Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Holy Spider Shit!

Action Ash
I just read part 2 of The Grim Hunt Spider-man storyline and Holy Shit is that some ultra-violence right there!

I'm really loving this story and I think it's the grimmest they've ever written for young Peter Parker.
Spidey is really being tormented physically and mentally and the end of part two left me wondering how the fuck he's going to get out of this one.

*Highlight for spoilers*

Is Spidey dead now or what? I just saw him get shot twice, mauled by a Lion man, stabbed and impaled on a spear, before being finished off with a knife to the heart, to be sacrificed so Kraven could be resurrected.

Wtf happens now?!?!

Friday, 25 June 2010

Black Fury in the Old West

Pale Horse #1 of 4
Story by Andrew Cosby
Written by Michael Alan Nelson
Art by Christian Dibari

Action Ash
It seems like the Western genre is back in comics in a big way. There seems to be a growing number of titles, the latest one being Pale Horse by BOOM! studios. It's only a four parter but the first ish was a good'n.

The story is of a black man named Cole. He is married (presumably) to a native American woman who is raped and murdered, leaving behind a baby son and a furious lover. After dealing with the transgressors, we join Cole and his son (who looks remarkably white for the offspring of a black guy and a native American) as they make a living bounty hunting as well as being outlaws themselves.

I thought it was going to be a simple revenge tale at first, but by the end of the book you know something else is going on and it will probably end in lashings of bloodshed.

Art is nice, reminding me a bit of someone else who I can't quite put my finger on. Also the colour palette is great, and gives the book a old western feel with a grimness to it that can't be ignored.

3 and a half rapists having their throats slit and being made to watch themselves die in a mirror out of 5

Thursday, 24 June 2010

On the pulse!

Action Ash

"Stronger than a whale he can swim anywhere,
he can breath underwater and go flying through the air"

That's right suck bags.
Hark, for the Sub-Mariner is back with his own ongoing series this August. It's penned by Stuart Moore and scribbled by Ariel Olivetti with a cover by Jae Lee and a variant by Quesada himself.

I, a fan of the ankle winged aqua king, am quite excited!
Unfortunately it's going to be tied up with the X-Men vampire shit that's coming our way, which is a bit of a bummer. I don't think Namor works with the X-Men, especially with the tenuous link that is the "Atlanteans are mutants too" idea.
Hopefully after the Vampire thing has run it's course Namor will get to go his own way, for incredible underwater adventures and tales of pomp and pageantry in the vein of Stan Lee's version of the character. Alas, I do not think this will come true, however it could still be good.

Imperius Rex!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Valhallahan's Comic Book Fortnight!


I haven't done the 'What I Got & Why' the last two weeks, partially because it's been real slim pickin's on the new books front for me, and partially because I've been as busy as a nightclub urinal. I thought by way of recompense, I'd give you lovely people my week (or two) of comics -

*Insert Theme Tune*

Well... the week before last (remember that?) I had mini Marvel week. Just four books, all from The House of Ideas. Just one company, but quite a selection; I picked up Gay Cowboys (Rawhide Kid #1), trippy insects in the astral plane (Spider-Man Fever #3), the adventures of a teenage CEO (Prince of Power #2) and the comparatively pedestrian-sounding superhero vs Nazis (Captain America #606). As I've mentioned before, I was loving Fever and it finished as it started, Cap's still going strong (remarkably, after this long a run), as is PoP. Rawhide Kid was, well... a bit shit to be honest.

Unlike the rest of the comic book reading world, I rather enjoyed the first Rawhide Kid mini that Zimmerman did a few years ago (which ridiculously earned a "Mature Readers" rating due to a bit of mild innuendo and a homosexual lead) I picked up all the issues in a bargain bin a couple of years ago and was pleasantly surprised. Here, however, Chaykin continues his descent into CG hackerey and the stunted scripting does it no favours, never feeling like flowing conversation. Even the innuendos are poorly conceived and executed, which is half the fun for something that's clearly aiming to be a mixture of A Fistful of Dollars and Carry On Camping. I'd give it two (rusty) sheriff's badges of five; one of which is solely for the Ghost Rider scene - not awful, but disappointing.

