Sunday, 15 October 2017

The Relive Box and Other Stories by TC Boyle Review

TC Boyle is a fine novelist but, if you want to see this eagle soar, you need to read his short stories. Boyle shows why he’s one of the best short story writers in the world with his latest brilliant collection, The Relive Box and Other Stories. 

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Providence, Act Three Review (Alan Moore, Jacen Burrows)

And so Alan Moore’s meandering and flummoxing mash note to HP Lovecraft, Providence, comes to an awkward, unsatisfying and confusing end in Act Three. Watch in dismay as Robert Black continues to tediously research his book on New England folklore until he doesn’t and then the world sort of ends! Oh my god, what a load of pretentious bollocks!

The Valley of Fear Review (Arthur Conan Doyle, Ian Edginton)

A wealthy American businessman is murdered in his English manor house, his head blown off by a double-barrelled shotgun - whodunit and why?

The Valley of Fear is one of the better Sherlock Holmes stories but it’s still a fairly mediocre read. It’s a fine story of revenge and intrigue full of American gangsters and Freemasons (like A Study in Scarlet, Arthur Conan Doyle clearly viewed the United States as a romantically dangerous country full of rogues!), and the mystery is well put-together. 

Friday, 13 October 2017

Batman: Bride of the Demon Review (Mike Barr, Tom Grindberg)

BLEURGH! Nothing to see here guys, move on, really. I thought I’d turned a corner with Mike Barr’s Batman comics after being pleasantly surprised with both The Wrath and Son of the Demon - and then I read Bride of the Demon. And while it’s not as offensively bad as Year Two, it’s still absolute garbage. 

James Bond: Black Box Review (Benjamin Percy, Rapha Lobosco)

Black Box is the first stinker in Dynamite’s otherwise strong new line of James Bond comics. From the Alpine opener to the showdown with the villain, the whole book reads like Benjamin Percy sat down and made a list of things readers expect to see in a James Bond story and then wrote his script, ticking them off as he went!

Thursday, 12 October 2017

The Mighty Thor, Volume 3: The Asgard/Shi'ar War Review (Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman)

Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman’s once-great Thor series tanks HARD with this turd volume, The Asgard/Shi’Ar War, a boring book full of inconsequential, dull stories. Malekith’s still kicking up a stink with the War of the Realms storyline but that nonsense only lasts for a couple of issues before we get into a useless five issue storyline where Thor has a contest with the Shi’Ar Gods over who’s the better god. And will Jane Foster hang onto her senate seat?! Snore… 

Royal City, Volume 1: Next of Kin by Jeff Lemire Review

The fractured Pike family are brought back together to the dying industrial town of Royal City when the elderly patriarch, Peter, suffers a stroke. But they also have another shared commonality: dead Tommy Pike, drowned at age 14, who haunts each of the family in his own way. In this time of crisis, the family must finally confront their dark past. But is Tommy somehow still alive…? 

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Batman: Dark Knight, Dark City Review (Peter Milligan, Kieron Dwyer)

I haven’t been reading Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Dark Nights: Metal (I will though) but apparently their story, kinda like Grant Morrison’s Batman RIP and The Black Casebook, takes inspiration from all sorts of random DC comics from the past like this stinker from 1990, Peter Milligan’s Dark Knight, Dark City. And I bet it’s the flimsiest of connections too like the demon Barbathos who appears in this book shows up in one scene in Metal or something.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Punisher MAX: The Platoon #1 Review (Garth Ennis, Goran Parlov)

After a break of nearly ten years, the definitive Punisher writer, Garth Ennis, is back for a new addition to arguably the character’s finest series, Punisher MAX, with Platoon. Except it’s not really a Punisher comic. I mean, it is in that it’s about Frank Castle, the Punisher, but it’s about Frank’s first command in the Vietnam War and Frank became the Punisher after his third tour of duty (see Punisher: Born for that story). So Platoon is essentially a Vietnam War comic with a slight Marvel flavour and a prequel to a prequel to boot! 

