Wednesday, 31 December 2014

My favourites of 2014!!

So, just before Christmas, I submitted a review to Pipedream comics for my favourite comic book issue of 2014, Daredevil #10

However, after doing this I started thinking, what other favourites did I have during 2014?

Well, As its New Year's Eve I decided to have a think about it. So, without further adieu, here they are:

Favourite Comic Book Issue: Daredevil #10 (see above)
Runner-Up: Copperhead#1, because I was originally asked to review this book for Pipedream, but it's very Firefly/Serenity ambience got to me and meant I went and bought my own copy anyway. It was THAT good.

Favourite Comic Book Series: Alex + Ada, because it's well written, beautifully drawn, and is the most addictive book I pick up, most likely because it's just so damn beautiful to read as a story.
Runner-Up: Lazarus, because it's fantastic world-building (which I love) and Forever Carlyle is the best damn written character going.

Favourite Comic Book Writer: Greg Rucka, because what is happening in Lazarus, along with the world it inhabits, is a thing of beauty. Rucka bring major social issues to the table and makes them enjoyable.
Runner-Up: Tom Taylor, because Injustice is epicly addictive, but primarily he got on board Earth 2 and hit the ground running to make it an epic story and DC's best at the time.

Favourite Comic Book Artist: Chris Samnee, because his style is still just gorgeous, even after three plus years on Daredevil. But still it's his rendition of the sonar vision that just makes me drop my jaw every single read.
Runner-Up: Nicola Scott, because I said that Tom Taylor made Earth 2 epic, well he couldn't have done it with anyone other than Nicola Scott because she made hat whole cast look like true gods, with not one bad panel.

Favourite Comic Book Inker/Colorist: Dean White, got to be!! White always imbue any work with real mood in my book and he certainly did that with Black Science, enhancing the art there tenfold.
Runner-Up: Santi Arcas, because his colours on Lazarus give the art a very photo-realistic sense about them, while also suiting the series atmosphere perfectly.

And there you have it. This was as many categories I could actually think of, but it's the important ones (I think) and that's all that counts, and giving these favourites reminds myself of what made my comic reading so much fun. Also, after doing this it makes me look forward to what comics 2015 will bring. Oh well, that'll begin tomorrow.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Welcome 2015! New year, new resolutions and new comics.

And it's over!!! Not that I minded 2014, it was a good year what with getting married and getting a new job (or two), oh, and all the really great comics that came out (of course). That said, the first two on my list certainly did dominate my time and push the latter into the background.

But, it doesn't matter now because 2015 is here!!!

And with 2015 I have a lot planned in regards to my comic related activities (amongst other things, but I don't much worry about them here). All being well, comics will once again be a high priority with me when I get round to doing what I want to do.

New books (lots of them). - First up has to be the most obvious, in 2015 I'm going to buy new comic books, lots more. In truth, 2014 was a pretty good year, with lots of fantastic titles making it into my hands. However, compared to many it was still a rather conservative amount, not helped by half my budget going to Earth 2: World's End. But, with that ending by April (along with some other books), as well as a small increase to standard monthly comic budget, more will be read.

Of course, what matters is that I when I get this extra wedge I put it to good use. Therefore, I'll be implementing a new rule of '1 new comic every month' which means that I will find the money to pick up at least one new release every month. The first three months have already been mapped out this way with Ant-Man, Postal and Descender all on my pull list over the first three months. Hopefully, that will continue into the spring.

Conventions galore. - Last year, due to wedding planning and honeymoons, I missed my local conventions a fair bit. However, this year I'll have more free time and am already planning to hit at least three conventions; Yorkshire Cosplay Con, True Believers Comic Festival and Melksham Comic Con. Sadly, Bristol Expo isn't on this year to get me to four cons (unless someone knows different) but I've got all important budgets locked for the others ready to get lots of great books from terrific creators. I'm definitely looking forward to True Believers opening year.

A Marvel Cinematic marathon. - Now, this summer sees the release of this little film at the cinema called Avengers: Age of Ultron. Personally, I'm actually looking forward to Ant-Man more (though only a little bit more, and I'm not sure why), but that doesn't mean I'm going to prep for Avengers 2. So, one of two things is going to happen; 1. Me and my buddy we going to marathon every Marvel movie to this point over a weekend while our wives go away. 2. (More realistically) I'm going to be doing a 10 week marathon with a movie a week in the lead up to the big event. Either way, I'll finally get to watch them back to back and in order.

More to write about. - And finally, last year was a bit of a let down for me in regards to what I write, with this blog being dropped in favour of Pipedream comics reviews, which in turn got tossed to the side in favour of wedding planning. However, 2015 is a new year with (hopefully) no distractions and so I hope to capitalise on that to write a review a week for Pipedream and a post here every two. It's a grand plan and I just hope I can stick with that past January. If I can though, I might try my hand at a few other things I have planned.

2015 is going to be a great year, I can already sense it. While last year was good for comics, I do feel I missed quite a bit of it sadly and so lost out of reading many top quality books. But a new year means leaving regrets at the door and learning from mistakes, which I will hopefully do with my above resolutions/plans. Touch wood they won't all be regrets when I do this again in a year.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Novembers comics (most of them anyway).

Prior to last Saturday, it had been more than three weeks since I'd been to my local comic shop to pick up the print issues from my pull list, quite posibly the longest amount of time I've gone without picking up my stash (I'm honestly amazed I didn't get the shakes from withdrawal). However, on the plus side, this long wait meant it wasn't only a one or two issue pickup, but seven whole comics (though, admittedly, three were from the same series) for me to go through and keep the fun going for a litle bit longer.

So, without further adieu, here's what I have been reading this past week:

First up has been Lazarus #13, which has got to be one of my favourite comic books at the moment. While this issue did little to advance the plot which dominates the books third arc (following the reveal at the end of the previous installment, I thought this was still a fantastic issue thanks to the detailed portayal into the various Lazari, giving insight into just what interesting characters they are in their own right, not to mention the beautifully stylised art that was perfect in every panel. Though the solicits have given me an idea as to where this arc is going to go(bye bye Joaquim), it doesn't change just how much I want to read the next issue right now.

Instead, I was then treated to Daredevil #10, which may not have been the best comic series in my eyes since the characters move to San Fransisco but was without a doubt the best single issue I've read this month (or most others). The reason for this, again, isn't the plot (though that was good) but how Waid and Samnee depicted depression throughout. THIS is what made this issue great for me as, being a depression sufferer, it nailed perfectly exactly how it feels when you get to your lowest ebb as well as giving narrative to parts of the suffering which can't be described accurately. I loved this book immensely because of this and anyone who wants an insight into depression (or specifically my mind) should read it.

Next up I read Batgirl #36, which continued the Babs relocation to Burnside while she faced a couple of motorbike stealing, manga cosplaying assassins. Unfortunately, as beautiful as the art is (and I think it's gorgeous) and as good as the story is, I just couldn't get into the book. This is annoying because there isn't any real reason to dislike this title and both the art and writing are top notch. My only assumption is that I can't relate to the college student characterisation, although the overall mystery big bad is what is keeping me on board, for now.

So I continued on to Fantastic Four #13, which continued the first family's downfall, but began their return with Ben Grimm's prison escape, while Reed Richards' captor forces his help with the abduction of the FF kids. Unfortunately for me, this issue really started off confusing with action panels everywhere which didn't seem to mesh with what I remember from the prior installment. That said, the title did improve as it moved to Ben's prison break and set up the team's rise from the ashes. While issue 13 was a little off putting, with only five issues left, I'm confident that Robinson and Kirk can cap off the series well. Therefore I'm considering this a blip.

Meanwhile, the same might not be the same after reading Earth 2: World's End #'s 6, 7 & 8, which continued the Earth 2's heroes battle with Apokolips for survival. Issues 6 and 7 were very difficult to read and with so much jumping about between the various story points making it hard to care about what is going on. However, issue 8 was a much better affair as it felt a lot more interesting and was much more cohesive and put together, made more enjoyable to me with the art of the last few pages as the Flash searched for his mother. Overall, I'm in the fence with World's End and, while I doubt I'll drop it before it end, I do hope issue 8 is a turning point.

And so, that was my November (well, most of it) and while it started off well, I felt that the quality trailed off with each comic I read. Maybe it's a case of reading too much in one go and I need to cut down the numbers (or buy more regularly) but hopefully it's more a case that I'm not giving the books I struggle with the proper attention. Maybe the December issues will be more on my wavelength.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Comic publishers are clearing my pull list for me.

So, two things happened to me this week.

The first, was early on (like Monday) when I decided that I would let many of the series I collect reach their end before I started picking up any new books. The reason was simple; I'd gotten completely frustrated with having to stay within my budget while picking up current books I was enjoying and choosing new books which looked awesome. I needed a clean slate.

Then, ironically, the second thing happened; the February solicits were released which announced, amongst other things, that Daredevil #13 is the beginning of the final story by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee.

NNNNNOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In truth, as terrible news as it is, this was bound to happen sooner or later. Waid and (to a lesser extent) Samnee have been on the book for quite a while and, while their first volume was truly awesome, I haven't found this recent run to be as good (though still good).

The thing that makes me laugh (or rather smirk in a humourous manner) is that barely a week after thinking point 1 that point 2 occurs.

Is someone reading my mind?

And this isn't the only book from my pull list coming to an end. In the last few months it has been announced that, from my list, Fantastic Four, Earth 2, Earth 2 World's End and Batgirl are all ending by April (Earth 2 and Batgirl, the latter still being on probation with me, are on hiatus during Convergence), with Alex + Ada (presuming it doesn't continue beyond the expected 15 issues) concluding by June. And now with Daredevil ending, this sees my pull list shrink to only three books; Black Science, Copperhead and Lazarus.

This is fortunate timing for me as it allows my pull list to be cleared out and lets me to focus on rebuilding my montly purchases. It also releases me from my years-old problem of struggling to let go of books I'm not enjoying just to because I might miss something after I've stopped reading it, which has always been an issue when it comes to dropping comics which aren't cutting it with me.

Therefore, I just have to say thank you to Marvel and DC (and to a lesser extent Image) for this confluence of events which has allowed my pull list to be naturally culled so it can be remade going forward as leaner, smarter, better. I just hope some of your future books meet those standards.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Digital Week.


It's been a while since I wrote anything here, which is a shame but sadly can't be helped. Sometimes, real life has to take priority and comic books have to fall by the wayside a little (as much as it kills me to say). That said, hopefully now things (such as wedding aftermath) have calmed down some I can get back to writing here more.


I figured I'd start here with a good, old, trusty rundown of this week comics, all of which (conveniently) were digital books.


The Heavenly chord - First up, I was sent an advance copy of Jon Lock and Nich Angell's new crossover. Now I had previously read and written about part one, but on this occasion I was sent the whole story to review, which I subsequently did over at Pipedream Comics and, I gotta admit, it was a pleasure to read it because a lot of those characters are just written so damn well and the art was to die for (If you are at Thoughtbubble this weekend, you should totally buy it).


Alex + Ada #10 - After the (very enjoyable) work was done, I moved on to pleasure, starting with the always fantastic Alex + Ada, of which issue 10 only continued that trend. The saw Ada and Alex reunite while some of Alex's friends find out about her sentience. Of course, when I think back to the story it never seems overly exciting compared to all those superhero books, but yet I'm finding it so much better than those same superhero books. The story is so beautiful and moving (and a little thought provoking) while the art is still fantastic. Two thirds of the way through the run and I'm convinced the story can only end badly, but given how mesmerising this book is every issue, I really hope not.

Copperhead #3 - From that point you'd think 'the only way is down', but fortunately Copperhead #3 manages to keep me enthused with a whole different kind of book which continues Clara and Boo investigating the Sewell family massacre while at the same time Clara needs to look after her son. Again, it doesn't sound like much of a story when I recite it, but with this book it's watching the slow burn story unfold which is what makes this book so hard to put down, right until that final page reveal that totally hit me, not to mention art that actually looks western-esque. I remember reviewing the first issue and all I could think was 'this is the Sheriff's story of the train job episode from Firefly'. Three issues in, I'm still thinking that.
The Kitchen #1 - Then, finally, I decided to treat myself to something else on a whim, mostly because Multiversity recommended it (repeatedly). The Kitchen tells the story of three wives who, when their Irish gangster husband are sent to prison, have to take over their business in order to keep living. Issue one is a very well written issue with beautiful art which makes it look just like the 70's, unfortunately for me it just wasn't my thing and struggled to keep me engrossed.


And that was it. I did have two print books out this week, but being unable to reach the comic shop stopped me from picking them up for a couple of weeks (ahh, the downside of actually having to go to a place).

Oh, well, just means more to get when I finally get there.


  



Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The end of Earth 2?

Please note that, prior to writing this I had not read beyond Earth 2 #28 and Earth 2: World's End #5. P.S. Some spoliers.

It's no secret (like my previous posts will indicate) that I've really been digging Earth 2 since DC started that series over two years ago. Whereas Earth 1 (where damn near every other DC book resides) feels like it is trapped by it's own continuity as well as company directives, Earth 2 has always had a real sense of freedom regarding the stories it can tell.

However, since Earth 2: World's End began at the start of October, I've noticed a big drop in the quality of the franchise (Is that the word??) which I find worrying in what is DC's only book which has been consistently different and interesting enough to keep picking up.

But why has this book so suddenly dropped it's standards? I have some theories: 

Not enough material - The thing which springs to mind to me first of all is the possibility that, when all is said and done, there just isn't enough story set within Earth 2 to justify having 5 books a month (one monthly series and one weekly series). Since World's End started, I've noticed that Earth 2 has become something of an anthology series, used to detail the minutia of the world, while World's End takes over the main 'war' story. If that's the case then, for me, I could do without Earth 2 as I only have so much to spend on comics and am not really interested in the origins of the Furies unless it influences the story. Of course, if there isn't enough material then the blame could be placed right at the door of......

Future's End/Convergence - The Earth 2 tie-in to Futures End gave everyone a brief insight into the future: Earth 2 will be lost and their characters moved to Earth 1. Now presuming that this ends up being the case, then Earth 2 will be a dead series come Convergence next April. But the story needs to be wrapped up in order to 'converge' (see what I did there) with the rest of the DCU and, presumably, for Earth 2, there is more to wrap up than can be done in 6/7 issues. Hence a 24 part weekly series. This then begs a new question......

Executive Interference - I said earlier that the main Earth 2 series has always felt like it has a remarkable amount of freedom for a DC book, but given that it's current trajectory appears to be in line with where Future's End concludes, I'm under the impression that the high ups might have taken a more direct interest into where the title goes and how it gets there and everyone knows how well things turn out when cthey are made by committee (remember the Green Lantern movie). If this IS the case, then it could explain another factor....

New Creative Team - When the book started way back when, James Robinson was writing and Nicola Scott was drawing and this book was pretty good. Then Robinson left and Tom Taylor came on board, and then Earth 2 totally blew away the competition. Now both Taylor and Scott are gone, replaced by a long list of creators over the two Earth 2 books and it is since then I've found the drop in quality to have begun. Now, I'd heard rumours that Robinson got kicked off the book because his plans didn't mesh with DC's and one could assume Taylor got the same marching orders if he didn't agree with this ongoing story, replacing him with more complient writers. Of course, that doesn't mean the talent on the book is sub-standard, Marguerite Bennett in particular is a great writer to have on board. So if it isn't any of the prior reasons aren't right, there is always one more....

Is it me? - People's taste over time change. My best example is that I went from listening to Rap as a teen (I know, what was I thinking) to rock and metal as an adult. The same goes for comic books, with my pull list looking nothing like it did five plus years ago. If this book has lost itself in my eyes it might simply be that what I want from a book is no longer the same as it was when I picked up and loved issue 1.

So, what do I do now? Well, spend good money after bad on a book I dislike seems very counterintuitive, but yet I still suck at not finishing things. Therefore, I might stick with both titles until World's End finishes and, if the series' haven't improved, then I will drop them from my ongoings. That way, earth 2 still has time to rise from it's own ashes and wow me once again.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

December 2014 solicitations

So, December solicits came out this week and, for me it was a tough one. The reason for this was simple: when picking out comics I went nuts!!!! By the end of my first draft pick I had 23 issues of 19 different titles, an amount I don't think I've EVER had before. However, cooler heads have prevailed and the budgetier has chipped away and my list is the same as prior months.

The full list is as follows:-

Batgirl #37
Earth 2 #29
Earth 2: Worlds End #9-13
Fantastic Four #14
Daredevil #11
Alex + Ada #11
Copperhead #4
Lazarus #14

Of course, this is for a £30 budget and so circumstances may change, especially as my birthday and a Christmas occur in December, gaining me additional funds (or, at least hope they do). Should this extra cash appear then the above list is not all I hope to pick up, but I also intend to try and pick up the following:-

Secret Six #1 - I missed the last run of this book and have been kicking myself since. Well, it's back, Gail Simone is writing it again. I am not making the same mistake twice.
Constantine #20 - Constantine goes to Earth 2. I love Earth 2. Ergo, I'm buying this book (if I can).
Green Arrow #37 - I've heard terrific things about its Lemire run and, though it's got a new creative team, I'm curious to see if the quality has held.
Swamp Thing #37 - Been hearing rave reviews about the Futures End tie in (which I now hope to buy) and so if it is all that, I'd be interested to see what the series proper is all about.

And so, that is that. The second list is more of a wish list while the first is an absolute certainty, but hopefully I'll find some cash from somewhere so that what is on that second list can jump to the first.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Reviewing a bad comic book

So last week was a little gruelling for me as I was sent a recently released comic book to review (see the full review here) and, as much as I didn't really want to, I ending up giving said book a bad write up.

I've got to admit that I really hated doing this review because I didn't have a good word to say and was very tempted to just go to the editor and say "You know what? I can't do this one. Can you give me another?"

