19 Mar 2019

On The Pull 20/03/2019

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: A packed week for my pull-list with some highly anticipated books making an appearance.

Top of the pile is, without question, is Lazarus: Risen #1. With a higher page count compensating for the new quarterly release schedule, this is a hugely welcome return for one of the best series of the last decade. Whereas some expansive ongoing titles from Image have struggled to hold the attention effectively, often feeling like they've lingered longer than they should have, Lazarus has been constantly gripping and compelling, its impressive world-building never overwhelming the astute characterisations. Whether or not Amazon turn it into a TV series remains to be seen, but its majesty in the comic book format is unquestionable.

In second place is Spider-Man: Life Story #1, with Chip Zdarsky following Peter Parker's life across each decade from the 1960s onwards, the twist being that Peter ages in real time (with art by - who else? - Mark Bagley). Zdarsky's been on a roll at Marvel recently and with such an interesting premise this six issue miniseries has the potential to offer an enticingly different take on the wallcrawler's adventures. Marvel also have the second issue of Meet The Skrulls coming out on Wednesday - the first issue was a delightful surprise (a shapeshifting, intergalactic version of The Americans!) and it's definitely not too late to get on board with it now. Finally from the House Of Ideas, a double whammy of Kelly Thompson goodness in the form of the latest instalments of Captain Marvel and West Coast Avengers, both highly entertaining reads from one of Marvel's most effervescent writers.

17 Mar 2019

Mini Reviews 17/03/2019

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.

ASSASSIN NATION #1
Writer: Kyle Starks
Artist: Erica Henderson
Image $3.99

James R:  I wanted to pick up Assassin Nation on the strength of some excellent pages - and pitch - in Previews and I'm delighted to say this first issue certainly pays off on that promise. Crime boss (and former assassin) Rankin is a marked man, and asks twenty of the world's leading assassins to act as his bodyguards. This first issue is a riot in almost every sense of the word: Starks' script barrels the action forward and he's clearly relishing in the clandestine world of cross-and-double-crosses populated by an amazing cast of characters. Erica Henderson's art is brilliant; she gives the real sense of kinetic energy that a plot like this demands, and her sound effect splashes are worth the price of purchase alone. This book is just cover-to-cover, full-throttle entertainment; the best debut issue of 2019 for me thus far. 8/10

12 Mar 2019

On The Pull 13/03/2019

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: Very occasionally, there comes a week where being asked to do On the Pull feels like tough work - this is not one of them! My mental shopping cart is groaning with goodies today, in terms of already beloved standards, fresh new starts and even the odd fat special issue. On any ordinary Wednesday, the new issues of Catwoman, X-23 and Winter Soldier alone would have me ripping open my packet of swag with delight but this time around they’re joined by the second of the very promising Wonder Twins, with Mark Russell managing to encapsulate teenage awkwardness as heroes Zan and Jayna attempt to fit in at their new school whilst interning at the Hall of Justice, plus we wrap up the exquisite Cover - I overuse the word ‘exquisite’, but David Mack’s work here embodies it: this will be much missed from my list.

I have a rule-bending three first issues on the pile at the moment (I can resist everything except temptation after all): Assassin Nation (it’s impossible to say this title out loud without fluffing it, having seen Assassination Nation only recently) promises a ‘side-splitting murder-fest’ and I could do with a giggle; the new Magnificent Ms Marvel might have scraped the list anyway because of the Captain Marvel movie this week, but Saladin Ahmed holding the writer’s pen sealed the deal (I found myself talking yet again about his Black Bolt series this week - you really should read that!). Image’s new post-apocalyptic hero saga Little Bird was one of my Shipping Forecast picks for this month, mostly down to the incredibly detailed sample artwork from Ian Bertram. The blurb puts this in the East Of West or Saga league - let’s see if it can hold up to this lofty claim.

10 Mar 2019

Mini Reviews 10/03/2019

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.

