29 May 2016

Mini Reviews 29/06/2016

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.

DC UNIVERSE REBIRTH #1
Writer: Geoff Johns
Art: Various
DC $2.99

Matt C: As someone who bailed out on the New 52 fairly early on I was hopeful that this issue would provide a gateway back into the DC Universe because, to be honest, I’ve missed have a regular dose of Batman, Superman et al on my pull-list. The last time I really loved something that was a solid part of the DCU was Flashpoint, and that actually factors in heavily here, the implication being something went wrong following the shifting of the timeline after that event. And yes, it doesn’t take much to see that as essentially a sort of stealth apology for the New 52 from the people behind the New 52 (and at this point I’m not sure if this is brave or foolish, but I’m leaning towards the former). Geoff Johns wraps all this up in an engaging tale of desperation as a character with knowledge of what should have been attempts to convince various parties they’re living the wrong life. That will probably sound a fairly familiar premise to those who’ve read more than a handful of comics, but Johns knows these characters better than most and has knack for making space time continuum dimensional madness palpable thanks to the way he hooks into the emotional cores of his characters. There’s a reveal towards the end that will doubtless get the hackles up for some, and how it’ll will factor in longterm may prove to be a problem, but as way of beckoning back lapsed readers (complete with the read-between-the-lines apology) I felt it did its job well. Thanks to Johns’ (and the artists) input it’s resolutely a DC comic book, but it’s a DC comic book that offers an optimistic vision of the future. And it’s about time. 8/10

25 May 2016

Screen Time: PREACHER: Episode 1, Season 1: 'Pilot'

PREACHER: Episode 1, Season 1: 'Pilot'
Cast: Dominic Copper, Joseph Gilgun, Ruth Negga, Lucy Griffiths, W. Earl Brown, Tom Brooke, Anatol Yusef, Ian Colletti
Directors: Evan Goldberg & Seth Rogen

Matt C: It’s been a long time coming.

First published in 1995 by DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint, Preacher had a seismic impact on the comics scene, redefining (as a number of its immediate predecessors had) what was possible in the medium when aiming material at a ‘mature’ audience. It contained some of the horror and (to a lesser extent) magic tropes that Vertigo were best known for at the time, but it drew in other elements to create a genre mash-up that was profane, thrilling, bloody, controversial, thoughtful, philosophical, frequently heartfelt but always absolutely entertaining. It put creators Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon firmly on the map and became one of those books you could pass on to non-readers to hook them into the joys of comics.

24 May 2016

On The Pull 25/05/2016

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: It's all change again over at DC as the New 52 limps into the sunset. I was wary when the New 52 started - did we really need such big changes? But like most fans I was won over, for the most part, by the positive direction the comics were taking. Sadly it didn't last and the shine soon faded - so where did it go wrong? A question for another time maybe. For now, 'Rebirth' is on the way, and this week we see the 80-page, $2.99, DC Universe Rebirth #1 set the scene for the next chapter of the DC saga. Geoff Johns, DC's creative driving force in past few years, once again takes the reigns and leads the charge forward. A great price for this title and it will hopefully give us reason to pick up all the new issue #1s. Also new from DC this week is Scooby Apocalypse #1, taking Scooby Doo and the gang in a totally new direction. Jim Lee has redesigned the characters for the 21st century - it could be horrible or a great 'Elseworlds' style book but it has to be worth a try. Over at Marvel it's the return of the one true Cap as Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 hits the shelves. The Captain America: Sam Wilson title continues but Steve is back - he's got a new look and new shield but some old faces have returned to help him out. Daredevil has been on a pretty consistent high over the last few years and is still going strong in it's latest incarnation. Last issue saw the return of Elektra and the story continues in Daredevil #7. Charles Soule understands the characters and Matteo Buffagni's art is perfect in tone. Add to that the covers by Bill Sienkiewicz and this is a great looking book. Finally for my indie fix is the return of Squarriors. Yes, the warring tribes of squirrels are back for a second miniseries. The first series was a pretty dark affair from writer Ash Maczko as the animals tried to survive in a post human world. The art was truly stunning and I look forward to more of the same from artist Ashley Witter.

22 May 2016

Mini Reviews 22/05/2016

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.

