25 Sep 2018

On The Pull 26/09/2018

New comics are due to hit the shelves on Wednesday so here’s a look ahead at some of the books we’ll be picking up this week.

Jo S: I've refused to have my head turned by too many new starts this week, although there were a good few that I had considered, settling instead on a 50% DC blend for a compact little pull-list. One of those DC offerings is an issue #1 though: I'm giving ensemble book Heroes In Crisis a go. The sample art from Clay Mann looks glorious and although I'm cagey about DC team ups, Tom King can do no wrong at the moment - even his off-days are best-days-ever right now - and Wonder Woman will always raise the appeal of a book for me. The mighty Doomsday Clock strikes seven this week - I wish hard that these were appearing closer together but I guess I'll be wishing they lasted longer when we reach issue #12! I'm in the habit of going back and reading the previous issue just before the next though, to refresh my memory of the increasingly braided storylines and to pick up more juicy little morsels of detail. Scarlet #2 rounds up my DC demi-list: I picked up a copy of the trade for the earlier Scarlet series on a recent foray to that London to get myself all caught up, so might try and read some of that at least before Wednesday. Image’s new otherworldly mystery Cold Spots garnered some tentative interest at the PCG meet last month, giving little away but layering intriguing storytelling with misty ghostly art and, with similarly spooky tones, Bone Parish has me gripped; a smartly written tale of drug-funded family business and politics. My final pick for this week is Beyonders #2 - the puzzle-geek hiding very close to the surface within me is sharpening her pencils and limbering up the guessing engine in preparation.

23 Sep 2018

Mini Reviews 23/09/2018

We may not have time to review every book on our pull-lists but we do aim to provide a snapshot of what's been released over the past week, encompassing the good, the bad, and those that lie somewhere in between.

BATMAN: DAMNED #1
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Art: Lee Bermejo
DC $7.99

James R: This is one of those issues where there's so much to write about, I seriously considered doing an extended article on it (as it is, I'm going to wait and see how this and the next 'Black Label' release shape up). There's a lot to consider beyond this as a standalone, out-of-continuity Bat-tale though - DC have had a big think in 2018, and 'Black Label' represents a new strategy along with the Walmart exclusive books (damn you, American supermarket exclusive titles!). The Walmart books are an attempt to keep comics alive and in the hands of the next generation of readers, where Black Label is marketed at readers like me, who have been reading comics for decades, and are always looking for a fresh and exciting take on characters like Batman. As an individual issue, Damned #1 is fine - it looks as good as you'd expect from Lee Bermejo, and Azzarello's script gives us the Dark Knight meeting the dark elements of the DCU in the shape of John Constantine and Deadman. However, I'm not sure it justifies the oversized format and the price pointl. It also doesn't help that it's a Batman story released at a time where the main Bat-book is so strong, so to me this felt enjoyable if a little unnecessary. This is a luxury item - nice if you can afford it, but it's not an essential (and I got through the whole review without mentioning Bat-wang!) 7/10

21 Sep 2018

The Shipping Forecast: November 2018

Every month we spend an evening scouring the pages of the latest issue of Previews and pick the titles we are looking forward to the most. This month it's the September issue which includes comics scheduled to ship in November 2018.

SHAZAM! #1
Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Dale Eaglesham
DC $4.99

Matt C: Geoff Johns' and Gary Frank's Shazam! was arguably the real highlight of the New 52 reboot, a brilliant reinvention of the original Captain Marvel, full of heart and wonder, a winner that was relegated to back-up status in Justice League and never got beyond a single collected edition. With a movie due to drop early next year, it's obvious that DC needs a Shazam! book on the stands again, and although Johns and Frank are busy with Doomsday Clock, Johns has the time to script a new relaunch for the character which will hopefully capture some of the magic of the aforementioned run. Dale Eaglesham can mould his art to DC's 'classic' style, so he seems like a good fit for the character in Frank's absence. There's slim chance of Billy Batson and his alter-ego achieving best-selling status (as comics historians will remind you, Captain Marvel comics outsold Superman comics in the early 1940s) but perhaps it'll see him stick around for a while longer this time.

18 Sep 2018

On The Pull 19/09/2018

New comics are due to hit the shelves on Wednesday so here’s a look ahead at some of the books we’ll be picking up this week.

