here, he’s a bit of a one-note sword and sorcery-type, and I found myself comparing him to other more famous characters too often.

I give it three and a half blood-stained battle axes out of five; a good read but not essential by any means.

Action Ash
Red Mercury didn't actually impress me as much as my co-reviewer here. The story is ok but the twist is totally obvious, as Valhallahan pointed out. The art was good for the characters but some of the back grounds were appalling. Whack!

The Gods answer all prayers was my personal favourite. Although Ares is completely interchangeable with Conan, or every other sword and sorcery bad ass, I really enjoyed it. I admit I be biased due to being a massive Conan fan but I think it's a great little story. Also, Palo's art is pretty damn good and I'd like to see him do something else of this ilk in the future.

Bonebomb Babylon was how Val described it. The only thing I want to add is WTF!?!? The Golden Fleece as a giant monster? As a bit of a mythology geek I thought this was just stupid. Totally Lame! No points to McKeever!

Wojna = tl;dr

Three slaughtered hoplites out of Five

Monday, 19 April 2010

Statement of intent

Face front true believers!

We're here to kick ass and read comic books, and we're all out of ass!

Imperius Rex!