26 Apr 2018

Cover Story: TOP TEN THANOS COVERS

Matt C: Introduced in Iron Man #55 by writer/artist Jim Starlin, Thanos has had a slow climb up the ladder of evil in the Marvel Universe, and perhaps now holds the position of the premier super-villain (or at the very least, he gives Doctor Doom a run for his money). Moving from the cosmic fringes into the mainstream, battling anyone who's anyone over the years, either in pursuit of the Infinity Stones, Mistress Death's affection or just general chaos and destruction, the Mad Titan continues to strike fear across the universe via his unwavering determination to his cause. His cover appearances are often variations of him looking imposing, wielding a certain gauntlet, or flashing that trademark grin of his, and although there were other contenders in the running for this countdown, these are the ten Thanos comic book covers we feel are the best of the murderous bunch.

25 Apr 2018

Working the Boxes: THANOS #1-12

In Working The Boxes we highlight any recent back issue purchases we've found buried in comic boxes or discovered on eBay that we think are worthy of further attention.

Jo S: Imagine the scene: Josh Brolin, resplendent in purple body paint, blue and gold armour gleaming, stomps onto the set in those gigantic boots, their weight causing tremors in the surrounding scenery. A voice like a crate full of loose slates sliding over a cliff grates out and the Russo brothers raise their heads… “So… what’s my motivation here, guys?”

See, this is my problem with Thanos. Motivation. We need Bad Guys in comic books, otherwise who do we save the world from? But we also need to know why the Bad Guy is so Bad. What was it that set this person off down this road to destruction? Just being evil has limited reach, surely? Being motivated by pure evil must eventually lead to a miserable life for the perpetrator - but perhaps I am a little naive in that.

Jeff Lemire’s recent run of twelve issues, lavishly illustrated by Mike Deodato and then Germ├ín Peralta, lit up in bright flames by colours from Frank Martin and then Rachelle Rosenberg, does a great job of exploring the motivations of its characters, so before the imminent release of Avengers: Infinity War, I wanted to look at what drives the main player, and perhaps thereby shed some light on why the Big Bad of the movie is such a force to be reckoned with.

24 Apr 2018

On The Pull 25/04/2018

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.

Andy H: After the emotional rollercoaster that was the last issue, I'm not sure if I'm ready for Mighty Thor #706. It's been quite a ride that Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman have taken us on and now we reach the end. Well, this chapter anyway. The Mighty Thor has reminded the old guard of Asgard what it means to be a hero and indeed, a god. Now her legacy will live on but I wonder if this is really the last we'll see of Jane Foster. What awaits her behind the gates of Valhalla? She deserves to rest (in peace) but I for one would like to see more of the Mighty Jane. Avengers #690 concludes the 16-part 'No Surrender' storyline and readies the way for the next Avengers incarnation (from Jason Aaron). The standout part of this arc for me has been the reintroduction of the Hulk. It's been a good run and has me excited for the next phase of the Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Hunt For Wolverine #1 is a one-shot that will start to explore how and why the 'real' Wolverine has returned. Charles Soule killed Wolvie off, now he gets to bring the fan favourite mutant back. Finally, Peter Milligan gives us a new comic book version of The Prisoner. This is not a '60s story with Patrick McGoohan but set in the present day. Time may have moved on but it looks like the village is still in business and home to all sorts of numbers! It's a four-issue miniseries and I'd like to see where it goes.

23 Apr 2018

Working The Boxes: INFINITY GAUNTLET #1-6

In Working The Boxes we highlight any recent back issue purchases we've found buried in comic boxes or discovered on eBay that we think are worthy of further attention.

Matt C: Admission time: until recently, I'd never read Infinity Gauntlet. When writer Jim Starlin resurrected Thanos in Silver Surfer #34 in 1990, I was totally on board with the cosmic awesomeness of the Marvel Universe, and my reading trajectory at that point should have lead me to pick up Infinity Gauntlet at the time. Life, however, had other ideas. As has happened with many of us at some point in our lives, certain things become more distracting (for me, in my late teens, it was rock'n'roll, and related activities), so the need for larger than life characters throwing their weight around the universe seemed to diminish. Sooner or later that need reasserts itself, and after a couple of years of being out of the loop, I was back! In the interim, Infinity Gauntlet, and its direct sequel, Infinity War, had come and gone, and the second sequel, Infinity Crusade, was on the shelves. Reading Infinity Gauntlet did become a mission of sorts for me, but one that remained on the backburner, with issues being picked up at comic conventions at acceptable prices over the years. Once I had the six, they went on the 'To Read' pile, but never really progressed up to the top, until the imminent release of a certain movie made me think, 'I really need to read these comics!'

22 Apr 2018

Mini Reviews 22/04/2018

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 bad, and those that lie somewhere in between.

ACTION COMICS #1000
Writers: Various
Art: Various
DC $7.99

Matt C: 80 years and 1000 issues. That’s no mean feat, and worthy of celebration. This ‘landmark issue’ follows the general pattern of the series in general: some tales will evaporate from the memory as quickly as they’ve been read, others possess a more solid, lasting impression. And that’s fine, we would expect nothing less from a bumper-sized issue assembling the best and brightest creators available to pitch in. This includes such luminaries as Dan Jurgens, Curt Swan, Scott Snyder and Louise Simonson, with Brian Michael Bendis getting his first crack at the Man of Steel, and indeed his first story set within the DC Universe. You may look at that last tale and wonder whether the character is in good hands, but whatever the immediate future holds, there was a special kind of unplanned magic that occurred when Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster first conjured up the idea of an alien with extraordinary, superhuman abilities, who uses his power to act us a force for good in our world. They inadvertently kicked off an entire genre that’s arguably more culturally pervasive than it ever has been, but even taking into account the multitude of superheroes who followed in his wake, there’s something intrinsic to Superman himself that makes him the perpetual gold standard. Brad Meltzer and John Casssaday’s precise, thrilling five-pager perhaps exemplifies this best in this issue. He’s been around for eight decades but the alias of ‘Man of Tomorrow’ still feels entirely apt. 8/10

21 Apr 2018

From The Vaults: WARLOCK #9-10, AVENGERS ANNUAL #7

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...

