21 Jan 2020

On The Pull 22/01/2020

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: My list this week is a delicious selection box of tasty morsels, with a little smidgen of each of my preferred comics genres. Kicking off in the horror zone, Hill House Comics' A Basketful Of Heads is really coming along nicely, with the origin of the cursed-enchanted axe starting to unfold and the quiet little town in which it has been hidden turning out to be riddled with secrets. Alongside that little fright-fest I'm going to give Kidz #1 a try; Ablaze comics are making a niche for themselves converting European comics for the US market and the art and premise for this (a handful of boys have survived the zombie apocalypse, and then the eventual zombie famine, but have their world shaken when a couple of girls join their group) appealed to me.

My sci-fi thirst is slaked by issue #3 of Far Sector, a Green Lantern story with some really inventive world building, and Kill Lock #2 - the first instalment of the latter drew my attention initially because, well, robots, but then delivered a feast of beautiful art matched with writing full of heart and intrigue, a surprise from leftfield and a real treat. Up in the Big Two zone, James Tynion's helming of Batman navigates us into Riddler territory with Guillem March and Tomeu Morey supplying the art this time, and while I'm in Gotham, I'm going to do a little homework in preparation for the upcoming movie, by snagging the Birds Of Prey Giant #1 - I don't know much about this team (other than the ubiquitous Harley Quinn) so I'm going to start a little research project on Huntress et al here. Marvel supplies just Marauders #6 for me this time - this series has been excellent so far.

19 Jan 2020

Mini Reviews 19/01/2019

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.

IRON MAN 2020 #1
Writers: Dan Slott & Christos Gage
Art: Pete Woods
Marvel $4.99

Matt C: A pure nostalgia purchase for me. I remember fondly the reprinted Barry Windsor-Smith Machine Man miniseries (appearing as a back-up in the UK Transformers comic in the 1980s), set in 2020, when 2020 was a not-too-distant sci-fi future rather than the comparatively humdrum present day. The links to that series and this one turn out to be pretty tenuous at best; Machine Man is involved and the Iron Man of 2020 - Arno Stark - is the lead character, but beyond that it's got nothing to do with his original appearance, instead spinning out of events in the current Tony Stark: Iron Man title. Having not followed that series there was some catching up required: current Tony Stark is an A.I. apparently, while Arno Stark is attempting to quell a robot rebellion. This isn't a new concept of course - the sci-fi genre is packed with tales of artificial lifeforms attempting to prove themselves sentient beings and free themselves from slave labour (a strong recent example was the short-lived Magnus reboot by Kyle Higgins and Jorge Fornes from Dynamite). There's not much going on here beyond the expected beats, and pretty much all the characters are unlikeable to some degree, so unless you're already invested in the current Iron Man status quo then this can be easily skipped. 5/10

14 Jan 2020

On The Pull 15/01/2020

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.

Mike S: After a few weeks of bank balance battering, things return to relative normality with this week’s comics bundle. Firstly, an unusually Marvel-light week sees me pulling only two titles from the House of Ideas, with Valkyrie: Jane Foster continuing a fantastic run and Fallen Angels, while not as stellar, providing a novel view on the current 'Dawn of X' universe. Two independent titles this week too, both of which grabbed me with their first issues and promised a great deal: now to see if they deliver! Firstly we have Red Mother from BOOM! Studios, which I loved when I read #1: a dark, sinister title with a real sense of lurking menace. Then we return to the Black Hammer universe with the second issue of Skulldigger And Skeletonboy: a Batman pastiche told from the viewpoint of the sidekick but with enough of a twist to make it stand out from the crowd of the seemingly endless Batmen of the multiverse.

Over at DC, I continue with a variety of ongoing titles: Aquaman #56, Batman’s Grave #4, Flash #86, a new and, so far, interesting take on the Legion Of Super-Heroes #3 and Flash Forward #5, in which I hope that Wally West might finally be saved from the ignominy of the whole Heroes In Crisis debacle. Finally from DC I'll be getting the final issue of Freedom Fighters (#12) which has been one of my favourite titles from the publisher of late: I’ve always loved the Freedom Fighters, ever since their '70s title, and am a sucker of alternate reality dystopias, so this has been fantastic for me, with a dark, political slant on the old stories combined with some excellent artwork!

