11 Dec 2018

On The Pull 12/12/2018

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.

James R: Egad, it's almost mid-December! As usual, I haven't even considered my Christmas shopping yet, but I do know what I'll be picking up from Paradox this week (you have to get your priorities right!). A substantial part of my pull-list goes to Dark Horse comics. Firstly, there's a double-dose of Black Hammer goodness as we get the continuation of the Legion Of Superheroes riff in The Quantum Age, and a one-shot featuring one of the remarkable cast members from Sherlock Frankenstein - Cthu-Louise. Lemire has the knack for telling stories rooted in the teenage experience, so I'm particularly looking forward to this one. Then there's the second issue of William Gibson's Alien 3. The first issue quickly demonstrated that Gibson would have taken Fox's franchise down a path far more in keeping with the 'corrupt big business' idea seen in Alien and Aliens - now it will be fun to see what he does with the Xenomorphs and Ripley. Almost all of the rest of my picks for the week are books from DC where I'm a little wary: Batman Damned caused a maelstrom of controversy when it was released (and to be honest, with this year, it feels like it happened a decade ago) and now we get the second instalment of the Black Label series. I felt underwhelmed by the first chapter, Bat-wang and all, but I want to give it a chance to impress. Then there's The Batman Who Laughs #1 - I passed on the Metal event (and I still think that was the wise choice - it just wasn't for me) but I couldn't help but take notice of Scott Snyder's creation of a Batman who has become his own nemesis. This is a compelling idea, and with the always-amazing Jock providing the art, it's another case of 'got to be worth a try!' Lastly from DC, I'll be picking up Justice League Dark, but I'm starting to lose faith a little here - the 'Witching Hour' event really didn't work for me, and it hasn't quite regained the bravado that it had in those early issues, but still I want to see how the current arc plays out before I potentially step off this title. Finally, there's two doses of Alan Moore for me to enjoy. The last League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen series (and final Moore comic) reaches its third chapter, and there's also the colourised edition of From Hell. I was absolutely in two minds about the latter before it came out. From Hell is one of my favourite series, and part of its brilliance was the eerie, dark atmosphere of the Victorian London captured by the monochrome pages from Eddie Campbell. After the first issue, I still think I prefer the original, but I'm picking up this series as I'm intrigued by Campbell's alterations and the exercise in comparing and contrasting with the original - it's a fascinating experience. An interesting week for me in summary.

9 Dec 2018

Mini Reviews 09/12/2018

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.

SHAZAM! #1
Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Dale Eagelsham & Mike Atiyeh
DC $4.99

Matt C: Shazam (the original Captain Marvel, lest we forget) hasn't been the easiest sell to the capes and cowls audience since he was absorbed into the DC Universe; finding the right balance with the character has escaped many a creator. Geoff Johns was the one writer in modern times who really nailed the duality of Billy Batson and Shazam, and his back-up tale in the Justice League book during the early run of the New 52 launch was something special. He's back here without the artist from the short-lived stint - the supremely talented Gary Frank - but Dale Eaglesham proves to be a worthy replacement, bringing an impressive level of detail and dynamism, plus an engaging wit, sprinkling it all with a pleasing Silver Age flavour. The writing's fine - few can match Johns' innate love and understanding of DC's icons - but it feels like it's skewing towards a younger audience than the previous volume. There's nothing wrong with that, and I'm not going to be that middle-aged guy complaining that the story of a teenage boy transforming into an adult superhero wasn't written specifically with him in mind, but I didn't get the instant connection with storytelling the way I did with the Johns/Frank iteration. The back-up feature is nicely done but I'm not convinced this will be a keeper on my pull-list at this stage. 7/10

4 Dec 2018

On The Pull 05/12/2018

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.

Matt C: Doomsday Clock #8 arrives this Wednesday, and the bimonthly schedule has started to slip a bit. I'm okay with that as the end product is so impressive, and to be honest it's so packed with narrative detail that even a regular monthly release would be too long a wait - it will really need to be consumed in one hit to fully appreciate its brilliance, probably multiple times. I don't have the same recall problems with Batman as it appears every fortnight, and if nothing else I will always remember that I'm due a corker every time it makes the list. The other major highlight from DC this week is Shazam! #1. As writer Geoff Johns has Gary Frank (his previous collaborator on the character in the short-lived but excellent New 52 run) working hard on the aforementioned Doomsday Clock, it leaves the door open for Dale Eaglesham to bring his talents to The Character Formerly Known As Captain Marvel, and the upcoming movie, along with Johns' obvious affection for Billy Batson and his alter-ego means this is one to watch. Image has a couple of books of note - Mark Millar's new series, Prodigy, and one I flagged up from Previews called Self Made - which both look like they're worth investigation, and Marvel have a new Winter Soldier series from two thirds of the team behind superb Image title, C.O.W.L. Also from Marvel is the start of a new set of True Believers book reprinting first appearances of some of the Fantastic Four's greatest villains. Still absolute bargains at a dollar each!

