Monday, 31 January 2011

V2K: Totems


Totems is that rare beast, that rears its head up every once in a blue moon, the Vertigo Crossover. This book was published under Vertigo's short lived run of books celebrating the new millennium, branded 'V2K' (like Y2K, geddit?) and focuses on John Constantine's New Year's Eve bash. Being John, its got quite the guest list, and being John, it doesn't exactly go as planned. At the party we have Swamp Thing, Black Orchid, Doom Patrol's Robot Man, Shade: The Changing Man, Animal Man and Zatanna of Justice League fame. Zatanna's an interesting addition, because back when this was published they were still flirting with the idea of her being a Vertigo character, so she occasionally popped up in things like Hellblazer swearing like a person and on one occasion smoking a bit of pot. Obviously this wouldn't happen nowadays, because as a mainstream DC Universe character she should be doing wholesome things like mind raping people, vomiting blood, getting zombified and tearing out people’s hearts, snapping necks or rape-raping people, not having a normal sex life with a comparatively normal bloke using recreational drugs and swearing occasionally. That'd be sick! But that is now and this was then, so here we have the pleasure of this little exchange:

One thing I love about this story is that, having gathered this merry band together, John proceeds to puke all over himself and pass out like a true British hero. We salute ye John. Anyway with John out of the picture the rest of the motley crew of 'heroes' with the addition of some odd waiter bloke have to sort out whatever the shit is going on with the bizarre new world they are faced with. I thoroughly enjoyed this, the characters interacted believably and entertainingly and Duncan Fegredo and Richard Case really sell the madness of the tale, both in the mundane and fantastical elements on display. This story does feel dated in that it focuses on conspiracy theories, Y2K and the sense of impending dread coming with the new millennium that turned out to be total bollocks, shockingly enough, but without giving too much away, that’s kind of the point of it so it works well. One thing that really does need mentioning is how much this book screams out Vertigo. The characters, the art, the story, the dialogue, the mood, every little bit of this is 90s Vertigo, but strangely enough it also feels like a typical superhero team up too, the McGuffin could work equally well as a trad superhero annual or something, it’s a surprising dichotomy.

Get it, it’s good!

Sunday, 30 January 2011

X-Men #7 Reviewed

X-Men #7
To Serve and Protect: Part 1
Written by Victor Gischler
Art by Chris Bachalo

Action Ash
Now all that blood sucking bullshit is over it seems the X-Men can get back to doing what they do best, and it looks like that's where they're headed in this new storyline. To get the public to trust them they are making an effort to be heroes and it seems to be working, but they're not just saving the day in sunny San Fran. Something is amiss in the New York sewers and Cyclops has sent a small team to deal with it.

The story was simple but had potential to branch off into more complex narratives or even just a simple story that's really interesting/entertaining. This was, however, refreshing to read in an X-Men story. No sign of vampires and not bogged down in continuity, this ish would be a good jumping on point for new readers. It reminded me of the beginning of a classic X-Men adventure from the days of Claremont and Byrne.
Bachalo's art is pretty good too, and this issue includes some interesting page and panel layouts.

It's about time I felt optimistic about the X-Men again, and I look forward to getting back in to it.

3 and a half potential sewer dwelling reptilian cannibals out of 5

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Comic books: The perfect hangover cure!

Action Ash
I woke up to find myself sprawled across an air mattress on the floor of a flat I didn't recognise as my own (it was much tidier). As I rolled over to my right, above me on the couch was sleeping a hairy ogre of a man. You guessed it, it was Valhallahan. As he snored away, the previous night's events began to come back to me. I was at a pub in Hoxton, surrounded by trendy wankers while The Fabulous Penetrators rocked my face off. Then Liam and I ended up staying at a friend's place and that was where I had just found myself. After spending half the day there, kindly being made breakfast and watching a film, we felt it was time to get out of the way and we stumbled out into the streets of Limehouse feeling like mere shadows of our former selves. We were not, however, without direction. We both knew that the best way to regain our humanity was to find a comic shop and quick. We headed for central and Gosh was our first port of call.

One of the first things I noticed after entering was a particular horror comic high up on the wall, who's cover I had come across on the Internet: Chamber of Darkness #7 (1970). Chamber of Darkness was a short lived horror title that for some reason didn't sell well (despite wicked offerings from Bernie Wrightson and Steve Ditko) and was retitled Monsters on the Prowl from issue 9 onward. After browsing some more I bought it and we moved on to Comicana in Shaftesbury Avenue, which has a fantastic collection of back issues. I bought a bunch of stuff that I'm too lazy to mention but among my stack were two issues of Marvel Spotlight featuring The Son of Satan, some old Horror titles such as DC's  The Witching Hour and Marvel's Tomb of Darkness and a bunch of other titles.

