21 Apr 2019

Mini Reviews 21/04/2019

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 not so good, and those that lie somewhere in between.

WEST COAST AVENGERS #10
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Art: Moy R. and Tríona Farrell
Marvel $3.99

Jo S: I'm sure I'm not the only reader who let out a yelp of surprise on hearing that this tenth issue wraps up the absolutely wonderful West Coast Avengers series, apparently without extant plans for more. Thompson's dismay at the cessation is evident in her letter to the fans and I'm 100% behind her in her hopes that there will be more. If you're unaware so far of the phenomenon that is WCA, I entreat you: go and pester your local comic store proprietors for the trade paperback, I promise you will not be disappointed. But what of this issue? Our brilliant team of assorted misfits are facing down a crew of vampires intent on draining America's blood and Kate's absentee mum seems to be on their side: Thompson has pulled out all the stops for a finale with heart, humour, fast-paced action and enough pathos to leave me in that weird state of happy-sadness at the end. Each of the members of this crazy gang get their arc, and Moy R handles the art as if they've known this team forever. Jeff the cuddly land shark gets his day but it's a measure of Thompson's genius that he still doesn't steal the show. I will really miss this series - in a very big week for comics, it has ALWAYS been my most looked-forward-to. 9/10

18 Apr 2019

Screen Time: THE TOP 10 MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE FILMS SO FAR...

Four years ago we ranked Marvel Studios' output up to that point as it ended its second 'phase' in preparation for Phase Three. In that time the number of movies has nearly doubled so, rather going through the entire list, we've whittled it down to ten as we near the completion of Phase Three with Avengers: Endgame.

The line-up for Phase Four hasn't been officially confirmed (although the Eternals and Shang-Chi appear to be in the mix) but we do know that Endgame will be the swansong for certain characters. We'll have an idea soon enough of what the future holds but until then here are the ten movies we feel are the very best of the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far (with links to our original reviews too!)...

16 Apr 2019

On The Pull 17/04/2019

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 along with a full list of titles that will be available from Paradox Comics.

Matt C: I think Marvel are in a really good place at the moment with a bunch of titles that honour the legacy but also move things forward. One of my current favourite writers, Chip Zdarsky, has made Daredevil an essential read again, and this latest relaunch really carries the TV series within its DNA, alongside the influence of some of the prime comics work across the years from the likes of Frank Miller, Ann Nocenti and Ed Brubaker. Meet The Skrulls really is one of those books that you'll like to gloat you were in on from the beginning, so if you've not gone for it yet, there are now three issues to scoop up, and you can pretend you were there at the start. I won't tell.

War Of The Realms #2 will look fantastic thanks to Russell Dauterman's stellar artwork, but personally I felt the debut issue was a rather humdrum affair. I'll be in it for the duration as it sees the end of Jason Aaron's epic run on Thor, but I really hoping for something a bit more memorable.

Two issues of Batman in two weeks as #69 makes its appearance. Such a good run, such a good take on a hero who's been through many adventures across the past 80 years. Also from DC are two fine series from Brian Michael Bendis, Naomi #4 and Pearl #6, each scratching different itches for me.

14 Apr 2019

Mini Reviews 14/04/2019

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 not so good, and those that lie somewhere in between.

FAIRLADY #1
Writer: Brian Schirmer
Art: Claudia Balboni & Marissa Louise
Image $3.99

Jo S: Jenner Faulds and her associate Oanu (a Jessu, like a huge man-cat; just don't call him feline) are certified private investigators in a post tech-war world where relics of a giant battle litter (and sometimes form) the now mostly rural landscape. Schirmer says in the back matter that he wanted to create a gender-swapped Magnum PI, in a format that hobbits might read; I'm not sure that's the result here but this certainly has a couple of similarities with Tolkien, one of which I especially welcome! There's a map! But - oh boy, you won't believe this - the map of the Feld (I guess a bit like the Shire) shows how a town has grown up in and around the crashed body of a gigantic android! Schirmer dodges explanation of how this came to be in this first issue, so I'm hoping it'll be expanded on in future episodes. Talking of future episodes, the promise with this series is that each issue will stand as a single complete story, boosted with additional material, here in the form of a very readable two page prose story. But I digress - what of the main story here? Introducing a new world, a new culture, a set of new characters and a mystery to solve, and wrapping it up tidily in a single issue is a huge challenge but, in 'The Case of the Blue Rock', Schirmer handles it neatly, aided by Balboni’s simple, beautiful art and by use of clever structure and lettering to tell multiple parts of the story at once (think Rorschach’s journals). I'm a mug for a comic book diagram, especially with cutaways, and the creators use clever tricks of design here to give intricate, pleasing detail to the tale. The actual mystery itself doesn't break new ground exactly, but the cleverness of the production and the outstandingly good value for money offered will bring me back next time. 7/10

