21 May 2015

The PCG's Top 15 Current Comics - May 2015

Once again the assembled membership of the PCG have put on their thinking caps and compiled their Top 15 Current Comics to provide a more concise look at what they're currently reading and (more importantly) enjoying...

19 May 2015

On The Pull 20/05/2015

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.

Andy H: This week we see the start of Marvel's Secret Wars spin-off titles but I'll get to them later. The big one for me on Wednesday is the return of Trees from writer Warren Ellis and artist Jason Howard. The first eight-issue run last year was a fantastic read. Ellis crafted a number of storylines featuring very different characters that totally sucked me in over the first seven issues and then just exploded with issue #8. Finally, after a brief hiatus, we get to see where (and how) the story will progress. Colour me excited! Coming to a close, for now, is Scott Snyder and Jock's Wytches. It's been a tense and creepy run so far and I'm really hoping for a fittingly tense conclusion to the first arc. Possibly not so creepy but maybe a slight case of tongue in cheek is the awesome Alex de Campi's second issue of Archie Vs. Predator. You may scoff but it works. We've seen the Predator in the jungles, seen it in the big city, now it's off to Riverdale with Betty and Veronica as it's targets. So, onto Secret Wars. It's a veritable pick and mix of goodies heading our way over the next few months and it starts here. A-Force #1 looks like this week's big winner. A massive cast of all female Avengers fighting to protect their piece of Battleworld. Looking at the cover art we've got a great selection of characters for writers C. Willow Wilson and Marguerite Bennett to play with. I'm also going to try out Planet Hulk #1. I was going to leave it but now I've seen some preview pages I think it will make this week's pull-list. Finally, and just because I love it so much, we see another reprint of Locke & Key. This is the Master Edition, a hardcover tome collecting the first 12 issues of my favourite read this century! I know I shouldn't want to buy it all again but it is that good. Must resist (not).

17 May 2015

Mini Reviews 17/05/2015

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.

INJECTION #1
Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Declan Shalvey & Jordie Bellaire
Image $2.99

James R: I think there's a special talent to creating a stellar first issue. There are lots of different ways to do it, but I think it's utterly essential. Creative teams can hit the ground running (as with Black Science) or you can tease the readers with hints of what's to come (pretty much all of Jonathan Hickman's output!). I think if you don't set down a marker with your opening chapter, then I'm far less likely to come back for issue #2. With Injection, Warren Ellis shows us exactly how it's done. This remarkable comic takes us to a clandestine Britain, where ancient forces are being harnessed by… well, something. Ellis goes for the 'tease' option, and it pays off - I immediately want to know more about Robin Morel, Maria Kilbride, the Cultural Cross-Contamination Unit, and the Ministry of Time & Measurement. Ellis knows how to marry up dark magical forces with secret services (see Strange Kisses and Gravel) but this book has an almost ethereal and mysterious quality to it. The art from Shalvey and Bellaire beautifully captures the British landscape, and by the final page I was desperate to read more. I immediately reread it, which still stands as my gold standard for great comics - and this most certainly has the potential to be magnificent. 9/10

15 May 2015

Ten Forward: July 2015

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 May issue which includes comics scheduled to ship in July 2015.

WILL EISNER'S THE SPIRIT #1
Writer: Matt Wagner
Art: Dan Schkade
Dynamite Entertainment $3.99

Rob N: Taking responsibility for a new Spirit comic is a risky proposition for any but the most seasoned and respected of comic book authors, for not only are you assuming the mantle of the late great Will Eisner but, to make matters worse, your creation is also going to be judged alongside the later run by the not so late, but arguably almost as great, Darwyn Cooke. So not only do you now have to do the original classic stories justice but you have to try not to look stupid compared with a top of the class pastiche already in print. Personally speaking, that's the kind of albatross around your neck that I wouldn't consider for a moment if I were a comic book writer, but Matt Wagner it seems is made of bolder stuff than me for he has indeed thrown his hat in the ring and even now grapples with the task in hand. Wagner is one of maybe a dozen names who has the potential to succeed, but even so it's a steep hill that he has to climb if later reviews don't immediately compare his work unfavourably with Cooke's. The sample pages in Previews though do seem promising so let us give him the benefit of the doubt and at least applaud his ambition.