Monday and Tuesday went by without anything worthy of mention happening and then Wednesday rolled around and it was time for even more comic books from Chaos City. Here's what I picked up:

Conan: Road of Kings #2 - I read a preview online and this issue looks like a good'n.

Detective Comics #873 - The conclusion of Snyder's first story arc and I'm pumped to see how Grayson's going to get out of this one. Also it's nice to read a comic story that only three parts and not stretched beyond it's natural limit to six issues solely to make it easier for trade conversion.

Namor #6 - Now all that vampire nonsense is over I want to see what they're going to do with a favourite character of mine. Note the fantastic Phil Noto cover.

Astonishing Thor #2 - It's a shame they had to go and give it an Ed McGuinness cover when there's all that gorgeous Mike Choi on the inside.

Chaos War #5 - This didn't turn out to be as epic as I had hoped it would be. Still been fun but tbh I forget it exists between issues.

New Avengers #8 - I am not happy by the change of art and hope it's only temporary. It's not that I don't like Daniel Acuna, it's just that Immonen was doing a brilliant job and I think he captured the perfect look for the series. Never mind, prove me wrong Acuna.

X-Men #7 - Now all that vampire nonsense is over I want to see what they're going to...Whoa, I just experienced some De Ja Vu.

On top of this I also bought three back issues of Hellblazer to start catching up. Those of you with excellent memories will recall that I started buying it after a swap shop where Liam suggested it. Shortly after I forgot I was buying it and am now a few months behind. That's not so bad though as I know someone who has been buying it but is still YEARS behind when it comes to actually reading it. He shall remain nameless =P

Saturday, 22 January 2011


Well how do fellas and fellerettes? I thought I posted this ages ago, but I, err... didn't. Anyway, here it is.
Beyond! is a Marvel team up book that came out in 2006, but was overshadowed by whatever event they were having that week. I think it was Everyone’s A Bastard Now or Iron Man’s A Dick This Month or The day the Earth Turned Bastard maybe it was All Women Is Bitches . Something like that. Anyway, this series is an old school Marvel Crossover which picks up where 80s crossover Secret Wars left off and It’s the same premise on a slightly smaller scale. A mysterious disembodied entity “From Beyond!” whisks away a random assortment of Marvel heroes and villains to a far off planet and offers them their wildest dreams if they do everyone else in. Of course it’s not just a free for all, there are enough twists, turns and what-have-yous in this to keep us readers entertained. At the beginning of this story it’s revealed that the events of Secret Wars was not a one off, and this Beyonder has been bringing group after group of characters to die fighting on this planet for years and now it’s these guys’ turn. Remarkably they manage to work in this premise, so steeped in Marvel Universe history, but make it totally new reader friendly at the same time. I think this largely stems from the choice of characters.

For Beyond! McDuffie picked a truly eclectic bunch of A-Z listers, I think it’s this mixture of characters everyone knows and characters nobody knows that are essentially clean slates for most of the audience. I was particularly happy to see Deathlok get an outing, it’s not my favourite version of the character, but I’m always happy to see Deathlok get some attention. The version in this story is the one from the series McDuffie wrote in the 90s and he obviously has a fondness for the character, so this Deathlok fan approves. Another character its good to see again is The Wasp who was rather pointlessly killed off by Brian Michael Bendis a few years later in Marvel mega-event Everyone Secretly a Bastard, which looking back on it was a load of cack. Rounding off the cast are Hank Pym (wife beating former Avenger), Firebird (uninspiring former Avenger), Kraven the Hunter (the not such a villain, more like Steve Irwin son of the original), The Hood (the sympathetic pre being written by Bendis version), Venom (the one that used to be The Scorpion), Gravity (I didn’t read it either, he seems a bit like Invincible), Medusa (the incestuous Inhuman) and Spider-Man (never heard of him).

Scott Kolins art suits the tone perfectly, his style has a fantastic mixture of the stylish modern artist, and the classic Marvel method. I do have one gripe about his art namely “what in the hell is Pym wearing?” but other artistic choices like Firebird’s naff Native American themed kit and Venom’s killer Scorpion tail, actually work if you ask me. The Venom tail particularly, which I thought was a nice addition to the character. On that note, it warrants mention that this was written when the Mac Gargan Venom was a fairly new concept, and people were having fun with the new design. Nowadays everyone just draws classic Venom, maybe a bit bigger, but still same old, same old which I think is a wasted opportunity.

