24 Apr 2015

Screen Time: AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, James Spader, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen
Director: Joss Whedon
Runtime: 141 minutes
Certificate: 12A
Release Date: 23 April 2015 (UK) 1 May 2015 (US)

Stewart R: Let us take a brief step back to 26 April 2012 - the day after the dust settled and the adrenaline had passed. That was the day we, with clear minds, knew - actually KNEW - that it was not only possible to bring an Avengers movie to the big screen, but it was, just one day earlier, brought to the screen in an engaging, neck-hair-raising manner which utilised an expansive cast, linked multiple plots spanning several properties together in one cohesive, fun-filled package and realistically set the new, elevated bar of blockbuster quality for the decade ahead. Our own Matt C gave the film a 10/10 score at the time and I would have matched that score then, and having seen the same film in the cinema again this very week I'm not sure my score would have changed at all.

23 Apr 2015

Cover Story: TOP TEN ULTRON COVERS

Kenny J: The Age of Ultron is upon us and very shortly I will be seeing the movie of the same name. As is so often the case with these big bucks movie franchises, the tie-in marketing machine sprung into life over a year ago, but Ultron has been an integral part of the Avengers’ history for much longer. Sure, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes have far greater and fiercer foes but there are few that are so entwined with them on a personal level. That’s what makes the silver A.I. such a shoe in for the enemy-du-jour in the Avengers’ latest big screen outing. He is the villain that will most likely push the MCU into its darker third phase with his origin easily adaptable into Tony Stark’s not-so-futuristic experiments. It’s not just his beginnings that remain easily malleable though. As you’ll see from this selection of covers, Ultron likes to keep his appearance pretty fluid, making him one of the Avengers’ most durable and enduring enemies.

22 Apr 2015

Do You Rememeber The First Time? THE ULTIMATES #1


In Do You Remember The First Time? we take a nostalgic trip back in time to discuss a seminal purchase that introduced us to a character, title, creator, or even a hobby.

During April, we're looking at our first Avengers comics.

Tom P: My first Avengers comic didn't even have the team name in the title! That would have to wait until New Avengers #1 a few years later. Let's face it, you can call a shovel a spade all you want but as far as I'm concerned The Ultimates is the definitive Avengers comic. Released in 2002, it was so popular many speculated that the newly formed 'Ultimate Universe' would replace Marvel's existing 616 Universe. That didn't happen though, as the Ultimate Universe flagged after multiple relaunches, and  it now looks set to implode soon, killed off by Jonathan Hickman and his work  - ironically - on the current Avengers and New Avengers titles.

The first issue is notable for featuring only one familiar character for the most part: Captain America. We hit the ground running with Cap leading an assault on a secret alien Nazi base in Iceland. We're introduced to him in silhouette as the troops talk amongst themselves: is he a super soldier or a clown in a costume cooked up by the recruitment people? A grunt asks "How's he going to help us on the ground when he ain't even wearing a parachute?" (in a scene later referenced in Captain America: The Winter Soldier). He gets his reply: "Parachutes are for girls."

21 Apr 2015

On The Pull 22/04/2015

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: Wow, this week really is all about the number 3 it would seem. I'm picking up four #3s, and three #17s in something of a strange twist. So firstly, what would all of these titles that have made it past that difficult second issue be? Top of the list for me this week is Divinity #3 from Matt Kindt and Trevor Hairsine, straight out of the buzzing publishing house that is Valiant. They hit the mark with mini-event, The Valiant, in the past few months and this similar-sized story has now rolled some of the familiar faces from the ranks of heroes in their canon into the fold. I'm loving the idea of Cold War Russia aiming far further than the moon during the height of the Space Race and Kindt has kept an emotional heart beating at the centre of this physics-bending story. We'll see where it goes from here. Postal #3 on the other hand, will likely show a distinct and purposeful lack of emotion thanks to Bryan Hill and Matt Hawkins fine portrayal of a protagonist with Asperger syndrome, immersed in a town where every occupant has a criminal past. This has turned into a murder-mystery with a very unique feel to it and I'm looking forward to seeing what darker secrets float to the surface this time around.

20 Apr 2015

Graphic Perception: AVENGERS: RAGE OF ULTRON

AVENGERS: RAGE OF ULTRON
Writer: Rick Remender
Art: Jerome OpeƱa, Pepe Larraz, Mark Morales, Dean White, Rachelle Rosenberg & Don Sanchez Almara
Marvel $24.99

Matt C: There was clearly no way Marvel were going to allow the release pass by of what may well be the biggest movie of the year, featuring some of their premier characters, without an attempt to cash in on the buzz (and we’ve come a long way from direct comic book adaptations making much of an impact). The most obvious method for doing this was, as we've frequently seen over the last few years, to introduce a storyline that in some way utilizes the exposure the movie is getting, usually by featuring a villain making their nefarious return. This option was off the table as Jonathan Hickman’s magnum opus running through Avengers and New Avengers was barrelling towards its conclusion in Secret Wars and there simply wouldn't be time to take a detour at this stage. Uncanny Avengers was the other possibility, but the mix of X-Men and Avengers in that title probably dilutes the potential to feed off the hype (and we’ve all heard the rumours about Marvel not wanting to push the X-Men franchise while 20th Century Fox retains the cinematic rights to the property). The canny thing to do would be to use one of the aforementioned writers to produce a one-off story featuring the homicidal robot, Ultron, and with Hickman a little busy setting up Marvel’s major comic book event for 2015, Remender is wisely allocated the task of penning something new (but in continuity) for the publisher’s latest original graphic novel venture.