CIVIL WAR II #0
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Olivier Coipel & Justin Ponsor
Marvel $4.99

Stewart R: Events, especially Marvel events, are still a strange beast when it comes to their numbering; the suggestion remains that a #0 issue is not 100% essential, but will still add a lot in terms of laying the groundwork for the bigger story to come. You'd possibly be able to go with the term 'prologue', but, for example, when the publisher whacks a top tier artist on the #0 issue and prices it at a full-fat $4.99 I'm inclined to regard it as the opening chapter proper. So, what we get here is a swift bouncing around four different character perspectives as the various elements that will form Bendis' Civil War storyline begin to show through. I was actually impressed with his opening She-Hulk piece as Jennifer delivers her closing argument in court, defending a former criminal in a case involving entrapment. The second scene Is less impressive as Bendis treads that fine line between real life politics and this comic book world WHEN Rhodey gets a job offer he (and this reader) never saw coming. It honestly feels like Bendis pushing a square peg into a round hole as Rhodey has never fully been portrayed as a leader on the whole, but since the Free Comic Book Day tie-in suggested things may go in a different direction entirely the matter seems a touch moot anyway! From there we get the fairly standard (and oft-repeated) Terrigen Cloud origin sequence which feels like Marvel whipping the bones of the horse 18 months after it keeled over - seriously, has it not dissipated by now?? Carol and Doc Samson's conversation at least feels like Bendis finally showing some prowess with his dialogue between different characters even if the topic of discussion is one that's been followed before. The cliffhanger is quite predictably a prophecy of mass destruction which ties all of the separate threads together to lead us into the 'second start' that Civil War II #1 will inevitably be. To be fair, this proved a far better read than I expected it to be; Bendis is on form and there are no talking heads to be seen, especially when any heads are depicted with the usual fine skills of Olivier Coipel. It's actually something of a surprise that Marvel have roped their star artist in for this one-off appearance in something of a sedate affair, but then that adds further weight to the 'greedy publisher' theories behind releasing #0 issues in the first place. 7/10

20 May 2016

Ten Forward: July 2016

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.

RED TEAM: DOUBLE TAP, CENTER MASS #1
Writer: Garth Ennis
Art: Craig Cermak
Dynamite Entertainment $3.99

Simon M: The original volume of Red Team followed a hardnosed, no-nonsense team from the NYPD that was willing to do whatever it takes to keep the streets of New York City free from the low life criminal element that plagues its underbelly. Following on from the explosive conclusion of the first series, Red Team: Double Tap, Center Mass brings back the two remaining members of the unit: Eddie Mellinger and Trudy Giroux. The story takes place one year later and these two are still struggling to come to terms with the consequences of their actions. Considered a liability, the team has been kept on small scale cases by their suspicious commanding officer. A chance encounter gives them the opportunity to get back in the game, but only if they are willing to take the risks that almost got them killed last time round. Cermak, who did the art on the first volume, is back again to team up with Ennis. His style is a perfect fit for this book and the pair seem to work well as a team. Ennis is a master storyteller and has had some of the most influential runs in modern comics history. If you like the dark and gritty, this will be worth picking up.

19 May 2016

Screen Time: X-MEN: APOCALYPSE

X-MEN: APOCALYPSE
Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Oscar Isaac, Rose Byrne, Evan Peters, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Olivia Munn
Director: Bryan Singer
Runtime: 144 minutes
Certificate: 12A
Release Date: 18th May 2016 (UK) / 27th May 2016 (US)


Stewart R: It felt like 2014 was a make or break year for 20th Century Fox and their stewardship of Marvel's mutants; though championing the transition of superheroes from page to screen back in 2000 with Singer's X-Men, the studio had been forced to hit the reset button following Brett Ratner's X-Men: The Last Stand (a film that still remains one of the highest grossing in the series) and went retro with Matthew Vaughan's '60s set X-Men: First Class. That film was well received for the most part critically, but failed to bring in the big dollars at the box office at a time when Marvel themselves were escalating their game dramatically. Roping Singer back to the fold along with the collective casts from both cinematic iterations of the X-Men franchise and one of the most famed storylines from the source material produced, X-Men: Days of Future Past, a film that finally reaped a box office windfall, solidified the 'soft reset' of plots with an exciting time travel story and put the X-franchise in a very promising position indeed.