The reason for this is simple; I really dislike saying bad things about comic books!!

Now this isn't because all books I read are fantastic (wouldn't that make life simple?) but because it feels, in some way, that I'm berating the people behind its creation. I mean, who am I to discredit something which a writer, an artist, a colorist, a letterer and an editor have spent at least a month working on? It's not like I have 10 books lining the shelves or anything to show I know what I'm talking about.

That said, when I don't like something (and, god, did I not like this particular book) I am allowed, like everyone else, to voice my opinion. I just worry that it will be read and someone will think 'boy, this guy really doesn't like this person'. For me, it's never about the people who are making the books, it's just about what I'm reading.

Of course, that doesn't change my unease at giving a bad review, but then I guess it will never be that easy, though writing it down helps give my thought on the matter form. I just hope that, going forward, all these creators will just do me a massive favour..... and make their books that I review so incredibly fantastic.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Missing Melksham Comic Con is gonna suck!!!

So my honeymoon is over!!! I'm currently at my in-laws for a layover before hitting the M4 and heading home. It's a shame that what is essentially a continuation of my recent wedding has come to an end, but I have to admit I'm looking forward to getting married life proper started, as well as getting back to buying my comics from the local shop (I've so missed the comics).

However, there is one drawback going into this return to normality which is that, due to its close proximity to our return from honeymoon, I have agreed with my (now) wife that I won't be going to the Melksham Comic Con this year.... and, I'll tell you, that is a decision that sucks!!!

In some ways I don't regret this decision as there is plenty Which needs to be done upon returning home.

However, so much is expected to happen at Melksham this year that I am really wishing I could make it there.

The top of this list for me is a panel occurring during the day about mental health in comic books. For me, this is the holy grail of what is coming out of Melksham because, having been a sufferer of mental health issues in the past, I find it so very intriguing what a lot of the local creators think and feel about the concept of mental health issues, if they should appear more in comics and why they don't appear enough up until this point (assuming, of course, that there aren't comics currently available which show mental illness as a major plot point which I don't know about) as well as the views of other comic consumers. If I were to be there, I guarantee I'd be queuing for this panel from the moment the doors opened (I sure hope there is a podcast or something of this for me to download later).

Then of course, there are the comics themselves. Top of this list is part 2 of Jon Lock and Nich Angell's inter-book crossover, The Heavenly Chord. I remember when part 1 came out last year and have been looking forward to part 2 since, even though there's been many reprieves in the form of Afterlife Inc. vol. 3, book of life and the the Everthere short as well as Nich's Cat and Merengue omnibus. Before I started queuing for the panel I'd gladly stop here first and get a copy (and maybe chew the creators ears off as usual).

After this is the book Joe Cape by Swindon creator Sam Webster who, again, I first encountered at Melksham last year. After enjoying his prior books Arcadia and Superheroes Ltd, I recently found out about this new book and that it was at issue 2. This bugs me more than anything because it now means I'm missing both issues and really wanna read them.

And then there are all the other comic creators and their own outstanding titles. In fact, I find these comics are what make cons like Melksham awesome!!! It's not the guests, but the creators who all make fantastic books which always bring something different, and most often better, than what is available by the big publishers.

Of course, writing all this just makes me wish I was going all the more, which hurts all the more because I know it won't happen. I'm accepting of this because I have WAY too much to do. But just because normal life is in the way and should be considered more important, it doesn't change the fact that not going to Melksham Comic Con sucks, big time!!! 

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The November 2014 solicits

So, I'm back!!! Well, I'm not quite back as I'm still on my second honeymoon (I get two. How fancy am I??) but as I have a little free time, I decided to take the opportunity to quickly go through the solicitations for November.

This months list, however, is pretty self explanatory so I'm not gonna ramble on with this one and I'm just gonna get on with it.

Alex + Ada #10 (Image)
Batgirl #36 (DC Comics)
Black Science #11 (Image)
Copperhead #3 (Image)
Daredevil #10 (Marvel)
Earth 2 #28 (DC Comics)
Earth 2: Worlds End #5-8 (DC Comics)
Fantastic Four #13 (Marvel)
Lazarus #13 (Image)

Now, I'm maybe being a bit lazy this time around but, in fairness, there seems little point in justifying my choices this month as every single one of them would be continuations from the prior solicits. The reasons for this are both monetary (aren't they always for me) as well as the fact nothing new really shouted out to me.

At the same time pretty much all of the current titles on my list have been (mostly) fantastic, entertaining books (Copperhead and Batgirl are more presumptive than the rest as they are yet to be released) to the extent that none of them I'm really not ready to consider dropping any of them. Especially when there is nothing I have to replace them.

Of course, there is still a fair way away before November hits, so maybe someone will recommend another title to me by then.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

The October 2014 Solicits.

Finally!!! Last week saw the solicitations released for October 2014, which (for me) has got to be the most anticipated month for comics yet. As with the September 2014 solicits, I decided to go through and pick pretty much everything which interested me, although on this occasion it seemed a lot more difficult (or maybe it was just easier) than it was previously.

However, let's get started. What I hope to pick up in October is....;

Batgirl #35 (DC Comics) - Unless you've been living under a rock, you'll know why this is on my list. A new creative team with what looks to be fantastic art by Babs Tarr along with a really awesome costume concept makes me tempted to dip my toe into DC's bat infested waters with this book.

Black Science #10 (Image) - it's been a while since I read an issue of Black Science (damn staggered release) but the synopsis details the leader Kadir making a mad rescue attempt, which totally makes me want to read not only this issue, but all issue between now and then. I mean, how can Kadir be leader, right?

Daredevil #9 (Marvel) -  Mark Waid and Chris Samnee's run has been an incredibly fun, light-hearted story, so I'm a bit iffy about the 'new, grim chapter' reference in the solicits. However, 2 things. 1. I never underestimate Mark Waid and 2. Previous solicits imply an appearance of the Purple Man, which I'd be down with.

Detective Comics #35 (DC Comics) - I'm not normally a Bat universe fan which, like Deadpool, feels over saturated. However, with a two part story by a guest creative team which feels insulated by the series' current arcs beginning here, I found myself oddly tempted to delve deeper.

Earth 2 #27 (DC Comics) - Despite this issue being the first to not have Nicola Scott on art duties, this issue (I would suspect) ties this main series to the Worlds End event. Earth 2 is certainly up there as my favourite series at present and am interested to see how the new artist and co-writer hit this book I love so much.

Earth 2: Worlds End #1-4 (DC Comics) - IT'S HERE!!!!! The main event of the October solicits I've been waiting on since it's announcement, Worlds End, which looks to focus more on the battles of the Apokolips war, sees the first four issues released and I'm willing to give it a look if it maintains the main series quality.

Fantastic Four #11-#12 (Marvel) - I was willing to write this series off sometime ago but, shockingly, the original sin tie in turned me around. Now, with these issues, Ben Grimm gets into a prison fight, Johnny Storm tries to become the Human Torch and Reed Richards has a fight with Tony Stark. Yeah, I am SO reading these!!!

Lazarus #12 (Image) -  I'm no longer sure if I buy this title for the story or just to learn more about the world Rucka and Lark are building. Either way though with this issue showing more of the families in power working for their own ends, I'll be getting what I want, whichever of those things it may be.

Low #4 (Image) - Despite not yet having the first issue released, Low still remains on my list because the premise just seems so cool. Couple that with the fact Remender is writing, more than beats Tocchini's art (although recent shots of said art have me thinking it maybe perfect for this book).

Sensation Comics ft. Wonder Woman #3 (DC Comics) - At this point, this title is more of a long shot than any of the others in my list due to not reading an issue yet (next month) and my general ignorance of the character. That said, I want to get on board with Wonder Woman in some way and this seems like the best solution (for now).

Worlds Finest #27 (DC Comics) - This series is being retooled as a result of prior story arcs returning the leads to the Earth 2 series, making it more of an anthology series focusing on the Earth 2 Batman/Superman team. I like the Earth 2 universe, I like the Batman/Superman concept and the new Bats/Supes of that world. This seems like a no brainer to me.

And that's my list. Unfortunately, not all will be able to make the final cut (even with a slightly enlarged comic book budget) but, in truth, I really hope I do. This is quite possibly the best list I've put together in a long time, where I'm excited about every title on it. However, I'm realistic that what I want isn't always what I can get.

But as long as I get a copy of Batgirl, I'll be happy!!!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Review: Afterlife Inc. - The Everthere

By this point (on the condition that you've been reading what I write for a while) it shouldn't come as any surprise to anyone of my affection towards the series called Afterlife Inc. This series, which helped me open my eyes and be a bit more open-minded towards inpedendently created books, is something I truly enjoy to the fullest extent of that word. I have Volumes one, two, three as well. Heck, I even have the Book of Life!!!!

So it shouldn't come to anyone's surprise that I got hold of The Everthere, a new Afterlife Inc. universe set short story brought to us by series creator Jon Lock and Volume 2 artist Will Tempest.