19 Apr 2015

Mini Reviews 19/04/2015

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 TITHE #1
Writer: Matt Hawkins
Art: Rahsan Ekedal & Bill Farmer
Image/Top Cow $3.99

James R: As a man whose job it is to educate students about ethics, morality and religion, well, to say this book is up my street is an understatement - it's in my house! It's an intriguing premise - a Robin Hood-style thief known as the Samaritan has targeted American mega-churches, and is not only stealing from them but exposing the less-than-holy practices of their founders. Enter FBI agents Campbell and Miller, two men of differing faiths who may have a grudging respect for their fugitives in this case. As you'd expect from Matt Hawkins, it's a whip-smart script, and promises to engage with the subjects of faith and charity with balance and insight. Reteaming with Hawkins is Think Tank artist Rahsan Ekedal, whose work fits the tone of the book well. In the back pages, Hawkins talks about the influence of heist movies on The Tithe, and that really comes across in the issue. A tithe is a donation paid to a church by a believer and the morals behind contributing to a faith are fascinating, touching on questions of altruism. Hawkins has promised that he'll explore these subjects in issues to come, and as with Think Tank, it's refreshing to read a comic that educates as well as it entertains. Another smash for Hawkins and Ekedal - I advise you let this creative team take you to church! 8/10

18 Apr 2015

Screen Time: DAREDEVIL Season 1

DAREDEVIL Season 1
Cast: Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson, Vincent D'Onofrio, Rosario Dawson, Toby Leonard Moore, Vondie Curtis-Hall
Director: Various

James R: Or: Hornhead Begins! These really are crazy times. 14 (yikes!) years ago, when those who would become the PCG first met to discuss comics in a local bookshop, I clearly recall a member of the public strolling over and asking us what we were discussing. When we said "Comics", his laugh of derision was one that many of us had gotten used to. "What, like, for kids?" being the other misguided response. I flag this event up because one of the comics we discussed during those early meetings was the start of Brian Michael Bendis' run on Daredevil. Jump forward to 2015, and that run - along with it's terrific continuation from Ed Brubaker, as well as Frank Miller's seminal work - stands as the template for this multi-million dollar series, launched with TV spots, billboards and much fanfare... and no derision from any quarter! Strange days indeed!

17 Apr 2015

Ten Forward: June 2015

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 April issue which includes comics scheduled to ship in June 2015.

STRANGE FRUIT #1
Writer: J.G. Jones & Mark Waid
Art: J.G. Jones
BOOM! Studios $3.99

Simon M: Now this is a series I'm looking forward to! Two industry legends working together for the first time on a story that will take us back to early twentieth century Mississippi. Waid (Daredevil, Kingdom Come) and Jones (Y: The Last Man, Wanted) have written a story that is sure to provoke many different emotional responses. The story centres on the small southern town of Chatterlee during the great Mississippi flood of 1927. As the rains threaten the levees, events in Chatterlee cause tension through the racial and social divides of the former plantation town. It is during this crisis that a mysterious giant of a man appears giving hope to some and causing fear in others due to the colour of his skin. Waid has been very clear in the fact that this is not a superhero story, but more of a historical fiction with a sci-fi element. He also said it's unlike anything else he has ever written and expects it to be controversial. There are a fair few preview pages available and the art from Jones is incredible. There is also a lithograph available of a narrative series of panels from the first issue for $19.99 which is also very tempting.

16 Apr 2015

Thought Bubble: AVOIDING AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON SPOILERS, THE END IS NIGH!

Stewart R's wait and journey draws closer to the April 23rd (UK) release day for Avengers: Age Of Ultron. Here he summarizes how his attempt has gone following his initial article back in October (which can be found here) and shares some final thoughts on the subject of modern teasers, trailers and our exposure to them.

Stewart R: And so here I sit, just 7 days away from entering my local cineplex with my PCG comrades to bear witness to the movie event of the year (no, not Star Wars!). Nearly 6 months ago I set out my plan to avoid any spoiler-related material for Avengers: Age Of Ultron, particularly video media, but also pictures, posters and written articles, interviews and news pieces, in an attempt to maintain the full shock and awe element of such a big screen endeavour. Compared to my similar efforts with Iron Man 3, this journey has been slightly easier in some respects and more frustrating in others. I have, in the main, managed to stay relatively untouched by Disney/Marvel's marketing push and side-stepped several social media 'landmines' on the way, but those unexpected 'shrapnel wounds' of knowledge, how hard have they hit?

15 Apr 2015

Do You Remember The First Time? AVENGERS #213


In Do You Remember The First Time? we take a nostalgic trip back in time to discuss a seminal purchase that introduced us to a character, title, creator, or even a hobby.

During April, we're looking at our first Avengers comics.

Simon M: Growing up in the States, I had the luxury of being able to ride my BMX bike to the local general store and peruse the racks for comics. Up till this point my comic reading was mainly DC with Flash and Superman being the main culprits. I was would usually pick up digests which were reprinting stuff from the '70s and were of a very light-hearted nature. Then the store started to sell Marvel comics and that is where my passion for comics really started. I began reading Captain America and Iron Man and these characters just jumped out at me. They seemed more real and the stories were dealing with real world problems.

This brings me on to my first Avengers comic and wow, what a first issue it was! Avengers #213, 'The Court-Martial Of Yellow-Jacket', written by Jim Shooter with pencils by Bob Hall. It hits you straight away, first page, no hostages taken. We find Yellow-Jacket (Hank Pym) facing Iron Man, Thor and Captain America for his actions in #212 - if Hank can’t explain himself then he will face a formal court-martial. Now, for anyone who doesn’t know, Hank blasted a mysterious woman known as the Elfqueen in the back with his disruptor sting while Cap was starting to talk her down from a stand-off with the Avengers. Needless to say this did not go down well and she started to attack again, putting all of the heroes’ lives at risk.