18 Sep 2018

On The Pull 19/09/2018

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.

Matt C: The first release from DC's Black Label imprint sees the light of day this Wednesday. For those out of the loop, it's unfortunately not a line of premium grade liquor but instead the publisher's need for a place where they can put out-of-continuity 'provocative', 'edgy' tales. For some that may sound like it's just going to allow DC's grimdark tendencies to float to the surface more openly, but with the kind of creators they are roping in, it would be difficult to ignore. First out of the gate is Batman: Damned from Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo. With that team in charge you may get a fairly solid idea of what to expect - especially since the premise revolves around a murdered Joker - but the hope is that DC is taking risks again rather than simply pandering to the grim and gritty crew. If it doesn't hit the spot then at least we can be confident that Tom King will deliver the goods in Batman #55. And if that's not enough, King also brings the penultimate episode of the sublime Mister Miracle to our reading piles. Few books have matched its intense humanity in 2018. Over at the House of Ideas we have the second issue of West Coast Avengers. The debut was even more fun than I expected (and I expected fun!) so I'm pretty confident that Kelly Thompson will keep up the stellar work, causing us to laugh and thrill all over again. If that's not enough, it's the next instalment of the latest Doctor Strange series, with the Master of Mystic Arts... in space! Mark Waid's clearly having a ball putting the good Doctor in some unfamiliar situations and the art from Jesus Saiz is terrific. Fans of the True Believers reprints can also look out for the debut of the Punisher as well as the first team-up of Power Man and Iron Fist at very reasonable prices for classic stories.

16 Sep 2018

Mini Reviews 16/09/2018

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.

CEMETERY BEACH #1
Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Jason Howard
Image $3.99

Jo S: Warren Ellis’ Trees was one of my early introductions to comic book sci fi and so the minimal information available about this book prior to release, combined with dire warnings about its likelihood of completion, didn't quite override my enthusiasm for picking it up. It's certainly an action-packed outset, with explosions, fights, gunfire and a hi-tech ‘car chase’ all delivered with dynamism via Howard’s bordering-on-manic art style, but Ellis doesn't give a whole lot away about the story set up. A second read-through gave me a little more to work with but I still didn't find a cemetery or a beach, or a reason for the upside-down map on the cover (you know how I love a map!) but it did have the very positive effect of raising my awareness further of Ellis’ wickedly sarcastic writing. When the book is not descending into a series of wordless pages of firepower, explosives and nearly falling off stuff, the dialogue is thickly laden with Ellis’ very British snark, and for this, Cemetery Beach is an immediate hit for me. 8/10

11 Sep 2018

On The Pull 12/09/2018

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: This week it's all about faith for me. The two notable releases come from creators whom I love but who have burned me in terms of completion in the past. First and foremost, there's Cemetery Beach from Warren Ellis and Jason Howard,  the creative team who previously struck gold with the brilliant Trees but have left that series unfinished. Ellis has said that he is still writing Trees (and its current adaptation into a TV series may also be a factor in the delay) but a new series from a creative team when the last one is unfinished is an unorthodox move. The plot sees a pathfinder breaking out of a torture cell in order to escape a secret off-world colony populated by lunatics - classic Ellis - but I'll be approaching it with caution. I feel the same about MCMLXXV (or 1975 for those adverse to Roman numerals) from Joe Casey and Ian MacEwan. I really admire Casey's work, and was a huge fan of Sex (hey, who isn't? etc etc.) However, Casey stopped producing Sex as a monthly book, declaring that the title would continue as a graphic novel series...which, so far, has yielded zero editions. I'll still be picking up MCMLXXV, which focuses on Pamela Evans, a NYC cab driver who fights monsters with an enchanted tyre iron. Once again, it's immediately appealing stuff, I just hope Casey takes this one through to conclusion. Beyond these two, I'm excited to see up the next chapters of two books that have made sensational starts. It's issue #2 of The Seeds from Ann Nocenti and David Aja at Dark Horse and the third issue of Catwoman from the brilliant JoĆ«lle Jones at DC. From Marvel, my solitary title is Darth Vader, as Charles Soule continues his interesting riff on the Dark Lord of the Sith.

9 Sep 2018

Mini Reviews 09/09/2018

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.