MEET THE SKRULLS #1
Writer: Robbie Thompson
Art: Niko Henrichon & Laurent Grossat
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: This is Secret Invasion by way of The Americans with a Skrull family hiding in plain sight on Earth, working to thwart a project to detect their race through their genetic disguises. Similarly to the aforementioned The Americans (one of the great television shows of the last decade, lest we forget), it's the family dynamic that provides the emotional focus, lending dramatic weight to the espionage activities carried out by the two adults/two children unit. Family meals are de facto mission reports, with each of the four relaying the progress of their individual infiltrations, although it appears one of them may be getting affected and distracted by the social environment they're operating in. A skilful, well-paced script and expertly rendered art that gives texture to the emotional repression of the cast combines into a comic that, if you'll excuse the pun, seems destined to become a sleeper hit. 8/10

9 Mar 2019

Screen Time: CAPTAIN MARVEL

CAPTAIN MARVEL
Cast: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Annette Benning, Lashana Lynch, Clark Gregg
Directors: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Runtime: 124 minutes
Certificate: 12A
Release Date: 8th March 2019

Jo S: My concerted efforts not to read any reviews of Captain Marvel before establishing my own opinion were subverted at the very final hurdle last night by the explosive reactions of my PCG co-conspirators - ranging as they did from ‘Absolute tripe’ to ‘Brilliant’ - so I’ve been exerting every scrap of resilience to make sure that what you read here is not dragged in any particular direction by the opinions of others. It’s impossible though to talk about this movie without reference to the extraordinarily divided and divisive opinions which have infected social media, even warranting a shock (but ultimately ineffective) change in policy at Rotten Tomatoes. Releasing the movie on International Women’s Day was a bold choice, perhaps designed to inflame further the trolling quarters of the internet, but is this actually a feminist movie, ‘pandering to the #MeToo generation’, designed to chime into the zeitgeist rather than appropriately reflecting the history and ethics of a beloved Marvel character? Let’s park that for a second…

The story opens with our hero (Brie Larson) completing her training and receiving her first mission as an elite Kree fighter, guided by mentor and commander Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), who continually reinforces the need for her to restrain herself, to resist her emotions, to fight without the as-yet-unexplained power she possesses. Strange, ephemeral dreams of a unremembered past plague her and, when the mission does not go as expected, she tumbles into a new world.

5 Mar 2019

On The Pull 06/03/2019

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: Doomsday Clock enters its final act this week with issue #9. I've enjoyed the series immensely to this point - it's deftly overturned expectations at every stage and is gorgeous to look at - but there's no question that the staggered release schedule makes it difficult to fully immerse in the narrative. Of course that won't be a problem once the entire thing is collected and I suspect we'll only truly be able to judge it once it's complete and can be consumed in one sitting.

That problem doesn't affect Batman, which appears every fortnight, and after the largely forgettable crossover with Flash it's great to have Tom King back in the driving seat again to continue his mammoth run on the title. We do harp on about it a lot here, but for smart superhero storytelling it takes some beating at the moment.

Marvel has the first issue of a new miniseries, Meet The Skrulls, nicely timed to coincide with the release of Captain Marvel on Friday. I'll be honest and say it's the Marcos Martin cover that's got me most intrigued, but the blurb suggests it may be something along the lines of a Skrull version of the masterful TV series, The Americans, so that just adds to the appeal.

3 Mar 2019

Mini Reviews 03/03/2019

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.

DAREDEVIL #2
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Art: Marco Checchetto & Sunny Gho
Marvel $3.99

Kenny J: With a large of dose of trademark maudlin, Chip Zdarsky has introduced an intriguing mystery where we the reader are not entirely sure of Matt Murdock’s culpability. The events of the preceding issue seemed clear cut but these are comics and nothing is ever what it seems. As Daredevil refuses to accept the consequences of his actions, I too questioned whether the Man Without Fear had gone too far - masterful bit of manipulative writing by Zdarsky. The most interesting character in this issue, however, is the recently transferred Cole North, the incorruptible cop with a past who refuses to be cowed even when dwarfed by the hulking Wilson Fisk. Within the pages of these two issues Chip Zdarsky has effortlessly setup a Hell’s Kitchen where the status quo has been toppled, as its guardian seems to have crossed a line. This second issue is stronger than the first, moving elements of the plot forward where the former was mainly setting the scene, and what a scene it is! Marco Checchetto is bringing a style of art that perfectly suits the tight alleyways and open rooftops of New York and is slightly reminiscent of Leinel Francis Yu. Lamenting fans of the Netflix show should really get on board early with this volume of Daredevil; I have a feeling it may be story with a surprising payoff for which the foundations are being made now. 8/10

26 Feb 2019

On The Pull 27/02/2019

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.

