Friday, 23 June 2017

(Some of ) June 2017's Pull List

June isn't quite over yet and I have a few comics on my pull list which are still to be picked up. However, while books are still to be read for me, the majority of them are the beginnings of (or in the case of Star Trek, early into) new story arcs.

Because of this, and because I kind of enjoyed talking about the Lazarus Contract in it's entirety, I decided I would hold off on Daredevil, Black Magick and Star Trek: Mirror Broken and talk about them in regards to the full stories.

Therefore, there were only two comics for me to talk about and both of those were released in the same week, early into this month.

First up was Titans #12, which was another little one-shot issue between arcs as Omen made a visit to Psimon in his cell in order to find out what had happened to Bumblebee's missing memories, only to have all of her teams problems thrown back at her by her nemesis, along with a terrible revelation to set up the next arc. Now, I have to admit that after the let down that was the Lazarus Contract last month, I was expecting an improved outing this time around. However, I don't think I was expecting this much of an improvement as this issue was fantastically written and totally had me hooked as all the revelations, secrets and frayed dynamics were shown. I also loved that Kenneth Rocafort is providing the art on this issue as I've always enjoyed his work since first seeing it on Action Comics (although I don't recall seeing it since then.) His work really works well here as he has a very similar style to Booth, meaning I don't find any transition in styles (which works for me). I've said before that Titans is a guilty pleasure more than a great book, as it has as many hits as misses, but this issue is certainly the best yet. I'm now eager for the 'Judas Among Us' arc and to see if my guess of who is the traitor is right. My guess: It's Garth.

Next was Copperhead #14, which saw the end of the current arc with the Sheriff closing in on the Mayor's killer, while Hickory causes more problems for Boo behind the scenes and Clay finally makes his way to his destination. Unfortunately, while I had hoped for something of a miraculous ending to this arc to regain my interest, this issue really turned out to be very forgettable. This issue, while tying up all the loose ends the arc had revealed as well as set up for what was to come next, just felt so boring to me and was just in no way captivating, while the characters of Clara and Boo just felt flat and shells of their earlier selves. Meanwhile, while I like Drew Moss' art, it's just not Scott Godlewski's and really doesn't make this book look like it did (in truth it doesn't look as gritty), something which really appealed to me when I first picked up this book. As a result, I'm kind of glad this issue is out as my time on Copperhead has come to an end. It had a good start in it, but it's hiatus seemed to be it's undoing and, as such, it's a comic I would rather not spend my limited funds on.

And so, I guess that's June done. I have to admit that I'm sad that Copperhead was such a let down and kind of sad to see it go, but when a book is no longer enjoyable then why spend good money on it? Thankfully, Titans more than made up for both it and it's previous instalment, so I guess it evened out overall.

For now, I won't be posting these breakdowns of my pull list for a while due to my grand plan of talking about books by arcs. In the meantime, I'll have to try and find something else to write about (but, in comics, that usually isn't too hard).

Friday, 16 June 2017

The Autumnlands Vol. 2

Like I said previously, last weekend I got to go on holiday and, due to circumstances beyond my control (well, kind of, I could have kept my son up I guess), I was given the gift of time to read some trades which I hadn't yet gotten around to. The first evening was taken up by the Mark Millar superhero book; Huck.

On night two, I decided I'd have a read of The Autumnlands Volume 2: Woodland Creatures by Kurt Busiek and Ben Dewey. This was another book which I had been given the opportunity to review when it had initially been released. Now, as full disclosure, I hadn't originally enjoyed this comic but, when convinced to give it a second try (because it's Kurt Busiek), I did find Tooth and Claw (It's original title) to be much better than I had first thought and decided to give that first trade a try.

Well, volume 1 was read and thoroughly enjoyed and so when volume 2 was released, I snapped it up (which was helped as Comixology had it selling for a discounted price), but had yet to read through it, until now.

The Autumnlands volume 2 follows on from the first trade with Learoyd and Dustain recovering after their battle to defend the (former) floating city's inhabitants from Seven Scars and his Bison tribe. No lost and alone in the wilderness, the two set off for survival and civilisation when Learoyd has an encounter with a being unlike anything he's so far seen in the Autumnlands. This encounter leads the great Champion and his dog-wizard companion deep into the Woodlands and up a nearby mountain as he attempts to gain more answers as to how he got here and why.