I couldn't find a copy of Jonah Hex #55, but the giant wheel of comic book karma saw fit to guide me to Oxfam in Hertford where I picked up a bunch of 70s and 80s issues for a steal. So far I've read the one about Carnies and I'm saving the rest to do some kind of Hex then and now with Action Ash in the coming weeks.

Then to Edinburgh, where I braved many bars and several portions of haggis to pick up DV8: Gods and Monsters #3, which focuses on Mr Hector Morales; the mopey Deviant; and Daytripper #7 which sees the darkest story so far (which is saying something for a book whose protagonist is an obituary writer whose death concludes each episode). Both good issues, DV8 dragging a little bit, but I'm still interested to see where the story's headed. I also learned that Forbidden Planet Edinburgh is nice but a little on the small side. Weirdly, it didn’t Have Hellblazer #267 or The Walking Dead # 73, so I picked them up elsewhere. I shouldn’t need to tell you why I got those, or that they were good at this point.

On my (long-arse) up and down journey I read Luna Park which I bought for the gorgeous fucking art of Danijel Zezelj (and wasn't disappointed) and Johnny Dynamite: Underworld which was a rip-roaring pulp adventure purchased from the bargain bin at a comic convention a month or two ago. I'll post up bits on them later. I also finished The Maltese Falcon and ate some sandwiches from M&S, but this isn't really the arena for that, 'cause there weren't no pictures.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

The Grim Hunt Begins!

Spider-Man #634

The Grim Hunt Part 1
Written by Joe Kelly
Art by Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano

Action Ash
Grim Hunt has begun and it is pretty cool! I haven't read Spider-man in years but I had to pick this up and try it. I'm glad I did because I wasn't disappointed.

Kraven's kin are out for Spider blood and will stop at nothing till all the Spider related heroes are dead.

I was gripped from the start and was left wanting more. The story was well written and even though I haven't been following Spidey it was easy to get into and I didn't feel lost at any point.

The artwork is fantastic and soooo different to the Spider-Man aesthetic I'm used to. A far cry from the colourful silver age style adventures, it was a much darker more mature take on the web slinger. I suppose you could say it was "grim" at parts and therefore really suited the story. It was very noir "adult comics" so Valhallahan will probably want to marry it.

Also there's two back up features. The first, entitled Hunting the Hunter was mediocre and left me with no great sense of pleasure or displeasure. The second was an interesting two pager from Stan Lee himself. It's 12 part series, so it should be interesting to see where Lee takes it.

4 Russians chasing a guy in a red and blue leotard out of 5

Friday, 18 June 2010

Slack Cat

Black Cat #1 of 4
Written by Jen Van Meter
Art by Javier Pulido

Action Ash
It's fun.
There's not much more to say on this book. The story was hardly boner worthy, but I did enjoy it. I used to like the character back in the days of the 90's Spider-man cartoon, but apart from that I've not really had any exposure to her.

This issue makes her seem fairly two dimensional and not really interesting enough to hold her own. The most interesting thing about her seems to be that she's shagging Spider-man and therefore, left me feeling that she should remain in a supporting role in the web head's many titles.

However the artwork is fantastic. Pulido has done a great job bringing the story a retro charm and a great aesthetic that nearly masks the lack of interesting plot.

The highlight of this disappointing affair is the extra in the back of the book, in the form of a prologue to The Grim Hunt, the new Spider-man arc that started this month. It looks Super Geil!

In summary it's not that bad... but it's not that good either. Art is great. Not sure if I'll pick up the next ish or not.

2 and a half stolen Faberge eggs out of a whole collection of 5

'nuff said!

