31 Aug 2014

Mini Reviews - One Week Break

A break from review-writing this week as our reviewers are enjoying a well-earned rest after overindulging this weekend at Melksham Comic Con (a report on that is due shortly). That, and they haven't had the chance to read this week's releases!

Normal service will be resumed next weekend.

29 Aug 2014

Graphic Perception: SANCTUM

Writer: Xavier Dorison
Art: Christophe Bec
Humanoids $29.95

Rob N: Over the next few months we here at the PCG will be delving with our sticky chocolate-smudged fingers into the back catalogue and upcoming new releases that make up the exciting but also sometimes frustrating world of European comics. Anyone who has ever been on a spontaneous weekend break to Paris with a new girlfriend who worryingly insists on ordering the really expensive bottles of wine in a restaurant, will no doubt have stumbled on quaint bookshops during the daytime, displaying the alternative world of a comics industry that seemingly hasn't heard of superheroes. Masked men in spandex punching each other in the face just doesn't seem to do it for those curious Frenchies and their pastry-loving Italian and Belgian counterparts, and instead the comics scene across the Channel is comprised mostly of Fantasy, SF, Crime, Horror, Historical, Thrillers and so on, much like the strange world of 'books without pictures'. Where they also differ from the American market is that their output is predominantly written as standalone 'graphic novels' – a term I've never personally been very comfortable with, and yet I have to admit it seems very relevant in terms of European writers and artists.

27 Aug 2014

The Road To Melksham Comic Con 2014

Matt C: Two years ago when Melksham Comic Con made its debut, we at The PCG were completely oblivious to existence. Although we like to think that our fingers are always on the pulse, sometimes those fingers slip off, and we’ll chalk that occasion up as one of those times. The fingers were back on in 2013 as the MCC went the Kickstarter route to enable its existence, and although we hadn’t experienced it personally, we weren’t going to ignore the fact that it was the closest Con to us, geographically speaking, and we duly pledged some funds to ensure it was came to pass.

26 Aug 2014

On The Pull 27/08/2014

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: A cursory look last week led me to believe this Wednesday would be a quiet one, but closer inspection has revealed there's quite a few books I'll be taking home with me. Image takes up the bulk of my pull-list this time (again!) with Black Science #8, Low #2, Outcast #3, Saga #22 and Sex #15, but the title I want to highlight this time (partly due to a lack of any #1s springing out at me, partly because it's great) is C.O.W.L., which sees its fourth issue hit the shelves tomorrow. This tale of corruption, gender politics and general seediness swirling around a unionised superhero organisation in 1950s Chicago is a series that is flying under too many peoples radar at the moment, and any opportunity to change that I'll gladly take! Marvel titles make two appearances (Avengers #34 and Uncanny Avengers #23) as do Oni Press (Letter 44 #9 and Sixth Gun #42) and Dark Horse (The Massive #26, Dream Thief: Escape #3), but I'm not sure where I'm going to find time to read all these with the Melksham Comic Con on the agenda for the weekend (of which more soon). You can bet I'll try though!

24 Aug 2014

Mini Reviews 24/08/2014

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.

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Sean Phillips & Elizabeth Breitweiser
Image $3.50

James R: What an absolute treat this is. If you've ever got the time (or the insane inclination) to search back through our reviews, you'll see that we've always had a lot of love for the team of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. The two have become the undisputed kings of the noir crime comic. I absolutely loved Sleeper, Criminal and Incognito, but following an intriguing start Fatale never quite clicked for me. Partially, I think it's because even though Lovecraftian horror can be seen as 'pulp', it's not in the same way that crime tales and superhero comics were. As such, I didn't think it was the two men at their best. The first issue of the The Fade Out however, promises that the Brubaker-Phillips team is firing on all cylinders. This tale sees them back to doing what I think they do best - straight up crime - and it’s set in the black beating heart of the best hardboiled tales: Hollywood in the early 20th century. It's a masterclass from Brubaker as he introduces his cast and a murder that hints at a dark plot. By means of a quick comparison, if we think back to Matt Fraction's Satellite Sam (which tried to do a similar thing), this is simply a class apart. As always, Sean Phillips art is pitch-perfect, with a terrific eye for period detail. The issue is backed up with a great essay - this time from Badass Digest's Devin Faraci - and it all adds up to a complete and magnificent comic. I'm holding off on the 10 score until I’ve seen a few more chapters, but it was one hell of a first issue! 9/10

22 Aug 2014

The Indie Club: RED MASK FROM MARS #1

The Indie Club is an irregular feature where we take a closer look at any small press or self-published books that have crossed our path.

Writer: Vincent Hunt
Art: Vincent Hunt & Shaun Dobie

Matt C: A resolutely British take on the superhero genre, Red Mask From Mars carries with it enough wit and irreverence to keep it buoyant and appealing throughout this debut issue. A new superhero recruited by government agency Xenosphere is getting the various outlandish sci-fi scenarios he’s called in for dealt with, even if the collateral damage is resulting in a bit of a PR disaster.

