Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Dwayne McDuffie RIP

2 Badguys raise our glasses to writer Dwayne McDuffie, who died today.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Marvel Girl has issues... and I don't want to read about them.

Marvel Girl one-shot
Written by Josh Fialkov
Art by Nuno Plati

Action Ash
I'm not going to beat around the bush. This was a bit rubbish really.

The X-Men characters are dear to me, and this series of one-shots looking at each of the original line up looked fairly interesting. This one, however, was not interesting. It was nonsense. The plot was boring, Jean was written unlike any portrayal of her that I've ever read and the way the overall story played out was, quite frankly, a bit whack.The art however was pretty good and the last page features a splash panel that would make a nice poster. Nuno Plati has a really interesting and stylised European art style that I totally dig. It gave the story a great look and I can imagine Plati doing character designs for an animated series or cell shaded video game. The tacky Roger Cruz cover, however, was not very good.
I suppose I should warn you that the next paragraph contains spoilers, as I'm going to give you an Action Ash abridged version of the story. Here goes:

The book opens with Cyclops and Angel fighting over Jean. Scott being the jock, douche bag that he is, wants to lay claim to his woman. Angel glides down elegantly and punches him in then face, while calling him a "Jerk!". If Warren Worthington III was real I'd fist bump him and buy him a beer. Jean breaks it up and shouts at them. Iceman  makes a comment to Beast about never wanting to date her. Jean hears and psychic blasts the shit out of them even though Beast didn't do anything. Perhaps they should change Jeans codename to  Unlikable Harridan.
Cut to Prof. X's office and he tells her that she should take a break from the team because she's out of control. She shouts at him too and then agrees to go home. When she arrives home her parents give her a hug and tell her that they've missed her. Apparently Jean doesn't like this so she decides to run out and go to the mall. While there she starts seeing psychic flash backs of her friend Annie and herself. They talk to a boy in the arcade who tells Annie she's a spaz (I lol'd) and Annie runs out crying. Jean then realises that everyone she knew as a kid is still there. She contacts the Professor with her mind and is all like "OMG there's a monster here keeping everyone under a spell", instead of coming to the conclusion that people in her home town are just boring and unmotivated to do anything with their lives.
She finds ghost/flashback Annie, who accuses Jean of moving on with her life after Annie was hit by a car. To be fair Annie, you were dead!
Then ghost/flashback/figment-of-Jean's-imagination-brought-to-life-by-her-powers Annie, transforms into a monster. Jean's all like "You're not Annie, she's nice and you're a jerk" The monster goes away, Jean talks to herself as a kid and then Prof. X comes. Jean says "ZOMG there was no monster it was just my pure bitch evil". Xavier says "Duh, This is all in your mind stupid. Check yo'self fo' you wreck yo'self" Jean says "I'm going to stop being such a dick and come back to the X-Men."


TL;DR = Waste of time!

The nonsense adventures of an unrecognisable Jean Grey out of  a possible coherent and well executed story.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Do you think I'd look good in a yellow rain coat and pink shades?

Action Ash
Mellow Greetings citizens! How are you on this glorious day? I myself, am well and happy, safe in the knowledge that soon I will own the entire run of the original 70's Werewolf by Night. Last Friday I acquired issues #3 to # 19 and soon I shall have completed my collection and no one can stop me!!!

But enough of my evil plans, I'm gonna tell you what I bought this week:

Magnus, Robot Fighter #3 - More pulp Sci-fi nonsense from Shooter and Reinhold. Love it!

Wolverine and Jubilee #2 - Looking forward to seeing what the dynamic duo get up to in this ish. Also loving the return of the yellow raincoat and pink shades. What a classic look, I wish I could pull it off.

Silver Surfer #1 - Interesting that they should bring out a mini series featuring everyones favourite herald of Galactus. I wonder what brought it on?

Marvel Girl One-shot - I like the look of these X-Men issues that are all set in the early days of the mutant's superhero career. Not too keen on the cover but the inside looks nice so we'll see how it goes.

