Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Johnny Come Lately: The Umbrella Academy

The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite
Written by Gerard Way
Art by Gabriel Ba

I admit it, I jumped on a band wagon, there were two to jump on and I picked one. I'm now going to daringly leap from one wagon to the other.

Like fucking Zorro.

When I heard Gerard Way of My Chemical Emo fame was writing a comic I was sceptical. More accurately, I was like "what the fudge? Well that's clearly going to be shit". Granted I hadn't seen the book, read the book, or even really listened to the band, but I was outraged (ish). And that was right. Right? Wrong! I had jumped a band wagon. Don't jump band wagons kids, you'll miss out on some cool shit.

And this is some very cool shit.

My rampant prejudice was heightened when all the rave reviews came in, but weakened the more I actually read about the series, and then as I saw more and more of the delightful Gabriel Ba art, I was secretly regretting my vocal derision of the Emo Pretender and his silly book. It was too late now though, I'd made a rash judgement, and what are rash judgements there for if not to be religiously adhered to? Having painted myself into a closed minded little corner, I continued with my life. I finally "got" Casanova and really dug the art; I started reading Daytripper, which is fucking beautiful. Oh man, why'd that popstar's book have to have such great art? Anyway, my birthday rolled around and as luck would have it a friend of great genius (who had no knowledge of the Chemical connection) bought me both Umbrella Academy trades. Oh I could have kissed him! (I may have kissed him, my memory gets a little hazy after about 8pm) Win/win! All the comics and none of the humble pie!
I’ve practically run out of space to actually talk about the book now, as this post has already become a bit of a saga, but to cut a long story short I’m a total convert to the Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba are effing geniuses band wagon. I was well and truly wrong. I'm totally hooked on the mad world they've created here; Maniac monuments, time travelling sociopaths trapped in school kids' bodies, robot-zombie architects, mysterious emotionally crippled benefactors, men with Martian-ape bodies, super-dysfunctional super-families, talking monkeys and an orchestra hell-bent on global annihilation.

You had me at "The Day the Eiffel Tower Went Beserk!"

Now Bring on Umbrella Academy: Dallas.

I'm still not listening to MCR.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

There Is A Light That Never Goes Out?

What I Got and Why 27/08/10

Not an interesting week to write about, but a great selection of books to read. To counter, the tedium of reading "I always get it" over and over, I'm going to write this in the style of Yoda. Looking forward to getting stuck in am I...

Captain America #609 - Good Solid Comics this is! Interesting are the further adventures of Bucky. Wars not make one great, robot arm and Russian spy girlfriend help.
Heroic Age Prince of Power #4 - Loved this mini I did; See how they’re going to wrap it all up in this issue, I can not. Follow in Chaos War event it will. Laughed my tits off last issue did I.
Scalped #40 - Grim lives have they, full of misery are they. Transcendental comics are they. Proper cunt Redcrow is.
Bullet Proof Coffin #3 - An Issue from this mad looking series finally have I found! Bloody mental it looks.
Superman/Batman #75 - Curious was I. Mostly shit it was.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Satoshi Kon R.I.P.


Satoshi Kon died this week. If you haven't before, watch Tokyo Godfathers or Paprika and see why this is a terrible loss to the world of film. If you have, watch them again.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Swap Shop Massacre: D&D WITH A&V

Dungeons & Dragons #0
Written by John Rogers/Alex Irvine
Art by Andrea Di Vito/Peter Bergting

Action Ash
I thought for this months swap shop, knowing Valhallahan's hate for the fantasy genre, it would be funny to nominate issue #0 of the Dungeons & Dragons comic.

Well the joke was on me!

I used to play a bit of D&D in my early teens and I always thought it might be fun to try it again some time. I always had fun fighting orcs by rolling die, completing quests and finding treasure. As I got older I forgot about it and even stopped playing RPG's on consoles and computers. In present day I find I don't have the patience to get into World of Wankcraft, and have only just played Neverwinter Nights, god knows how many years after it's release (Also, I know I wont complete it). So when I heard about a D&D comic I thought it was a great idea, and that maybe it would rekindle my interest in playing RPG's again...

Well now I just don't want to.

