Sunday, 21 May 2017

Trinity, Volume 1: Better Together Review (Francis Manapul, Clay Mann)


Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are the Trinity, DC’s three most popular, iconic superheroes. But mixing three great tastes doesn’t necessarily make them taste great together, as Trinity Rebirth proves. “Better Together”? Ha! 

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Herman By Trade by Chris W. Kim Review


A humble street cleaner, Herman has a startling secret: at night he transforms into an imposing cloaked figure who wanders the city narrating his actions and thoughts aloud! When indie film director Mio chooses to film her next project in Herman’s town, he decides to audition for a part, revealing his secret side for the first time. Herman’s life is about to change… 

Friday, 19 May 2017

Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love Review (Sarah Vaughn, Lan Medina)


Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love is another retelling of Bluebeard where a man and a woman go to some big house, the man turns out to be crazy and the woman runs away from him. Other famous versions include Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. What does Deadman/Boston Brand have to do with it? Nothing really. And that’s the book! 

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Batman, Volume 10: Epilogue Review (Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo)


Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo weren’t just the standout creative team in DC’s New 52 (to be fair that wasn’t especially hard), even managing to outlive the poorly thought-out reboot, but are also arguably the finest creative team Batman’s ever had (Grant Morrison is the greatest Batman writer but he had a revolving door of artistic talent during his run from Frank Quitely to Tony Daniel to Andy Kubert whereas Snyder had a consistent collaborator in Capullo). The Court of Owls, Death of the Family, Zero Year - all amazing Batman arcs.  

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta Review


I was halfway through the novel when I realised a story wasn’t on the cards. Not that that bothered me too much (though it did a bit) – Mrs Fletcher is all about the characters, reflecting contemporary middle-class American culture, all of which is written pretty well – but, like the only other Tom Perrotta novel I’ve read, Election, I was left wondering what the author was trying to say; what’s the point of this book? 

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

The Mighty Thor, Volume 2: Lords of Midgard Review (Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman)


Dario Agger - a businessman so villainous he should by rights have a black top hat and cape and be twirling a pencil-thin moustache whenever he speaks - has been exploiting resources in the other realms for his company only. The other evil corporate bigwigs aren’t happy and decide to make an example of him by crashing his floating headquarters into Manhattan – Thor to the rescue! Meanwhile, two persistent SHIELD agents try to prove that Jane Foster is Thor and Mjolnir’s secret origin is revealed. 

Monday, 15 May 2017

Regression #1 Review (Cullen Bunn, Danny Luckert)


Adrian sees messed up things that aren’t there – or are they? In an effort to help him, his friend Molly takes him to see a hypnotist but something terrible is unleashed after Adrian goes under. Poor bloke; seeing nightmarish hallucinations is one thing – having them manifest in real life and come after you is another! 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Superwoman, Volume 1: Who Killed Superwoman? Review (Phil Jimenez, Joe Prado)


I’ve come across A LOT of dire, depressingly shitty books as I’ve made my way through DC’s Rebirth line and after finishing each one I’ve naively thought to myself “Well, that’s the worst of the bunch, that’s the bottom of the barrel - nothing’s gonna be worse than (Blank)!” The first was Aquaman. And then along came Nightwing. And then Titans. And then it snowballs as you realise in horror that most of the line is utter garbage. Deathstroke. Hellblazer. Cyborg. Blue bloody Beetle. 

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Hostage by Guy Delisle Review


In July 1997 while on a mission for Doctors Without Borders, French worker Christophe Andre was kidnapped in the Russian Caucasus by Chechens and held for a $1m ransom. He thought his release would be secured in one or two days, not realising the months of captivity ahead of him! 

Friday, 12 May 2017

Dragon Ball Super, Volume 1 Review (Akira Toriyama, Toyotarou)


DRAGON BALL IS BACK DRAGON BALL IS BACK DRAGON BALL IS BAAAAAACK!!!! 

The Dragon Ball saga ended in 1995 with Dragon Ball Z after 42 volumes. Akira Toriyama’s bestselling title left behind a legacy as one of the most original, popular, influential and genre-defining comics in the world. Since then it’s only gotten more fans through the anime, the movies, and computer games, showing that there’s still an appetite for these characters and their stories.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

The New Teen Titans: The Judas Contract Review (Marv Wolfman, George Perez)


Hired by an evil cabal called HIVE, Deathstroke the Terminator takes out the Teen Titans with thanks to a Judas within the ranks – but who sold them out and why? 

The Judas Contract is another “classic” story so-called because of middle-aged fanboys looking back at this early ‘80s comic through a nostalgia filter rather than it being of high quality.  

