Secret Avengers #1
Secret Histories part one
Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Mike Deodato
If someone came up to you and said "There should be a team of Avengers that are like well spy fiction and do stealth missions. All black ops ninja and shit." you'd call them a sucker MC, slap them with a glove and demand satisfaction. However...you'd be wrong!
Yes Secret Avengers is just that. It's superhero spy fiction with a good, and interesting, roster. Obviously Brubaker is a little bit good, so no surprises when I say that the story is well penned with some nice dialogue. The narrative is tidy, with a great sense of adventure, and great action sequences. Brubaker does a brilliant job of merging the high concept superhero aspects of the characters with the more down to earth, but still high concept, spy aspects of the story. Also there's a surprise reveal at the end that will have you shouting WTF!
Deodato aids the story perfectly, creating their super secret world of espionage with smooth lines and lashings of shadow. It's the perfect look for this kind of story. One thing though. Sometimes, in close up panels especially, he draws faces a bit weird. Look out for it and you'll see what I mean.
Anyway, jolly good show boys.
4 crude jokes about where Valkyrie keeps her sword, out of 5
Saturday, 29 May 2010
Friday, 28 May 2010
There were a lot of things that weren't at the shop I went to, so hopefully I'll pick up the stragglers over the weekend.
Thunderbolts #144 - I'm not a follower of The Thunderbolts, but the new status quo has me intrigued. Atlas' Jeff Parker on words, and ABC Warriors' Kev Walker on pictures doesn't hurt either.
Secret Avengers #1 - In Brubaker we trust.
Detective Comics #865 - It's not that the main story is bad, it's just not something I'm that into right now. I bought this for the Question back up strip, which finishes this issue. Review to come.
Scalped #38 - I can't rave about this series enough, so I won't bother. Suffice it to say, it blows my head off month in, month out.
Thanos Imperative: Ignition - I'm not up on current events, but I do love Cosmic Marvel, the mentalest Marvel by far. Also, who can not love The Mad Titan?
Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #2 - I wasn't particularly impressed by #1, but this issue has fucking beautiful art by Frazer Irving.
Written by Jeff Parker
Art by Kev Walker
With the siege of Asgard over and the Heroic age beginning, the Thunderbolts programme has been taken over by Steve Rogers and he has big plans for it. He has assigned Luke Cage to recruit a motley crew of scoundrels and blaggards to fight on the side of good.
The line up is quite the interesting mix of characters: Luke Cage as leader, Songbird as what appears to be second in command, Mach IV, Crossbones, Ghost, Moonstone, Man-Thing, and the Juggernaut, bitch.
The story starts quite nicely with Cage jumping out of a huge transport plane and crashing down into the courtyard of the prison for superhuman criminals known as the Raft. He then talks to each recruit individually, in a way that gives you information about each character in case you don't know their backgrounds. Then, before they get to start their training, it ends with a cool little surprise and cliffhanger.
Kev Walker provides inspiring illustration, and sets the tone for the series which I hope he will keep up in the issues to come.
Nice book, you should try it.
3 and a half repenting criminals out of 5
An avid 2000AD reader in my early teens, it’s been over 10 years now since I gave it up, I forget the Prog number, but Johnny Alpha was long dead, Volt was Chief Judge, Nikolai Dante was new, Durham Red was hot and Sinister/Dexter were running out of steam. I forget the full reason why I stopped, but stop I did and I’ve hardly looked back. Occasionally I pick up a trade collection of the old stuff; Button Man is still excellent – Strontium Dog hasn’t aged quite as well.
Anyway, whilst visiting a relative in hospital in Squaresville I eloped to the trusty Newsstand to pick up some reading. Not being a fan of music journalism or celebrity gossip and thinking Razzle probably wasn’t appropriate reading for a hospital waiting room, I thought it was high time I picked up an issue of 2000AD.
The first thing that struck me was the how little had changed. This future fiction is firmly rooted in the past. There was trusty old Dredd, Dante: the newcomer (11 years ago), even some Invasion 1999 which is before my time on this planet, let alone my time as a 2000AD reader. The last strip seemed like some kind of supernatural Western, I say seemed because I couldn’t really tell. It was good and creepy though, stark black and white with the occasional panel of vivid colour.
