Monday, 28 December 2015

Hopes and plans for 2016.

So, as 2016 is here, I feel like I should be planning ahead.

I did this last year with a list of things I want to see, so I thought I'd do it again. The difference this time round is I've split the list in two categories; hopes and plans.

The hopes are what I want to see, the plans are what I want to do (nice and easy that way)

1. Return of the Fantastic Four - Unless a meteor strikes and wipes out 20th Century Fox, I do not see this happening. However, given how much I love this book, I still really, really hope Marvel brings it back. Hell, I'll even write it, I've got some ideas (give me a call Marvel)!!!! But, regardless, this book was what got all your others off the ground, so bring it back, the first family deserve that much respect.

2. Cheaper comics - I know I'm not alone on this one but a few cheaper comics would really help with my ever shrinking pull list. Most books are now $3.99 and, while all creators deserve the money they get, I do wish comics cost a little less so I could buy a few more.

3. A Max Landis inspired/written Superman - I read Action Comics from #1 to 21 of the new 52 as well as Superman #42 and I've kept my ear to what's going on there of late. I have to admit though that I'm not liking what they are doing with him. Therefore I really hope, in 2016, DC move away from Emo Superman and move towards something more like what Max Landis is doing in his Superman American Alien series. Hell, get him to write it, I don't care. All I know is if I wanted to read Batman, I'd read Batman! Oh, on the note......

4. A Renae De Liz written Wonder Woman series - I've just found out that the Legend of Wonder Woman is actually a digital first and have picked up the first chapter, followed by further instalments as its really good. The thing is, while I've not read much Wonder Woman in my time, I've heard about the recent depiction and how the character seems really dark. So, like the Landis/Superman thing, I really hope De Liz can write what I've so far read in Legend as the main series. Now that I'd be willing to buy.

5. Lots more cool indie comics - when I say that I of course mean Chunks 3, 7String vol. 3, After
I've Inc. vol. 4, more Midnight man and more Rachael Smith comics. But of course I mean I really hope I can get hold of loads more great indie books which I've yet to o come across.

1. Re-read some old comic series - late into last year, I had a real desire to read some old comics and after reading Silver Surfer: Requiem I decided to read more of them. So I've thought up several series and these include:
Fantastic Four
Secret Warriors
Justice League Generation Lost
The Activity
The Immortal Iron Fist
Black Panther: Most dangerous man alive
Captain Britain and Mi:13
Young Avengers (all issues from all series)
Point of Impact

2. Finish my top secret writing project - I've been working on something since for a couple of months now and had intended to finish it in time for the birth of my first child. Now, it's not likely to happen in that time (I have until the start of April) but I'd still like to finish in 2016.

3. Sell some comics - I need to make some space and so I need to shift some comics. The problem is I don't know how or to where, I just know I have to. Hopefully a solution will reveal itself during the year, but I hope it's quick as I don't want my kid using comic boxes to prop up the crib.

4. Make a decision on completing my run of the Massive - I keep umming and aching this. I own the first 15 issues of Brian Wood's the Massive and, while I found it very hot and coldin places, I can't seem to bring myself to get rid of it. But a half finished story isn't really a story and so I need to make the decision, but the final 15 issues or not! 

5. Frame some signed comics - this isn't really a major comic plan, but I couldn't think of anything else and so thought I'd use this to round out the five. But I have a load of signed comics at home, sat in a box, which deserve better placement. Hence I should frame them and put them on a wall (along with a Superman wedding special which was a wedding gift).

And that's it. Hopefully all the plans will be carried out in 2016.

As for the hopes, well I won't expect miracles, but always have faith.

2016, my last year of comics (maybe)

Now that title doesn't seem as final as maybe I'd hoped, but then that's probably because I'm hoping it doesn't happen.

However, if the next year doesn't work out as hoped, 2016 will be the final year I write about comics on here (and maybe even collect them).

The reason for this is simple: I don't enjoy comics like I used to!

It's rather heartbreaking to finally, after 13 or so years, stop loving comics like I used to but the main crux of it is there are two things which have changed for me; time and quality.

With the first it's a simple thing. I'm married now and my wife is expecting our first child. As a result of both of these (as well as a house to keep tidy) my free time has decreased to maybe an hour a day, a length of time which will only decrease as I start a new job which I need to put masses of effort in so that I impress and extend the contract from 6 months to indefinite. As a result of all of this, comics have to take a back seat.

Also, I have a suspicion my wife dislikes this hobby of mine which, understandably, takes up a lot of space in our small home. Therefore, by no longer collecting and maybe even selling off a few issues, maybe I can make her a little happier.

As for the second, it's a little more complicated. I've noticed in the last couple of years a distinct change in comics, specifically the big two. While Marvel has changed their whole universe to take more of a look and feel of their cinema/tv universe, DC seems to have gone really dark and, in my mind, morbid with all their books. For me, neither of these have greatly appealed and has seen the number of books I collect from both publishers reduce as they have become a lot more 'corporate'.

This leaves only Image as a source of good comics but, because of their varied nature, I'm not able to find many titles which really take my fancy and so I don't have many books left on my pull list as 2015 closes. A number I don't see increasing any time soon.

Therefore, I figure that at the end of 2016, which is this blogs 5th birthday, it'll be time to stop writing here and focus on grown-up life (along with reviews at pipedream comics, which I plan to continue should time allow). It will have been a fun five years of writing down my thoughts but if I have no more comics I won't have much to write about.

Of course, none of this may happen. I may find that better comics hit the shelves, I have more time than I expected in order to read them and I'm able to reach a compromise between my family and my hobby. That's why there's a maybe!

But it's a big maybe, one too big to believe will happen. So, if this my last year of comics, I'm going to try and get as many thoughts down as I can before my time is up.

I doubt that'll happen either, but sometimes I'm just too damn optimistic ;-) 

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

My favourites of 2015!!!

So, 2015 is (almost) over!!!

Ok, not quite as it's Christmas Eve Eve, but comics are pretty much done for me this year with many changes to my pull list, lots of con attendances and plenty of reviews meaning that I've been able to read a LOT of books.

And because I enjoyed doing it last year, I figured I'd list out my favourite comic related stuff for the past 12 months (this time with a few extra categories)!!!

Favourite Comic Book Issue: Superman: American Alien #1. Ok, this was a late entry to the year but, oh my God, what a late entry!! Just a month earlier I'd picked up Superman #42 and felt it , along with what I'd read from Action Comics, DC was doing the character a disservice. But Max Landis changed my thinking right here and it's ingrained optimism had me going back time and again.

Runner-Up: Fantastic Four #645. Totally got screwed at the eleventh hour, otherwise it would have been my favourite. The FF's final issue was just so beautiful a send off for the characters and because it is my favourite book, I just couldn't place it anywhere else.

Favourite Comic Book Series: Black Science. Last year, Black Science was a book which was middle of my list. This year, it totally hit high gear with something and is now my number one. It was exciting, action-packed, intense and I couldn't put it down. It's been so good, even a 2-3 month hiatus couldn't put me off it.

Runner-Up: Daredevil. Here was another book which seemed to achieve a miracle with me in this last year. The 1st volume of the Waid/Samnee run was near perfect and so I struggled to get into the 2nd volume and DD's move to San Francisco. Well, the book really picked up it's game in the run up to the end and, so, deserves my praise for it.

Favourite Comic Book Writer: Greg Rucka (Lazarus/Black Magick). I was stuck here with a three way tie, but then Black Magick #1 came out and solidified my decision. The Poison and War arcs on Lazarus have been incredible and Black Magick's first issue was stunning. Both books have been so well written, I expect more of the same next year.

Runner-Up: (Tie) Mark Waid (Daredevil)/Rick Remender (Black Science). Like I said, it was a three way tie and so it makes sense the other two tie for runner up. Besides that, both Waid and Remender made me turn 180 on their books (as stated above) and so they both deserve acknowledgement.