Following the series standard of decade-hopping windows gifting a view into the world of Charles Xavier and his mutant companions, X-Men: Apocalypse transitions things to the 1980s where the Westchester school enjoys a time of relative peace. Magneto remains on the run, but has found refuge and solitude after his dramatic threatening of the American Government, while Raven travels the globe, saving mutants from the clutches of humans who would exploit them. Meanwhile, something old and powerful stirs in Egypt that could change the world forever...

17 May 2016

On The Pull 18/05/2016

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: This week we see the latest Marvel event kick off but that's not top of my pull, oh no. It's the return of Manifest Destiny after its break. Chris Dingess and Matthew Roberts have kept me enthralled issue after issue with the tales of Lewis and Clark as they explore an alternate version of frontier America. We've had Minotaurs, giant frogs, and insects that use human bodies as hosts for their eggs, ugh! Now, with issue #19, Sasquatch is introduced and I can't wait to see this interpretation of this classic cryptid. So, back over at Marvel, Civil War II #0 hits the shelves. Reaction to this, another event, has been mixed but on the positive side we get to enjoy the exquisite artwork of Olivier Coipel - nice! Of course, after the, erm, mess that was Secret Wars, Marvel really need this story to work and be published in a timely fashion. Marvel, we are watching! There never seems to be enough hours in the day any more and that has put a real dent in my reading of books (yep, the ones without pictures) so I've never gotten around to reading any by William Gibson. It's fortuitous then that he's coming to comics - yay! A real bonus to being able to read this new series, Archangel, is that the art is by Butch Guice whose work is fantastic. In Archangel #1 the Earth is a radioactive mess and politicians will use The Splitter, a machine capable of splitting time-lines, to leave the mess they created behind. This is a four-issue miniseries I'm really looking forward to. Finally, Mae #1 from Dark Horse could well be a little gem. Gene Ha, yet another great artist to mention this week, is the creative talent behind this as he tackles the writing duties as well as the art. Mae's sister went missing years ago and now she's back with tales of a fantasy world and the battles she fought there, which are all too fantastic for Mae to believe. But something or some things, have followed her back to our world and maybe Mae should start believing her sister. I kind of get vibes of Birthright here but only because of siblings in alternate worlds which I'm sure is the only similarity. Anyway, to be honest, if it's half as good as that title I will be very happy.

16 May 2016

Mini Reviews 15/05/2016

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 DARK & BLOODY #4
Writer: Shawn Aldridge
Art: Scott Godlewski & Patricia Mulvihill
DC/Vertigo $3.99

Stewart R: This series has been bubbling along rather nicely as Aldridge has set about outlining just what ghastly horror stalks Iris and his family since his return from Iraq along with the horrors that he faced 'over there'. The key to The Dark & Bloody's success is the small cast; there's no needless crowd gathering and everyone who appears on the page has a part to play. It's all very intimate which makes the brooding darkness oh so very palpable as the danger gets ever closer to Iris' home and family. Godlewski puts in yet another top grade effort as the script calls upon him to finally depict the threat in all its glory and the tension through scenes of chaos work tremendously well thanks to his storyboard precision and great touch for viewpoint and framing. Where we go from here is anyone's guess, but you can safely bet that the destination will be as the title describes and gloriously so! 9/10

14 May 2016

DARWYN COOKE RIP

Matt C: We lost one of the true geniuses of the comics medium today. There will be much written about Darwyn Cooke over the next few days, and most of it will be far more eloquent and affecting than anything I could put together, but I couldn't let his passing go without comment.

11 May 2016

Cover To Cover: RENATO JONES: THE ONE% #1

RENATO JONES: THE ONE% #1
Writer: Kaare Kyle Andrews
Art: Kaare Kyle Andrews
Image $3.99

Stewart R: I may stand alone here, but following several years of critical, unmissable hit after hit titles, I do feel that Image's surprising run has slipped into more of a mixed bag as the breadth of releases has expanded and the quantity of new books month on month has increased. This 'levelling out' however may be no bad thing if it allows the truly great debuts to stand out from the crowd, bright and prominently. With that in mind, enter Renato Jones: The One% #1 by Kaare Andrews (Iron Fist: The Living Weapon).

As the title suggests, this is Andrews' look into the distribution of global wealth in a post 2007-2009 recession world, but from a comic book slant where the vigilante protagonist, The Freelancer, takes on the corrupt, bloated, grotesque fat cats who care nothing for the despair and destruction that their spoils have wrought and the human cost at the heart of it all.