30 Oct 2014

Thought Bubble: COULD THE AVENGERS EVEN SAVE ME FROM SPOILERS ABOUT AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON?

Stewart R: We’re coming to the end of October 2014. We’ve had both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians Of The Galaxy light up the cinema screens this year and add considerable funds and fan trust to Marvel’s coffers. With the comic convention season behind us, the big draw for excitement comes with the anticipation of the comic book-based cinematic exploits for 2015. And next year is going to be big. Huge. A behemoth even. For 2015 heralds the release of Joss Whedon’s follow up to 2012’s The Avengers, with Avengers: Age of Ultron. With that in mind, and carefully considering my experience of that engrossing, exhilarating spectacle some two years ago I vowed earlier this summer that I would, once again, attempt to get to release day of a big Marvel movie without seeing a single trailer, viewing a single poster or reading a single article about the film. The large hope with this mission is to enjoy the film with as little expectation and pre-loading of narrative and let EVERYTHING be a surprise on the day. But can I possibly accomplish such a feat, even with my previous effort being successful?

28 Oct 2014

On The Pull 29/10/2014


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. To see what’s available at Paradox this week, click here.

Stewart R: The end is coming. Will the cogs keep turning, or will the machine grind to a halt and the solar system of clockwork freeze over and grow dark? Brass Sun #6 brings this great series from Ian Edginton and I.N.J Culbard to a close and though I hope that Wren can succeed on her journey to fix the sun and keep the solar system full of life, I've no idea just how things will come to their conclusion. I'd only recently become aware that this American style comic format was a reprint of material that had been printed in 2000 AD Progs over the past few years, but the key thing is that the release of this final chapter has fallen pretty much at the same time as the ending gets delivered in the UK serial which is a nice touch so that fans of the story can all enjoy the resolution at the same point. I've enjoyed this series so much that I'm quietly hoping that this might be a universe that these talented creators might revisit again in the not too distant future. For those who may have missed out on this great, ummm, clockworkpunk...? Clockpunk...? *Ahem* this great science fiction story will get the opportunity to own the whole thing in hardback format from the first week in December, so keep your eyes out for that! Back to this week and as you're about to hear from Matt, it's a quiet seven days superhero-wise for us PCG guys. I myself am only picking up Elektra #7 and Inhuman #7 from Marvel and those are two of the smaller books in their slate - though I've certainly been enjoying both series. We've been given a week off from the main AXIS event book and none of the associated tie-ins are grabbing my attention that's for sure. Therefore, my gaze will fall upon the wealth of creator-owned work out there and the likes of Low #4, Sundowners #3 and Wayward #3 find themselves amongst books who are thankfully clocking up the issue numbers and continuing to flourish, such as Sex, Saga, The Massive and Black Science!

27 Oct 2014

Mini Reviews 26/10/2014

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.

MEMETIC #1
Writer: James Tynion IV
Art: Eryk Donovan & Adam Guzowski
BOOM! Studios $4.99

Matt C: This series possesses a really strong idea, effectively capturing the zeitgeist of a culture that has become increasingly obsessed with single images that go viral on a global scale within minutes. So we have the concept of a weaponized meme that is at first addictive, spreading like wildfire, before it suddenly turns deadly.  Tynion paces this opening instalment with an effective believability, as the world quickly becomes enraptured by a seemingly innocuous picture of a sloth. What I’m not convinced about at this stage is the colour-blind protagonist’s ability to carry the adventure to its conclusion – he’s just not that engaging or interesting, coming across as a little too generic to act as anything more than a bland audience surrogate. That may change as things go along and fortunately the premise is in itself is compelling enough for me to want to see this one out. 7/10

23 Oct 2014

Graphic Perception: ELRIC: THE RUBY THRONE

Elric: The Ruby Throne
Writer: Julien Blondel
Art: Didier Poli, Jean Bastide & Robin Recht
Titan Comics $12.99

Rob N: Any review I may offer of a comic adapted from the works of Michael Moorcock comes with the caveat that the author in question happens to be my favourite fantasy/sword and sorcery writer, so it’s true I’m approaching this particular work with more than just a few preconceptions in mind. These days you may be hard pressed to find more than a single solitary book by the great man in the Fantasy/SF section of Waterstones, but throughout the 1970s Moorcock ruled the roost with 50 or so slim paperbacks to his name, all of which could be found squatting on the shelves of every bookshop you cared to visit, like an anarchist hippy commune occupying a boarded up townhouse in Ladbroke Grove. Appealing very much to the counterculture at the time, if you were a hippy or a punk in 1977 and you liked SF/fantasy, then you probably read Moorcock’s books. Times change and so do popular tastes, and while you could never claim he’s now forgotten, he no longer seems to capture the popular imagination of fanboys reared these days on a diet of Lord Of The Rings, Robert Jordan's The Wheel Of Time and Game Of Thrones. So it goes.

