26 Jul 2016

On The Pull 27/07/2016

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.

Matt C: Following the UK's ludicrous decision to leave the European Union last month, and the resulting meltdown of the pound against the dollar, this week we're faced with the first bump in prices from Diamond - and, consequently, you're local comic shop - in eight years. Yes, this expensive hobby just got more expensive with many individual $3.99 issues jumping past the three pound mark for the first time. There are probably going to be some tough decision made amongst some people who can't afford the extra outlay but I'd like to think it's not going to see them quit the weeklies altogether - this medium still needs our support! Which leads me to the book I'm highlighting this week, Mechanism #1 from Top Cow. You may be aware of Raffaele Ienco via his impressive artistry on Symmetry, also from Top Cow, but here he takes on both writing and illustrating duties for a tale that sees a prototype combat robot rushed into the battlefield without testing in the aftermath of an alien invasion, where it will ultimately decide whether the human race is worth saving or not. It's a strong premise and Ienco is a fine artist, so while it may cost us in the UK a few more pennies than if it had been released several weeks ago, creator-owned work is where most of the originality and ingenuity is these days, and so it's worth encouraging it whenever possible. It's a fairly busy week all round, and my other main highlights come Wednesday are Wonder Woman #3 from DC, Old Man Logan #9 from Marvel and Outcast #19 from Marvel. To any Brits reading this: remember to show your support to your trusty retailer this week as they'll be feeling the crunch too!

24 Jul 2016

Mini Reviews 24/07/2016

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.

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Art: Dean Ormston & Dave Stewart
Dark Horse $3.99

Matt C: With the likes of Descender at Image and Old Man Logan and Moon Knight at Marvel, saying Jeff Lemire is on something of a roll is a bit of an understatement. His creator-owned work has always been exemplary, but he seems to be a better fit with the Marvel Universe than the DC Universe, based on the outstanding work out the House Of Ideas at the moment, so what would happen if he mixed his indie sensibilities up with some solid superhero tropes? You get a comic like Black Hammer, one that takes all those familiar staples and takes them into unfamiliar territory. So yes, this is another loose Justice League analogue, but the situation Lemire puts this superteam in – trapped in a farming town – is fascinating, but more than that, what makes this an absolutely essential read, is the exceptional humanity the character’s display, the three-dimensional dynamics that bring the implausible into the realms of realism. Ormston’s art helps ground the fantastical in a mundane environment without making either element undermine the other, bringing that aforementioned humanity to the surface. Black Hammer is easily one of the impressive debuts of the year. Miss this one at your peril. 9/10

19 Jul 2016

On The Pull 20/07/2016

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.

James R: Well, some weeks are thin, and some weeks are Biblically fat. Following a pull-list which constituted a single book last week, mid-July regains the equilibrium with a slew of quality books. It's certainly the strongest showing for a Dark Horse for a long time, with three titles on my pull. Firstly, there's Jeff Lemire's new series Black Hammer, finally getting a release. Following a lengthy delay, I can't wait to see how this reads - Lemire's name alone will always guarantee that I pick a book up, but the premise of a super-team trapped in a timeless farming town following a multiverse-crisis event looks spectacular. There's also new material from the equally brilliant Matt Kindt with the fourth issue of full-fathom murder-mystery Dept. H. I'm also a fan of Fred Van Lente, who has one of the most singular voices in mainstream comics, and I'm definitely giving the second issue of his Cthulu-flavoured series Weird Detective a look. From DC, it's the next chapter of Rebirth, and following a strong start for both I'm still picking up Batman and Superman. Neither are shaking the world of comics to its foundations, but each of them have started with good plots and a strong sense of their iconic characters - let's hope DC's notoriously meddling editorial board leave the respective creative teams to craft some quality runs! I'm only getting three Marvel Universe books these days, so my single purchase from the House of Ideas is the latest instalment in Jason Aaron's masterful take on Star Wars. Even if it wasn't good as a book, I'd still buy it - it's one of those rare times where the cover by David Aja is so good, it's worth the cover price alone! Finally, Image give me two books which I know will be quality - firstly, there's Greg Rucka and Michael Lark's majestic Lazarus continuing to be one of the finest comics published anywhere. Finally, there's Brian Wood and Garry Brown's Nordic Noir, Black Road. Following a brilliant third issue, I'm hoping that this next chapter keeps up the high standard that's seen Wood back to his Northlanders best.