The Everthere is a story which shows a day in the life of the Stooges, three spirits who have shuffled from the mortal coil on toward the Emphyrean, who, in the wake of the remanagement of the Afterlife, creat a niche market as 'finders and seekers' of any items the newly died bring with them to the other side. However, when one man comes to the trio seeking something that just isn't possible to find, Ronan, Mickey and Harnk drown their sorrows together and reflect upon the predicament brought to them.

I've gotta admit, as much as I love the stories these books bring about, this is really something special. The Everthere takes the focus away from the main cast and focuses more on a cast which feels a lot more day to day. Kinda like leaving Star Trek and going to Firefly instead. In fact, Ronan in particular (who should be considered the lead here), feels well rounded to the point that I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't make more of impact in future stories.

Of course, charactisation isn't the only good point in this short, as Will Tempest utilizes his very etherel art to fantastic degree, especially in a flashback sequence (I assume it is, though in this book anything is possible). The art work really works with the story being told throughout and up until what is (well, I think) a rather sombre end.

When I last spoke with Jon Lock I asked him when we'd get volume 4. This isn't volume four, but it's a beautifully well written placeholder that will give current fans (of which there are numerous) something to keep them at bay, while maybe even enticing a few new ones (hint hint, nudge nudge).

You can pick this story up from Jon Lock's shop for only 99p. So if my words convince you then give it a shot, because this is one of only a few things in life that can be enjoyed for less than £1.

July's comics - Part 2.

I'm a few weeks late writing this post, but it can't be helped as putting the finishing touches to a wedding (apparently) takes priority over reading comic books. Thankfully, I've (somehow) found time amongst the table decorations and honeymoon packing (as well as an evening watching Guardians of the Galaxy) to get the last of my July comics all read up.

So, without further ado, here we go;

Low #1 - Rick Remender's new sci-fi title with Greg Tocchini on art tells the story of Stel and Johl who live in a society existing at the bottom of the sea as the surface is cooked by the supernova-like sun, a world Stel is working to escape. In this issue however, the two go out to hunt for food with their children, only to find themselves set upon by an enemy intent to conquer their homes. Unfortunately, while there is nothing wrong with the premise, I found this title very difficult to get into (making the second of Remender's three titles to end up this way). This wasn't helped by Tocchini's art, which I always find difficult to follow and didn't have any better luck here. I read it twice and maybe I'm not giving it a fair chance, but issue 2 won't be coming back to my pull list.

Black Science #7 - afterwards though, came Remender's old sci-fi title which saw the anarchist league continue travelling between dimensions following main character Grant's death. Here, Kadir takes charge and mounts a rescue when Rebecca, Shaun and the kids are captured, but all doesn't go to plan, resulting in further losses for the league. Now, even though they are written by the same writer, I found this issue much more engrossing and easier to follow. Remender continues to tell the story at breakneck speeds which combined with Matteo Scalera and Dean White's art, make this, as usual a must read book (although some of the panels seemed a little off this month).

Mass Effect: Foundations #13 - And then was the final Mass Effect issue, finally!!! This saw the culmination of Rasa's storyline as she fought to escape Cerberus with the clone of Commander Shephard, though not if Miranda Lawson has her way. I've gotta admit though, for an ending the issue was very difficult to follow however, much like most prior episodes, this issue did help fill in the gaps and backstories from the games (this one connecting to the Citadel DLC) and I did like it for that. But it's done now after a VERY long release period and that makes me happy.

Daredevil #6 - the final title read of my July comics, this issue saw Daredevil, caught up in the Original Sin event, discover a startling, unwanted truth about his father. This in turn lead Murdock to his mother for details, who he finds has been disproportionately punished for a seemingly minor crime. Now, much like Fantastic Four #6, this issue started bumpy due to its connection to the big Marvel event. However, Mark Waid and Javier Rodriguez, along with stellar input by Alvaro Lopez covering on pencils, managed to turn the story around and use the original sin as a springboard into a truly compelling conspiracy story. Once again, a marvel tie in book I actually look forward to the next issue for.

And that's July done. Four more titles to go with the five for earlier in the month (was that truly all?). With that I'm done for a while as I get to go on Honeymoon and all of that. However, (touch wood) when I get back I'll have a big stack of comic books to read.


Friday, 11 July 2014

July's Comics - Part 1.

It's been a busy few weeks for me. As I write reviews for Pipedream Comics, look for a new job and get everything ready for my upcoming (which is much sooner than even I expect) wedding, it's meant having less time to write my own thoughts here. All being well, with the job situation resolved and the wedding almost done, I'll be able to put more attention to here and put a lot more of my thoughts to paper.

That said, I was able to carve a little time out for myself and now that I'm getting my comic collecting/reading has stabilised and I've gotten into a routine, I figured I'd use this rare abundance of time and just have a run through of what I've read in the first two weeks of July and give my thoughts on them. I'm trying something new here so bare with me.

Earth 2 #25 - The battle for Earth 2 between Superman and the forces of Apokolips and the Wonders of the World Army enters the (seemingly) final battle as the good guys put in motion a plan to save the world, while Val-Zod finds the courage to face Kal-El for the world (and the title of Superman). This is kind of a bittersweet issue, given the recent revelation that Nicola Scott is leaving the book, however, it is also quite possibly the best issue of the run yet with tonnes of action, great moments for all the cast and (as usual) gorgeous panels from start to finish. Even with it being a bigger issue, there still wasn't enough here and I was salvatigin a bit at the end for the next issue.

Lazarus #9 - In the final issue of the 'Lift' arc, while the Barrets start through the selection process at the Denver Lift, Forever continues to seek out the Waste terrorist intent on destroying the event. Unfortunately, this is the weakest issue of the arc, fortunately, it's still pretty damn good. Rucka and Lark continue to world build as well as deepen the main character, both is story and flashbacks. I thought the ending was a bit of a shame as it went against the dark, grim concept of the book, however it was still an extremely engrossing read and I'm more than happy to ignore something as superfluous as that.

Daredevil #5 - This issue is more of a flashback issue as time returns to before Matt Murdock's relocation to San Franscisco as the story of Foggy Nelson's 'death' is explained. Despite my struggle with the early issues of this run, issue 4 felt like a turning point to me. Issue 5 continues on this track with yet another fantastic, done-in-one story which feels more like the prior volume and really highlights what makes Waid and Samnee such a great creative team on this title. The only gripe I have with it is that I'm sure Murdock already knew that the original Leap Frog was dead (During the Bendis run I think), yet he kept referring to him as alive. Maybe I'm nitpicking there though.

Fantastic Four #7 - This Original Sin tie in is wrapped up as it is revealed Johnny's original sin which cause Ben Grimm to remain the Thing. Unfortunately, Ben's woes are yet to end as, upon responding to a call for help, he finds himself in the position of being in a LOT of trouble!! Much like Daredevil, I did have problems getting on board with this book, but it did start to improve. I did fear the tie in would undo the improvement (I hate tie ins), but Robinson puts this handicap (I REALLY hate tie ins) to his advantage, wrapping it up quickly and using the fallout to help inform reasons behind Ben's later circumstances. I'm annoyed that Sue's fight with the Avengers was glossed over, but the way the book is heading, along with Kirk's beautiful art, allows me to not worry about it so much.

Spread #1 - Spread is a new book by Justin Jordan and Kyle Strahm which tells the story of No, a man surviving in a world where the spread, an organism which absorbs everything it comes into contact with, covers almost every inch of the planet. However, when a child is found who might contain the key to destroying the Spread, it's up to No to rescue her. Despite incredibly visceral artwork and an interesting premise, I just couldn't get into this book, which is a shame given the creative teams previous awesome work. What's worse is that there is nothing inherently wrong with book, only that it didn't draw me in as much as I like a comic book to do. Unfortunately, Spread is a prime example (for me) that even if you have the right combination, that still doesn't make something great.

And that was it. Five books so far this month and, although I'm upset that the newest release didn't appeal to me as much as I like, it has so far been a pretty good month regarding what I read, which is a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately, my last four books aren't out until the end of the month, so nothing new until then. Of course, it gives me time to get to get excited about those books, especially as they include Alex + Ada, Black Science and Low. Now that's worth the wait. 

Although, now that I think about it, I'd rather then was now.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

'Two issues a month? Are Marvel trying to bankrupt me?'

So, now that I've gone through the September 2014 Solicits, I have received yet more proof with which to write about what I'm write about. In truth, it's more of a question:

Why does Marvel keep releasing two issues a month?

Now, this isn't entirely accurate during the recent solicits as Septebmer 2014 will see the release of Fantastic Four #11 along with Fantastic Four Annual #1 which isn't, technically speaking, 'two issues a month'. However, because the annual is a continuation of the story being told in the ongoing series, I'm inclined to think that yeah, it kinda is (though I'm more than happy if someone can confirm otherwise).

