Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Eternity is Not For Me

It's funny how a book can be so promising and yet when you have it in your hands you end up putting it back on the shelf. National Comics: Eternity is that book for me. I love Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth, and Animal Man, and have enjoyed everything else I’ve read by him. I greatly enjoy Cully Hamner’s art too, having followed his work since the 1990s, Hamner, alongside his Gaijin Studios contemporary, Brian Stelfreeze have a real vibrancy in their storytelling and infuse real character in their characters. Their action choreography is exquisite also, noticeably superior to the vast majority of working comic book artists in any genre.

All in all this looks like a great book, but there’s something about the premise and the feel that left me a bit cold. I suppose what I’m trying to say is check out this book in the shop, it wasn't for me but I’m sure it'll be a class act. Let me know what it's like.


The Massive Disappointment

Well that’s annoying.

The Massive #2

We at 2Badguys do not approve of the industry’s frankly ridiculous love of alternative incentive covers (one to be filed under "shit that gives comic books a bad name"). This sometimes comes to a head, like this week when I picked up a copy of "Ninth Wave: Fight for Jakarta" the font of the title and presence of characters from The Massive indicating this is connected to the series. I picked this up, bagged in the shop, alongside my week's haul, thinking this was an addition to the main story presented in the comics actually titled "The Massive" only to find that this was just The Massive #2 but with a different cover and a higher price point. An issue that I bought when it came out last week.
Also The Massive #2

This is not the first time I’ve been suckered this way.

A word to the wise; if the book is sealed on the shelf, ASK the staff in the shop to have a look, don’t think "Ooh this must some kind of spin-off or prequel, may as well throw that on the pile". Another four quid I’ll never see again, and it didn't even get me slightly drunk.

A word to the publishers; what fucking shenanigans is this? You’ve printed the same fucking book as last week but with a different cover, a different title and no indication that it is a reprint of said differently titled book, just rebranded. At least give us something on the front however subtle that lets us know what book it is. Marvel and other publishers put a little "Variant" or "second printing" on there for those of us not keen on buying the same issue twice with different pictures on the front. Serious dick move.

Rant over.


Debris #1

Debris #1
Written by Kurtis J. Wiebe 
Art by Riley Rossmo

Action Ash
So I had seen the preview for this in the back of another book and I thought the cover art was really cool. I knew I was going to pick it up when it came out because what I had seen so far had piqued my interest. A girl fighting giant mechanical creatures in a junkyard landscape. What's not to like, right? Unfortunately there's not much else to it, and I was expecting a lot more.

Plot: Post apocalyptic world where the remnants of mankind live in a small fortified town and attempt to defend themselves against giant mechanical creatures, imaginatively named "Colossals". Oh and water is in short supply. Whatever.

The story is not that interesting and already within the first issue has fallen back on certain tropes and cliches of post apocalyptic fiction and typical quest stories. The lead character is chosen to go on a quest to a mythical place with the fate of humanity resting on her shoulders blah blah blah, you see where this is going.
The dialogue isn't anything special either.
Not a lot actually happens in this issue because it's mainly a set up issue, however this is only a 4 issue mini series so Mr. Wiebe might have wanted to have put more story in this issue and not so many of the page count swallowing action sequences.

On the other side of things, I couldn't fault Riley Rossmo too much, as his art is the best thing about this book. I recently read 'Wild Children' which was also drawn by him, however that also had a disappointing story (find better people to work with Mr. Rossmo). Getting back to Debris though, I think the 'Colossals' could have done with a bit more detail but I do recognise how hard giant mechanical snakes and birds can be to conjure up with just your pencil and imagination so I can cut some slack on that one.

It's not a completely bad book and I may buy the next issue to see where it goes, but I'm not digging Debris as much as I thought I would. The concept could be done much better. Distinctly average!

2 and a half mechanical monitor lizards out of a possible 5 Mecha Godzillas

Friday, 27 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises: Be Warned!

Inveterate drunk that I am, I skipped out on my ticket to see The Dark Knight Rises with the irredeemable Action Ash to go on the sauce Instead. Though to my geek credit I was really doing it out of respect for the movie, chosing not to go whilst full of expensive hooch, prefering to witnes Nolan's finale with as unclouded a mind as I can muster. That’s my excuse anyway.

