Monday, 28 April 2014

So anyone living in the UK got a special treat if they bought the Guardian newspaper on Saturday - the Guardian Weekend magazine was a comics special. Entitled 'Authors! In An Adventure with Artists!', the magazine included 6 unique stories created by some well known writers and artists.



I was aware that it was coming out but I completely forgot about it until that evening when I saw Rich Johnston 'unboxing' it on Bleeding Cool. That wasn't until about 8pm though so I was sure I had missed it. Fortunately it seems the good people of Edgbaston, Birmingham don't know what they're missing and I found the last one in my local shop. Huzzah!

I imagine it to be quite a rare collectible in time (it's already on eBay for £12.99), so it would seem impossible to be able to enjoy the comics. Thankfully The Guardian has you covered! Just click on the title of each story below and you'll be able to read it right on The Guardian's website.

Onto the magazine itself. It was a pretty star studded issue. Once you got past the credits page, with a little blurb:


We get to the real meat of the issue. The first story was called Masks, and was written by Gillian Flynn - Author of 'Gone Girl', as well as 'Sharp Objects', and 'Dark Places' - and drawn by seminal artist Dave Gibbons - best known for his work with Alan Moore on Watchmen and the story from Superman Annual #11 - 'For the Man who has Everything'.



A five page tale, Masks is an effectively chilling story of parental instincts taken to the next level, as a concerned mother turns into bully-vanquishing vigilante in a mask.



Next up is a three page strip called 'Having Renewed My Fire', written and drawn by American writer, editor and publisher Dave Eggers - best known for his memoir 'A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius', as well as being the founder and editor of 'McSweeney's'


It's a sweet tale of a Bison and his dreams, and very eloquently explained by Eggers in his essay that followed:


'Thursdays, Six to Eight p.m' (annoyingly not linked to on the Guardian site) is the story that followed, written by Audrey Niffenegger - probably best known for her novel 'The Time-Traveller's Wife, which was made into a movie starring Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams - and illustrated by Eddie Campbell - artist of From Hell by Alan Moore, as well as creator of Bacchus, AKA Deadface.


A quirky 5 page tale, described as a 'modern romance comic' by the author, this is a fun and funny look at modern married life, and Campbell's illustrations are fantastically unique.

The fourth story is an hilarious satire called 'Art and Anarchy', written by Michel Faber - Dutch fiction writer of 'Under the Skin' and 'The Crimson Petal and the White' - and illustrated by Roger Langridge - New Zealand comics writer/artist/letterer known for his work on Judge Dredd, Eisner nominated Fred the Clown, and recently BOOM! Studios' 'Muppet Show' comics.


It takes the very funny premise that people like the US more than the UK because of their comic books - America has superheroes 


And Britain has The Beano and The Dandy. 

Even though Michel himself admits in his afterword that the story's conceit has more comedy in it than truth, it doesn't make it any less amusing.

Next there is the story 'Freeforall' - a 1986 short story written by award-winning novelist Margaret Atwood - known for many works of poetry and novels, including A Handmaid's Tale and Oryx & Crake - which is adapted and illustrated by rising Graphic talent Christian Ward.


A chilling futuristic tale of a nation taking desperate measures to control sexual disease, FreeForAll is a fantastic short story and beautifully adapted here.



Finally the five-page story 'Do You Hear What I Hear?' rounds out the magazine, written by A.M. Homes - American novelist known for 'The End of Alice' and 'The Mistress's Daughter' - and illustrated by Frazer Irving - British comic book artist best known for his work on Necronauts for 2000AD. 


A mysterious and amusing tale, this short story tells of a woman who receives a visit from two men very interested in a phone conversation she had. An extremely ambiguous yet entertaining piece that rewards those with an imaginative nature.

And that's it. A rare and surprising book that was made to celebrate the British Library's upcoming exhibition on British comics (read an article by the co-curator of the exhibit - John Harris Dunning - here) it's a fantastic way to discover talent previously unknown to you; to enjoy some truly creative collaborations or just read some great comics. Hope you enjoyed them!




