Saturday, 24 December 2016

Plans for 2017

So, the new year is finally here! Much like pretty much everyone else, I have to say I'm glad to see the back of 2016 for, on top of idiotic referendums, inmates now (or soon to be) running superpowered asylums and the great losses of those who gave us hope, Faith, Starman and Yippee Ki Yay, I've personally have taken a bit of a beating from the year of hell (hey, a Star Trek reference).

Fortunately, it's over now and with 2017 being about a day old I've started to put together a massive list of resolutions and plans for the next 365 days (no leap year this year right?). Of course, while most relate to my everyday life, there are a few that are to do with my comicing, of which I thought I'd just jot down here.

So, here they are....

1. Read like my life depends on it! My first comics resolution may see a little obvious but there is a reason for it being on my list. It recently occured to me that I have a (somewhat) big collection at home and much of I've never read more than once. I mean, what's the point of keeping these comics if I only ever read them once and, therefore, I want to get more into my comic reading so that I may enjoy some of these books all over again. As for any comics I don't enjoy, well, that's where resolution number two comes in.

2. Trim down my collection. In truth, my need to read all my previously bought/currently owned comics comes with an ulterior motive. My wife and I recently realised how cluttered our home is and our big plan is to have a clear out to make things more manageable. As this is the plan in general, I'd like to do my bit and any comics I read which no longer hold my interest will most likely be donated away (either back to my LCS to be offered to other comics readers or to a local school for the kids to read). By doing this, I'd like to think I can streamline my collection and also free up enough space to comforably pick up new comics, which leads me nicely into resolution number 3.

3. Build up my pull list. While 2016 saw my overall pull list somewhat crumble down to almost nothing as my love of the medium started to wane, in the final few weeks I found something of a resurgence of my comic book addiction. Because of this, I have decided to increase my monthly comic budget and with it grow my pull list a little (or maybe even a lot by the year's end). Options have already presented themselves with this resolution, as Daredevil may be making a return to my pull list and DC Rebirth titles make me interested, and so the real trick will be keeping the list's growth manageable.

4. 40 reviews in 52 weeks a.k.a support small press more. In truth, this resolution, referring to the many comic reviews I hammer out for Pipedream Comics, may be the most manageable out of all of them. However, it is still on this list because it is something I wish to achieve for two simple reasons; 1. It improves my writing skills and 2. It gives me a greater opportunity to read more small press comics, which I've progressively found to be holding its own with the quality of the big two. It's because of this second reason that I want to maintain a large number of reviews, as small press, as well as the smaller publishers like Aftershock, Alterna, Thrillbent, Titan and others, deserve more visibility and support, to which these reviews are the only way I know how.

5. Write, write, write!!! My final resolution, fitting in (to a degree) with the last one does seem a little vague and this is with good reason. This is because, in the end, all I want to do wish write more, whether it be more reviews on Pipedream, opinion pieces, blog post or maybe even something else which is a little different (ideas of which I have in my head). By doing this I can get more of what's in my head down on paper, making it more permanent, as well as improving my style (as mentioned before).

And there it is, a list of the things I want to do within comics, both to do with my collecting, my reading AND my reviewing. I have to admit, that I think it's unlikely that I will achieve all (or even any) of them as a young family and nine to five job does tend to make free time limited. However, it's nice to have an ambition (or five) to aim for so good luck to me.

Hopefully, I'll be able to mention some success with these come 2018.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Dropping Serenity

So, having finished reading the second issue of this latest story arc, I've got to admit I'm pretty much ready to drop Serenity.

I'm a big fan of the Firefly show and the Serenity film which came after it. I'm also a big fan of the various comics which have come out, charting the further tales of Captain Mal Reynolds and his crew, with a copy of every single one of them in one format (print) or another (digital).

Therefore, when I saw the solicitations for the new Serenity: No Power in the 'Verse mini-series, it felt like a no-brainer to add it to my pull list, especially given how much I loved the previous 'Leaves on the Wind' run.

However, two issues in and, while Leaves on the Wind felt to reinvigorate my love of this universe, No Power in the 'Verse has felt like a real drop in terms of its enjoyment.

The story, which follows on from the seeds planted in LOTW, sees Mal and the crew embark on a search and rescue mission for a friend, but ending up getting caught up in between another revolution and the evil Alliance operatives River could have been a part of.

Now this, on paper, sounds perfectly fine to me as it takes a lot of the beats from that last story and so should come off just as well. Unfortunately, two issues in and the story just feels really disjointed and rather laborious to read. It makes me wonder if Serenity can only be written by a Whedon as Chris Roberson does an ok job (Mal's voice sounds pretty spot on) but the story just doesn't seem to flow for me, feeling a little bit clunky.

That said, Georges Jeanty the art is still 'God Damn' gorgeous (see what I did there!), giving a nice sense of continuity from the last arc, and being real easy on my eye. If I were able to bypass the general story and focus solely on the art I might keep getting this book just for what it looks like.

However, that's not why I read comics and while the story isn't terrible, it also isn't captivating enough for me to justify spending a quarter of my budget on it, especially when there are other books which I'm tempted to look at.

And so, as sad as it is for me to say, Serenity has to get canned. I might pick up the remaining issues at a later date if I have some spare change but, for now, I think I'll look for something else to read.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Return to Daredevil?

This has been a thought brewing in my head for a couple of weeks now. Ever since I saw the it in the February solicits I've found myself constantly 'should I return to Daredevil?'

It's now been almost six months since I dropped Charles Soule and Ron Garney's run on Daredevil with issue 7 after a lacklustre first arc and my being unable to get into the series up until my exit. So far, this has not been a restful decision and I'm glad to say that I haven't really given the book a second thought.

However, that appears to have changed now with the release of the February 2017 solicits and, in particular, the synopsis of Daredevil issue 17. While I still have trouble getting interested in anything Marvel brings out, seeing this new issue of a character I've been invested in since Bendis was writing him does have me a little tempted to come back for a couple of reasons.
For starters, this issue's synopsis touts how it's the beginning of the story about how Murdock was able to get his secret identity back. Now, this is something I struggled with in the issues I had bought because how on Earth did the character undo that little secret. By magic? A deal with the devil (ironically)? This was something which always made me wonder and bothered me when it was (seemingly) treated as unimportant but now it is being focused on I'm interested to see what Soule has come up with (which I think might involve the Purple Man given the arc's title).
And then there is the cover and the woman in the front in Matt Murdock's arms. While initially dismissing this as just some new love interest for our hero, I changed my tune when I saw this tweet this tweet from Soule confirming that it is in fact Waid creation and all-round awesome character Kristen McDuffie. This is another bonus for me as (if you hadn't have guessed) I'm a big fan of the character and was really bummed when she got cast aside at the beginning of this volume. Therefore, I'm intrigued to find out what became of her between the last Waid/Samnee issue and the first Soule/Garney one.