Saturday, 7 October 2017

The Unbelievable Gwenpool, Volume 3: Totally in Continuity Review (Christopher Hastings, Gurihiru)

Totally In Continuity is the first misfire in Christopher Hastings’ otherwise excellent Unbelievable Gwenpool run. Not that it’s completely bad but it’s definitely not as good as the first two books. 

I think that’s because it’s a grab-bag of random stories so this volume feels like a transition/buffer book between the first story arc and the next. It opens with a throwaway story where Gwen’s hired to protect some supernatural folk from Blade the Vampire Hunter. It’s a meh read and unfortunately doesn’t feature series regular Gurihiru’s sublime art. Instead we have to make do with Myisha Haynes’ Squirrel Girl-level art which is plain at best - it’s really no substitute. 

Friday, 6 October 2017

Sex Criminals, Volume 4: Fourgy! Review (Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky)

This comic. This fucking comic. Sex Crimz is back on form with the brilliantly titled Volume 4: Fourgy!

Story-wise there isn’t much happening and that’s my only complaint about this book. Essentially it’s still Sex Criminals vs Sex Cops but there’s barely any conflict between them here. Kegelface fucks with Ana’s teaching job and… that’s it.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

England Your England by George Orwell Review

George Orwell thinks England’s not that bad and up yours to anyone who thinks otherwise! 

Orwell’s essay takes a meandering and questionable look at the nebulous British national character with its positives and negatives. Among the topics touched upon are the distinct class divides, the curiously anti-militaristic attitude of the time juxtaposed with the existence of the Empire (maintained through military strength), and the not especially patriotic views of the general public - until a bully like Hitler starts throwing his weight around and then everyone’s signing up to fight for King and Country!

Orwell never fails to write well but this time the content didn’t grab me in the way it normally does. The subject matter is not especially compelling or insightful and his conclusions were unconvincing and felt largely pointless. I guess he was in a nationalistic mood while Hitler was bombing London and this was the result? 

George Orwell was a fantastic essayist whose reportage is absolutely worth reading but the rambling England Your England is definitely not among his best work.

The Walking Dead, Volume 28: A Certain Doom Review (Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard)

I never know what to expect with The Walking Dead because the quality ebbs and flows - two books in a row might stink but the next will be great, and so on like that. So I’m delighted to say that Volume 28: A Certain Doom is not just one of the good ones but also one of the best additions to the series yet! 

The biggest challenge Rick’s group has ever faced is upon them: a thousands-strong herd of zombies sent their way by the Whisperers. Even if they survive, some are bound to fall - but who? 

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Batman: Son of the Demon Review (Mike W. Barr, Jerry Bingham)

Son of the Demon is another episode of Batman and his mad in-laws, the Al-Ghul’s. He may get to plow the mega-hawt Talia but he’s gotta put up with his mental father-in-law’s ravings about wiping out humanity over dinner – the things we do to wet our beaks, eh? And what’s that – the pitter-patter of tiny feet? Will Batman finally cheer up?? 

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes Review

I’ve known about this novel since I was in high school but didn’t get around to reading it until just recently at the age of 33 (coincidentally the same age as the protagonist!). I read a Simpsons comic and watched an episode of the Simpsons TV show which both covered the same story so I felt like I didn’t need to read the original. But I’m glad I finally checked out Daniel Keyes’ Flowers For Algernon because it’s actually really good - it definitely deserves its classic status. 

Thanos, Volume 1: Thanos Returns Review (Jeff Lemire, Mike Deodato)

The last time I saw Thanos he was cosplaying as the Jurassic Park mosquito, frozen within an amber box or something at the end of Jonathan Hickman’s Infinity event (but then who hasn’t woken up someplace kerazy after a few too many, amirite fellas??). I (intentionally) missed The Black Vortex crossover but it looks like he freed himself and has returned from somewhere. Except now he’s got the space cancer and is dying - but not if his weeny son Thane can kill him first!