21 Oct 2014

On The Pull 22/10/2014

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. To see what’s available at Paradox this week, click here.

Stewart R: And it's off to BOOM! town for the new comic book material this week! With Memetic we're promised three oversized, 48 page chapters detailing the downfall of civilised society thanks to a single, solitary image that ends up circumnavigating the globe and spelling doom for mankind. James Tynion IV didn't manage to trap me with his current ongoing series for BOOM!, The Woods, but I'm hopeful that this miniseries could be a real winner and though obviously delightful fiction, the premise is one of those that has you pondering on what could possibly happen in these technology and social media heavy days. There's spread of another modern kind in my pull-list this week and that comes in the shape of the genetically modified plot of Matt Hawkins and Linda Sejic's Wildfire #4. While the second issue very nearly lost me the third brought me back in as Hawkins focused a little more on the US government's reactions to the threat posed by the encroaching flora that has decimated much of Los Angeles and now looks poised to drift further across the country. I do enjoy the way that this skilled writer embraces issues of our time, that affect our day-to-day lives in some real way whether we know it or not, looks at their current sphere of influence and also the potential paths which we as a society and species could be led down in the not too distant future.

19 Oct 2014

Mini Reviews 19/10/2014

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.

SUPREME: BLUE ROSE #4
Writer: Warren Ellis
Art: Tula Lotay
Image $2.99

James R: It's hands-down Warren Ellis' week for me - I had a tough time picking between this and Trees as my top pick, but in terms of sheer invention and novelty, Blue Rose was the best book I read in the past seven days. In many ways this is the exposition issue, as Ellis starts to explain the spectral and dream-like occurrences of the prior three issues. He plays with the whole notion of a rebooted universe (a uniquely comics event) and expands it magnificently. In the universe our narrative takes place in, the the reboot has malfunctioned; the new timeline features remnants from previous revisions. The question is simply 'Can the present be saved?' I've said before that my fear with Warren Ellis is that he simply runs out of narrative steam, but here he's pacing himself really well. As an absolute pretentious twit myself, I can't help but be won over by the layers of narration here - it's a SF story, but yet it's also a commentary on the need to restart and retell stories over and over. A special salute to the art of Tula Lotay; her work goes up yet another gear here, and her rendering of the possible apocalyptic future facing the current timeline was brilliantly done. An immensely classy book from first page to last, and it passed the James reread test: having finished it, I immediately wanted to go through it again. A perfect example of a writer and artist both at the top of their games creating something magical - I think this could be my vote for miniseries of the year. 9/10

17 Oct 2014

Ten Forward: December 2014

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 October issue which includes comics scheduled to ship in December 2014.

S.H.I.E.L.D. #1
Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Carlos Pacheco
Marvel $4.99

Matt C: Well, this was going to happen sooner or later. Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. may not have been the smash hit many had hoped for (although the second season has a seen a marked improvement on the middling first) but it’s still been successful enough a property that it made sense that the comic wing of the company would want capitalize on it, reversing the Marvel Studios trend of taking all the ideas from the printed page and instead bringing something from the screen to the four-colour world of comics. To be honest, this has limited appeal to me in general. I’m finding an increasing amount of enjoyment from the second season of the TV series but I don’t harbour any desire to see the adventures of the characters spill over into any other medium (or universe). Two things are making me open to the idea of giving this debut a shot though: Mark Waid and Carlos Pacheco. Pacheco’s never quite found the level of fame I think he deserves but I remain a big fan of his art all the same, and if anyone can make this concept work in comics, it’s Mark Waid. I have no real expectations for this, and I may not even pick it up come New Year’s Eve, but the talent involved means it’s not something that you can’t take the easy option with and dismiss out of hand.

14 Oct 2014

On The Pull 15/10/2014

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. To see what’s available at Paradox this week, click here.

