23 Apr 2017

Mini Reviews 23/04/2017

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.

SECRET EMPIRE #0
Writer: Nick Spencer
Art: Daniel Acuna & Rod Reis
Marvel $4.99

Matt C: It's the culmination of the plotline Nick Spencer began when he had the Cosmic Cube-altered Captain America exclaim “Hail Hydra!”, prompting idiotic furore from certain elements of fandom who don’t get how storytelling works. And now here we are, as Steve Rogers moves himself into a position of supreme power under the noses of friends and colleagues, and when the veil is lifted it’s clear they never saw it coming. Spencer has expertly crafted the build-up to this stage, and while it’s a thrill to see it all fall into place, even if you were to come to this cold it flows so well that it would be hard not to get a kick out of its devious delivery. There are antecedents in sci-fi/fantasy fiction – think Palpatine’s rise in the Star Wars saga – but it’s hard not to see parallels with the current political climate, and although Spencer started this storyline before the world really got turned on its head, he seems to have become more emboldened to work in certain themes as time has gone on (and if the rumours are to believed, the heavy political referencing is – sadly – something Marvel will be shying away from in future). Reis provides the 1945 prologue visuals while Acuna focuses on the contemporary bulk of the issue, both giving the proceedings an intense, broody flavour which slots nicely together with the tone of the script. We like to moan about the prevalence of ‘events’ at the Big Two but every once in a while they get on a concept that really works. We’re only one issue in, but it appears like this could be one of those occasions. 8/10

22 Apr 2017

From The Vaults: MARVEL PREVIEW #11

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...

MARVEL PREVIEW #11
Writer: Chris Claremont
Art: John Byrne & Terry Austin
Marvel $1.00

Rob N: 'All New! One Man Against a Galactic Empire!' screamed the exclamation mark heavy cover.

It was the summer of 1977 – a hot one, as I recall - and like every other 13 year-old boy I was getting rather too excited about a new science fiction film called Star Wars that hadn’t yet reached the rundown Flora Cinema in Helston, Cornwall (a place where films came to die after a long run in more respectable movie theatres the length and breadth of the UK). Everyone was suddenly in a Sci-Fi frenzy, as starships and blaster rays and old fashioned pulp storytelling had bludgeoned the rather more literary pretensions of the New Wave of SF which had dominated the scene since the late '60s. Just a few years ago a typical SF title might have been something like I Have No Mouth But I Must Scream, or Time Considered As A Helix Of Semi-Precious Stones or "Repent, Harlequin!" Said The Ticktockman, with narrative flourishes that matched the ambiguity of the titles.

But that was then, and now it was now, and by 1977 it was the return of Space Opera, harking back to the 1930s, '40s and '50s, when chiseled-jawed heroes (almost certainly American) piloting jet-fighter starships in combat with surprisingly humanoid looking aliens who were trying to carry off long-legged heroines with heaving bosoms. The pseudo-intellectual titles were soon to give way to Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica and Battle Beyond The Stars.

You get the idea.

20 Apr 2017

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY WEEK @ THE PCG

Matt C: Unless you've been skirting along the further reaches of the Outer Rim for the last month with no way to contact home then you're probably fully aware that over the next couple of weeks Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 debuts across the globe. And, if you're like us, you're probably massively excited to see this new chapter in the ongoing Marvel Cinematic Universe. Three years ago many saw the potential for the first Guardians Of The Galaxy to be the moment Marvel Studios' momentum would stutter, but not only did it deliver, it became one of the most loved additions to the multi-movie franchise. Predictions are that this latest film will do Avengers-level business at the box office and early word is that it's every bit as good as its predecessor.

So, in the the same vein as our 'Avengers Month' and our 'Captain America Month' from the last couple of years, we have a handful of articles ready to appear across the next week or so (we're compressing the timeline!) that involve us digging out some old Guardians-related comics to look at where the seeds of James Gunn's blockbusting movie series were originally sewn. Enjoy!