The thing is, this isn't the first time this has happened. Just this month I had to pick up two more FF issues while, between now and September, there will presumably be two issues in a month of Daredevil (this isn't confirmed but the title jumps from issue 5 to issue 7 for some reason right?). In fact Daredevil is a prime suspect in the whole 'two issues a month' thing as hhe previous volume had, for several consecutive months, two issues being released every month. I have also seen this occur in the past with Thunderbolts (Parker's run), Uncanny X-Force (Remender's run), a few Hulk runs and more besides.

So, why does it keep happening? Well, I know why it keeps happening, Marvel wants the extra cash which comes from hammering out 24 issues a year instead of 12 (bit of an exaggeration) and, from a business standpoint, that's a totally understandable reason. However, can Marvel really, ethical and/or morally, justify the decision to bleed dry their fanbase with this business plan.

From my point of view, this is devil incarnate-type behaviour. I am a normal guy with a hobby I love and a job which gives me the means to buy my hobby. However, I also have bills and a mortgage and, therefore, have to budget what comic books I can buy and find ways to get the most books, many of which are REALLY good, for the least money (See this post by Robert Gaul if you want pointers).

However, when Marvel pulls this crap and puts out two issues a month then, for someone with limited means to spend on comics, something has got to give. Now that decision, for an indecisive guy like me, is probably a fate worse than death. Though the last bit is probably exclusive to me, I'm sure the trouble caused by having the extra issue isn't something I suffer with alone.

Here's the thing though, aren't Marvel at all worried that this may end up biting them in the arse? Aren't they concerned that, one day, all the fans who pick up their books despite having to buy two of each series a month are simply going to say 'you know what? I can't keep buying twice as many books a month. I'm done."?? It probably won't happen today or tomorrow, but that ticking time bomb has got to be edging it's way closer to reality.

It certainly is for me some days.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

The September 2014 solicits

The Solicits for September 2014 have all come out this week which means it's back to the monthly pleasure (trust me, looking should NOT be a chore) of picking out the books I'd like to take a look at when the ninth month finally hits. I usually have trouble when going through the solicits as I always try (and fail)to stick to a budget. So, this time I figured I'd try something a little different and simply note everything which I really would buy if money were no object.

So, without further ado, my September list is:

Alex + Ada #9 (Image) - By now this is pretty much a given when I pick from the solicits. I just read issue 7 last night and, once again, OH. MY. GOD!!! To say this book is good is actually a pretty criminal description of how good it is, therefore it gets top pick (even though this list is alphabetical).

Black Science #9 (Image) - It's been a while since I saw a new issue of this one (Image's one downside; non-consistent release), but the first arc was SO good that I'd be crazy to cut this. So unless issues 7 and 8 tank (and I mean severely) then this is also a keeper.

Copperhead #1 (Image) - I'm really looking forward to this. I saw a preview of it while working on a Pipedream entry and the Sheriff Bourne from Firefly vibe seemed so damn addicitve.

Daredevil #8 (Marvel) - I don't know why but I'm haven't overly been digging the new Daredevil run (despite it being identical to the last one). However, Issue 3 made up a lot and showed me sparks of what I previously loved. Therefore, I'm being positive and assuming its gonna be great by this issue.

Earth 2: Futures End #1 (DC) - I'm skeptical about this issue, mainly because I'm hoping to avoid the futures end book greatly. However, it's related to Earth 2 (for which there is no issue) and I can only assume Earth 2: Worlds End springboards from events in here.

Fantastic Four #10 (Marvel) - Much like Daredevil, this book was facing the cut. However, reading the first five issues back to back has reminded me why I love this book and, unless it goes downhill, I'm curious as to where Robinson is taking it all.

Fantastic Four Annual #1 (Marvel) - This is more a purchase of necessity than desire, which annoys me. Would rather spend my money elsewhere but this annual is connected to the main series, therefore I'm buying it, albeit grudgingly (and annoyed they didn't just title it #11).

Lazarus #11 (Image) - This is a gorgeous title that has been rich with information about the future it is set in. This issue sees a big meeting amongst all those in power in this post-apocalytic (sort of) world, which I'm totally eager to see.

Low #3 (Image) - This is still something of a presumptive entry as issue 1 has still not been released. I said previously the reason this title makes the cut and by this issue I want to be optimistic that it'll be good (I mean Remender did well with Black Science).

The Names #1 (DC/Vertigo) - This pick was a little out of left field for me but a story that appears to be equal parts noir mystery and revenge thriller revolving a man 'compelled' to kill himself picqued my interest (which is a little morbid I guess).

Sensation Comics ft. Wonder Woman #2 (DC) - Much like Low above and Spread below (I'll get to that in a moment), Sensation Comics is only here as a presumptive entry. However, I'm eager to pick up a Wonder Woman title (why I don't get the ongoing is a good question) and one written by Gail Simone seems like a good call.

Spread #3 (Image) - My last presumptive entry on this list, but after the greatness of Dead Body Road (It was good!!!!) and how enticing the synopsis is for the first three issues, I'm more confident about this than I am the others to be sticking around on my pull list).

A Voice in the Dark: Get your Gun #1 (Image) - I considered getting the series proper way back when and I didn't. I've regretted it ever since as I keep hearing great things Larime Taylor is doing with this book. The solicits say this is a good jump-on point, so that works for me to make up for past mistakes.

And that is that!!! I've got to admit, with the exception of the Annual (which kind of counts as a continuation of the main FF series), I highly doubt I'm going to be picking up any of the issue 1's as including them takes me WAY over my budget (which I need to be more strcit in enforcing). However, as I'm also going to be more strict with cutting bad books when I have to, it is nice to have back-ups in place for the if and when some start to un-interest me.

Or I get more money. Yeah, more money would work too!!!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Comixology's Summer Reading List

So, for the last under three weeks, Comixology have compiled the Summer Reading List. This is basically twenty books (one every day) which are made free to all readers for a single 24 hour period in the hopes of enticing new readers to pick the rest of those series for the foreseeable future.

Well, it's (almost) over now and it was a pretty eclectic list of titles. These comic books (in the order of release and my opinion of them) were:-

1. Detective Comics #871 - Bad
2. Magnus: Robot Fighter #1 - Good
3. My Little Pony: Pony Tales Vol. 1 - Bad
4. Lumberjanes #1 - Bad
5. Werewolves of Montpellier - Good
6. Archer and Armstrong: Archer #0 - Ok
7. Gravel: Combat Magician - Bad
8. Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft #1 - Ok
9. Lola XOXO #1 - Good
10. Anti-Hero #1 - Good
11. Letter 44 #1 - Good
12. Silver Surfer #1 - Bad
13. Grimm Fairy Tales: Helsing #1 - Bad
14. Insufferable #1 - Good
15. Afterlife with Archie #1 - Bad
16. Shutter #1 - Bad
17. The 7th Sword #1 - Good
18. Starlight #1 - Ok
19. Normandy: A graphic history of D-Day - Good
20. Hinterkind #1 - Good

I've got to admit that, by the end, I was pleasantly surprised overall. While there were certainly titles I expected to like which I didn't (Silver Surfer, Shutter, Lumberjanes), there was actually a lot more titles that I didn't expect to like but did (and that was pretty much everything except Insufferable). In fact, if not for my crushingly limited comic book budget, I'd seriously consider picking a fair few of themup full series.

That said, despite it making no change to my pull list, it was pretty fun to read new stuff and get a reminder that the big 2's superhero books aren't the be all and end all when it comes good books.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Qutting is the hardest part

So, a few weeks back (about eight weeks but who's counting) I made a decision to cut all my Marvel books from my pull list. There were a couple of reasons for this, such as the books no longer speaking to me as they once did as well as the fact that money has become tight and so less books could be afforded. Therefore, all five of the books from the house of ideas that I had on my pull list were cut and that was that. In regards to them, I quit!!!

Well, it seems quitting is more difficult than I had realised.

Since I'd made that decision, all the books have had a minimum of two new issues and some have had far more than that. This shouldn't be either a problem or my concern because, having cut them from my pull list, I no longer follow them or the stories held within. I focus on other things. Well ,unfortunately, the Internet seems to have other ideas as since making this decision all I have read is how great certain titles have been during the issues I've missed.

For instance Iron Fist, of which I have only one issue, has been plastered all over Twitter with folks saying how awesome it is. Now, I'm a big fan of Danny Rand's (It's something to do with our shared love of martial arts I think) and I'm now pondering if I should go back on my cut and catch up. This book isn't the only one.

Then, Fantastic Four (of which I have issues going back twelve years) is also going great guns under James Robinson and Leonard Kirk (according to reviews) and Kirk's art just looks so fantastic (forgive the pun) that I'm thinking it wouldn't be that hard to get the outstanding books (there are two, one of which is extra-sized. So, yes, yes it would).

Finally, there's Daredevil which, although I don't read about as much as the others, when I mention to people that I dropped the book I get looks that equal parts disgust and confusion, like I insulted their mother in a foreign language or something. Also, this is still Mark Waid and Chris Samnee and I know they are good and can deliver (based on the past volume), so I find myself thinking my original concerns were just a blip.

AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!

