17 Sep 2019

On The Pull 18/09/2019

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.

Jo S: Curse you, Tom King, you and your infuriating brilliance! I'd just managed to wean myself off Batman yet again and then last week's issue was just, aargh-amazing, and I'm back on the hard stuff, doomed probably to see it through to at least the end of King's run, lest I'm struck down yet again with agonising FOMO.

Also unmissable currently are House Of X, the History Of The Marvel Universe (the latter proving something of a boon when trying to peel back the dense layers of the former) and Valkyrie, now riding under the name Valkyrie Jane Foster in case we were confused. I've really enjoyed the first couple of issues of this: Foster's arc, from love interest to thunder god to companion of the dead on their journey to Valhalla, has been an astonishing one - though I came to this at the wrong time to get the full benefit of her Thor era, I'm really enjoying her embodiment in this series so far.

Two new series grace my list as a result of my PCG colleagues' creator-focussed passions: James R's enthusiasm for all things Lemire is unmatched, so I'll try Inferior Five #1, a DC mystery about misfit kids who notice odd goings-on in their hometown, and though Andy H is already shrouded in gothic mourning garb for the loss of his regular fix of Giant Days, writer John Allison is set to soothe his bereft soul with new outset Steeple - a story about two women from very different backgrounds bonding… wait, this seems familiar…!

15 Sep 2019

Mini Reviews 15/09/2019

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.

TREES: THREE FATES #1
Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Jason Howard
Image $3.99

Jo S: The excitement that has been brewing since a sequel to Trees was announced has been impossible to contain (you already know I don't try that hard to contain it!) - Ellis and Howard's 2014-2016 series formed some of my first deep dives into the heady combination that is comics and science fiction; it got its roots deep into me, adjusting my understanding of what comics, especially Image comics, could be. The first issue of third volume Three Fates absolutely doesn't disappoint. Set in a remote scattering of Russian homesteads, the feeling of enigmatic unworldliness returns, the looming tree legs serving to emphasise the rolling emptiness of the landscape over which they silently tower. Klara, the local police sergeant who has her own tree-related back story, is called to the site of the brutal killing of an out-of-towner, at the base of their local alien invader. Ellis writes the near future so brilliantly: he predicts little adjustments in available tech, like the police quadruped robot collecting evidence, but combined with very real, very familiar impediment, such as the limited supply of electricity in the remote town being exacerbated by a goat sleeping on a solar panel. Ellis' wit crackles through in the cold stillness, and he and Howard define their characters and the motivations of their players with understated efficiency, to the point where I reached the last page with grimace - don't stop there! A totally sure-footed new start, I absolutely cannot wait for the next instalment. 10/10

10 Sep 2019

On The Pull 11/09/2019

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: After seven years of mighty tales, Jason Aaron's tenure on Thor is coming to an end. The last couple of years may not have reached the same heights scaled when Jane Foster was wielding Mjölnir, but he may yet leave on another high note with four-parter King Thor. Reuniting him with artist extraordinaire Esad Ribic, this returns us to the twlight of the universe for the Thunder God's final days. However it resolves, Aaron's going to be a tough act to follow.

Powers Of X reaches issue #4 and by now everyone should be on board with Jonthan Hickman revolutionizing a franchise that's felt stale for a good few years. There's so many levels to this thing, so much to think on, it feels like it takes a while to fully absorb its greatness, which is a very positive response. It lingers.

Tom King's Batman trundles along, perhaps not as incisive as it was a few months ago, but still engages on a fortnightly basis. I find myself more excited by Batman Universe #3, which sees Brian Michael Bendis' take on the Dark Knight - originally only available for Walmart shoppers - being more inventive and exciting than expected.

Finally, it's Hulk month for the True Believers imprint; this week's issues taking us back to the 1980s for reprints of Incredible Hulk #299 and #324. Cost effective nostalgia or an opportunity to sample classics for the first time.

8 Sep 2019

Mini Reviews 08/09/2019

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.

SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN #1
Writer: James Tynion IV
Art: Werther Dell'Edera & Miguel Muerto
BOOM! Studios $3.99

Jo S: No prizes for guessing the theme of this new BOOM! Studios offering and, pretty much from the start, this lands us in a very dark place. Tynion tells the story in a disjointed timeline, hopping back and forth between a police interview, with witness James recounting horrific events, the events themselves, the aftermath of similar events elsewhere and the arrival of a possible solution. Dell'Edera emphasises these breaks in continuity, switching between black backgrounds for the horrifying occurances of the night time, and stark neon-lit white pages, dragged down into darker places, when James appears to be 'safe' with responsible adults. I always find it interesting when a writer bestows their own name on a character – the James of this story is clearly troubled; intelligent, perceptive but an outsider, he empathises more with the devastated out-of-his-depth school principal than he seems to with his peers. This first episode is subtitled 'The Angel of Archer's Peak: Part One', which might suggest that this will be a series of arcs featuring the exploits of the as yet unnamed 'angel' – on the basis of this first issue, I'm already prepared to say 'I hope so'. 8/10

3 Sep 2019

On The Pull 04/09/2019

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.

Jo S: I’m not sure what it says about me that a title like Something Is Killing The Children immediately snags my attention but a little further investigation of this new BOOM! Studios series doesn’t disappoint, as James Tynion IV is writing a horror story which looks delightfully unafraid to delve into the topic of child-stealing monsters, and features some lovely nominative determinism embodied in hero monster-killer Erica Slaughter. I’m not familiar with artist Werther Dell'Edera but the sample art looks suitably shadowy and gory, so I’ll give it a punt.

Breaking my only-one-new-start rule (c’mon, you all know my cavalier attitude to rules at this stage!), I’m also going to give Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy a little try: never having read either character previously, and having only just watched Suicide Squad this week (which was not worth the time spent but did explain why approximately 50% of all cosplayers at the first comic con I went to were sporting Daddy’s Little Monster shirts), I feel disposed to giving poor tortured Harley a little of my time - plus it’s only a six-parter so the relationship doesn’t have to go stale.

I’ll also try Dark Horse’s new start Everything; writer Christopher Cantwell is familiar from She Could Fly and Dark Horse have been trailing this new book in other series recently, suggesting one of those shiny happy Midtown America with a horrifically dark underside stories - a big appeal for me.

1 Sep 2019

Min Reviews 01/09/2019

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.

MOUNTAINHEAD #1
Writer: John Lees
Art: Ryan Lee & Doug Garbark
IDW $3.99

Jo S: John Lees writes off-kilter tales which are horror on the surface but very much about people underneath, and in this new series he pulls off a glory of complexity. Abraham and Noah live outside the law and, in Noah's case, on the very edges of sanity, surviving by burgling homes and hopping from place to place, constantly moving to avoid capture. Lees writes Noah's paranoia brilliantly and Ryan Lee mixes caricaturesque faces with super-clever panel structure to give us real empathy with the father and son - until we realise that Joseph Heller's quote is apt: just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean they're not after you - and Abraham (or 'James') finds his world crashing down around him as everything he'd relied on turns out to be a lie. Of course, this being a John Lees book, even the 'normality' Abraham is returned to after his ordeal is distinctly skew-whiff, and there's no time to dwell before things start to get weird again. Lees writes dark, it's true, but he also writes twanging heartstrings, aching loss, touching connection between damaged people - and great dogs too! 8/10

29 Aug 2019

The Shipping Forecast: October 2019

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 August issue which includes comics scheduled to ship in October 2019.

X-MEN #1
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Leinil Francis Yu
Marvel $4.99

Matt C: A veritable no-brainer because if you've been picking up both House Of X and Powers Of X (and if not, why not?!) then you'll know Jonathan Hickman has revitalised Marvel's mutant franchise in incredible, provocative ways. Epic in scope and more vital than it has been in years, it genuinely feels like the new era they've been promoting it as. I've been out of the loop for a while but it seems like the smart move to have Cyclops front and centre in the main book, the quintessential X-Men leader, and potentially far more interesting than he's often portrayed (although wasn't he a villain for a while?? This is why we needed Hickman!) Not only that, but it seems much more of an actual family affair than usual, with everyone bar Wolverine (unless I've missed something) related to each other in one way or another. With superstar artist Leinil Francis Yu on board you've got what's unquestionably one of the most essential books of 2019.

