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. 

Friday, 18 August 2017

Highbone Theater by Joe Daly Review

Books like Highbone Theater make me wonder what motivates artists like Joe Daly. Is he just doing such staggering amounts of hallucinogens/weed that he really believes what he’s doing is a masterpiece of sorts and therefore worth the effort? Because this is a 560+ page comic - an amazing achievement in itself - that’s about the mundane adventures of a twentysomething stoner who doesn’t really do anything! 

Thursday, 17 August 2017

The Visitor: How and Why He Stayed Review (Mike Mignola, Chris Roberson)

A more accurate title for this book would be The Visitor: Why??? 

An alien race of watchers is unnecessarily introduced to the Hellboy universe for no reason other than to sell more comics to Hellboy fans. One of them is there when Hellboy first appears during World War 2 and his orders are to kill him because of that cliched literary trope, a “prophecy” - but the Visitor instead decides to give Hellboy a chance. From then on, he watches Hellboy’s adventures over the decades in the background, occasionally saving his ass in secret, and fighting some monsters/frog worshippers. 

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Animal Man, Volume 2: Origin of the Species Review (Grant Morrison, Chas Truog)

Grant Morrison’s second Animal Man book doesn’t improve on the lacklustre first volume being equally dull. There’s no overarching storyline to this series, it’s just a collection of random, uninteresting adventures Buddy Baker goes on. 

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Google's Ideological Echo Chamber by James Damore Review

Link to the memo: https://assets.documentcloud.org/docu...

Like a 21st century Martin Luther/Jerry Maguire, (now former) Google Software Engineer James Damore wrote a 10-page memo for his employers entitled Google’s Ideological Echo-Chamber: How Bias Clouds Our Thinking About Diversity and Inclusion - and was promptly fired! 

Monday, 14 August 2017

Batman: Gotham Shall Be Judged Review (David Hine, Guillem March)

I don’t think I’ve ever read an Azrael book before - but then I never come across them either! And this is why: Azrael sucks. This version of the character (the previous one being the laughably ‘90s Jean-Paul Valley from Knightfall) is Grant Morrison’s Michael Lane, a tortured ex-cop who gets all crazy religious for some reason, dresses up like a medieval Crusader and, like too many real-life Christians, behaves like a judgmental twat. Azrael is going to vaguely “judge” Gotham - which apparently means blowing it up? Buuh, I wonder if Batman will stop him? Snooze. 

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Kill Or Be Killed, Volume 2 Review (Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips)

In the first book we met Dylan, a grad student whose life was saved by a demon. In exchange, he had to kill someone “deserving” (ie. a shithead) each month or he would die - kill or be killed. In the second book… nothing much new happens. Dylan continues to kill and that’s about it! 

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Reborn: Book One Review (Mark Millar, Greg Capullo)

Is there life after death? Bonnie Black discovers that the answer is yes – and it’s an afterlife littered with demons, dragons, barbarians, sorcerers, orcs, samurais, aliens, faeries, flying elephants, mythical creatures; in other words, a smorgasbord of genre clichés! But the lazy writing doesn’t stop there: Bonnie is The One that The Prophecy foretold would save everyone from The Evil One. Oh, so original!

Friday, 11 August 2017

Redlands #1 Review (Jordie Bellaire, Vanesa R. Del Rey)

I get why stories sometimes start in the middle or just go straight into an action scene before doubling back. Normally it’s a scene or two, a few pages, to grab your attention AND THEN the story starts properly so you appreciate and understand the opener more. 

The first issue of Jordie Bellaire and Vanesa R. Del Rey’s Redlands is one big action scene and it doesn’t work because everything is rushed and nothing is established so it’s impossible to care about anything. 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

God Country Review (Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw)

An old dude with Alzheimer’s somehow has a Final Fantasy-type giant magical sentient sword that cures his horrible disease while he holds it – but a space wizard villain something wants it back for reasons. Stupid fighting ensues!

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Batman, Volume 3: I Am Bane Review (Tom King, David Finch)

Following his daring raid on Bane’s island home of Santa Prisca, Batman has taken the Psycho Pirate back to restore Gotham Girl’s shattered mind. But with Bane hot on his heels, will Batman be able to keep him occupied for five days - or will Bane break the Bat once and for all? 

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware Review

Four high school friends now in their thirties reunite after a terrible shared secret threatens to emerge and shatter their peaceful lives. But what they thought was a shared secret turns out to be a lie - one of them isn’t telling the truth. 