The book is created by Dwayne McDuffie and Scot Kollins both of whom made their names chiefly from their work for the Distinguished Competition, McDuffie for his work on Static and his Milestone characters and later with the Justice League in comics and Animation; Kollins known largely for his critically applauded work on The Flash. It’s interesting to see these guys let loose on such unashamedly classic Marvel action, full of obscure cameos and continuity nods, and they do a bloody great job of it too if you ask me.

I wholeheartedly recommend this and it’s not just the hangover talking.

The Infinite Vacation

The Infinite Vacation #1

Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Christian Ward

Action Ash
I wasn't even aware that this was written by Nick Spencer, of Morning Glories fame when I purchased this book. I saw it was coming out and thought it looked interesting, but it wasn't until I picked it up to read it that I saw the name and recognised it. If you've read my praise of Morning Glories then you will not be surprised when I when I say that I liked this too.

Plot: Mark lives in a world where if you're bored of your life, it doesn't matter. You can just buy the life of a another you from an alternate reality. However, no matter how many times Mark makes a switch he still ends up in the same boring dead end situations. Also versions of him are dropping like flies and he's worried that there might be reason other than chance.

In my opinion the story is original and unoriginal at the same time. It seems like I've come across this sort of thing before but it's done in an interesting way and seems to be making a point about current Internet/phone application culture. The story unfolds in a nice way and in some ways reminds me of a film or TV programme.

Aesthetically this is an interesting book. The main reason I like the art is simply because it's different from what I'm used to in mainstream comics. Ward does a great job of giving the feel that this world is like ours but completely different at the same time. One way he does this is by mixing the literal depiction of what's happening in the story with abstract colours and shapes to help portray what the characters are feeling. There is a cut and paste element to the backgrounds which I think really works and the middle pages fold out into a fantastic two page splash panel that would make a brilliant poster.

TL;DR = It is a good read and looks pretty.

3 and a half alternate reality cruising me's out of 5

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Best Wishes John!


John Constantine, DC's least eligible bachelor is about to tie the knot in Hellblazer #275, out this week. What could possibly go wrong...

I also picked up Strange Tales II #3, which had been eluding me these past weeks.

What I got and why

Action Ash
This week was a good one for purchasing comics. Some nice titles that I've been looking forward to came out.
Morning Glories #6 - The first story arc is over so I can't wait to see what's going to happen next.
Scarlet #4 - Seems like aaaaages since issue 3. Loving this series, reads great and looks better. Check out the sick cover Maleev cooked up for this issue. <<<

Superior #4 - Seems to be coming out on time each month, which is impressive considering it's by Millar.

Wolverine and Jubilee #1 - Thought I'd check this out because I like the Wolvie/Jubi tag team. Although last time I read a story about this duo one of them wasn't a vampire, so we'll see how it goes.

Infinite Vacation #1 - A new series that looks fairly interesting so I thought I'd check it out. Keep your eyes peeled for a review.

Thor #619 - I'm really liking this creative team's work on Thor. Still don't quite understand why old goldilocks was so desperate to get Loki back though.

Also I acquired a free DC poster, and guess what the image was. None other than the propaganda picture that I spoke of two posts ago. The only downside being it doesn't have the line "Keeping comics affordable for you!" across the bottom. Never mind, it was free.

Be Well citizens, I'll catch you on the flipside \m/

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

BREAKING NEWS: Valhallahan likes Greg Horn Image!

I'm usually not a fan of Greg Horn, he's an artist I actively dislike, in fact. Mainly because his work is for the most part incredibly fucking naff. But credit where credit is due, and this is indeed worthy of credit;

Speaking of Credit where credit is due, I saw it first here.

Drawing the line at $2.99

Action Ash
I love DC's little self promotion/propaganda posters they're currently running in their books at the moment.

There's something so intrinsically comic book about it but I don't know what it is. Reminds me of something you'd see in a title from the 40s and 50s.

Adventuring in the DC universe with Action Ash

Action Ash
I've been pretty busy with coursework recently so I've not had the time to review anything. I've barely had the time to read what I've bought. However at the weekend I did get the pleasure of playing DC Universe Online. A friend of mine had bought it and was kind enough to let me make a character on his account.
OMG! What an amazingly fun time I had flying around Gotham city beating up the Scarecrow's henchmen. Or even just flying around.

The character creation system is fairly in depth and will be more than enough for the imaginative among comic fans to make some iconic (or generic, depending on what you're going for) looks for their characters. My character looks totally metal, like a demonic Doctor Doom \m/.

I'm only level 5 at the moment, but next time I'm at my mates house I'm gonna see to it that I become one powerful mother trucker.

A fantastic MMORPG for comic fans, better than WoW I'd say.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

What I Got And Why: January 2011!