However, while I think these are both solid reasons there are also equally good reasons to stick to my guns and not go back to the man without fear. The first of these are, as always the price of an issue because at $3.99, this is still an expensive purchase for a guy on a limited budget. If the price was reduced to $2.99 I'd be happier with picking Daredevil back up but having to spend a whole extra dollar for a digital code I don't want means that, in British money, I'm having to find an extra 80p (because if I buy, I will buy print like I always have for DD). This might not be much but it adds up, especially when I'm already buying other books.

Of course, my biggest reason comes from another of Soule's tweets when answering a question on whether the series is going twice monthly. While Soule's response appears to be light-hearted, it also doesn't state that it isn't (while, admittedly, not confirming that it is). As such, if Daredevil is going to go twice monthly from, say, March then that is going to be twice as much as I am currently fretting over and, in all honesty, more money than I can even think to consider. Therefore, I'd rather look at books which are guaranteed to be if a stable cost for the foreseeable future and not waste my precious budget on an issue of a comic which can't be a long term option for me.

And that's pretty much it for me, my choice with an equal number of pros and cons (there is another con that I'd need to retrieve the runs missing issues, but that's not really a major concern, I can get them whenever). However, while a part of me is very tempted to pick up issue 17 and possibly beyond, another part of me thinks maybe I should move on to something else worthy of my time. I've got some time before I need to ask my Local Comic Shop to hold a copy for me, but hopefully a decision will come to mind soon. For now though, I am sure wishing I had better decision making capabilities.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Easing back into the comic life.

It has been nearly four months since I posted on here but, with a little time on my side, I figured I'd try now to get back into the groove.

I also figured that I'd start by explaining where I've been.

Where I've been is at home, having been lacking two fundamental things; Time and motivation.

With time, the last seven months time has seen that most precious resource be a pretty rare thing to nail down. The reasons for this is that I've had a child to raise, a new job to do and a house to keep in order (not to mention the Arrow-verse has just returned to Sky 1). Also, I've tried to keep my commitments and continue reviewing new comics at least once a week for Pipedream Comics.

I must confess, the lack of time I'm now having has me wishing for my younger years and the opportunity to use the time I had then far more carefully and not waste it like I did.
And then there is the motivation. I've discovered that when you are rushed off your feet constantly, your motivation to do anything beyond fall asleep just disappears. This has been the case with my motivation to read and talk about comics, which hasn't been helped by the struggles I've been having with Marvel's new film inspired, X-men hating comic approach as well as a general lack of new titles which really intrigued me and even event fatigue (yep, I suffer from that).

However, you can't keep a good addict down and so I've started to ease myself back into the life. As I said, I'm still reviewing over at Pipedream, but I've let my pull list disintegrate into practically nothing. So now I'm building that list back up, with the new Serenity mini and DC's new Trinity book being added along with my staples of Lazarus and Black Science. This is to (hopefully) be followed by the return of the Legend of Wonder Woman and Black Magick next year (once Serenity ends, which is convenient to my bank balance), allowing for a steady, gradual return to form.

I know it's not much, but it's a start.

I'm hoping that by easing myself back in slowly I can both prevent myself from getting overwhelmed (because, again, time is precious) and not ending up reading too many bad comics which put me off the medium again. Of course, there is the flip side that I might miss out on something great but then, given how few great books I can find at present (in my opinion), that's a risk I'm willing to take.

Besides, I'll still read plenty reviewing four small press comics a month (at least).

What it means for this blog though is an increase in the amount I post (I hope). Now, this might not be an immediate increase (I'd wager almost as gradual as the increase in my pull list) but I have missed airing my thoughts here and already have ideas about things I'd like to write about going forward.

But time will tell if this is the beginning of a return to form for me or not.

For now though, let's call it a start and go from there.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Morning Glories, vol. 1

I'll be honest, I'm not entirely sure where I picked up Morning Glories. We're Comixology giving it away? Was it on sale? Was it a gift? I seriously don't remember. All I know is that I have it within my library.

As a result, I figured it was high time to read through it and, therefore, decided that amongst this weekend's large reading list was as good a time as any to read the first volume.

Now, I'll admit, I wasn't sure what to make of Morning Glories as all I knew about it (and still do to some degree) was that it was about 6 kids starting at a new, very unusual school. However, this was one of those times where taking a leap of faith paid off as I really enjoyed this title almost immediately.
I can't say why I enjoyed it as Spencer seems to be keeping things close to his chest, but I found every page incredibly captivating and finding myself more and more intrigued about Morning Glory Academy with every new situation. This was also helped by the characters, all of whom came across as very interesting, especially the stoic Jun, the psychotic Ike and most definitely the teachers.
I'll admit the art was less of the draw for me here, but Joe Eisma's art is solid, with the soft pencils and Alex Sollazzo's light colours giving everything a bright look, even despite the troubling circumstances the main characters appear to be in.
If there's any bad points to this comic it was in the final chapter, which seemed to just be a complete departure to the rest of the book. However, it still had some connections and left me with still more questions which I need answering.
Nick Spencer is a writer whose work I've never gotten onboard with, such as with Ant-Man. However, with Morning Glories I think I've been turned around and so will need to get a few more of the trades, if only to figure out what the hell is going on.

Black Magick #1-5 - Awakening

To me, Black Magick could be considered my unicorn or even my Eleanor (if you're a fan of Gone in 60 Seconds) because my attempts to read the issues of this title so far have been fraught with obstacles.

For, while I read the first issue without trouble upon release, my LCS had major trouble with acquiring the following instalments, causing me to go on a major hunt. Then, at least six months after the initial release, having found all the issues, I still was prevented from reading them due to life in general.

Suffice to say, this has been a difficult book to read.

Well, finally, I've gotten an hour to sit and plough through Black Magick's first five issues and, boy, was it worth the wait!

I loved reading this series, it was truly fantastic in every sense of the word. The story is really great, coming across to me more as a crime story with magical elements as I read through it. Of course, say I that kind of diminishes Rucka's skill because the supernatural elements are there and show off a great level of detail in his research (which I know because my friend, a Wiccan, said to me that's exactly right when I showed her issue 1). Nonetheless, Rucka makes this perfectly plotted and paced and, as a result, I'd say this is superior to Lazarus (which I didn't think was possible).

Of course, while I think the draw for most people was Rucka's name, I know the reason they'd stay is Nicola Scott's art. I found her stuff on Earth 2 and thought it was awe
some but the art here is on a whole different level, it's that incredible as the each panel is so detailed and realistic to an almost photographic extent. Honestly, I am in love with this art!

(P.S. I'm certain her issue 1 bad guy is a perfect image of the Riddler).

Shockingly, this isn't the most gorgeous panel in the
first five issues (although it is in the top five)!
Not that Scott is alone in its creation as the colouring, while sparingly used just makes the art incredible when it is implemented. I realised that in issue 3 that the colour was connected to everything magic, from candles to the eyes of the possessed but so seamless is its use that it barely registered beyond its making terrific panels. Also, I thought the fiery splash in issue 1 was good but Scott and Colorist Chiara Arena just go one better with a splash page in every successive issue.

Also, I have to give props to Letterer Jodi Wynne. I don't usually praise letterers, not because they don't deserve it but because I'm not that good at critiquing their work, but her use of colour when a mobile rings amongst other things really caught my eye and only added to the books enjoyment.

