Monday, 29 November 2010

Hellblazer: City of Demons

Story by Si Spurrier

Art by Sean Murphy

This really is shaping up to be a rather enjoyable series. It's been so long since I first picked up Hellblazer that I forgot how one can get put off by the fact that so many issues have been published you don't know where to start. This is bollocks though; as long as you start at the beginning of a storyline, Hellblazer is easy to start cold and rarely continuity laden. Apart from the occasional story all you need to know to read Hellblazer is: John does Magic, John likes women, John's a bit of a prick. Ironically, having said that, this story does draw from Hellblazer history, in that the driving plot is that some nefarious types have got their hands on a sample of John's blood which Hellblazer readers know, (but is explained in the script for Hellblazer virgins) is tainted with the blood of a demon. It's this dodgy claret, being passed around unsuspecting members of the public, that's putting ordinary folk on killing sprees across London, and it's up to John to sort it out.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the spectacular Art by upcoming superstar Sean Murphy (Joe The Barbarian). He really captures modern London like no other artist has in a number of years, from public transport to public house; from Oxford Circus to suburban council estate he totally nails it. It was a two-parter by Sean Murphy and Jason Aaron a year or two ago that got me into Hellblazer again after having dropped it a few years prior during Mike Carey's run. I really hope to see more Hellblazer from him in the future. This guy is destined for greatness, or my name isn't Sheriff Buford T. Valhallahan!

This series, or the inevitable collection, is a great introduction to the type of story that Hellblazer does; gruesome adult entertainment with a gritty urban feel - supernatural horror for the modern reader - sort of like Get Carter if it was written by Clive Barker.

19 Snouts out of a possible 20 Silk Cut (John's brand, not mine).

Review: Batwoman #0

Story by J.H. Williams III & W. Hayden Blackman
Art by J.H. Williams III & Amy Reeder

I adored the Rucka/Williams III run on Detective, and have been looking forward to this series coming out. If anyone reading this hasn't read that, it's collected as "Elegy" and it's a fucking delight! Unfortunately Greg Rucka has Jumped Ship and this ongoing series will be written and drawn by J.H. Williams III with art assistance from Amy Reeder. This issue 0 is more of a recap/introduction to the character than the start of a new story, so it's a great jumping on point without undermining what will be the start of the series proper with issue 1. The story itself is light, just Batman checking Kate out from a distance trying to prove his (correct) theory about the identity of the mysterious new Batwoman, which is exactly what you need as a new reader. The fact that we only see Kate through the filter of Batman in this issue adds mystique and leaves something to be said when the series gets going. It really is a good intro issue.

The real star of the show here is the artwork on display by the inimitable J.H. Williams III, who incidentally is from a relative of the legendary country music pioneer Hank Williams which officially makes him royalty in my book. J.H. Williams proves time and again that he is the most versatile, innovative and design-savvy artist in the game. He really is the best there is at what he does...and what he does is very nice indeed! This strength sadly highlights the art’s one weakness which is the fill-in panels. For whatever reasons, one assumes time constraints, the majority of Kate's civilian-life panels are drawn by Reeder, who while not shit, is painfully outclassed. Just look at the panel of the disguised Bruce and compare it to any of William' images. This is a minor qualm though, because this book still stands streets ahead of almost everything else out there at the moment. Shocking that this level of quality is in a spin off title, when by all rights it should be as shit as Supergirl.

Four Batgirl: Year Ones* out of a possible Batman: Year One.

*Batgirl: Year One was actually really good.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

I tell you what, that Thor is ASTONISHING, isn't he?

Astonishing Thor #1

Written by Robert Rodi
Art by Mike Choi

Action Ash
I do love a bit of cosmic nonsense. It's been a while since Thor has been allowed to "get cosmic" (Yeah, I just invented that), having been fairly earth based in recent years. That has now been rectified.
Astonishing Thor is an epic tale of a god on a mission, starting with Thor beating up a tsunami and ending with a visit to Ego the living planet. Brilliant!

Although harkening back to a silver age style story, Astonishing Thor is told in a serious manner that drags you in and makes you feel you have begun to witness an epic in the making. As there are quite a few Thor mini series out at the moment (that will ready to be released as trades about the time the film is released. Coincidence? I doubt it), I expected this to be an OK attempt at money grabbing, but I have been proven wrong. It seems that Mr Rodi wanted to tell a good story about every one's favourite thunder god. I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've read anything by Robert Rodi, and I would definitely read more.