Favourite Comics Book Artist: Babs Tarr (Batgirl). You know, it really was a shame that I couldn't get into Batgirl because Babs Tarr's art is so gloriously beautiful. It is so refreshingly different, that even if I couldn't get into the book, I'm glad I bought issues just for their panels.

Runner-Up: Nicola Scott (Black Magick). I swear, I REALLY love Nicola Scott's art. Her stuff on Earth 2 was terrific and her work on Black Magick's first issue was a thousand times better still. She lost out simply because Black Magick has only one issue. Next year she'll have top spot, I'm sure.

Favourite Comic Book Inker/Colourist: Chiara Arena (Black Magick). This decision became really easy after one panel. This panel:

Really, what more needs to be said?

Runner-Up: Matt Milla (Daredevil). Much like the winner, maybe I'm being presumptive, basing this on a single issue at the end of the year. However, while picking up the new Daredevil wasn't entirely a good thing, the nior-esque monochrome, gold and red that Milla used here is just SO beautiful that I couldn't resist making him the runner-up.

Favourite Independent Comic Book: Porcelain/Bone China (Improper Books). Ok, I'm cheating a bit but I've literally read both of these in the last week but I sure wish I had gotten round to reading them sooner. This is a truly gorgeous series with an unbelievably wonderful story which, and if I never read anything else again then I'll still be happy.

Runner-Up: (Tie) House Party (Rachael Smith)/Chunks (Matt Garvey). Until a week ago, these two were slugging it out for top spot, then Porcelain arrived. House Party is a slice of real life comic which is written so beautifully. Chunks could be the funniest thing I've ever read. These are great books who lost out at the last minute and so I'm happy to cheat here.

Favourite Comic Book Character: Johanna Carlyle (Lazarus). OMHG!!! This character was a truly despicable character when Lazarus first started, but the most recent arc (17-20) has made her just so much more interesting. I truly hate this character, but I have to know where she goes next.

Runner-Up: Kirsten McDuffie (Daredevil). She almost won. Almost. Waid wrote such a strong female character here who was every inch the equal to Daredevil. There's one issue with her on the cover holding a gavel. That's what clinched it for me. Pray Marvel don't kill her off.

Favourite Comic Convention: True Believers Comic Festival 2015. Definitely my favourite Con of the year. True Believers did everything right. It was glorious, I had so much fun and, as a result, it just pipped Melksham to the post.

Runner-Up: Melksham Comic-Con 2015. It wasn't really fair as Melksham was SO good this year. Great in depth conversations with creators, great, topical panels and tonnes of the good stuff (comics). It more than made up for my lacklustre trip to Sheffield's Con.

Favourite Comic Book inspired TV show: Daredevil. This was an easy decision, without a doubt. From Theme music to final scenes, story to action, costume to atmosphere; Daredevil had everything for me and if all the other Netflix shows are half as good (as Jessica Jones was deffo more than half) then they'll be awesome!

Runner-Up: The Flash. I was going to give the runner-up slot to Jessica Jones but then I remembered something. Jessica Jones hasn't given me Rogues, Gorilla Grodd, Jay Garrick or King Shark. The Flash has, and it's been so totally comic booky and fun while doing it.

Favourite Comic Book Movie: Ant-Man. Before both movies came out, I expected these films to be swapped around here, but Ant-Man showed it was the bigger film (figuratively speaking) to me. It was pure awesomeness, with a good representation of my favourite Ant-Man, Scott Lang.

Runner-Up: Avengers: Age of Ultron. On the flip side, Avengers AoU, was really cool with some great characters added to the roster, but it lost out to the little man in my eyes because it bogged itself down too much (I really need to rate this Marvel movies now, 1 - 12). It got 2nd place due to the lack of competition.

And so, that's that! Like I said, a few extra categories this year, but I figured I'd had a little more time to think about these things. Sadly, my choices seemed limited to only a handful of comics which is a sign of my current pull list size.

Hopefully next year I can get a few more books on the roster and open out the field a little bit more.

Friday, 18 December 2015

December Comics (well, some of them).

I'm cramming real hard to try and get everything I want to write about written before Christmas and the New Year, so expect a lot of thoughts over the holiday period.

Today, I thought I'd post my musings on some of Decembers comics. I say some because issues at my LCS has meant that certain books (Black Magick, Where is Jake Ellis?) were not placed in my folder when I was last in there.

Thankfully though, a few digital books and a birthday present has, at least, meant that I still talk about a few things.

So first on the reading list was Black Science #18, which picked up direct from issue 17 and helped me clarify that the Godworld arc was really a trip to fix McKay's damaged psyche. But, as well as helping me clarify the premise, this was an all round better issue and felt like a real return to form as the pace picked up and Grant faced his fears alongside his brother. I have to be honest, while I've enjoyed the adventurous, very pulpy nature of Black Science since it's beginning, delving into Grant's damaged past was really insightful and, hopefully, will make him a much more noble (for want of a better word) protagonist going forward. So now I'm back on board after that prior bump in the road, although I have to admit that I'm unsure of where it can go next as this plot point seems to have been resolved. Oh well, I have faith in Remender and Scalara because they've done so well so far.

Next up I read Daredevil #1, which wasn't a planned purchase as I was still avoiding Marvel. However, as my wife bought it for me as a birthday present I figured I'd give it a read and see if Charles Soule and Ron Garney could keep me hooked liked their predecessors. This all-new (all-different apparently) volume saw the man without fear return to New York, go to work as a prosecutor, get a black outfit and pick up a sidekick. Unfortunately, while the art was absolutely gorgeous, having this really washed out noir look crossed with a Schindler's list colour scheme (lots of red standing out), the story struggled to do anything for me. I know that the book takes place eight months after Secret Wars (sigh), but there are just too many plot holes preventing me from understanding how Matt Murdock has gotten his secret identity back and why he's at odds with Foggy (oh, and where's Kirsten McDuffie?). Also, Matt comes off as a bit of a jerk compared to the Waid/Samnee run, which also helps put me off. As a result, I'm a little put off by this and am now only considering issue 2 because of the awesome visuals and the hope that some of my questions will be answered, though I'd say the outlook is good.

So, with those two read I finally (yesterday morning in fact) finished up by reading Superman: American Alien #2, which saw the now teenager Clark who, upon finding a terrible crime having occurred in Smallville, takes it upon himself to track down those responsible. After reading this issue, I have to admit I wasn't as hooked as I was with issue 1, as it came off as darker and not as fantastical (with good reason though). However, despite that I still really enjoyed this issue as Clark did the whole rebellious teen bit while at the same time showing another sign of becoming the Man of Tomorrow. I also really liked this month's artist as Tommy Lee Edwards' work really gave a Black Hood vibe, which suited the more brutal tone of the story. If there is one thing which I really liked though was the number of people who know about Clark's secret. It kind of makes sense that others in Smallville would know more about him and, as a result, help protect him, so I hope we see more of it. Overall, it was still a good read and the added bonus at the end certainly helps make me want to come back for more. That said, I just hope the future instalments don't have such a dark, Man of Steel-esque tone.

So, that's December done (unless a miracle occurs and I can get back to the LCS before Xmas) for me, with any remaining books not being read until January. However, I've got 12 days of Comixology to read until then and, all being well, good Black Magick and Lazarus issues will make the delay worth the wait.

But until then, Merry Christmas. Hope everyone (especially me) gets lots of comics!!!

Friday, 27 November 2015

Novembers comics (so far)

In truth, I kind of expected not to write about any print comics for a few more weeks. The reason being is that, as my local comic book shop is in the town centre, I hadn't planned on any more than one trip before the new year so I could avoid the crowds of Christmas shoppers.

Well, things (as per usual with me) haven't gone to plan, though in a positive way, as I was able to go in last weekend.

And, like the last pick up of print comics, it's only two books and only one of them managed to impress me.