I find myself now considering going back on my earlier decision and picking up the outstanding issues (though for which of these series is another dilemma). In the end, I guess this was somewhat inevitable and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am actually an addict when it comes to comic books. I guess all I can do is stay strong and try and ride out the withdrawal symptoms until I can learn to live without.

Or, you know, I could cave and just be broke. Whichever's easiest.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

My theories (and hopes) about the Netflix Daredevil show

So first thing this morning, while surfing the net, I came across the information (like practically everybody else) that English actor Charlie Cox had been cast as Matt Murdock/Daredevil.

I like this news for a few reasons. 1. I saw Charlie Cox in Stardust and I enjoyed that film and he carried the movie well. 2. Cox is still an unknown (for the most part) actor who is unlikely to bring his previous works to the role for people to compare. 3. Marvel have cast a relatively younger actor in their lead role which, from my thinking, validates a lot of the theories I had about the show.

What are these theories you ask? Well, since I first heard about this series, my main assumption became the belief that it'll be an origin story focusing on Matt (and maybe Foggy) just coming out of Law school and setting up his(their) own practice while, at the same time, he puts on the red tights. Now, given the actor's age this makes sense and it is also more plausible in the bigger universe as no mention was made in prior films/shows.

And if this is the case, then it will lead to my next theory, which is that the fixer will be the main villain. To me, this makes perfect sense as the entire series then becomes Law and Order crossed with Revenge. We'll get to see Daredevil taking out small time crooks in the hopes of being able to put away this big bad who was responsible for his father's death.

That said, I also theorise that the show might try for a tone between the dark noir essence of the Bendis run and the jovial, swashbuckling atmosphere of the current Waid run. This is because while Daredevil is a dark character, Marvel will want something lighter to draw in the younger crowds.

From that point on, my theories become more about my hopes for the show. These include my hope that the original yellow and red costume makes an initial appearance, which, if the origin angle does come into play may certainly happen at least for an episode or two. My other hope is the appearance of villains like Gladiator and Owl come about as hired hitmen during the show.

Then there is my other hope that Elektra DOESN'T appear at any point. Now, I doubt this'll happen (especially as the Middle's Eden Sher was rumoured to be up for a Marvel role. Someone tell me she wouldn't fit the Elektra bill perfectly) but I would be more inclined for the character to be held back until the Defenders mini.

At the end of the day though, as long as they bring the character across as identically as he has been to me in the comics for years, I don't care what happens or doesn't. But I'm looking forward to the series now just to see how far off the mark my assumptions are.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Burnout!!!

So, it's been three weeks since I posted anything here and that's not because any comic books have not been released in that time.

Sadly, I think I may have gotten to the point where, when it comes to comic books, I just don't care all that much.

The reason for this could stem in a change in attitude. In the last six months to a year, the titles I've been reading have really lost their allure with me and I find myself just reading for the sake of reading and not truly enjoying them. This was evidenced in a few weeks back when I cut five marvel titles from my pull list, all of which are produced by quality creators (and two of which, Daredevil and Fantastic Four, I've been reading since the turn of the century).

It's fair to say that maybe I've developed comic book burnout, which isn't exactly a surprise given that for the recent past i've been bombarded by comic books left and right. In the recent past I've not only been to conventions and picked up a ton of additional books I'm still trying to get through, but I've also taken a reviewing job for Pipedream Comics (which is a pretty cool site and worth checking out.) which has me looking at more books still.

A pretty sweet set up huh? Normally, I'd agree but as I prep for a wedding, renovate a house (well, clean and paint it) and look for a new job (damn redundancy) I find time is at a premium; one which keeping up with my favourite hobby struggles to maintain a priority and even causes a burning candle at both ends scenario.

So, is that it?? No, I don't think so, mainly because I can't give up some books quite that easily. I think the best plan is to scale back on what I buy and maybe read some of my already established collection to remind myself of why I am addicted to comics so much. In the meantime, I'll still be writing and trying to find a better use of time and hopefully, in the not too distant future, my pull list will be bulging with comic books again.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Alex + Ada #6 brings more of the awesome.

Ahhh, May is here!!! That means a return to my normal comic book reading routine after a bit of a chaotic time during April, compounded by the fact Alex + Ada #6 was released this week, having seen not hair nor hide of the series during the prior month. Given it's 5-6 week absence, along with it being so good, it stands to reason that I read it first this month. So, has it been worth the wait?The answer to that is 'Hell yes it's been worth the wait!!'

This latest issue picks up where is issue 5 left off (well, almost). It's the following morning and Ada awakes to Alex preparing an exploration into aspects of her newly freed sentience. For the title's heroine, the issue is a journey of discovery as to what she likes and dislikes, her wants and desires. However, the one thing she wants is to go outside; something Alex feels they are not quite ready to experience.

Whereas the first five issues focused more on Alex and his need to re-connect, issue 5 obviously is the beginning of an arc that is all about Ada. She is the star of this part, as she attempts to discover herself and gain something that she so apparently pines for; Freedom.

I have enjoyed this book since the first issue, but I never dreamed that it could improve upon the perfection it has already established. Sarah Vaughan and Jonathan Luna totally flip the book over by focusing on the imerging personality of Ada, which is the right thing to do. Have been shown very much as the robot she is in the first arc, to see a kindness an almost child-like curiousity emerge from the character makes her so lovable, as does the heartbreak she emits when told she can't go outside.

And, with these expressions is where the art truly shines. Throughout the issue, Ada expresses subtle moments of sadness and regret due to her now 'socially unwelcome' circumstances, hinting her knowledge that she is not, truly, free. I've said how much I like Luna's art, but these moments are the best and they enhanced what the book is saying to me tenfold. Also, the way the first page mimicked page 1 of issue 1 was breathtaking

In fact, so good is this book that the only flaw I saw is that while it makes sense to have this be Ada's time to shine, Alex feels a little relegated to a more supporting character. That said, I suspect that this is just a case of not enough space in the book to further flesh out his thoughts on what's happening, something I have no doubt will be rectified later.

Despite my love of this book, I'm still astonished by the fact of how truly incredible this issue and series is. I'm already tearing my hair out at the thought of waiting 8 weeks (yes, next month it's released at the end of June, not the beginning) as the final page just has me needing to know what happens next. It's earned its place as my number one book in a month and I just hope I'm not alone in that thinking.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Comic book catch-up.

Gotta love bank holidays!!! I sure do, as they are three day weekends which can allow me to catch up with everything that I had yet to get round to. On this bank holiday just passed that list included seeing the new Cap movie (which was pretty damn awesome) and, maybe more importantly, reading all the comic books from April which had yet to be picked up from my local comic store, not to mention the new release which saw out the month.

What I got to read breaks down like this:-

Black Science #6, which I've finally caught up on (woo hoo) after starting on the book late. This issue saw two of the characters fight it out as the Pillar counted down to it's next departure. I gotta say that I love this book just down to how it emits the vibe of a 1960's science fiction show (Time tunnel and Land of the Giants if you wanna know which), but the vibe along isn't what keeps me hooked as the story's got a frenzied pace. And the ending to this issue is just so unexpected for a first arc conclusion that I just gotta come back for the next issue.

Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #4 was next on the list as Mal and the crew put into effect their plan to save the imprisoned Zoe and kidnap lots more River-esque kids to use as a barter/army with/against the Alliance. However, despite an exciting story, this book is having some trouble keeping me on board. The thing is I'm not sure why, though I suspect it's the unrealistic nature of the story in comparison to the characters histories as this big political/conspiracy story doesn't seem like them; they should be robbing trains and the like. That said, the return of the Operative and my intrigue into how this story ends will have me back.
 
Mass Effect: Foundation #10, however, may have a tougher time of getting me back based on this issue alone. This installment focused on master thief Kasumi and the story that led to her DLC for Mass Effect 2. However, much like about half of this series so far, the issue just didn't have any hook to reel me in and get invested into an arc for a character who, on my xbox, is actually quite interesting. The art doesn't help matters unfortunately as panels are very inconsistent. Worse still is the ending (or lack of same) which is either down to poor editing or a unmentioned conclusion in the next issue. Well, I hope the latter is the case.

Lazarus #8, fortunately, put my weekend back on course with another terrific issue which continued to simultaneously follow the Barret family journey to Lift as well as Forever's pursuit of terrorists. Thankfully, despite there being a lot of plot threads going on here, not one of them is at all boring or superfluous in respects to the book. Rucka continues to make a beautifully detailed socio-economic world while, at the same time, making Forever much more compelling. If there's one problem I have with this book its the lack of explanation in the bad guys motives, but maybe that will come up in the next issue.

Daredevil #2 was a book I really wanted to say 'wow I enjoyed that" but (as you can guess), I didn't. With this issue seeing the Man without Fear going against a new Kingpin with the reluctant help of super hero/villain the Shroud, I was unable to invest in this book and found it a tad boring. Once again though, I have no idea why I cannot get into this book as the previous volume was absolutely fantastic and this volume has the exact same creative team as the last. I can only surmise that moving away from Hells Kitchen took something away from the character that I found appealing.
 