17 Jul 2016

Mini Reviews 17/07/2016

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.

Writer: Cullen Bunn
Art: Sergio Davilla & Michael Atiyeh
Dark Horse $3.99

Matt C: I went through my Conan phase about a decade or so ago, getting heavily onboard with the Dark Horse relaunch, picking up loads of Thomas/Buscema Marvel back issues and even investing in a tome collecting all Robert E. Howard’s Cimmerian stories. I drifted away from the character after a few years and haven’t really been excited by any new material for a while. Hiring Cullen Bunn as the incoming writer piqued my interested, and while I enjoy a lot of his work I’ll pick Helheim as the series that suggested he had barbarian-writing chops, and this debut issue seems to back that up. Essentially he’s not doing anything groundbreaking with Conan here, pretty much following in the footsteps of what’s come before, but with a character this iconic, it’s understandable, and the fact is it quickly becomes apparent he has a great grasp on this fictional setting. Davilla’s art is muscular enough to give a sense of a world where only the strongest survive, and the only thing that’s preventing me giving this a ringing endorsement is the feeling that this isn’t doing anything particularly new. But while that may be the case, what it does do is undoubtedly entertaining. 7/10

14 Jul 2016

Ten Forward: September 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 June issue which includes comics scheduled to ship in August 2016.

Writer: Gerard Way
Art: Nick Derington
DC $3.99

Kenny J: Gerard Way's succession to Grant Morrison's writerly throne is complete. The well documented protégé of the Scottish one's trademark style of comics has made it to the spiritual home penning the very same book Grant did over twenty years ago. As part of DC's new ‘Young Animal’ imprint, with many more Way stories to follow, this is the part of Rebirth that really has me interested. The former My Chemical Romance frontman has already cut his teeth on the similarly toned created-owned Umbrella Academy and the albeit less-similar-but-equally-great True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys at Dark Horse. This new project should hopefully invoke some of what made those so much fun as well as shooting off into the more out there ideas that have made Robotman and the other weirdos that make up the Doom Patrol such fascinating characters in the past.

12 Jul 2016

On The Pull 13/07/2016

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: Like a lot of folk, I went into Marvel's Civil War II with a certain amount of caution but I was pleasantly surprised and have enjoyed the opening issues. I've tried to avoid the hype and just go along for the ride but with this week's issue #3 the hype machine is in overdrive. 'One of the biggest heroes will fall' and we're promised that the fallout will be enormous. Well, I suppose it's better than the usual 'and nothing will be the same again' routine. So I have to say I'm reasonably excited by what this issue will offer and hope it lives up to expectations. Got a couple of titles returning to my pull after a little break. First up is Conan The Slayer #1. The Conan titles have been consistently good since the character moved to Dark Horse in 2003 and had a great series of creative teams. This new series brings writer Cullen Bunn onboard. A man of many talents, I look forward to his take on the Cimmerian. After losing interest in a lot of the New 52 from DC, it's time to give Green Lantern Hal Jordan another chance in the 'it does what it says on the tin' comic: Hal Jordan And The Green Lantern Corps: Rebirth #1! I'll probably need a break after reading the book's title before I dive into the issue proper! Wonder Woman #2 starts the 'Year One' story arc and Greg Rucka is joined by his Black Magick collaborator Nicola Scott. Ranarok #9 has been delayed but this Walt Simonson book is always worth the wait, and I love this version of the God of Thunder. And finally, Mark Millar lets new writers and artists loose on his creations in the Millarworld Annual 2016. Could be fun to see what others can do with Kick-Ass and co.

10 Jul 2016

Mini Reviews 10/07/2016

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.

