19 Nov 2018

All Good Things: MISTER MIRACLE

When a great series concludes and it provides the perfect opportunity to assess what made it so good...

"I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations - one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it - you will regret both." - Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or

James R: By now you've probably read a huge amount of praise for Mister Miracle series but I'm not looking to convince anyone still unconvinced by its greatness here. What I want to do is highlight one of the reasons the series worked so well for me - it's one of the most philosophically literate series I've ever read, and as a consequence, it shows just how mainstream comics can be refigured and reimagined if they are infused with intelligence, wit, and stylistic verve.

Mister Miracle came about when Dan DiDio at DC wisely offered Tom King the opportunity to write whatever he wanted as a limited series. His choice of Scott Free - the eponymous Mister Miracle - was an inspired one. Arguably the most recognisable of Jack Kirby's Fourth World creations, Mister Miracle has had philosophical overtones in each of his 21st century iterations. This is largely due to Grant Morrison's influence, as he was a central figure in the Scot's sprawling Seven Soldiers Of Victory project. That series also coincided with Jack Kirby's centenary, and certainly acts as a fitting salute to the King of Comics.

Mister Miracle feels like the spiritual sequel to Tom King's outstanding The Vision series for Marvel. In that title, we saw the Vision in a domestic setting, in an attempt to understand humanity. The series used Shakespeare's Merchant Of Venice as a device to reflect on that question too, and it worked remarkably well. Mister Miracle also focuses on the domestic life, but here the philosophical scope is larger still, and if I had to highlight the one recurring theme from the series, it is choice. More precisely, how do our choices define us, and how do we live with their consequences, both as humans, and as readers of the text.

18 Nov 2018

Mini Reviews 18/11/2018

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.

UNCANNY X-MEN #1
Writers: Ed Brisson, Matthew Rosenberg & Kelly Thompson
Art: Mahmud Asrar & Rachelle Rosenberg
Marvel $7.99

Matt C: I’ve strayed far from the mutated corner of the Marvel Universe in recent years, but the X-Men were such a major part of instilling the love of the medium into me that I will never ignore the opportunity to reconnect with them. This pricey relaunch includes an enormous cast of characters, a rather hackneyed plotline (a senator hawking a cure for the mutant gene) and plenty of action. I could sound jaded and say I’ve seen it all before (and in many respects, I have) but I think it’s more that I engaged more with the concept when there was a smaller number of characters, outcasts on the run, fighting against oppression. There’s some of that in play in this issue – it wouldn’t really be an X-Men book without it – but there’s an awful lot happening in these pages and, conversely, perhaps not enough. I’ve known many of these characters for years, but they feel like strangers here, the familiarity waning. It’s enjoyable as a superhero comic but I feel further away than ever from where the X-Men currently are. I’d like to believe that one day I’ll be back in sync with them again, but appears today’s not that day and this isn’t the series to do it. 6/10

16 Nov 2018

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

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

James R: Now this is the way to kick off 2019: we head back to the world of Teeg Lawless and Co. as Criminal makes a triumphant return. Having reminded us of their greatness with the excellent graphic novella My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies, writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips take us back down the mean streets for more top-drawer crime tales. The promo material from Image says this is “The most acclaimed crime comic of the 21st century” - and they’re not wrong. If you haven’t read Criminal before, this will be an excellent place to start, but for the rest of us fans it’s simply brilliant to have this title back as an ongoing series. The icing on the cake is that it’s a double-sized issue for the regular price of $3.99 - that’s amazing value for what’s bound to be the first must-read comic of the year.

15 Nov 2018

The Paradoscars 2018 - Voting Continues!

Voting in our first wave of Paradoscars nominations has been under way for a few days now, and even though there's still some time to go, certain categories already appear to have clear winners already while in others it's simply too close to call at this stage. If you've not cast your votes already, you can still do so here.

And so we now move onto the second wave of categories. While the first focused on the titles we've been picking up since the beginning of January 2018, the categories below concentrate more on the talent involved in the creation of those titles. Without these guys and gals, we'd be looking for a new hobby!

14 Nov 2018

STAN LEE 1922-2018

Andrew B: I first met Stan Lee one Tuesday evening in late October 1972. In our front room. Over beans and poached eggs on toast.

I was ten years old then and, of course, Stan wasn’t there physically. That would have been odd. What was there instead was the first issue of a new comic my Nan who worked in a newsagent had dropped by. It had a big green guy not looking too happy on the cover. The Hulk. And another guy in a red and blue costume swinging across the cover on a kind of web. Spider-Man. And four other guys (one of whom was a girl), one in flames and one made out of what looked like orange house bricks. The Fantastic Four.

The Mighty World of Marvel #1. Day One of the rest of my comic-reading life.

Because the thing about Stan Lee was, he never had to be literally with you to make an impact on you. Like all great writers, all he needed to make you think, to make you feel, to make you change, were words. Words that when written down are just shapes and squiggles on a page, but when spoken to the spirit become stronger than steel, more powerful than plutonium.

“With great power there must also come great responsibility… Fate gave me some terrific super-powers and I realize now that it’s my duty to use them… without doubt… without hesitation…Anyone can win a fight when the odds are easy. It’s when the going’s tough… when there seems to be no chance… that’s when it counts… Somehow, at the last minute, some of your own heroism reached out through the endless void… and touched him… In all the galaxies… I have found no planet more blessed than this… It is as though the human race has been divinely favoured over all who live… And yet… in their uncontrollable insanity… they seek to destroy this shining jewel… this softly spinning gem… this tiny blessed sphere… which men call Earth.”