Friday, 25 April 2014

Welcome to The Week in Comics!




This is my weekly column where I go through the new comics releases that I read every week, what I liked and what I didn't. Safe to say there'll be some spoilers but I'll try to keep them light.

So if you're looking for what to read or just some random guy's opinion on the comics he read this week (that's me. Hi there!) then join me as I separate the BEST from the REST in The Week in Comics!




The Best

Daredevil #2
Marvel. Waid, Samnee, Rodriguez.
A stronger, more all round fun issue than the debut last month, this time around we get a wider view of Matt Murdock’s new status quo, as well as a few more players on the board. A shameless yet hilariously tongue-in-cheek rip-off of DC’s Caped Crusader in new enemy The Shroud – one created purely to silence Daredevil’s (admittedly dwindling) critics who have drawn one too many comparisons between Horn-head and Bats in years gone by. Then there’s the mystery surrounding Foggy Nelson – what is going on there?! Well written, superbly drawn, worth your time and money.





Fantastic Four #3
Marvel. Robinson, Kirk, Kesel, Arburtov.
Wow. This was surprisingly enjoyable, mainly for its sheer volume of referencing. With more than one eye firmly in the FF history books, James Robinson is really creating a run that feels like it matters. More than that, because of the stunning level of detail in not only back-story but character development, it feels like he’s building on a richly established world. Which, ok, everyone is when they pay in the Marvel sandbox, but with the constant renumbering and strong focus on ‘new readers’, it’s refreshing and very rewarding to find a book that’s not shying away from acknowledging the full lives these characters have had, and how that influences their future. Really great stuff.






Harbinger #22
Valiant. Dysart, Henry, Reber.
The story I’ve been dreading for a while has begun, and we inch ever closer to the Death of a Renegade…gulp! Click here for my full review on IndieAltRepeat.













Letter 44 #6
ONI Press. Soule, Alberquerque, Jackson.
The first arc is over, and concludes with the same high quality as I’ve come to know and love from this series. Conversations are had both on Earth and in space that bring satisfying payoffs as well as setting up stories to come. Head to Rhymes With Geek for my full review.












Original Sin #0
Marvel. Waid, Cheung, Morales, Ponsor
My personal favourite book of the week, and I really wasn’t expecting to say that. What easily could have been a throwaway issue (seeing as it’s going to sell no matter what) was a touching, fun, emotional look at the origin of the Watcher, and the growing relationship between him and Sam Alexander, the new Nova. See my full review over at Rhymes With Geek.










Uncanny Avengers #19
Marvel. Remender, Acuna.
It’s always a good week when my favourite Avengers title (and may well be my favourite title on Marvel’s current roster) brings out its next issue. The story is tight, frantic, with high-stakes and impossible odds - Kang’s timey-wimey shenanigans are slowly revealing themselves, even if his real motives remain hidden. His motley crew are awesome and I can’t wait to see where this story goes. I desperately look forward to the Uncanny Avengers Omnibus sitting on my shelf in a year or two.









The Rest


24: Underground #1
IDW. Brisson, Gaydos, Burcham.
This was pretty fun. As a fan of the series since day one it was great to read a book that felt like it captured the pace and spirit of the show. Michael Gaydos on art is always a good thing and, much like the Buffy book out this week, the voice and actions of your favourite characters need to be spot on, and it’s safe to say Jack is definitely back. Filling in the gap between the end of series 8 and the start of Live Another Day, the only thing that will make this better is if it’s something that gets mentioned or referenced in the show, to really cement it in canon.








Batman Eternal #3
DC. Snyder, Tynion IV, Fawkes, Layman, Seeley, Fabok.
Another week, another chapter. This one wasn’t as fast paced or revelatory as the previous two, with a feeling that a lot of pieces are being moved into place. Following on from the surprise return at the end of issue 2 the rats are scrambling on both sides of the law to bolster their positions. Interesting more for what’s to come rather than what’s actually in the issue.










Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #2
Dark Horse. Gage, Isaacs, Whedon.
Still storming ahead in a brand new direction, this issue requires a bit more foreknowledge of the events of season 9 (of both the Buffy title and the Angel & Faith) than the last issue did which, as someone who dropped off at the end of season 8 I was a little confused. Still, it’s not rocket science, and the important thing is the characters all still feel familiar. The transition to a new writing team has not only been smooth but breathed new life into the franchise.









Conan the Avenger #1
Dark Horse. Van Lente, Ching.
Having not read much in the way of Conan before, in comics anyway, I went in to this as more of a Fred Van Lente fan. On that level, or any other in fact, it didn't disappoint. It didn't blow me away but it was a fun romp. With Conan being drunk for the first half of the book and angry for the second, events just kind of went on around him you know? But there’re enough supporting characters to keep you busy, and it moved along at a brisk pace.









Elektra #1
Marvel. Blackman, Del Mundo.
An unusual one this, and one I desperately wanted to love. Having been treated to so many amazing All-New ongoings from Marvel, I assumed this would be more of the same. The art certainly seemed to lean that way in previews, and while the art is gorgeous it’s not enough to lift the story. Much like how a lot of people seemed to see last week’s Iron Fist The Living Weapon (although I personally found that to be superior), Elektra #1 is just a bit boring really. I’ll stick with it for the beautiful interiors, but even they can’t hold me for a third issue on their own.







Eternal Warrior #8
Valiant. Pak, Gill, Major.
A satisfying end to the series that has gone from Ancient Mesopotamia to 4001AD all while keeping the focus on Immortal champion Gilad Anni-Padda. With a strong theme of family running from start to finish, this is a series that will read well in trade. Take a click towards IndieAltRepeat for a more in-depth review.











Evil Empire #2
BOOM! Studios. Bemis, Getty.
A much better issue than the debut, this took the setup and final cliff-hanger it was given and ran with it in a very promising way. Wittier, smarter, more complex; I wasn’t expecting to be drawn into this series but I’ll definitely keep coming back if this is the kind of thing we’re in for.











Fuse #3
Image. Johnston, Greenwood, Chankhamma, Brisson.
As hard boiled a detective drama as you’re likely to get in a comic, it’s Fuse #3. Heavy on the procedural, light on the Sci-Fi, this is more Law and Order than Star Trek, and all the better for it. The space elements are subtle and unobtrusive, and the ‘crime of the week’ mixed with engaging detectives makes this an easy read for those who love police dramas. The plot ramps up as Ristovych and Dietrich get closure to the truth of debut mystery ‘The Russia Shift’. It even has a crime novel title.








Guardians of the Galaxy #14
Marvel. Bendis, Bradshaw, Wong, Ponsor.
Not just a nod to the past and more like a slap in the face, this anniversary issue brings the old Guardians out of the toy chest, dusts them off and throws them back into the fight in an effortlessly easy way, thanks to their already established dalliances with the timeline. The current line-up get plenty to do as well; although the main story is fairly Star-lord-centric, there’s a subplot involving Drax and Venom (yeah he’s already part of the team. You’ll need to get the Free Comic Book Day issue to find out exactly how he came to be with them), as well as a back up story shedding light on Groot’s childhood. It’s awesome to see Nick Bradshaw joining the team, and with 3 stories packed in between the covers this is a solid anniversary issue.





Secret Origins #1
DC. Pak, Higgins, Bedard, Weeks, Mahnke, Siqueira.
Do we really need another retelling of DC superheroes origins? Well, if they keep rebooting the universe then I guess the answer is yes? This anthology format at least spares us countless miniseries when they’re not needed, and they’re not when you can cover everything you need to cover in a third of an issue. I preferred the Dick Grayson and Supergirl origins over the Superman one, purely because Superman’s story has been done over and over in much better ways than this, whereas the other two I (as a non-DC fan) wasn’t as familiar with.