So that's what my week is going to involve. Werewolves, yellow rain coats, pink shades, fist fighting with robots, silver space men and telepathic teenage girls. Sounds good! Catch you on the flip side. \m/

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Remembering Marvel UK: Motormouth and Kill-Power


The Preamble
I've spoken before about my fondness for the old Marvel UK characters, I know they aren't the best examples of the medium of sequential art, but I have a lot of love for them nonetheless. It is a love/hate relationship though, as on the whole the concepts are a lot better than the execution, and the art is extremely hit and miss (mostly miss). I read a fair bit of their output as a child in the early 90s through the magazine Overkill, which was Marvel UK's attempt at a 2000AD-esque Science Fiction anthology, they chopped up the 22 page US versions into short chunks and printed about four stories per fortnightly issue. I think my love of some of these characters is less about actual quality storytelling and more a mixture of nostalgia and partly because it was such a brazen attempt to do these cyberpunky dystopian Sci-Fi tales, that wouldn't look out of place sitting between Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog, but set them all on the periphery of the Marvel Universe. Motormouth and Kill Power rubbing shoulders with Nick Fury and The Punisher, Death's Head II and Tuck scrapping with the X-Men, it's sort of like Tyranny Rex turning up in the Avengers or Judge Dredd in the Justice League. It shouldn't work, but every now and then it really does. So, on the whole I like the books, with caveats, but every now and then they have an outright hit, which brings me to Motormouth and Kill Power.

The Shop
I picked up the entire 12 issue US run (annoyingly sans #2 & 5) of Motormouth and Killpower (nee The Indescribable Motormouth) last week for a song from The Mighty World of Comicana II, a well stocked, dusty, decidedly old school comic book shop on Shaftsbury Avenue which sadly is not long for this world and well worth a visit before it closes its doors for good in the coming months. Seriously, go now, it's shutting down soon. The member of staff (I've only ever seen the one chap in the 15 or so years I've been going there) is friendly and the shop is full of gems from yesteryear, which for the most part are very affordable. I spent about a tenner in their 25p bin alone, before picking up this series and plugging a few of my ROM: Spaceknight gaps. Many thanks to Ian at Dead Universe Comics for promising to hook me up with the missing Motormouth & Killpower issues.

The Characters
Motormouth is Harley Davis (I see what they did there) a 90s street punk who happens upon some fancy new sneakers that imbue her with the power to jump between different dimensions, but make her the focus of attention for all manner of shady cloak and dagger types. Along the way she is introduced to Killpower, a heavily armed, grotesquely over-muscled ubermench type with an obscene amount of high tech weaponry at his disposal. The thing is, Killpower is not quite right in the head, he's the mind of a child trapped in a 170% 90s comic book shell. He's been raised by the shady agency that created him to become the perfect killer, but in actuality he's just an amiable little kid who's been raised for his moral compass to point in the wrong direction. Initially sent to kill Harley, they develop a friendship of sorts, her rankled sarcastic nature rubbing against his bizarrely skewed childlike innocence, creating a rather fun dynamic duo. The Riot Grrl and the 90s comic book anti-hero parody. Once they hook up they hop from plane to plane with all due ensuing hijinx. Fantastically named adventures they are too; "Electro Vampires in the 21st Century!", "Off to Kill A Wizard!". This series also treats us to a scene I honestly never thought I'd see, Nick Fury and The Punisher gate crashing a warehouse rave in Islington. I shit ye not!

The Rest
OK, so the art is not amazing, but it's not bad either, it's just quite of its time. Motormouth's design is great and actually not something that would look out of place in Camden nowadays, and Kill Power is such an over the top parody character that the artists can just go nuts with him with impunity. It's also interesting to see early work from people like Gary Frank, who grows up to become one of the best "acting" and facial expression artists in the business. I really would love to see someone pick up these characters again, and it was great to see some of them make cameos in Paul Cornell's Captain Britain and MI:13 not that long ago. I really feel that there’s tons of mileage in this set up. I can imagine a place for the punky hipster with the foul mouth and the dimension hopping trainers getting into all kinds of transdimentional, cross-time hijinks in today's Marvel Universe. I'm thinking Van Lente or Peter Milligan writing with someone like Stuart Immonen, or Jamie McKelvie or Mike Allred making with the pretty pictures; It could be like Exiles but more British and actually good. Let’s start a petition I say! Who's with me?


