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.

Stewart R: Yup it seems that the Brubaker/Phillips combo is the one to look out for this Wednesday, and, like Matt, I struggled with Fatale but will give The Fade Out #1 a try seeing as how this is a return to noir crime fiction without the supernatural element that I found so distracting with their most recent Image effort. The Fade Out looks to be a a grand tale in terms of cast and plot threads - which could explain the 40 page debut to cover a lot of ground quickly - and we'll just have to see if this can replicate the success of their Criminal work and possibly even surpass it. The rest of my pull-list is similar to Matt's with the likes of Elektra #5, Daredevil #7 and New Avengers #23 making the cut and it's once again time for the two lone DC titles to make my reading pile in the form of Batman And Robin #34 and Green Lantern: New Guardians #34. The only problem is that I can't remember what occurred in the previous instalments of either series - or if I've even read them yet! - so I guess now might be a good time to catch up!

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.

DARK AGES #1
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.

THE ZOOHUNTERS #1
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.

FACTION #1-3
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.

12 Aug 2014

On The Pull 13/08/2014


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: Original Sin returns this week (the fortnightly schedule now apparently jettisoned) with its seventh issue, and I think its safe to say this event series has gone off the rails and is highly unlikely to get back on them before it all winds up. It's had some great ideas spinning around within its narrative but getting all those ideas to function cohesively has seemed to be as task that's slipped through writer Jason Aaron's fingers. I like Aaron's work a lot but on this project his focus seems to have shifted away from what it needed to be on, towards plot elements that bordered too closely on the ridiculous. My gaze inevitably turns then to Image, who have the likes of Sex Criminals #7, Zero #10 and Starlight #5 out this Wednesday. I'm also pleased to see two titles written by Nathan Edmondson, Dream Merchant and Where Is Jake Ellis? make a return appearance. Edmondson's been occupied delivering titles from Marvel (Punisher and Black Widow) and I had wondered whether these two books had been quietly dropped - they almost appeared in our 'AWOL Comics' feature if I hadn't spotted them in the upcoming solicitations. But, while it's good to have them back (with that sense of closure drawing nearer!) I think I'm going to be hard pressed to recall what happened in the last issue of each title!

11 Aug 2014

Mini Reviews 10/08/2014

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.

KICK-ASS 3 #8
Writer: Mark Millar
Art: John Romita Jr, Tom Palmer, Dean White & Michael Kelleher
Marvel $5.99


Matt C: Yes, it’s gone on for far too long, the thrill of the concept that originally established itself back in 2008 almost a distant memory, but even though I was sticking with it more for a sense of closure than anything else, I will admit that for a series that seems to have relied on shock for shock’s sake more and more as it went along, this finale was a rather satisfying and – yes! – heartwarming send-off for the characters. Obviously there’s plenty of blood-splattered carnage within the extended page count, but where Millar could have easily gone for a nihilistic denouement, he pulls things back and rewards the readers’ for their six-year investment in Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl’s adventures. Palmer brings out the best in Romita Jr’s pencils, and White’s colouring has always helped give the book its distinctive flavour, the overall effect of their combined talents being quite glorious.  It’s done now, and I’m kind of glad I stayed with it until the end, and my hope now is that Millar et al don’t get the idea a few years down the line that bringing back this franchise back would be a smart move. It’s opened a lot of doors for them, now let’s leave it at that! 7/10

7 Aug 2014

Thought Bubble: Where Are They Now? AWOL Comics Vol. 2

Matt C: It’s been a while since I took a proper look at those books that I was thoroughly enjoying when all of a sudden they completely dropped off the radar (over five years in fact!) so another article along the same lines was long overdue, particularly as I’m almost perpetually in a position where a number of books I’ve loved have disappeared, with no solid information to lead me to believe they’ll be arriving anytime soon.