Writer: Tom King
Art: Mitch Gerads
DC/Vertigo $3.99

James R: With each passing month, it's becoming clear that 2016 is Tom King's year. His work on The Vision has been brilliant, and his tenure on Batman has got off to a solid start, showing that he's as comfortable with the huge blockbuster books as he is the smaller, personal stories. His work on The Sheriff Of Babylon is still my favourite though – along with Mitch Gerads, he's put together a unique and utterly compelling tale. This month we learn that the relationship between Sofia and Nassir has a longer, more complicated history than it first appeared, and the elusive Abu Rahim finally draws near. It's the entrapment of Rahim that's exceptional here, as it's done via a phone call - over four pages and 36 panels our view remains constant as Gerads conveys the subtle nuances and gestures of Sofia's conversation. It takes verve and skill to make what could be mundane seem compelling, but that's just what King and Gerads do. Personally I think Sheriff Of Babylon is right up there with Lazarus and Southern Bastards as the very best in mainstream comics - every issue this book reminds me that the darkest facets of mankind can also be the most irresistible to observe. 9/10

5 Jul 2016

On The Pull 06/07/2016

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.

Kenny J: It's a week of vigilantism. Several of my titles star what could be considered the dark antihero contingent of the comic book world. First up is Renato Jones: The One% #3. This book vims with the kind of punk rock attitude that only Image really deliver these days. Its anger at those in the much maligned top one percent spills onto the page via the kinetic artwork and fast-paced story. At the other end of the spectrum is the establishment in Batman #2. Tom King's first two issues have proven that he has a firm grasp of who the Dark Knight is and that will keep me around for a while. To be honest, I will only be picking up Rebirth books set in Gotham so it's great see that the flagship title of that part of the DCU is in safe hands. Marvel's primo antihero also has a book out in Punisher #3. I've really been enjoying the Cloonan/Dillon combination as they bring a subtleness to what is all too often a completely over the top character. To round up the week is a book that I feel like hasn't been released for ages. Spread is one those books that, probably due to it's sporadic release schedule, doesn't get enough praise in my opinion. The artwork is especially inventive with a solid post-apocalyptic tale to boot. I guess that's why I've kept an eye out for it all this time and why it rounds off my pull for this Wednesday.

3 Jul 2016

Mini Reviews 03/07/2016

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.

Writer: Nick Spencer
Art: Jesus Saiz
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: After the utterly ludicrous response that erupted online in some quarters following the shock cliffhanger of last month’s debut issue, this sophompore instalment reveals that – surprise, surprise – there’s actually more to this tale than Cap being ‘a Nazi’. The central theme here is the radicalization of the young and vulnerable, and how incendiary ideas can be perceived as normal and logical with the right delivery to a susceptible audience. That the vulnerable, susceptible mind here is a sentient Cosmic Cube is almost beside the point since Spencer smartly and believably weaves these pertinent ideas into a plot that features a heavy mix of sci-fi and superheroics. Saiz’ artwork is expressive and polished, easily up to the task of giving the storyline an extra punch, and while we can now see more clearly how this is but a riff on tried-and-tested trope (making those death threats even more despicably embarrassing), Spencer is doing a fine job of making it both thoughtful and compelling. 8/10

28 Jun 2016

On The Pull 29/06/2016

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 a fifth week in the world of monthly comic releases this week so, on paper at least, it could be a quiet pull-list for some of us. Of course I could be wrong. First out of the gate is Jupiter's Legacy Vol.2 #1 as Frank Quitely reunites with Mark Millar to continue where they left off last year. I seem to remember enjoying the first arc but it was a while ago so forgive my poor memory. Looking forward to it though! Not a lot from DC but I'll have to pick up Dark Knight III: The Master Race #5. It may be running behind schedule but it's been a fun read so far, in a grim kind of way. Hopefully the controversy over issue #1 of Captain America: Steve Rogers has died down a bit now as #2 is out this week. So, will this put some minds at rest or stir up more of a hornet's nest? I have faith in the creative team of Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz, I hope they don't make me eat my words. Some of you may be aware of Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion's web series Con Man. Now we can read the adventures of Spectrum, the fictional show featured in Con Man. Written by series creators Pj Haarsma and Alan Tudyk, Con Man's Spectrum #1 should be a treat for fans of the series and a good introduction for those yet to dip their toes in. Finally, I'll be getting my steampunk hit from Lady Mechanika: Lost Boys Of West Abbey #2. Only a two-issue story this time round but the art of Joe Benitez wins me over every time and writer M Chan has really fleshed out the characters. It may be a quieter week but still plenty of good reading to be had!