New Avengers is back with a vengeance

New Avengers #1
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Stuart Immonen

Action Ash
The latest addition to the Heroic age Avengers titles is here and it's just what I've been waiting for. Don't misunderstand me, I loved Avengers#1 and Secret Avengers #1 but this is what I want from my Avengers. I only started reading New Avengers from issue 51, but right away it was one of my favourite titles. I liked the street level adventures and the assembly of characters, and was surprised at how well the mixed lineup worked.

The new New Avengers seems like it's going right back to that, only with Luke Cage leading (which in my opinion is a plus) and starting with a storyline linked to the one that I started this series with.

The eye of Agamotto, Dr Strange, Dr Voodoo and Daimon Hellstrom, the son of Satan himself, are the focus of what looks like will be a good little adventure to get the guys into the swing of being a New Avenger (again!).

Immonen is perfect choice for pencils, as he continues to do what he did previously on this title, only better. Some of that may due to the contribution of Wade Von Grawbadger (srsly!) on inks and Laura Martin on colours. They both do an awesome job!

4 thunderclaps in Victoria Hand's face out of 5

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

On the pulse!

Action Ash
Silver age artist Neil Adams is back with the Bat. He is on art and writing duties (and inks on issues #1 and #2) for Batman Odyssey, a six issue limited series which starts this July. No sign of Frank Miller though, who was said to be part of this project when it was announced way back in '07. No problemo, I'm sure Adams has got it down. Should be good, look out for it people!

Saturday, 12 June 2010


Girl #1-3

Story Peter Milligan ~
Art Duncan Fegredo

Seemingly ages ago (don't expect me to be specific - I drink), I picked up a stack of old Vertigo from Oxfam in Crouch End, which has a great Comics and Graphic Novel selection - good for leftfield gems like Crisis back issues, and a tonne of Hellblazer (though I haven’t been in quite some time, so don’t quote me). Among these ramshackle pamphlets was the first issue of Girl, by Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo. I hadn't heard of the series before, but I'll generally give anything by Milligan a try, he's a 2000AD alumnus, a regular contributor to Crisis and one of the early pioneers of the Vertigo imprint, not to mention X-Force/X-Statix. Strangely for a writer of his calibre there are a lot of series by him which seem to have fallen by the wayside, Enigma, The Extremist, Minx... All still unreleased as trades for whatever reasons; they've only just started releasing his legendary Shade: The Changing Man run. But I digress... Suffices to say it took me a fucking age to find all three issues, a quest which ended on the faraway shores of a land called Norwich (OK, it doesn't have shores, but fuck you, this is my story).

Girl throws us into the shitty life of Simone, who lives in a shitty flat in a shitty tower block in a shitty Bollockstown estate, with her shitty family. Simone is not loving life; her monosyllabic parents are at best oblivious, at worst abusive, she's got no friends and she's scared of boys. Even the kids in the lift take the piss out of her.

Things start looking up for Simone when she meets Polly an almost painful reflection of what her life could be like, had she been given all the right breaks. Polly takes Simone under her wing and shows her how to drink, dance, let loose and generally grab life by the balls, so to speak. The trouble is, there's a very strong possibility that Polly is entirely fictional, and our heroine may have gone more than a little bit mental. What adds to this possibilty is the fact that a lot of tragic accidents are befalling the various people in Simone's life, people, if she's honest, Simone is not sad to see the back of...

This is a vibrant, if slightly nihilistic shotgun blast of a story, about breaking the shackles of the mundane society upon which we are thrust into by any means necessary. A satyrical, cynically hillarious... blah, blah, blah... one more paragraph... it's just really fucking good. Go find it!

Four and a bit homicidal split personalities out of a possible five.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Hawks of Outremer

Robert E. Howard's Hawks of Outremer #1 of 4
Adapted by Michael Alan Nelson
Art by Damian Couceiro

Action Ash
Plot: The story is set in 1190AD, during the third crusade. A warrior named Cormac Fitzpatrick finds out a friend he still owes a favour to has been killed, and a lord that had been asked for help refused. So Cormac decides to avenge his dead friend, and hack up the suckers responsible for this transgression.