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

X-Men: Original Sin Review (Daniel Way, Mike Deodato)

To no-one’s surprise but his own (and only then for contrived dramatic purposes), Daken discovers that he’s Wolverine’s son. Apparently the bone claws and healing factor weren’t big enough clues! Some baddies kidnap Daken so Logan and Xavier set out to rescue him. 

Sons of the Devil, Volume 3 Review (Brian Buccellato, Toni Infante)

Charlie Manson-esque cult leader David wants to sacrifice his many kids to bring Satan to Earth – his son Travis sets out to stop him.

Sons of the Devil started out strongly with its first book before tanking in the second and going out in a series of bored yawns with this third utterly rubbish volume. Brian Buccellato’s woefully barebones story is all about making the reader wait for Travis to meet his dad before delivering the inevitable and predictable conclusion. It’s such an unexciting and tedious read that’s far too stretched-out for what it is. Toni Infante’s art is ugly and scratchy.

There’s nothing else to say about this one! It’s just disappointing that this title got so crappy after such a promising start. I wouldn’t rec this series at all.

Monday, 25 September 2017

How To Find Fulfilling Work by Roman Krznaric Review

Doing what it says in the title, Roman Krznaric explores the concept of meaningful work for those who are unhappy with their 9-5 and looking to change that. And he does a pretty good job of it!

Wolverine: Origins, Volume 4: Our War Review (Daniel Way, Steve Dillon)

Set in the wake of Captain America’s death after the first Civil War, Wolverine pours one out for his fallen comrade and flashes back to their first encounter in WW2 – when he was the one meant to kill Cap!?

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The Hound of the Baskervilles Review (Arthur Conan Doyle, Ian Edginton)

The toffee-nosed Baskervilles are cursed with a spooky monster dog that’s killing off the family, one by one – the game is a-paw, Watson!

You know what I’ve remembered reading these comics adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes novels? I don’t like the originals and I never did - Conan Doyle was a lousy writer! (The Lost World: has there ever been such an awesome concept so poorly realised?) The Hound of the Baskervilles is probably my favourite book of his but I only ever thought it was mediocre.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Death of Hawkman Review (Marc Andreyko, Aaron Lopresti)

At a time when DC looked at most of its line and said “Rebirth”, they looked at one character and one character only - Hawkman - and said “DEATH!”. And y’know what? This is why they’ve been selling gangbusters this past year-and-change, because DC suddenly know what the people want. The only Hawkman comic I was ever going to read would be one where they iced this motherfucker! 

Saturday, 16 September 2017

The Flintstones, Volume 2: Bedrock Bedlam Review (Mark Russell, Steve Pugh)

Mark Russell and Steve Pugh’s acclaimed Flintstones series comes to a yabba-dabba-end with this second volume. While Bedrock’s community undergoes numerous changes, Fred’s career at Mr Slate’s Quarry continues to have its ups and downs, Wilma’s still trying to make it as an artist, and Pebbles questions the importance of science and religion.

Friday, 15 September 2017

The Wild Storm, Volume 1 Review (Warren Ellis, Jon Davis-Hunt)

Having successfully relaunched their main superhero titles under the Rebirth banner as well as their Hanna-Barbera line and their new indie imprint Young Animal, DC has turned its attention to their old Wildstorm label which is given a makeover by Warren Ellis in The Wild Storm. And, disappointingly, it’s pants!

Thursday, 14 September 2017

James Bond: Felix Leiter Review (James Robinson, Aaron Campbell)

James Bond’s cyborg buddy Felix Leiter is brought in by the Japanese Bond, Tiger Tanaka, to identify a beautiful (but deadly – of course) Russian spy. Things are never that simple though and Felix and Tiger soon find themselves wrapped up in a complex web of intrigue involving a death cult and North Korea!