Fantastic Four #3 was next up on my list and, much like Daredevil, was an issue which just couldn't keep me invested. The story so the FF deal with the ramifications of the last issue as the Human Torch is powerless. However, besides that item, very little occurred in this issue that was noteworthy (oh, apart from a new Frightful Four at the end). On the plus side, the art is gorgeous and if I were rich I'd keep buying for just that. Sadly, the story just isn't getting to me and as biased for the book as I am, I'd rather be reading something that engrosses me.

Finally, came Secret Origins #1, which I figured I'd give a go. This issue, much like the rest of the series I suspect was a retelling of the origins of various DC characters, on this occasion focusing on Superman, Robin and Supergirl. Up until reading this, I debated if this was just a cheap attempt to make a bit of cash of those wanted answers for DC's missing history in the New 52. However, despite it not being anything at all in helping fill the holes, the book itself was incredibly well written for all three tales with fantastic art. Sadly, given that I already know almost all origins (god bless DC and Marvel encyclopedias), the well written book with great art isn't getting on my pull list. Still a good way to end a binge-read.

And that was that! A bit of a epic reading session which, unfortunately, had just as many duds as great reads. Fortunately, it's helped me make a decision about the last few books I was mulling over and, starting on this months pick ups, I can now be reading a larger percentage of good books from my pull list.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

New comixology app isn't actually that bad.

I'm probably going to earn the evil glare of a million comic book geeks worldwide for saying this but it's true, I don't think the new comixology app is that bad.

Ok, ok, hear me out before you all hit me!!!

This time yesterday I had written a post (which, before you go looking, didn't get published) ranting about the Comixology app and its lack of a store on there. To be fair, this made it a valid rant as Comixology's whole idea of removing the app's store is incredibly dumb, making the whole buying digital comics experience much more complicated and time-consuming than maybe it should be. Now, maybe it's a legitimate change, as an interview with Comic Book Resources states that the change was made to be more in line with Amazon's procedures , however it seems a bit hypocritical given Amazon have an app which you can buy through.

Nonetheless, after having my little rant I realised that as much as I can complain the new setup sucks, I haven't really tried the new purchasing system. Therefore, last night I bought Black Science #5 (which, had the added bonus of allowing me to catch up on that series) through Comixology.co.uk.

Doing this required a little more work but the purchase pretty much happened as follows:
1. Select the book
2. Go to the cart and proceed to checkout (all very Amazon so far)
3. Add a debit/credit card (hopefully this is just a one time thing)
4. Complete order.
5. Return to Comixology app and download

And that was it. So in the end, the whole 'buying a digital comic' thing took me about three minutes, with two of those being about inputting payment details which, I'll confess, is annoying but then I'm sure I would have done the same with the app way back when. So, really, the whole process took me a minute and, although it meant going through safari to buy and then to the app to download, I bought the whole comic through my Ipad.

So, what am I trying to say? Well, I guess what I'm saying is this, yes, Amaxology screwed up by taking away the store and yes, it makes a little bit more work before reading the comic book goodness we all want, but then again the setup that's now in place is certainly not the worst thing in the world and, in fact, doesn't fundamentally change the ease with which to buy off comixology (ok, maybe to start with but it's one time, deal with it).

All I can say is if you read this and were not convinced by the changes we've all had to face because of Comixology's change, I'd say give it a go, you may find that all us fans were actually worrying about nothing (well, until Amazon does something worse I guess).

Sunday, 27 April 2014

July 2014 Solicitations.

Finally!!! They have taken their time, but now Wondercon is over (these big cons always seem to delay solicits. Can't imagine why??) the new solicits are out in full and I get to decide what will make my pull list for July 2014.

Now, I'm kinda looking forward to this month's solicitations as it will be the first time that I am working to my new, lower budget. This, of course makes things slightly tougher in regards to what makes the cut and what doesn't, but (strangely) with the culling of every Marvel book I collect (Yes, in the end I dumped the lot. My decision making still sucks) I've found that the decisions as to what to pick up surprisingly easy.

So, what am I wanting this July? Well, here's my list:-

Image-
Low #1 - This makes the list more on a bet than anything else. My mate recommended it and his recommendations have been.... above average (Harvest and Punk Rock Jesus scored. Five Ghosts tanked). If he fails he's 2 for 4, but I'm quietly confident on his behalf as the premise sounds good, although Tocchini's art isn't my favourite (though maybe it'll grow on me).

Spread #1 - Another newbie to the list and, after proving himself to me, Justin Jordan is getting another shot with a book that sounds like a really cool (if overused) concept. With the imagery already in my head looking fantastic, here's hoping the art is THAT good.

Alex + Ada #8 - Ah, Alex + Ada. At this point I'm not sure I need to justify buying this series. Granted, there's two issues between where I am now and issue 8, but unless it tanks horribly, I will still not give this book up.

Black Science #7 - I gotta confess, Black Science is a bit of a dark horse (no, not the publisher). I picked up issue 1 during Comixology's giveaways a couple of months back and now I'm hooked. I've gotten 3 issues in and I'm catching up like crazy, but so far this book has been incredibly engrossing and I think it's worth a place at my table.

Lazarus #10 - I gotta say, when I first gave this title a chance I had no idea it would actually be as good as it is (and good is an understatement by far). Lazarus is a quality title that is grossly underrated. The solicit for this issue sounds like it'll deviate from the series protagonist briefly but don't matter if it's still present with the same terrific skill and style.

DC-
Earth 2 #25 - Still (in my opinion) the best series DC put on shelves, the solicits tease of a battle between Supermen which, with Scott's art, will sure be something worth seeing.

Dark Horse-
Mass Effect: Foundations #13 - Though I'm yet to see the Dark Horse solicits, the end is finally here!! I'll be honest and say I've found this series a little hit and miss, but overall it's been ok. But as I've made it to the finale I might as well pick up the final issue.

Honourable Mention
Fantastic Four #7 and Daredevil #5-6  because, as of April 24th (when I wrote this), both series have one last issue left for me to pick up before they get canned. Though the decision has been made, based on its' past efforts, to drop it, if the book somehow pulls off an absolutely brilliant installment in their final issue with me, then it will be allowed a return to the table. However, with my budget practically gone by this point, I have to confess that I don't rate the titles chances too highly.

And that's it. Seven titles (8 if you count the honourable mention) which, if I'm honest, I'm (mostly) very excited about. However, with a couple of months between now and then I'm sure my opinion will change and some of these books will go (and those I've cut will sneak back, I'm fickle that way). I have done it before after all.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Which Marvel books to hit the chopping block?

I have a bit of a full on weekend this coming Easter. First up is a few days away with my beautiful wife to be followed by a few additional days hanging with the in-laws.

It's during this second part that my weekend hits important heights as I need to go through all my current Marvel Now titles and make a decision that may have huge ramifications to my collection going forward: What Marvel books should hit the chopping block and be cut from my pull list.

Now, I often talk about cutting books, but on this occasion it is a little more extreme. Due to financial problems (like my wedding. Damn, those things are expensive!!!) I'm having to cut the funds I give to comics by a staggering 50% (wow). Actually, it's not that much (only £20/$33.67), but it still means cutting away a LOT of books that have now become very ingrained in my monthly ritual of travel to shop, pick up, read.

So, what are the candidates? Well, I've got to read a total of nine issues from 5 titles between now and Tuesday morning (that's 4 and a half days from time of writing) with only 1 to remain. They include:

Fantastic Four #1 & 2 - I have issues going back to 2001 for FF, so I'm a little hopeful that the series stays. Coupled with Leonard Kirk's art this might make it a favourite, but Fraction's run left a bitter taste in my mouth and I'm wondering if now's the time to end my allegiance.

Daredevil #1 & 1.50 - Again, I have a LOT of issues of this series, going back to Brubaker's time. Also Waid and Samnee's last run was incredible, so this might be the favourite. But the first issue didn't wow me and I wonder if the new number 1 took away some of the magic.

She-Hulk #1 - 3 - This is the title most likely to be canned, simply because I continuously am umming and erring over whether it deserves to stay. However, it's got a similar premise to Hawkeye (it's more day to day, less super heroics) that might give it a fighting chance.

Inhuman #1 - Admittedly, only has one issue to prove itself and it did well, but I need to be tough and the artwork alone might not save it, which I still think is its main draw for me.

Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #1 - Ok, I find myself leaning toward this one for no other reason than Iron Fist is awesome. But I need to find more in order to make it worthy of saving and after one read, I'm on the fence about it.

So, I got a lot to read, not much time to read it in and a lot on the line once it's done. I hate making decisions on a general basis and it was tough going up until this point as I had already gone through my DC and Image books and decided they were all good enough to stay (so kudos to them). However, it's hard deciding amongst these five Marvel books, which either means they are equally good or (more worryingly) equally bad. I guess I've got four days to figure that one out, and just hope I've got the discipline to cut those that aren't worth keeping.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

New 52 DC books get new Issue 1's. Um...why??