All the stories were of high quality, but pretty much impenetrable, being as they were all mid storyline, and it’s hard to get into something based on 4 pages from the middle; you don’t even necessarily get an interesting bit. I’m sure not many people got into Star Wars just watching the scene where Han and Leia chat to each other in their loft apartment in Empire Strikes Back. Despite that, and despite the fact that Savage seems to have turned into Bruce Campbell in my absence, this was a really enjoyable read, it might even tempt me back to my first love.
Three Hi Ex rounds out of a possible Number Fours Cartridge
I will now divulge to you the current, up to date, finger on the pulse comic book information that I have become aware of.
First up: There is a Flash movie in the works, with Geoff Johns as co-producer and screenwriter. With Johns on board it could be amazing. Lets just hope it doesn't get stuck in development hell.
Also Green Lantern will be getting his own animated series to be shown on Cartoon Network. If it's half as good as JL Unlimited or his own animated movie First Flight, it will be awesome.
Firestar to Join the Young Allies. Anyone care?
With the release of X-Men #1, July 8 has been labelled X-Men Day by Marvel. How are they going to celebrate, you ask? By releasing a shit load of variant covers for people to spend money on. The most interesting of these is the Blank variant that you can use to draw your own cover. I like the idea but on the other hand it's just lazy. Next they'll be getting us to write our own stories and draw our own double page splash panels of epic battles between super powered peeps.
Thursday, 27 May 2010
One think that did strike me though, was that it wasn’t the first or even second story about street-level super-types being stranded in a prehistoric society and inspiring a tribe of savages that I read last month. Brian Wood’s DV8 relaunch took the team away from their grim urban surroundings and stranded them in a strange world where different groups of cave folk worship each one like Gods. Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine puts Wolvie in charge of a tribe of violent wildmen in woods, and in Return of Bruce Wayne we see bats inspiring his own group of Bat-Cave-Men at the dawn of mankind.
Evidently cave men are the new black. Adjust your wardrobes accordingly.
Tuesday, 25 May 2010
DV8: Gods and Monsters #2 - I was a big fan of DV8 in the late 90s and this revamp has me intrigued. I haven’t read any Wildstorm in years, so I don’t know what the deal is with continuity, is there any? Are we meant to be wondering why half these characters are alive and together again, or do we just accept it as an entirely new thing? Also worth noting that Brian Wood’s inability to write a likeable character works perfectly here. The cover is probably my favourite of the month. Tattoo-Worthy.
The Marvels Project #8 (of 8) - I’ve enjoyed this series, so in a way it’s a shame to see it go, but in other ways it was a pretty pointless re-treading of old ground with a few cool additions. To end it with Pearl Harbour seemed pretty arbitrary to me, but I’ll stop complaining because I did enjoy it (the series, not Pearl Harbour - That was well shit).
Girl #3 – This is an old Vertigo Verite series by Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo that I’ve been trying to track down for about two years. I’d literally tried every comic shop in London and the outskirts to no avail (Found #1 in Oxfam, Crouch End, and #2 in Orbital), I’d have looked online, but where’s the fun in that? Anyway, this is an excellent series about a strange young woman and her crappy life. Also, she may or may not be a serial killer.
A year or two ago, whilst perusing the shelves of Fantastic Realm, my local, no longer extant comic shop my eye was drawn to this fruity little number. Not having heard anything about the book prior to this chance encounter, what first hit me was the art. Set in some near-future Middle Eastern conflict, the simple but expressive artwork of Phil Noto really shone. The palate was dramatically different to the bold superheroics or dark shadowy crime and crying comics I was reading at the time, and felt like a breath of fresh air. So enrapt was I by the package that it took two issues for me to realise that I'd read this story before.
Issue one opens with a small group of US soldiers finally ceding control of the last operative airstrip after what we’re led to believe was a gruelling, prolonged attack. The last plane leaves, leaving our heroes with a long walk home. The story follows this group's epic journey, interspersed with the struggles of the commander’s wife back on the home front; a fractured, bankrupt America. Our heroes are lost at sea, face a cruel 'Cyclops' on an island of slaves, while at home wife and son fight off the attentions of nefarious men who want their land and her *ahem*. Yep, you guessed it, it’s a (post)modern take on the Odyssey; the battle of Troy is The War Against Terror, and Classical Greece is a United States torn apart from within.