Essentially, what I’m saying is I haven’t seen it yet, so if you spoil the plot, I will

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

What I Got/What You Should Get: This Time I give You Orders!

OK so here we are again, here’s what I got and Why... but with a twist!

What follows is my haul for this and last week, with shorter bits on the usuals and as an added treat for all you kids at home, I'm throwing in alternative suggestions for the lackluster or impenetrable stories. Regardez! 

American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares #2
So this series is showing us the AmVamVerse (is that a term? If not, I just coined it) version of Dracula, and although I have little or no interest in yet another retelling of the Dracula myth, this is very well done. The art is creepy and atmospheric, and the interpretation and period setting fit well with previous American Vampire stories. A very good title that will read even better in trade paperback collection, if you like this, try any collection of the main series or the equally pretty previous mini series 'Survival of the Fittest'. Or, you know any other Dracula book, film, comic, video game cartoon, TV show...

Batwoman #11
It's good but it's losing me. Pick up Batwoman: Elegy instead, it's where the reimagining of the character began in earnest, originally running in Detective Comics. Elegy has the JH Williams art recently missing on the title but has a Greg Rucka script and plotting, something the title has sorely missed of late.

The Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred #6
We've got a lot of love for the Bulletproof Coffin here on 2Badguys, I recommend jumping in with the collected version of the first series or the third issue of this series (Tales Of The Haunted Jazz Club) as a taster. Dancer #3 A well made espionage-thriller-with-a-sci-fi-twist series. Try this if you liked the Bourne films/books, or Alias TV show.

Daredevil #15
Just when I thought I was out, they drag me back in again. Great Latveria Storyline. Or buy Daredevil: Born Again if you prefer your DD to stand more for 'Depressing Drama', than 'Derring Do'.

The Crow #1
I didn't get this in the end, decided to finish reading J O'Barr's original The Crow story instead as it's been collecting dust on my bedside cabinet for some time now. I may end up giving up and just rewatching the film like I did last time I tried though.

Eerie Comics #1
Some of the first comic books I ever read were my Dad's issues of Creepy and Eerie from the 70s. Where Creepy was a straight horror anthology, Eerie focused on Science Fiction Chillers. I'm not sure if this is reprints of old Eerie stories or a reboot or a bit of both, but it certainly looks like classic Eerie. Dark Horse has successfully resurrected Eerie's sister title Creepy, in recent years, further evidence of the industry's renewed interest in the horror genre.

Fatima: The Blood Spinners #2
To buy or not to buy, that is the question. Not to buy I think. Fork out a little extra for God and Science: The Return of the Ti Girls by the other Hernandez brother instead, you wont regret it.

Hellblazer #293 
What's the cockney equivalent of Hellbilly? Hell Sparrow? I dunno, just buy more Hellblazer.

The Massive #2
There's a lot going for this series so I'm giving it till the end of this opening three-part story at least. I probably won't go much further though. To it's credit The Massive unlike anything else on the shelves; a post-eco-disaster-apocalypse series set on a Greenpeace boat. Yeah I can't really say I've read that book before, and the premise has been set up well, but the characters aren't engaging me yet and there are odd discrepancies in the art which bug me, like that 20 odd year old looking Hipster in the captain's seat who is meant to be a 50ish hardened seaman and ex mercenary. Like the writer's previous work on Northlanders, and DMZ before it, it's good but I want better, so I'm using a harsh yardstick. Do try this out.

No Place Like Home #5
This is an odd one, sort of Wizard of Oz reimagined as a Teen Slasher flick, It's clumsily done in places and the reactions of the cast to certain events are inconsistent to say the least, but I've enjoyed this mini series. Issue five sees the final part of the first story arc, but there's more to follow apparently. A very pretty book, with a unique hook. Also, it has flying monkeys for fuck’s sake.

Punk Rock Jesus #1
The venerable (or is that venereal?) Action Ash already reviewed this, so I'll spare you my two penneth (go read his, we're not made of penneth), but suffice to say I agree. If you like this try True Faith by Garth Ennis and Warren Pleace, which reprints their story from UK comics-anthology-with-a-conscience, Crisis. Or anything written by Garth Ennis before he started working on Punisher for that matter.