(This is becoming a bit of a trend).

So, first up was Lazarus #20, which finally returns after (what feels like) a lengthy absence, and sees Forever, recently resurrected, trying to regroup with her team and finish the mission. Meanwhile, at home, Johanna's plans take an unexpected turn.

Now, Lazarus is one of my top books (which, in fairness, doesn't take much as I pick up so few) but after reading this issue, I think it's break and delayed releases has given the series a slight breath of fresh air. Issue 20 was captivating from start to finish, with Forever taking a back seat while Casey and Johanna taking the lead, with more supporting characters like Arthur and Marisol being given more time to shine. This issue really made me think of the book as more an ensemble series than before.

But also, the political manoeuvring which was occurring in the home portions really have me more intrigued about what is to come. I've also been left with questions about the loyalties of characters I'd previously thought I had a good handle on. Issue 20 was a fantastic instalment and has me looking forward to 21.

Unfortunately, I don't think I can say the same after having read Unfollow #1, which tells the story of a social media mogul who, on his deathbed, bequeathes equal portions of his vast fortune to 140 random strangers as well as inviting them to meet at his remote island home.

Unfollow was a really interesting book when I saw it in previews a few months back with the concept feeling like a internet inspired ten little Indians. However, after an intriguing start, this book really fell apart for me afterwards with some unusual events, like a talking leopard.

However, the biggest problem for are the characters, with the first characters of the 140 introduced coming across as rather arrogant and unlikable to me. Added to this is an ending which feels unconnected to the main story, with a guy who looks like Hershal from the Walking Dead (seriously!!), I've come away from reading this issue feeling rather underwhelmed.

So, once again, I've finished a reading session with only one book wowing me. The hard part for me now is do I give Unfollow another chance (breaking my recently set up rules) or do I stay strong and drop it for something else.

Either way, issue 2 will be a guarantee for me, as it comes out next week. That said, this won't be the big part of my next reading session as Where is Jake Ellis'? final issue comes out.

All I can say to that is 'finally'!!!

Monday, 16 November 2015

Superman: American Alien #1

This weekend I was away at my in-laws, which means my time was not being taken up by masses of housework and 'real-life' problems.

It also means I got free time to read my comics sooner, which is convenient because this past week saw the release of Superman: American Alien #1.

I've been quietly looking forward to American Alien since its announcement. Looking like and described as a series focusing on Superman in his youth, at key moments which defined the character we all know now, I envisioned this being the New 52's answer to Smallville (though maybe a bit better) with the character coming across more as I remember him pre 52 rather than the tortured, un-Superman like character I'm currently seeing in DC's main super titles. However, this last week has seen my confidence waiver due to other 'bad' opinions cropping up on the Internet (I really should avoid spoilers).

That said, I've since realised that I was worrying about nothing. This is because, after reading it, I've discovered that Superman: American Alien is vastly better than I ever could have imagined!

Taking place during Clark's childhood, the first issue follows his learning to fly (which seems to kick in at inappropriate moments and he lacks any control over) and its impact on his feelings of normalcy when compared to everyone else, as well as his relationship with his parents.
And, after reading it, all I can say is wow! This book is such an incredible book and feels so quintessentially Superman in its hope and optimism that I don't think I have ever read a better take on the character.
That's a strange thing to say given its story is a lot about Clark's angst and worry about being different. However, the thing is that Max Landis seems to have really infused this book with heart, especially between the Kent family who read almost exactly like I always envisioned them to be; never afraid, always supportive and it shows how Superman is such a genuine character when he grows up.
But to me, the truly best part of this book is the portrayal of Jonathan Kent who, while starting off seemingly a little afraid of his son's change, really shines as such a great father figure, equal parts stern yet caring. I could truly believe how Superman became Superman with this guy as a dad (and I kinda hope I can be this kind of when with my own kids).

And then there's Nick Dragotta's art, which I feel silly for having doubted before seeing this book (I mistakenly remembered him drawing some bad books on FF. I don't think that was him now though). There's a scene which best encapsulates the whole feel of the book and its this:

This is such a cool, fun and light-hearted panel that it pretty much explains rest of the book, using the art to keep the issue balanced against the angst and worry Clark goes through in the plot.

So, after reading this, and despite having not yet picked up and read my print comics (a couple more weeks before that happens), I'm convinced that Superman: American Alien is my best comic of the month, if not the year. It was absolutely phenomenal and, after reading it five times already, I'm totally looking forward to the next issue now. Even with a different artist on each issue, if this book has the same feel on them as it does here, I don't think I'll ever read a better Superman ever again!!

That's actually a little sad now that I think about it.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Black Science #17.

I'm now a week behind on my comics. This is better than being the month behind that I was last week, but I figured after that catch up I'd more likely to stay up to date for the foreseeable future.

Well, work and general real life seems to have proven that plan wrong.

That said, I have actually read what book (yes book, as in only the one) came out last week, it's just a shame it took me half a week to read and another half to actually get my thoughts down.

But, as proven here, I've finally gotten round to both and so, here are my thoughts on Black Science #17. (Be warned spoilers ahead!!!)

After issue 16 pretty much finished the books first arc (and at 16 issues, that was the longest arc I've ever seen), issue 17 started the 'Godworld' arc. Taking place three years later, we find Grant McKay alone in a strange world salvaging scrap. It seems that just after the last issue the Pillar exploded, separating McKay from his team and Children and scattering them all throughout the Eververse.

Since then the books' lead has been trying to find them, a task he's struggling with as his memories have slowly been 'eaten' away while he's been searching for an elusive power source. However, things seem to ramp up again when, after having a dream of his childhood, McKay encounters a weird alien, a monster from his past and his brother in quick succession as he continues his search for a way off of the 'Godworld'.

Sounds pretty exciting huh? Well I have to admit that this wasn't the case for me. This is because after a real rollercoaster of a first arc, I was totally caught off guard by such a drop in pace for this rather slow burn issue. I also found what happened after his 'dream' to be a little confusing and had me wondering is it all a dream or hallucination? I expect it is because how else would his brother have found him but then anything is possible in this series so I think I'll find out next issue.

In truth this wasn't an overly bad issue, as the art is still fantastically pulpy, but is only memorable for me because of the questions it has me asking. By the end all I want to know is where are the rest of the cast? Did any of them die? Why did the Pillar explode? What happened with the Snake/ghost things in three years? and so on and so on.

So not the greatest of returns, but it did a job which I like in my comics, it had me wanting the next issue, if for no other reason than to answer my questions.

Thankfully I won't have to wait as long as I just have for those answers!!

Friday, 6 November 2015

Rebuilding my pull list.

Recently, I listened to an episode of the podcast Longbox Review entitled The Gutters: The culling, in which the host, Eric, went through his pull list and cut it down from seventy five to ten.

It got me thinking about my own pull list, which I've spent the better part of 2015 whittling down to a bare minimum in order to make up for the fact that I'm not as rich as I used to be.

Well, finally, after almost ten months of planning, calculating and cutting I think I've reached that point. I think I've finally gotten my pull list down to the bare minimum I desired.

Now I can rebuild it, after all I have the technology!!! (Six Million Dollar Man. Get it? Because I'm rebuilding ..... Ok, I'll move on).