Monday, 7 August 2017

Scars Review (Warren Ellis, Jacen Burrows)

Scars is an experimental comic in that Warren Ellis set out to write a horror story that would shock even him and the end result is, yeah, genuinely disturbing! Scars centres around John Cain, a Homicide Detective already near the end of his tether, as he investigates the case of a dead little girl who’d been kidnapped, tortured for three months and then cut up and delivered in some cardboard boxes. The further Cain looks for the child’s killer, the further he moves from his own humanity. This can only end badly.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea Review (Mike Mignola, Gary Gianni)

In the words of Van Jones describing Trump and Russia, Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea is a big nothingburger. It’s the archetypical Hellboy story: Hellboy goes someplace remote, encounters some supernatural things, there’s some trite exposition, he punches a monster, the end. That’s all that happens here - nothing remotely new, different or original for readers like me who’ve read all the previous Hellboy comics. 

Gary Gianni’s art is beautifully eerie and haunting. It’s the kind of art I remember seeing in illustrated classics as a kid and the spindly lines and nineteenth century decor is perfectly suited to a ghost story. Coupled with Dave Stewart’s always dependable, sharp colours and you’ve got a wonderful-looking comic. 

The art is all Into the Silent Sea has going for it though. Mike Mignola’s firmly on autopilot in this dreary comic. Disappointingly weak - definitely not a must-read for anyone but the most ardent/completist Hellboy fans.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Saint Cole by Noah Van Sciver Review

Joe is Noah Van Sciver’s typical working class loser protagonist (literally an “Average Joe”). Working as a waiter at a local pizza joint, Joe struggles to make rent money while dealing with being a husband and father, neither of which he’s mentally prepared to be at 28 years old - he’s clearly still a manchild looking to party, screw around, etc. The pressure builds, his drinking spirals out of hand and things come to a head when his meth-ed out mother-in-law comes to stay in their crappy apartment. 

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Batman: Hong Kong Review (Doug Moench, Tony Wong)

As much as I rag on hack writers Mike Barr and Chuck Dixon, they at least wrote some good Batman comics at one point - Barr’s The Wrath and Dixon’s Bane stuff were both surprisingly great. That’s why I gave Batman: Hong Kong a shot, hoping Doug Moench - a guy who’s written a ton of Batman comics over many years all of which were stinkers - had finally gotten it right. Nope! HOW did he keep getting work?!

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Batman: False Faces Review (Brian K. Vaughan, Scott McDaniel)

Besides Batman, Bruce Wayne has another alter-ego: Matches Malone, a sleazy gangland informant. In False Faces, Bruce receives a baffling call from Oracle: Matches Malone has been shot in a downtown Gotham bar! Say whuuuut!? 

Brian K. Vaughan’s Batman comics aren’t half bad though unfortunately the book starts with the best stuff and get progressively worse from there.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Dark Knight III: The Master Race Review (Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello)

Evil Kryptonians invade Earth. The World’s Finest are scattered. Bruce Wayne is dead. Long live... Batman? This is Dark Knight III: The Master Race. 

I have a lorra opinions on this one and many are spoilerific so if you’re planning on reading this for yourself and are just wondering what I thought of this one, the quick verdict is: nah. I mean, it’s always exciting to read a Frank Miller Batman book considering that if anyone’s responsible for the modern version of Batman we currently have, it’s him, and he wrote two of Batman’s greatest books, The Dark Knight Returns and Year One. But his latter-day Batman stuff has been almost the polar opposite in terms of quality. DKII was an outright disaster and All-Star Batman & Robin gave us the psychotic (yet highly quotable!) Goddamn Batman. 

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Deadpool the Duck Review (Stuart Moore, Jacopo Camagni)

Deadpool and Howard the Duck find themselves temporarily fused after a Cronenberg-esque teleporter malfunction (of course). Deadpool the Duck must figure out how to un-fuse and save their buddy Rocket from space rabies!

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Batman: Arkham Reborn Review (David Hine, Jeremy Haun)

Usually any Batman book with “Arkham” or “Asylum” in the title is Bantha poodoo but I was pleasantly surprised to find that David Hine and Jeremy Haun’s Arkham Reborn breaks that tradition by being surprisingly brilliant. It’s a tale of creepy psychological horror that becomes more enthralling as the strange story of Jeremiah Arkham, the head of the Asylum and descendant of the founder, unfolds.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Venom, Volume 1: Homecoming Review (Mike Costa, Gerardo Sandoval)

I couldn’t care less as I’m not a fan of either Venom or Eddie Brock but it should be noted that the cover of this book is misleading. Eddie, the most infamous host of the Symbiote, is reunited with Venom, they’re saying “We’re Back!” and the subtitle is “Homecoming”, so Eddie Brock/Venom fans (there must be some) should reasonably expect this to be about the pair - Venom being just one example of Marvel probably deciding to go back to the classic incarnation of the character after seeing how returning to the status quo in Rebirth made DC a pile of cash.