2 Dec 2018

Mini Reviews 02/12/2018

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.

THE WARNING #1
Writer: Edward Laroche
Art: Edward Laroche & Brad Simpson
Image $3.99

Jo S: A glaring omission from my On The Pull piece for this week; I totally missed this one in Previews but luckily it was pointed out by my local comic book store owner and wow, am I grateful! The artwork was what drew me to this - the first few pages immediately grab: they’re spacious and clean, with minimal text but an immediate atmosphere of intrigue and depth, a soliloquy on reincarnation from a battle-ready soldier. Laroche meddles with the time sequence in this story to excellent effect, telling parts of the narrative in reverse to add to the mystery. I love a comic where the imagery and text each tell their own part of the story: Laroche develops his characters ably here via the artwork, keeping the text for moving the action forward. Giving much more away about this futuristic sci-fi would lead to spoilers but suffice to say that I see much promise in this and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes. 8/10

27 Nov 2018

On The Pull 28/11/2018

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.

Jo S: I've been on something of a journey over the last few months, in terms of settling out my pull-list to something which blends manageability with keeping faithful to the best lines around AND keeping up with what's new. I feel like this week hits that sweet spot perfectly. A tidy list of six titles feels very doable, with several favourite standing series, starting with Beyonders #4. I'm looking forward to completing this series, mostly as I have an inkling that a re-read will help bring the embedded puzzles and patterns to the fore. Loyalty is easy when a series is as good as Heroes In Crisis: the murder mystery, the bait-and-switch of suspects, the mix of classic nine-panel and gorgeous dramatic action makes issue #3 a must-have. Also on issue #3 this week is the new Uncanny X-Men: my loyalty is admittedly a bit stretched by the weekly schedule on this, and I'm wavering a little as the multiple writing crew find their stride - this week will be a decider. Hex Wives and the gripping Scarlet complete my tried-and-tested list, leaving space for one more - yes, Mariah is trilling “All I want for Christmas” on my internal soundtrack and I'll be throwing myself into decorating next weekend, so what better than the collection of darkly festive goodies that is the DC Nuclear Winter Special? Well, the weather outside IS frightful after all.

25 Nov 2018

Mini Reviews 25/11/2018

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.

SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE #1
Writer: Ralph Macchio
Art: Flaviano & Erick Arciniega
Marvel $4.99

Jo S: Having pledged not to fall for the temptation of a completist approach to the 'Spider-Geddon-Spider-Verse' event, and sworn that I would just get the Spider-Geddon limited series and that would be IT, I got myself suckered in by that li’l rascal Spider-Ham yet again and it was totally worth it! For reasons which didn’t totally stick with me, a small band of Spidey entities from five different universes have broken away from the horrendous Inheritor-centred crisis they had been involved in and sworn to travel the Spider-Verse using wrist teleporters to do good wherever they can, possibly as penance for having lost a couple of their team members to the Inheritor invasion. Macchio’s writing is quick, witty, sensitive; it’s packed with action and references to classic Spidey tales. Flaviano and Arciniega together produce something perfect for this team - plenty of PWANG, BWOK, CRUNCH, THWUNK (and that’s just from one page) and all the bright colours and action any Peter Porker fan could ask for. A web-net bulging with fun. 8/10

21 Nov 2018

The Paradoscars 2018 - The Final Categories!

And now it's time to vote in the final six categories before winners of the Paradoscars 2018 are announced in mid-December. (There is an additional category - The PCG's Honorary Award For Hero(ine) Of The Year - but that's one we decide internally and is not up for a public vote).

These categories focus on characters, adaptations, disappointments, as well as looking forward into 2019. If you haven't voted in the initial twelve categories, you may do so here and here. And we really encourage you to do so - there's going to be some close races in some categories based on the tally of votes so far, while others see certain nominees charging ahead of the pack. But all of that can, of course, change, and that's where you come in.

Voting will run until the end of the month but we encourage you to cast your votes at the earliest opportunity!