12 Jan 2020

Mini Reviews 12/01/2020

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.

STAR #1
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Art: Javier Pina, Filipe Andrade & Jesus Aburtov
Marvel $3.99

Jo S: Anyone thinking "oh, new female Marvel superhero, she's called Star, that'll be cute, girly, inspiring, aimed at kids etc" has a whole new think coming with this opening issue, a spin-off from Thompson's Captain Marvel series. Ripley Ryan is the most damaged of damaged supers, deeply traumatised following her kidnapping by Nuclear Man, she is the repository of a Reality Stone and, before the start of this, her first solo story, has already used it, almost destroying the whole of New York - helluva debut! Captain Marvel stopped her (by punching a hole in her chest) but, as we begin this story, Ryan/Star is somewhere between powered dropout and evil supervillain; pretty much everyone has an axe to grind with her, and every time she is pushed to use her powers the result just makes the situation worse. Thompson's wisecracking monologues balance the utter desperation of Ripley's situation: getting to write Loki (loved his li'l horned baseball cap, very low-key Loki) must have been a treat and she 'gets' Jessica Jones' black sarcasm perfectly (using mind control on Ms Jones proves exactly as ill-advised as you might suspect knowing her history). As her pile of poor decisions grows, things are looking bleak for any possibility of Star's redemption, and it seems as if the slippery slope towards villainy is becoming yet further greased. Of course, hope appears at the final moment, in the form of a character who knows more than a little about redemption from villainy. A fascinating first issue for a genuinely new leading character, with lots of potential to break the mould: I'm truly excited to see where Thompson takes this. 8/10

7 Jan 2020

On The Pull 08/01/2020

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: After an overstuffed pull-list these past few weeks (the Wednesday prior to Christmas beating my all-time record with a whopping haul!), I'm pleased to see things settle down again (even if it's not likely to last!).

Top of the pile is Marvels X #1, a prequel to Alex Ross' and Jim Kruger's classic Earth X series (now over 20 years old!!), which imagined a dystopic future for the Marvel Universe. I'm not entirely sure what to expect as it's set prior to the events of Earth X (and its direct sequels Universe X and Paradise X) but the original series was memorable enough that I'll happy return to this particular alt.universe.

New Mutants and Excalibur are two of the best series to launch out of 'Dawn Of X', so I'm looking forward to the fifth issues of each from Marvel. Image have two books from Jeff Lemire: the next instalment of the exciting, emotive, beautifully painted sequel to Descender, Ascender, and the twentieth issue of the writer's collaboration with Paradoscar winner Andrea Sorrentino, Gideon Falls.

I will have a look at Batman #86 too. Tom King may have departed but I feel I owe the title some sort of allegiance and at least see what the new creative team have in store.

5 Jan 2020

Mini Reviews 05/01/2020

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.

STAR WARS #1
Writer: Charles Soule
Art: Jesus Saiz & Arif Prianto
Marvel $4.99

James R: I thought I was finished with Marvel's main Star Wars line when Jason Aaron stepped aside from the core title (personally, I felt it was the last time it captured the magic of George Lucas' universe) however, with this relaunch, it's clear that the right man now has the reins. Charles Soule is a terrific writer, full stop (I was an early advocate of his great OGN Strongman, illustrated by Allen Gladfelter), but he brings a tangible magic to his Star Wars work, managing to add to the rich tapestry of a Galaxy Far, Far Away while never being derivative. Soule is also one of the architects behind this year's 'Project Luminous', a series of interconnected books and comics that might signal the future of the Star Wars movies. This first issue wisely sees the focus moving from the adventures post-A New Hope and centring on the events immediately after The Empire Strikes Back. The narrative also introduces us to a new nemesis for the Rebels in the shape of Imperial Commander Zahra, along with the welcome return of Shara Bey and Kes Dameron (Poe's parents, first introduced in Greg Rucka's Shattered Empire in 2015). Soule also puts Luke front and centre here, and his doubt over what he should do following Darth Vader's revelation will clearly take up a lot of the narrative to come. Jesus Saiz does a fine job on the art, managing to capture the likenesses of actors associated with the characters while still imbuing them with his own style. All told, it's a fine first chapter, and I'm very much on board to see where Soule takes this story. 8/10