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

FUN: Spies, Puzzle Solvers, and a Century of Crosswords by Paolo Bacilieri Review


Paolo Bacilieri’s Fun is a graphic history of the crossword puzzle - and it’s as exciting as it sounds! It’s also a bit of a mess. 

Along with the actual history of the crossword is the story of a fictional Italian novelist and a Disney comics writer who become friends and some random woman tries to assassinate the novelist. Not only that but there are a myriad number of digressions chucked in randomly like the story of: Spider-Man villain Hammerhead’s character, an English politician, an old man, the Disney comics writer’s mundane travels, a pug dog, a married woman having an affair, the strained relationship between an art collector and his father, an Italian graveyard, JD Salinger, Georges Perec, and an art student.  

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Wonder Woman, Volume 2: Year One Review (Greg Rucka, Nicola Scott)


As Greg Rucka was writing two Wonder Woman storylines simultaneously, probably to keep the same artist for the duration of each arc, allowing them extra time to draw the issues while also sticking to DC’s double-shipping schedule, his second Wonder Woman Rebirth book doesn’t follow on from the first - instead it’s a retelling of her origin. For the umpteenth time. Sigh. While the title “Year One” references the classic Batman book of the same name, Wonder Woman: Year One is unfortunately nowhere near the same quality. 

Monday, 8 May 2017

Of Love and Hunger by Julian Maclaren-Ross Review


Set in pre-war South England, a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman called Fanshawe is asked by his mate to look after his wife Sukie while he’s away at sea. The naivetĂ© of some folk, eh? Fanshawe and Sukie end up having an affair, but, with the ever-encroaching spectre of war and the uptight morals of 1930s British society, what will become of their love? 

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Deadpool: Too Soon? Review (Joshua Corin, Todd Nauck)


Marvel meets Agatha Christie in Deadpool: Too Soon? A group of Marvel characters are invited to a secluded country mansion and then one of them is murdered. It’s up to Wade to do his best Miss Marple impression and find out whodunit! 

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Empress, Book One Review (Mark Millar, Stuart Immonen)


A long time ago (65 million years to be precise) in a galaxy not too far away… on Earth in fact! A sophisticated, yet deeply violent, space empire existed during the time of the dinosaurs led by Darkseid rip-off #576. His wife gets sick of his barbaric ways, takes their kids and runs – Darkseid-wannabe gives chase. And that’s Empress!

Friday, 5 May 2017

Loose Ends Review (Jason Latour, Chris Brunner)


The first issue of the four-part miniseries Loose Ends was published in 2007 and the fourth issue was finally published this week, ten years later! Was it worth the wait? Sorta… 

Billed as a “Southern crime romance”, Loose Ends is about a drug runner and a waitress who hit the road ahead of gangsters the drug runner ripped off who want them dead.

Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane Review


Rachel hasn’t had the best life: her dad left when she was a baby and her manipulative, cruel mother took his identity with her to the grave. Her cold husband divorced her after she had a mental breakdown covering the Haiti earthquake, the trauma causing her to lose her job as a journalist as well as turning her into a shut-in. By chance she meets her future second husband and the love of her life, Brian, who slowly helps turn things around for her. Until she realises he’s been lying to her since Day 1 about who he is and what he does. So who is “Brian” really and what does he do? Deadly consequences await Rachel as she begins to look into her beloved husband’s secret life…! 

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Blue Beetle, Volume 1: The More Things Change Review (Keith Giffen, Scott Kolins)


Hear that? That’s the sound of DC scraping the bottom of the Rebirth barrel with a title no-one was looking for: Blue Beetle! Just the name itself conjures up the lazy hackery that superhero comics can too often be. And, yes, Blue Beetle Rebirth is pure hack comics. 

Batman: Faces by Matt Wagner Review


So this was terrible! 

Bruce is trying to buy an island from another rich guy for reasons. Some French doofus wants to buy the island instead. Two-Face has gathered together some carnival freaks, whom he feels an affinity for because of his deformed face, and wants to put them on a zeppelin to somewhere - maybe the island? Apparently this is a story - and it completely sucks! 

The art looks like a bad David Mazzucchelli wannabe’s efforts. Even by Matt Wagner’s standards - the hack who gave us Monster Men and The Mad Monk - this is an awful Batman book. Don’t bother with Batman: Feces.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle by Chris Hedges Review


America is DOOMED! So argues Pulitzer Prize-winning author Chris Hedges convincingly in Empire of Illusion which critically examines 21st century American culture (or lack thereof!) and how things got this point. 