20 Nov 2018

On The Pull 21/11/2018

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.

Jo S: I'll be needing a small truck to haul the contents of my pull-list out of my local comic book store this week: so many unmissables land this Wednesday that I've had to drop all new starts in order to stay loyal to the big favourites. Batman #59 is a given - you know this! - but DC aren't sitting back and letting the Dark Knight do all the heavy lifting: Jinxworld titles Pearl and Cover more than pull their weight, with Mack’s artwork in the latter taking my breath clean away last time. I'm also taking a pile of Marvel titles this week; I'm sticking with Spider-Geddon for the Spider-Ham action and then a double Kelly Thompson bill: her three West Coast Avengers issues so far have gone from strength to strength and I'm very much hoping #4 continues to so intelligently skewer the behaviour of the more tiresome end of the internet. Her contribution to the writing of Uncanny X-Men #1 was visible at least in a couple of wry jokes - weekly issues of this will test my stamina, especially if they continue to be as complicated as the first, but there was plenty of action to get my teeth into, and a smidgen of mystery to pique my interest, so I'm ready to see where that goes next. Talking about Marvel Knights: 20th without talking about [spoilers] is tricky but if you didn't catch the first issue, I strongly recommend you get up to speed! From the independent end of the shelves, I'm still taking Quantum And Woody from Valiant - the story has bounced all over the place but is always great fun - and I'm rounding off with creepy, spooky Cold Spots and the devastatingly good Days Of Hate, both from Image. In my opinion it'll be a travesty if the latter doesn't bag something in the Paradoscars this year but whether you agree with me or not, take yourself over there and vote!

19 Nov 2018

All Good Things: MISTER MIRACLE

When a great series concludes and it provides the perfect opportunity to assess what made it so good...

"I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations - one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it - you will regret both." - Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or

James R: By now you've probably read a huge amount of praise for Mister Miracle series but I'm not looking to convince anyone still unconvinced by its greatness here. What I want to do is highlight one of the reasons the series worked so well for me - it's one of the most philosophically literate series I've ever read, and as a consequence, it shows just how mainstream comics can be refigured and reimagined if they are infused with intelligence, wit, and stylistic verve.

Mister Miracle came about when Dan DiDio at DC wisely offered Tom King the opportunity to write whatever he wanted as a limited series. His choice of Scott Free - the eponymous Mister Miracle - was an inspired one. Arguably the most recognisable of Jack Kirby's Fourth World creations, Mister Miracle has had philosophical overtones in each of his 21st century iterations. This is largely due to Grant Morrison's influence, as he was a central figure in the Scot's sprawling Seven Soldiers Of Victory project. That series also coincided with Jack Kirby's centenary, and certainly acts as a fitting salute to the King of Comics.

Mister Miracle feels like the spiritual sequel to Tom King's outstanding The Vision series for Marvel. In that title, we saw the Vision in a domestic setting, in an attempt to understand humanity. The series used Shakespeare's Merchant Of Venice as a device to reflect on that question too, and it worked remarkably well. Mister Miracle also focuses on the domestic life, but here the philosophical scope is larger still, and if I had to highlight the one recurring theme from the series, it is choice. More precisely, how do our choices define us, and how do we live with their consequences, both as humans, and as readers of the text.

18 Nov 2018

Mini Reviews 18/11/2018

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.

UNCANNY X-MEN #1
Writers: Ed Brisson, Matthew Rosenberg & Kelly Thompson
Art: Mahmud Asrar & Rachelle Rosenberg
Marvel $7.99

Matt C: I’ve strayed far from the mutated corner of the Marvel Universe in recent years, but the X-Men were such a major part of instilling the love of the medium into me that I will never ignore the opportunity to reconnect with them. This pricey relaunch includes an enormous cast of characters, a rather hackneyed plotline (a senator hawking a cure for the mutant gene) and plenty of action. I could sound jaded and say I’ve seen it all before (and in many respects, I have) but I think it’s more that I engaged more with the concept when there was a smaller number of characters, outcasts on the run, fighting against oppression. There’s some of that in play in this issue – it wouldn’t really be an X-Men book without it – but there’s an awful lot happening in these pages and, conversely, perhaps not enough. I’ve known many of these characters for years, but they feel like strangers here, the familiarity waning. It’s enjoyable as a superhero comic but I feel further away than ever from where the X-Men currently are. I’d like to believe that one day I’ll be back in sync with them again, but appears today’s not that day and this isn’t the series to do it. 6/10