21 Oct 2014

On The Pull 22/10/2014

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. To see what’s available at Paradox this week, click here.

Stewart R: And it's off to BOOM! town for the new comic book material this week! With Memetic we're promised three oversized, 48 page chapters detailing the downfall of civilised society thanks to a single, solitary image that ends up circumnavigating the globe and spelling doom for mankind. James Tynion IV didn't manage to trap me with his current ongoing series for BOOM!, The Woods, but I'm hopeful that this miniseries could be a real winner and though obviously delightful fiction, the premise is one of those that has you pondering on what could possibly happen in these technology and social media heavy days. There's spread of another modern kind in my pull-list this week and that comes in the shape of the genetically modified plot of Matt Hawkins and Linda Sejic's Wildfire #4. While the second issue very nearly lost me the third brought me back in as Hawkins focused a little more on the US government's reactions to the threat posed by the encroaching flora that has decimated much of Los Angeles and now looks poised to drift further across the country. I do enjoy the way that this skilled writer embraces issues of our time, that affect our day-to-day lives in some real way whether we know it or not, looks at their current sphere of influence and also the potential paths which we as a society and species could be led down in the not too distant future.

19 Oct 2014

Mini Reviews 19/10/2014

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.

SUPREME: BLUE ROSE #4
Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Tula Lotay
Image $2.99

James R: It's hands-down Warren Ellis' week for me - I had a tough time picking between this and Trees as my top pick, but in terms of sheer invention and novelty, Blue Rose was the best book I read in the past seven days. In many ways this is the exposition issue, as Ellis starts to explain the spectral and dream-like occurrences of the prior three issues. He plays with the whole notion of a rebooted universe (a uniquely comics event) and expands it magnificently. In the universe our narrative takes place in, the the reboot has malfunctioned; the new timeline features remnants from previous revisions. The question is simply 'Can the present be saved?' I've said before that my fear with Warren Ellis is that he simply runs out of narrative steam, but here he's pacing himself really well. As an absolute pretentious twit myself, I can't help but be won over by the layers of narration here - it's a SF story, but yet it's also a commentary on the need to restart and retell stories over and over. A special salute to the art of Tula Lotay; her work goes up yet another gear here, and her rendering of the possible apocalyptic future facing the current timeline was brilliantly done. An immensely classy book from first page to last, and it passed the James reread test: having finished it, I immediately wanted to go through it again. A perfect example of a writer and artist both at the top of their games creating something magical - I think this could be my vote for miniseries of the year. 9/10

17 Oct 2014

Ten Forward: December 2014

Every month we spend an evening scouring the pages of the latest issue of Previews and pick the ten titles we are looking forward to the most. This month it's the October issue which includes comics scheduled to ship in December 2014.

S.H.I.E.L.D. #1
Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Carlos Pacheco
Marvel $4.99

Matt C: Well, this was going to happen sooner or later. Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. may not have been the smash hit many had hoped for (although the second season has a seen a marked improvement on the middling first) but it’s still been successful enough a property that it made sense that the comic wing of the company would want capitalize on it, reversing the Marvel Studios trend of taking all the ideas from the printed page and instead bringing something from the screen to the four-colour world of comics. To be honest, this has limited appeal to me in general. I’m finding an increasing amount of enjoyment from the second season of the TV series but I don’t harbour any desire to see the adventures of the characters spill over into any other medium (or universe). Two things are making me open to the idea of giving this debut a shot though: Mark Waid and Carlos Pacheco. Pacheco’s never quite found the level of fame I think he deserves but I remain a big fan of his art all the same, and if anyone can make this concept work in comics, it’s Mark Waid. I have no real expectations for this, and I may not even pick it up come New Year’s Eve, but the talent involved means it’s not something that you can’t take the easy option with and dismiss out of hand.

14 Oct 2014

On The Pull 15/10/2014

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. To see what’s available at Paradox this week, click here.

Matt C: Rick Remender puts out a lot of books that sit firmly near the top of my pull-list - Black Science, Uncanny Avengers, Low - but the one I've taken to heart the most is Deadly Class. Maybe because I was of a similar age to the cast back in the late '80s, or maybe because it captures teen tribalism with such acute honesty, or maybe because it's coming at the 'school for assassins' concept in a completely unpredictable angle, or just maybe it's all of the above. Whatever - it's really connected with me, and the combination of Remender's words and Wes Craig's art is more than enough to guarantee that Deadly Class #8 is my most anticipated title this coming Wednesday. Remender has another book out you may have heard of: Avengers & X-Men: AXIS. The first issue wasn't at all convincing but I'm willing to stick with it to be convinced based on all the good work the man has put in on Uncanny Avengers (the title the miniseries is spinning out of). I get the feeling the more enjoyable comic tied into AXIS will be Magneto #11 though and I could probably put money on New Avengers #25 being where the best action featuring Earth's Mightiest Heroes is, based on the outstanding preceding instalment. Also of note, because I got to it too late to review the first issue, is the War Of The Worlds/Wind Of The Willows hybrid, Wild's End #2, which is rather delightful book with a mean streak running through it. One to watch out for.