To be honest, I could possibly go on and on about Black Magick. For me, it was as perfect a comic as I think I've ever read, with absolutely no faults in my eyes. The only downside is that there won't be any new issues until next year as Rucka and Scott help make Wonder a woman great again.

But it's a small price to pay. Besides, this first arc was worth the wait, therefore so will the next one be.

I am Fire

Early on last year, I picked up House Party from Rachael Smith and now, after reading it, still consider it to be in my top five small press comics which I have ever read (my full thoughts on it are somewhere in the past).

Flash forward to earlier this year and, encountering Smith at True Believes, I discovered that she had another book on the way called Artifical Flowers, starring not only one of the House Party characters, but also a character from one of her other books, I am Fire.

Therefore, to prepare getting that new release (which I suspect will be old by the time I do get it) I picked up I am Fire and now, only six months after purchasing it, I finally gotten around to reading it.

Well, I've now read it and I must say that I am Fire is a rather funny book. About two work experience workers, one of whom is a pyromaniac during a fire drill at a department store, if it seems like I find that surprising then that's because I do given that House Party was such a different kind of tale.

However, unlike House Party, I thought I am Fire was hilarious to the point of absurdity with many of the characters being so over the top and every scenario confirming to me that the story obviously doesn't take itself too seriously.

(In fact, I do wonder if this is based on a 'real life event' that the creator experienced because can you make this stuff up?)

Of course, some of the characters are a bit one dimensional, especially the two apparent leads who I didn't like all that much, but given this is a one shot that's to be expected and, besides, they all did the job of adding humour to the mad chain of events.

In fact, while before I wrote this post, I wasn't sure what to think of this comic, I now realise that I really enjoyed I am Fire, even if House Party is still the better between them. Reading it also makes me me very curious as to how Artifical Flowers will read, something I'll have to wait until the next True Believers to find out.

Black Panther: The Client

For some time now, I've been interested in reading through Christopher Priest's Black Panther as a result of the amount of praise Comic Geek Speaks' Chris Eberly heaps on the series. This desire has since become more important for me to achieve, due to Comixology offering the first volume of the complete collection in a sale.

However, my wife, ever the logical thinker, suggested that maybe I get a taste for the series before buying (either on sale or at full price), something I could actually do as I had bought 'the client' as a trade a very long time ago.

Therefore, I've pulled that trade out of my longboxes, blown away the (metaphorical) cobwebs and re-read Priest's first arc to see if his run is something I might fancy.

And thank goodness that I did because, after reading the client, I'm not. Sure that Priest's run is for me.

The Client tells of Black Panther travelling to America to investigate the murder of a child but, as he does, discovers that enemies are moving to ursurp him from the throne of Wakanda.

Now, this should sound right up my alley. A political-like thriller which, given the lead character, should be very grounded as well being free (it was a Marvel Knights book) to do whatever it wanted.

However, I struggled with this trade because, mainly, the plot seem very convoluted. Now, it wasn't that the story was completely unreadable, but it did seem to imbue a lot of traits I commonly see in a Tarantino movie and, while I have no problem with those, I do prefer my reads to be a little more linear.

That said, there were things I enjoyed doing this book and they were primarily character related. The main draw was that Priest certainly 'got' the Panther, depicting him as quite the bad ass as well as a rather fitting mimicry of Batman (although I might prefer this Panther over the Bat). Also, this arc seemed to draw so many of the Panther's supporting cast and rogues gallery into it, from the Dora Milaje and Zuri to the White Wolf and the Hatut Zeraze, that it seemed like a character history lesson in one book.

Then there was the art, which was a mixed bag as I did enjoy the very unique style which had a very supernatural kind of tone to it which looked particularly awesome for some full length panels. However, by the same token, a few panels made me think that the art looked a little hallucinating and, as such, off putting. As a result, I'm in two minds over the artwork (obviously).

So, Priest's Black Panther wasn't a bad read overall, just not as good as I hoped or was suggested. I guess that's the joy of everyone having various tastes but, for now, I think I'll pass on that complete collection.

Darth Vader: Vader

Much like Star Wars vol. 1, Darth Vader's first trade I picked up during a Comixology sale in order to give it a second try. The reason I say 'second' try is that I'd bought the first issue of both series and while Star Wars impressed, Vader didn't so much.

Well, after reading 'Vader' their fortunes seemed to reverse with me as, unlike Star Wars, Vader was a really great story which I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish.

I've no idea why this is the better book given that both this and Star Wars' plots run somewhat concurrently, however, everything about this trade just screams 'superior' to me.

A big factor could be the storyline which, at its core, reads more like a very house of cards style political thriller. That's certainly how I see it as it basically sees Vader doing his job while one upping everyone to come out on top. If that isn't Frank Underwood then I don't what is.

Speaking of Vader, while I thought Jason Aaron had a good grasp of the Star Wars cast, Gillen does it much better as both Vader and the Emperor read like they should, to the point that I actually hear James Earl Jones in my head when Vader speaks (which has to be proof of perfect characterisation).

And finally there is the art which I find to be just fantastic! I often hear on Comic Geek Speak that geeks think that Salvador Larocca draws the best Vader and I agree but that isn't the half of it. In truth, I think Larocca's style perfectly encapsulates the a Star Wars universe to the point that this should be considered the universe standard.

I seriously loved the Darth Vader trade, to the point that (and I may be in the minority) I think it may be superior to the main book. As a result, I think I'll be getting the follow up trades for Vader over Star Wars, though I may have to reconsider when I get to the crossover.

Star Wars: Skywalker Strikes

I picked up Star Wars during Comixology's May the 4th sale along with Darth Vader, due mainly because I'd heard so much good stuff about both series as well as the fact that A. I like Star Wars and B. the Princess Leia and Lando trades weren't half bad.

Well, having now read it Star Wars' first volume, I didn't think it was that bad, although I'm not sure if it's as good as many raved about it.

The problem with it is its plot. There was nothing inherently bad about it, but it was just something I really struggled to get into as the rebels went from destroying a base to going on separate missions. In fact, this division of the story might have been my problem as it took away from the necessary focus on the book overall.

That said, there was plenty of stuff in here I did like, such as Cassaday's which, while not quite Star Wars in look, certainly gave the universe a different vibe in my eyes. Also, Aaron seemed to pick up the various characters' respective voices quite accurately.

Of course, the real selling points to me were the hints of the Vader related events, such as Boba Fett's interrogation of the Rodian gang, which I found much more compelling (and probably hinted at my thoughts on the Vader book).

Of course, the revelation of what was in Luke's box from Obi-Wan has me extremely tempted to come back for seconds, but that really is it. This was a good comic, but I'm not sure it is one that I can't live without.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

A word to small press comic creators

So, the U.K. Is leaving Europe. Personally I didn't think it would happen, but there you go.

Now as a result of this, it's been stated that inflation will rise to account for the market crash which occured in the results wake.

I'm an accountant and, because of what's happened, I wanted to take a moment to say to the small press comic creators of how this may impact them.

(Note that this isn't guaranteed, but is my opinion. Therefore, take with a pinch of salt).