12 May 2015

On The Pull 13/05/2015

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.

Andy H: A cracking selection of comics this week. Really looking forward to checking out Harrow County #1 from Dark Horse. I've been enjoying some of the darker titles on offer recently; Wytches, No Mercy and Terminal Hero are great examples. Harrow County looks like it should fit (un)comfortably with these books. Tyler Crook's art really captures the creepy feel and writer Cullen Bunn has delivered the goods repeatedly, so creatively this ticks all the boxes. The story focuses on Emmy - she's aware of the things in the woods surrounding her home but discovers a connection on the eve of her 18th birthday. Ooooh! Also new this week is Lantern City #1 from BOOM! Studios. When I read the blurb for this, something sounded a little familiar; lower classes living in the bowels of a city, kept in check by the Guard, surrounded by high blocks where the rich live above them. Mega City One, anybody? This comparison is not unkind and I'm happily on board as this 12-part series is more steampunk in tone. Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman have been doing a cracking job on Thor. The story has been moving along at a good pace and the whole 'Who is Thor?' has never had the feeling of being dragged out, but now the wait is over. Yes, issue #8 reveals just who is worthy enough to be the Thunder God. We've all had a guess, who will be right? Plus there's the conclusion of Thor's battle with the Destroyer! Savior #1 did just enough to get me coming back for #2. It was a real slow burner but the last few pages had a big impact and I need to know what happens next. Of course the fantastic art of Clayton Crain means it doesn't hurt to have a second look. I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed Secret Wars #1 so I'm excited by this weeks Secret Wars #2. Where issue #1 felt more like a lead into the event, #2 will hopefully introduce us to Battleworld. Still unsure about the many, many spin-offs coming out but I'll definitely be picking up this miniseries. I can't end this without something new from Image and what do you know? There are two that I'll be trying out. First, Injection #1 from Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey (absolutely love Ellis' work) and second, Mythic #1 from Phil Hester and John McCrea.

10 May 2015

Mini Reviews 10/05/2015

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 WARS #1
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Esad Ribic & Ive Svorcina
Marvel $4.99

James R: My esteemed editor Matt C has already done a fine job in reviewing this issue, but just to add my two cents to the mix, it's very much a case of 'not too shabby.' Firstly, it must be said that this book looks beautiful - this is definitely the best work I've seen Esad Ribic produce, and Ive Svorcina's colours compliment his art brilliantly. This feels like a widescreen, big-budget blockbuster event, and Hickman goes all out - he positively relishes in ending the 616 and Ultimate universes in a totally apocalyptic issue and he gets another great Doctor Doom moment. So what's my reservation? Well, at virtually five dollars an issue, this eight-issue series is going to put a dent in the wallet… and from the Avengers FCBD issue, it seems that the climax of this series will see the return of the status quo almost immediately. I'm totally aware that mainstream comics operate within the 'illusion of change', but in this case it seems that characters wiped out in this series will be back almost immediately, and that took some of the punch out of this otherwise heavyweight issue. Will I get issue #2? Of course. Will this be the last big Marvel event I ever buy? It's looking increasingly likely. 8/10

9 May 2015

Cover To Cover: SECRET WARS #1

SECRET WARS #1
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Esad Ribic & Ive Svorcina
Marvel $4.99

