22 Jan 2019

On The Pull 23/01/2019

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: I really bought into the rejigged version of Guardians Of Galaxy that launched back in 2008, having been thoroughly taken with what writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning had been doing with Marvel's cosmic pantheon in titles such as Annihilation and Nova at the time, but after they departed I followed suit, and even the brilliance of James Gunn's cinematic iteration of the characters in two sterling entries to the MCU failed to keep me on board with the comics as various other creators did their thing. I'm ready to come back though, and that's primarily down to the creative team of Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw, who had such a barnstorming stint on Thanos (which, of course, introduced us to the thrilling madness of Cosmic Ghost Rider). They convinced me they can go full throttle on intergalactic adventures so I'm there for the latest relaunch.

That's Marvel's big book of the week but over at DC it seems Brian Michael Bendis is continuing to make his presence felt at the publisher. We've been singing the praises of both Pearl and Cover here since they launched but, alongside the latest instalments of both those series, this Wednesday also sees a new book in the form of Naomi #1. This isn't a Jinxworld title - it's set in the DC Universe and is released under the 'Wonder Comics' banner, which is Bendis' place to produce teen-oriented content; clearly I'm not the target market for this, but I'm curious all the same after spotting a few preview pages. DC also have the latest issue of Batman, and we're never going to stop raving about that title, not until everyone is picking it up, and to be honest, not even then!

20 Jan 2019

Mini Reviews 20/01/2019

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.

DAYS OF HATE #12
Writer: Aleš Kot
Art: Danijel Žeželj & Jordie Bellaire
Image $3.99

Jo S: The final issue of this masterpiece is a triumph of subtlety, a song to hope, and an expression of devastation all in one quiet, perfect package. Arvid, alone again following the destruction, physical and metaphorical, of the other three cornerstones of this story, travels ‘home’ - the meaning of this simple word now heavy with altered interpretation. Kot, Žeželj and Bellaire have together created something at once spectacular and frighteningly real: the crumpling of Arvid's face as the content of his neighbour's cellar is revealed, the knowing stare of a lone coyote in the dark, the images of normality masking recent agonising memories of horror; all are rendered with such sensitivity that it's hard to understand how individual people could be so in sync, so connected, as to communicate their intent to each other. Kot's writing is bold - he doesn't shy away from digging at current political influence and this has given the story an edgy feel throughout, disconcerting and destabilising. Žeželj’s page structure astonishes - where he wants to show the mundane, necessary explicative conversations, he uses a nine panel grid; in other places, jagged vertical sections intensify the claustrophobia and fear; in another full page, a peaceful scene of birds rising from tree branches is punctured by a tight focus on faces at a critical point of decision. This is a masterpiece of storytelling and creativity. 10/10

19 Jan 2019

Cover To Cover: INVADERS #1

INVADERS #1
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Art: Carlos Magno, Butch Guice & Alex Guimaraes
Marvel $4.99

Matt C: Ever since Ed Brubaker gave us some WWII Michael Lark-illustrated flashback scenes during early issues of his seminal run on Captain America, I've had a hankering for a gritty, brutal take on the Invaders, something akin to Saving Private Ryan in spandex. This latest iteration doesn't quite deliver on my dream, as it jumps back and forth from contemporary scenes to war-ravaged 1940s France, but it comes pretty damn close and the angle it takes - of acknowledging the past and how trauma and conflict can shape those who experience it - was perhaps the element missing from my imaginings that I didn't realise I needed until now.

The focus here is Namor and how his recent hawkish, violent posturings suggest he's readying to take on the surface world again with the full might of Atlantis at his command. Understandably his wartime colleagues - Captain America and Jim Hammond, the original Human Torch - are disturbed by this turn of events, unable to reconcile how their friend has fallen into warmongering. The flashbacks takes us back to the Second World War with the Sub-Mariner again in the spotlight, his hot-headed arrogance barely concealing his distress as his comrades are taken by enemy fire; he wants to think of humans as beneath his Atlantean superiority, but the deaths of ones he knows as friends hit him hard. Part of what makes this opening instalment so effective is how it embeds the bonds born on the battlefield, the connection between soldiers that most of us will (fortunately) never comprehend. They're tied together forever, and no matter where their trajectories take them, that connection remains near unbreakable.

17 Jan 2019

The Shipping Forecast: March 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 January issue which includes comics scheduled to ship in March 2019.