19 Apr 2017

Ten Forward: June 2017

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 April issue which includes comics scheduled to ship in June 2017.

WINNEBAGO GRAVEYARD #1
Writer: Steve Niles
Art: Alison Sampson, Stephane Paitreau, Jordie Bellaire & Aditya Bidikar
Image $3.99

Simon M: The first thing that grabbed my attention about this book in Previews was the title. I mean come on: Winnebago Graveyard, how can you not be intrigued! Once you get past the name and see that one of the modern masters of horror comics is writing this tale, then it’s time to seriously take note. Steve Niles (30 Days Of Night) is responsible for getting me back into the horror genre. The story revolves around a family on vacation that gets stuck in a small American town with a dark secret. The premise of the book reminds me a lot of the Jack Starrett film, Race With The Devil from 1975. Now that film scared the you-know-what out of me as a 10 year-old kid and therefore it left an indelible mark on my memory. If Niles can remind me of that feeling even a little bit, then it’s money well spent. There is quite a lot of preview art available and it all looks suitably dark and disturbing. Alison Sampson has done a fantastic job creating the atmosphere that is needed to make this book work. So, load up the RV and let’s head out on the highway to horror!

18 Apr 2017

On The Pull 19/04/2017

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.

Andy H: While I haven't been reading the main Captain America: Steve Rogers comic I have been keeping an eye on the Hydra storyline. I'm liking the idea that Cap believes he has always been a Hydra agent (even though we know he hasn't). This week Secret Empire #0 will get the ball rolling for what I think will actually be an interesting event. How will the Marvel heroes react to this devastating news that the man they all looked up to, trusted, and called friend, will turn their world upside down? Nick Spencer has crafted a fine story so far and I'm really excited to see how it all comes to a head in Secret Empire. Wow, can't believe I'm looking forward to an event. Over at DC it's possibly a biggie for Watchmen fans as Batman #21 starts the four-part Batman/Flash crossover 'The Button'. At the start of Rebirth, Bats found a bloodstained button in the Batcave. Now he and the Flash want to learn more about it. As with anything involving Watchmen, I'm trying to keep an open mind on this one. The - quite frankly - magnificent Royal City from Jeff Lemire continues this week with issue #2. This is a title that just totally sucks you in. I have a double whammy from Warren Ellis, the ever intriguing Injection and his reworking of the Wildstorm universe in The Wild Storm #3. As usual with his books they may appear as slow burners at first but the payoff is generally worth it. For something new I'll be trying Nick Fury #1. I've learned to trust writer James Robinson and the art of Aco looks amazing. There's so much detail on the pages and a definite nod to the psychedelic look of the old Fury books. Finally, a double dose from the Whedonverse as I get to dive into Angel Season 11 #4 and Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 11 #6. Once again, looking like a fine week of reading material.

16 Apr 2017

Mini Reviews - A Week Off

Even the PCG need a break. But we'll be back with more reviews next week... stay tuned...

9 Apr 2017

On The Pull 12/04/2017

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.

Andy H: It appears to be a Marvel dominated week for my pull-list. Bit of an X-fest really. Firstly, we see two new X-books join the ranks, Weapon X #1 and X-Men: Blue #1. The original five (time-displaced) X-Men lead the way in Blue. This team has evolved differently after their stay in the 21st century. Where Cyclops was team leader in the past, a much more confident and stronger Jean Grey now takes that role. A further twist for these young X-Men is that Magneto is their new mentor. Could lead to some interesting situations. While I'm still not convinced this team should still be in the present, I am convinced that Cullen Bunn can create a tale worth reading. Weapon X concentrates on the darker characters of the X-world, the ones that don't mind getting their hands dirty. With Greg Pak as writer and Greg Land on art this should, hopefully, be a regular addition to my pull. Old Man Logan #21 is the start of the end, well, for writer Jeff Lemire anyway. He's off to concentrate on his creator-owned work but he's leaving us in style as Logan relives past moments of his life, starting in the 1800s. Who doesn't love a good time-travel story? Lemire's run has been critically acclaimed and I think he will be missed on this title. Walt Simonson, a long standing favourite of mine, returns with Ragnarok #12, the concluding issue of the second arc. While the gaps between issues can be big, it's always more than worth the wait for the next chapter of this Norse saga. One of Image's recent big hitters returns with Seven To Eternity #5. Rick Remender and Jerome Opena always bring the best out in each other so I'm glad to dee this series is back. Finally, P. Craig Russell continues the comic adaptation of American Gods. I was a bit on the fence with the debut issue but still liked it enough to pick up the second.