Matt C: In many ways, the original Secret Wars series from Marvel was Year Zero for me and my unbridled love of comic books. I’d grown up on comics in one form or another (Beano, Tintin, Asterix, the UK reprint periodical Spider-Man And Hulk Weekly) but when I got my hands on a random issue of the British edition of Secret Wars back in the mid-‘80s, everything changed. Loads of characters I’d seen in solo adventures were suddenly interacting in the same storyline alongside loads of other exciting characters I’d never heard of before. My introduction to Marvel comics happened several years beforehand, but this was my true introduction to the Marvel Universe. And I was hooked. So, yes, there’s a huge element of nostalgia in play here but I also genuinely loved the story too. What was essentially a pure high concept ‘goodies vs baddies’ tale was nudged on a different course into a far more entertaining arena thanks to a certain monarch of Latveria, who decides to play his own game entirely. There’s much more to the series of course, but it certainly did cement by appreciation of Victor Von Doom, which hasn’t wavered to this day. So, a series that had such a life-changing impact on me, getting some sort of 21st century make over, should have riled me something fierce, right?

Wrong.

And the main reason for that? Jonathan Hickman.

5 May 2015

On The Pull 06/05/2015

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.

Kenny J: It’s done. Seventy-seven issues over two main titles and we find ourselves at the last chapter of Jonathan Hickman’s epic Avengers run at Marvel. Secret Wars, while not a reboot, is sure to mix up the Marvel Universe as we know it. There has been some worry from certain quarters whether there will be anything for them once the dust of 'Battleworld' settles but I think Marvel are very much concentrating on their brand and how it appeals to a younger readership. However, from Secret Warriors through Fantastic Four, Hickman hasn’t made a misstep, so I trust him to see out this eight-issue event with aplomb and guide Marvel into a new era. The future starts here. Speaking of the future and the past and everything in between, this week sees the return of one of my favourite books, Rocket Girl. Brandon Montclare’s tale of a girl lost in time is packed full of retro cool, beautifully rendered by Amy Reeder. It’s a slight week for me but full of quality, both new and old, as The Wicked + The Divine #10 rounds it out.

3 May 2015

Mini Reviews 03/05/2015

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.

AVENGERS #44
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Stefano Caselli, Kev Walker & Frank Martin
Marvel $4.99

Matt C: And so it all comes to a head and, inevitably, it’s Rogers and Stark in the eye of the hurricane, at loggerheads. There are an awful lot of threads to tie together as Hickman winds this series up prior to the launch of the Secret Wars event, and unfortunately some of those threads fall by the wayside, but by keeping a tighter focus on Cap and Iron Man and tracking it all the way back to the very first issue, it proves to be an effective and powerful way to get to the emotional core of the narrative. There’s more to it of course – it is a double-sized issue after all – and the way Hickman overlaps the Ultimate Universe with the 616 Universe is very cleverly done, much more organic and creative than it could have perhaps been in other hands. It’s more of a bridge than a conclusion, and there’s a lot riding on Secret Wars for those of us who’ve been on board alongside Hickman since the beginning, but to muster something as labyrinthine and smart as this in a major franchise comic book series, the writer deserves a round of applause. 7/10

1 May 2015

Mini Reviews: Free Comic Book Day 2015

This Saturday, May 2nd, sees the 14th annual Free Comic Book Day. Those unfamiliar with the event should head to the official site – here we take a look at an advance selection of freebies that should be available at your local comic shop on the day. Of course, those of you in the same catchment area as us should head over to Paradox where Andy H will have available not only the comics reviewed below, but many more besides!

SECRET WARS #0
Writer: Jonathan Hickman & Hajime Isayama
Art: Paul Renaud, Gerardo Sandoval, C.B. Cebulski & Dono Sanchez Almara
Marvel $0.00

Matt C: This seems designed to bring people up to speed on what’s been going on in Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers and New Avengers over the past couple of years, albeit very briefly. Having the exposition delivered by Valeria Richards is a smart thing to do, although the lack of action may reduce its appeal to the casual reader, while the lack of anything ‘new’ may limit its ‘essential’ status for existing readers of Hickman’s magnum opus. Having said that, it’s far more essential than the superfluous Avengers/Attack On Titan tale that makes up the rest of the issue. Best to view it as an extended advert for Secret Wars, and judge it on those terms (and on those terms, I’m marking it up as merely ‘adequate’). 5/10