Guten Tag Home-Friends! Welcome sie bitter to What I Got And Why 2011!

Jonah Hex - Well here we have another classic Hex tale, Hex takes a rare execution job off some wronged townsfolk, to take out some low down killer pervert. And kill him he does and then some! The art is by Jordi Bernet who is as close to a regular artist as they get in Jonah Hex. He good, he real good.

Oddly this issue is part of DC's line-wide "Covers with characters in front of logos without the title" month and as Jonah Hex doesn't have a logo as such, they've opted to go for "HEX" in the title font in the Dixie flag colours. I suppose just showing a Dixie flag would send the wrong signals what with the reb flag being the international symbol for redneck. I have to say I really like the idea behing these covers, and it looks great on the shop shelves but as Hex shows, it's not a comfortable fit for every title.

Knight and Squire #4 - Another dandy of an issue of Knight and Squire. Not my favourite by any means, if anything it's the weakest, but a weak issue of Knight and Squire is still funnier than a pile of Deadpool books big enough to build a stairway to the sun. This issue Knight fights... himself! And Squire fights... the awkwardness of budding teen romance! Plus Hank the American butler.

Scalped - Scalped is as Scalped does, so yet again we have some hard boiled brutal misery from Aaron and co. I wouldn’t have it any other way. This month the focus is on Special Agent Nitz as his overly complicated shitty downward drunken spiral misery he calls a life finally gets on top of him and he decides to end it. Hillarity ensues obviously.

Casanova: Gula I - I picked up the latest issue of Casanova, which is reprinting stuff I don't already have in trade now. This is one trippy book Daddy-o. It also looks rather delightful, drawn by 2Badguys' favourite artist Fabio Moon. Casanova is written by 2Badguys' seems-quite-good-but-not-quite-boner-enducing-yet-guy Matt Fraction and he really goes hell for leather with the nutso sci-fi concepts. Silver age madness filtered through European spy movie cool now in almost Technicolor!

Cutting the crap though, this is a great, fun series worthy of all the hype it got when it came out.

iZombie - iZombie continues apace, and what a pace! Actually that statement doesn’t even mean anything, I just wanted to say something other than "Still going. Still like it". I must say though, that this title has gone from a book I was considering dropping, to one I look forward to every month. iZombie is a fun, almost shamefully pretty-looking series.

Sweet Tooth - Sweet Tooth's second big storyline comes to a climax and shit really does hit the proverbial. I would like to talk about this series in depth at some point, because I really am loving it. The problem is I can't really understand why. I will say that it is a bizarre, exciting and utterly fresh book, once rather aptly described as "Mad Max meets Bambi". I recommend it to all, regular comic reader or not.

Science Dog #1 - Science Dog is a recurring double-fictional character in Robert Kirkman's Invincible universe. He's (Invincible alter-ego) Mark Grayson's favourite comic book character who apparently was created as a genuine comic book pitch by Kirkman and Invincible co-creator Cory Walker before they started on Invincible. This collects the first two mini stories by the pair which were originally printed in anniversary issues of Invincible. I really have said Invincible a lot now haven’t I? Anyway, it's a fun but forgettable romp, reminiscent of the lighter issues of that other book I keep mentioning, something beginning with I...

Incognito: Bad Influences #2 - To be honest it's been so long since issue one came out that I've completely forgotten what is happening in this series, but it's the second issue of the sequel to Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' superb Pulp-bad-guy-goes-sort-of-good series from a year or so ago, so you just know it's going to make a lovely collected story. I might wait till another issue is out and start from the beginning again.

The Walking Dead #80 - This Week: Zombies! Red hot zombie action makes a welcome return in the first part of new storyline, "No Way Out".

Bulletproof Coffin #6 - And so we bid adieu to one of my favourite series of 2010. I heartily recommend all you pretty folk go and by this series when it comes out in Trade Paperback. In fact, I fucking dare you!

Chaos War #4 - I'll admit that I'm kind of losing interedt now, but we're nearly done so fingers crossed for a doozy of an ending. I'll also note that this is the only Marvel Universe title I'm still reading.

Hellblazer #264 - This issue wraps up the time travelling trip and puts all the peices on the board for next issues big ol' wedding event. I'm on the edge of my seat! Hellblaxer really is a book worth talking about again. Nice.

and that, my freunds, is that. Keep your peepers peeled for some extra fun goodies from us in the coming weeks. not just more What I Got And Why's, oh no brothers and sisters, we are diversifying! Can You dig it?