Mini Reviews 09/04/2017

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.

X-MEN: GOLD #1
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Art: Adrian Syaf, Jay Leisten & Frank Martin
Marvel $4.99

Matt C: The first of three titles due out in the next couple of weeks as Marvel attempts to reinvigorate the X-franchise and… it’s okay. Guggenheim brings us, for all intents and purposes, a ‘classic’ X-Men comic, and it’s fun and enjoyable as far as it goes. It all comes down to how much you’re prepared to indulge in all the familiar tropes over how you much you need a shake-up and at the very least the pretense of something different. I can’t deny I got a kick out of how it ticked a lot of the boxes, but is that enough? It’s good X-Men comics rather than essential X-Men comics, and it’s quite possibly sufficient to lead me to have a look at the second issue, but as there’s doubt in my mind over that then clearly it’s not quite the knockout it needed to be. One down, two more left to convince me that Marvel have found the right approach to getting this property back on track. 7/10

4 Apr 2017

On The Pull 05/04/2017

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: One title dominates my pull-list this week. Alan Moore's magnificent series Providence reaches its finale, thus bringing the curtain down on a world that he started developing in 1994 with the text version of The Courtyard. I have been working on an article about the series as a whole, and I'm waiting to absorb this final issue before writing some concluding remarks. I have continued to be surprised by how little critical attention this book has been getting, as it's arguably Moore's best work this century - if you've missed out on Providence, I cannot recommend getting it in trade enough. I'll also be picking up Jason Latour's new book Black Cloud. I love Latour's art in Southern Bastards, and I've been enjoying his script in Loose Ends, so a new title from him is a no-brainer for me. Set around a girl from a world of dreams who finds herself in the real world, this almost could be a reverse of Matt Kindt's Ether and I'm intrigued to see how it begins. Finally, from Marvel I'm picking up two titles. Firstly, there's the new issue of Jessica Jones - the first arc showed that Bendis and Gaydos still had the magic when it came to Alias Investigations, and Wednesday sees a new case for Jessica, juicily titled 'The Secrets of Maria Hill'. The second title is Star Wars; I have been a huge fan of Jason Aaron's work on this book, but the last story arc, featuring a bland Yoda tale, has made me think that this might be my last.. however, I like to think that I am one with the Force, and the Force is one with me, so maybe I'll stick with it for just a little longer.

2 Apr 2017

Mini Reviews 02/04/2017

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.

X-MEN PRIME #1
Writers: Marc Guggenheim, Greg Pak & Cullen Bunn
Art: Various
Marvel $4.99

Matt C: And here we go again. It's the umpteenth relaunch/realignment/re-whatever for the X-franchise as Marvel attempts to get more focus back on the comics and characters that used to be at the very centre of their universe but have become sort of detached from the core of late. There are no fireworks to be found in this, erm, ‘primer’ though as it’s really setting the stage for three incoming titles - X-Men Gold #1, X-Men Blue #1 and Weapon X #1 – so  it’s, um, primarily about reestablishing the dynamics between certain characters who are obviously destined to be at the forefront going forward. It’s nicely done, at times feeling like classic X-Men storytelling (the Chris Claremont era, in other words), and while it’s by no means an unequivocal indication that any of the aforementioned books are going to be additions to my pull-list, I’ll certainly check out the debut issues of each at the very least. 7/10