Inflation increase means that everything (and I mean everything) is going to go up in price. Unfortunately, this will NOT mean salaries. Therefore, people will be spending more to live and have less disposable income.

For the small press comics community, this means that at their online stores, at cons, the indie supporting stores and maybe Comixology, fewer people will be able to buy their comics.

So, my advice to them is this: DO NOT increase your comic stocks!!! If you increase your stocks you may (note 'may') end up with more books cluttering your homes as fewer fans will have the cash needed to buy as much as they may have a year ago. By having larger stocks which aren't selling, your funds will be tied up and, with money being important in the foreseeable future, you will need as much as you can get.

Again, this is speculation. Maybe things will work out. That said, a large number of you are my friends and peers and I'd hate for any of you to suffer as a result.

Good luck. I hope I'm wrong.

Friday, 27 May 2016

DC Universe Rebirth #1

I have to admit, the last few days have pretty controversial!

With the reveal that Cap is Hydra as well as the announcement of a Netflix style Comixology service for $6, a lot has been happening, and with it a lot of reasons to cry fowl/sing praises (depending on your personal viewpoint).

Me, I've looked at those things and seen only cynicism, which I don't really fancy talking in a negative viewpoint.

So, instead I'm going to talk about DC Universe Rebirth #1 and how much I enjoyed it!!

(Warning, some spoilers, in case you haven't read it yet!!!)

Now, I may sound surprised by this announcement and, trust me, I am. Since the announcement of the whole Rebirth shtick, I expected more of the same from DC in terms of their story telling and so this opening chapter having nothing for me.

Apart from the last few pages
I really loved DC Universe
Rebirth. Shocker right?
Well, Geoff Johns and his merry band proved me wrong and their success, I think, comes down to one simple thing; Wally freaking West!!! I don't mean New 52 Wally, but the original, red headed speedster who is used beautifully to bring a sense of pre-Flashpoint sentimentality to the story while linking it to the New 52. That said, that wasn't all I loved; Ted Kord and Jaime Reyes, Ray Palmer and Ryan Choi, Green Arrow and Black Canary, this whole book felt like Johns was announcing to the world that DC now understood that Legacy ignored and marriages retconned was a bad idea and that they are back.

The art was solid, although I'm not a fan of Gary Frank's art (no reason, just not my cup of tea), but what I loved about this issue was the story, the return of great characters and the pre-52 sense of wonder DC books had when I first got into comics. Of course, there is also that wonderful scene of Wally and Barry meeting again which is just incredible.

So, a truly great comic. DC nailed it.....until the end when they ruined it.

Watchman! Why Watchman? This really bugged me and not just because that series is quite possibly one of the worst things I've read (Everyone loves it, but I can't see it. Sorry). What irritates me more is that Johns and co. must have felt that shoe-horning this otherwise isolated universe would pull in the readers or something when the whole issue up until then would have done just that without the reveal.

So, yeah, a little bit of cynicism, but up until that point I really loved this book and it, as a result, it has me tempted to pick up some other stuff, despite stating that Wonder Woman would be it.  However, after reading DC Universe Rebirth #1, Titans looks really interesting to me (as does Deathstroke because what book by Chris Priest doesn't?). I guess I'll have to choose if I can afford them.

In the meantime though, my concern about this event has been washed away (well, mostly). Now, all that can be done is to wait and see if DC can build on this opener and not screw up.

And I really hope they don't screw it up.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Going (almost) fully digital.

This morning, while my family were still in bed, I was up an about doing some general tidying. This included putting away a pile of comics which were sat on my desk, taking space. However, when I attempted to do this I came across a number of problems and realised that maybe it's time I went (almost) fully digital.

At present, I have roughly 1,800 single issue comics (not a big collection but it gets me by). These floppies are currently stored within 2 longboxes, 3 short boxes (all under my desk) and three drawers of a filing cabinet which my wife bought me for just such a purpose after reading online that it could be done.

Now, the comics pile on my desk contained 10 'new' back issues of Fantastic Four I had recently acquired and, when filing them in with the rest of my collection, it resulted in a big mess where I had to move other runs to other places in order to find a home for everything.

It was then that I realised that I can't keep buying in print.

Therefore, going forward, I will be reading comics almost completely digitally. I say almost because both Lazarus and Black Magick I have already been collecting in print and, as such, don't really want to break up those collections. Besides those though, all my other comics will be bought off Comixology.

To be fair, there are many bonuses to buying digitally from where I'm sitting, besides the immense space saving. First of all, transportation of comics to read is no longer a problem for, as long as I have a wifi connection, I can download whatever I like to my iPad whenever I like. With print I'd be limited to what I could carry (that's about 20 single issues and a trade).

Then, there is actually a money saving incentive to buying online. This is because it costs me about eighty pence more to buy a comic from a shop that it does on Comixology. Now, this may not seem like much but, to me, this makes all the difference to how many comics I can buy.

And finally, there is the (rather cynical) fact that print comics aren't really worth anything to resell. Amongst my collection I have about 300 comics from early in my collecting which, when looking back, I have to ask myself 'what was I thinking?' However, getting rid of these is nigh on impossible because, as they aren't good series, people don't want them. Therefore, it would be much easier to buy digitally and not have to worry about trying to resell.

Of course, there are downsides to this plan of action, such as the fact that I wouldn't actually own a comic if I bought online. However, given that most are now able to be downloaded as a pdf/cbz file, this doesn't worry me as much any more.

No, what I consider the biggest downside to my doing this is that I'm, in some way, letting down my LCS. This is because, comic shops deserve readers support in fear that they become extinct, especially due to the reasons I myself am going fully digital. My hope is that I can offload the dead weight of my collection, free up some space and return to buying print copies, somehow creating a balance of comics between the two.

In the meantime though, I have to put myself (and by extension, my family) first by saving money and saving space.

Although hopefully I'll win the lottery and so make both of these problems moot.

For DC Rebirth I'm buying Wonder Woman, but nothing else!

This has been a decision I've been wrestling with for the better part of a week, but not because of anything simple or mundane.

Basically, it was all to do with that Shelly Bond thing!

A little background in case you were living under a rock. Last week DC announced that it was reshuffling its management structure so that Vertigo staff reported direct to DC top dogs (or some such idea). However, as a result of this, Vertigo head honcho Bond was dismissed due to being surplus to requirements.

Wonder Woman, the only DC
Rebirthcomic worthy of my time.
Well, the Internet didn't take kindly to this, but not because Bond was fired. The problem most people had was that she was fired while a long time DC editor kept his job despite being accused of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Now, I'm not writing this to have a rant on the subject, there are plenty other places you can find such things on the Internet. I'm merely stating it to give my decision some context.

This is because, not long after this 'news', I read an article on the blog mom reads comics which talked about boycotting DC due to these events. The thing is, I agree with what I read because, and maybe I'm soapboxing, I think DC keeping this guy in a job while 'better' people are removed is particularly unfair. For what this guy did, he should have been fired, not hidden away until the dust settled. That said, he wasn't and there is little I'm able to do about it...

...except withhold my money!!