26 Aug 2019

On The Pull 28/08/2019

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.

Jo S: Let's start out with the start-outs this time: I'm taking the easy route on a couple of fresh starts on Wednesday, with Tommy Gun Wizards #1 and Mountainhead #1, each of which kicks off one of those short, low-commitment miniseries which feel nice and manageable. I talked about Tommy Gun Wizards for the Shipping Forecast; Mountainhead is the new start for John Lees, creator of one of my favourite comics, Sink, and promises a paranoid father and son, living off the grid, in the wilds of Canada. I'm not familiar with artist Ryan Lee yet but, as it's Lees in the lead, I'm guessing colourist Doug Garbark is going to need a lot of red.

I'm also going to pick up the new Fantastic Four: 4 Yancy Street this week. I've yet to read any extensive FF, having failed to be grabbed by Dan Slott's approach this time last year, but this one, helmed by Gerry Duggan, sounds like it could be a giggle: Greg Smallwood's cover art looks toony (in a good way) so I'm interested to see if Luciano Vecchio takes a similar approach on the inside.

Following the announcement of Moon Knight and, at last, She-Hulk TV series for Disney+, I can't really turn down a She-Hulk Annual, so that thunders into my list as well, splintering my 'one issue #1' rule into smithereens and, of course, I will need to make space for the phenomenon that is Marvel Comics #1000 - an 80-page spectacular, showcasing 80 creative teams, celebrating 80 years since the then-named Timely Comics #1 first hit the stands. One page per team seems wildly unlikely to produce anything cohesive but, WOW, the sheer ambition of it!

25 Aug 2019

Mini Reviews 25/08/2019

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.

PEARL #12
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Michael Gaydos
DC/Jinxworld $3.99

Jo S: There are a handful of creative teams in comics currently where the synchronicity between writer and artist is so adept, so much greater than the sum of their parts, that what they build together stands taller somehow than any other in my list of the time. This is Bendis' superpower, I believe: his writing inspires artists to produce something which is just… more, and so it is with Pearl, which wraps its unexpectedly double-length storyline with issue #12. Bendis brings out all the guns: the confluence of Pearl and Rick, Agent Masako, rival Yakuza clans and the Endo twins bursts into flame, almost literally, and even as these stories all come together, Pearl's childhood memories - her parents, her friends - continue to be braided around them to form an intricate pattern. Gaydos pulls out all the stops: bloody action, stoic determination, sweet tenderness - all are given the space to have their full effect. This series has been a magnificent surprise: rumours that it might reach the big screen at some point in the future seem entirely reasonable (subject to the essence of Gaydos' work being transferable). If you haven't sampled this yet, I urge you to pick up the collected series at your earliest opportunity. 9/10

20 Aug 2019

On The Pull 21/08/2019

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: This week is a veritable comics smorgasbord for me - there's a little of everything on my pull-list. The picks from DC are Batman (as always) and Jimmy Olsen. The first issue of Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber's miniseries on Superman's pal came out during one of our weeks off from reviews so I missed the chance to applaud it. It was one of the best first issues I'd read in a while, and I'm hugely excited to see what the Daily Planet's most calamitous reporter gets up to in Gotham City.

From Image, I'll be picking up one of the greatest ongoing comics being published - Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' majestic Criminal, which, somehow, seems to get better with every iteration.

From Marvel, I'll be getting the next instalment in Jonathan Hickman's already essential X-series, with Powers Of X reaching the third issue. Following the high praise from our editor-in-chief Matt C, I'm going to pick up History Of The Marvel Universe too - the level of detail and work that's gone into this book is astonishing, and I love a huge, ambitious narrative.

Finally, I'll be getting the next issue of Blade Runner 2019 from Titan. I felt the first issue from Michael Green, Mike Johnson and Andres Guinaldo definitely captured the spirit and feel of the Blade Runner universe and I'm hoping that this second chapter really builds on that promise, and that this series can succeed in being that rarest of things - a spin-off that matches the quality of the original.