Revival #1
Another week, another promising new series from Image. This series focuses on a small American town where after a particular time, townsfolk stopped being or getting dead. This ain't no zombie book though so stop the eye-rolling now, this is more of a psychological take on what would happen if people just couldn't die all of a sudden like in that Dr Who spin off series I didn't watch. But y'know, better than that. Lahverly looking cover too.

Saga #5
Just buy this, it's fucking great (see last month's quotes) the first few issues or reprints there of are still widely available, or wait for the inevitable collection due in a couple of months time. Or even just pick up the current issue, you won't have trouble catching up. A beautifully drawn and written book. An absolute class act.

The Shade #10
Basically what I said last time, engrossing story, charmingly roguish lead, beautiful art by Frazer Irving and a hell of a lot of bang for your buck. I'll be sad to see this go when it reaches it's stated end at #12. If you like this, go and read writer James Robinson's superb Starman run from the 90s, but if you're reading this you have probably read already, not that you need to have to enjoy this series, it’s all very self-contained. The bad news though is that sales for this series were piss-poor apparently so this may be the last Shade series we see for a some time.

Sunset: $1 Preview
I know piss all about this other than the art looks nice and it's a bit crime-y looking. Oh and it's cheap. Dirt cheap. This serves as a preview for a forthcoming collection and as a marketing ploy I like it. It's sort of like when you get the first chapter of a book printed in a magazine or the back of another book. Enough to get you piqued and have an idea of what you're looking at before you fork out for the full tome. Anyway this'n is by Christos Gage and Jorge Lucas, both creators with a lot of good work under their belts. Well worth your buck (or local equivalent).

The Walking Dead #100
In a word; brutal. Buy this issue if you like crying.

Wonder Woman #11
Still good, but losing the Wow Factor for me. It's actually hard to suggest something else similar instead, apart from Peter Milligan's Greek Street which wasn't actually as good as Wonder Woman is now.


Monday, 16 July 2012

Fifty Shades Of Greyskull

OK, I'm sold again.

In October, DC comics have announced that they are publishing the Origin of Skeletor, with 2Badguys favourite Frazer Irving providing the art. I was a big He-Man fan as a child, so nostalgia had my interest piqued but the presence of Frazer Irving on this project makes it a must-buy for me. I can’t wait to see his renditions of the denizens of Eternia.

Incidentally the last He-Man comic I bought was CrossGen's Masters of The Universe: Icons Of Evil - Trapjaw, which featured the titular character’s origin. The comic was written in 2003 by The Walking Dead's Robert Kirkman and was jolly good fun. I picked it up in a bargain bin some time after it was published. Well worth a read if you're in the mood for that sort of thing

Masters of The Universe: The Origin of Skeletor #1 written by Joshua Hale Fialkov comes out in October.


Dirty Laundry: A Fan Film Better Than The Real Thing.

Dear Tom Jane,

On witnessing the below I take almost all of the mean things I've said about your attempt at a Punisher film back. Almost.

Actually none of it, but at least you're trying.



The Beginning of the Endless...

It's San Diego Comic Con time again folks, and the big companies have been making some big announcements as usual. I'd suggest heading over to Bleeding Cool or Comics Alliance or some other news website for a rundown, but I thought I'd comment on one tidbit.

By far the most surprising news from San Diego Comic Con this year was the revelation that Neil Gaiman is returning to Vertigo comics for a prequel to his legendary Sandman series. The series will tell the tale of how Orpheus was originally imprisoned, leading to his release in The Sandman #1, and will be drawn, no doubt entirely beautifully, by the inimitable JH Williams III.

"Shut up and take my money", as they say.


Saturday, 14 July 2012

Punk Rock Jesus #1

Punk Rock Jesus
Written/art by Sean Murphy

Action Ash
As the latest Vertigo title to hit the shelve, Punk Rock Jesus is just what the doctor ordered as far as Vertigo titles go. Unlike their other titles of late this book comes straight from the old school. Irreverence - Check, Indie sensibilities - Check, Anti-religious sentiment - Check, and all rendered in the scratchy brilliance that is Sean Murphy's art.