And this is where I hit a quandary. I want to back up my convictions on this subject and just avoid DC comics. That said, as fickle as it is, I'm still a fan and want to at least see if the whole Rebirth thing is an improvement on New 52.

So thank god for Greg Rucka!

I'm a big fan of Rucka's work. Lazarus is amazing! Final Crisis: Revelations was the best thing to come out of that whole mess and his work on Question and Batwoman during 52 were major highlights there. Therefore, his writing Wonder Woman out that book to the top of my list, something which was enhanced with the inclusion of Nicola Scott (Liam Sharp I can take or leave, although a tweet of his art I just saw sure gives me hope for a creative trifecta).

The thing is that the creative team on a book isn't the dealbreaker here so much as the morals behind said team. What I mean by this is as I was reading up on the whole Bond scandal (I think it's safe to call it that) I found this small mention, only about a paragraph, that Rucka had agreed to write Wonder Woman as long as he didn't report to the editor in questionFor me, this is the clincher!
Now, maybe I'm selling out my moral state. Maybe a boycott is only effective if I boycott ALL DC comics, not the 99%. But while DC shouldn't be praised for their behaviour over the whole thing, should the creators be equally affected? I think not, but while most won't work under this guy, to me Rucka is the only one I have proof of (to my knowledge) who willingly stands up to what has happened. Therefore, it seems logical to me that if there is any one book from DC I WILL get when Rebirth begins, it's Wonder Woman!

Or, at the very least, it sure won't be a Superman book!

Tuesday, 29 March 2016


After finishing Dead Roots late last week, I found myself fancying another anthology book. Now this isn't a surprise given my belief that anthologies are a concept which is not given enough praise.

Meanwhile at the same time, I was thinking of ideas of my own that I had been coming up with and what artist I'd like to work with on them (should I ever get that good).

As, such it seemed like an obvious choice in next reading the Andythology as it was not only an anthology, but one which showcased the talents of creator Andy Bloor, whose art style I really love. The Andythology brought together varying stories by writers Kieren Gillen, Mo Ali, Leah Moore and John Seppion, all of which had only one connection; to have been drawn in the unique style of Bloor.
Now, much like Dead Roots, this was a book with a selection of very dark and twisted, but ultimately well written and I have to say that really enjoyed every single one. However, I've got to say that the stories were not the reason I bought this book, Andy's art was and I was in no way disappointed. I loved Andy's dark, gothic monochrome style the first time I laid eyes on it during Midnight Man and once again here I found it looking so, striking, so bold, so gorgeous. The stories may have been good, but they could have been bad and I'd have still bought this book for panels so beautiful.

So, all in all, this was money well spent when I picked it up at True Believers and I'm glad I've finally gotten round to reading it. However, my wife doesn't seem to think so, probably because she knows that if Andy Bloor keeps drawing like this, then I'll keep giving him all our money for his comics.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

My wants from DC Rebirth

So, DC announced the creative teams for their little 'Rebirth' event happening in a few months and, thanks to the miracle of Twitter, I've seen everyone and their mothers talking about what interests them from all this talk.

Well, after going through all the info, I actually found 10 books (can you believe? 10!!) which actually interest me and make me tempted to pick up.

So, I thought I'd write a little list of them, along with the reasons why they tempted (as well as some reasons why I might also be put off).

So, here they are:

Batgirl and the Birds of Prey
- I was a big fan of Gail Simone's final, pre-52 run with Oracle, Canary and Huntress. Therefore, the return of the original cast (sans Lady Blackhawk) has me tempted. However, Julie and Shawna Benson I've never heard of an so, to me, are unknown quantities. That said, I'm happy to take a look at their work and check it out.

Blue Beetle - This is of big interest for me as it brings Ted Kord back into the DC fold and with Keith Giffen writing, I think Ted and Jaime Reyes would be well represented. However, on the flip side, I'm not a fan of Scott Kolins art, which would make this book a bit hit and miss in my eyes.

Cyborg - I'll be honest, I'm not the biggest fan of Cyborg and so this book might be the bottom of the bunch. However, it makes this list for one simple reason; Paul Pelletier. His work has always been a favourite of mine since he was on Fantastic Four with Strazynski and McDuffie, hence my willingness to consider this series.

Deathstroke - I read the Client, the Black Panther arc by Christopher Priest way back when and it was really good. So, seeing him return to comics, and on Deathstroke no less, really makes me tempted to buy this. The only downside is that the series will be twice monthly, an aspect of Rebirth which doesn't interest me.

The Flash - Like Deathstroke, the Flash suffers from being a twice monthly book. The reason for it being on this list though is the art team includes Carmine Di Giandomenico, whose work on Magneto: Testament was really something and is all the evidence he needs to make me want to see what he does on here.

Suicide Squad - Along with Cyborg, Suicide Squad is probably the least interesting on this list as it consists of the movie cast and is a twice monthly series. In the plus column is the fact it's written by Rob Williams, who I hear to be quite the writer, despite my struggle to get on board with his Martian Manhunter and Unfollow. Oh well, third time could be a charm there.

Teen Titans - Teen Titans has one positive and one negative for me, both of which revolves around its cast. In the positive corner is the fact Wally West returns as Kid Flash (yay!!!) but the negative is the fact the Damian Wayne is included as Robin (bring back Tim Drake). Petty I know, but I'm a not a Damian fan.

Titans - I think this could be a winner, if not in the top three because a. It's single issue monthly, b. Dan Abnett is the writer and c. It's the original Titans. That's enough to sell it to me.

Trinity - Trinity is another top level book for me because not only is it about the Man of Steel, Dark Knight and Amazon Princess together, but it's a single issue monthly and it's all done by Francis Manapul a.k.a artist extraordinaire.

Wonder Woman - To finish my list on a high, here's Wonder Woman, to which I've added because, out simply, Greg Rucka's writing and Nicola Scott is on art (for at least every other issue). This could almost be considered a sure thing on creators alone if it wasn't ruined by being yet another twice monthly series. However, if Rucka and co. can recreate what Renae De Liz is doing on the Legend of Wonder Woman, then I'm in regardless.

And there we have it.

At the moment, I've got to admit that Wonder Woman and Trinity are my front runners, but how many of these books I pick up will depend entirely on budget, so I'll have to wait and see.

For now though, lets bask in the glory of knowing that DC have me excited about their books again, for the first time in what feels like a long time (say New 52 start time).

I just hope they can keep me excited beyond their issue 1's this time round.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Dead Roots

So, recently I decided to go back to the archives (as in those many boxes of comics held under my desk) and start reading some stuff which I haven't read in a good long while.

However, I've since decided to hold off on that when I found a book which, despite owning for nearly three years, I've never actually read. Therefore, after almost two weeks (I really haven't had time to read much of late) I have finally completed the anthology series Dead Roots.

For those not in the know, Dead Roots is a collection of short stories from a large and varied selection of British small press creators brought together by awesome writer Mike Garley. These stories, while varying in plot and style, are all connected by a singular premise; zombies (or 'walking dead' if you prefer).

