25 Aug 2016

The Road To Melksham Comic Con 2016

James R: At last year's Melksham Comic Con, founder of the convention Haley Spencer spoke to Matt C and myself and said that 2016 might see the con taking a break, Glastonbury-stylee. If she had decided to recharge the batteries it would have been totally understandable - as the driving force behind the convention with her army of Brians she has established MCC as one of the best cons in the UK, and that's no easy task. I was therefore pleasantly surprised when the news broke that not only would MCC be returning in 2016, it would be arguably bigger than ever.

23 Aug 2016

On The Pull 24/08/2016

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: A very quiet week this week but as we comic readers know an absence of books doesn't mean an absence of quality. Renato Jones: The One% came out of the starting blocks all guns literally blazing. As I've mentioned on here before it has a punk rock fizzle that speaks to the far-too-old-and-should-know-better-thirty-something that I am who's never quite shaken his anti-establishment affectations. The last helping of Renato’s gleeful destruction was very pretty but more of the same. That said, I like the frenetic artwork so much and the story always rattles along at such a pace I really don't mind. In another example of more of the same but it really doesn't matter, Batgirl #2 is out this week. Hope Larson has retained what made the last volume of Barbara Gordon's Burnside adventures so enjoyable while setting her off on a completely new global story. It always a joy to see a book drawn by Rafael Albuquerque as he makes Okinawa look as beautiful as it does in real life while lending drama to the story. Despite the rather reductive name, the first issue of Snotgirl was a surprisingly complex affair. Lottie Person's multifaceted life as the perfect social media star but also the self-loathing allergy sufferer is being beautifully rendered by Leslie Hung with that strong Manhattan influence that graced the pages of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim. O’Malley is only writing this title but it hasn't lost any of the charm and comedic touches he is known for. I'm looking forward to Snotgirl #2, a book I wasn't sure of when it first got announced but with a team I very much admire. Should have never doubted them.

21 Aug 2016

Mini Reviews 21/08/2016

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.

BRIGGS LAND #1
Writer: Brian Wood
Art: Mack Chater & Lee Loughbridge
Dark Horse $3.99

Matt C: In tandem to this is being published in the comic book format, writer Brian Wood is also developing it as a possible TV series for AMC, and while I don’t have a problem with that in theory – it’s an increasingly common trend to see comics optioned before they hit the stands – I’m not overly confident of the potential in either medium for this story based on the debut issue. There’s something undeniably prescient about the secessionist white supremacist premise but the delivery here feels a bit pedestrian and familiar, not really drilling down into the concept enough to avoid rural American crime family cliché. There’s clearly a high standard of creativity on display but it does read like a pilot for a TV show and one that would only turn heads if it had a calibre of acting talent to bring the nuance of the set-up bubbling to the surface. As it stands, it’s a readable but unspectacular introduction, one that doesn’t particularly dig in enough to lure me back for a second helping. 6/10

18 Aug 2016

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

CHAMPIONS #1
Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Humberto Ramos
Marvel $4.99

Andy H: While I still have reservations about the stop/start, all new, all different, all confusing direction of Marvel, there are certain titles that will strike a chord with me. In October one of those titles could be Champions #1 which cherry-picks some of the best 'new' young characters, sticking them together to make a classic team of misfits. Leaving the Avengers after the events of Civil War II are Nova, Ms. Marvel and Miles Morales, kids still learning what it takes to be a hero. Joining them is boy out of time, Cyclops, the ‘Totally Awesome’ Hulk and Viv Vision, a real rag tag team if ever there was one. If one writer can make this team work then it has to be Mark Waid (good job it is him then!) and he's joined by Humberto Ramos, an artist that can really bring this teen-team to life.

16 Aug 2016

On The Pull 17/08/2016


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: Lots of cool stuff on offer this week and from a whole bundle of publishers. Dark Horse have some great books on their roster at the moment. Following the rollicking first issue of Black Hammer, issue #2 is eagerly anticipated. After the introduction of all the players this issue looks at Golden Gail, a fifty-something hero trapped in a nine year-old's body. Jeff Lemire continues to prove what a talent he is. Also from Dark Horse is Brian Wood's latest title, Briggs Land #1. It looks like a story of a crime family but with the promise of so much more. If you've ever read a Brian Wood comic chances are you are going to want to read this as well. Plenty of Rebirth action continues over at DC with Batman #5 concluding the first Tom King story arc. If you're looking for the latest issue #1 then Supergirl: Rebirth #1 is landing this week. I've lost track of the different versions of Supergirl over the years (Peter David's run my personal favourite) but I'll always give the first few issues a go. Hunt #2 from Image is on the pull this Wednesday as I really enjoyed the first issue. Taking ideas from Irish legend and mythology, this was a good fill-in for the recent lack of Vertigo titles on my pull-list. So, plenty of new blood, but I'll finish with a couple of old favourites: the insane I Hate Fairyland and the sublime Manifest Destiny. Two very, very different titles but a great way to showcase why comics are such a fantastic and diverse medium.

14 Aug 2016

Mini Reviews 14/08/2016

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.