Matt C: Rick Remender puts out a lot of books that sit firmly near the top of my pull-list - Black Science, Uncanny Avengers, Low - but the one I've taken to heart the most is Deadly Class. Maybe because I was of a similar age to the cast back in the late '80s, or maybe because it captures teen tribalism with such acute honesty, or maybe because it's coming at the 'school for assassins' concept in a completely unpredictable angle, or just maybe it's all of the above. Whatever - it's really connected with me, and the combination of Remender's words and Wes Craig's art is more than enough to guarantee that Deadly Class #8 is my most anticipated title this coming Wednesday. Remender has another book out you may have heard of: Avengers & X-Men: AXIS. The first issue wasn't at all convincing but I'm willing to stick with it to be convinced based on all the good work the man has put in on Uncanny Avengers (the title the miniseries is spinning out of). I get the feeling the more enjoyable comic tied into AXIS will be Magneto #11 though and I could probably put money on New Avengers #25 being where the best action featuring Earth's Mightiest Heroes is, based on the outstanding preceding instalment. Also of note, because I got to it too late to review the first issue, is the War Of The Worlds/Wind Of The Willows hybrid, Wild's End #2, which is rather delightful book with a mean streak running through it. One to watch out for.

12 Oct 2014

Mini Reviews 12/10/2014

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.

BATGIRL #35
Writer: Cameron Stewart & Brendan Fletcher
Art: Babs Tarr, Cameron Stewart & Maris Wicks
DC $2.99

James R: Now, this is a very pleasant surprise! A hectic weekend for me last week meant that I couldn't do any reviews, and I missed my opportunity to review Gotham Academy. I saw that as a misfire - an attempt to use the Batman mythos to tell a different kind of story. Whereas that felt like an uncomfortable fusion of pop culture ideas, Batgirl is a complete success in aiming for the same goal. As with Gotham Academy, I know that as a man in his - *gulp* - late 30s, I'm not the target market for this book, yet I had an absolute blast reading it. Firstly, Cameron Stewart and Brendan Fletcher do a great job in making Barbara Gordon a terrifically well rounded character. We get to see her being every inch the gifted prodigy, yet we also see her being culpable and selfish. In one scene, Black Canary admonishes her as she rails over a loss of equipment: "You lost your gear? I lost my life." I stopped and tried to recall the last  time I read a superhero book that portrayed it's protagonist as so flawed (and Matt Fraction's Hawkeye felt like a fitting comparison). Then there's my perennial favourite - comics as a medium being stretched to tell a story. There's a beautiful double-page spread (reminding me of Mark Waid and Marcos Martin's early issues of Daredevil) where Barbara recalls the previous evening's party and 'walks through' the scene, asking for details on the guests from her flatmates who interject with pictures from social media. Nice! The art team does incredibly well setting an aesthetic for the book's new direction. I'm not the first person to draw comparisons with the Archie books, but there's a great deal of invention here that puts it way above that. As a final tasty sprinkle to the mix, Babs Tarr's pencils and Maris Wicks' colours add hints of the' 60s Batman TV show during the fight scene, and you know what? It really works! All told, it feels really good to wholeheartedly recommend a DC book again. They may have taken a few leaves from the Marvel playbook, but it's got a heart and soul which is unique. A fresh start, and also a triumphant one. 9/10

10 Oct 2014

Cover To Cover: AVENGERS & X-MEN: AXIS #1

AVENGERS & X-MEN: AXIS #1
Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Adam Kubert, Laura Martin & Matt Milla
Marvel $4.99

Stewart R: There’s no hiding the fact that Marvel seemed to brush Original Sin aside a little too readily in favour of pushing their big Autumn lineup with AXIS standing clearly in the limelight. As summer events go, Original Sin promised a big story, affecting the greater Marvel universe at large, yet it proceeded to be more introverted and less expansive than perhaps we were led to believe (and expect from previous Summer events), ultimately only leading to a minimum amount of changes in the wider universe. Even when we were in the midst of Original Sin it was easy to see that the publisher were angling more towards AXIS and the huge number of tie-ins that were incoming this October and November. And so the first chapter of the main series is here, Rick Remender at the helm and a handful of trusted artists set to bring us nine issues from now until Christmas Eve, but was it worth the wait and the overshadowing of Marvel's other big project of 2014?