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Providence, Act Two Review (Alan Moore, Jacen Burrows)

Bah, I knew a decent Alan Moore series wouldn’t last! The feted author disappointingly drops the ball in the second “Act” of Providence.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Weird Detective Review (Fred Van Lente, Guiu Vilanova)

By Cthulhu’s tentacled mug, there’s a lot of HP Lovecraft-themed comics around these days, eh? Weird Detective is yet another one but it’s one of the better books out there and is also Fred Van Lente’s best work in years.

Previously a crooked Noo Yawk detective on the make, Sebastian Greene is now the vessel of an alien, here to stop the Old Ones from wreaking havoc on Earth. Greene picks up the trail after their victims start appearing around the city sucked dry of their innards like empty juice boxes!

Monday, 11 September 2017

The Sign of the Four Review (Arthur Conan Doyle, Ian Edginton)

The more I read these comics adaptations of Arthur Conan Doyle’s original novels, the more I feel affirmed in the view that the enduring popularity of these books comes from the richness of the characters rather than the dreary stories they appear in. 

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Aquaman, Volume 8: Out of Darkness Review (Dab Abnett, Vicente Cifuentes)

And so what started out as New 52 Aquaman ends with not-New 52 labelled (but we’ll keep the numbering)-not-yet-Rebirth-Aquaman with Volume 8: Out of Darkness. Does Dan Abnett do any better than the quickly dismissed Cullen Bunn? Nope! 

Saturday, 9 September 2017

How To Be Perfectly Unhappy by Matthew Inman, The Oatmeal, Review

In his latest book, How To Be Perfectly Unhappy, Matthew Inman, aka The Oatmeal, ponders the concept of happiness in his usual humorous style. And it’s a pretty amusing read but short because the subject, and his conclusions, are fairly straightforward and underwhelming.

Friday, 8 September 2017

All-Star Batman, Volume. 2: Ends of the Earth Review (Scott Snyder, Jock)

Scott Snyder continues his Batman no-hitter streak he started with Endgame back in the New 52 with Rebirth’s All-Star Batman, Volume 2: Ends of the Earth. Time to take a break from the character, dude! Mister Freeze unleashes a necrotic black spot that decays everything it touches and Batman’s gotta etc. It’s soooo boring!

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Chuck Klosterman X: A Highly Specific, Defiantly Incomplete History of the Early 21st Century by Chuck Klosterman Review

As you can guess from the title this is Chuck Klosterman’s tenth book which is an anthology of previously published articles - and I really enjoyed reading it! 

The writing voice Klosterman’s cultivated over the years is very compelling. Obviously it helps that the subject matters - pop culture commentary on music, film and TV - interest me, but his articulate, funny, thoughtful and illuminating musings also drew me into subjects that don’t, eg. American sports. 

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Batman/The Flash: The Button Review (Tom King, Joshua Williamson)

Batman/The Flash: The Button follows on from the end of last year’s DC Universe Rebirth #1 when Batman picked up The Comedian’s smiley-face badge in the Batcave. Here, Batman and Flash continue to investigate what the button means though it’s obvious that it’s teasing the Watchmen’s imminent appearance in the DC Universe. 

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Lady Killer, Volume 2 Review (Joelle Jones, Michelle Madsen)

Josie Schuller is the ultimate domestic goddess: loving wife, doting mother – brutal assassin?! While she outwardly plays the idealised 1960s housewife, she’s secretly carrying out contract hits. If only disposal of the bodies wasn’t such a pain! Handily, a blast from her past reappears to offer his services. But Josie’s about to learn that being a small business manager has its pitfalls particularly when her sole employee doesn’t take being let go very well…

Monday, 4 September 2017

Jaco the Galactic Patrolman by Akira Toriyama Review

Dragon Ball is probably my favourite comic ever so I have a lot of time for its creator, Akira Toriyama. That said, the more I read of his non-Dragon Ball work - Dr. Slump, Sand Land, and now Jaco the Galactic Patrolman - the more I realise that he’s unfortunately a one-hit wonder! 

Jaco is an alien policeman who crash-lands on Earth, meets an inventor and a pop star stand-in, and goes on a series of unfunny, uninteresting “adventures”. It’s 200 pages of pointless crappy manga. 