Now this may sound like a naff idea, but trust me on this, it’s a real class act. I don’t know why, but it seems to have stopped at issue 4 with no sign of recommencing any time soon, but I bloody well hope it does.
Four thinly veiled metaphors out of five. Go out and buy it.
My other main issue is that the first big story seems to set up a fight with Wonder Man (who's regrown his mullet and seems to be being turned into the Bishop of the Avengers) and the proposed murder of their own children. Yep, welcome to the Age of Heroes folks! Where Infanticide and beating on your friends is the order of the day. I’m not sure if I'm interested or not that the kids are the ones introduced in the Avengers Next straight to DVD Movie, but it's probably worth noting.
I can't really fault the art, JR JR is dependable as ever, albeit the subject matter makes this more World War Hulk than Kick-Ass, I prefer his work on street level (or rather roof top) heroes, feeling his Big Ass Bold Super Duper Guys work can be a little bit uninspiring, compared to his more human works. It's still great but y’know...
2 West Coast reservists out of a possible First Five.
Sunday, 23 May 2010
I'm looking forward to this. It sounds like a cool event on the flipside of the epic world shattering events that Marvel have produced in the last few years.
Also I'm looking forward to the new guy who has taken up the name of Power Man. I am a massive Luke Cage fan and definitely want to see if this kid is deserving of the title. Tbh I think he may be, as his power (from what I've read) seems to be making things explode when punching them. A superpower I would LOVE!
This storyline is looking quite dark for the most part. However, Fred Van Lente, who is scripting the mini series Shadowland: Power Man, in which this new hero is to make his debut, says:
"Our great artist, Mahmud Asrar, and I are trying to prove with this book a 'street' title doesn't have to be noir-drenched angst all the time"
Take that Valhallahan!
In the beginning...
Written by Len Wein
Art by Andy Kubert
A series designed to tell the story of the history of the DC Universe, naturally starts off in the golden age. We follow Paul Lincoln, now an old man, from his childhood in the 1940's as he comes into contact with various masked adventurers and through this we learn the history of the DCU.
This first issue features The Crimson Avenger, The Sandman, The Atom (original) in the main story and Doctor Fate and The Spectre in the back up material.
I love Golden age comics so this first issue was great for me. Also, not knowing as much about the days of DC past as I do about Marvel's, this series will be an enjoyably geeky history lesson for me.
Nicely scripted, it felt almost like DC'S attempt at their own version of a Marvels Project style series, which I do not feel is a bad thing. Marvels Project was a great little series and the chance to see something similar for a different universe makes me smile.
Andy Kubert on the pencils with his old dad, Joe, on inks, provides this book with a lovely aesthetic that suits the story well. Also the first two pages are by a certain mister Scott Kolins, however they are almost unrecognisable as him due to the colourist (Mike Atiyeh). This matters not, however, because they are as fantastic as the rest of the book, the first page being one of the best and a great way to start it off.
J.G. Jones provides pencils for the back up strip which is equally awesome, his renderings of The Spectre and Dr Fate being among the best I've seen.
This is a nice little package and you definitely get your moneys worth.
4 felled fedora wearing mobsters out of 5
Saturday, 22 May 2010
Written by Paul Dini
Art by Stephane Roux
Being a character I don't know much about, this is a book I picked up purely because of what I knew from the animation Justice League Unlimited. Also I read Batman: Streets of Gotham which is also written by Dini, and I like his noir influenced writing style, which really comes through in this book. This is a typical detective story...with magic!
It's mystic noir and it's good.
The artwork is nice too, reminding me a bit, of Terry Dodson but more serious. This is my first taste of Roux in action and I'm liking what I see as he seemingly is the man for the job. Little bit of fan service but no so much as to make it in your face and undermine the story.
This is a promising ongoing that I am looking forward to seeing more of.
4 Top hats containing white rabbits out of 5
Next Avengers part 1
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by John Romita Jr
Hot diggity dog! A silver age style cosmic time travel adventure has begun.