There’s an air of knowing silliness to Hunt’s tale, but not to the extent that it overwhelms the narrative – there’s still a story being told and a structure being worked, with characters relationships (or lack thereof) being built, all in preparation for what seems to be a larger narrative at play. It’s all colourfully delivered, with a tongue slightly in cheek and an impulse to entertain.

19 Aug 2014

On The Pull 20/08/2014

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: I've been down with the Ed Brubaker/Sean Phillips collaborative combo since Sleeper over a decade ago, and have followed the great work they've done together through Criminal, Incognito, right up to the recently completed Fatale. Well okay, I have an admission to make about Fatale. After the first few issues I was finding I couldn't absorb it fully as a monthly and decided to wait until the end of each story arc to catch up. That was the original idea, anyway. Now I'm sat on 24 issues of Fatale and need to go through them from the very beginning. And I will - promise! I kept buying the book religiously each month because there's no doubt in my mind that it'd be worth the wait. And so onto The Fade Out, a crime tale set in the late 1940s. Which is all I need to know really. That era - when film noir was arguably at its peak - fits these guys like a glove. I just hope the plotting isn't too dense for the monthly format because this time around because I want to keep on top of things! That's one book only though, what about the rest? In no particular order: New Avengers #23 (three issues in the space of a month!), Manifest Destiny #9, Elektra #5, Supreme: Blue Rose #2, Trees #4, Ms. Marvel #7, Magneto #8 and Daredevil #7. Marvel and Image are the new Big Two! For me, at this current point in time, anyway.

17 Aug 2014

Mini Reviews 17/08/2014

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.

Writer: Dan Abnett
Art: I.N.J. Culbard
Dark Horse $3.99

Stewart R: The Dark Ages, they were a simpler time, hey? And this is a simpler book from Abnett by the looks of it, the writer sticking to a bare-bones plot, with brief introductions to the mercenary outfit and its leaders, the strange other-worldly antagonists who wreak immediate havok and then a mystery third group whose full motivations are yet to be determined. It all clips along at a fair pace; the mercenary army’s combat-hardened status delivered through succinct narration alone, the elevation of this new opponent to something truly dangerous in their seasoned eyes delivered in just the blurred flash of a handful of panels from Culbard. Abnett even brings the strange monastery to the party in a speedy, straightforward fashion that made me ill-at-ease with the ragged army taking refuge there with a further element of mysterious dread left for Culbard to illustrate in splendid minimalist fashion come the cliffhanger ending. The mild gripe I have about this is that perhaps it feels a little too fast in its delivery, Culbard’s art coming over as a simplified version of his usual reserved style - and quite removed from his eye-stroking work on Brass Sun - and the protagonists lacking for much in the way of character thanks to the pace. Seeing as this is a four-part mini series I suspect character will probably have to step aside to the pressures of action and plot and I just hope that there’s another gear to be found in those departments come #2’s release. 7/10

15 Aug 2014

Ten Forward: October 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 Auguest issue which includes comics scheduled to ship in October 2014.

Writer: Peter Steigerwald
Art: Peter Steigerwald
Aspen MLT Inc $3.99

Stewart R: One of the standout offerings from Free Comic Book Day 2014, Aspen co-owner Peter Steigerwald’s The ZooHunters, looked quite, quite beautiful and had my eyes drooling for more after only a handful of pages. Thankfully this coming October sees the series proper debut and it turns out now that the main protagonist of The ZooHunters didn’t even appear in the FCBD preview, he was merely mentioned. That’s an interesting twist as it now gives the readers the added insight of just who is pursuing Abros and his son, but with the mystery as to why still intact. Aspen have rarely ever tempted me to their products through my comic reading days yet I find the lure of this exotic science fiction landscape with the plethora of bizarre fauna living within it to be too much to resist!

13 Aug 2014

The Indie Club: FACTION #1-3

The Indie Club is an irregular feature where we take a closer look at any small press or self-published books that have crossed our path.

Writers: Various
Art: Various
3 Bad Monkeys $Various

Matt C: When considering thriving comics communities across the globe, I would imagine those of us in the Northern Hemisphere don’t really think to look towards the Antipodes for examples of four-colour creativity as a first port of call. The likes of Dylan Horrocks and Roger Langridge may have made names for themselves on both sides of the Atlantic put beyond that there aren’t many names that will ring bells for the common or garden fanboy. Which isn’t to say they’re not there, you just have to either know where to look for them, or at least be pointed in the right direction. Tim Gibson’s current digital series, Moth City, was an eye-opener for a number of reasons, and the colourized version of the Moth City prequel entitled 'The Reservoir' led me to this, Faction, an anthology series featuring work from some of the best Kiwi comics creators.

It’s worth remembering that New Zealand is the home of Weta Digital, which employs some of the finest digital animators in the business, and even without personally knowing the employment history of the various individuals presenting their work in the three volumes (so far) of Faction, I would say it’s highly likely a few of them have probably spent some amount of time at that effects house. Either way, it’s quite clear from the variety of different styles and storytelling techniques that there is an abundance of creativity Down Under and its unquestionably worth highlighting.