Now, after reading it I've got to admit that anthologies, while somewhat of a non-entity these days in mainstream comics, are still fantastic part of the comic medium, to which Dead Roots is no exception. I really enjoyed this book as not only did it give me access to work of creators whose talents I'd not encountered before (as well as many I do know, and whose work I enjoy), but it was also surprisingly consistent, with almost all of the stories inside reading so well, looking so good and, generally, pulling me in and keeping me hooked.

Of course, not all the stories were that great, as some were faltered by the story and others by the art. But, in my opinion, that was more down to my personal tastes than any technical problems as, regardless, the book was so flawlessly executed that I'm kind of kicking myself that I waited so long to pick up this book.

But, in the end, I did and I'm glad to have done so. Dead Roots is yet another reminder to me as to why anthologies are so good and necessary in comics, especially when they are made this well.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

February 2016's comics

So, it's been a few weeks since I've posted here nan's that wasn't exactly what I had planned. Sadly, once again, real life (along with a tonne of small press reviews) have been keeping me busy.

Fortunately, this has given me plenty of time to get through all my comics picked up during February.

So, first up this month was Black Science #20, which continued the creation of a hero in lead character Grant McKay as he began his search for his team, and ended facing off against some ghosts from his recent past. Now, Black Science has been one of two true highlights in my pull list since the moment it began, but with this Godworld arc, it just feels like it's risen to a whole other level. Once again, this was an issue which was break neck, cover-to-cover action as McKay overcame obstacles and enemies to continue to rise higher and higher as the hero this story deserves. And with the still incredibly solid, pulpy looking art by Scalera, the only thing I'm hating about this book is the fact there is a month between issues because if this book was weekly then I'd still consider it money well spent (despite my limited budget).

Next on my pile was Superman: American Alien #4, which this time saw a slightly older still Clark Kent going to an intern job at the Daily Planet where his assignment is to cover a business meeting between DCU mainstays, Lex Luthor, Oliver Queen and Bruce Wayne. Now I couldn't get on board with this issue on the first read through, but on the second time I found this yet another enjoyable issue as it continued with concept of the building up the eventual man of steel. What I found most enjoyable here was the different points of view which were given by the various characters, each very different but so valid. However, I didn't take to the art so much for, while Jim Lee's style is very unique and I liked it on Batman Superman, here it is just too jarring and distracts me from the story. Despite that though, it's still an enjoyable series and I look forward to how it continues.

Then came Daredevil #3-4 which, this month, were the only print comics on my pile (Black Magick #2 was STILL not in yet!!!). These two issues continued the Tenfingers story with issue 3 seeing the man without fear protecting his new enemy against an old one while issue 4 saw him go and assist and the original Captain America in exchange for advice. Now, I feel really cruel for saying this, because I hear so much praise for this run, but these two issues continued  to be a struggle to get into. I think that the main problem is that, coming off of the tremendous Waid/Samnee run, this one had an uphill struggle to meet those standards anyway. However, the 'genie in the bottle' mentality of DD's secret identity just rubs me up the wrong way, as well as the fact that this character doesn't read like the Daredevil I know. There is nothing technically wrong with these issues (although the Cap issue felt a little shoehorned in), as Ron Garvey's art is still terrific, but I'm think my time reading Daredevil is done and these two issues really didn't do much to change my mind on that.
And finally, over the course of the month I continued the week-by week reading of The Legend of Wonder Woman #13-15, which let us see Diana learn more about the war and meantime discover a worrying revelation regarding her mother while running into a very familiar face while trying to confront said revelation. Now, after reading this, I find myself asking why it is that DC can't make books in its actual continuity which are as good as this as Renae De Liz continues to craft an incredibly engaging story which makes Wonder Woman's more traditional origin a lot more relatable to me. And although the story is starting to slow down a little (most likely to draw it out so it fills the 9 standard issues it is solicited for) it is still written so lovingly and the art is so vibrant that if this origin isn't considered the standard for the main (and film) versions of the character, then there really isn't anyone with taste in charge at DC.

So, that was February for me done and, while it was a bit of a let down given that Daredevil is dropping off my pull list for the first time since Dakota North was in the book, the other three books were so good that they more than made up for it when it comes to my enjoyment levels. Therefore, I should say that choosing my book of the month should be difficult and it almost was as Wonder Woman has been SO good. However, at the end of the day it still can't hold a candle to the awesomeness of Black Science #20 which is, without doubt, my favourite read of this bunch. Never mind though, maybe WW will take the top spot in March.

That said, I've still got to wait another (longer) month to find out. In the meantime though, back to indie comics I go!!!


Friday, 12 February 2016


I do like those nice little fated moments in life where, just as I'm finishing up reading something, the book in question has some kind of milestone.

So, it seemed rather ironic that, just as artist Emma Vieceli was announcing that it was the second birthday of hers and Malin Ryden's webcomic Breaks, I was just finishing up reading it (well, up to date anyway). It was this irony made me decide to write this.

Breaks is different to my usual kinds of reads in that it isn't a superhero comic or something action packed, but is instead a much more charming kind of story. It is a coming of age story revolving primarily around Cortland Hunt and Ian Tanner, two schoolboy who despite having something of a bitter rivalry with each other, begin to develop a emotional connection while also dealing with their own ongoing problems.

To be fair, I'm probably simplifying this way too much because, despite how it sounds, I think Breaks is an incredibly complex and compelling piece of fiction. Writer Malin Ryden seems to have an incredible grasp of producing in depth, realistic teenage voices in her characters who, are so multi-faceted it is almost impossible not to empathise with them (except maybe Spence, because I think he's just a dick).

Of course, I can't ignore Emma Veiceli's art because I think her soft pencils are such a defining factor as to what makes this webcomic such an addictive read that to downplay them as anything less than equal in importance to the writing would be criminal.

Not since Alex + Ada have I read anything so emotional, but to say Breaks is 'just a love story' is an unbelievably ignorant understatement. To me, Breaks is a definitive coming of age stories as it shows its lead characters facing some real turmoil in battling the demons of their respective pasts. This is especially apparent to me in Cortland, whose temperament, social standing and cynical attitude remind me of my own at a similar. Based on that alone I'd have said this is a story which focuses equally on some mental health aspects as well as same sex love.

And, having ignored that point thus far, the focus on a same sex relationship is, quite possibly, the major factor in my thinking that this is an essential read and not because it is included but because of what it means. For me, this is a story about being yourself, not being afraid of your peers/society's thoughts of you and being strong enough to get back up when you are put down.

And as a sufferer of depression, those are certainly themes I like to read.

So, in the end, I enjoyed breaks, which I thought I would. But I can't believe how much I enjoyed it and now I hope that, if the first two years are anything to go by, Breaks will still be going in two more. This is an essential read in my book and hope my kids can read it when they are a bit older.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

True Believers 2016, what a fantastic con!!!