Much like the first volume, however, this was a bit of a struggle to get into initially. That said, unlike the first volume, this had more to do with a lack of a recap page being included in Volume 2, meaning finding the memories in my rather full mind of the previous read. This, as is usually the case with a non-recap page book, made it a bit of a slow start to get into.

Of course, as I read and the first book came flooding back to me, I really got more and more engrossed into this story, which also saw the duo attempt to help a sheep's village and pick up a new companion in the form of a Goat called Albert as they made their way up the mountain. I have to admit that, once the comic's pace picks up, the entire story begins to feel incredibly mythic.

The thing I enjoy most though are the characters and their interactions as, free from the more political characters of Volume 1, Learoyd and Dunstain really come across better as the former shows his hidden depths beneath his rather crude first impression and the latter feels a lot more confident here with both his skills and his overall demeanour. Meanwhile, I enjoyed the rendition of the Sheep village, showing a simpler, more comprehendible aspect of the this world while Albert, although a little annoying in places, I thought helped give the story some levity with his arrogant and humorous nature.

Meanwhile, I do love the art, which really goes with the mythic quality of the overall book and it has some good colours to help bring it across really well (which you come to expect when it's Jordie Bellaire.) What's really great about the art in this book though are the truly mesmerizing landscape scenes at the start of each issues which make me think of Oil Paintings or the art you may see in ancient texts (although the actual text which goes with them feels a little long.)

In truth, this book is a seriously terrific book, but not just for the things I've mentioned above. I've always considered that there's some unknown quantity on every book which can cause you to love the worst made or hate one of the highest quality. With Autumnland, it is the better of those two options as I find this book incredibly epic and, despite having to have worked to remember what was going on, the pay off was worth the effort.

I could have picked a few other things to read in my precious free time, but I'm glad I chose this. I look forward to volume 3!

Monday, 12 June 2017

Huck Vol. 1

I'm on my first day back to work after a nice long weekend with my family down to Paignton and the 'English Riviera' (It's a lot nicer than Fawlty Towers ever implied it to be). Back to the daily slog of entering numbers after the high of (occasional) sun, sea and sand. For someone who doesn't like holidays, I've gotta say it was pretty good.

What made it good (amongst other things) is the fact that, due to my son going to sleep early and thereby limiting my wife and I's evenings, I got to read two full trades (one a night). This is something that has long been a pipedream for me given my having to help look after a demanding one year old. However, this weekend gave me the chance to catch up and I'll be damned if I was going to lose it.

So, for the first night I got to read volume one of Huck, which I've had for a good few months and have been wanting to read since I reviewed the first issue way back when. This book told the story of the eponymous character, a gas attendant in a small rural town with a secret only the locals know. Huck is super strong, super resilient, hero with a heart of gold who spends each day trying to do at least one good deed for those around him. However, when one local spills the beans, Huck finds himself in the spotlight and one a path to find his family, while sinister forces mean to capture him for themselves.

Now this may sound a little too epic for what it is but, when looking back at it, I'm not sure I could describe it any other way. I've rarely been a fan of Mark Millar throughout his career; Civil War was good but Fantastic Four was not. Meanwhile, most of his creator owned works have been too crude, gruesome and bloody for my tastes. But with Huck, Millar has written such an earnest, lovable story that I can't help but to be engrossed in both the character and his adventure. In fact, Huck the character is the key to pulling me into this series as he is so Superman-esque, uncomplicated and easy-going that I can't help but envy him and root for him, even without his super powers.

And then there is Rafael Albuquerque's art which is just so incredibly fitting with Millar's story in my eyes. I loved this art just as much as I loved the story with every panel in the early issues just imbuing such a rural, rustic look that it just helped sell the slice of life nature, before the tone shifted in the later issues and Albuquerque seemed to effortlessly change the tone without changing the style and giving me the feeling of a book which was the same but different. I remember how much I enjoyed Rafael Albuquerque's work on Uncanny X-Force way back when but, with this, it felt just inch perfect.

I remember how much I enjoyed the first issue when it came out but, with the trade, it's fair to say that I really loved this story. While, given how it ends, it could be reasonable to assume it is a single story with no continuation, I really hope the 'Volume 1' on the cover implies otherwise. Huck is a terrific story (which I'm surprised to be saying about a Millar book) which is gorgeous and something I really want to see it continue.

Bring on Volume 2!!