So, going forward my pull list will consist of several rules in order to keep it at its best:
  1. My Monthly budget will be a fixed figure and any monies not spent on comics during that month will roll over to the next month. This will allow me to the odd extra comic here and there but, regardless, there will be no exceeding that combined total. In the event of that there are too many comics on a pull list then cuts will be enforced (For which see rule 2).
  2. Division of comics between digital and print will consist of the simple plan that all limited/mini-series are bought digitally while all ongoing series will be bought in print (with the exception of Black Science and Copperhead, which were already being picked up digitally). There are logistical reasons for this, such as I'm wanting to save space while I'm not ready to go fully digital yet. But also, digital mini-series mean that I can cut them short to pick back up later in the event of over spending in a particular month, without getting too far behind in a story.
  3. Decisions over whether to drop a series will occur after one poor issue (in my opinion). This is mostly to weed out the stronger new books from the substandard ones (again, all based on my opinion). Also, because I have to order print comics at my LCS two months in advance, I can't give a book more time to impress me as it means ordering further along. Effectively, a comic will last for three issues at minimum. However, titles I have long runs on will get an additional issue to regain itself as I'm pretty much invested by then anyway.
And so, there are the criterion for my pull list (Hey, if Asimov can have three laws of robotics, I can have three for my comics). Of course, I strongly suspect I'll have broken these before I'm halfway through 2016 but at least I can try and control my collecting and stop myself from boing bankrupt or, even worse, being forced to give up comics just as they are getting good.

Now, this is probably not that interesting to anyone else as it's a lot of gobbledygook (even I started getting lost), but I figured if I wrote it all down it would make not sticking to the plan a whole lot harder.

But this is theory, now I've got to put it into practice.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Comics from October.

It's been a few weeks since I last wrote anything here, which is a sad side effect of having a hectic life of late. It isn't the only side effect either as regular reading of comics has also fallen by the wayside, hence why I've only just gotten round to reading the comics released in October now.

That said, it's a little depressing that it still took me so long to pick up and read only two print books which were released during the month. I guess that's a testament to just how busy I've been.

However, read them I now have and, while the reasons for picking both books up were both very different, so were my reactions to them after said reads.

First up, I read Black Magick #1 which I picked up due to it's creative team. Greg Rucka has been killing it writing Lazarus, while Nicola Scott's art on Earth 2 was freaking phenomenal and so I figured this book had to have been a sure thing. Of course, this belief waned when I checked out the preview, which I found less than stellar.

Well, that'll teach me to put stock in preview pages because reading the whole issue reaffirmed my original belief. Black Magick is a sure thing! While starting a little slow, once a funny scene with a mobile hit, the issue became a lot more engrossing and, much like Lazarus, ended with questions on my mind compelling me to return.

But, that was nothing compared to the art because, while it was very different to what I'd seen in Earth 2, Scott's art was truly stunning in black and white, made only better when I turned the page to find half of a full page spread filled in glorious colour. What a way to make a panel stand out! By the end, I have to admit I was hooked and knew right there and then that this will be hitting my pull list.

However, the same couldn't be said for Batgirl #45 which, after having dropped title previously, I had picked up for the concept of Alyssa's wedding found within, along with all the raves I'd been hearing about it. Sadly, this issue proved once again that, while Batgirl by Cameron Stewart, Brendan Fletcher and Babs Tarr is a nice enough read, it just doesn't hook me like others do (or Black Magick did).

The problem here is that I don't know why I can't get on board with this book. It's like the opposite of the Chilli-Chutney sandwich from Red Dwarf (I'm showing my age now): All the right ingredients, but no mind-blowing, post hangover food (it's an episode during series 2. Check it out).

In the case of the comic, the plot is fun enough, even if too much Dick Grayson for me, and the characters are written really well and come across very happy and fun. And then there is the art, which is just absolutely fantastic and makes me wonder why I've never seen Babs Tarr's work before. That said, it all just didn't gel for me and it means, no matter how sweet the issue was, this isn't a series for me and so won't be getting a second chance.

 So, that was October done. It was short and sweet, although I'd have preferred both books totally wowing me (although neither was actually terrible). That said, next month is November, which means Unfollow, two Lazarus issues, a new Superman mini starting, more Black Magick and the return of Black Science.

Sounds promising. I just hope I can pick them up more frequently.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Copperhead #10

It's been quite a quick weekend in my opinion. It's also been a busy one, as I complete some tasks in my life so that I can prepare for an important..... project I have planned for early next year.

As always, image taken from Comixology.
But that doesn't mean I can't fit at least one comic into my days off and that one comic happens to be Copperhead #10 which was finally released last week.

This issue of Firefly on a planet (because, come on, it totally is in tone) caps off the current arc with Bronson and her posse sneaking into city of crime Bastion to find and rescue deputy Boo, who isn't exactly endearing himself to Zolo and his gang as they hold him hostage.

Although it took me a minute to catch myself back up on what was happening (it has been quite a while since #9 came out), I really enjoyed this issue and how it finished this story. A couple of scenes made me chuckle, how Ishmael partook in bar fight for information as well as the Sheriff Bronson impersonating a whore in a brothel in order to catch Zolo's brother and get a hostage of her own.

That said, I did find the issue felt very quick to tie up this particular arc. I was also kind of disappointed regarding Zolo's exit from the title as I thought he'd have been a rather interesting reoccurring bad guy going forward.

However, I still really enjoyed this book, as I thought it sort of solidified the relationship between Bronson and Boo, reinforcing any mutual respect between them.

As with most of the books I read (naturally), I really can't wait for the next issue, especially as the prison escape plot from earlier in the series looks set to finally impact the main characters in the here and now (starting with a final shock regarding the Mayor).

It's just a shame that the final page is a letter detailing a delay in issue 11's release. I guess I'll have to learn patience.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Lazarus #19

The week has come to an end (well, almost. Still have a half day of work remaining) and so to has the catch up of my September Comics I picked up last weekend. But after Daredevil and the surprise which was Earth 2: Society #4, I was confident my week of reading enjoyment wouldn't be spoilt with the final issue on the list.

And, boy, Lazarus #19 certainly did not disappoint!!!

Issue 19 picked up straight from the prior instalment, with Forever still dead on the floor as her resurrection power no longer seems to work. This results in Casey Solomon and her team to continue their mission with their Lazarus' assistance while, back at the labs, James and Bethany try to figure out what has gone wrong with the youngest Carlyle. Meanwhile, as this happens, wayward Carlyle Johanna is putting her own plans in motion, recruiting her brother Jonah's right hand, Mason, to arrange a meeting between her and someone currently in the labs.

I've said it many times before but I'll gladly say it again; this is an amazing comic and this issue once again confirms it. However, it isn't the action as I read which I love, but the machinations which are subtly forming in the background. I now need the next issue like air to my lungs just to find out what Johanna and her stooge are planning.

Of course, that doesn't take anything away from the here and now as Forever's death causes so many characters to crumble, which is superbly portrayed by Lark and Arcas (I've seriously got to get Gotham Central). From the squad she was leading to big brother and current boss Stephen, it's almost like the Lazarus is the only thing which gives their lives meaning. Now, I didn't think for a second that Rucka would actually kill off his main character, but I loved seeing everyone's reaction to their perceived loss of her.

I'm already suffering the withdrawal of having to wait another month for the next instalment here, this is a fantastic book which is pure fan service, what with all the custom adverts, back filler and letters pages, which just makes me need to know what will happen next every single month.

So, it's safe to say I'm glad that Lazarus capped off my September reads, although I strongly suspect it'll have to be first in my reading list come the time to collect Octobers comics.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Earth 2: Society #4

I decided to continue my catch up of all of my September comics last night, after reading the Daredevil finale earlier in the week. This time came a choice between Lazarus, a Sci-fi/political book I'm loving, or Earth 2 Society, a superhero book I'm just not feeling.

The choice was simple: Earth 2 Society as then I wouldn't finish the completion of all books on a low note. Start good, finish good, leave the bad stuff in the middle!

Well, I read it and, surprisingly, Earth 2 Society #4 was a lot better than I anticipated.

This issue focused on Val-Zod, the Earth 2 Superman, as he builds and maintains a new city on Earth 2 during his self-imposed exile. When he is approached by Batman who is wanting answers about what happened last issue, the Man of Steel tells the story of why he is in hiding, the reasons for his actions and why Power Girl can't stand him.