12 Oct 2014

Mini Reviews 12/10/2014

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.

BATGIRL #35
Writer: Cameron Stewart & Brendan Fletcher
Art: Babs Tarr, Cameron Stewart & Maris Wicks
DC $2.99

James R: Now, this is a very pleasant surprise! A hectic weekend for me last week meant that I couldn't do any reviews, and I missed my opportunity to review Gotham Academy. I saw that as a misfire - an attempt to use the Batman mythos to tell a different kind of story. Whereas that felt like an uncomfortable fusion of pop culture ideas, Batgirl is a complete success in aiming for the same goal. As with Gotham Academy, I know that as a man in his - *gulp* - late 30s, I'm not the target market for this book, yet I had an absolute blast reading it. Firstly, Cameron Stewart and Brendan Fletcher do a great job in making Barbara Gordon a terrifically well rounded character. We get to see her being every inch the gifted prodigy, yet we also see her being culpable and selfish. In one scene, Black Canary admonishes her as she rails over a loss of equipment: "You lost your gear? I lost my life." I stopped and tried to recall the last  time I read a superhero book that portrayed it's protagonist as so flawed (and Matt Fraction's Hawkeye felt like a fitting comparison). Then there's my perennial favourite - comics as a medium being stretched to tell a story. There's a beautiful double-page spread (reminding me of Mark Waid and Marcos Martin's early issues of Daredevil) where Barbara recalls the previous evening's party and 'walks through' the scene, asking for details on the guests from her flatmates who interject with pictures from social media. Nice! The art team does incredibly well setting an aesthetic for the book's new direction. I'm not the first person to draw comparisons with the Archie books, but there's a great deal of invention here that puts it way above that. As a final tasty sprinkle to the mix, Babs Tarr's pencils and Maris Wicks' colours add hints of the' 60s Batman TV show during the fight scene, and you know what? It really works! All told, it feels really good to wholeheartedly recommend a DC book again. They may have taken a few leaves from the Marvel playbook, but it's got a heart and soul which is unique. A fresh start, and also a triumphant one. 9/10

10 Oct 2014

Cover To Cover: AVENGERS & X-MEN: AXIS #1

AVENGERS & X-MEN: AXIS #1
Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Adam Kubert, Laura Martin & Matt Milla
Marvel $4.99

Stewart R: There’s no hiding the fact that Marvel seemed to brush Original Sin aside a little too readily in favour of pushing their big Autumn lineup with AXIS standing clearly in the limelight. As summer events go, Original Sin promised a big story, affecting the greater Marvel universe at large, yet it proceeded to be more introverted and less expansive than perhaps we were led to believe (and expect from previous Summer events), ultimately only leading to a minimum amount of changes in the wider universe. Even when we were in the midst of Original Sin it was easy to see that the publisher were angling more towards AXIS and the huge number of tie-ins that were incoming this October and November. And so the first chapter of the main series is here, Rick Remender at the helm and a handful of trusted artists set to bring us nine issues from now until Christmas Eve, but was it worth the wait and the overshadowing of Marvel's other big project of 2014?

7 Oct 2014

On The Pull 08/10/2014

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. To see what’s available at Paradox this week, click here.

Matt C: Just last week I attempted to remove some titles from my burgeoning pull-list - and pretty much failed - and I worried whether Image would be adding a few more books to the list over the next coming weeks. And whaddya know? Three new #1s appear this Wednesday that stand a good chance of coming home with me. Wytches #1 is the unquestionable purchase. Snyder is arguably a better horror writer than a superhero writer (which is not to say he lacks in the latter department), and reteaming with Jock (their 'Black Mirror' collaboration has been the highlight of Synder's time penning the Dark Knight's adventures for me) makes this the top of the pile this week. Punks: The Comic #1 looks like it might be an off the wall treat and comes from two creators I have a lot of time for (Joshua Hale Fialkov and Kody Chamberlain). Birthright #1 is not definite but Joshua Williamson has turned in some fine work (Nailbiter and Masks & Mobsters especially) and as it's a double-sized issue for $2.99 I'll probably take a punt. Also from Image we have Black Science #9 (the winner of our best current comics poll, lest we forget), Copperhead #2 and Sex Criminals #8. As for Marvel? Well, there's Avengers #36 to look forward to but the big news is Avengers And X-Men: AXIS #1. I'm kind of wary of recommending any Marvel events these days as they quite frequently don't come close to delivering, but as this is spinning out of the events of Uncanny Avengers, one of the House Of Ideas best series at the moment, and is being spearheaded by Rick Remender, one of the brightest talents in the comics firmament right now, I'm feeling pretty optimistic about this one's chances. 