31 Dec 2019

On The Pull 01/01/2020

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: The feeling that I've got my pull-list working tightly has been reinforced over the last couple of months - it's almost as if I'm finally getting the hang of this lark - but the first pull of the brand new year (and a new decade, depending on how you count it) must surely be the zenith, with just exactly the right balance of miniseries coming to a close, rich and tasty ongoings and a couple of fresh starts which have me all a-tingle.

Ruby Falls wraps with its final quarter this week: it has been an 'almost' for me - there are so many things to love in this mining town story of shadowy memories of a murder lost to time and collective secrecy, and I'm hoping the concluding issue satisfies my minor concerns about the smoothness of dialogue. Ruby Falls is joined by Lois Lane to complete my very short list of non-Marvel titles (just how it falls sometimes, I guess).

...and then there's Marvel! Daredevil and Doctor Doom power ahead in the list: I've enjoyed the quirkiness of the Doom title so far - the story is super-entertaining in a way I didn't wholly expect - and this Daredevil series has been superb, I'm especially enjoying the Wilson Fisk scenes as he tries to maintain control whilst being outclassed by those he seeks to exert influence over. I'm also staying with some of the 'Dawn of X' titles: the X-Men themselves and the magnificent Marauders, which might have been considered to be something of a makeweight initially but is actually forging a path of its own in the event, led by a resolute Kate Pryde (no longer Kitty!).

29 Dec 2019

Creator Chat: MATT ROSENBERG

In Creator Chat, we talk to one of our comics creating heroes, about their first memories of comics, who and what their influences are and which three comic book characters they would choose to go for a beer/coffee/milkshake with.

In this maiden episode, Jo chats with Marvel writer Matthew Rosenberg. Matt has written a host of titles in a meteoric career, from 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank to Uncanny X-Men via Kingpin, Rocket Raccoon and more. His new series, Hawkeye: Freefall, launches on January 1st 2020 and, as a big supporter of local independent comic book stores, he accepted our invitation to chat about that and much more. 

25 Dec 2019

On The Pull 25/12/2019

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.

Jo S: With New Comic Book Day this week falling on Christmas Day, most publishers seem to have opted to front load the holiday batch of comics resulting in a tremendous number of comics in the week just gone (which I admit to not having made much headway with yet!). It won't be an entirely silent NCBD this week - though delayed, for us at least, to Friday to give our hardworking comic book shop owner a small but incredibly well-earned rest, there are still some delights to be had as we digest a mountain of sprouts and polish off a glass or two of snowball. Marvel are wrapping up an amazing year and segueing into the next with their Incoming title: it's a chunky cover price (but, okay, quiet week) and it promises to bring together many of the big teams in a murder mystery storyline.

Paradoscar nominee, and sometime vehicle of the winner of our award for Most Promising Talent Jacob Phillips; the current series of Criminal has been infused with quality and as the story reaches its final phase, I'm fascinated to see how it all comes together. Finally, two books which clearly have my name all over them: Matt C wrote about The Kill Lock for the Shipping Forecast - a story of four robots convicted of crimes and banished whilst locked together by mutually destructive software, this looks like it could have been written for me. Writer-artist Livio Ramondelli is a relatively new name for us, so here's hoping the beautiful cover art is representative of the content. Last, and very definitely not least, the porky polymath, the hamtastic hero, the spider-who-was-bitten-by-a-radioactive-pig who's here to save the day, Spider-Ham is back in town! What more could I ask to wrap up a golden year of comics?

24 Dec 2019

Screen Time: TOP 10 COMIC BOOK MOVIES OF THE DECADE

The last ten years has seen comic book properties make an unprecedented impact on popular culture, primarily due to the the characters and concepts' cinematic interpretations. There have been high points, there have been low points, but here we present what we consider to be the best ten comic book movies of the decade...