In the current May Previews catalogue, for items set for release in July, is a beautifully realised OGN from indie publisher Improper Books.
At Sight you can check out my brief Star Trek sequel review.
At Broken Frontier you can check out my review of Iron Man 3. We got it here early in Australia, like we did with Thor, and Tintin. It opens in the rest of the world this week.
Including some good stuff, and some not so good stuff.
One of my goals as of late has been to read more novels, and that’s what I’ve been doing on my lunch breaks at work. Over the last few months I’ve read Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson. It’s kind of in the vein of World War Z, but I much preferred Wilson’s 2011 book, and Steven Spielberg has been attached to a film version for a while, but that’s now on hold. I also read, or rather almost finished Eric Van Lustbader’s The Bourne Deception. I picked it up for $5 at one of those discount book warehouses not far from my workplace, but with its expanding list of characters, and ties to previous novels in Lustbader’s Bourne books, I just couldn’t keep reading it every day when I knew I had other books waiting for me . I treat films the same way. I give them 30 mins and if they don’t grab me, I stop watching. The most recent film to suffer from my cinematic snobbery was Bachelorette.
Thankfully, even though I’m spending less on comics now, I still enjoy my weekly trip to the local comic book shops, and the library now holds new monthly issues of Marvel, DC and Image series. This is good news, and I hope many other libraries do this too. Two of the women who work there are impressively knowledgeable about comics, clearly beings fans, and I always make a point to talk to them about sequential art.
This is how I’ve been reading Indestructible Hulk by Mark Waid and Leinil Francis Yu, and All New X-men by Brian Michael Bendis, Stuart Immonen and David Marquez. I’ve read the first 6 issues of the Green Goliath’s adventures, and it’s the best run I’ve read since Peter David’s game changing approach in the ’90s. So far it’s featured a sympathetic Bruce Banner who now works for S.H.I.E.L.D and features wit and drama, plus surprises like appearances by the Quintronic Man, and undersea tyrant Attuma. The latest issue is drawn by Walt Simonson and although his style is quite different from Yu’s, the legendary penciller known mainly for his epic run on Thor, excels here, plus throws in a mysterious retro look for the Norse hammer wielder too.
Indestructible Hulk is like Waid’s current work on Daredevil. It may not always be accessible to newbies, but it’s fun, intense superhero action.
Apart from Injustice: Gods Among Us, the videogame tie-in that’s rocketing up the sales charts, my other fave ongoing at the moment is All New X-Men. Yes, it’s yet another fresh relaunch, but this time it actually is fresh. In short, Beast, sensing his demise due to his growing mutations, gets so desperate that he travels back in time to the original five X-Men and asks them to see how dangerous, and cynical Scott Summers, AKA Cyclops has become. I’d say many of the readers who grew up reading the original X-Men adventures in the ’60s aren’t reading today’s version, but the naivete of the founding members clashing with their vastly different counterparts, and the far scarier world they left is a great set up. Stuart Immonen is one of my fave artists and his 5 issues kicked things off tremendously, and David Marquez carries on the oh so pretty visuals. Immonen is back for a while though, with the current ish (#9) showing what he can do with a great battle against giant robotic Sentinels.
East of West #1. Another month, another possible hit series from Image Comics. Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta bring us this inspired Western/sci-fi tale. It begins with three naked children (with the rude bits obscured obviously) appearing in the middle of the desert through a Stonehenge-like monument, but they are missing their fourth companion.
As is the case with Hickman, this is filled with big ideas, but thankfully they remain a springboard for an interesting story. The basis for that story is that after America’s Civil War, a meteor landed, and ended the hostilities, and created the Seven Nations of America. On the same day, Prophet Longstreet, and chief Red Cloud penned some important writings and promptly died, while years later Mao Zedong finished their work with his own writings, on his deathbed. These works came to be known as the Message. Like I said – big ideas.
In the future, three pale beings walk in to a bar, and seeing as two of the three are unwelcome Indians, and they’re in a bar filled with Union soldiers, a fight brews. Well, it’s a fight we don’t see until it’s over and then we see blood soaked pages, to be followed later by more of the same.
