Runners up of week 27: Captain Roffa, Nick Fury, Invincible

2. Captain Roffa#2 / SUPER comics #2434 (Windmill comics)
I recently stocked up on all titles published by Rotterdam-based Dutch comic publisher Windmill Comics, so expect to see some of their products popping up in the following weeks. First up, Captain Roffa number two. This series stars Rotterdam’s own superhero while also offering a tongue-in-cheek Shazam parody. As in the first issue (click here to read my review), the first thing to strike me is the art. In contrary to the first issue, this one is in color and it’s amazing to see the detail in the thick-lined, tight cartooning of artist Boykoesh. Every issue of this series contains two stories. While these eight page comedy-adventure stories aren’t really to my taste, I have to admit that they are executed very well by writer Johan de Neef. The first story tells of an encounter with the Night Vampire (who looks an awful lot like Rotterdam’s own Jules Deelder) and in the second Captain Roffa gets help from the Giant of Rotterdam (back in the 1940’s the tallest man in the Netherlands). The biggest weaknesses of this issue are the two pinups: personally, I think they are a big step down from regular series artist Boykoesh, and I would really have liked these pages to be filled with more enjoyable content, such as the OHOTMU-style character bios’ that separate the two stories. But that’s just nitpicking: this issue is all kinds of fun and I hope it finds the hands of as much young readers as possible. If this won’t hook them on comics, I don’t know what will!
Art: 8              Writing: 7       Overall: 7.5

3. Strange Tales 150-156 (Marvel Comics, 1966)
This nearly comprises the first half of the 2000 Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD trade paperback. I had always heard of the legend that is Jim Steranko, but other than his iconic covers was not familiar with his work. This trade paperback is basically a showcase of his first work in comics (besides these he had only done two Harvey Comics). The first three issues Steranko worked over layouts by Jack Kirby, with words by Stan Lee. Then there were two issues written by Roy Thomas and full art by Steranko and after that Steranko handled both writing and art. The first issue that was fully done by Steranko was a step backwards, he was still clearly getting his sea legs. But after that it Dyna-soars upward! Dynamic, cinematic action shown through groundbreaking sequential storytelling, makes this super spy caper a delight for the eye. On the writing side, things gradually get better from Stan Lee, to Roy Thomas, to finally Steranko unleashed. The first couple of installments clearly have more than enough word balloons obscuring the art in a manner that we have come to know from working the Marvel method. But still, if you take it for what it is –a fun throw back, over the top sci-fi, super spy series- you WILL be enjoying yourself
Art: 8              Writing: 7       Overall: 7.5

4. Invincible #92 (Image comics)
Many people have said it before, and most of the time I didn’t agree, but this issue really made me feel that Invincible has peaked and now is struggling along. I love the characters, the writing and the art –normally. But in this issue Robert Kirkman’s writing felt disjointed and the art was just not as good as I have become used to of Ryan Ottley. Sadly the same goes for the pages drawn by Cory Walker. While the overall plot is enjoyable and fun –Invincible is depowered and Robot and Monster Girl talk about what happened when they were in another dimension (for 700 years!), the subplots left me entirely cold and the one with ‘black Invincible’ even made me cringe…
Art: 7              Writing: 6       Overall: 6.5

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Book of the week 27: Green River Killer. A True Detective Story

Front Cover of Green River Killer. A True Detective Story

1. Green River Killer. A True Detective Story (Dark Horse comics, 2011)
This is one of those times that a recommendation really works out. After listening to 11 O’Clock Comics #218, I decided to pull this one out of the dusty old pile labeled ‘to read’. Despite its 225 pages, Green River Killer is a quick read (still it’s due to this baby that I didn’t get around to reading more recent stuff), there’s lots of panels with few to no words and this is the strong suit of this beautiful original graphic novel. With stark black and white art by Jonathan Case, and lean writing by Jeff Jensen, this book excels in brooding atmospheres and human emotions.

Art from the opening sequence of Green River Killer. A True Detective Story, published by Dark Horse Comics.

Art by Jonathan Case from the opening sequence of Green River Killer. A True Detective Story, published by Dark Horse Comics.

Green River Killer was the popular name given to a Washington serial killer that slew at least 48 women in the 1980’s and 90’s. This ‘graphic novel inspired by true events’ , follows detective Tom Jensen, who spent 20 years working this case. As the reader gets more engrossed in both Jensen’s career, his relentless drive for finding the killer and his personal life it becomes apparent that the case is slowly but surely taking over his life. And that’s where the uniqueness of this book comes in: author Jeff Jensen is the son of the main character and as such he has witnessed firsthand how the case of Green River Killer has affected Tom Jensen. Jeff wrote this book ‘to gain a better understanding’ and this shows in that this book is as much a detective story as a premier character study. In one of the caption boxes near the end of the book Jeff reveals a tiny bit of how he and Tom prepared for this book. It shows a lot about how emotional things must have gotten: ‘He still doesn’t speak of June 17, 2003. The details he gave me were few, and offered reluctantly.