Undertow #3
Image. Orlando, Trakhanov, Mauer.
Not as enjoyable to me as the previous two issues, this nevertheless delves deeper (no pun intended) into the politics of Atlantis, as well as bringing the surface-world crew face-to-face with The Amphibian. Head to Rhymes With Geek for my full review.













So that’s it for another week! A few stand outs and a lot of good-not-great issues, with only one giving me a distinctly ‘meh’ feeling. Not the strongest of weeks but still some gold if you know where to look. But enough about me, what did you think? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter @MattLune, and I’ll see you next week for return of The Amazing Spider-Man, and the debut of the Southern Bastards.

Until next time,
Matt




Thursday, 17 April 2014

Welcome to The Week in Comics!




An early and slightly abridged WiC this week you guys, due to the Easter break coming up.


Nevertheless -This is my weekly column where I go through the new comics releases that I read every week, what I liked and what I didn't. Safe to say there'll be some spoilers but I'll try to keep them light.

So if you're looking for what to read or just some random guy's opinion on the comics he read this week (that's me. Hi there!) then join me as I separate the BEST from the REST in The Week in Comics!

PS -  I've also reviewed Valiant's X-O Manowar #24 over at  IndieAltRepeat as well as Marvel's Amazing X-Men #6 and Superior Spider-Man #31 over on Rhymes With Geek!



THE BEST 



Auteur #2


ONI. Spears, Callaghan, Anderson.
Hilariously visceral, so much funnier than issue 1, the Auteur is one of the funniest books out there at the moment. Nathan T. Rex dives deeper down the rabbit-hole by hiring a serial killer to work on his movie, but first he's got to represent him in court in order to get him out of prison. Provider of many gut laughs and constant smirking, the Auteur #2 is just gory, gory, very gory fun.










Batman Eternal #2


DC. Fabok, Seeley, Fawkes, Layman, Tynion IV, Snyder.
I'm not sure if it's because I'm maybe not a hardcore Batman reader or what, but I'm digging a series that everyone seems to be decidedly Meh about. Not sure how long I can afford a weekly comic like this (probably only until something else comes along) but for the moment this seems like fun, high-stakes Batman story telling to me.












Genesis GN


Image. Edmonson, Sampson, Wordie
An ethereal, haunting and beautiful exploration of one man gifted with absolute power. The art is superbly dreamlike and the writing is deep and thoughtful and most importantly real. It's strange for a book that deals with a premise so surreal to tackle it in such an intimately realistic way. Very much worth investing in.












Hulk #1


Marvel. Waid, Bagley.
This was good. It did more to setup a story to come than provide enough of one here, but the artwork was great - always been a fan of Mark Bagley - and his panel layouts go a fair way towards showing me that Hulk is in safe hands. As someone who didn't read what happened to get Banner into this mess, it doens't take brain surgery - he got shot. There, you too are up to date! No go read this and let me know what you thought.








Ms. Marvel #3


Marvel. Wilson, Mckelvie.
There is so so much that I love about this series. The amazing art, the brilliant writing, the cute badass that is Kamala Khan. This is the first issue since Ultimate Spider-man that really truly captures the teenager origin story that is the Marvel tradition so perfectly. If Amazing Spider-Man hadn't started all those years ago and started this week instead, this is the comic it would hope to be. My favourite issue yet, as Kamala wrestles literally and emotionally with a new life with powers. How does her old life fit with this new status quo? Does her old life even have a place anymore? Practically perfect.






Translucid #1


BOOM. Sanchez, Echert, Bayliss.
An awesome psychological deconstruction of the hero-villain relationship, Translucid inevitably draws comparisons to Batman and Joker, but it's a lot smarter than that. Providing engaging characters in its own right and flashes of a mysterious childhood yet to be fully revealed, this is a great first issue and I'm looking forward to issue 2.