The D&D comic was probably the most average thing I've read in my life! The story was meh, the characters were meh and the art was (insert expression of apathy, indifference or boredom).

I can't slag it off totally though, because I thought they did a good job of introducing the different character types in a short space but I didn't really care about them. The best thing about it was that the dialogue and characters reminded me of a Saturday morning cartoon show, but I would much rather watch the actual Dungeons & Dragons Saturday morning cartoon show from the 80's, than read another issue of this.

2d6 wrinkly little goblins with rusty daggers out of a possible 5d20 marauding Orc bandits with +2 flaming swords.

My name is Liam and I am a geek. Not a just a bit of a geek, a big old geeky geek. I’m writing a comic book blog for Drokk’s sake. See? I said Drokk! Anyway despite my geeky geekdom there's one rung of geekery ladder that I've never ascended/descended to: ROLE PLAY! To me it's all wizard and fairy shit. Now, it's not that I'm against Fantasy per se, but it's not my favourite genre. I grew up reading Conan and I've read the Lord of the Rings trilogy more than once, but, and I know this is a stretch for a superhero fan, I find the whole arena faintly ridiculous. There, I said it. It's my problem, not theirs'. Now with this in mind here's what I thought of Dungeons and Dragons #0, as a complete D&D virgin (not the usual context in which D&D and virgin are used in the same sentence - sorry, couldn't resist).

Like I what I bitched about Avengers Prime for, I read both stories in the space of cigarette (inc. lighting time) which is fine for an #0, but future issues better have more substance. You do get quite a chunk of extras too, which although I wasn't into it enough to read, I'm sure they’re good if you like that sort of thing. In this book, we’re given two tales from the D&D Universe, with very different tones. Of the two stories presented, I preferred the second, probably because had more of a Gladiator/Conan vibe, but preferring it to the other doesn’t mean I was all that keen, it seemed like the set up for a neutered, bloodless version of something we've seen a million times before.

It's a good #0; it's noob-friendly and provides a variety of content to get your teeth into, but it's just not a particularly good comic. The art is ho-hum, I was expecting some Bisley-esque awesomery, but it was a bit limp. As I said before though, I'm biased against all that wizard shit, so what do I know?

Two Wizard's Sleeves out of a possible Gandalf.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Ghost of comics past: Milk and Cheese

Action Ash
Recently I had a hankering for some Milk and Cheese.
No, not the actual dairy products stupid! If I wanted those I would just go to the Costcutter about 2 mins walk from my house instead of whining on the Internet about my need for lactose infused foods.

I mean this Milk and Cheese
So I went to the Internet and asked it nicely, gave it some creds and a few days later the book came through my letter box.

I hadn't read any for years so I was afraid it wasn't going to be as good as I remembered it. Boy I'm glad I was wrong.
It's so much fun, ridiculously violent and at times laugh out loud funny. Much lulz!

Read it, yo!

Monday, 23 August 2010

Pay it Forward (or How I sold a stranger comics in a pub)

*I meant to post this when it happened, but I didn’t. I blame Action Ash*
I'd stayed over with friends' the night before, after a great night at a slightly disappointing gig at Hyde Park; I was in The Maple Leaf, Covent Garden in the the process of killing my hangover by a shopping spree in Orbital and a bottle of Moose Head while I waited for the aforementioned chums to finish up buying some outdoors-y crap. I should not be allowed in comic shops when I'm hungover, it's dangerous. I get like a shark gripped with blood frenzy, picking up handfuls of back issues and every other new release without thinking. This is how I ended up with a duplicate copy of Jonah Hex #55 (and a full run of Enigma, but that’s another post).

As I was getting acquainted with said Moose Head I thought I'd sit down on the steps of the pub and spark a Marlboro. The only way to improve this I thought was to have a little read, so I reached into my bag. As I did, one of the group of lads to my left addressed me.

"What’s that mate, Big Issue?"

It took a second to realise that he wasn’t taking the piss, I was a hungover shell of a man, probably stinking to high heaven of last night's sweat and booze. The pungent evidence of my intemperance was apparent, the inimitable aroma of stale sweat and beer shame.