13 Apr 2019

Screen Time: HELLBOY

HELLBOY
Cast: David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane, Sasha Lane, Daniel Dae Kim, Thomas Haden Church
Director: Neil Marshall
Runtime: 120 minutes
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 12th April 2019

Jo S: A gigantic surfeit of entrails and poorly thought-through origin stories without the grace to properly exploit the innate metal coolness opportunities of the source material, this shambles of a movie seems to serve mostly as a massive cannibal stew of unrecognisable chunks of what might be a good story but which are handled in such a rush, or so ham-fistedly, they lose their impact. Noting its 15 rating, I can’t help but wonder whether the continual depiction of guts and gore, splattering and rending of bodies both human and monstrous, slicing, dicing and dismemberment would put my nearly-15-year-old off a full English breakfast for the rest of his life, and it’s a measure of how weak the story was in this movie that, for me, this was probably the most appealing part of the movie - there was zero shying away from depicting the full grossness of actual murdering (albeit the kind of murdering that doesn’t result in a lasting death in all cases).

11 Apr 2019

Graphic Perception: THE HANDMAID'S TALE: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL

THE HANDMAID'S TALE: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL
Writer: Margaret Atwood
Adapatation & Art: Renée Nault
Doubleday $22.95

Mike S: Firstly, a disclaimer: The Handmaid’s Tale has long been my favourite modern novel and so I approached this adaptation with huge excitement and a smidge of trepidation about the potential for it to ruin it for me. I needn’t have worried: it is a work that is simultaneously gorgeous and horrifying. Nault faithfully follows the plot and style of Atwood’s dystopian novel in which the land of the free has become a theocracy where fertile women are enslaved for their uteruses. The book is composed of over 300 pages of hand painted watercolours. The story's narrator, Offred, says, “Everything Handmaids wear is red: the colour of blood, which defines us.” Nault’s reds are rich and layered watercolours, veering from rust to flame. In depicting life in Gilead’s toxic, war-torn Colonies, Nault takes advantage of the form: the graphic image of the cancer-eaten jaw of an 'unwoman' worker is on full display, adding to depth to an area of the novel which is largely unexplored. In the Gilead scenes Nault only uses Red, Green or Blue respectively, while flashback scenes are pained with a full spectrum of colour that evokes a 'normal' period, signifying the seismic global shift. Her illustrations have a boldness, depth and power not typical of this medium.

9 Apr 2019

On The Pull 10/04/2019

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 along with a full list of titles that will be available from Paradox Comics.

James R: It's one of those weeks where DC dominates what I'm picking up at Paradox. First and foremost is the latest instalment in Tom King's phenomenal Batman run, which sees the Caped Crusader still trapped within his mysterious 'knightmares', and this issue is bound to be a dream - it's illustrated by one of my favourite artists, the great Amanda Conner. Another favourite artist of mine is Jock, and I'm looking forward to seeing his latest work in the fourth instalment of The Batman Who Laughs. This series has really stretched the suspension of disbelief to breaking point at times but Snyder and Jock together are such an irresistible team, I'm sticking with it for the duration.

Finally, I'm looking forward to the next issue of Catwoman - Joëlle Jones has really turned this book into a must-read, and it's a title that finds the sweet spot between crime books and superheroes in the same way that Brubaker and Lark's Gotham Central did. So, it's not a bumper week for me, but one that's packed with quality.

DARK HORSE:
Aliens: Resistance #3 £3.30
Incredibles 2: Secret Identities #1 (of 3) £3.30

7 Apr 2019

Screen Time: SHAZAM!