COVER #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: David Mack & Zu Orzu
DC/Jinxworld $3.99

Matt C: The Bendis creator-owned juggernaut keeps rolling over at DC, giving hope that it might be a consistent thing and the various titles won’t quickly drop off the radar. Cover sees the writer reunited with David Mack, with the plot trundling into wish fulfilment territory, imagining a comics artist being courted for tradecraft shenanigans by the CIA. It’s better than that pitch sounds: Bendis’ ear for naturalistic dialogue works nicely alongside Mack’s blending of styles which sees realism mixed up with a more minimalist art technique which injects a weird (and probably apt) sense of fantasizing into the narrative. The unlikeness of the premise may prevent it from fully convincing at this point, but the skill and craftsmanship are persuasive enough to stick around for. 7/10

7 Sep 2018

Working The Boxes: The Unbearable Lightness Of Comic Marts, Part II

Working The Boxes is all about back issue discoveries, whether they're buried in dusty old comic boxes or digitally sourced online.

Rob N: Comic marts in the past may have been wet and windy affairs, but last Sunday saw the return of the heatwave that turned us all into sunbaked desert lizards for most of the summer. It was a fitting start then to our hunting expedition to London in search of old comic books and ephemera. No need to burden myself down with heavy coats and umbrellas this time around; just a small day bag and, tucked inside, a good sturdy hemp-based 'bag for life' to hold the inevitable books I’d be buying.

Other than that I armed myself with a single sheet of A4 paper on which I’d scribbled the numbers of comics I was particularly looking out for. I always have a full Excel spreadsheet of my comic collection loaded onto my phone, but in the heat of the crate digging that goes on at comic marts a single sheet of paper is easier to consult as you shuffle along the rows of boxes.

4 Sep 2018

On The Pull 05/09/2018

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: Just over three years ago I was fortunate enough to pick up Giant Days #1 and it was love at first sight. Giant Days #42 is out this week and the love has not diminished - just ask my poor suffering fellow PCGers, as I regularly have it as my book of the month and practically try to read them the whole issue! Susan, Daisy, Esther and their wonderful supporting cast have me enthralled month in, month out. Writer John Allinson keeps the story lines flowing effortlessly and is a master at peppering the pages with pop culture references. Artist Max Sarin brings the characters to life and every page is a joy to behold. While I'm not a regular reader of Batman - yes, I know how good it is at the moment! - I will be picking up Batman #54. Tom King is still writing but this issue he is joined by artist Matt Wagner. Matt is no stranger to Batman and has an artistic style I really like so it will be great to see him back with the Bat, even for one issue. The Dreaming #1 gets the ball rolling as we return to some familiar territory from Vertigo: we learned in the pages of Sandman Universe #1 that Dream was missing and Lucien was struggling in the library. Will the realm survive? I'm sure writer Simon Spurrier will make this an intriguing read. Immortal Hulk #5 continues Al Ewing's 'darker' take on the not so jolly green giant. I've really been enjoying this run; it has great stories and is full of atmosphere. Finally, even though I probably shouldn't, I'll be picking up Asgardians Of The Galaxy #1. It's got a cool Dale Keown cover! Throg, the mighty frog of thunder! The original Valkyrie! And Angela, Thor's half sister! I haven't got as far as to see what the plot is but sometimes you just have to dive in and see where it takes you.

2 Sep 2018

Mini Reviews 02/09/2018

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.

BEYONDERS #1
Writer: Paul Jenkins
Art: Wesley St Claire
Aftershock $3.99

Jo S: Aftershock have been popping up more and more on my pull-list recently with some of my favourites of this year, Babyteeth and A Walk Through Hell, riding out from this stable and I find myself open to trying something a little different from them as a result. On top of that, the pitch for new series Beyonders has my name all over it, combining several of my interests in cryptography, maps, treasure hunting and archaeology. Given there’s a cryptogram running throughout the series, which obviously locks in my loyalty to the end, with the addition of robot replicants AND a giant thunderstorm in the first issue, it could have been written from a tick list of ‘Things Jo gets irrationally excited about’. The story is fairly standard monomyth fare so far: the kid who's secretly a genius but doesn't fit in, absent parents, an obsession with conspiracy, an aptitude for technology and cyphers, a mysterious girl with a quest, even a faithful doggy sidekick, and my rating of it reflects that it feels like a story that’s been done ad infinitum before, rather than any direct criticism of what’s here: I do hold out hope that this will diverge into something more inventive in terms of the basic themes, partly because my enthusiasm for it currently is based on my rather niche tastes, and I'd like to be able to recommend it to others who don't necessarily share them! St Claire’s artwork works well for this - having read it twice I'm already starting to notice those little visual clues and themes I was craving, and I will be back for more. 7/10

30 Aug 2018

Working The Boxes: The Unbearable Lightness Of Comic Marts

Working The Boxes is all about back issue discoveries, whether they're buried in dusty old comic boxes or digitally sourced online.