The production of colourful publications from my bag really didn't help my case - the fact the at the beer I was drinking was £4 a bottle, Imported beer not a can of Tennants should have tipped them off but they were well into their cups so I forgive their lack of attention to detail.

"Oh sorry mate, what have you got then?"

My protestations that I am not in fact a tramp seemed to fall on deaf ears. I explained that they were in fact comic books.

"Oh right, like the Marvel and DC stuff."

A pleasant exchange on super heroes and what they remembered about comics from their youth, comic book films etc. I tried not to sound overly know-it-all, they tried not to sound patronising to this poor down-n-out. Fun times. But I digress...

"So what’s that one then?"

"Why it's Jonah Hex"

"Oh My God! Jonah! We’ve got a mate in there called Jonah, He'd love that! What’s it about?"

"It's a western"

"Has he got powers?"

I explained that no, he doesn't have powers, it's just a western, like a clint Eastwood film but starring an ugly sunofabitch.

They looked crestfallen.

"But is he a double hard bastard though?"

"Oh absolutely!"

"That’s wicked, 'cause our mate Jonah's gay. I tell you what; if we give you three quid can we have it?"

I made a last half hearted attempt to explain that I still wasn't a tramp but would happily exchange my comic for his sterling. We cheers-ed and parted ways as my friends arrived, me safe in the knowledge that although they still thought I was an actual beggar, I had made 20p.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

What I Got and Why 20/08/10

Atlas #4 -
Penultimate Issue! I'll be sad to see this go, it's been a real breath of fresh air. I guess there weren't enough twatty 2D Liefeldian Dad-quip machines in this for it to get the sales it needed to survive.

Secret Avengers #4 - Still liking this, but I'm becoming a bit jaded with the Marvel Universe as a whole, so this may end up dropped as collateral damage.

Batman Streets Of Gotham #15 - The only Bat-Book I’m still enjoying (I’ll still buy the last 2 issues of Return of Bruce Wayne, but that don’t mean I’ll like 'em! Y'hear?).

DV8 Gods And Monsters #5 - The format's dragging a bit, but I'm still liking this DV8 re-vamp. I wouldn’t want to read it as an ongoing though, I fear Brian Wood's got as much mileage out of the cave man concept as he can already.

Hellblazer #270 - I’m officially hooked on Hellblazer again. I'm sorry I left you baby, it was those damned Yankee writers!

Weird World Of Jack Staff #4 - I like it, I love it, I want some more of it!

What I didn't see but meant to pick up...
Honey West #1 - This looks cool, so there.
CBGB #2 - The first issue was kind of wank, but I'll still give the rest of it a try.
Bulletproof Coffin - This series sounds great but I can't find it anywhere.

In Other News...
I've started on The Umbrella Academy and it's really fucking good.

Monday, 16 August 2010

London Comic book Adventure

Action Ash

It was Saturday afternoon and I had finished work, so I put down the boning knife, took off the apron and boater hat and joined my fellow bad guy at the train station. This is where we started our journey to fabled London. An epic journey of replacement buses, bad weather, good weather, strolls through parks, Burritos, rude middle aged women and Peter Sutcliffe references.

But most of all it was a day of comic books!

I managed to pick up some bits in Orbital that I had missed over the past two weeks.

Nancy in Hell #1 - Heard of this and was curious, so I picked it up to give it a try. It looks pretty cool if not a bit cheesy. I mean who wouldn't want to read about a hot piece of white trash, in cut off denim hot pants hacking up demons with a chainsaw...IN HELL! Amirite?

Strange Science Fantasy #2 - I didn't buy the first one because, even though it looked wicked, I wanted to save money and the best way to do that was to stop buying loads of comics just because they looked cool. This one looked awesome too, and the character of the Shogunaut was intriguing.

Prince of Power #3 - I don't know how I missed this one but I'm glad I got it in the end. Hercules and Amadeus are just too cool.

We also visited Forbidden Planet where I had to stop myself spending all my money on trades. However I had to buy something, so I picked up this:

The Silver Surfer Marvel Pocketbook - I fancied a bit of Silver age Marvel that I wasn't really familiar with. You've gotta love the cosmic nonsense in comics.