Oh, sod you then.

***Incidentally on my search of the web for Marvel UK info, I happened upon this blog. which is a great place for fans of the imprint.***

What I Got and Why: This time it's February


Aloha Chums! I picked up quite the haul this week, from the fine and friendly establishment that is Chaos City Comics in sleepy St Albans. It was a perilous journey, fraught with danger and worsened by the fact that I'd been up all night with friends and wine the night before like the bourgeois pig that I am. Anyway I came, I bought, I err... went home and blogged about it.

Star Trek: Infestation #1 - "He's dead Jim". Good clean fun.

Transformers: Infestation #1 - I don't normally read Transformers books so I don't know what sort of status quo they're running on, but if you've seen the original movie you'll know who everyone is. It's a stupid and confusing book but good fun nonetheless. What do you expect though?

New York Five #1 - I picked this up as a try out. I'll do a proper review, but it's written Brian Wood whose work I have a love/hate relationship with. It always piques my interest and he always picks fantastic artists to work with, but I'm almost invariably disappointed by the end product. I'll save that rant for the review though. Looks like classy stuff.

Sir Edward Grey: Witchfinder #1 - I don't read much by Dark Horse but I'm often temped. This one stuck out for it's period setting. I'll post a proper review of this one in the week.

Knight and Squire #5 - An absolutely bloody brilliant issue of this excellent series. Top Hole!

Jonah Hex #39 & 56 - To make up for not being able to get the latest issue I picked up two issues I didn't already have. At least I think I don't have them... Anyone want an issue of Jonah Hex?

Incognito: Bad Influences #3 - I'm looking forward to reading all three issues in one sitting.

The Walking Dead #82 - Always a winner. It does say something about the state of the market though that I bought three books about zombies without even trying.

Power Man and Iron Fist #1 - Ash got my interest piqued with the revelation that 2badguys' favourite, the Don of the Dead appears. Looks fun, but I'm not keen on the new look Iron Fist, I like the Green Pajamas darn it!

Wolverine #1000 - Stan only knows how he's on #1000, perhaps Marvel just have gremlins, but I digress. This issue is an anthology, and although I don't read the regular books, I do love Wolverine stories. I've been burned before but I'm hoping this one will be a winner. I really like the look of the story with the young girl who wants to be Wolvie. Fingers crossed.

Chaos War #5 - Thus ends the saga of The Incredible Hercules. It's been a wild ride and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Casanova: Gula II - Beautiful artwork from Fabio Moon, crazy tales by Matt Fraction. Good job all round. I missed this series first time around, but I can see why it got so much hype.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Comics and ting

Action Ash 
Last week there wasn't a single comic out that I wanted to buy! I was confused at first, this hasn't happened in a while. It was OK though. It just so happened that week of no comics coincided with the first week of owning my brand new shiny iPad. Not so good for helping me concentrate on my dissertation but brilliant for games (I'm addicted to Dungeon Hunter 2) and the comic applications are pretty nifty. IDW especially impressed me with their line up of titles, FX (with John  Byrne art) and Hammer of the Gods (by Michael Avon Oeming) being two titles I would recommend to anyone out there who has the device and likes funny books.

This week was the total opposite. Eight titles to keep me busy NOT doing my dissertation.

DC Legacies #9 - Continuing my history lesson of the DC universe. Particularly looking forward to the back up strip with Bill Sienkiewicz art and Black Adam being a bad ass.

Flash #9 - Finally back to main story instead of "rogue profiles" *cough*timewasters*cough*. Looks like a good ish and I hope this Flashpoint business will end up being a good event.

Knight and Squire #5 - A great issue with a great ending. Can't wait to see what happens next. That's all I'm going to say, I don't want to spoil it.

Carnage #3 - I've enjoyed this so far and I love the art but do have the feeling that it could turn out to be a bit pointless.

Heroes for Hire #3 - Last issue had me totally hooked and helped secure this book a place on my "ongoings" list. One thing though...the art. It's good and everything but some of the women look really ugly. In  issue 2 Satana looked like a transvestite. Just saying. Also this issue features Iron Fist.