Essentially this story is "What if Conan (albeit an Irish conan) was in 12th century Turkey fighting in the crusades?". I am a big Conan fan and like Howard's writing style, however his warrior characters do tend to be rip offs of the famous Cimmerian (technically Kull came first, but he's just not as cool).

Although this is the case the first issue of this series sets up the foundations for a fun little revenge tale which promises to end in epic bloodshed and lashings of gore!

I liked the writing. The dialogue and caption boxes are great at times e.g. "Conrad von Gonler I name you liar, traitor and coward, dastard, poltroon and villain! Arm yourself and ride out here on the plain!"

The artwork is good at times, not so good at others, and an all round average effort. It works well for this story but is nowhere near the level of art seen in other Howard comic book adaptions.

All in all a fun read and I can't wait to see what bloody havoc is wreaked in the next three issues.

3 and a half axe cleaved skulls out of 5

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Swap Shop Massacre: Hellblazer and 7 Psychopaths

7 Psychopaths #1 of 3
Written by Fabien Vehlmann
Art by Sean Phillips

Action Ash
First up on this months swap shop is my nomination, the BOOM! Studios offering from Fabien Vehlmann (who?). Apparently Monsieur Vehlmann is better known in the French comics community, however I'm glad he decided to work with BOOM! and Sean Phillips to create this bizarre WWII adventure. I definitely thought this would be up Valhallahan's alley, and so thought it would be a good choice for the massacre.

Right up my alley. I loved it!

Action Ash
I like being right! The plot is basically about a, laughed at and bullied, Colonel and an escaped mental patient recruiting a rag tag team of people with mental problems (7 to be exact) to carry out an assassination on the Fuhrer himself. The idea being that only someone that was majorly head fucked would try such a thing. It had me interested the moment I heard about it, and it did not disappoint. It was well written with occasional witty dialogue and I did not mind the fact that it was quite wordy in places, although I can see how this would put some people off.

"It 'as got some talking" eh Ash? I loved it. Perfectly mental proposition setting up for either a depressingly hilarious Catch 22-esque commentary on war, or a rip-roaring Dirty Dozen-esque Boy's Own adventure. Either way I'm sold for the duration. It's sort of like Inglourious Basterds, but if that film had been about Inglourious Basterds instead of German cineastes.

Action Ash
Sean Phillips strikes again with his shadow soaked visuals, two particular high points being his renditions of wartime London and the huge panel depicting one characters prediction of Hitlers reign of terror.

He does do a lahverly job don'e? The finer line work here reminded me more of his earlier Vertigo books, than his looser style on Criminal/Incognito. He seems to have about three distinct styles that he uses and you can’t fault him on any. He gets all the comedy, all the drama, all the necessary ‘acting’ and it looks great. Bastard.

3 and a half Spitfires piloted by the criminally insane out of 5 - AA

Four tinfoil hats out of five - VH

Hellblazer #267
Sectioned: part one
Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli

Okeydokey, my pick was the latest issue of Hellblazer. I picked it because Ash has been meaning to try Hellblazer but wanted to try a “classic” story. I hadn't read Hellblazer regularly for years, but when I heard Peter Milligan had started writing it, I knew I had to give it a look. I wasn’t disappointed. The only surprising thing is that he’s never done it before. You want Classic Hellblazer Ash? Well Have at Thee!

'Sectioned' is the start of a new storyline, and it looks like it’s going to be a doozy, it starts off with a row between John and new his sort-of missus which seems to end very nastily indeed, but like John, we aren’t entirely sure what happened. We do know that he seems to have fucked up big time. John’s in the shit; his world is literally crumbling around him, his friends are feeling the brunt of it, and he may need some help from someone a bit more in the know than even John himself. So yeah, it’s classic Hellblazer

Action Ash
Believe it or not I've never read Hellblazer until I read this issue. I'm not sure why but it never presented itself to me as something I would enjoy but was always on the periphery of my comic book interests.