LITTLE BIRD #1
Writer: Darcy Van Poelgeest
Art: Ian Bertram
Image $3.99

Jo S: The art style of this new series caught my eye flicking through the latest Previews; Ian Bertram’s blend of tight detail and wider grandeur reflects a focus on characterisation but within a panoramic scale. It seems that this series, from the imagination of filmmaker Van Poelgeest, will indeed be the introductory presentation of a wider world to be explored further. Focussing on a young girl rebelling against an oppressive, theocratic empire, this might be a dystopian future view of the US but it certainly harks back to a more ancient, pre-technological society too, though it still seems deeply rooted in very current anxieties about where global leadership is taking us all. The creative team promise some more light-hearted accents too; hopefully this will lift the story out of potential bleakness.

16 Jan 2019

Trading Up: BLACK HAMMER VOLUME 3: AGE OF DOOM

We're big fans of monthly comics at the PCG, but if you missed an issue, or just fancy reading a story in a single sitting, a trade paperback or hardcover is the way to go.

BLACK HAMMER VOLUME 3: AGE OF DOOM
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Dean Ormston & Dave Stewart
Dark Horse Comics

James R: It will come as no surprise to long-time readers  how much I love Jeff Lemire's work, and this series in particular, but if you have been holding off on delving in to the world of Spiral City and Rockwood, the latest collection from Dark Horse (assembling issues #1-5 of Age of Doom) should definitely be worth your hard-earned cash. Why? Well...

1. It's so much more than a tribute to comics history. 
One of the most notable things about the world of Black Hammer is that Jeff Lemire has used the history of comics as one of the narrative threads of the book. As in the real world, the heroes of Black Hammer have gone through Golden, Silver and Bronze ages, and have a Legion of Superheroes-esque future ahead of them. In Age Of Doom, Lemire uses the 'dark' comics trend typified by Vertigo in the '80s and '90s. In her quest to find out the truth behind her father's disappearance, Lucy Weber travels to dimensions that will be familiar to readers of Hellblazer and Sandman. What works so well is that Lemire doesn't use the history of comics as a punchline, rather it's a salute, and a deftly-woven use of familiar tropes to move the narrative forward. As Lucy travels through the netherworlds, it's balanced by the heart-breaking stories of love and loss for Gail, Barbalien and Abraham Slam. Black Hammer is a story about outsiders: despite their heroic mantles, many of the main characters simply don't fit in, and their attempts to overcome loss or make peace with themselves grounds the story, making even the most alien of protagonists recognisably human.

15 Jan 2019

On The Pull 16/01/2018

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 along with a full list of titles that will be available from Paradox Comics.

Jo S: Breaking down my list to something manageable  was a challenge but it seems the week I tend to think of as the gloomiest of the year in terms of weather and work will instead be studded with bright lights.

In a normal week, Babyteeth, A Walk Through Hell, Gideon Falls and Joëlle Jones’ spectacular Catwoman would each have taken pride of place in the ‘most anticipated’ spot, but with Days Of Hate reaching its twelfth and final issue, there can be only one choice for that award. Spare in dialogue yet rich in unspoken communication, this terrifyingly credible vision of the near future has been an ongoing lesson in what can be achieved with a tiny cast watched in detailed close-up. Kot's observations on motivation have so far left me uncomfortable at my capacity to empathise with those with even the most monstrous of ideologies.

Reaching the end of its arc is Uncanny X-Men, with issue #10 marking the close of a breakneck run of weekly issues. In the time it would usually take to see at most three issues, this has cantered through its story skillfully - I've enjoyed the ‘team’ approach to writing from Rosenberg, Thompson and Brisson more than I thought I would and have warmed to the different elements of the X-Men, especially the ‘kids’. I can't go on indefinitely with something that appears weekly though - it's just too much of a commitment when there are great new titles appearing all the time - so this will be the rounding off point for me.

13 Jan 2019

Mini Reviews 13/01/2018

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 not so good, and those that lie somewhere in between.

CRIMINAL #1
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Sean Phillips & Jacob Phillips
Image $3.99

James R: At the halfway point of this issue, I found myself saying to myself; 'this is so, so good': it should come as no surprise, seeing that Brubaker and Phillips have consistently produced some of the best comics of the last twenty years, establishing themselves as the masters of the crime comic, but still, the quality here is outstanding. Following the appetiser that was My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies last year, 2019 marks the return of Criminal as a monthly book as we're plunged back into the dark world of the Lawless family and a desperate situation for Teeg and Ricky Lawless. As always, Brubaker's storytelling is masterful, re-establishing the world of Criminal, and setting up the new plot in 34 (gloriously ad-free) pages. Sean Phillips is, of course, the perfect foil for Brubaker and his son Jacob's colours add both a dreamy feel to some pages and a sense of filtered neon, making the pages feel even more alive. An absolute treat from beginning to end, the year has started off in fine fashion thanks to Criminal. 9/10

8 Jan 2019

On The Pull 09/01/2018

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 along with a full list of titles that will be available from Paradox Comics.