Brief plot summary - A company named "Ophis" has funded a famous geneticist to clone Jesus Christ using the shroud of Turin, for the purpose of impregnating a virgin who is chosen through an audition process. This is all for a reality TV show that will follow the pregnancy and then the child as he grows up to be the second coming of Jesus. Also, an  uber violent ex IRA member has been hired to be the head of security for the project. Shit is clearly about to get real!

Being primarily an artist does not hinder Sean's ability to plot out an engaging story. This book seems very well thought out and seems to have a good few sub plots, however not too many and handled well so you don't find yourself getting lost. Then you have the themes of blind faith, the moral issue with cloning, the moral issue of bringing a child into the world with such a big responsibility already thrust upon it and of course cold blooded corporations willing to do anything for money.

The art is a masterclass in stark black and white storytelling, all done with a tremendous amount of detail.  Murphy's use of shading and shadow is an art form in itself, the extremity of which, in certain panels, calls to mind German expressionism. At times it seems slightly manga influenced (I mean that in the best possible way) especially during the action. The fact that it's in black and white seems to help exhibit Murphy's already impressive talent for drawing facial expressions.

Clocking in at approximately 30 pages it is well worth the £2.65 ($2.99) cover price.Technically, there's been no punk yet but I'm more than willing to stick around and see where that will come in to it.

5 Ex-IRA members breaking placards upside old men's heads out of 5

Super Geil!

Friday, 13 July 2012

The Walking Dead #100

The Walking Dead released it's landmark hundredth issue this week and it's another heartbreaker folks! I picked up a copy with this awesome Frank Quietly cover which has absolutely no relevance to the story.


Tuesday, 10 July 2012

What I Got and Why: Mixed Doubles

Guten Tag!

Just two posts in from the long hiatus and I’m reminded why the "What I Got" posts get a bit same-y from me; apart from the new titles, I've got my favourites that I say the same bloody things about week in, week out. With that in mind I’ll keep it short and sweet on the old faithfuls and have a re-jig on the next instalment. In the meantime, enjoy!

American Vampire #28
The past two storylines have been great, so hoping this one keeps up the momentum. Now we’re still in the fifties and back to the series' original cast members and setting albeit a long time later with a lot more water under the bridge, certainly for Pearl, who is worlds away from the naive ingĂ©nue we first met in American Vampire #1. Although there is certainly an ongoing story in American Vampire, it is a very new reader friendly book. The start of each new story arc is always marked clearly on the cover, and often feature heavily if not entirely on new characters. A very noob friendly and highly enjoyable series.

Creator Owned Heroes #2
This series is quite the curio. Spearheaded by Jimmy Palmiotti, whose Jonah Hex work I’m very fond of, this is a collection of creators mostly known for their big company work, displaying their craft in, well, Creator Owned Heroes. Does what it says on the tin I guess. The series features two strips and magazine style articles and interviews at the back. A full read for your extra dollar, it feels a bit like a short US version of Judge Dredd: The Megazine. The stories are a bit forgettable so far but Trigger Girl 6 is a fantastic showcase for the beautiful art of Phil Noto, a real favourite round these parts.

Fatale #6
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are two creators at the top of their game. No matter what they turn their hands to they ‘knock it out of the park’ as I believe the yanks say. The collection of the first five issues has just come out so it’s a great time to catch up. I recommend buying the individual issues of any Brubaker/Phillips series when you can as they fill the back of each books with fascinating articles on the films, shows and books of the genres they are dealing with. With this pair there is almost always a ‘noir’ filter; Criminal was crime noir, Sleeper and Incognito were Superhero noir and Fatale is Horror noir and damnit, who don’t like noir!

Fatima #1
Gilbert Hernandez, the batshit-crazy half (occasionally third) of Love and Rockets’ Los Bros Hernandez is back with a new series which, judging by the promo pages online deals with some kind of zombie crisis. On a quick flick through it looks like everyone involved keeps their clothes on which is pretty bloody weird for a Gilbert Hernandez book. The lead still has a figure Russ Meyer would be proud of though, so don't worry. In all seriousness, although I'm giving this a try, I'm enjoying Gilbert's books less and less these days so I've not set my hopes too high on this series.

iZombie #27
Onward goes the apocalypse! Only one more issue after this. Why, you bastards, why?

