20 Nov 2019

The Paradoscars 2019 - Voting Continues!

Voting in our first wave of Paradoscars nominations has been under way for a few days now, and even though there's still some time to go, certain categories already appear to have clear winners already while in others it's simply too close to call at this stage. If you've not cast your votes already, you can still do so here.

And so we now move onto the second wave of categories. While the first focused on the titles we've been picking up since the beginning of January 2018, the categories below concentrate more on the talent involved in the creation of those titles. Without these guys and gals, we'd be looking for a new hobby!

19 Nov 2019

On The Pull 20/11/2019

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: November 2019 is shaping up to be a heck of a busy month for my pull-list, with my monthly budget exceeded within the first two weeks. What gives? Are there genuinely a lot of really great comics out there at the moment?

Let's see...

The big new release is clearly Deadpool #1. This character has been inescapable over the last few years thanks in no small part to Ryan Reynolds' portrayal in two smash hit movies, but it's the persona defined in comic books that made that happen. If anyone's got the comedy chops for Deadpool's brand of fourth-wall-breaking irreverence at the moment, it's Kelly Thompson. Couple her together with an artist of Chris Bachalo's calibre and you've got a launch that may well appeal beyond the core fanbase.

Also from Marvel is the second issue of Marauders, which, if I were to consider these sort of things, would probably be my favourite 'Dawn Of X' launch now that I've read them all. If I need to think about which ones are going to get chopped from the pull-list then Marauders is totally safe, based on its first issue at least, and the same goes for Excalibur, which also has its second issue this week. Both showed enormous potential in their debuts.

17 Nov 2019

Mini Reviews 17/11/2019

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.

MORBIUS #1
Writer: Vita Ayala
Art: Marcelo Ferreira, Roberto Poggi & Dono Sánchez-Almara
Marvel $3.99

Mike S: So right off the bat, I have to confess to never having been a huge Spider-Man fan (shocking I know!) so my experience of Morbius is limited to random appearances in other books, an occasional miniseries along the way or a one shot. Looking for something new, and enjoying my forays into the more horror-tinged elements of comicdom, I decided to give Morbius a chance and I am glad to say that, so far, I am pleased that I did. While this issue is set in only two locations, it is a solid introduction to both the character and the concept of the vampiric anti-hero with a moral compass. In a throwback to his origins, we get a debut issue that is almost '70s in its sensibilities: a very straightforward story based in action which is then elevated by a nostalgic Marvelesque dose of thought-provoking philosophy - this time on the moral turpitude and fibre of humanity in the form of some Aristotelian ethics and a belief in the ‘greatest good’. The action sequences involving an attack on the Melter and his cronies is scripted simply but effectively and drawn well, with dynamic use of colour, shadow and movement. There is a real sense of horror to the artwork that, while it cannot match the work of the legendary master of horror books (Gene Colan if you’re wondering), it is nevertheless strong and powerful in its own right. Morbius #1 delivers a '70s inspired mix of horror, bloodshed and angst, juxtaposed with smart philosophy in an issue that is well balanced enough to appeal to most readers. 8/10

16 Nov 2019

From The Vaults: STRIKEFORCE: MORITURI VOLUME 1

While we spend a great deal of time engrossed in the current crop of comic books, let us not forget those fantastic tales from the past that still sit in amongst our collections and are always worth revisiting...

STRIKEFORCE: MORITURI VOLUME 1
Writer: Peter B. Gillis
Art: Brett Anderson, While Portacio & Scott Williams
Marvel

Mike S: Set in the near future on an Earth not part of the Marvel Universe, Strikeforce: Morituri (certainly the first 20 or so issues) was a hidden gem of the 1980s. The basic premise is invasion fiction – the monstrous Horde have invaded Earth and are subjugating mankind until brave volunteers sign up for the Morituri process which grants each surviving volunteer a random superpower with which to battle the alien oppressors. Think Terrigen Mists and you’re almost there. However, where this concept differs is that this gift comes with a price: each volunteer’s life span is drastically reduced allowing only a maximum of a year to live before their powers flare and destroy them. And the creators certainly deliver on this tragic situation as they kill off character after character, replacing them with the second and then third generation of Morituri subjects. Herein lies the beauty of this collection: you get great alien invasion stories, heavy with action and drama, but countered with some real humanity and an insightful and poignant reflection on both media celebrity status (long before the age of the vlogger) and of course mortality, offering the reader a mature, intelligent look at war and pragmatism in the face of overwhelming odds.