Andrew B: He speaks with the grandeur of Dr Doom. He schemes with the insane zeal of the Red Skull. And, yes, he’s got a chin like Darkseid. Thanos of Titan has qualities in common with many of the other great villains of comicdom, Marvel or DC. But there’s one factor that makes him different, darker, deadlier. One feature that sets him apart. The nature of his ambition: nothing less than total stellar genocide.

Take Doom or the Skull, for example. Their world-views are unlikely to be shared by anyone currently reading this article (unless they happen to be sporting a funny little moustache and listening to a CD of SS marching songs), but they can at least be understood. Their dark dreams involve the possession of power and the right to rule over a subject people – not too savoury – but at least they envisage a world with people still in it. There is a twisted rationality in their megalomania, a limit to their plans. Doom for one is even capable of a level of nobility – in Fantastic Four #87, for example, he famously lets the FF go free rather than in battle risk damage to “the immortal art” preserved in his castle. On some level, you can deal with Doom, even the Skull.

None of that with Thanos.

20 Apr 2018

THANOS WEEK @ THE PCG

Matt C: The movie event of the year is almost upon us!

Something that had been inconceivable for many of us growing up reading comics, a cinematic version of an event book is arriving, where a multitude of superheroes team up to battle potentially insurmountable evil. It's astonishing to think how a decade ago, Samuel L. Jackson popping up for a post-credits scene in Iron Man, talking up the 'Avengers Initiative', would lead to Avengers: Infinity War, where the likes of Thor, Captain America, Star-Lord, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and so many more, all join forces to defend the universe from the megalomaniac demigod Thanos.

Ah, Thanos. Who is he, and where did he come from? The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been teasing his presence since a brief, mid-credits appearance in 2012's The Avengers, and while his origins are likely to be somewhat different to his comics counterpart (don't expect to see Starfox showing up anywhere!), we've prepared a series of articles that take a look at a few of his pivotal comic book moments along with some glorious cover images featuring the 'man' himself.

So beware over the next week: the Mad Titan is coming!

19 Apr 2018

The Shipping Forecast: June 2018

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 March issue which includes comics scheduled to ship in May 2018.

MAN OF STEEL #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Ivan Reis & Joe Prado
DC $3.99

James R: If you've picked up a DC book at all over the last few months, you can't help but have noticed the huge double-page ads proclaiming 'BENDIS IS COMING!' I'm still not quite sure Marvel's long-time lynchpin deserves such fanfare (largely due to his output of the last few years) but the Man Of Steel six-part series is undoubtedly one of the events of the year. DC have opted to make this a weekly event, with a roster of different artists, portraying Superman facing "The biggest threat of all time" - that's quite a boast! We'll see if the series delivers on the hype in June.

17 Apr 2018

On The Pull 18/04/2018

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.

James R: After a few lean weeks, the new releases deliver a biblically fat pull-list for me on Wednesday. Starting at the top in every way, Black Hammer is back! It's arguable that it's never been away, with Jeff Lemire providing two fine 'Black Hammer Universe' books to tide us over, but with Black Hammer: Age of Doom #1 we're back in Rockwood and Black Hammer farm, beautifully illustrated by Dean Ormston. This will obviously be the first thing that I read, but it'll be closely followed by the undoubted comic of the moment, Tom King and Mitch Gerads' majestic Mister Miracle, which reaches issue #8 this week. King's run on Batman has slowly but surely won over readers over the last year (myself included) and the next issue sees Tony Daniel providing the art, and a tale featuring Booster Gold - fair to say, that's going to be a great read. That would normally be enough from DC, but the icing on the cake is the next instalment of Kurt Busiek and John Paul Leon's masterful alternative Batman tale, Creature Of The Night. Rounding things off, Image comics sees the continuation of two favourites of mine - firstly there's the next issue of the consistently great Descender from Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen, and the other is the grand return of the month - Lazarus is back! As with Black Hammer, it's never been fully away thanks to the Lazarus +66 interlude series, but it's brilliant to see Michael Lark reunited with Greg Rucka, and the tale of Forever Carlyle back up and running. There's a very good reason that this book continues to win awards at the Paradoscars, and I'm sure I'm not alone in my excitement for this one. A great week in prospect then!

15 Apr 2018

Mini Reviews 15/04/2018

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 bad, and those that lie somewhere in between.

THE DEAD HAND #1
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Art: Stephen Mooney & Jordie Bellaire
Image $3.99

Matt C: With the world seemingly on the brink of plunging into a second Cold War, what better time to revisit the first, or at least the tail end of it. Carter Carlson, black ops agent supreme, discovers something sinister during the last days of the Soviet Union, but seemingly it didn’t make that much of a significant impact – as we move into the present day, he’s a small town sheriff, the local teens think he’s harmless, and everything appears to be idyllic. But of course, there’s more to all this than meets the eye. The inventive twists and turns that occur through this debut issue are revealed at just the right moments to ensure the shifts in expectations occur organically. There’s a moody dynamism to Mooney’s art, delicately coloured by Bellaire, that hits the write tonal notes, and Higgins seems to have struck genre gold again by not applying the formula in a predictable fashion. 8/10