New Deadwardians #4
For me, this has been the best of the new batch of Vertigo titles that launched together a few months ago. The other three were Dominique LaVeau: Voodoo Child, Fairest and Saucer Country, all of which were pretty lacklustre. Although this series does have that unfortunate appearance of being "yet another zombie/vampire story" the book has enough of its own identity, brought about by the pacing and the understated nature of the Edwardian characters, that it’s been a rather pleasant surprise to me. Focus less on the criminally overdone vampire/zombie angle and it’s a very enjoyable crime mystery comic.

Prophet #26
I decided to stick around with this series after last month's blatant jumping Jumping-Off point. Brandon Graham’s straight-sci-fi approach to Rob Liefield’s Extreme 90s badass character has been a real success for me so far, but I fear that a lot of this was to do with the creepy art and design work from Simon Roy. Without this factor, I'm reminded that my interest in far-out space stuff can be a bit limited, and with no real characters cling on to, this can seem more and exercise in world-building, and I prefer my stories with a bit more human interest.

Resident Alien #2
Talking about human interest, this new series from Dark Horse by Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse has human interest in abundance. This quirky tale follows a murder mystery in a small town from the perspective of an Alien who crash landed in the area some years ago and is posing as the local GP. I’ve been a big fan of (2000AD alumni) Parkhouse for a long time so it was his art that made me try the book but the perfect combo of his expressive characters and the charming, if occasionally gruesome story have made this a real win for me, Like a (very well made version of) the kind of murder mystery TV show they rerun on TV during the day; clever, but not so clever as to alienate younger viewers, gruesome, but not so gruesome that your Nan couldn’t watch it, a quirky twist in the lead detective role, and a charming supporting cast. It’s sort of a comic book version of Monk, or Diagnosis Murder, and all the more compelling for it.

Scalped #59
The excitement is too much!!!!!!! After 5 years of superb hard boiled crime fiction from Jason Aaron and RM Guera we’re reaching the high octane finale (in #60). There’s a lot of water under the bridge between these grizzled bastards and it's all coming to a head in a Mexican standoff. All secrets are out and all hell has broken loose! It's too difficult to avoid spoilers at this stage, so suffice to say this series is really, really, really fucking good. To be read with some Hank III blaring loud and proud and some sippin' whiskey on the go.

Spaceman #7
The 100 Bullets team of Azzarrello and Eduardo Risso have teamed up again to produce this intriguing science fiction mini series. Set in the half submerged wreck of a dystopian urban sprawl, we follow a "Spaceman", a large grotesque, specifically designed to survive deep space exploration, a task no one has any need for or interest in anymore, leaving him to eke out a dangerous living scavenging for scrap in the watery ruins. That is, until he comes into contact with a kidnapped Reality TV child star and the shit really hits the fan. This is another class act as you'd expect from creators of such pedigree, but will be a shock to the system for anyone expecting 100 Bullets 2, as this is much more like Eduardo Risso's 'Borderline' series from earlier in his career (written by the late Carlos Trillo, available in four paperback collections from Dynamite and highly recommended by me). Worth checking out, but as this is issue 7 of 9 you may as well wait for the trade collection at this point.

Sweet Tooth #35
Look, just go and buy the first Trade Paperback OK?

Whispers #1-3
This was recommended to me by a mate, and looking at the creepy covers I’m surprised I missed it when they were on the shelves the first time. Luckily the kind folks at Orbital had them in stock. The book is by Joshua Luna, who normally works as one half of the Luna Brothers. I've heard good things about their previous work (Ultra, Women, The Sword) but never actually read any. I know very little about the book, but if I can judge this book by it's cover, I'm impressed and slightly creeped out. I'll let you know either way.

(I’m a firm believer in buying my comic books monthly, but I loves me some readin' in chunks too.)

Invincible Vol.16: Family Ties
One of the few series I trade wait on. Invincible is superhero comics done right. Over the years the series has gone from a refreshingly simple and exciting modern take on a Spider-Man-esque superhero coming of age story into a full blown space epic set in a 'shared universe' as complex as Marvel or DC but without spilling over into a million other tie-in books. One of the all time best long form superhero tales, if ye ask me. Well done Kirkman!