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Artemis by Andy Weir Review

In space, no-one can hear you yawn…

I try to include plot summaries at the top of my reviews for context but I can’t do it for Fartemis - every time I think about this trash my mind collapses out of exhausted, frustrated, sheer boredom! The protagonist is a smuggler called Jazz Bashara. It’s set on the moon city of Fartemis. There’s a laughable half-assed “heist” plot. Oh, and I fucking haaaated reading it! AARRGH, GET IT AWAY FROM MEEEE!

Saturday, 2 September 2017

My Dog: The Paradox: A Lovable Discourse about Man's Best Friend by Matthew Inman, The Oatmeal Review

Matthew “The Oatmeal” Inman waxes amusingly on his beloved dog, and on dog ownership in general, in My Dog: The Paradox. Every dog owner reading this will see their pet’s behaviour mirrored here, particularly, if you have a small dog like me who likes lying down in awkward areas around the house, when you accidentally kick them and they act like they should be apologising to you!

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen them do this (since the cats died) but, like Inman’s, my dogs used to eat cat shit occasionally, though I don’t know why he’s surprised that his dog won’t eat broccoli – whose does?! Veggies aren’t for canines – hell, I know more than a few humans who turn their noses up at healthy greens! And my dogs are also sensitive to loud noises (even heavy rain) but quite happily charge towards motorbikes when they appear!

Maybe I’d have liked this better if I hadn’t recently read Inman’s other dog book, If My Dogs Were a Pair of Middle-Aged Men, which is similar in content but funnier. Also, this book is very, very short. Still, it’s full of cute, enjoyable observations about the strange, adorable creatures many of us live with and who bring so much happiness with their companionship.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Jupiter's Legacy, Volume 2 Review (Mark Millar, Frank Quitely)

Frank Quitely is my favourite comic book artist but he doesn’t put out material too often and unfortunately these last few years he’s been tied to that hack Mark Millar with this mediocre Jupiter’s Legacy title so I’ve had to put up with Millar’s rubbish to enjoy Quitely’s work. 

Millar’s story is predictably uninspired and unengaging: evil superheroes have taken over the planet - good superheroes gotta stop ‘em. As usual, Millar’s not trying and the flaws are obvious in his rushed script like the ineffective wannabe-emotional father/son scene that falls flat because it’s so underwritten. The rest is instantly forgettable generic superheroes-thumping-each-other crap. 

Quitely’s artwork though is resplendent. He does scale like few can and his panels are meticulous, charged with life, imaginatively executed and are simply beautiful to behold. His visionary art is literally the only reason to pick up Jupiter’s Legacy 2.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Batman: Detective Comics, Volume 2: The Victim Syndicate Review (James Tynion IV, Eddy Barrows)

A group of unintended casualties in Batman’s war on crime have banded together under the cringey name of The Victim Syndicate. If Batman doesn’t renounce his vigilante ways, they’ll make Gotham pay! Sigh… 

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Providence, Act One Review (Alan Moore, Jacen Burrows)

Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows reunite to follow-up their Lovecraftian horror comic, Neonomicon, with a prequel of sorts: Providence - and it’s not half bad! 

Set in 1919 New England, journalist Robert Black decides to write about a supposedly cursed book, Sous Le Monde (“Under the World”), which seems to kill everyone it comes in contact with. Black’s research sends him on a trail into the blighted netherworlds of the unspeakable darkness…, y’know, HP Lovecraft stuff! 

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

The Old Guard, Book One: Opening Fire Review (Greg Rucka, Leandro Fernandez)

Get ready to be knocked out with this original concept: people who can’t die! Woooah… yeah and that’s our protagonists in The Old Guard, a buncha unkillable soldiers-turned-mercenaries. And get this for a gripping storyline: they’re gonna grudgingly go through the motions of doing mercenary stuff because fuck it. I know, I’m on the edge of my seat too… zzz… 

Monday, 28 August 2017

Black Hammer, Volume 1: Secret Origins Review (Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston)

Superheroes are transported to a mysterious farm and get new identities for no reason - and that’s Black Hammer! 