I really enjoyed this issue, which is quite a shock because I've struggled on the last three and that's why it's been cut from my pull list. However, it's almost like the book wants to fight as the story focused more on explaining some of the things which happened between Convergence and the present day, giving me a better effort of getting me invested in the world this story inhabits. Of course, it's better that it is Superman's story as I think Val-Zod is the best creation of this series.

However, while it is a better issue, I still found a lot of problems with it which kept me from fully enjoying it. These include the big bad which, while is not the main focus here, still looms in the background. The problem I have is, while a villain has been provided for this story, I was kind of hoping for this book to be more about the world building than 'New World, same stopping villains' mentality. Instead it feels like I've been dropped in the middle of a story with little explanation as to the why these things are happening.

And then, as a side note, there is Batman. I'm starting to think that there must be a corporate mandate to making all versions of the character have identical personalities because the Dick Grayson Batman feels less like Dick Grayson and more like every other Batman I've read.

For me, the draw of this book continues to be Jorge Jimenez's art, which is totally out there and away from superhero standard, but still makes the book look epic(ish). That said there were a few flaws in it here and there this time around which dropped it's greatness (though not enough to dismiss it entirely).

As a whole, issue 4 was a better issue to me than the past three. However, it still might not be enough for me to change my mind on the series when my final mandatory pick up (I had to order issue 5) comes along. That said, if the fifth issue improves upon this one, then at least I'll get a good send off from the book.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Daredevil #18

This weekend was a bit of a treat for me (well, actually, two treats as I got to go to a Lego convention. Totally awesome!!!) as, for the first time in quite a while, I got to go into my local comic book shop and pick up my books myself. It wasn't many books, only three (as well as two back issues), but it was just nice to have new reading material.

The final issue of Waid and Samnee's
awesome run. Photo taken from Comixology
And so, on Monday night, I got started on my new goods by reading through Daredevil #18, the final issue of Mark Waid and Chris Samnee's run, as well as the final new Marvel issue I will be picking up for the foreseeable future (back issues don't count in my opinion).

This issue, saw the current storyline come to an end with Daredevil coming face to face with the Kingpin to play one final gamble to save his friends and tie up all his loose ends (including his autobiography.

Now, I've admitted a couple of times in the past that this volume of DD wasn't my favourite (as it seemed to lose something from Waid and Samnee's previous volume). However, this finale was absolutely fantastic from start to finish. It really felt like Waid was finishing the story on his own terms rather than setting up for the next creative teams start and that really helped it as the story progressed at the right pace.

Meanwhile, I realised in this issue that Samnee draws a fricking incredible Kingpin, who looks as the Kingpin should with a little Vincent D'Onofrio in his face. It was also nice that Samnee's 'DD vision' showed up, albeit intermittently, in the issue as that has always been a major draw to the book for me from month to month.

What was best about this issue though is that not only did Kristen MacDuffie survive (I really expected her to die here) but Matt maintained (mostly) the more optimistic personality right up to the last page. That was a good call because this run worked best with the lighter tone.

So, a good way (for me) to see this book off. While I was a little tempted to see what Charles Soule did with the character (his She-Hulk run is one of the back issues I picked up), seeing him in a black suit put me off and, in truth I'd rather finish with a good memory of the character.

Of course, with Waid and Samnee now moving to Black Widow, Marvel might still be able to sell me at least one of their books.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Silver Surfer: Requiem

It's been a bit of a slow week for me. Long hours working coupled with fitting in a couple of comic reviews for Pipedream Comics has meant finding little time to on comics just for me (although those books I have read weren't exactly a chore) or even getting the chance to talk about them here.

However, I decided early on that I would try and at least read one thing and so, over many nights before going to bed I decided to re-read Silver Surfer Requiem.

Photo taken from Comixology
For those not in the know, this is a book which charts the final days of Norrin Radd, a.k.a. The Silver Surfer, who after discovering that his powers are fading and he is dying, says a final farewell to the Earth before travelling the galaxy to reach Zenn-La, his home world, before his time runs out.

I love this title and as soon as I began reading it again on Monday night, I was reminded about why I love it so much. Requiem is an true epic in every sense of the word (although I think epic might be underselling it a bit) which not only shows the grand beauty of the Marvel Universe but also makes me realise just how awesome the Silver Surfer actually is.

And he is awesome!!! J. Michael Straszynski portrays Norrin Radd as an incredibly wise person who, despite the destructive reasons behind his origin, comes across as immensely peaceful (I wish I could feel as at peace as the Surfer comes across throughout this book). JMS does such beautiful work charting Norrin's journey that I often think that it is the best work he's ever done (and I read his Thor run).

Then, there is Esad Ribic's art, which is like a cross between Alex Ross and a fairy tale. In fact, his art adds to the epic nature of the book so much that upon reading it this time I wondered if it was book depicting a god more than a superhero.

Having read it before and now reading it again, it struck me this time how heroic the Surfer really is, like he was destined to save people. From a flashback to his original offer to Herald for Galactus through to his sharing his cosmic power with all Earth's population and even his ending a long-suffering war (in what is a truly incredible set piece), Norrin Radd is shown as a man who looks to save lives because it's his nature and not as some redemption for past actions.

I could maybe go on and on about what I love about this book (including a Fantastic Four appearance, which helps elevate it higher in my opinion) but I have to go back to work in a second. What I will say is this; with seriously dream-like art and great writing with some memorable lines (the "let all places be holy" speech will stay with me for a long while), this book has made me want to see more of the Silver Surfer taking part in such grand events.

If Marvel could give me an ongoing book that's even a tenth of the greatness this is, then I'd come back to them to read it. But, regardless, whether they do or don't I have Requiem on my shelf to read as often as I like.

Because it was the best cosmic book I read when I bought it and still is to this day.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

The December 2015 Solicits!!!

So, this post is going to be a fairly short write up as, having looked through the solicits for December at the big four, I wasn't really able to see much which appealed to me.

Therefore, my wants in the run up to Christmas consist of:

Black Magick #3 (Image) - At this point there is very little I can say to endorse my reason for buying this book besides 'it's created by Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott'. However, that's all I've got and I have enough faith in such a team to buy the first three issues without fully knowing what's going on (because the solicits doesn't exactly spill the beans).

Black Science #18 (Image) - I'm still two months away from seeing this book return from hiatus and still it has me haunted with questions regarding what happens next. This is no better proven that the mention of 'the last surviving dimensionaut'. So, what happened to the others? Image better stop toying with me and release this book pronto.

Superman: American Alien #2 (DC Comics) - Much like Black Magick, with no issues under my belt, wanting this book is more about faith than actual enjoyment. However, unlike Black Magick, I know what's being sold here and reading about pre-Superman Clark Kent is still as enticing to me now as it was last month and seeing him in early ''Smallville' mode sounds pretty awesome. Also, this issue has Tommy Lee Edwards on art and, based on the variant, that's more than enough to hook me.

Unfollow #2 (Vertigo) - After last month's debate between Huck and Unfollow, I decided against either, feeling the decision was too difficult. Unlike Huck though, Unfollow was less willing to let me go without a fight and so here is issue 2. This second issue sounds like it will take a larger scale form of ten little Indians in that 140 people will have to kill each other or something. In truth, the synopsis doesn't really tell me much about this book, but I find myself following Unfollow nonetheless.

And that's it. Once again, Dark Horse couldn't release anything to take my fancy, like Marvel whose All-New, All-Different banner began with nothing which could make me reverse my views on their titles.

Hopefully, when 2016 arrives they'll be a lot more which entices me to read it.

And, touch wood, I'll have more funds with which to pick up more of these books.

Friday, 18 September 2015

If Terrigen Mists are toxic.....

So, I read this article on Comics Alliance yesterday morning that Marvel are using the Inhumans to kill off the X-Men in a roundabout way of screwing Fox even more over their control of comic book movie rights. However, it wasn't until the walk home yesterday that I realised the fundamental flaw in the plan they had announced.