Incognito #3 - After escaping the whore house of doom, where will Zack Overkill's adventures lead him next?

Click the pic to see this sick wrap around cover in full glory
New Avengers #9 - That was quick. The last issue was only out two weeks ago. Never mind I'm not complaining.

Power man and Iron Fist #1 - I have been looking forward to this since the end of Shadowland! Written by my favourite, Van Lente, this new duo are sure to have some interesting adventures. Also contains the comeback of a character I love that featured in another book by Van Lente.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Comics Round Up! featuring What I Got and Why

Well, not a particularly exciting week to write about, comics wise. I suppose I’ll have to brush off the Wetworks: Mutations abattoir of a review and my fond remembrance of Motormouth and Kill Power. Before I do though I will explain what I got and Why.

As I said, not n exciting two weeks to write about, but a great little bundle of books... and Infestation #1. These last two trips have really just been my regulars, my satisfying old faithfuls, my Snickers. Obviously they’re all published by Vertigo.

This week I bought the latest issues of iZombie (fast becoming my favourite read of the month), Sweet Tooth (Sideways Special!), Scalped (all misery, all the time!) and American Vampire (Not Twilight!). I’ve spoken about these at relative length before, so I’ll save you the repetition, suffices to say they all come highly recommended.

I also picked up a few bits and bobs from Amazon, such as Kane Vol. 4: Thirty Ninth, Thirty Ninth. Kane is essentially a cop show in comic book format, written and drawn by Paul Grist, of Jack Staff fame. It’s been a while since I read it, as it took me ages to find a copy of this volume and I didn’t want to skip ahead, but it’s the ongoing stories of the cops and robbers of a corrupt US precinct. It walks a fine line between serious and whimsy, but it walks it well. Worth noting also, that for some reason, these black and white collections are a bit of an arse to find. As is fellow black and white crime series Chicanos. What’s that all about?

My other online comic purchases were a load of The Uncanny X-Men Pocket Books from Panini. The Pocket Books are digest-format reprints of Chris Claremont’s epic run on The Uncanny X-Men (from Giant-Size #1 onwards) they’re printed in full colour and have about 8-10 issues’ worth of story per book. They even throw in the annuals and specials like God Loves Man Kills. At £4-5 (or about 80p + P&P from Amazon Marketplace) they’re a brilliant and cheap way to read these classic stories. Some of the dialogue may have dated badly, and reading them all together does highlight Chris Claremont’s recurring plots a bit much (boy does he like mind games) but I thoroughly recommend these stories and this format. Spider-Man, Iron Man, Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk and Silver Surfer Pocket Books are also available.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The Greatest Crossover Ever? No


My name is Valhallahan and I’m a sucker for hype. It’s a curse many geeks share, and in some cases it leads to disappointment. This is one of those cases.