Kenny J: A new movie quite often brings a new comic title and this year’s Captain Marvel is no exception. I am as excited for the latter as I am for its celluloid equivalent. Apart from being a fan of the many masks of Carol Danvers, the fact that Kelly Thompson is writing this new book is enough of a reason for me to pick it up this coming week. She has been consistently great on the new West Coast Avengers book, bringing a mix of humour and action that would definitely fit a Captain Marvel book.

This is the week where I finally do what all of us comic fans should have been doing since issue #50 and that is picking up Batman #62. It's been a while since I’ve read the main Dark Knight book; Tom King's initial stories didn't work for me, but having now read Mister Miracle and Heroes In Crisis it is time to listen to my PCG colleagues.

The adaptation of William Gibson's Alien 3 script has exactly the right mix of politics, science fiction and horror. We are yet to see an adult Xenomorph but there is a different kind of nasty happening in Gibson's original story and that enough for me to come back for the third issue. I was also impressed by Jed Mackay's writing on this past week’s Man Without Fear so I'm braving the weekly schedule on this book and picking up issue #2 as I'm really intrigued to see whose injuries heal - will it be Matt Murdock's or Daredevil's?

6 Jan 2019

Mini Reviews 06/01/2019

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.

MAN WITHOUT FEAR #1
Writer: Jed Mackay
Art: Danilo S. Beyruth & Andres Mossa
Marvel $3.99

Kenny J: Foggy Nelson has always been Matt Murdock's anchor to the real world and with the first issue of Man Without Fear he plays Daredevil's angel once again. With a mixture of humour and home truths, Jed Mackay nails the voice of the humble Franklin Nelson as he takes the nightwatch by Murdock's comatose body, sleeping but not dormant. I didn't read the last volume of Daredevil but this issue provides a perfect initiation into the Daredevil character and his current status as he is deconstructed, stripped of era-defining costumes by his own pain and fear. A nightmarish fight plays out against grotesque personifications in Murdock's mind and is one that Danilo S. Beyruth obviously relished drawing. After all, it is a greatest hits of a book, albeit one with a solid metaphysical conceit, touching on all parts of Murdock's decades-long struggle. It looks as if this won't be the status quo for long which is a shame as an extended look at Daredevil's psyche with a revolving ward door of his supporting players could have been a wonderful plot for a book with this title, however, I was impressed with Mackay's writing, his handling of characters, and the ideas in this initial issue. I'm excited to find out where he'll be taking DD next. 8/10

1 Jan 2019

On The Pull 02/01/2018

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 along with a full list of titles that will be available from Paradox Comics.

Matt C: A new year, a slightly rejigged look for On The Pull. Allow us to give you our personal picks before we reveal a full listing of what will be available in Paradox Comics, Poole (and your Local Comic Store of choice) - although note that UK NCBD will be delayed until Thursday due to the Bank Holiday this week!

Top of my first pile for 2019 will be, of course, Conan The Barbarian #1 from Marvel Comics. The franchise has been with Dark Horse for over a decade, and while the initial blast of Kurt Busiek/Cary Nord greatness was rather exhilarating, the property began to feel a little stale in recent times. Perhaps a return to the House of Ideas - which gave the Cimmerian a new lease of life in a different medium back in the 1970s - will reinvigorate the character once again? Putting Jason Aaron in the writer's seat seems like the smartest move as his work on a number of books - Thor in particular, but stuff like The Goddamned too - make him ideally suited for some swords and sorcery action.

To coincide, Marvel are turning the attention of their True Believers imprint to Conan, and I will always take the opportunity to remind you of the value for money these reprints offer.

Over at Image there's the return of Low from Rick Remender which has been absent for what feels like a long time but was a series that, after a slow start, had been building some real momentum (although if I'm honest I hope it's not one of those books that lingers past its sell-by date). DC have the finale of the latest run of Scarlet (and let's hope it doesn't follow its historical pattern of disappearing from view for ages) and the next chapter of Heroes In Crisis, Tom King's surprising and unique take on the blockbuster event book format.