On the aesthetic side of things, this book looks fantastic. Choi has out done himself and made it look and feel epic. From the sensational splash pages to the detailed flashback sequence, Choi has helped create immensely beautiful visuals with which to tell Rodi's star spanning story with.

At the back of the comic, I am told the next issue isn't until January, which feels like a long time to me. More importantly, will January's issue keep up the epic cosmic standard set by this first issue? Well, I guess we won't know until January.

This is exactly the type of story I think Thor needs right now. A truly great addition to Marvel's modern mythology.

4 and a half Norse gods giving natural disasters a beat down out of 5

Friday, 26 November 2010

What I got and Why

Action Ash
Let's take a look at which books are keeping me company during this cold winter week.

Detective Comics #871 - I bought this out of curiosity about the new creative team. Jock's cover for this issue is SICK!

Shadowland Power man #4 - I'm sad this has to come to an end... but it's ok. The Power man and Iron Fist series is starting in Feb and I'll be waiting.

Conan the Cimmerian #25 - Final Issue! That is until Darkhorse releases it's three new Conan series. I love the barbarian and everything, but I don't know if I want to read three different series about one character. Who am I kidding, I probably will. I don't know how Batman fans do it.

Astonishing Thor #1 - I like Thor. I like Choi. This better be good.

Legacies #5 and #6 - Missed these at the time they came out so just catching up. Amazing covers that link together to portray an epic battle from Crisis on infinite earths. Super Geil!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

What I Got Cockney Week!

Cor Blimey Governor, my picks are a right bleedin' cockney knees up this week! To celebrate, the reviews are going to be done by some old scrote of a Cabbie I met in the pub.

Evenin' squires, I've gone an' got me some right kushti books this week, some real dark doin's. An 'ere's me thinkin' comics was just for kids, nonces and people who's backwards. Let's have a shufti shall we?

Helblazer: City of Demons #3 - There's a bit of argy bargy goin' on with John's shonky claret 'ere. Some dodgy docs have got their grubby mitts on it and and it's turning into a right carry on. The drawings a bloody master stroke an' all looks just like my old manor, ee aint half one talented Mick, that Sean Murphy. Someone needs to 'ave a word wiv whatever donut designed them tube turnstyles though they're about as much use as a chocolate teapot. Right good read though, I should cocoa!

Helblazer #273 - Right, so John's missus is stuck in the past with John the Punk from 1979. That's alright though, if you can’t trust your past self not to knock off your better half who can you trust? Oh bollocks! And while all that palaver's going on in the past, who's going to stop old Johnny yo-yo knickers from Knobbing that Succubus in the present? Himself? You’re having a bubble! Will that boy ever get spliced? It’s an outrage!

Knight and Squire #2 - So apparently this is our version of that Batman nonce. I dunno, at least vis one don't 'ang around wiv little boys. This Knight and Squire book's a right laugh, dunno about that Knight toff, but I'll give 'im the benefit of the doubt. This issue they're out in Scrumpy country givin' them inbreds what for! Tell you what mate, don't bear thinking about, what them rural types get up to. Geezers dancin' round poles wiv bells on their bonces? They deserve a kick up the Aris!

Anyway, I'm off. Be lucky!

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Karl Urban is Judge Dredd! Photo Evidence!

What's the verdict folks?


What I Got and Why:Double Feature!

Dear all,

I've been busy as a bastard these last couple of weeks so I haven't been gracing you with my Funnybook Wisdom. I don't know what the venerable Action Ash's excuse is. Maybe there’s a new Zelda or some shit. Anyway folks, let's crack on with the Round up...

I got some darned good Marvel books lately, I've cut down dramatically on my Marvel consumption this past year, but what I am getting is pretty much awesome with chips. They are floating my boat and no mistake!

Chaos War #3 - Zeus Versus Galactus. 'Nuff Said. But to elaborate, Zeus Versus Galactus! If that isn't enough to sell it to you, I give up, I really do. Hot and sweaty God-on-God action as The Chaos King unleashed hell on earth. Because that’s how he do.