This might not be a long post as I'm writing it while waiting for my car to be repaired, but I want to get it written before the memories of yesterday leave my head.
So, I've already written a show report on Pipedream comics which is up/will be up soon but here's a more personal take.
Yesterday was fantastic and I'm not over selling it here! From the moment I got there to the moment I left, the entire day was a blast.
The reason it was so good for me can be drummed up in one word;  conversation.
I got to talk to so many people yesterday. From old friends to new creators and beyond, I talked so much that I've lost my voice a little. But, damn do I not regret it!
I started with a circle round all the tables, with my plan being a second circuit to buy that didn't work too well. No sooner had I walked in the door the talking started with Big Punch Studios right there. This followed with Sam Webster, meeting Andy Bloor and more. However, not only was there lots of talking but I found so many sellers which saw me back issue diving for old Daredevil and FF issues.
And these two things were what took up my five hours there, to the point that I missed the panels I'd been planning to go to.
If I had to say one problem with True Believers it was that there was so much to see, not that that's a bad thing because of the quality of what I saw, like the awesomely knowledgeable comic sellers (Sid at Comic Connections is my hero)  and getting some good insights from, as well as giving praising to, the creators also.
And then there was the true highlights of my day. First there was meeting my absolutely favourite writer Paul Cornell, who was such an awesome and genuine guy and was so generous that it nearly floored me.
This was followed by seeing Emma Vieceli, where I gushed praise over hers and Malin Ryden's web comic Breaks, before seeing Emily Owens and Joe Glass, where I got to enjoy some in depth discussions on a variety of comic thoughts.
Those are the moments which really stuck out for me but, in truth, every person I spoke with was a joy and I could only wish I had gotten another hour, two, hell ten to have spoken with them all longer.
So, I said before that that might have been my last con for quite a while and, if it is, I'm glasd it was this one and all I can do is gush and thank everyone I encountered and everyone who arranged it for a truly fantastic con!!
And I really, REALLY hope I can go again next year.

Friday, 29 January 2016

True Believers 2016 is nearly here!!!

So, True Believers Comic Festival 2016 will up and running again at the Cheltenham Racecourse in a little over a week and I for one can't wait.

Why can't I wait? Well, it is not because it's the first con of the year, or even because this might be the only one I go to in 2016. No, the reason for my excitement is because, in my opinion, True Believers' first show was the best convention I went to in 2015. I loved is due to the size of it, the amount of space there seemed to and just the number (and quality) of creators, guests and fans the people who were there.

So, Stuart Malrain and his gang have a long way to go to top things this time around. However, based on what I've been reading, along with the list of guests and creators they have in 2016, I'm pretty confident they'll pull it off.

So, yeah I'm excited and I'm also eager for the day to get here as I already have big plans with what I want to do and who I want to see.

Here are my main draws, along with the whys;

I'm not big in the know when it comes to the traders, I plan to just stop and check them all out if they look interesting and find some of the list of back issues I'm seeking. But one which I will definitely be stopping at is Proud Lion, which is always fun for a catch up as owner Ben used to work at a comic shop in Swindon and I know for a fact he has an extensive comics knowledge.

The Exhibitors, on the other hand, I know plenty of and about, so will be visiting many of them over my day. Planned stops include;
Sarah Millman - To say hi, hear about Heart of Time's future plans and get her full opinion on Alex + Ada.
Big Punch Studios - To get the lowdown on when Afterlife/7String will reappear, as well as see if Nich Angell does commissions.
Stiffs - To query Joe Glass about what his take on Superman would be.
Midnight Man - To pick up Andy Bloor's Andythology and see what the future of Midnight Man looks like.
Red Mask from Mars - To just pester Vince Hunt mostly, though maybe pick up Red Mask from Mars #2, as well as my Abe Sapian sketch.
Sam Roads - To discuss his comics, Silicon Hearts and Christo (I think it was called).
Sam Webster - Like Vince to just have a catch up and see about the future of Joe Cape
Mike Garley - To pretty much praise him for Kill Screen, while asking about future projects
There are many big guests who I admire and hope I can shake the hand of. But out of all of them, these are the ones I really want to make an effort to see;
Paul Cornell - I'll try and get him to sign my copy of Action Comics 900, while asking about my God Damned band and his series limit of 15 issues.
Rob Williams - While I didn't get on board with Unfollow, I do have a question or two about the first issue.
Rachael Smith - I'll probably pick up one of her books, other praise for House Party and generally ask about her future projects
Emma Vieceli - Praise her for Breaks and ask her to sign my copy of Young Avengers #14.

I love panels, they are a wealth of information and the lifeblood of any good con. But out of all of them there is only two I really want to attend;
12.15am - Discover something new 2016. For me, the draw is in the title. Discover something new? Yes please. Besides, there is something special in watching the passion and enthusiasm which is released by creators as they sell their books, Stan Lee style, to a group of people.
1.00pm - Comics as Inspiration: Inspiring Creativity. Of late I've been thinking about comics and how we can go about providing them for kids. I have a few in my extended family (and my best friend is a teacher) and so I always ponder how to pass comics on and get them involved. Sadly, I don't think I've seen anything in the current market which is suitable. So with this panel, I'm interested not only in comics inspiring creativity but maybe answering my questions on that subject.

And that's it!!! It's not everything which will be there but it's definitely the guaranteed stops on my journey around the Cheltenham Racecourse.

So, I'm all ready and planned for the upcoming True Believers. I just have to hope the next week goes by quickly.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Comic book catch up - Print

So, here's part two of my catch up on my slightly large comics to read pile. Unlike part 1 which focuses on the digital comics I'm reading, part 2 will focus on those print books I picked up. The reason I split it this way was simple enough, it made sense to focus on digital and then print.

Also, I had only just picked up my part comics, while the digital ones were available to me from day of release.

Nonetheless, they are here now and I am all read up, so I'll just dive in.

This time round, I started with Lazarus #21, which made sense to me because, a. It's the end of a story arc and, b. I've been waiting for this since the end of October (delays huh? Who'd have them?). I've got to admit though, if I'd known it would be this good I'd have left it until last. That is because this issue, which saw Forever and her team assault the focus of their mission while, simultaneously, her sister Johanna took control of the family to maintain its alliances, was so frenetic and action packed that it blew my mind.

Now I loved this series for the depth of the world that Greg Rucka and Michael Lark had created, but here was a perfect topper to place onto their perfect cake. I don't think I've ever cared so much about the fate of characters who are either the main lead and guaranteed not to die(though they could surprise us), or those who are rather despicable and shouldn't be rooted for. However, here Rucka has written both Forever and Johanna in such a way that you can't but help that they succeed.

And then there is Lark's art with Arcas' colours which, quite unsurprisingly, continue to excel and make the book look so dystopian but still so elegant (although I thought the opening couple of pages looked a bit rocky).

Now I have to wait until May for the follow up, which is such a hardship considering the absolute bombshell of a end this issue dropped on me. They say good things come to those that wait and, with that knowledge I'm happy because I don't doubt issue 22 will be phenomenal.

So, with that absolute greatness of reading behind me, I moved on to Daredevil #2, which my LCS continued to drop in my drawer for me and so, out of convenience, I obliged to pick up, despite my misgivings of the past issue. However, I've got to admit I was quite surprised with this instalment, which saw DD continue his battle against the church of tenfingers with the help of his new sidekick, whose side Blindspot is on remains to be seen.