So this week (for reasons I'm not quite sure about) DC have unveiled new issue 1's for a "new" Teen Titans series and a "new" Suicide Squad series.

umm......why?

I'm a bit confused as to the reasoning behind this in painful honesty. I mean, I totally get that issue 1's sell better than any other numbered comic (as Marvel seem to think, what with their new issue 1's hitting shelves every five minutes. But I digress), but Suicide Squad and Teen Titans are series that were still running up until this point. Why create new first issues for these series now?

The logical reasoning would be that it's a series that hasn't been around for a while, but that's obviously crap because both were in the June solicits and Teen Titans was actually confirmed to be cancelled only a few weeks ago.

The next rationale behind it would be the change of these books creative teams. I mean, Marvel constantly relaunch a series with a new issue 1 whenever their creative teams change up (or, in Daredevil's case, when the creative team stay the same) so it stands to reason that DC could emulate that. However, though Teen Titans had Scott Lobdell from the very beginning, I'm pretty sure that Suicide Squad have had a few different creators on this book since the title was released.

Beyond those, I'm not sure of any other viable reason to release new issue 1's for already existing titles beyond some sort of vanity exercise.

Now, I've no doubt that they'll make more sales because of these issue 1's, but it just disappoints me that they went this way. I figured, after the reboot, these series would go on to issues 100, 200, etc like comic books used to do before everyone(and I mean Marvel) felt the need to to relaunch a book every 10 seconds.

Also, if both these books were doing poorly enough to be cancelled (which I assume is the case for Suicide Squad), why are they being given this second chance? What about Demon Knights, Grifter, etc? The books that weren't superhero based (which, admittedly, I don't remember the names of) which didn't last long and have returned to the ether, where are they?

At the end of the day, I'm a little disappointed that DC are doing this. But then again, I doubt these series would have impressed me any more had they remained with issue 30 something instead of going back to issue 1. It just worries me books like Action Comics' #900 from a couple of years back (which was awesome) will be a one off and comics will never see three digit numbering ever again.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Review: Inhuman #1

Inhuman #1 came out this week, the first of three brand new issue ones I'll be picking up during the month of April. As I've said previously, Inhuman was a bit of a late entry, which I only picked on account of the fantastic art shown in the previews. However, after the first issue, I've got to admit that it's not just the art that makes me a little tempted to go for number 2.

Inhuman #1
The title picks up from Marvel's Inhumanity event (which I didn't read, though I didn't seem to find that as a problem). With the Inhuman's city of Attilan destroyed, Black Bolt (possibly) dead and a cloud of Terrigen Mists traversing the globe converting ordinary people who have the bits of Inhuman genes into full-on Inhumans. With this going on, Medusa attempts to salvage what's left of her people, but a new villain has arrived on the scene who wishes to claim the new Inhumans for his own.
 
The way I've described the plot, I think, makes for a pretty great book. Unfortunately, the issue seems to get bogged down at the beginning by exposition which, though necessary (because I doubt I'm the only person who didn't read inhumanity) made it difficult to to get into. That said, once all the necessary is done with, things do pick up and Charles Soule writes a great first issue. Medusa, who has always been a character in someone else's shadow, comes across as a strong character in her own right, while new Inhuman Dante already seems very interesting as he gets to grip with his new predicament. The only sticking point is the villain Lash, who comes across as the Inhuman version of Apocalypse and maybe needs more back story to come off as more compelling.
The new villain, but
what's his deal?
 
The art, of course, is what brought me to this book and it does not disappoint. Joe Madureira's pencils are truly fantastic from beginning to end, especially in regards to the characters. Then there is Marte Garcia's colours which, being so deep greatly enhance every panel. My favourites throughout the issue though are the shots with Medusa herself, who's signature long hair actually looks like it has a mind of its own whenever it is drawn, not to mention the unbelievably cool shots of her in shadow, which I think make the character way more bad ass.
 
Being the first of three issue ones that I'm picking up, Inhuman has made a strong argument for me to upgrade to a permanent place on my pull list, although what concerns me is that each issue will take half of its content before it gets good. However, although it'll now have to wait for what Secret Origins and Iron Fist bring to the table, Inhumans #1 has set itself up as a good contender for that coveted pull list spot.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

How to decide what to buy digitally?

Ok, so this has been bugging me for a while but how do I decide what comic books I should buy digitally?

Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoy digital and print comics in equal measure, but how my pull list is divided between them is not so equal, with print getting the lion's share. This, of course, becomes a problem as print issues take up a lot more space. I've got seven short boxes and two long boxes, along with three shelves of trades throughout my home (not to mention the tonne of physical books, dvd's and video games, but that's a conversation for another time).

So, I ask this question because I figure, maybe it's time I started to readdress the balance between print and digital and save myself some space. That said, how do I choose what to buy digitally and what to buy as print?

In order to decide this, it's probably best to show what the current split looks like. When I buy digitally, books consist of Alex + Ada, Dead Body Road and Serenity: Leaves on the Wind. With Print however, the books are Earth 2, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, She-Hulk, Lazarus and Mass Effect: Foundations.

Based on those lists, print books consist of (mostly) ongoing series while digital are made up of limited series. This, I think is a good way to differentiate as Ongoing series could be considered more collectable while, at the same time, if I had 50 issues of Daredevil on my Ipad (my primary source of digital comic reading), then a) disk space would be all gone and b) my OCD would go crazy at having so much on my Ipad.

Of course, it becomes an problem when I pick up an ongoing series that ends up finishing after, say, 12 issues. Uncanny X-Force (Remender's run) was terrific and I got every issue. However, if I'd known it would have ended at issue 30 then I would have considered getting the whole thing digitally. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

This month I'm picking up issue 1's of Secret Origins, Iron Fist and Inhuman. I'm highly suspicious that none of these will last past 30 issues and am tempted to digitally pick up either Inhuman or Secret Origins. However, if by some miracle that were to happen, then the above problems for me would kick in, which I don't really want to face (though maybe I should).

Maybe I should stick with the division method I currently have in place; ongoings in print, limiteds by digital. However, with less limited series making my list that is becoming very skewed against digital and that's not what I want. I want to lessen the burden on the space in my house, which means digital is the way forward. I want to balance out my collection between the long box and the memory box, I just need a new criteria with which to distinguish between them.

If anyone who reads this can give me a suggestion, I'm all ears.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Bring forth the Book of Life

I received an exciting piece of news in my Twitter feed earlier this week. Jon Lock, the writer and creator of the brilliant (and it is brilliant, as I've mentioned here and here) smash indie series Afterlife inc. who I met at last years' Bristol comic expo, was bringing his heavenly title back to us fans in a new, fancy hardcover omnibus.

The Book of Life by Jon Lock
On Tuesday, April 1st 2014, a kickstarter campaign begins to help in the funding of the printing and distribution for the Book of Life, a 376 page title which not only collects the first three volumes of Afterlife Inc. in full colour pages, but also includes tonnes of special features including covers, art and a never before seen tale. It's a fantastically packaged set and all it needs is your help to become a reality.

For those not in the know (and haven't read what I've previously written), Afterlife inc. tells the story of Jack Fortune, a smooth-talking con-man who, following his untimely death, finds himself in an afterlife in chaos. At that point he decides, with the help of an eclectic team of souls and angels, to take over and run the place like a business.

If you want to hear more about Afterlife Inc. and the Book of Life project, check out this video, which is narrated by Jon Lock himself.

Now, if you haven't gotten onboard with Afterlife Inc. yet then I assure you, now would be a great time to start. It's a fantastic series (As I suspect I've mentioned before) with a premise unlike anything else you can hope to read at present, panels just exploding off their pages and stories that are thrilling and downright enjoyable from start to finish. The Book of Life can bring to you this awesome saga in its entirety and, while it will retail for £40, if you step up and help make its existence a reality, then you can pre-order through Kickstarter for just £35. A nice reward for helping bring this book TO life!

The board meeting is back in session!
Of course, you could get in there REALLY early with your support, in which case you can secure an early-bird price of only £30 for a copy - and that, I think, is a bargain. However, there is only a limited number of copies for this deal so you might want to get in there quick. Be sure to add yourself to their official mailing list for lots of information and to be notified when the kickstarter launches so you can get in there before all others for that great deal.

If you want more info on the series or the creator himself, visit Jon's website at www.jonlock.com.

Trust me when I tell you that this series is a must-read, which makes this campaign a must to fund. It's an incredible series which is one of the top 100 indie books on Comixology  (you can pick up all three volumes here), however this campaign is also a must to support because of the creator. Jon Lock has done what many independent creators wish they could do and has put together three great volumes based on a single exciting and compelling world filled with likeable characters. The Book of Life is a testament to the commitment of great storytelling away from the big publishers and, because of these reasons, it deserves to exist. So, all I can say is show your support and help Jon Lock make this book a reality.

Update: The Kickstarter has begun! If you fancy backing this project (and hopefully, all I've said before has convinced you) click here to reach the page and make you contribution.