As per the link, the basic idea that Marvel has dreamed up to propel the X-Men's story forward (which, based on the article, is obvious code for get rid of characters Fox has film rights to so they get no free advertising. Yes, I'm still bitter about FF) is that the Terrigen Mists, those fancy crystals used to make Inhumans Inhuman, are actually toxic to mutants, killing them on contact. Not only that though but, not only do the mists kill mutants, they also make them sterile, meaning no chance of more mutants being born.

Now, this is pretty obvious to me that it is a plot device designed to cause more friction between those two warring film studios (at the expense of a set of characters and, by extension their fans) but I have to admit that it's a smart way of doing it. By using the Inhuman's origin method as the X-Men's extermination method, it subtly implies superiority.

However, it has occurred to me that there is a flaw in this idea, all based on previously established backstory.

This backstory comes in the form of the Son of M storyline from the Decimation event (yes, I was that guy who bought that series). The story there was that Quicksilver, now powerless after M-Day steals Terrigen Mists from the Inhumans to re-power himself and various others, which actually works (in a fashion).

Based on this story, how can Terrigen Mists be toxic to Mutants? Now it could be argued that, after being depowered, those mutants were now simply regular humans and this is true but if that is the case then how did they get repowered unless they were Inhuman descended? If Marvel are going on the presumption that Mutants and Inhumans are fundamentally different then they can't claim that these characters are a bit of both.

Of course, that then brings me to Luna, the part-mutant, part Inhuman daughter of Quicksilver and Crystal who, in the same series, received powers via the mists. Now if the mists were toxic to Mutants then wouldn't Luna have had a toxic reaction to them instead of developing powers?

At the end of the day, these are just thoughts which crawled into my head and while I'm sure the X-Men writers will fully explain the plot when it is released, I just wanted point out the elephant in the room and say that these continuity points were here.

That said, this is comics so who cares about continuity?

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Crap box!

I was part of a Facebook conversation the other day which got onto the subject of crap boxes.

To clarify, a crap box (well, to me anyway) is a box which contains the dregs of a comic book collection. The unloved, under-appreciated and truly awful (in my personal opinion anyway) books which are picked up are subsequently relegated to this box.

The crap box is the one selection of any comic collection where its only destiny is to stoke the fires on a cold winter night (or cook the food on a barbeque, but whichever)!

So, reading through this conversation and seeing what everyone has in their own crap box's, I got to thinking about my own 'crap box'. Though, in truth, crap boxes is a more accurate term because I actually have THREE short boxes which I would classify as my 'crap boxes'.

Within these boxes, the contents are split into two categories. First there is the single issues, the individual comics (many being issue 1) which I have picked up and, realising I don't actually enjoy them as I thought, cut from my pull list without a second thought, though one or two may also have issues 2 and/or 3 to join them as I had wanted to give them another shot.

This box contains a fair few books from the NEW 52 (Mr Terrific, Batwing, Justice League), Marvel Now (New Avengers, Thunderbolts), All-New Marvel (Silk, Spider-Gwen and DCYOU (Martian Manhunter, Dr Fate, Black Canary) as well as indy books like The Rinse and Five Ghosts amongst many others.

As for the other two boxes, within these are the series, the multiple issues and arcs of a comic book run which, while I may have enjoyed at one time, I've since reread and realised that those particular titles just do not appeal to me.

In these boxes, there is a varied palette including the Massive, Ten Grand and Indestructible Hulk amongst others as well as the one series in there that I consider truly bad, Countdown to Final Crisis (which, to this day, I still don't understand why I picked it up. It must have been a youth thing).

No doubt, everyone's 'crap box' is different, but after thinking about what was within mine I've begun to wonder 'what the hell do I do with them all?' Because while comics are very much a trial and error hobby, picking up boxes you think you'll enjoy but realsing they aren't your thing, they are also very much a space and money consuming one. I guess the only options are to either put up with this crap or sell them off.

However, if my crap box is anything like everyone else's, I suspect no one will buy any of what I have... they'll be too busy shifting the very same comics from their own.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Why I'm avoiding Marvel titles.

A few weeks ago, while talking about what I would like from the November solicits, I mentioned that Marvel had been completely cut out of my pull list for the foreseeable future. While I had said this with (what hopefully came across as) great conviction, I didn't specify the why, instead saying that I might elaborate later.

Well, here's me elaborating.

To be fair, I'm not saying that I'm boycotting Marvel or anything, because they still do have a lot of talented people making up great concepts as well as making some of the best comic book movies I've seen. However, at present (and most likely for the foreseeable future), there are certain reasons which really don't endear me to what they put on the stands and, not wanting to go back on myself over them, I thought I'd make them clear to myself and anyone else who is interested.

1. Increased cost - This seems as good a reason as any to avoid any comic, but it seems to apply more to Marvel these days. During my last scan through of the solicits, more and more Marvel comics were priced at $3.99 than there ever had been when I first started collecting. While I get this is inevitable (damn inflation) the fact my income hasn't increased with prices means I have to be picky about what books appeal to me. This, conveniently, leads to my second reason.....

2. Too much synergy - now, I get it. Marvel films are big, like REALLY big, and so altering their comics to better reflect the films which make them tonnes of cash makes sense. I, however, cannot stand it! I miss the original Fury and I'm annoyed by the appearance of the TV S.H.I.E.L.D. team but what really gets me are major character changes such as Star-Lord's appearance and party dude attitude (I preferred his grim ways in Annihilation) or Ant-Man reverting from a cool guy (as seen in FF) to someone a little less wholesome (in Ant-Man), both more in line with their big screen counterparts. Of course, this is all based on my perception of things so I could be totally off, but this is how I see things at present (though I'd love to be proven wrong).

3. Too much Iron Man - Of course, while my prior two reason made some rational sense, even if others could argue them, this is undoubtedly a more 'personal' reason, one devoid of rational thought. For me, Marvel has Iron Man everywhere!! I mean like the way Wolverine was before he died. Now, while this shouldn't bother me, I've failed to relate to the character since Civil War and the fact that, I think, the whole Marvel film universe seems to hinge on his existence only compounds the irritation to me. Maybe I'll get over it but for now I think that Tony Stark's alter ego is in too many books for me to be able to avoid.

4. - No Fantastic Four - that said, while irritating characters being everywhere, comics and movies merging together and prices increasing are big reasons, I think the biggest of them for me is the loss of the Fantastic Four comic. The FF is my most favourite book, I have more issues of that than any other, and so seeing it cancelled, for an obviously bullshit reason of not giving a Fox film advertising, was heartbreaking to put it mildly. This hasn't been helped by the characters being split in other books, Reed Richards seemingly dead (he's not mentioned for post Secret Wars) and the Baxter Building being handed over to Spider-man just adds salt to the wound. Maybe I need to let it go, they are unlikely to come back, but I'm not quite ready to just yet.

So, those are my reasons. Now, none of this deserve any book or creator on Marvel's roster to be burned at the stake or anything, these are all my personal views relating to my personal tastes. However, the one which sticks most is the missing FF and I'm highly unlikely (though it's not impossible) to come back to their fold until the first family get their book back (picking up from the numbering if that's not too much to ask).

Like I said though, I doubt it will happen (certainly not just to keep me quiet) so for now I will simply entertain myself with other comics and keep an eye on Marvel to see if they do release anything which picks my fancy.

I'm not holding my breath on it though.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

My time at Melksham was awesome!!!

So, it's the morning after the day before and, while I'm a lot more rested than I was when I hit the sack, I'm still pretty worn out. Therefore, it would be safe to say that day 1 of the Melksham Comic-Con was truly exhausting.

And I don't regret that because it was totally awesome!!!