You know what this title needs? A STORY! This first volume is all table-setting which is mostly why it’s so unsatisfying. Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston introduce their Golden Age superheroes, all of whom are derivative knockoffs of more famous characters: Abraham Slam (Captain America), Colonel Randall Weird (Doctor Strange), Talky-Walky (a generic robot), Mark Marz/Barbalien (J’onn J’onzz/Martian Manhunter), Golden Gail (Mary Marvel), Madame Dragonfly (Madame Xanadu), Black Hammer (Steel), and the big bad, Anti-God (The Anti-Monitor). 

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Sartre Review (Mathilde Ramadier, Anaïs Depommier)

Sartre is a really crappy biographical comic on the major twentieth century French philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre. Writer Mathilde Ramadier does a remarkably substandard job of explaining the philosophy of existentialism, which Sartre was most famous for, as well as failing to highlight what made him notable to the wider public in the first place. We just get a truncated overview of his (seemingly) uneventful life from bookish youth to teacher to - suddenly! - intellectual celebrity. 

Saturday, 26 August 2017

A Study in Scarlet Review (Arthur Conan Doyle, Ian Edginton)

Sherlock Holmes and John Watson meet for the first time in A Study in Scarlet, becoming roomies at 221b Baker Street and solving their first case together: murder most foul!

Ian Edginton and INJ Culbard’s comics adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic is about as good as the original which is to say that it’s just ok; Scarlet definitely isn’t the best Sherlock Holmes book. That’s largely down to the plodding explanation of the murderer’s motivations that take up most of the second half. It’s your standard lover’s revenge told in that rambling, overlong Victorian style that didn’t jibe with my modern reader’s tastes. Culbard’s art is also visually uninteresting and is more serviceable than anything.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Civil War II: Fallout Review (Al Ewing, Greg Pak)

When it comes to event comics, the tie-ins are often better than the main title but in this case Civil War II: Fallout is definitely crappier. 

Heads up: if you haven’t read the main event and are planning to, there are plenny of spoilers in this book and review so fair warning! 

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Gravel, Volume 1: Bloody Liars Review (Warren Ellis, Mike Wolfer)

Combat magician and occult detective, Bill Gravel, returns to Blighty after a year spent killing terrorists in Afghanistan - only to discover that he’s believed to be dead, his place in the Minor Seven (an elite group of magicians) has been filled and his most treasured magical item, the Sigsand Manuscript, has been divided up among its members! Gravel doesn’t like that and sets out to get back what’s his - with lethal force! 

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Star Wars, Volume 5: Yoda's Secret War Review (Jason Aaron, Salvador Larroca)

It’s nice to see a book featuring Yoda as the protagonist as he’s been largely absent during Marvel’s Star Wars relaunch. Unfortunately his adventure here is pretty damn boring! 

In a mashup between Lord of the Flies and Mad Max, Yoda goes to some primitive planet full of warring kids who use rock magic in a seemingly unending war. O...k… but doesn’t sound very Star Wars-y to me! 

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Demon, Volume 3 by Jason Shiga Review

While I’ve enjoyed Jason Shiga’s exemplary Demon enormously, Volume 3 is unfortunately the weakest book in the series so far. Which isn’t to say it’s bad but it feels a bit like filler, and repetitive filler at that, as it’s largely similar to the last volume. 

Monday, 21 August 2017

Carnage Review (Zeb Wells, Clayton Crain)

Having enjoyed Zeb Wells and Clayton Crain’s Carnage USA, I hoped their other Carnage book might also rock - and it didn’t. 

Saturday, 19 August 2017

303 Review (Garth Ennis, Jacen Burrows)

Garth Ennis does NOT like George W. Bush or his administration or seemingly America in general really and he basically uses 303 as his hate screed to show why.