Matt C: The first release from DC's Black Label imprint sees the light of day this Wednesday. For those out of the loop, it's unfortunately not a line of premium grade liquor but instead the publisher's need for a place where they can put out-of-continuity 'provocative', 'edgy' tales. For some that may sound like it's just going to allow DC's grimdark tendencies to float to the surface more openly, but with the kind of creators they are roping in, it would be difficult to ignore. First out of the gate is Batman: Damned from Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo. With that team in charge you may get a fairly solid idea of what to expect - especially since the premise revolves around a murdered Joker - but the hope is that DC is taking risks again rather than simply pandering to the grim and gritty crew. If it doesn't hit the spot then at least we can be confident that Tom King will deliver the goods in Batman #55. And if that's not enough, King also brings the penultimate episode of the sublime Mister Miracle to our reading piles. Few books have matched its intense humanity in 2018. Over at the House of Ideas we have the second issue of West Coast Avengers. The debut was even more fun than I expected (and I expected fun!) so I'm pretty confident that Kelly Thompson will keep up the stellar work, causing us to laugh and thrill all over again. If that's not enough, it's the next instalment of the latest Doctor Strange series, with the Master of Mystic Arts... in space! Mark Waid's clearly having a ball putting the good Doctor in some unfamiliar situations and the art from Jesus Saiz is terrific. Fans of the True Believers reprints can also look out for the debut of the Punisher as well as the first team-up of Power Man and Iron Fist at very reasonable prices for classic stories.

16 Sep 2018

Mini Reviews 16/09/2018

We may not have time to review every book on our pull-lists but we do aim to provide a snapshot of what's been released over the past week, encompassing the good, the bad, and those that lie somewhere in between.

CEMETERY BEACH #1
Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Jason Howard
Image $3.99

Jo S: Warren Ellis’ Trees was one of my early introductions to comic book sci fi and so the minimal information available about this book prior to release, combined with dire warnings about its likelihood of completion, didn't quite override my enthusiasm for picking it up. It's certainly an action-packed outset, with explosions, fights, gunfire and a hi-tech ‘car chase’ all delivered with dynamism via Howard’s bordering-on-manic art style, but Ellis doesn't give a whole lot away about the story set up. A second read-through gave me a little more to work with but I still didn't find a cemetery or a beach, or a reason for the upside-down map on the cover (you know how I love a map!) but it did have the very positive effect of raising my awareness further of Ellis’ wickedly sarcastic writing. When the book is not descending into a series of wordless pages of firepower, explosives and nearly falling off stuff, the dialogue is thickly laden with Ellis’ very British snark, and for this, Cemetery Beach is an immediate hit for me. 8/10

11 Sep 2018

On The Pull 12/09/2018

New comics are due to hit the shelves on Wednesday so here’s a look ahead at some of the books we’ll be picking up this week.

James R: This week it's all about faith for me. The two notable releases come from creators whom I love but who have burned me in terms of completion in the past. First and foremost, there's Cemetery Beach from Warren Ellis and Jason Howard,  the creative team who previously struck gold with the brilliant Trees but have left that series unfinished. Ellis has said that he is still writing Trees (and its current adaptation into a TV series may also be a factor in the delay) but a new series from a creative team when the last one is unfinished is an unorthodox move. The plot sees a pathfinder breaking out of a torture cell in order to escape a secret off-world colony populated by lunatics - classic Ellis - but I'll be approaching it with caution. I feel the same about MCMLXXV (or 1975 for those adverse to Roman numerals) from Joe Casey and Ian MacEwan. I really admire Casey's work, and was a huge fan of Sex (hey, who isn't? etc etc.) However, Casey stopped producing Sex as a monthly book, declaring that the title would continue as a graphic novel series...which, so far, has yielded zero editions. I'll still be picking up MCMLXXV, which focuses on Pamela Evans, a NYC cab driver who fights monsters with an enchanted tyre iron. Once again, it's immediately appealing stuff, I just hope Casey takes this one through to conclusion. Beyond these two, I'm excited to see up the next chapters of two books that have made sensational starts. It's issue #2 of The Seeds from Ann Nocenti and David Aja at Dark Horse and the third issue of Catwoman from the brilliant JoĆ«lle Jones at DC. From Marvel, my solitary title is Darth Vader, as Charles Soule continues his interesting riff on the Dark Lord of the Sith.

9 Sep 2018

Mini Reviews 09/09/2018

We may not have time to review every book on our pull-lists but we do aim to provide a snapshot of what's been released over the past week, encompassing the good, the bad, and those that lie somewhere in between.