It turns out that the three warriors are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and yes, they are missing one, which I’m guessing will lead to a frenzied team-up, or cool showdown, or both.
Dragotta’s character designs are great. The three protagonists look like fighters from an unmade Street Fighter game, but with devoid eyes ready for cruelty. It makes them an interesting choice for lead characters actually, as so far, there’s nothing heroic or sympathetic about them, but we do know bad things have been done to them and they aim to seek justice. The first stop is the President, who must pay for his past crimes.
The setting is great too, and at times it merges Blade Runner with any John Wayne Western and it looks grand.
As an extra length debut, it’s very impressive and Hickman doesn’t get bogged down with huge concepts to make the tale impenetrable, and sets out the link between the kids at the start and the adults in the bulk of the issue, so we don’t feel frustrated at the lack of answers just yet. However, there are plenty of intriguing questions left.
Savage Skullkickers #1. Paying homage to Frank Cho’s recent Savage Wolverine #1 is this fun fantasy series by Jim Zubkavich and Edwin Huang. It’s actually issue 20, but is rebranded to have a little fun, so last month was Uncanny Skullkickers, next month it becomes Mighty Skullkickers, May sees it morph in to The All-New Secret Skullkickers and in June it becomes Dark Skullkickers. It’s hard not to love a series that takes such fun in ribbing the often frustrating reboots of Marvel and DC with such boldness.
Now, I haven’t read this series for months, and this is part two of a story entitled Eighty Eyes on an Evil Island, but it all made sense to me, and that’s a great bonus, as so few series these days are newbie friendly.
The playfulness kicks off immediately with a naked dwarf (one of the series’ heroes) landing in a pile of bones, while dialogue boxes from a narrator break the fourth wall, referring to the previous narrator, who died in issue 17.
After reading this issue I now regret not reading all the previous issues. I haven’t laughed this much from a comic since Axe Cop, and The Goon. There’s just so much to love here, from the dwarf’s ignorance of the deathly serious situation he finds himself in, to his fellow warriors’ ape fighting in the jungle to the constant narration, and dialogue, that is just filled with superb comic timing.
There’s also a few bonus pages here, showing off the amazing fan art that shows Skullkickers has many talented fans, and after enjoying this issue, I can confidently say that it deserves even more. Well paced, funny, and two plots that both look to be heading to some far out places. Yep, Skullkickers is a fun comic. We need more of those.
It looks great too. Huang’s manga-ish art is just joyful and expressive and Misty Coast and Ross A. Campbell’s colours give the pages the vibrancy that the story and art demand. The whole package looks like an adaptation of a crazy anime that was never made, because it was too out there for any studio.
At Broken Frontier you can now read my review of the first collection of the excellent series The Massive from Dark Horse Comics.
Read it right here.
Comic readers (and creators) are a nostalgic bunch, and the crime comics of decades ago hold a special place in the history of the medium, as the young upstart, for their part in the mid-20th century for bringing sex and violence to the young readers of the time. It also led to U.S Senate enquiries, and eventually the censorship in the industry of the Comics Code, which is now defunct.
Well, indie publisher Art of Fiction obviously look upon that time fondly, judging by their latest release. For some reason, my comic shop only received this debut issue this week, but it looks like other countries got it late last year.
Under that naughty, old school cover by animation legend Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League), is a three part story with more wonderful old school flavour.
Written by Art of Fiction (I assume that means quite a few people from the publisher), with Ed Laroche doing the art for chapters 1 and 3, and Marc Sandroni for the flashback second chapter, it’s a quick, but enjoyable read.
The story is typically gangster/noir flavoured, and set in 1989, with crooks tough Marko and confident Dodger out to reclaim some money, which means getting their gang back together for one last job. The middle chapter goes back to 1969 where Dodger became friends with Louie, before a girl and dirty deals got between them, while the finale focuses on Dodger’s plan and how Louie’s current stint in prison plays into that.