For me, however, the real appeal of this book has always been that this was one of the earlier comic books to allow the writer (Peter B. Gillis) to really dig into the characterisation of the main cast as sometimes reluctant ‘superheroes’, used to inspire a downtrodden and subjugated population.

14 Nov 2019

The Paradoscars 2019 - Voting Begins!

You can tell Christmas is almost upon us when you witness the annual Paradoscar voting process beginning! Is it really nearly 12 months since we announced the 2018 winners?

This will be the thirteenth year we've put this out to the wider world and we'll be relying on a 'survey monkey' again to assist us in collecting the votes. As we've done previously, we're breaking down the nominations into three chunks, which will appear here over the next couple of weeks.

The nominations in each category have been chosen by the PCG, and obviously reflect our tastes, so while you may not see some more 'obvious' contenders present, there are still some fantastic comics, creators and more in our selections, so please cast your votes our initial five categories, listed below...

12 Nov 2019

On The Pull 13/11/2019

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: My list is truly a deluge of goodness this week, swamped with delights both familiar and new. Starting off with the new, my one-issue-#1 rule is conclusively swept away with three new starts I can't resist. I talked about Far Sector in the Shipping Forecast: I am unfamiliar with writer N K Jemisin but a sci-fi theme always floats my boat, and with art from Jamal Campbell, who lit up the Naomi series this year, this one looks like it's worth a try. Family Tree is new from Jeff Lemire: an intriguing, if Kafkaesque, premise about a girl slowly transforming into a tree, with early glimpses suggesting some really stellar art from Phil Hester. So far this all feels a little serious, so I'm also taking Mirka Andolfos UnSacred: Andolfos released some sample pages on Twitter and they looked cute and intriguing - in a grown up kind of way!

I really enjoyed the first issue of The Batman's Grave, and discussion of this at a recent PCG meet raised a couple of theories I'm interested to have in mind while reading further issues: even if my sceptical musings don't come to fruition, the heft and raw strength of Hitch's art gives Ellis' return of Batman to his detective roots a weight and substance I really enjoyed.

Staying with DC, it's bliss to have Joëlle Jones back on art for Catwoman - she rules supreme as my favourite artist for drawing the Cat, in fact for drawing women full stop. I adore her work.

10 Nov 2019

Mini Reviews 10/11/2019

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.

LEGION OF SUPERHEROES #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Ryan Sook & Jordie Bellaire
DC $3.99

Mike S: Welcome to the 31st century! After many revamps and relaunches, Bendis and Sook certainly have their work cut out for them. And, by and large, this title doesn’t disappoint. Is it perfect? No. However, does it have enough potential to bring the reader back? It certainly does. Unlike previous incarnations, Bendis has rooted the initial mystery in the established DC Universe with the inclusion of Aquaman’s trident. Sook’s artwork is stunning, with some highly imaginative designs and some much needed updating of classic characters which, as a long standing fan, I didn’t find jarring at all. The sci-fi concepts are beautifully presented, with some interesting new developments - including New Gotham - that are destined to expand the Legion’s world. Bendis, to me, has long underwhelmed with his dialogue and lack of distinctive voices for his large cast books and, while this is a concern here due to the number of characters, so far it is not jarring enough to prevent me returning to the book. Not being a follower of the Superman titles, the inclusion of Jon Kent is interesting, with echoes of the early Legion tales but with a more modern, diverse sensibility that is refreshing. There’s a real sense of teen wonder as the assembled Legion release their inner fanboy over Superboy’s inclusion. The various costumes are familiar, based on the classic outfits but with modern twists and the designs, especially of characters such as Princess Projectra, Dream Girl and Element Lad which really emphasise their alien nature. Added to this we have several new Legionnaires, including Dr Fate and a Gold Lantern, neither of whom have been on a Legion team in the past. While it is a little light on narrative beyond the introduction of both the huge ensemble cast and new worlds, tt's a well-structured, well written and beautifully presented debut issue. 7/10

5 Nov 2019

On The Pull 06/11/2019

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.