Vote Loki Review (Christopher Hastings, Langdon Foss)


Marvel cash in on election fever with miniseries Vote Loki where the God of Mischief decides to run for US President (which he can do through some contrived bullshit), er, just to fuck with people? I suppose that is mischievous. Shame it’s not at all entertaining or worth reading!

I guess the commentary here is that Loki’s surprising popularity by being brazenly immoral shows the voting public as fickle and easily misled by a power-hungry villain (hint: TRUMP) as well as being fed up with politics as usual; ie. obvious observations. Except, regarding the ending, Christopher Hastings gave the voting public too much credit in believing they actually care about substance in this day and age!

It might sound like a fun concept on paper but Vote Loki was a tedious bore, like most campaign literature!

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Batman: Detective Comics, Volume 4: The Wrath Review (John Layman, Jason Fabok)


Originally The Wrath was conceived as a version of Bruce Wayne that chose a darker path - someone who allowed hate to consume him and who grew up as a similarly-costumed figure, deciding to gun down cops in misguided revenge for his parents’ deaths. He was actually a compelling character and I’d highly recommend Batman: The Wrath to any Batman fans to find out why for themselves as well as for an entertaining read. 

Sand Land by Akira Toriyama Review


For Dragon Ball alone, Akira Toriyama is one of my favourite comics creators ever but, having recently read the first volume of Dr Slump and now Sand Land, he unfortunately doesn’t seem to have made any great books outside of Dragon Ball!

Monday, 1 May 2017

Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis Review


A young student called Clay returns to Los Angeles for Christmas break to see friends and family. His visit reads something like this: “We’re rich kids in LA! Let’s do drugs and have sex – we’re soooo hedonistic and transgressive! Ooo, let’s have sex again and do MORE drugs!” Repeat for 200 pages and you’ve got Bret Easton Ellis’ debut novel Less Than Zero!

Silver Surfer: Devolution Review (Greg Pak, Stephen Segovia)


Rarely he’ll surprise with a decent book but I usually find that Greg Pak writes near-unreadable comics and, yup, he does it again with Silver Surfpants: Drivel-ution! 

While Galactus takes a bath in our Sun for some reason, Surfpants hangs out on Earth. The High Evolutionary takes his Power Cosmic because whatever and then the fucking retard tries to terraform the moon! Also, Future Foundation because blah.

This one’s the whole package: bad action, dull characters, crap story, bland art, arbitrary love interest you couldn’t possibly give a shit about and an all-pervasive crushing sense of immense boredom. Greg Hack strikes again!

If you want to quash the urge to ever read Silver Surfpants comics again, check out the crapitude that is this book. What a load of bollocks!

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Batman '66, Volume 3 Review (Jeff Parker, Jonathan Case)


Jeff Parker and Jonathan Case are back for another round of Batman ‘66 stories featuring Joker, Catwoman, Penguin, Riddler, Egghead and a whole cavalcade of esoteric characters who’re up to no good - Adam West Batman and Burt Ward Robin to the rescue!

27, Volume 1: First Set Review (Charles Soule, Renzo Podesta)


Rock star Will Garland damages his hand and can’t play guitar anymore. Desperate for a cure, he seeks out a mad scientist with a demented plan to harness the power of 9, a number representing creativity itself, to somehow fix Will’s hand. Except things go wrong and the 9 set out to kill him instead! 

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Green Arrow, Volume 2: Island of Scars Review (Benjamin Percy, Otto Schmidt)


I requested Green Arrow Volume 2 before reading Volume 1 otherwise I wouldn’t have requested it - that first book is DIRE! But I’m glad of my impetuousness (for once!) as Island of Scars turned out to be miles better than the first volume and not a bad comic considering Rebirth’s overall quality!

Batman of the Future Review (Hilary J. Bader, Rick Burchett)


Batman of the Future is the first Batman Beyond book, spinning off from the late ‘90s animated TV show and, like every other Batman Beyond book, it sucks!

Friday, 28 April 2017

Green Tea by J. Sheridan Le Fanu Review


A clergyman drinks green tea, inadvertently opens his “third eye” and starts seeing a small monkey with glowing red eyes (the Devil, it’s implied). And that’s Green Tea by J. Sheridan Le Fanu! Absolute rubbish. 

It’s written in a plodding, dreary Victorian style which you can’t help but notice given how little actual story there is. I couldn’t believe that all there was was some dull clergyman wigging out over hallucinations! I guess the subtext might be the author’s xenophobia/fascination about the East (green tea is drunk a lot in countries like Japan)? But what the hell, did Le Fanu think Japanese people wander about seeing Satan monkeys everywhere?!

Green Tea is garbage Victorian “horror” that's not even remotely interesting – don’t bother. Le Fanu’s lesbian vampire novella Carmilla is a much better read instead.