SHAZAM!
Cast: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Djimon Hounsou, Marta Milans, Cooper Andrews, Grace Fulton
Director: David F. Sandberg
Runtime: 132 minutes
Certificate: 12A
Release Date: 5th April 2019

Matt C: The original Captain Marvel finally makes his debut on the big screen, albeit under his modern designation, the result of various legal issues with Marvel Comics over the years. At one point, early after his inception in the 1940s, he was outselling Superman and, while the character has been in publication on and off ever since, he's never quite reclaimed his popularity in the same way his superpowered peers have, although not for lack of trying. In 2011, Geoff Johns and Gary Frank relaunched the character in DC Comic's 'New 52' initiative, jettisoning the name Captain Marvel completely (leaving it for Carol Danvers to claim), but extending the cast of secondary characters, and it's that series this film draws heavily from. Like the comic, it skews towards a younger audience, but has a darker edge alongside its abundance of charm and wit.

2 Apr 2019

On The Pull 03/04/2019

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 along with a full list of titles that will be available from Paradox Comics.

Andy H: If over the last few years you have been reading Thor, you know Jason Aaron has been building up to something - something BIG. Time for the payoff, as War Of The Realms #1 ushers in the mother of all battles. That pesky dark elf Malekith and his hordes have been invading and conquering the ten realms - except one: Midgard (Earth, but you knew that, didn't you?). Now, the heroes of the Marvel Universe may be powerless to stop this onslaught but it wouldn't be much of a miniseries if they didn't put up a bit of a fight! Aaron is joined by his old compadre Russell Dauterman, who made a real impact on the Mighty Thor run. Whatever you think about event comics, this could be the one you actually NEED.

Immortal Hulk #16 could just be worth picking up for the gorgeous Alex Ross cover but you just know Al Ewing and Joe Bennett are going to deliver another knockout issue. Looks like Old Green Genes' past is catching up with him as he tries to learn why Rick Jones is dead. Marvel have relaunched a number of titles recently and now it's time for Marvel Team-Up. Stalwart of the team-up Spider-Man is joined by Ms. Marvel and I'd like to think that these two will be a great combination as they both tend to be a little more upbeat than other heroes. 'Hunted' is also keeping Spider-Man busy and Amazing Spider-Man #18.HU shines the spotlight on yet another villain, the Gibbon. Probably not the most dangerous member of Spidey's rogues gallery but these days, you never know.

31 Mar 2019

Mini Reviews 31/03/2019

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 not so good, and those that lie somewhere in between.

DETECTIVE COMICS #1000
Writer: Various
Art: Various
DC $9.99

James R: Anyone who picked up the excellent salute to Superman when Action Comics reached the 1,000-issue milestone will have a very good idea what to expect here. Once again, DC have assembled a murderer's row of their best talent to bring us a collection of short stories celebrating the Dark Knight. If you're a fan of Batman, or have a love of comics history, this is a must-read which justifies the extra financial outlay. As you'd expect, Scott Snyder and Tom King, as the most celebrated recent custodians of the Bat-signal, bring two sharp tales, beautifully illustrated by Greg Capullo, and the team-up of Tony S. Daniel and Joëlle Jones respectively. Kevin Smith's contribution was a pleasing surprise - I was not a fan of his now infamous Bat-tale, 'The Widening Gyre', but he's back to his Green Arrow best here (and having Jim Lee on art duty certainly doesn't hurt). The most unexpected entry comes from the legendary Denny O'Neill, who teams with Steve Epting to tell a story that reflects the darker side of Batman. Paul Dini contributes a great story that conveys the essence of his time on the legendary animated series, helped by the work of Dustin Nguyen who perfectly captures the atmosphere of those Warner Bros cartoons. If that's still not enough, there's the small matter of Warren Ellis teaming up with Becky Cloonan and the Alias team of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev bringing their A-games to the celebration. As always with an anthology book, there's a couple of contributions that don't quite hit the mark, but the pluses here are so strong, you barely notice the minuses. As with Action Comics #1000, kudos to DC for giving fans free choice in terms of covers, rather than making certain variants ridiculously expensive chase items. Finally, the feeling of reading Detective Comics #1000 is a similar one to Action #1000 - it will remind you of just what you love about Batman, and shows just why he's been in continuous publication for 80 years. I'd be willing to bet we'll get another 80 years of stories; this book shows you that all the greats in comics sense that they have a Batman story inside them. 9/10