Mike S: The mammoth, world-changing juggernaut that is Hickman’s X-Men relaunch continues to roll inexorably forward with another two titles, both of which will be in my pull-list. Firstly we have a new iteration of X-Force from Benjamin Percy, with a team split into two sections, each with a distinct and seemingly contradictory purpose as Krakoa’s Mutant CIA is divided between the intelligence branch and the field ops team, led by Beast and Wolverine respectively.

Secondly, and to me more importantly, we have the relaunch of my favourite ever X-book after the stellar Uncanny: New Mutants. Often overlooked and maligned, they are back, and under Hickman’s expert guidance I have every hope that finally they will be allowed to thrive and live up to their considerable potential. Watch as they rocket into space alongside the Starjammers in search of one of their own in a bid to return him to the team, alongside a couple of new teammates!

Sticking with the ‘youth team’ element and with a journey into space (and, in this case, across time too), but flipping across to DC we have the long awaited (by me) relaunch of DC’s Legion Of Super-Heroes, with Jonathan Kent travelling into the future to take on the role played by his father long ago in DC lore, alongside another new iteration of the diverse Legion with its myriad of members reimagined for a new generation. While I’m not entirely sure about some of the redesigns, I am more than happy to give the title a go and see what can be done with them. Maybe it’s nostalgia, but I am hopeful that the future can once more ring to the cries of ‘Long Live the Legion’.

3 Nov 2019

Mini Reviews 03/11/2019

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.

EXCALIBUR #1
Writer: Tini Howard
Art: Marcus To & Erick Arciniega
Marvel $4.99

Matt C: The Brit-centric X-book is relaunched under the 'Dawn of X' banner and, as you'd expect from the huge shake-up of the franchise, this is a long way from the original incarnation of the team. It wouldn't be Excalibur without a Braddock front and centre, and while Brian Braddock aka Captain Britain is enjoying marital bliss with Meggan - and fatherhood! (When did that happen?!) - Betsy Braddock aka Psylocke is taking the lead (now back in her original body to boot - how long have I been away from the X-Men for?!). Krakoa has changed things dramatically for the mutant population of Earth, which means Apocalypse (now referring to himself as something unpronounceable in Krakoan language) finds himself on the same side as previous mortal enemies, and he's the one who first gets wind of something amiss in Otherworld, the fabled realm of Camelot and the Captain Britain Corps and - importantly - magic. Magic seems like it will be a heavy focus of this series, which distinguishes it from the other books under the 'Dawn Of X' umbrella, and the strong characterization that's always been a trademark of the best X-stories is firmly present in Howard's sharp script. To's excellent art combined with Arciniega's blooming colours fit nicely with the visual template set by House Of X/Powers Of X and, after originally expecting to follow the Hickman books only, I found myself enjoying both Marauders #1 and Excalibur #1 more than X-Men #1. And that's hugely promising for the future of the franchise. 8/10

30 Oct 2019

On The Pull 30/10/2019

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: Regardless of what you thought of the film (and boy has it inspired some wildly diverse opinions!) you can't deny that the Joker has once again captured the zeitgeist, impacting popular culture in a significant way. And you think DC are going to leave money on the table and ignore the new focus on their most famous super-villain? Hell no!

Like his arch-nemesis, the Joker has remained a compelling creation throughout almost eight decades of storytelling, withstanding a variety of interpretations, and this new addition could well be one of the best yet. From the team behind the acclaimed Gideon Falls (Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino), comes a three-parter from the Black Label imprint. Two top tier creators reuniting to provide a tale of a cocky psychotherapist who believes he can unravel the mysteries of Joker's mind? Who doesn't want to pick this up to see things go fantastically wrong for an over-confident doctor?

DC also has Last God #1 which is in the swords and sorcery/fantasy vein, and although not usually my go-to genre, I do like a dabble, and the art looks impressive enough to give this one a try.

From Marvel, under the 'Dawn Of X' banner comes a relaunched Excalibur. After enjoying the non-Hickman-scripted Marauders #1 last week I'm keen to check out all the new X-books as Hickman has definitely reignited something in the franchise, and it looks to have inspired other creators too.