Is this awesome y/n?
Yes! It is!
The new Avengers series kicks off with the beginning of a nice little time travel storyline by mister Bendis. Although there wasn't any chrono surfing just yet, the story is a set up for such hi jinks, and I gotta say, it got me excited. With an appearance from a certain "conqueror" this issue got me excited about the possibilities for this new series.
Romita Jr provides fantastic illustration throughout, although his Thor does look a bit boyish at times. Apart from this, though, the art is great, with his reveal of the aforementioned conqueror (you guys know who it is right?) being my favourite page in comics this month.
Can't wait to see what happens next.
4 blonde Norse gods laying the beatdown on timelords out of 5
p.s. Look out for local celebrity Timothy Stafford in this issue. The mightiest hero of all!
Friday, 21 May 2010
Avengers #1 - I'm giving Bendis' Avengers one last chance, but I have to say I've fallen out of love with his Writing.
American Vampire #3 - Still intrigued, but still not blown away.
Girl Comics #2 - Issue one was a trifle underwhelming, but I’m still hoping for some gems.
Zatanna #1 - I really enjoy Paul Dini's writing and he's proven adept at writing the character in Detective comics and the Animated series. Art looks like a toned down Wieringo to me.
Streets of Gotham #12 - I’m enjoying this series, and the Manhunter back-up is great.
Hellblazer #267 - With Peter Milligan onboard, Hellblazer seems to be returning to the glory days. Can't wait for Shade The Changing Man next issue.
The Walking Dead #72 - I shouldn’t need to explain why.
Atlas #1 - This is a wonderful series, in whatever form it's being printed in these days.
The Original content however veers from the OK, (Goes drinking with a graphic designer - Honestly) to the downright insultingly bad. I can’t believe anyone would pay someone to produce the trapped-in-a-cave-with-the-Morlocks story. I can only assume that it was commissioned as filler over a decade ago (when the story is set) and was found in a drawer. The plot is dire and the art seems to be entirely traced from late 90s X-Men covers by someone who's clearly never seen a real pair of breasts in his life, if his anatomy is anything to go by. I can only assume that it’s by an editor’s nephew or some such, perhaps by someone with some incriminating photographs.
Ironically, this deeply uninspiring package is actually a good staring point for the character. It’s got a 'New-Avengers-Double-Act: Wolvie and Spidey' story, a Noir-ish story where he does some investigating for an old friend (with a shameless Yellow Claw red herring seemingly thrown in just so the artist could draw him), a (shithouse) X-Men story, a Versus the Hulk Story, a Wolverine likes hanging round with young girls story (a particularly naff one at that) and a few more t'boot. So if you’re a new reader, then this is actually a good introduction to who he is and what he do, and if you like this, wait till you read the good stories! Also there is a lot of story for your money albeit of debatable quality.
Two mouldy bone claws out of a possible six shiny Adamantium sharpies.
One question remains though; If Steve Rogers is opposed to the use of firearms, why is he wearing shoulder holster straps over his natty star spangled roll neck?"
Astonishing X-men: Xenogenesis #1
Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Kaare Andrews
X-men is the series that got me into comics. However in recent years (like so many comics titles) it has become bogged down in many years of continuity. Don't get me wrong, I like it, but it's nice to see a mini series like this that is out of main continuity and stands alone.
This first issue is good stuff indeed.
The story revolves around a fictional African country with a sudden surge of super powered baby births. They don't think it's a mutant thing, due to the fact that the x gene usually activates at puberty, but they feel the need to check it out anyway.
With nice artwork from Andrews (although Emma Frost looks weird sometimes) and clever witty dialogue from Ellis, this book is a fun, lighthearted read. It left me wanting to know what happens next and I will definitely be picking up the next issue.
Four mutant babies out of Five
Wednesday, 19 May 2010
I’ve been reading New Avengers since Action Ash was in nappies, “but it’s only been running 6 years!” I hear you cry. Yes, Action Ash has issues.
I liked Chaos/Disassembled and was a big fan of New Avenger when it came out, I loved the banter and the intrigue. I gave up on NA around the time it was being drawn by the eminently average Billy Tan and consisted solely of crossover tie-ins and underwhelming fights with the Hood and his Handbook of the Marvel Universe army of Goons.