Taskmaster #3 - "The Town That Was Hitler" - this has to be my favourite Superhero series at the moment, it's action packed and willfully revels in the inherent silliness of the Marvel Universe. It's laugh out loud funny and genuinely touching in places. If you want a giggle and a thrill and to be touched in places, give this series a go!

Strange Tales 2 #2 - Los Bros Hernandez do Marvel. Yes, you read that right. Los Bros provide the stand out strips, and really go to town with the goofy, this is more akin to the oddball side stories like BEM or Music For Monsters rather than recent Locas or Palomar tales. Both set firmly in the Silver age, that both brothers' styles fit perfectly. I never thought I'd read an Iron Man story by the auteur behind Birdland *ahem*. Oh, and other people wrote and drew stuff too, some of it good.

Scarlet #3 - I'm still digging this even though the I'm not really sure what message Bendis is trying to put across here. It’s a good comic with an intriguing premise, but I’m still waiting for it to really knock my socks off.

Jonah Hex #61 - Another one off story and another written by 2Badguys fave Jordi Bernet. Seeing his work in Jonah Hex really makes me want to track down his work on Torpedo. Which by all accounts is several shades of bloomin' marvelous. Bernett is a great choice for capturing the mood of these brutal, dark settings but without the excessive murk or overwrought detail that so many artists do. This go round we get to meet Mai Ling the broad what Jonah hitched. She must've been drunk...

Sweet Tooth #15 - Great to get some new Sweet Tooth this month too. I'm in the strange situation that I’m loving this series but not able to explain why. The story is odd, the art is odder, the pace is hard to figure out and it's really bloody good. To paraphrase Cliff Richards or someone "I don't know why I love you but I do".

iZombie #7 & American Vampire #7 - these are both really enjoyable, fantastic looking books that take these overplayed Horror concepts and give us a fresh new spin. Where American Vampire plays it straight and gives us a ripping yarn about yankee vamps in the 1930s, iZombie takes us on a far out trip man with Zombies and Vampires and Weredogs - Oh My! A pair of thumbs up from me.

Pilot Season: 7 Days in Hell - The Stelfreeze Cover made this stand out for me and I'm glad it did. If you don’t already know, Top Cow's Pilot Season is there annual run of one issue try-out series, the winner gets a full run. This is definitely the best I've read the premise is good and you can see how a series would run from it, a bit like a supernatural 100 Bullets. The art is by Phil Noto, which means it's beautiful to look at, this bloke can do no wrong in my book. I have to say that although I can see it working as a series, for me one shot was probably enough. I heartily recommend reading it.

Yours Sincerely,


Friday, 19 November 2010

What I got and Why: The Return!

Action Ash
HAIL! All henchmen of Action Ash and Valhallahan.
Apologies for the lack of blog-age these last few weeks, I have been a busy little bad guy. Coursework, Fish mongering and generally being a bad guy takes up so much of my time. Never fear though droogs because now I'm back to tell you what I got... and why.

Flash #6 - About bloody time! It feels like a year since I read issue 5. On a flick through it looks like a good issue so I hope that will make up for the wait.

Morning Glories #4 -
Last issues events were intriguing to say the least so whatever happens next I'm itching to find out.

Knight and Squire #2 -
I didn't manage to get a copy before they sold out last week, but luckily I managed to get one this week. More superhero hi-jinks from old blighty. Love it!

Superior #2 -
The first ish was pretty damn good so I'm hoping Millar and Yu keep it up.

Delphine #4 - I know this is old but I've only been able to to get my hands on it recently. I love Richard Sala's work and this is text book Sala, however I think this book would have been better as a graphic novel.

Revenge of the Creature - It was seemingly impossible to find this film in the UK. Believe me, I tried. Imagine my surprise when I saw Gill-man staring back at me from the shelf in HMV on the cover of this classic sequel.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Halloween weekend: Ash and Liam's most Expo-lent Adventure.

Action Ash
Standing on the platform of our home town's train station, waiting patiently in the Autumn sun with the occasional chill wind brushing our cheeks, the last thing we expected was to be set upon by a couple of street children wearing Halloween masks. Unprepared for such blackguard activities we stood uneasy as they demanded something from us with the cry of "trick or treat". We clearly had no sweets with us, for as Valhallahan later stated "The only people who carry sweets around with them are old people and paedophiles". Valhallahan gave them 50p and they jogged on leaving us feeling amused and conned at the same time.