It’s a well paced story, with apparently at least one more issue on the way, and with its narrow focus on key characters, and great art style, including the ’80s colouring for the flashback, it’s a unique read.
Just a quick review to give my thumbs up for a great all-ages comic from publisher Red 5 (the always entertaining Atomic Robo series). I don’t read many family friendly comics these days, but their popularity is high, and can they hopefully go a long way to creating an enchanting reading experience for the younger set, and getting them hooked on reading (comics) for many years.
The first noticeable feature of Bodie Troll’s debut is the visual feast of its cartooning approach, with generous, sweeping lines and playful composition. It’s easy to follow for younger readers, and makes it a breeze to enjoy. It’s all exaggerated expressions, and funny dialogue, and is also impressive as it’s seemingly all the work of one man – creator Jay P. Fosgitt (Little Green Men, Dino Duck).
Facing a bunch of nonplussed goats crossing a bridge, Bodie is reminded yet again that despite his best efforts at being scary, he’s just…cuddly, and is well loved by the folk in his Medieval village of Hagadorn, which include barmaid Cholly, and Miz Bijou, the fairy godmother with a magical spatula. Yes, there is magic in this world, but so far it’s understated, and it all seems cohesive in a world in which a cute troll can talk to the locals.
With an amusing puppet show, and an actual scary monster in these pages, it’s a joyful and entertaining adventure, and its unique artistic approach is as cuddly as the lead character.
The first issue of this four ish mini-series won’t be released until April 17, but can be pre-ordered before Feb 28 to secure your copy. I suggest you do.
Here at Broken Frontier you can read my review of the fun, all-ages OGN The Deep: The Vanishing Island. It’s a gorgeous and entertaining book by Tom Taylor (Injustice: Gods Among Us) and James Brouwer (Justice League Beyond) and now it’s in development as an animated series too. The press release for that nifty bit of news is below.
Award-winning ALL-AGES graphic novel ‘The Deep’ to become TV series
NEW ANIMATED SERIES TO BE PRODUCED BY TECHNICOLOR, BASED ON AUSTRALIAN GRAPHIC NOVEL SERIES ABOUT A MULTI-ETHNIC FAMILY OF UNDERWATER EXPLORERS.
Gestalt Comics’ international hit graphic novel The Deep is to be turned into an animated TV series by Technicolor(Euronext Paris: TCH).
The Deep, created by Australian playwright and best-selling comic book writer Tom Taylor (Injustice: Gods Among Us, Star Wars: Blood Ties) and illustrator James Brouwer (Justice League Beyond), follows the adventures of a family of explorers, the Nektons.
Technicolor Digital Productions aims to develop and produce 26 half-hour television episodes, which follows the Nekton’s incredible adventures.
Targeting children aged 8-12 and their families, each self-contained episode of The Deep will bring the family a step closer to unraveling the mysteries of the deep sea; and every story will be filled with action, adventure, incredible sea monsters, fantastic vehicles, unbelievable bravery, and the odd family squabble, of course!
“The Deep is one of those unique properties that truly appeals to all ages and genders by delivering compelling entertainment in the form of enthralling adventure, heart-pounding danger, laugh out loud humor and incredible discoveries all wrapped in unbreakable familial relationships,” said Steven Wendland, Vice President, Technicolor Digital Productions.
“It’s the family we all dreamed of being a part of when we were kids and are anxious and excited to share with our own children now.”
The Deep graphic novels are currently available to order for the direct comics market worldwide via Diamond Comics using order codes:
FEB131046 THE DEEP GN VOL 01 HERE BE DRAGONS
FEB131047 THE DEEP GN VOL 02 VANISHING ISLAND
Or for Australia/New Zealand via Madman Entertainment (b2b.madman.com.au)
Time for some quick reviews of recent comics.