Rob N: Summer frankly wouldn’t be summer without a few weekend outings to look forward to, and so it is that this coming Sunday I’ll be joining a handful of the PCG regulars in the capital to run rampant through the double conference rooms that make up the decades-old London Comic Mart. Like hyperactive kids who’ve binged on too many sugary snacks I suspect we’ll be gleefully ransacking the boxes, inevitably making those agonising life or death choices as to what we can afford to pick up and what we’ll have to leave behind for another day, after which we’ll probably retire to a nearby watering hole to proudly compare and contrast our bags of savage plunder.

The humble comic mart is something of a throwback to a pre-Internet age; a world apart from the growing sophistication of the major comic book conventions that offer a very professional weekend experience with top end creators as guests and slick panel discussions with their carefully curated insights into the creative process. Often situated in town or church halls or the sort of hotel conference rooms that Alan Partridge might frequent, the comic mart is concerned only with retail, packing in rows of trestle tables piled high with back issues, licensed toys and vintage ephemera. Sometimes resembling a land where ageing comic dealers come to die, this elephant’s graveyard of comic book dealing is the Mecca for back issue collectors like me.

28 Aug 2018

On The Pull 29/08/2018

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.

Matt C: Those in the know will tell you it's a 'five week month' which, for calendar fans out there, doesn't mean August has an additional seven days - it's simply that there are five New Comic Book Days this month, and consequently the regular scheduling goes a bit skew-whiff, resulting in either the appearance of additional titles to fill the gap or a week that can be best described as 'slim pickings'. We're veering towards the latter, or at least that's what my pull-list is telling me. Scarlet #1 is my top pick and, although it's not one likely to bother the top end of the sales chart, it's a very welcome return for a title that made sporadic appearances when Marvel were publishing it - in all honesty I'd assumed we'd seen the last of it. Fortunately, writer Brian Michael Bendis' shift to DC seems to have given it a second (or is it third?) chance, which is a very good thing seeing as how it's one of the best, most provocative comics he's put his name to. Fingers crossed it doesn't disappear again any time soon. Elsewhere, I'm going to be controversial and say that Marvel 2-In-One is a better Fantastic Four comic than the relaunched Fantastic Four. Okay, so we've only had one issue of Dan Slott's Fantastic Four so far, but it didn't come anywhere close to replicating the buzz I got from the first (and subsequent) issues of Marvel 2-In-One. While I'm talking Marvel, Ed Piskor's exemplary condensing of an insanely complex and convoluted fictional history in X-Men: Grand Design Second Genesis #2 also appears this week. Last but by no means least, Garth Ennis shows he knows horror in the utterly unnerving A Walk Through Hell, his most effective foray into the genre since the original Crossed series.

26 Aug 2018

Mini Reviews 26/08/2018

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.

WEST COAST AVENGERS #1
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Art: Stefano Caselli & Triona Farrell
Marvel $4.99

Jo S: Kelly Thompson continuing to write Hawkeye (and Other Hawkeye) is a no-brainer as far as my pull-list is concerned, and this first outing of the regenerated West Coast Avengers team is very much still The Kate Bishop Show, with Thompson continuing to bring all the wit, intelligence and warmth to the character she really made her own in the recent Hawkeye series. A steep rise in super-villain-flavoured drama west-side means that Kate-Hawkeye is struggling to hero it all by herself and, inspired no doubt by Clint-Hawkeye’s camaraderie with the geographically original Avengers, she's putting together a team to try to keep her adopted home region safe. Thompson’s first issue is packed to the land shark’s gills with action, comedy and big arrow-pierced heart too; it was everything I'd hoped for and a quiverful more. Stefano Caselli’s art is a total treat too, tackling dynamic Hawkeye fighting action and a brilliant range of Kate’s facial expressions, from disgust to ecstasy and all points between, with equal confidence. Between them, they've pulled off that most elusive of achievements: introducing a new team, keeping the action lively and keeping a smile on my face, all the while engaging me in the emotional challenges that beset the story’s hero - I absolutely can't wait for the next episode. 10/10