This was the start of our Halloween weekend adventure.

After a fairly short train and tube journey we boarded the DLR (Docklands Light Rail). Practically tripping over the sailor fuku clad jail bait, we were trying not to laugh too hard at the awkward, gangly, nerdlinger wearing tights and an unconvincing wig as part of his cosplay.

Eventually we arrived at the Expo and, while waiting for Valhallahan to finish a cigarette, I watched the cosplayers, amazed at some people's ingenuity but saddened by the lack of western comics inspired cosplay.
We walked through the doors only for Valhallahan to realise that he hadn't any creds on his person. So we joined the cue for the ATM behind what I later realised was a boy, but at the time assumed to be a deeply unattractive girl.

After quite a long time we reached the front, withdrew the notes and Valhallahan decided he needed a beer. In the mean time I found a great Robin costume and an equally good but very shy Poison Ivy.

With his alcohol levels now topped up we proceeded to find the ticket booth. Instead we found an hour long cue.
Time passed slowly as I annoyed Val with some Cannibal Corpse and Thai pop in the form of Neko Jump (which was then stuck in his head for the rest of the day) and discussed the differences between fences and walls with the kids behind us.
Finally tickets were ours and we could leave the depressing cue room and move on.

We both felt agitated and when Val decided it was time for a smoke and another beer, I decided to join him. A cool beer would take the edge off.

Now it was time to get in there and see everything this geekfest had to offer. The first stall I looked at was selling Anime DVD's at which some jive sucka dressed as Mario proceeded to tell me how great Dragon Ball Z was as if it wasn't the most popular anime series ever made. I moved away as quickly as possible.

Then we came across the Delorean. It even had the Hover boards propped up against the side. Awesome!

Shortly afterwards we found Twinkies! =O It was exactly the sugar fix I needed. As you can see Val was happy too. We found a comic stall and I bought a Namor grab bag which contained an annual which was a fun read. Also at the back of it there was a Marvel Masterwork pin up by Mike Mignola.

We continued to wander until we came upon what is called the "Comics Village". There was a hole bunch of indie creators flogging their wares. We stopped by the Accent UK stall and had a nice chat with the guys there and I purchased Martin Fink's The Man of Glass which was a nice read. I especially enjoyed the art. Valhallahan bought Wolfmen II: Fall of the Wolfmen. We moved on and saw some famous creators such as Bernard Chang, while he was doing a sketch for someone.

Next we had a chinwag with David Hine, who was kind enough to sign a copy of The Bulletproof Coffin #1 for Valhallahan, which was nice of him. The Bulletproof Coffin is a brilliant series which you should pick up if you get the chance.

We saw the legendary Chris Claremont, if only from a distance. I was totally annoyed with myself for forgetting to bring my copy of X-Men #135 (One of my favourite comic book covers ever) to get signed. Grr!

It was nearly time to go so we took on last look around and came across some great cosplayers such as...
...this Batman with Asian school girl genre combo. I think I had a dream a bit like this once but it was a lot more X-rated.

There was this great rendition of Rayne from the Bloodrayne series of video games (which I've never played). I know this has nothing to do with comics but just look at her. HAWT! This picture doesn't do her justice, srsly.

Also hot, was this fine young woman dressed as Black Canary, and looking pretty spot on.

This female Gambit costume was fantastic! The best Gambit I've seen.

I was impressed with the home made Invincible Costume and the brilliant female Dr Fate. I have no idea what the guy from Cats is all about, he just got in the picture. Dick.

It was finally time to leave. On the way out I caught a shot of a black Zatanna because I thought she worked it.

We ambled down the walk way towards the platform that adjoins the Excel centre, only to find security blocking the way. The platform was full and they weren't letting anyone else on. Because of this delay we failed to meet our friend in central and so we walked to soho. Thus began an amazing night out which including such antics as me giving 50p to a tramp who then took it upon himself to kiss me on the head =s, a brilliant gig from The Urban Voodoo Machine, an Addams Family themed burlesque act, being followed all the way to Old Street by an unknown Australian and finally ditching some acquaintances to make our way home.


6:00 am, Kings Cross station. Valhallahan scoffs a sausage and egg muffin from the golden arches while I sip coffee and get ready to devour a tasty pastry, happy and safe in the knowledge that we had a most excellent adventure.