Superior Spider-Man #1 is probably the most talked about issue in a long time. The last few issues of The Amazing Spider-Man seemed to attract much hatred, even death threats against writer Dan Slott, but the story he was creating is nothing extremely unusual for the world of superhero comics. In short, Doctor octopus was dying. He knew it, and wanted to live, so he swapped minds with Peter Parker. So, Peter is trapped inside the weakening body of one of his greatest enemies in his final moments, while Doc Ock’s mind is now in Spider-Man’s body. It’s a grand idea, but also sounds kind of silly. However, Slott made it work. Last week’s AMS #700 is the last issue, and is an anthology. The only story worth reading in that hefty issue is the one by Slott and artist Humberto Ramos, which establishes the new mind swap status quo that features in the new Superior Spider-Man title. It’s actually quite touching in parts, and having Ock relive Parker’s memories which turn him into a hero for the first time in his life is a great place to kick things off. This conflict is handled well in Superior. Ock now has a new Spidey costume, and is relishing being Peter Parker, especially ogling Mary Jane, and is frustrated at the new Sinister Six team of villains who are easily beaten by him. Peter Parker is dead, and no-one knows that, or that Ock is now really Peter, so amidst all the superhero stories there’s some good drama, and Ock’s monologues are entertaining.
I was thinking as I was reading it though, that Marvel can’t keep this up forever. For all the hype and press that this new direction has received, do people really want to read about a replacement Spider-Man, even if it’s a somewhat renewed villain who uses his vast scientific knowledge to fight the bad guys? And would they ever have “Peter” and MJ make love? That’s got to open a can of ethical worms for sure. However, the last page of Superior reveals that Parker is alive, of sorts, kind of like a fragment of Ock’s mind, trying to regain control. Eventually, he will. He has to, but it’ll be a fun ride until then.
Morbius #1 by Joe Keatinge and Richard Elson isn’t groundbreaking stuff, but is entertaining. I’ve always been a fan of C-List characters, and Morbius, The Living Vampire is certainly that. He’s been around since the ’70s but has never achieved superstar status. This is a good introduction to the character though, and Keatinge does well to establish the ‘rules’ for this particular pale, red-eyed vamp. Things kick off in the present with Morbius being blasted by a shotgun, and than flashback with Morbius explaining, “how I got here.” It’s more street-level than superhero which is a nice change of pace. Sure, Morbius now has a hoodie and streamlined goatee, and the gang leader has a blue mohawk and face piercings, but it doesn’t scream that it’s trying to be cool. Elson’s art is soft and likeable, and even the lettering and page designs are attractive. Nothing revolutionary, but a rare, accessible tale.
Star Wars #1. The time is right for this, with the new SW films being worked on nostalgia for the original trilogy is high, and writer Brian Wood’s star continues to rise, thanks to his work on The Massive, and a few Marvel series. Dark Horse have released so many SW series over the last 20 years, so it’s good to finally see a title focused on most people’s fave era. Wood and artist Carlos D’anda have given fans what they wanted – a thrilling new adventure with the classic characters. Set two months after the first film (Episode IV), the Rebel Alliance are looking for a new planet to call homebase. Luke and Leaia are flying through space in their X-Wings and talking about learning the ways of the Force, and trying to move on with the loss of so many of their friends when they’re ambushed.
Luke, Leia and Luke’s pal Wedge are forced to battle out of a tight spot, Han and Chewie have a talk about Han’s new heroic side, and the Emperor gives Vader a new mission, as does Mon Mothma to Leia. This is a fast paced ride filled with deft pacing and astounding, detailed visuals from D’anda. Vader has never looked so menacing. All the tech and ships look grand and the cast look similar to their movie counterparts. It’s a great time to revel in the Star Wars universe again.
This debut ish sold out within 24 hours, but the reprint is arriving on February 6.
Who Is Jake Ellis? from Image Comics was on many lists, including mine, of the best comics of the year. Now the sequel, by the same creative team of Nathan Edmondson and Tonci Zonjic, has arrived.
Here’s my review of the great first issue.
Right here you can read my review of the latest collection of The Darkness series from Top Cow.
It’s a good read filled with supernatural nastiness and such.
The Trade Paperback collecting the recent Dancer mini-series is now out from writer Nathan Edmondson and artist Nic Klein. It’s great, but here’s my more detailed review.