Marvel Zombies Review (Robert Kirkman, Sean Phillips)


Robert Kirkman writes a Marvel version of The Walking Dead with Marvel Zombies, and, like a lot of The Walking Dead, it’s pretty bad!

I like how Kirkman launches straight into it. There’s a little bit of text at the start with some nonsense about how everyone became zombified but it’s basically Marvel hero zombies trying to eat the few survivors from start to finish. They wanna eat Magneto, Silver Surfer and Galactus (Galactus usually hungers – now HE’S the food! Boom… boom…) – yeah, the already thin “story” gets stale real quick. 

Thursday, 27 April 2017

California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before the Mamas & the Papas by Penelope Bagieu Review


Penelope Bagieu’s California Dreamin’ is a biographical comic about the early life of Ellen Cohen aka Cass Elliot of ‘60s group The Mamas and the Papas. It’s not a bad read but it definitely has its flaws. 

Batman: The Cat and the Bat Review (Fabian Nicieza, Kevin Maguire)


This is the second time in a week that my comics beliefs have been shaken! First Mike freakin’ Barr and Tony Bedard’s The Wrath turns out to be a great Batman book, and now Deadpool co-creator Fabian Nicieza - whom I previously thought couldn’t write a good comic unless someone talented did it for him and left the credits blank so he could write his name in - has written a brilliant Batman comic with The Cat and the Bat! I wonder if I’ve somehow suffered massive head trauma sometime last week and forgotten it and that’s why these books seem awesome to me… 

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Moonshine, Volume 1 Review (Brian Azzarello, Eduardo Risso)


Prohibition-era America and the mob grows rich bootlegging illegal hooch for the thirsty populace. Up in the Appalachian Mountains, Hiram Holt brews the best damn ‘shine in the States and Joe Masseira, mob boss of Noo Yawk, wants to sell it - but Holt ain’t interested. So Joe sends Lou Pirlo to convince him to do business with him… it’s eye-talian gangsters vs yee-hawin’ hillbillies in Moonshine! Also, werewolves. 

Batman/Aliens 2 Review (Ian Edginton, Staz Johnson)


Batman fights Aliens again – this time in Gotham!

Ian Edginton and Staz Johnson’s crossover sequel to the surprisingly decent first book is also… surprisingly decent! Story-wise, the title and cover say it all: Batman tangles with Xenomorphs. It’s not the most cerebral of plots and it shouldn’t be. But the action scenes are well-done in that the fighting is imaginative and exciting and the art is suitably dynamic – I definitely wasn’t bored reading this.

It does go off the rails in the third act though once the stereotypical shady government person starts doing insanely stupid experimental things with the Aliens that’s just begging for trouble. As soon as I saw what Batman would be fighting - on an oil rig in the sea for some reason! – I knew this book was one issue too long.

Otherwise, while Batman/Aliens 2 isn’t the most intelligent or memorable of stories and easily has its fair share of cheese, it’s not a bad comic either – a mildly entertaining Batman outing that delivers on its premise!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Animal Man, Volume 1 Review (Grant Morrison, Chas Truog)


Grant Morrison is one of my favourite comics creators - I definitely think he’s the best comics writer there’s ever been - but I don’t love everything he’s written. Case in point: his late ‘80s Animal Man series which was also his first major US title. Me no likee! 

Batman: Detective Comics, Volume 2: Scare Tactics Review (Tony S. Daniel, Ed Benes)


Detective Comics, Volume 2: Scare Tactics is an assortment of bad Batman short stories, mostly written by Tony S. Daniel, a guy who can draw right good but cannot write right at all! 

Monday, 24 April 2017

James Bond: Hammerhead Review (Andy Diggle, Luca Casalanguida)


Spinning off from Warren Ellis’ James Bond series, creators Andy Diggle and Luca Casalanguida take 007 on a new adventure in Hammerhead. A villain called Kraken is targeting Britain’s nuclear arsenal with plans to wipe out London - here comes Bond to save the day! Bah da bah baah, bah da daah! 

Death of X Review (Jeff Lemire, Charles Soule)


The post-Secret Wars X-Men titles bizarrely began eight months after the Marvel Universe was put back together again. We found out Cyclops had died in those eight months and the Terrigen Mist spelled the extinction of homo superior! That was bonkers enough but why did Marvel structure it this way with the time jump? Dunno. So we could get Death of X, I guess, which takes us back eight months to show us how Cyclops died? And boy is it unnecessary and boring! 