Joe Sacco: Notes From a Defeatist
After catching him on the bizarrely presented but informative TV show ‘Ink: Alter Egos Exposed’ (Sky Arts. More on this another time) I realised that I hadn't read everything Joe Sacco has done, so I thought I'd rectify that. Most famous for comic book as journalism work in 'Safe Area: Gorazde' and 'Palestine', this is a collection of his smaller more personal works, a lot of which don't even take place in a warzone for a change.


Missing in Action: Desolation Jones

Way back in 2005 Warren Ellis and Superstar in waiting, J.H. Williams III started a rather cool series called Desolation Jones for DC's now defunct Wildstorm imprint. The story followed Jones, a grotesque shell of a man, living in Los Ageles, a haven for burnt out former secret agents like himself. Desolation jones essentially worked as a Private Investigator in the grubby city. The first critically acclaimed story arc was a sort of distopian mix of 8MM and the Big Sleep, with jones looking into a case involving Hitler's personal pornography. So far so Wareen Ellis, right?

Anyhow, the second storyline started in 2006 and featured art by 2 Bad Guys' favourite artist Danijel Zezelj. This story, focused on the mysterious death of one Jones' friends in a seedy motel room. In February 2007 issue 8 came out leaving us with a cliff hanger, and then.... Nothing.

Not a damned thing. At this point it's been 5 Years since the last issue, and Warren Ellis has stated that it probably won't happen now.


Saturday, 7 July 2012

Back with a vengeance!

Action Ash
Yo yo, Action Ash here! After a long hiatus the 2 bad guys are back and in full effect, ready to talk about comics and make witty references to pop culture because that's what people do on the Internet. I'm gonna jump right in, if that's fine with you suckers, and talk about what I bought this week and then maybe a word or two about some other books that I've been dipping in to. There will be a quiz at the end.

The Punisher #13 - This is, in my opinion, the best book Marvel are putting out at the minute. An interesting crime story in which the peripheral characters are just as interesting as Frank Castle himself.

Danger Club #3 - An interesting take on the superhero genre from Image comics. The story revolves around teenage sidekicks fighting amongst themselves in the wake of the disappearance of the earth's superheroes after a dangerous space mission. Still not exactly sure where it's going but the artwork is quite nice and I'm enjoying the ride.

 Avengers vs X-Men #7 - I wasn't sure about this when it was announced but I am actually enjoying this event. I've been surprised at the amount of story in a comic that I was fully expecting to be a 12 issue fight scene. However, having said that, after this event I would like it if Marvel would stop doing stories about heroes fighting each other. It's been done. A lot.

The Cape 1969 #1 - I loved the first mini series based on Joe Hill's short story so I had to get this. Also I'm intrigued as to how a prequel set in the Vietnam war is even relevant to the original series. Should be interesting to say the least.

Morning Glories #20 - Yes, I am still following this and no, I don't yet fully understand what's going on. Yes, I'm OK with that.

Rocketeer Adventures 2 #4 - Loved the first series and love this series. It's refreshing to have an anthology title of short stories that are all self contained. Especially with the great creators they get on the title. Also, I'm a sucker for that retro pulpy feel.

Last week I bought the first trade of  Fatale. More Brubaker/Phillips magic and, even though I haven't finished reading it, I think this could possibly be one of my favourite comics ever. Also, as you might have noticed, Valhallahan has been attempting to groom me into a Vertigo fan boy over the years and it is starting to work. He recently lent me Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo's miniseries 'Girl' (which was brilliant) and Jamie Delano and Sean Phillips' 'Hell Eternal'. Both were fantastic reads, although I liked Girl more because I found it relatable and hilarious.

 So there you have it Dudes and Betties, I'll see ya soon. Hopefully sooner than last time.

Oh, hold on a minute, don't think I've forgotten about the quiz.

1. After saying the magic word SHAZAM, how much cooler does Billy Batson become?
2. Where the hell is Wally West?
3. Who would win in a fight between Spider-man and Hanuman?

Show your working!