Well this series certainly ends as it became. In Finale, we’re treated to a pointless fight with the Hood that ties into Siege. Great. At least the art’s a darned sight better than Mr Tan. We have Bryan “Ultimates” Hitch giving us Ultimates-Lite. Now on his worst day, Hitch draws rings around his peers (literally - it’s a mental health issue) and this isn’t his finest hour, but is still head and shoulders above competitors, and several stories above Billy Tan. His Wolverine does look like a sex-offender though.
Although a lifelong Marvel fan I had never actually bought an Avengers comic until New Avengers #51 (I know, weird right?). I've loved the series, and to Val's disgust, I liked Billy Tan's art. Maybe not enough shadows, noir and misery for him? Maybe if Luke Cage got depressed went on a drinking binge and tried to solve a murder he'd of enjoyed "what it became"?
Anyway the Finale issue is, I agree, pointless, but it's fun. Some super heroics and cheesy dialogue about superhero camaraderie.
The artwork is alright. I'm not a massive Hitch fan but I know he can do better than this. His Ultimates stuff reigns on this.
All in all I think a nice little ending to the run
p.s. Hitch's Wolverine does indeed look like a sex offender
Origins of Siege One-Shot
(I know it’s hopelessly out of date, but I only just picked up a copy)
Usually these things are just prolonged adverts, with reading lists or Handbook entries and a preview snippet that has already been printed in the back of that month’s comics and been online for God-knows, but this freebie was a very pleasant surprise. Along with the Siege preview pages (that must have been reprinted more times than the picture of the tennis player scratching her arse by now) and a few pages of atmospherically painted conversation between Osborn and Loki, it had some really nice one page introductions to all the main players of the MU. With well chosen artists they make this a really nice package. This would have made for much more satisfying back-matter in the main book as opposed to the crap they did put in. Thor by Esad Ribic (Loki, Sub-Mariner: The Depths) and Guiseppe Camuncoli’s (Hellblazer) contributions are highlights.
4 bottles of snake-oil out of five (for what it is). Pick it up if you get a chance.
Wolverine #900 - I'm a fan of Wolverine, and enjoy anthologies in general; this book was proper shit though. More on it later.
New Avengers: Finale - I got this for closure, then I realised it wasn't being cancelled, so now I'm just confused.
Daytripper #6 - Loving this series. Hopefully we'll be doing something on it here in the near future.
Siege #4 - Though my interest is dwindling through Crossover Fatigue, I am still a fan of the Marvel Universe as a whole, so I feel I have to keep up with current events. I’ve enjoyed the series so far?
The Return of Bruce Wayne #1 - I'm not a fan of Grant Morrison's recent work on the character, but I do like Batman, so I got this to see what the current direction is and if it’s worth my time - Jury's still out.
Heroic Age Preview - To see how much money Marvel are attempting to leech out of me in the coming months.
What I didn’t Got:
Prince of Power #1 - The shop I was in didn’t have this in stock. They had it in Action Ash’s shop though. Bastards.
Monday, 17 May 2010
Saturday, 15 May 2010
Tuesday, 11 May 2010
Monday, 10 May 2010
Dead to the world
Written by Chris Roberson
Art by Mike Allred
Quick plot summary:
A girl named Gwen Dylan is a Zombie who has to eat the brains of the recently deceased each month or she will turn into a shambling mindless...well zombie. After consuming the grey matter of the cadaver, Gwen gets their memories, and gaining the memories of a man that has been murdered, she decides to catch the killer and avenge him. She hangs around with her friends Ellie, a ghost from the sixties and 'Spot' a were-terrier.
Having waited for this comic to come out for a little while, I was a little disappointed when I wasn't blown away and totally wigged out by its awesomeness. I am however eager to see what happens next issue, having faith that it'll get better once it warms up a bit. Anyway back to issue #1:
Mike Allred is a great artist, and so this book looks pretty damn good. The use of a darker colour palette than usual (by Mrs Allred) gives the story a tone that differs from some of his other work. That tone being more serious (just about) than his wacky superhero work on Madman and X-Statix.