Well I'm glad I have finally got round to reading some of it because I Loved it. The britishness is my favourite thing about it. I like the bleak way in which british comic writers tell a story. Also I'm into horror as a genre and demonology so all the demonic and dark magic elements helps get me off too.

Camuncoli's art was very different to the aesthetics I'd associated with Hellblazer, so at first I was disappointed. However it grew on me and I now think he was a perfect artist for this kind of story and I look forward to seeing some of his other work.

It took a while for me to warm to as well. I thought he was far too 'cartoony' when I picked up the first issue of Scab, but he totally won me over with the India storyline, which I heartily recommend. I can't wait to see what he does with Shade: The Changing Man next issue, it's an artist's dream. I do wonder what the series other artist, Simon Bisley -who's recent style style is face-meltingly fantastic - would do with the opportunity though.

Action Ash
From now on I will follow this series, or at least pick up the odd issue and two or three part storyline.

Four shit-smeared padded cells out of five - VH

4 copies of the lesser key of solomon out of 5 - AA

Avengers WTF?

Yesterday I poured myself a drink, pulled up a chair in my garden, lit a cigarette and sat down to read Avengers: Prime, the first issue of the highly anticipated series documenting the reunion of the big three; Thor, Iron Man and Super Soldier Steve Rogers... I got comortable, I inhaled and what the fuck? that book didn't even last as long as my cigarette! I want my three fifty back!

Not a bad book per se, but piss poor value for money.

One sweaty spurt in the pants out of a possible five day orgy.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

What I Got and Why 8/6/10

Due to late deliveries and a (fucking awesome) free Rage Against the Machine gig, I got my comics late this week and thus half of what I wanted had sold out. Drat. Here's what I got and why anyway...

iZombie #2 - I enjoyed #1 more than Action Ash did, but like Ash, I'm not 100% sold yet; hopefully this issue will hook me. Who am I kidding? I bought it for the art.

Sweet Tooth #10 - This is a wonderfully bizarre book. I'm really enjoying the journey. I'm a new Jeff Lemire convert.

7 Psychopaths #1- This came out last week, but I only just procured a copy. It's also Action Ash's pick for swapshop. I'm a big Sean Phillips fan, so I've got high hopes.
Avengers: Prime #1 - I'm interested, but don't have high hopes. I like the characters, and I like Alan Davies, but I'm in full Bendis-Backlash mode at the moment. Hearing that this is bi-monthly doesn't make me more inclined to follow it.

Empowered: Volume 1 - This really isn't my usual cuppa tea, but it was what we had to read for the Comic Book of the Month Club on Facebook. It had it's moments.
I wanted to get Mystery Society, Chimichanga and Bullet-Proof Coffin too, but couldn't find copies.


Sunday, 6 June 2010

International Day of Slayer!

Happy Slayer Day \m/\m/


Today is the International Day of Slayer. A celebration for metal heads and thrashers to unite and listen to Slayer. Think of it like Metal Christmas.

HAIL to the Metal Gods!

Friday, 4 June 2010

The Heroic Age Round Up

So the Siege of Asgard has ended and from its ashes the Heroic age has risen like a silver age pheonix ridden by Captain America, Iron Man and Thor. Valhallahan and I felt it was time to take a look at what's new to the Marvel U, what's different and what we think is gonna work well in this so called Heroic Age.