Friday, 14 January 2011

This is why I love January Sales

Action Ash
Last Saturday was a great day.
I had a nice day at work with the fishes, and then I went to meet with my partner in crime at Chaos City Comics. Twas the annual sale and it was a doozy!
Half price off trades and back issues were 50p! Nerdgasm!

I picked up: Kill Your Boyfriend - This classic Morrison story will freak out the squares without resorting to not making any sense, like some of his DC superhero stuff. I love this ridiculous story of teenage rebellion, but didn't own it so I had grab it.

El Diablo - Azzarello and Zezelj's Vertigo take on the Western vigilante.

Incognegro - A book I've been meaning to read for a while but kept forgetting about. The story of a high yeller black man who uses his light skin tone to go undercover as a white man and report on lynchings in the south. Fascinating.

Conan: The Newspaper Strips Volume 1 - I love Conan so I knew I was going in for this a
s soon as I heard about the sale. It's written by Roy Thomas and drawn by John Buscema and Ernie Chan so it better be good.

Fantastic Four in... Ataque Del M.O.D.O.K.! - Suggested by Liam because he read it and loved it. It does look pretty good, although a bit colourful for him, and it's not about criminals and detectives smoking in alleyways, so it must be good for him to of liked it so.

That night we enjoyed drinks in the nations capital in celebration of our friend Oli's birthday. I met and danced with an attractive young lady and Liam drank his body weight in beer and whiskey. It was fun.

As some of you might know, we in the U.K. now have our comics delivered on Wednesday just like the yanks. As opposed to Thursday like a bunch of chumps. So, on Wednesday, I made my weekly trip to Chaos City to pick up my fix. There were only three books out this week, which is probably good when I consider the backlog of things I have to read. There was:

night and Squire #4 - This issue looks fun I tell ya. It seems that Knight is going to do battle with his own armour. Interesting.

Heroes for Hire #2 - If this issue isn't great then I will drop this title.
Simple as that.

Science Dog #1 - I love Invincible. In fact it's probably become one of my favourite comics. Therefore there was no reason not to get this spin off.

Also at some point I acquired a copy of Carnage #2 thanks to Valhallahan. It's been so long I can't remember much about the first one.

Well that's it for this post. Join us next time when I fight the dreaded Library gang for control of England's porn industry and Valhallahan goes on a spirit quest to find the ultimate Burrito, with pals Jack Daniels and Jim Beam. Don't miss it!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Face Front True Believers!

All Hail Marvel Comic's new Editor in Chief Axel Alonso


2011: return of the 2 bad guys!

Action Ash
I know henchmen. It's been a while since we have graced your screens with our literary skills, but what can I say? It was Christmas!

...and then it was New Years.

Valhallahan and I have been far too busy eating ourselves sick and drinking ourselves stupid to bother with you guys! However now the festivities are over and it's time to get serious again and talk about comic books. Srs Bzns!

On Christmas eve I bought a bunch of great stuff:

Morning Glories #5 - It wrapped up the first arc, but still doesn't really answer any questions. Still love it.
Teen Titans: Cold Case - I don't really have any interest in the Titans but it had Captain Cold on the cover. What's a boy to do? They had a big fight with the rogues, it was awesome.
Superior #3 - This is a really nice looking book and the story is fun. Thumbs up.
The Cape - An IDW one shot based on a short story by a dude named Joe Hill. Was good, I want to see more of it.
Namor #5 - I got this because the X-men vampire bullshit is over and I'm hoping this series will become good now.
Legacies #8 - I love the way this series is guiding me through DC history.

As you can see I had some reading material to delve into while pretending to be interested in whatever it was my mum was banging on about on boxing day.

Fast forward to New Years Eve and it was nearly time for partying, but there was just one thing I had to do. You guessed it, buy some funny books! Here's what I got...

Robert E. Howard's Savage Sword #1 - Holy blood stained axe! A magazine wholly dedicated to comic adaptions of Robert E. Howard's creations? By Crom, I'm in!

The Flash #8 - Professor Zoom looks pissed! I wonder what's got him so angry?

Detective Comics #872 - Jock is Super Geil! I'm really enjoying this story too, this issue introduces a creepy cult of rich people who auction and buy super villain's equipment and are obsessed with morbid landmarks. Well done Mr Snyder, keep it up.

Incognito: Bad Influences #2 -
Seems like it's taken ages for this issue to come out. Glad it's here now.

SHAZAM! The Golden age of the worlds mightiest mortal -
An amazing hardback collecting images of all sorts of weird and wonderful Captain Marvel merchandise and discussing his immense popularity before the lawsuit that killed it all off.

Happy New years suckers! I hope ya'll had as great a time as I did

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Captain America Found Frozen In Ice!