THE REST

Star Mage #1



IDW. De La Torre, Dillon.
I kept waiting for this to not take itself so seriously, but no. It was almost as if it hadn't heard of Harry Potter (even though it references it a couple times) or Enders Game or any of the other 'normal kid finds out he's special and destined to save the world' kinda things. Wanted to be better than it actually was.











And that's it for another week! Again, apologies its a shorter edition, but safe to say that Marvel didn't storm away with a win for the first time this week. Yay for Indies! Don't forget to get in touch with me through Twitter, and check me out on IndieAltRepeat.com and RhymesWithGeek.com!


Until Next time, and Happy Easter!

Matt



Tuesday, 15 April 2014


So I've started the first of what I hope to be a weekly article called Clap For MODOK! 

It's an irreverent, mostly irrelevant look at this week’s releases. From the awesome to the amusing, the stupid to the sublime, it’ll all get covered here. Or rather, on Rhymes With Geek! Go check it out.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Welcome to The Week in Comics!




This is my weekly column where I go through the new comics releases that I read every week, what I liked and what I didn't. Safe to say there'll be some spoilers but I'll try to keep them light.

So if you're looking for what to read or just some random guy's opinion on the comics he read this week (that's me. Hi there!) then join me as I separate the BEST from the REST in The Week in Comics!

PS -  I've also reviewed this week's Valiant comics over at the excellent IndieAltRepeat site which you can see by clicking here as well as my reviews for Rhymes With Geek!


THE BEST 


Lumberjanes #1




Boom! Ellis, Stevenson, Allen.

So.Much.Fun. A book that is a breath of fresh air to the industry, with a feel of Adventure Time and centred around likeable, addictive characters I can't wait to see more of. Fun for all ages and should be enjoyed by everyone. EVERYONE you guys!













Daredevil #1.50









A great look at the past the present and the future of the character and the series. Check out my more in-depth review on Rhymes With Geek here!










All-New Ghost Rider #2




















I absolutely LOVE this book. The art is amazing - I mean, look at this - 


The story is OTT action, gore and just plain fun as we see Robbie deal with the morning after the night before to end all night befores. A surprise villain makes life much more horrific and complicated, and this book is an instant buy for me. Definitely worth jumping on board for.


Batman Eternal #1

So the new weekly series begins, and boy does it kick off in a big way. Batman is pretty much the only DC title I enjoy reading, and I'm a big fan of what Scott Snyder has been doing with the world. While I've not caught up on Zero Year, I read Batman #28; that and the framing narrative for this issue makes me very excited for what's to come. Great first issue, I'm going to keep going with this one.












Shutter #1



I love it when a new series comes out of nowhere, sweeps you up and transports you to another world. Saga did it. Umbral did it. Black Science did it, and now Shutter is doing it too. Kate Kristopher is the main character, a girl living in a world just like ours except everything is that much more fantastical - minotaurs riding the subway, dragons flying around New York, ghost ninjas...but what happens if everything becomes so special that you start to feel like nothing is?
We don't get much more than that in this issue, which shows us what it was like for Kate growing up with her kickass explorer father, and then showing us 20 years later when she visits him on her birthday. More of a character study than an exploration of the world it's set in, this first issue is still a brilliant introduction and my personal pick of the week.




Captain Marvel #2


I never read the previous Captain Marvel series but if it was anything like this issue I'm starting to feel like I really missed out. Last issue was good, this issue was better. Guest starring the Guardians of the Cinema, I mean Galaxy, this just doesn't stop flying at you - I almost felt exhausted just reading it! Kelly Sue DeConnick knows how to write the Guardians, and Carol plays great with them. Although where's Angela? Despite her absence this is a great book, a lot of fun and worth keeping up with. 