Having arrived as the doors opened, I spent the entire day (and I mean the WHOLE day, I didn't leave until about four thirty) going around the entire room and doing my usual thing of talking to creators and buying some of their comics. However, unlike the last time I was there where I circled the hall multiple times, on this occasion I only managed to make the circuit thrice, first time to see the outside tables, the second time to see the centre tables and the final time to buy the comics I wanted.

Now, people may wonder how I spent so long there but not walked around that often and the answer to that question is simple: the creators. This year I had to have spoken to every creator at length on multiple occasions. I had such a good time talking to them all that the day just seemed to fly by and, having lost track of time, I ended up missing most of the panels.

Not that I missed them all and, to me that one I did go to was the best thing about being at Melksham. The con's second panel of the day, LGBT and the comic book industry, was a fantastic discussion to be able to sit in on as panelists Emma Vieceli and Joe Glass made the panel into more of a Q&A in order to get real discussion going on the subject. By the end I was deeply engrossed and, along with the long chats I had with both afterwards, I felt a lot more wiser for having gone.

In fact, such was the amount I talked to all the creators, I had to rush to make sure I got all the comics I wanted and, despite a limited budget, I picked myself up an interesting selection:

Breaks: Prologue by Malin Ryden and Emma Vieceli
Pride #1 by Joe Glass and Gavin Mitchell
Joe Cape #3 by Sam Webster
Kilł Screen #1-3 by M. Garley and J. Sherwell
Cogs and Claws by Brian 'Clank' Bennett and Jimmy Pearson

All of these, along with a signed copy of Doctor Who #2, rounded out my day and while I didn't do everything from my to do list (I couldn't find any She-Hulk comics), the experiences I had were more than enough to make up for what I missed.

So, now it's day 2 there but, sadly, I won't be there. However, if day 1 is anything to go by, anyone who is making their way to the second day is going to be a blast.

For me though it's over, but I'll be spending today planning for next year!!!!

Friday, 28 August 2015

Melksham tomorrow!!!

I'm finding myself eager for the working day today to finish for two very specific reasons: My final day at my current job (the next one starts Tuesday) and, more importantly, tomorrow is the Melksham Comic Con!!!!

It's been two years since I last attended and I'm excited to get to my 'local' con (because Bristol Expo shut up shop and Cheltenham is just slightly further away), see all the indie comics that will be on offer and meet all of their creators as well get the chance to sit in on a couple of panels.

In truth, I have some very specific plans for tomorrow in regards to what I will be doing and those include:

  • Catching up with Alex Thomas of Pipedream Comics.
  • Conversing with the Komix Comic book shop about selling some graphic novels.
  • Speaking with Jon Lock and Nich Angell of Big Punch Studios.
  • Attend the LGBT in comics panel, as well as the Big Punch Studios panel and (maybe) the Doctor Who panel and The PCG presents panel.
  • Rummage from long boxes in search of some comics, possibly including Soule's She-Hulk run and Wood's Massive run.
  • Buy some Indie comics, with top runners being Vince Hunt's Red Mask from Mars #2, Sam Webster's Joe Cape #3 and, possibly, anything by Mike Garley.

So, a lot to get through in one day. Of course, I'm a little bummed that I won't be there for the whole weekend, especially as I'll miss the creating comic for Kids panel, but I have a lovely wife and if I want her to stay that way, I think the one day will be enough.

I'm also a little concerned that I won't have the money to get everything I want there. That said, as long as I get some comics to read on the Sunday, then it won't matter how many I buy, just as long as I have a good time.

And I'll have a good time at Melksham, because they always put on a good show there!!!!

If you make it, maybe I'll see you tomorrow.....

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Unwanted comics, where to send them?

It's a funny thing, but I've never realised until just recently just how much crap I've acquired in thirty plus years.

In the last couple of weeks, my wife and I have looked at two of the rooms in our house which we avoid like the plague; the spare room and the dining room. Why do we avoid them? Because they are wall to wall and floor to ceiling full of crap!!!

So, we've decided to actually be grown ups and have a clear out.

The problem with this for me is that some of my crap consists of a pile graphic novels, ones which I haven't touched in two years (some of which I didn't even realize I owned) and, not wanting to keep stuff I don't use/read, it seems appropriate to get rid of them.

But what do you do with unwanted graphic novels? I suppose ebay is the best bet but I don't have a good track record on there, it feels complicated to use (yes, I'm THAT stupid) and there is additional stresses selling that way such as postage, so maybe it's best I avoid. It might be easier for me to car boot them, but then again who looks for comics at car boots, seriously?

Personally, I would prefer to make sure all my books went to good homes of people who either love comics like I do or are looking for a way into the comics world (because, I think, that is something which gets more and more difficult for people as time goes on). The question is how do you go about that?

A friend of mine has suggested speaking with Komix comic book shop at Melksham Con this weekend (he also suggested giving away to teachers for their kids, but I worry comics are too adult these days. Yes, I worry a lot), which I think is a good plan, though in what they can help is then a new question. If I fail to find a solution, I'll maybe just give them away to a charity or something as I really want the space.

However, if anyone has another suggestion, then I'm all for it so let me know.

I'd hate to see any comics wind up on a landfill somewhere in the south west, but I fear if I can't find a solution that maybe what will have to happen.

But let's not think negative just yet, I'm sure I can find them a good home in no time.

Friday, 21 August 2015

The November 2015 Solicits!!!

I'm running a little late this week in going through the solicits for November. There are a few reasons for this; 1. It has been one hell of a busy week for me in the real world, an all work and no play kind of deal, and 2. I've been reeling from the fact that the Baxter Building is now being taken over by Spider-man (pretty much confirming that the FF aren't coming back anytime soon). This second thing has really gotten me angry, thus what books interested me kinda went on a back burner while I got over it.

Well, over it I have gotten and, having gone through it all, I have managed to find a larger number than normal of comics which have me tempted.

Black Magick #2 (Image) - In truth, there is nothing really about this issue which grabs me as the synopsis is as limited as my actual magic skills. However, much like issue 1, the fact that it's brought to us by Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott more than makes up for any fears that it might be no good. So until I have a copy in my hand, I'm willing to take a chance here.

Black Science #17 (Image) - Aah, Black Science. This was a guaranteed pick after how the last arc finished, hinting at greater and more epic things. Well, as much as the last issue had me hooked (much like the rest of the series), the promise of a brand new era and direction really has me wishing for a speedy release. Also, given he's dipsosed of most of the cast, I'm really intrigued how Remender deals with that fallout.

Huck #1 (Image) - Now this is a surprise entry to anyone who knows me because if there is a most committed fan to Mark Millar then I am the furthest thing from it. However, having previously read that this would be a heart-warming story as well as it's very 'Superman in Smallville' premise has me really wanting to forget my dislike for his other works (only some, I did like Civil War) and pick this up.

Lazarus #21 (Image) - There's not really anything I need to say here: It's Lazarus. It's Rucka, Hark and Forever Carlyle, all together for the most awesome and addictive book I've read as the fourth arc comes to a bloody close (I assume). However, 21 does have all the more addicted to it based on the cover alone; Is that Johanna Carlyle shown to be in charge?

Superman: American Alien #1 (DC Comics) - I was starting to think that superhero comics were a thing of the past for me giving the end of Waid and Samnee's Daredevil and the dropping of Earth 2 (yep, it's finally gone). However, despite not liking the direction of Superman's world by DC, this series looks like something fun and optimistic and similar to what I think the character should be about. However, Nick Dragotta on art has me a bit cautious.

Unfollow #1 (Vertigo) - Now this is a last minute add which has really gotten me hooked and is refusing to let go. Unfollow seems to be some kind of political thriller focusing around social media and speaks of a millionnaire giving up his fortune to only 140 strangers. I'm not entirely sure what's going on here, but the cover is fantastic and, while they say don't judge a book by it's cover, that is what certainly got me wanting to follow it (see what I did there?!).