Andy H: This week my pull-list seems to be lacking regular ongoing titles and instead consists of new titles I'm 'just trying', miniseries and the odd one-shot. Returning for a second series is Punks Not Dead. Creators David Barnett and Martin Simmonds are back for more supernatural fun with Fergie Fergurson and the ghost of a dead punk rocker called Sid. It's all go in this second volume; on the run from the police, the Department of Extra-Usual Affairs, magpie monsters and a serial killer, it looks like the pair are in for quite a ride. The first series was a fun read and the art really popped, I can only imagine this new arc will continue in the same way.

Star Trek: The Q Conflict #2 earns a place on this week's pull thanks to the quality of issue #1. Not only does it bring together the four Captains and four crews of the various Trek franchises it also sees the return of some of the 'omnipotent' races they have faced in the past. Joining Q are the Metrons, the Organians and Trelane (I don't think it's ever been made clear where he actually hails from) who will pit the Federation's finest against each other.

24 Feb 2019

Mini Reviews 24/02/2019

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.

LOVE ROMANCES #1
Writers: Gail Simone, Margaux Motin, Pacco Dorwling-Carter, Dennis ‘Hopeless’ Hallum & Jon Adams
Art: Rogê Antônio, Jim Charalampidis, Margaux Motin, Pacco Dorwling-Carter, Lee Loughridge, Annapaola Martello, Jon Adams & Tamra Bonvillain
Marvel $3.99

Jo S: Having explained in my On The Pull piece last week that I was interested in this one-shot ‘for the robots’, I couldn’t help a snort of laughter on reading the back matter and noting that this was produced in a seven-decades old tradition of Marvel romance comics, originally “spawned by a desire to lure older female readers away from romance pulps…” Yes, well, I guess that’s me suckered then! Four tales of non-standard romance find their way into this tribute to the 1940s phenomenon of comics for older female readers (arches an eyebrow at the camera) such as me, two of which feature the expected robo-romantics: 'The Widow And The Clockwork Heart' leads the suite, a story of a future version of our society which has remembered the need for romance, and restructured itself to ensure its paramountcy. Simone builds a neat twist into this which I want to deny caught me out, but can’t - it’s so neatly executed. 'Heartbroken From Beyond' is a sweet exploration of loss and the start of recovery, touchingly told without words. 'French Quartered' is melodrama; harking back to stories of daughters trapped by overprotective parents, breaking free to find true love with a dark edge. My favourite, though, is easily the last story: 'Gone Like The Wind' confirms that beauty may be skin deep but love can still be shallow, especially when you’re a consciousness downloaded into a lower-spec-than-ordered permanent robot replacement body. Jon Adams pokes fun at some of the clichés of long term relationships, skewering some of the excuses we make to justify our behaviour and still managing to make some kind of happy ending, albeit 200 years and an alien invasion in the making. 8/10

22 Feb 2019

The Shipping Forecast: April 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 February issue which includes comics scheduled to ship in April 2019.

ASCENDER #1
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Dustin Nguyen
Image $3.99

James R: Descender, from Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen, was a sci-fi treat, one that combined both large-scale world building and more intimate, personal stories based around the exploits of boy android Tim-21. The series wrapped up really well, and if the story of Tim had ended there, Descender would have stood as a great series in its own right. Brilliantly enough though, it seems that there’s another part of this epic to tell, and April sees the debut of Ascender: moving the story on a few years, the narrative focuses on magic rather than science, and I can’t wait to see what Lemire and Nguyen do with this.