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Daredevil, Volume 10: The Widow Review (Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev)


Madame Hydra is captured in Bulgaria but the local authorities won’t give the Avengers the collar – unless they give them Black Widow in exchange. The US government quietly sends someone out to capture Natasha who decides to hide in plain sight with Matt Murdock – who also has a big target on his head now that he’s the Kingpin! Ah, quiet reunions are never a thing between exes anyway!

Lot No. 249 by Arthur Conan Doyle Review


1884 Oxford and a medical student buys up a bunch of Egyptian stuff at an auction – including lot no. 249: a mummy! Shortly after, the medical student’s (laughable) “enemies” start getting attacked by a mysterious assailant. Surely it’s not the mummy, what??

Arthur Conan Doyle may have written some stonking good detective yarns with Sherlock Holmes but his attempt at horror in Lot No. 249 is pretty crap.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, Volume 1: Who Is Oracle? Review (Shawna Benson, Claire Roe)


Oh Rebirth, you are so boring! Batgirl and the Birds of Prey (emphasis on Batgirl I guess because people like Babs and don’t give a fuuuuuck about Black Canary and Huntress – to be fair, I don’t either!) is another pile of wanky, tedious comic sludge. 

Batman: The Wrath Review (Mike Barr, Tony Bedard)


Two parents are shot on the streets of Gotham one night, leaving their son an orphan. That son grew up to be… The Wrath?!

Right: first? I’ma eat some crow! Ever since Year Two: Fear the Reaper I’ve called Mike Barr one of the worst Batman writers ever. Tony Bedard never wrote anything as heinous but he’s never impressed me either. So I’m glad that I occasionally give these bad writers a chance to redeem themselves because, credit where credit’s due, Batman: The Wrath positively stunned me with how good it was!

Friday, 21 April 2017

The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville Review


If you ever wanted to read a book about a guy smelling his own farts for 160 pages, this one’s for you! “Ohh (fart), I’m (fart) China (fart) Mieville and, oooh (fart) I know sooooo (fart) much (fart) about (fart) Surrealism! (FAAAAARRRRTTT)”

Spider-Woman, Agent of S.W.O.R.D. Review (Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev)


Jessica Drew/Spider-Woman is apparently traumatised after her identity was stolen by the Skrull Queen in the pap that was Secret Invasion. So Jess jumps at the chance when Abigail Brand, the head of SWORD, approaches her to kick some Skrull boo-tay in revenge. And that’s all the story Brian Bendis needs for a 7-issue book!

Thursday, 20 April 2017

The Witness for the Prosecution by Agatha Christie Review


A gold-digging man is accused of murdering a wealthy old woman who took a shine to him. He says he’s innocent but the evidence looks damning. Did he or did he not dunit? His defence lawyer sets out to uncover the truth. 

This writer - Agatha bloody Christie! - always makes me feel like a fool and I love it! She effortlessly leads me by the nose, taking me exactly where she wants me to go while making me think I’m totally in charge and know where things are going. I thought I knew where the story was headed, just like I do with every Agatha Christie story I read, and then old Aggie pulls the rug out from under me with that terrific final twist. Wrong again, buddy! And, like most twists, it seems so obvious in retrospect but there lies the genius. 

The Witness for the Prosecution was a thoroughly entertaining murder mystery with some clever misdirection and lots of great dialogue – easy to see why it was adapted for the stage and keeps being made into movies. Dame Agatha the Queen of Crime strikes again!

All-Star Batman, Volume 1: My Own Worst Enemy Review (Scott Snyder, John Romita Jr.)


Batman has the opportunity to erase Two-Face’s Hyde persona leaving only the “good” Jekyll part of him, Harvey Dent. They have 500 miles to travel to get the cure. Only problem is Two-Face has placed a massive bounty on the Dark Knight’s head and all the rats have crawled out of the woodwork and are gunning for him en route! Will they make it - and will the cure work? 

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Civil War II Review (Brian Michael Bendis, David Marquez)


Marvel does Minority Report in Civil War II as a new Inhuman called Ulysses appears with the ability to see the future! The battle-lines are drawn between Captain Marvel, who wants to use Ulysses to stop future crimes before they happen, and Iron Man, who doesn’t want anyone arrested for crimes they haven’t committed yet – or might not commit at all! But after a disturbing vision of an iconic hero’s murder of another iconic hero, how accurate are Ulysses’ visions and is Tony Stark willing to risk his friends’ lives to find out?

Kiosco by Juan Berrio Review


Juan Berrio’s Kiosco is a Spanish comic but it’s wordless so there’s no translation issues! It tells the story of a man who runs a small kiosk in a park having a really slow day without customers – until a woman walking her dog appears to brighten him up.