The story is OK but didn't really keep me as interested as I expected it to. Obviously being the first issue it was trying to introduce me to the world in which it's set but it felt like it was trying too hard. This should of been disguised in the narrative better, and reading it, I didn't feel like I was in the main story yet. Like this was just a prologue and not important to later narrative development. Without giving too much away the supporting characters felt like they had been done before and probably better! Also the use of a corporation that hunts supernatural creatures as an antagonist is both bland and unoriginal. In some ways it's like izombie has come a decade too late. In the era of Buffy the vampire slayer and other such teen aimed supernatural fiction it would of fit right in.
Having said all this I will buy the second issue. I am eager to find out if izombie will get better as it goes along, as is my suspicion. Also I suspect I am being a little harsh, and should wait for some more issues to come out before slagging it off. I suppose the question of whether izombie is any good or not will be answered in time.
Three and a half mouthfuls of brain out of five
UPDATE: I've changed my mind, this score is too generous. I've given better comics the same. So it's now three mouthfuls of brain out of five.
Thursday, 6 May 2010
Tuesday, 4 May 2010
A while ago I was in my local comic shop and I saw an old comic on the shelf that for some reason immediately caught my attention. It was a simple image of two boxers in the ring and one was knocking the other out. The title read Joe Palooka, America's most famous comic hero, to which, when pointed out, Valhallahan said "What, more famous than Superman?"
This seemed like a fair comment at the time, but I was intrigued so when I got home I did a bit of Internet detective work. Imagine my surprise when I found out that, although he may not be more famous than Supes, he was, at one point, AS famous as everyones favourite Kryptonian do gooder. Now, I know any Americans reading this will be thinking "Is this guy for real?", however, Joe is pretty much forgotten in the U.K. unlike the U.S. where he seems to be forever in the public conscience.
Joe Palooka was created by cartoonist Ham Fisher and after years of trying to sell the strip to different publishers with no success it finally debuted in 1930. Apparently Fisher was, for lack of a better term, a bit shit when it came to writing and drawing (great choice of profession mate) so he relied on assistants to make the book the way he wanted it to be, only drawing the faces of Joe and another character, Knobby.
One such assistant was Li'l Abner creator Al Capp. This partnership did not end well, sparking off a 20 year feud between them. Eventually Fisher committed suicide. The end.
Anyway, back to the hero of the story.
Joe is a lovable oaf boxer who has various adventures, in the field of boxing and elsewhere. In 1940 he enlisted in the army, and being the first comic strip character to sign up, it's thought he may of influenced the decision of other young men to go to war. Although portrayed as slightly dumb and inarticulate, he was well meaning and occasionally spouted some profound words of propaganda, such as "Anybuddy back home who's spreadin' intolerance against any person bucuz of his race, creed or color is spreadin' Nazi principals". You go Joe!
I think Joe Palooka is a pretty cool guy. Eh fights Nazis and doesnt afraid of anything.
Oh yeah and he even has his own statue in a small town named Oolitic in Indiana.
Saturday, 1 May 2010
I’d heard of this a while ago and was intrigued, I’m not a pop fan myself (not nearly enough songs about drinking yourself to death) but I can appreciate the spectacle and sense of theatre Lady Gaga brings to that turgid waste-pipe of a genre. Anyway, Action Ash hates Gaga so I thought I’d pick it for the next Swap-Shop Massacre and make him read it, but having read it myself I’m going to spare him the misery.
With her old school glam, avant-garde visuals and stage persona, I was secretly hoping for something cool with the comic, something like the Kiss comics of the 70s or some kind of Jem and the Holograms for the new century, but damn, was I wrong! It was only a preview, but unless there’s some kind of ‘Silencio’ switcheroo on page 8 where the writer, artist and story changes, the full book is gonna be a bona fide sack o’ shit.
Weirdly the story focuses on a miserable, fat music snob discovering Gaga and falling in love with her, ditties and all. Who’s Lady Gaga? I hear you ask. Well her apparently.
…No, me neither. I think this picture says more about the art than I ever could.
I’ll be saving my money to track down Marvel's time-travelling Billy Ray Cyrus comic.
*No Rating Earned*