I have to admit, the prospect of this title, with a new creative team had me concerned after Waid and Samnee's stellar run, a concern which wasn't helped by DD's costume being changed to reflect the netflix show. This was a book I had intended to drop as both a response to these changes and a protest to some of Marvel's recent decisions (and I mean the FF), something only made more certain by the first issue.

However, I'm glad I got lumbered with this second instalment as it reads so much better with the character seeming more like the hero I love. Soule keeps Matt's personality intact compared to past runs with his same inner strength, only now with a role which even I thought would be more fitting some years ago (my wife had to remind me of that). What's more, the introduction of an old foe adds to Soule's intention of bringing him back to a more noir tone, something I do like.

Also, Ron Garney's art, much like issue 1, feels very nourish but with a nice twist. I enjoy his use of watercolour style which is really enhanced by the limited colour palette.

There are still things I'm not bought on; the need to change to black and the lack of explanation behind how Daredevil's secret identity is back under wraps. However, while the previous creative team formed a masterpiece on this book, I think I was too harsh to judge this volume against the past ones and, despite some flaws, it is a good read deserving of my second chance.

So, that then left me to my last comic and what a comic to end on. Where is Jake Ellis? #5 has been MIA for so long I'm pretty sure I was single when it was first solicited (and that was some time back). However, after a VERY long delay, I finally got my hands on the finale which saw Jon and his ghostly partner face off against their deadly captures and enemies in a last face off to bring them down.

This final issue was a beautifully fast paced book, with the action and excitement and, as I seem to recall, the art is the star of the show, really using the unique style to its advantage, especially during one double page spread.

Unfortunately, the problems I saw with this book extend from the lengthy break between issues as, with no recap page, I couldn't remember what had happened previously which meant I couldn't get engrossed in the story as quickly as I'd like. Also, and this might be the cynic in me, but the ending didn't like the end of a story, but a nice placeholder until the next instalment begins. Now, more story is no bad thing but, after the length of time it took for this series to finish, I'd much rather it just ended now instead of making wait another five(?) years.

Regardless of where it goes on to from here, for now the run is finished and, while it might not have been worth the wait it out us through, I'm certainly glad it's over and don't think it was a wasted read.

And so, that's my comic book catch up over, although it's a shame it didn't last longer (it should have done, but Black Magick #2 was not in stock, though 3 was. Oh well, maybe next time). To be honest, I was surprised that I read so many good books, expecting a few duds.

However, I've decided to mention my favourite each month and this month I'd have to say it was a close one, but Black Science #19 beat out Lazarus #21 by a nose.

So, that's it! I'm done. Time to get on with some work, I have a four issue series to review for Pipedream Comics.

But first....Batman: Arkham Knight!!!!!

Friday, 22 January 2016

Comic book catch up - Digital

It's been a long hard month for me to start off 2016. My family's impending arrival has meant that putting together a nursery and getting all those sterilisers and travel systems has been my priority. Coupled with the fact that I recently started a new role at my work, meaning I am having to re-learn whole new procedures, it is fair to say that reading comics has not been my priority.

However, as February inches ever closer I've finally found a time to not only get to my local comic shop, but to actually get through my rather large (for me) backlog, some of which just happens to go all the way back to the November. So, with such a big list to read through, I figure I'd get started and talk about what I've read in January.

Starting with my digital series (because, you know, easier access), my first read of the month was the new instalment of my favourite series of 2015, Black Science which continued the five issue arc that was stated on the cover as lead Grant McKay continued to trek through the landscape of his own mind and memories, only this time joined by his late dad.

Now, while I was a bit worried after its hiatus with a forgettable #17, #19 builds on the greatness that 18 reminded me the series could be, causing me to be absolutely absorbed by the story. I think what really resonated for me though was how well written the father/son relationship was, with this issue breaking down Grant's failings and making him a better person.

Oh yeah, and lets not forget the art, which is still solidly beautiful and, in my opinion, is a style which the comic would be less without. I mean, seriously, if it wasn't Scalara's pulpy look on this book, then I might have given up on it some time back, good story or not.

With my wife due in a couple of months, this issue really made me think of my own impending fatherhood and what kind I want to be. In the end that's the best kind of comic, one which makes you think.

Next up I read Superman: American Alien #3 where writer Max Landis tells the story, with the help of new artist Joelle Jones, of young Clark Kent (though older than the last issue) as, after his plane crashes in the sea, he is mistaken for Bruce Wayne by a passing cruise ship which happens to carry a who's who of wealthy DC characters as the young Superman-to-be moves ever closer to becoming his iconic namesake.

Now, I've probably made this sound far grander than it maybe is but that doesn't change the fact that I found it a really good read, if not as good as the prior issues. The problems with this issue are down to how it opens up, as I thought Joelle Jones rather rough pencils really made this story somewhat jarring to get into.

However, once the initial turbulence (get it? Because the plane crashed.....Ok, moving on) wears off, I did actually find Jones's style to suit the very party, inebriated atmosphere of the setting, especially when Clark is drugged. I also liked that, once again, Landis focused the story more on Clark finding more about himself, with the only fight scene being used for comedy, as well as the characters lovely dynamic with a future villain. If there's one issue with the story for me it's that Sue Dibny appears but there was no Ralph!!

Before reading this I thought that I'd hate this issue due to the fact Bruce Wayne is mentioned, meaning his inclusion (Bats takes up too many books as it is). However, while, not the strongest, this was still another great issue and still the best Supes book on shelves, with only a slight Bat sighting (which I can live with).

So that brings me to my final digital book which wasn't just the last book I read but was also the first and that was The Legend of Wonder Woman which, as a digital-first title, means I got to read the first eleven issues (Which when printed, each issue will contain three 'digital' issues, so I'm into 'issue 4'), hence the backlog. This, kinda like Superman American Alien, tells the origin story of Princess Diana from birth to becoming Wonder Woman and slightly beyond.

And, just like Superman American Alien, this book is just pure gold and is quite possibly a far superior and faithful version of the character than what is seen in the character's book proper. I believe that Renae De Liz has written the quintessential version of Wonder Woman as feels more innocent but strong-willed, very much someone who wants peace but is ready for a fight (unlike New 52 WW). In fact I'd say this is spot on to Wonder Woman in my head, overtaking the characters look and feel from the Justice League cartoon.

Then there is Ray Dillon's art, which is so gloriously bright and vibrant that I think it only amplifies the feeling and tone the story tries to give. Even during some of the darkest moments amongst the series, the art just can't help but release the lightness, magic and wonder of the world it shows us.

Despite only having read about half the series, I'm convinced that this is essential reading for getting to know Wonder Woman and, as such, am equally sure that once it ends then the main book will struggle to be compared to this one, given what I know of it's darker, New 52 tone.

Beyond these three books nothing else has been read on my iPad besides a couple of indie comics,  Papercuts & Inkstains and Gutter Magic, but my thoughts on those can be found at Pipedream Comics. Suffice to say though, they are pretty good.

So, that's the digital books all read and given that I've written a lot I've decided to air my thoughts on the print books in another post.

So watch this space....