BLACK MONDAY MURDERS #1
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Tomm Coker & Michael Garland
Image $4.99

James R: Ah, Jonathan Hickman, how I've missed you. I know he hasn't really gone anywhere - East Of West has continued to excel - but Black Monday Murders represents his first new work since finishing his epic Avengers run. Straight out of the gate, it's absolutely brilliant, featuring all the touches that I have to call 'Trademark Hickman': the intricate world-building, the glyphs, the infographics, and the white pages as dissolves - they're all present and correct here. Hickman is a fine artist himself, but he has hit the jackpot with Tomm Coker - his work is absolutely brilliant on these pages, reminding me of Leinil Francis Yu's style in places, but also giving a sense of realism to a book that is clearly going to tread the line between the supernatural and the everyday. The subject matter could not be more prescient - in increasingly uncertain times, one thing is definite: the rich will continue to get richer. The idea that there is an overlap between magic and money (as Hickman points out in the coda, both are rooted in the ability to influence) is a terrific one, with murder and mystery in for good measure, this book has immediately grabbed me. Phenomenal, and one of the great debut issues of the year. 10/10

12 Aug 2016

Graphic Perception: AN ANDROID AWAKES

AN ANDROID AWAKES
Writer: Mike French
Art: Karl Brown
Elsewhen Press £13.99/$24.99

Matt C: Perhaps this is stretching the definition  compared to other entries under this heading in the past - it's ultimately more 'novel' than 'graphic' (the prose far outweighs the illustrations) - but on balance there's enough synergy between the words and images to earn it look here. Besides, the science fictional content and the general ingenuity of the narrative means it's more than worthy of being given attention as its approach to telling a tale set in a future dominated by robots feels unique and fresh, one that reveals its inventive structure the further it goes along.

9 Aug 2016

On The Pull 10/08/2016


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: My pull-list this week features four books that really represent the cream of mainstream comics at the moment. Firstly, DC bring us the most conventional title, but it's still one that makes my fanboy heart beat a little faster. All-Star Batman from Scott Snyder was one of the standout announcements from DC's Rebirth and given the sheer quality of artists involved, I have high hopes that this will be a more fitting use of the 'All Star' label than Frank Miller and Jim Lee's frankly bonkers 2005 iteration. From Image, it's Jonathan Hickman's Black Monday Murders. Hickman is still one of the most innovative and smart writers working in mainstream comics and his name on the cover guarantees that I'll be picking it up. This new series, illustrated by Tom Cocker has been described as a 'crypto-noir' and I'd buy it on the strength of that description alone. Marvel's (arguably) best book returns next week, as Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta's The Vision builds towards a climax. This book has been a revelation, and the only bad thing about it is that it's coming to an end, but I'll cherish it while I can! Finally, Wednesday sees the next instalment of what is probably my favourite comic at the moment: Alan Moore and Jacen Burrow's Providence has exceeded my wildest expectations, and has really shown Moore at his best. It's managed to be compelling, intelligent, rewarding, and most impressive of all, genuinely disconcerting. I fully intend on writing an in-depth review highlighting just why it's such a superlative series once it wraps up, but for now there's no doubt that Providence is not only the highlight of my reading week, but my month too.

8 Aug 2016

Screen Time: BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE

BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE
Cast: Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Tara Strong, Ray Wise
Director: Sam Liu
Runtime: 76 minutes
Certificate: 15
Release date: 25th July 2016 (USA)/8th August 2016(UK)

Matt C: The Killing Joke is a seminal Batman tale released back in 1988, one which has arguably had more of a lasting influence on the Bat-mythos than The Dark Knight Returns. It has always seen controversy swirl around it, specifically in the way it dealt with the crippling of Barbara Gordon at the hands of the Joker and how the Clown Prince of Crime attempts to drive her father, Jim Gordon, insane with naked photos of his daughter's bloodied body. It remains potent stuff, and it took the ‘adult’ approach to superhero storytelling to a new level. There are those who suggest that an off-panel rape of Barbara occurred, but  Alan Moore's disturbing investigation into whether “one bad day” can tip someone over the edge is uncomfortable reading no matter what interpretation you take from certain sequences (some would have you believe Batman murders the Joker on the final page) and it continues to possess enormous power thanks to the intelligence and emotional weight that sits behind it.

7 Aug 2016

Mini Reviews 07/08/2016

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.

KILL OR BE KILLED #1
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Sean Phillips & Elizabeth Breitweiser
Image $3.99

James R: A new series from the A-team of Brubaker, Phillips and Breitweiser will always be a cause for celebration, and Kill Or Be Killed is certainly no exception. Following the classic noir of The Fade Out, this new series certainly has a noir feel, but as with Fatale, there may be a hint of the supernatural. In this bumper-sized first chapter, we're introduced to Dylan, and the intense opening offers us a signpost as to where he’s headed. The bulk of the issue though showcases what Ed Brubaker does best by building up a very real, and distinctly believable central figure - there won't be many readers who can't relate to Dylan's feelings of failure, impotence and rage. It's beautifully illustrated by Phillips and Breitweiser as always, but any fan of quality comics shouldn't be surprised by that. Regardless of the story specifics, this creative team always produce the goods, and Kill Or Be Killed is another knockout book from these three greats. 8/10