What I got and Why 15/8/2010

The Weird World of Jack Staff #3 - I've always been curious about Jack Staff. I really dug Paul Grist's Kane, but only with the recent relaunch have I entered the Weird World of Jack Staff. I’m awfully glad I did!

The Walking Dead #76 - Consistently brilliant, it'd take a lot to make me drop this title. In fact nothing short of the (joke) ending to #75.

Scarlet #1 - I thought I’d try this out, because although I'm sick to death of Bendis' Marvel Universe work now, I used to be a big fan. Here’s hoping he's still got some of the old magic in this creator-owned series.

Daytripper #9 - The penultimate chapter of this excellent Mini, and it looks like they're starting to bring it all together. I heartily recommend this series.

Shadowland: Blood on the Streets #1 - I got this because we were going to do it for Swap Shop until Ash hit me with a surprise turkey instead (stay tuned!). It's not bad, but it’s not great either, I was left thinking "The Shroud is actually kinda cool" and "Dear god, why do they still write Silver Sable stories".

CBGB OMFUG #1 - Part one of Boom! Studios anthology series about the legendary New York Punk venue. I like comics I like Punk, it’s not rocket science.

Origins of the Marvel Universe - I went on about the one page origins in that siege freebie a little while back, and this is a whole comic of them. 1 page of 'who they is and what they does' for most of Marvel's major characters. Well worth the price of admission. The Ghost Rider page by Mark Texiera is particularly cool looking, I'd like it on my wall. An excellent buy for a Marvel Newbie.

Jonah Hex #58 - Because it’s Jonah Hex.

DareDevil Black and White - Basically this is the same format as Marvel's Magazines they put out over the last year or so; short black and white stories by interesting creators and a prose story at the end. Looked good to me.

Invincible Volume 12: Still Standing - I really Love Invincible; it's one of the few current series I pick up solely in Trades, it sucks to wait so long between instalments, but like a trip to your mum's house, I'm guaranteed a good long ride for my money each time. This is what superhero comics should be.

Love and Rockets - I really dig L+R, and these trades are a great way to experience it, comprehensive, inexpensive and nice to look at on the shelf. This volume reprints couple of Minis by Jaime, including Women's wrestling drama "Woah Nellie!" and Penny Century.

Vertigo: Winters Edge #1 - A late '90s vertigo anthology; basically a short from each of the main books they were printing at the time, with a House of Secrets framing strip. Highlight at first glance is the Paul Pope Hellblazer story. The book does seem to contain a bunch of nonsense about fauns too though, so be warned.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Morning Glories

Morning Glories#1
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Joe Eisma

Action Ash
I've got to be honest, I'm still not entirely sure what this is about. Six kids start at a prestigious boarding school, where things aren't quite what they seem...

That's all I can really tell you. I know it seems like a fairly bare description but I honestly don't know what else to say. I read 44 pages of well drawn, beautifully crafted and thought out comic book and I can't really tell you about it.

What I can tell you is it's brilliant!

Such an enjoyable read and great value for money. You could call it a sci-fi mystery/Teen drama story, that, although hasn't revealed much of it's overall plot, probably has a lot to offer to it's audience. This issue is mainly for introducing the main characters I suppose, and this task can sometimes be a tough one to do well and keep the readers attention. However this is handled beautifully, and the cleverly woven in comedy elements help Spencer to achieve this in a way that makes you feel like you know them without giving away too much of their history.

Visually impressive without being too flashy and in your face is the best way to describe the books artwork. Subtleties like facial expressions and mannerisms are portrayed with skill and movement and action equally so.

From its explosive beginning to its cliffhanger ending this is an extremely enjoyable ride. This is a book that proves that comics don't have to be about superheroes, ninjas, or crime to be interesting, fun and worth reading.

Plus, it has an amazing cover by Rodin Esquejo.

5 exploding chemically doused blackboards out of 5

Super Geil!

Shadowland: Blood on the Streets

Shadowland: Blood on the Streets #1 of 4
Part 1 Crime and Punishment
Written by Antony Johnston
Art by Wellinton Alves

Action Ash
So I picked this up thinking that I could do with a dose of peripheral Marvel vigilantes fighting crime in relation to this ongoing Shadowland event. That's exactly what I got.