13 Nov 2018

On The Pull 14/11/2018

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.

Note: This article was written prior to yesterday's sad news.

Kenny J: There are quite a few books on my pull-list this week, and as a result certain ones whose franchise originated outside comicdom may have to stay on the shelf for now. Arguably the world of Marvel comics is following its movie counterpart more and more but that hasn’t quite reached the Fantastic Four, at least yet. Although the book has been gone for a long time, and issue #3 has seen delays, it seems like Reed and Sue Richards and the Future Foundation never left us. This is both a benefit and a detriment to the book - although it is great to have them back I feel they have been denied the grandeur their reintroduction deserves. This hasn’t stopped me being intrigued as to where Dan Slott will take these characters though. His stewardship of other books has been masterful so I know Marvel's First Family are in good hands. Over at DC I will be picking up Catwoman #5. The story is unfolding slowly which is fine. It just means there is going to be more Joëlle Jones art to look at. She is the perfect artist for Selina Kyle, able to render her elegance in both her civilian and Catwoman costumes while the fight scenes allow you to feel every punch. Next up there are two titles I have been waiting a while for. Uncanny X-Men makes its return in a new volume; the original and, in my opinion, the quintessential X-title has been gone for far too long. With three writers that are creating great work in other parts of the Marvel Universe, I'm hoping it will be worth the hefty cover price. I will in fact be buying one movie-linked book but as it's issue #1 of the comic adaptation of William Gibson’s unused Alien 3 screenplay, I’m sure you can understand! It is fun to see something you thought would never get an outing in a visual format come to life. I’m hoping this project at Dark Horse is such a success that we get to see other unrealised film projects come to our medium of choice. I’m not quite sure if I’m looking forward to Uncanny X-Men or my next title more as this week also sees the twelfth and final issue of Mister Miracle released. Tom King is arguably the best comics writer working at the moment and this book is a template of how the modern superhero comic should be made. I will be sad to see it end.

11 Nov 2018

Mini Reviews 11/11/2018

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 GREEN LANTERN #1
Writer: Grant Morrison
Art: Liam Sharp & Steve Oliff
DC $4.99

James R: For reasons I've never quite fathomed, Green Lantern has never worked for me as a character. In principle, he should - I love science-fiction, and the world of the Lanterns shaped by Julius Schwartz is absolutely prime SF. But still, I've never really read an arc or an issue featuring DC's space cop that's grabbed me. I was very hopeful that Grant Morrison could change my mind with The Green Lantern; he's got a great track record of revitalising characters and honing in on what makes them great. With both New X-Men and All-Star Superman, the first issues were both remarkable reads and clear mission statements about the characters. This issue however, didn't reach the same heights. It's a pretty standard re-introduction to Hal Jordan, whom Morrison portrays as a man out of place in the everyday world, but perfectly at home as the defender of space sector 2814. It doesn't help that (as a personal aesthetic choice) I don't really love Liam Sharp's art style - I'm in awe of all comics artists but there's something about these pages that didn't draw me in. An issue like this should make you feel excited for what's to come but The Green Lantern left me feeling as ambivalent about Hal Jordan as ever. 5/10

7 Nov 2018

The Paradoscars 2018 - Voting Begins!

A sure sign that there are a rapidly diminishing number of days until Christmas is the beginning of the annual Paradoscar voting process! Can it really be nearly a year since we announced the 2017 winners?

This will be the twelfth year we've put this out to the wider world and we'll be relying on a 'survey monkey' again to assist us in collecting the votes. As we've done previously, we're breaking down the nominations into three chunks, which will appear here over the next couple of weeks.

The nominations in each category have been chosen by the PCG, and obviously reflect our tastes, so while you may not see some more 'obvious' contenders present, there are still some fantastic comics, creators and more in our selections, so please cast your votes our initial six categories, listed below...

6 Nov 2018

On The Pull 07/11/2018

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.

Jo S: It’s Mostly Marvel Mayhem for me this week with more than half of my list coming from the House of M, kicking off with (I believe) an underrated treasure, X-23 #6. Good girls turned bad in the previous issue and old wounds resurfaced - super-healing power doesn't fix the harm inflicted on the inside. Death Of The Inhumans closes with this week’s #5; all seemed lost at the start of issue #4 but Black Bolt started to show glimmers of hope - will they be dashed or might we see the catastrophic family tragedy of the first episode reversed? Along with Immortal Hulk and Spider-Geddon (yay Spider-Ham!), my Marvel madness wraps up with a new start. I'm admittedly a little cagey about Marvel Knights 20th - I've not entirely got on with Travel Foreman’s action scenes in the past - but Donny Cates is on writing duties and the Matt Murdock memory mystery premise sounds interesting so I'll give at least the first issue a pop. I'm similarly unsure about my second new starter of the week; Grant Morrison writing Green Lantern is very tempting but I'm struck nervous by the sample art. Hal Jordan’s proportions look peculiar to my eye but I'm taking a chance nonetheless. I'm new to Green Lantern and hoping that Morrison can give this newbie a route in. Finally, I've given up giving up Batman. My continual expectation that it can't stay THAT GOOD has foundered every time I've tried to slip away, and it looks like, come Hell or high water, Tom King will be keeping me coming back to the Bat through to issue #100.