I suppose this issue did all that was needed of it, in that it set up the premise for the crossover, ready for it to sprawl out into the various mini series it encompasses, but the comic itself is pretty bad. I can’t fault the art particularly, as it is accomplished stuff and looks rather nice when the writers give them something decent to draw, but the dialogue is bloody ridiculous and the plot progression is incomprehensible. This second problem stems from the fact that this issue, although titled "Infestation #1" is actually Zombies versus CVO: Covert Vampiric Operations. For those who don’t know, let me fill you in on CVO from what I gleaned from this issue of Infestation and the two issues of CVO I once got in a grab-bag: It’s a big load of shite. More specifically, it is the story of a group of covert soldiers who happen to be -wait for it- Vampires! Yeah! Woo! Awesome! No. The team consists of two interchangeable broody tough guy types and Lady Death. Oh sorry, that’s not Lady Death, that’s the third member of the CVO team, she’s a vampire commando that used to be a supermodel! How cool is that? Not very? Oh well, I’ll continue. Interestingly, she is quite curvy and buxom for a supermodel, methinks she’s been padding out her CV. Just because the place has a stage and people are watching you, it doesn’t make it a catwalk. So the 'Glamour' model and the two angry dudes seem to work for a bunch of ghouls in suits and... you know what? I can’t be bothered.
A Pony and Trap
But what did I expect? This is, after all the set up for a story which is essentially of the kind we all used to play with our toys when we were kids. "Then Captain Kirk beams down to the planet and there’s a zombie and then the zombie bites him and then Ghostbusters shoots the zombie and then more zombies come but Snake Eyes cuts their heads off but Megatron comes down and shoots Snake Eyes because he is a zombie too and then the Enterprise crashes because Dad stepped on it by accident but it transforms into Optimus Prime and then they fight and then Leonardo Kills Mum-Ra who looks a bit like a zombie and then Happy Meal transforming Big Mac shoots Grizzlor and then John was a zombie" and in that way, I’m still hopeful for the series.
Artist's Impression of writing process
It seems that this issue has very little bearing on what will proceed it. In fact the other titles aren’t really crossing over at all, it’s more like Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers where all the characters face a common foe, unbeknownst to them, with Infestation serving as the book ends which tie the stories together. In fact, the types of zombie don’t even appear to be consistent judging from the previews, with Transformers opting for a Blackest Night style evil dead, while Star Trek goes the more neoclassical route. As it stands the shiteyness of this initial part, is not going to stop me from trying the others, they are all previewed in the back of this book and have completely different, franchise-appropriate creative teams, and I must say though not a fan of his super-hero work, I look forward to seeing Kyle Holtz’s Ghostbusters art.
This was disappointing start, but not a deal-breaker. I’ll be trying out the Infestation minis but skipping the next instalment of this extended CVO advert.

Survival and Land out of a possible Dawn.

Johnny Come Lately: Incognegro

Action Ash 
I had flirted with the idea of buying this when it first came out but for some reason I never did. That was about three years ago and I had completely forgotten about it until Chaos City had a sale that I noticed it again and decided to make the purchase. I'm glad I did because this book was a fantastic read and is a fitting example of how the comic is a medium that can be used to tell all kinds of stories.

For those of you who don't know, Incognegro is the story of an extremely light skinned black man named Zane Pinchback who uses his genetic lot to go undercover, posing as a white man and reporting on the lynchings in then southern states. When his darker skinned brother is arrested for murder he decides to go "Incognegro" again and find out what really happened before his brother becomes the next lynch victim of a small southern town in Mississippi.

Set in the 1930's, this book is an intriguing look at the racial views of the time and shows you just how different being black was in the south, as opposed to somewhere like New York. However, Mat Johnson tells the story in a matter of fact way without trying to ram a message down your throat. It's clear that what is happening is wrong, but you are left to see that yourself without being beaten over the head with it too much.

The art is beautifully handled in stark black and white by Warren Pleece, and there is a remarkable attention to detail while keeping it relatively simple at the same time. Also, I would like to point out something which, as a person of black heritage I appreciated very much. Pleece draws black people that look like black people, with black features and although in black and white it is clear who the black characters are. This is refreshing to see in a medium where a lot of artists just draw a white person and colour them in brown (e.g. Storm from X-men, M from Generation X and some versions of Bishop... maybe it's just X-Men titles?).

A great crime thriller set against the backdrop of a time that was turbulent to say the least. I heartily recommend it.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

The Greatest Crossover Ever?

Well colour me intrigued.

I picked up a copy of Infestation #1 this week on a whim. I’d seen this advertised a few months ago and knew I had to give it a go. Infestation is a crossover for all (or at least most) of indie publisher IDW’s licensed properties. Essentially it’s *insert name* versus Zombies. I know, I know, "Zombies? What is this, 2007?" I hear you cry. The Walking Dead aside, I’m as sick of zombies as the next man (unless the next man is a Necrophiliac they love that shit) but hear me out! Y’see where it gets interesting is who the licensed characters are, and IDW have quite the list of *insert name here*s.

So Roll up, roll up for

Star Trek

Oh yeah you heard that right. Throw in Thundercats or Star Wars and that’s my childhood right there.

Aparently it crosses over with CVO (Covert Vampiric Operations) too, which is a shame because what I read of that (from bargain bin grab bags, I hasten to add) really did suck, if you'll parden the pun.

I’m going to go read this and tell you how it looks.

Be right back.