The story kicks off with The Shroud investigating the murder of a low level mob boss by the Hand. Misty Knight gets involved, not believing that Daredevil would sanction such a thing. Meanwhile, Silver Sable is hunting a Russian mobster and their stories become intertwined.

This is a good beginning to a crime story involving super types. From start to finish I was kept interested in where the story was going and by the end wanted to carry on and read more. Alas I will have to wait till next month.

The Art was the better side of average, not really leaving a bad impression, but it's not going to give anyone a hard on.

As I have mentioned before I am loving this event and everything I have read thus far has been great. You could say this is the most "Batman" the Marvel Universe has ever been.

4 dead mobsters out of 5

Thursday, 12 August 2010

What I got and Why

Action Ash
It's Thursday again and in England that means NEW COMIC BOOK DAY! So this is what I got:

Hawks of Outremer #3 - If you read my review of the first one you'll know I liked it a lot, and the two subsequent issues haven't disappointed either. In fact, I might boost it's rating to 4 out of 5 based on issues 2 and 3.

X-Men #2 - I wasn't sure what I was going to think of this, with vamps and all, but I enjoyed the first one so hopefully this will be the same.

Morning Glories #1 - Not even sure what this is about but from what I saw on the internets and from flicking through the IRL comic, my interest is officially piqued.

Shadowland: Blood on the streets #1 - Loving Shadowland. It's super geil! The way this mini series looks at peripheral characters interests me. I like it.

Daredevil #509 - Shadowland again. It's written really nicely and the story directly weaves into Shadowland. The art is cool, reminiscent of crime comic art. I think the guys at Marvel have created a new genre here: Ninja Noir. Tell your friends!

X-Force: Sex and Violence #2 - First one was fantastic. I'm hoping this one will be too.

Dungeons and Dragons #0 - I used to play Dungeons and Dragons when I was younger (Shut up, I'm still cool) so I wanted to see what this was like. Hopefully, it's good.

Look out for reviews of some of these (and maybe even a Swap shop if you're good).

That's all folks.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

What I Got and Why 08/08/2010 (or thereabouts)

Birthday Special!
Hola and welcome to the belated What I Got and Why. Delayed because I was busy preparing for and subsequently recovering from the Hellbilly Hoedown that was my birthday celebrations. In this weeks comics we've got thrills, spills, Pop-Art Zombies, Curmudgeonly Cowboys, Japanese Judges, Manimal Babies, whatever Umbrella Academy's about and a Missing Monkey (well, Gorilla Man but y'know).

Jonah Hex #58, Captain America #608 - These, alongside The Walking Dead, Scalped and a couple of others are just bloody great every month. I’m going to have to do a proper post on each of them in time, but suffice to say they don't disappoint. I even liked the Nomad back up strip in Cap this month.

iZombie #4 - This is... I'm not sure what this is. I am enjoying the finding out though. Quite a lot of answers are given this week, whether they satisfy or not is a different story.

Gorilla Man #2 - I really enjoyed part one, despite a few really annoying art glitches (how can we see his hand in an image that’s recorded by a camera in his watch?). Haven’t actually found a copy yet, but it's on the list. I do hope they keep putting this sort of thing out even though Atlas has been cancelled.

Sweet Tooth #12 - In which we finally find out about the plague/epidemic that wiped out most of the world's population, and what correlation the characters see in there in the appearance of the hybrid chidren. This series is a bizarre ride, and I’m loving every minute of it.

Spitfire #1 - I didn't even realise this was coming out, so thanks to Action Ash for bringing it to my attention. It’s a Spitfire story, but really it’s a continuation of Paul Cornell’s MI:13 work. Highly enjoyable, but there's not too much to say about it really.

Ooh Presents!

Umbrella Academy & Umbrella Academy Dallas - I've been meaning to try these for a while now, as I've heard good things and I love Gabriel Ba's artwork. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into them.

Shimura - I remember reading a good chunk of this when it was originally published in Judge Dredd: The Megazine in the early nineties. It’s set in the Japan of Judge Dredd's world, following Judge Shimura’s struggle against the corrupt the Judge system of Hondo Cit. Sports some lovely early work from Frank Quietly among others. I'm really enjoying it, even if half the first story was a complete rip of Cyber City Oedo.