And so that's it. As I mentioned, Earth 2: Society has been dropped, simply because I would rather read something I enjoy totally instead of just for the art. Meanwhile, Marvel has been completed exiled from my pull list, partly over the Fantastic Four thing and partly over other stuff (which I might rant about another time).

Nonetheless, I'm really excited about this month's choices and, despite not being able to get them all (damn budgets), I'm really looking forward to November arriving so I can get to read most of this list.

For now though, as I get my order ready, one last decision remains: Which do I order, Huck or Unfollow?

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Superman is more relatable than Batman!!!

Ok, a full disclosure moment (in case it hasn't been shown as apparent before); I'm a big fan of Superman. Therefore, this post can probably be taken with a pinch of salt.

I recently watched Cinemasins 'everything wrong with...' Videos for both the Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad trailers and, during both, I couldn't help but notice how Batman was constantly referenced to as the 'best character'.

Now, this isn't a sole opinion as far as I know, because a lot of people think that way (which is fair enough, because everyone deserves an opinion, right?) and the most common theory is that Batman is popular because he is relatable.

Meanwhile, I recently heard about an interview done with Henry Cavill (who plays Superman) and Zack Snyder (who directed the film), both making mention of the struggle in portraying the character based on his unrelatablity to audiences.

Well, with that in mind, I figured I'd give my opinion on both of these and here it is:

Superman is way MORE relatable than Batman is!!!

I know, sacrilege right?

There's a reason I think this. Obviously I will never be Superman because super strength and flight are not powers anyone is likely to pick up in the real world. But Batman is a normal guy who wears a cape and has gadgets to make him a superhero. Now that is something people can more realistically aspire to.

However, neither character is based on their power set alone and that is where Superman wins out. This is because Batman is Bruce Wayne, a billionaire playboy living off unparalleled wealth gained by his ancestors who has plenty of time and resources to make himself this great superhero. He's also constantly portrayed as perfect. This makes him difficult to relate to because I will never be that rich, that in shape or that able to take out multiple supervillains without gaining a scratch (I mean if the character put on sunglasses at the end of each issue, I'd be convinced he was Horatio Caine in his invincibility).

Superman, on the other hand, is much more relatable to me because as Clark Kent, while being an alien with extraordinary powers, he works a nine to five job and is often depicted as struggling to do the right thing despite his enormous power set. Also, Kent has been raised to the point that he sees everyone around him as an equal, while Wayne, having been raised somewhat alone, always makes me feel as if he sees himself as superior (now that I think about it, he's like Lex Luthor).

Of course, I'm not trying to say one character is better than the other, as both have their merits (though Supes is better), but while most of the world thinks that Batman is the character they could see themselves as, I personally think they are mistaken; Superman is the character average people are more likely to relate to.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

DC are very anti-recap page.

Something occured to me today; DC really are against opening recap pages in their comics. 

Something else occured to me; them not liking recap pages might be the reason I don't buy many of their books,

This comes directly after reading Superman #42 and a few weeks after reading Earth 2: Society. Both books lacked any kind of recap as to what had happened in the previous issue/arc/run, all they did was was simply followed on from the previous issue, almost as if they had been released at the exact same moment.

For me, this is a problem. Both Superman and Earth 2 I struggled to enjoy and while this might be because of bad story of poor art (although I'm not willing to accept the latter on either book, because they both look wicked awesome), I'm theorising that it is because they both lacked any way to inform me of what had happened up to this point,

Now, comics are monthly released (if not more) always have been (as far as I'm aware), always will and while I get that a recap page is one less page of art and current story (because they are already giving away half pages to Twix) I find it difficult to remember specifically what happened in the last issue, especially when you read multiple books and have multiple stories in your head.

Image and Marvel both have recap pages and while Marvel irritates me at present with it's own problems, the fact is that both publishers books are much easier to enjoy because they take a moment to remind me where the story is at. Now it could be argued that I should just read the previous issues again and then I'm all caught up and that's a good idea. However, when you are busy you don't always have time to re read issues and, besides, if I wanted to read multiple issues together I'd buy a trade.

At the end of the day, this is something which bothers me and me alone (though I'm sure there must be others). I'm not saying it's the single cause of all which is wrong (to me) with DC's comics, but if they want more of my money, I'd say giving me a quick lay of the land before letting me read the story would be a good start to go about getting me hooked.

Then all they'd have to do is keep me that way.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Top 5 comics for July 2015

I have to admit, July seems to have just flown by. I don't know if it's been a new job or if life has just been steady with no hassle or troubles, but July seems to have left me with little impact.

Well, almost little impact.

One thing July has done to be memorable is give me lots of comics to read, which is surprising given how I was expecting a slow month on the comic book front. For that I guess I can thank Pipedream comics because not only did they give me more books to read but a more varied array of them, both in terms of content and also in terms of how much I enjoyed them.

So, let's get to my top five for July.

5. Copperhead #9 (Image) - I've always said that Copperhead is like Firefly, after the train job, in the town they robbed from. Well one thing Firefly missed was a posse, but that's ok because now I've got to see one. I really enjoyed the pace this issue moved at, as character interactions and dynamics were shored up while they made their trip. This premise should have been a page in a book, but it got stretched out over the issue and done well. Reminds me why I love this book. The escaped prisoner subplot intrigues me enough not to hurt either.

4. The Black Hood #1-5 (Archie Comics) - Now, I've already reviewed the first four issues elsewhere but, damn, Black Hood was good. It seems like a cheat to put all five issues in as a single entry, but it was just really difficult to pick between them as they were all equally engrossing and beautiful. It was like going back in time and reading Bendis's Daredevil all over again, only instead it was a disfigured cop becoming a vigilante and not a blind lawyer. As superheroes comics are getting more annoying to me, this was a nice reminder that there are still some good ones out there.
3. Lazarus #18 (Image) - Last month I said Lazarus deserved a permanent top 5 spot and, once again, it proves it doesn't need charity; it can get a top 5 spot all on its own. Lazarus has always been a slow burn book compared to most others I read, but it's always the level of detail which makes it a must read. This happens here again with multiple plot threads running, all of them keeping me hooked to the story and then of course there's the cliffhanger which, while seeming anti-climatic, you just know will be drawn out and be more awesome than you expected. I'm already getting the shakes just waiting for the next issue.

2. Daredevil #17 (Marvel) - I've had a bit of trouble adjusting to DD's move to San Francisco (don't know why, but just have) but it's been proving itself again of late. Issue 17 though, despite a bit of confusion at the start (I'd forgotten how the last issue ended) was fantastic. Maybe I'm getting sadistic but watching Murdocks happy life appear to literally crumble around is just too good not to read. Also, the Kingpin is an obvious attempt to connect it to the TV show but he's written so well here I'm not gonna moan. And then there's Ikari's return....oh there's just so much!!! The next issue is the end and while I'll miss Waid and Samnee's on the book I just have to know how it ends (I'm calling it and saying Kirsten McDuffie is killed off).

1. Black Science #16 (Image) - Ah, Black Science, the Rocky Balboa of my comic collection. When I started doing a top 5 it languished just outside, but this year has steadily moved up the ranks and now it gets the number one slot. Issue 16 is phenomenal and that's an understatement as the book which I've always said is a cross between Time Tunnel and Flash Gordon goes it now less Time Tunnel and more Flash Gordon. Worlds are saved, people die (seriously, Remender is getting brutal with all the killing), alien armies emerge and Rebecca turns out to be a serious problem to the now descimated anarchist league. This has turned into a great book, and I'm not sure I can wait until November for the next part.

So, there it is. My top 5 and, if I do say so myself, what a top 5!! With four of my five ongoings on this list, it at least gives me comfort that I am picking good books and not just buying tat for the sake of it (although Earth 2 might be the exception to that rule). The only downside is that as most are Image books it means extended waits for the next instalments. Oh well, all good things come to those who wait right? In the meantime, after writing this I may just read them all again.