COVER #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: David Mack & Zu Orzu
DC/Jinxworld $3.99

Matt C: The Bendis creator-owned juggernaut keeps rolling over at DC, giving hope that it might be a consistent thing and the various titles won’t quickly drop off the radar. Cover sees the writer reunited with David Mack, with the plot trundling into wish fulfilment territory, imagining a comics artist being courted for tradecraft shenanigans by the CIA. It’s better than that pitch sounds: Bendis’ ear for naturalistic dialogue works nicely alongside Mack’s blending of styles which sees realism mixed up with a more minimalist art technique which injects a weird (and probably apt) sense of fantasizing into the narrative. The unlikeness of the premise may prevent it from fully convincing at this point, but the skill and craftsmanship are persuasive enough to stick around for. 7/10

7 Sep 2018

Working The Boxes: The Unbearable Lightness Of Comic Marts, Part II

Working The Boxes is all about back issue discoveries, whether they're buried in dusty old comic boxes or digitally sourced online.

Rob N: Comic marts in the past may have been wet and windy affairs, but last Sunday saw the return of the heatwave that turned us all into sunbaked desert lizards for most of the summer. It was a fitting start then to our hunting expedition to London in search of old comic books and ephemera. No need to burden myself down with heavy coats and umbrellas this time around; just a small day bag and, tucked inside, a good sturdy hemp-based 'bag for life' to hold the inevitable books I’d be buying.

Other than that I armed myself with a single sheet of A4 paper on which I’d scribbled the numbers of comics I was particularly looking out for. I always have a full Excel spreadsheet of my comic collection loaded onto my phone, but in the heat of the crate digging that goes on at comic marts a single sheet of paper is easier to consult as you shuffle along the rows of boxes.

4 Sep 2018

On The Pull 05/09/2018

New comics are due to hit the shelves on Wednesday so here’s a look ahead at some of the books we’ll be picking up this week.

Andy H: Just over three years ago I was fortunate enough to pick up Giant Days #1 and it was love at first sight. Giant Days #42 is out this week and the love has not diminished - just ask my poor suffering fellow PCGers, as I regularly have it as my book of the month and practically try to read them the whole issue! Susan, Daisy, Esther and their wonderful supporting cast have me enthralled month in, month out. Writer John Allinson keeps the story lines flowing effortlessly and is a master at peppering the pages with pop culture references. Artist Max Sarin brings the characters to life and every page is a joy to behold. While I'm not a regular reader of Batman - yes, I know how good it is at the moment! - I will be picking up Batman #54. Tom King is still writing but this issue he is joined by artist Matt Wagner. Matt is no stranger to Batman and has an artistic style I really like so it will be great to see him back with the Bat, even for one issue. The Dreaming #1 gets the ball rolling as we return to some familiar territory from Vertigo: we learned in the pages of Sandman Universe #1 that Dream was missing and Lucien was struggling in the library. Will the realm survive? I'm sure writer Simon Spurrier will make this an intriguing read. Immortal Hulk #5 continues Al Ewing's 'darker' take on the not so jolly green giant. I've really been enjoying this run; it has great stories and is full of atmosphere. Finally, even though I probably shouldn't, I'll be picking up Asgardians Of The Galaxy #1. It's got a cool Dale Keown cover! Throg, the mighty frog of thunder! The original Valkyrie! And Angela, Thor's half sister! I haven't got as far as to see what the plot is but sometimes you just have to dive in and see where it takes you.

2 Sep 2018

Mini Reviews 02/09/2018

We may not have time to review every book on our pull-lists but we do aim to provide a snapshot of what's been released over the past week, encompassing the good, the bad, and those that lie somewhere in between.

BEYONDERS #1
Writer: Paul Jenkins
Art: Wesley St Claire
Aftershock $3.99

Jo S: Aftershock have been popping up more and more on my pull-list recently with some of my favourites of this year, Babyteeth and A Walk Through Hell, riding out from this stable and I find myself open to trying something a little different from them as a result. On top of that, the pitch for new series Beyonders has my name all over it, combining several of my interests in cryptography, maps, treasure hunting and archaeology. Given there’s a cryptogram running throughout the series, which obviously locks in my loyalty to the end, with the addition of robot replicants AND a giant thunderstorm in the first issue, it could have been written from a tick list of ‘Things Jo gets irrationally excited about’. The story is fairly standard monomyth fare so far: the kid who's secretly a genius but doesn't fit in, absent parents, an obsession with conspiracy, an aptitude for technology and cyphers, a mysterious girl with a quest, even a faithful doggy sidekick, and my rating of it reflects that it feels like a story that’s been done ad infinitum before, rather than any direct criticism of what’s here: I do hold out hope that this will diverge into something more inventive in terms of the basic themes, partly because my enthusiasm for it currently is based on my rather niche tastes, and I'd like to be able to recommend it to others who don't necessarily share them! St Claire’s artwork works well for this - having read it twice I'm already starting to notice those little visual clues and themes I was craving, and I will be back for more. 7/10