The Mammoth Book of Horror Comics - Dirt cheap and well worth your time. This book reprints a shit-tonne of old horror strips in black and white. An interesting mixture newish and really old stories, with some surprisingly big names.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Man Against Machine

Magnus, Robot Fighter #1
Metal Mob part one: Taken
Written by Jim Shooter
Art by Bill Reinhold

Action Ash
In the year 4000 the human race relies too much on robots, and as a result are defenseless when the robots start rebelling and some humans start using robots for criminal activity. But there is still hope. A man named Magnus was raised by a robot to be the pinnacle of human perfection and have "steel smashing strength". He fights to protect humanity from the misuse of robots and robots that have rebelled against their creators. After failing to stop the kidnapping of a rich girl, our hero is drawn deeper into what he believes to be a robot conspiracy.

I enjoyed this comic for it's sheer high concept sci-fi story and retro charm. It remains faithful to it's source material and is written in a way that implies the story could be a continuation of the original 60's series.
The story is simple but enjoyable, although at times it seems a little rushed. It grabs your attention at the beginning with a nice little action sequence and keeps it with fast paced intrigue and robot smashing!

The story is embellished with some nice pencils by Reinhold and cool colours by Wes Dzioba (how the hell do you pronounce that?). The art does a good job of giving it a retro feel, with some panels looking like they could be retouched 60's sci-fi comic fare (in a good way =P).

Also, the great thing about this book is, after you've read the main story, you can read a reprint of the first Magnus story with no extra added to the cover price. That truly makes this the 56-page spectacular the cover states it is.

This book is an Action packed, retro-futuristic adventure that definitely entertained me and left me wanting to see more of the muscle bound hero karate chopping mechanical necks and appendages. In short, it was my kind of nonsense.

4 dudes in skirts, bare-fist fighting with robots out of 5

Thursday, 5 August 2010

What I got and Why

Action Ash

Here's my haul for this week.

Jonah Hex #58 - This is always a good purchase and I like this issues artist (Giancarlo Caracuzzo).

Green Hornet: Golden Age Remastered#1 - I love golden age comics but I don't know much about Green Hornet so I thought this would be a good chance to see what he's all about.

Magnus, Robot Fighter #1 - Dark Horse's new interpretation of this classic character should be interesting at the least. Also half of the book is a reprint of an original, Gold Key, Magnus story. Review coming soon.

Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four #2 - I loved the Spider-man and the X-Men mini series and this is the creative same team and the same concept with different characters. The first issue was a lot of fun so I'm hoping this one will be too.

Shadowland #2 - Loved the first one! This is exactly what I want from superhero comics at the moment. Fighting, Ninjas and Luke Cage.

Spitfire #1 - Curiosity and the cover was nice.

'Nuff said!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

That's not my X-Force

Action Ash
What the hell are Marvel doing?

Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost did a great job with re-inventing X-Force as a black ops team created by Cyclops and kept secret from the rest of the X-men. The great storytelling was embellished with great art from Clayton Crain and even better art by Mike Choi. It was all going swimmingly and then at the end of Second Coming this had to happen...

Why this line up?
Deadpool does not need to be in another ongoing. It's like the 90's coming back to haunt me. Look at the size of those guns!
Why don't they just bring Liefeld back and let him ruin comics all over again?

It probably doesn't help that, the first time they choose to reveal this line up, they do it through the questionable art of Mr Land. I mean at least he's not drawing it. Ah well, nevermind. It looks like I'll be saving myself some money because that's one less series I'll be buying.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #4

As I stated earlier, I wasn't going to go in for all that Batman through time nonsense but I got suckered in and ended up being quite into it. And with issue 4 featuring my favourie comic book gunslinger, I had to check it out.
Look at that lovely art, you really feel that wild west atmosphere I'm so glad they got this artist in for---- Waitafugginminute!!!

That's not Return of Bruce Wayne, that's Secret Avengers #3! Let's have a look at what wonders Return of Bruce Wayne has to top their previously high-class series art then.

Oh. Oh well.

I guess I can look at the story?

Nope, that's pretty lame too.

What a revoltin' development.

Two soggy blanks out of a possible six shooter.