On the flipside of that, if you go to back to the original article linked above, half of the series highlighted actually returned and received a conclusion (the other half I doubt we’ll ever see again) so hopefully something similar may be on the cards for the choices listed below. This time around I’ve invited a couple of my PCG colleagues to come up with their picks of the books they really, really want to see return…

FELL

James R: Fell is undoubtedly one of my favourite books over the last ten years, and is Warren Ellis at his best - dark, clever and inventive. But after nine issues (and an increasingly erratic release schedule) we've had nothing since 2008! Ellis originally said that artist Ben Templesmith was far too busy promoting 30 Days Of Night around the world... an excuse which was then replaced by the death of Ellis' computer and the loss of Ellis' scripts. He claimed that the script for issue #10 had been sent to Templesmith in 2011, but still we wait. With Templesmith now heavily involved in his Kickstarter project The Squidder, it doesn't look like we'll be returning to Snowtown anytime soon. It seems to be that Southend's finest son always falls into a familiar pattern: he has an amazing idea for a book, which will launch with a number of brilliant issues, at which point he seems to get bored of the idea and focus his creative energies on another project (which may or may not get finished!). Indeed, it seems that endings are often Ellis' problem. When he does them right, they are something to behold (and I will forever doff my chapeau at the genius of Planetary here) but more often than not, there's a sense of "Well...that's it!" Both No Hero and Captain Swing tended to stop rather than come to a satisfactory conclusion. I'm quite aware that the abrupt, anti-ending might be seen as a literary device, but taken into account with his frequently curtailed titles, it doesn't look too great.

5 Aug 2014

On The Pull 06/08/2014

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 can't be the only one out there relieved to see the end of Kick-Ass this week. What was once a fresh and exciting series back in 2008 has since become a tired concept that's extended far beyond its sell-by date. Recent issues have had their moments but for me at least it's been more about a sense of closure than enjoyment that's kept me going. Credit where credit's due though: this is is the series that really cemented Mark Millar's power in comicdom, its runaway success giving him the ability to basically do whatever he wanted from then on, and it resulted in to movies (one great, the other no so much) that have edged him closer towards becoming an actual player in Hollywood. So there's that, which I wouldn't begrudge him, but I'd much rather see him devote his energies into properties like Starlight and Jupiter's Legacy going forward. Kick-Ass has served its purpose, it's been a rocky ride that's generated a fair amount of excitement, but now it's time for it to become a thing of the past. Books that I'm looking forward to ready because they're still thrilling and relevant this week include the welcome return of The Bunker, the latest instalment of Lazarus and another issue of New Avengers, coming directly after last week's winning instalment.

4 Aug 2014

Mini Reviews 03/08/2014

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.

LOW #1
Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Greg Tocchini
Image $3.99


Stewart R: Having recently dropped one underwater series from Image - the middling Undertow - and finished another aquatic adventure just this week in the The Wake (reviewed below), Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini’s Low arrives just in time to see my amphibiously enhanced comic book needs met once again. And pleasantly surprised I was too with this debut which looks at a future iteration of Earth where the last pockets of humanity survive in the depths of the world’s oceans, hiding away from a Sun set to go supernova and wipe all life from the planet unless mankind can find a home elsewhere first. That’s the overriding setup, but Remender quickly takes us in a different direction as the family most likely to provide hope and solutions for this grave scenario then come under attack from pirates, eager for revenge and seeking the instruments of their own brief salvation. I enjoyed Remender’s playful family dialogue, all of the adults and children instantly instilled with their own distinctive characters and the peril that comes their way feels weighty as a result. Tocchini’s curvaceous and liquid art style is perfectly suited to this science fiction setting and his colour work is some of the richest he’s ever produced. The tense and traumatic way that this debut draws to a close would make this a superb open ended comic in its own right, but as a prologue to another highly promising Rick Remender production this makes #2 unmissable in my book. 9/10

2 Aug 2014

Screen Time: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio Del Toro
Director: James Gunn
Runtime: 121 minutes
Certificate: 12A
Release Date: 31st July 2014 (UK), 1st August 2014 (US)

Stewart R: And so here it is, Marvel’s biggest cinematic gamble to date. Not since they threw Jon Favreau the keys to the production of Iron Man in 2006 and nodded an acceptance in his direction for his choice of Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark has the studio risked so much. Yet here we are, eight years on and nine successful movies in the bank for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and it’s clear that Guardians Of The Galaxy is the testing ground to see just how far and wide they might be able to reach with their properties in a live action setting. With general public audiences at least reasonably aware of the likes of Captain America and Thor’s existence before their cinematic debuts it’s not unfair to state that the Guardians Of The Galaxy were probably not even that well known amongst the regular comic book reading crowd until recently. Marvel’s publishing arm have been grinding the wheel hard in the past two years in order to get as many up to speed as they can, yet with no overwhelmingly cherished and recognised template for James Gunn and his cast to be weighed down by they actually manage to produce not only the most humorous Marvel movie to date, but also a contender for the most action-packed film in the collection.