Iron Fist The Living Weapon #1



Now this is a gorgeous looking book. I read this and instantly thought "this is the future of Marvel". The next in a seemingly endless line of books that are reinventing classic characters (Hawkeye, Black Widow, She-Hulk, Moon Knight, All New Ghost Rider etc), Iron Fist gets a brand new ongoing and it's visually stunning. 
Reminiscent of an old school Kung-Fu movie with grainy, "folded up" pages representing the flashbacks and frenetic, utterly unique layouts, this is a stunner. The story is great too - mysterious ninjas attack Danny Rand right in the middle of an identity crisis and events lead him to face his past and return to the mystical city of K'un lun. Brilliant.






Secret Avengers #2






I've seen a few people saying that this feels very much like a Hawkeye team book, and I could see that with the first issue. The art style, the humour; all very reminiscent of Fraction and Aja's successful Hawkguy run. This issue though? This issue is all about M.O.D.O.K. 





I mean, take a look at this: 



I'm sorry, but this guy stole the show this issue. Saving Maria Hill's life in the most ingenious and hilarious way possible, he deserves a round of applause! I've been trying to get #ClapForModok trending on Twitter just to give him his due. 
Anyway, this has gone from a series that I picked up and flicked through, ultimately putting it back when something shiny caught my eye, to a book I can't wait to read. And if that doesn't make you #ClapForModok I don't know what will.


The Royals: Masters Of War #3


This is still a very entertaining read. "What would have happened during World War II if all the royal families had superpowers?" is the premise and it is still throwing up surprises, and this time we see the full might of the Japanese Emperor. The splash pages in this are truly epic, showcasing the fantastic art of Simon Coleby. He's taking a story with unbelievable scope in his stride. The trade of this 6 part series is looking to be something to invest in.














THE REST 


All-New Doop #1



Well this was...weird. I suppose you can't expect anything more from a book all about Doop can you? Nevertheless it was a lot of fun, and played with the concept of a character hidden in the margins like Doop is and takes a very literal slant on it. He's always been a favourite of mine in Jason Aaron's Wolverine & the X-Men run, and while this was very close to making it into the Best list (and I'm sure it will be for a lot of people), and had a few funny and clever moments, it was just too irreverent to make it. Worth a read though.









All-New X-Men #25


A gorgeous looking book, I can't help but feel though that it's style over substance. Not a great deal happens here, as Beast gets a good talking at by a mystery character who's not who you think. Every page is a beautiful poster in the making, but aside from the odd hint or nod, nothing really happens and the issue could easily be skipped. Very nearly making the Best list because of the art, and the brilliant section with Kitty and Peter is worth the price of admission on its own.










Nightcrawler #1


As Nightcrawler claims in this issue "Some things never change!" and when Chris Claremont writes an X-Book you kinda know what you're going to get. I know a lot of people were apprehensive about this issue, because on the one hand it was a new Nightcrawler ongoing! Spinning right out of the brilliant Amazing X-Men arc by Jason Aaron and Ed McGuiness, Nightcrawler's back and that's awesome. On the other hand though, a lot of folks have felt that in recent years Claremont's writing has slipped from the seminal work he did on the X-Men from mid seventies straight on through to the 90s. 
I've not read too much of his later work, but his early work is rightly regarded as some of the greatest X-Men stories ever told, so I was cautiously optimistic. I'm not sure if it's nostalgia or what but I enjoyed it. It did feel like a step backwards, and in a week with such strong books all of which have new, fresh styles it missed out on the Best list, but this was fun, fast paced and looked fantastic. Nothing wrong with a bit of the Old School every now and then.



Twilight Zone #4


Not bad, but not quite good enough. The story arc concluded with a whimper rather than a bang, but a book worth sticking with. See what I thought of it over on Rhymes with Geek!















And that's it for this week! A strong week full of books that feel like not just the future of Marvel but the future of the medium made it hard for everything to make it into my Best list but there were no out and out terrible books, so everyone's a winner! 

Hope you guys enjoyed this! Look me up on Twitter, leave your comments below, and check out IndieAltRepeat and Rhymes With Geek for more comic-book goodness!

Until next time,
Matt
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