5 Oct 2014

Mini Reviews 05/10/2014

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.

THOR #1
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art: Russell Dauterman & Matthew Wilson
Marvel $3.99

Stewart R: With Aaron’s Thor: God Of Thunder passing me by I missed much of the story involving Thors from various eras which hinted at a definite change ahead for the Odinson, though thankfully the occasional promotion by Matt C or Tom P kept me vaguely in the loop. It certainly helped my reading of Thor #1 to have a long term sense of where this might be heading, but it’s by no means a necessity to enjoy Aaron and Dauterman beginning a new age in the life of our Asgardian hero. Aaron even assumes that not everyone will have picked up Original Sin and gives a decent refresh in the current state of affairs, from Thor’s depowering at the hands (or lips?) of Nick Fury to the power clash between the returned Odin and the All-Mother, Freyja. The historical bases covered, Aaron then (literally) dives into the new material with a deep-sea demolition of Roxxon property at the hands of Frost Giants and dark elf, Malekith - proving once again that where the Marvel cineverse goes, so must the comic medium to maximise character recognition. While nothing particularly surprising happens, Aaron gives Malekith a more maniacal, jester-like turn which works well and Dauterman provides some top-notch spectacle as the human weapons of science fail in the face of Frost Giant brute force. Everything culminates in a finale that the majority of us would expect - the ‘true’ start of this new journey - and guarantees the intrigue for the second instalment will remain high. To be honest it’s all a little by the numbers, but it’s covered in a high quality sheen and the clash between Odin and Freyja promises more enthralling Asgardian politics to come. 8/10

2 Oct 2014

Thought Bubble: Time For More Tough Decisions

Matt C: I don't do this kind of article as often as I could (over two years since the last time); I find that the necessity of it sort of pushes itself onto me when I reach a point where I have to make some changes. And - yep - I've reached that point again and I'm simply buying too many comics. Some have to be removed from the pull-list.

It's not just about the expense (although that's obviously an unavoidable factor in my decision-making) - it's about the time too. With work, family, friends and other hobbies all taking chunks out of each and every day, time is very much at a premium for me, and it's gone beyond the stage where I'm struggling to stay on top of my weekly books, let alone the hundreds of back issues, digital comics, small press books, and the various review requests I get sent. Yes, there's an element of madness in the collector mentality that I've been susceptible to on many occasion, but every once in a while there comes a moment when you have to admit you're buying way more than you can read (possibly ever!). That moment doesn't hang around for too long before the collecting bug manifests itself again, but while it's here (and during the last few weeks it most definitely has been here) it's best that I act on it!

Rough calculations have me currently buying in excess of 40 comic books a month. Which is just ridiculous and way past my money/time threshold. I did think that when I abandoned the DC Universe (and I have yet to be tempted back) I'd be able to keep things down to a manageable level. What I didn't count on is Image suddenly making a huge push forward with their creator-owned content, changing the make-up of my pull-list quite dramatically.

So let's start with them.

30 Sep 2014

On The Pull 01/10/2014

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. To see what’s available at Paradox this week, click here.

Matt C: While I did feel that the Thor: God Of Thunder series lost steam about halfway through, I can't really ignore the fact that someone else will be picking up Mjolnir this Wednesday. Yes, it's time for 'Lady Thor', the announcement that caused a kerfuffle over the summer. Personally it's all about a good story as it's pretty darn obvious the more familiar Odinson will be wielding his hammer sooner or later, and even though not everything he touches turns to gold (see Original Sin, for example) he's still a fine, fine writer (see Scalped, for example) so I'll be giving the first issue a once over at the very least. I'm much more confident about his Men Of Wrath though, which also sees its first issue released this week via Marvel's Icon imprint. If Aaron does anything better than any other high profile comics writer at the moment, it's pen tales of mean, grizzled, damaged men, and coming so swiftly on the heels of Southern Bastards, I'm very excited to see what he does here. Another debut issue of note is Brides Of Helhiem. The original Helhiem series saw Cullen Bunn mixing up Vikings and the supernatural as successfully as he's blended the Western with the supernatural in Sixth Gun, so I'm really happy to see it return. Gotham Academy #1 is out this week too, but I'm not sure if that's going to be the one to pull me back into the DC Universe.