I enjoyed the Enter the Heroic Age one-shot, although it was an advert break disguised as an anthology, I felt it was a good representation of what the other books would be like and I could see myself trying them out off the back of it. I must say though, the Academy vignette really made me want to stay away. Who on earth designed Reptil? I'm flabbergasted. From what I gather, he's a teen in a scuba suit, who can turn parts of his body into those of a Dinosaur. Dinosaur parts! Not a whole Dinosaur, mind you, that would be fucking silly. I am all for nonsense in my comics but, well, I just... Dinosaur parts? C'mon Marvel! Hawkeye & Mockingbird looks like fun, sort of Mr &Mrs Smith but with Spandex. Not something I'd pick up regularly, but an entertaining romp.

Action Ash
This was a great one shot to pick up. First off let me say Reptil is a totally wank character and I agree with everything you've said there. I thought this issue did just what it was meant to, it raised my interest in upcoming series (except Avengers Academy) and had me curious about things I wouldn't previously have bought e.g. Hawkeye and Mockingbird.

The first issue of Age of Heroes didn't fare as well, Most of the issue was spent with a believable, but dull JJJ story from Busiek and Djurdjevic, and a fun but pointless Dr/Brother/whatever Voodoo story. Put together they're a story about an old Republican ranting to himself and a middle aged man trying to pull. Not really what I was looking for in a superhero anthology. This left 3 pages for all the cool stuff to happen. Captain Britain and America interact, and Spidey pwns the Griffin (who is fucking everywhere at the moment). At least Reptil wasn't in it.

Action Ash
I couldn't agree with you more. Who wants to read about J. Jonah Jameson? What a pointless strip. Doctor Voodoo was disappointing considering his mini series was quite good. All the stories in this were pointless. Just a way to make more money out of Marvel fans. Don't even get me started on Spidey. Did they just put that one page piece of crap in so he could be on the cover?

Of all the 'new' titles, Prince of Power and Atlas are really just continuing their stories where the last of their respective series' left off, albeit both with newbie-friendly jumping on points and a tweaked Status Cho. The Art on Prince of Power is not necessarily something to write home about, but it's dynamic, and it's a darn sight better than some of the lacklustre artists Incredible Hercules has had. I can't recommend Atlas enough; it's such a consistently satisfying read; a wonderful mixture of pure nonsense and genuine emotion. So is the ongoing saga of Herc and Cho for that matter, but Atlas clinches top spot for having consistent art (and Gorilla Man). Top marks all round.

Action Ash
The new Thunderbolts lineup was a pleasant surprise. I was sceptical when I heard they were putting Luke Cage in it because I love Luke Cage and thought they were trying to push him into the background. Then I heard that they were relaunching New Avengers with Cage as Team Leader and realised that Thunderbolts was pretty good. So I'm cool now. Avengers and Secret Avengers were awesome! Only expecting the best from those two from now on.

You see I hated Avengers, but I loved Secret Avengers; I was expecting the other way around - Avengers had Kang, Secret had... Nova? Moon Knight? War Machine? the douche-bag Ant Man? I was expecting Force Works 2, the X-TREEME Avengers, but it totally flipped my wig daddy-O; The Beast back where he belongs was great to see, and I'm sure I don't need to explain how cool it is that they're after the fucking Serpent Crown on bloody Mars! That's an Avengers story!

Valhallahan does Vertigo (punning tiittle TBA)


Howdy Folks!
One of my favourite passtimes is rooting through long boxes for back issues of obscure Vertigo series. To my eyes, Vertigo has a hit record higher than any other publisher, it’s a mark of a certain... Quality? Quirkiness? I’m not sure, but chances are if you pick up any Vertigo book, like it or loathe it, you’ll get something from it. There are obviously the occasional stinkers *Cough*VAMPS!*Cough*, but if Vertigo publishes it, I'll try it. Once.

So Anyway, expect alot of reviews of these series as I read them. First up there'll be Girl, by Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo, followed by Muktuk Wolf'sbreath: Hard Boiled Shaman, then who knows?

Thursday, 3 June 2010

The Not-So-Secret Lives of Super Heroes: Origins #3

The Flash!