A young Tom Jensen, portrayed by Jonathan Case in Green River Killer. A true Detective Story.

A young Tom Jensen, portrayed by Jonathan Case in Green River Killer. A true Detective Story.

When you´re watching a television series like The Wire, you don´t expect to be blown away by spectacular visual effects. The same rings true for a personal, deeply psychological and procedural book as Green River Killer. While the art is certainly strong and it´s perfectly enjoyable to admire Jonathan Case his brush strokes, it also has something unremarkable to it. In this instance the art mostly seems to serve the story. And that´s perfectly fine. Where Case´s art does shine though, is in his facial expressions. Whether it´s the hauntingly empty stare of Gary Leon Ridgeway AKA the Green River Killer, or the great array of expressions of Tom Jensen, which range from angered, to saddened, to professionally detached, to horrified and uncomprehending  (to name but a few) Case depicts them all in a perfectly convincing manner. This is also the case for the locations and backgrounds of the story. Without a doubt Case has put a lot of research in reconstructing all the real life scenes, and it pays off in a glow of authenticity that radiates from this book.

Gary Leon Ridgly as portrayed by Jonathan Case in Green River Killer. A True Detective Story.

Gary Leon Ridgly as portrayed by Jonathan Case in Green River Killer. A True Detective Story.

All in all, this is a book that will haunt me for weeks after putting it down. And will probably make for an interesting reread. I highly recommend Green River Killer to fans of the crime-, detective- and procedural genres, but honestly this is a book about real persons, with real relations being put to the test through some horrible and dark scenarios, and who doesn’t like to read that?
Art: 8.5                       Writing: 9       Overall: 8.7

I’m back: reviewing comic podcasts

Just to get the juices flowing and to ease back into the review game, this week I’m reviewing podcasts that are dedicated to comics. For years I’ve listened to requests for Itunes reviews from many a podcaster, but since I don’t use Itunes this never happened. Well, that has recently changed and finally I can meet this request. So here’s an overview   thoughts on some of my favorite podcasts. They all got five-star reviews from me at Itunes.

Hideous Energy
This podcast is the toast yo. Austin and David are friends that on one then more occasion kissed each other, sometimes hold hands and emotionally abuse one another. They are not gay however, but are perfectly fine with all kinds of gayety. Oh, and they like to talk about comics. Comics is the center topic of this podcast but, be prepared for discussions that happily flow miles, and miles off track, some fine absurdist humor, totally unfounded claims, unresearched journalism and a bunch of cock jokes. Whether you are interested in killing Giraffes, using fictitious drugs, listening to friends having a good time or just hearing about comics, this is one of the most entertaining comic podcasts out there.

Ifanboy
Week after week for seven years now, Josh, Conner and Ron have reviewed the most recent comics. The Ifanboy pick of the week podcast is the number one resource for eloquent and well thought out reviews of comics, brought to you in a tight well produced format. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the hosts pack more than enough of the funny. The podcast offers views on indie darlings as well as big two blockbusters, all delivered through distinct personal voices of three very opinionated individuals (don’t be fooled by the preconception of Josh being the Vertigo guy, Ron the X-men guy and Conner the indie guy). Besides reviewing the latest Wednesday’s issues, the guys also review a book of the month on the podcast (which is almost always a trade paperback, hard cover or an original graphic novel), answer questions of the Ifanbase and feature some of the community feedback on comics. The experience, enthusiasm, and amount of thinking that the Ifanboys put in their podcast, makes it a cornerstone of the world of comics podcasting.

11 O’clock Comics
Four mikes. Four voices. Four laughs. Four drinks. Four tastes that can range quite far apart. This is the antithesis to the well-structured and tightly produced Ifanboy podcast. Here are four guys enjoying each other’s company and just letting it rip while talking comics. Sure there are a couple of recurring items (the introduction, the drink roll call and the ‘in your travels’ section), but mostly this is a free style form of comic podcasting. Surprisingly, with most episodes exceeding the two hour mark, listing to the ramblings of Vince B, friendly chuckles of David Price, analytic mind of Jason Woooooooooooood or the grumpy-when-drunk Christopher Neseman  never gets tired. Maybe this is because of the perfect blend of contemporary popular and indie comics spiced with splashes way back or because of the weird, absurd or even offensive material that Vince B brings to the table. A fact is that these gentlemen are very experienced comic readers and have a fine eye for the technical details (be it inking, lettering or coloring). Their recommendations have more than once led me to a more than satisfactory purchase and even more important they have provided hundreds of hours of entertainment.

Awesomed by Comics
Now this is a weird one, but a fun one. Hosted by the incredibly creative and talented couple of Evie Nagy and Aaron McQuade, this weekly-ish award show is like the Oscars, if Oscar was a podcast hosted by two journalists who just got a baby who therefore have little time left to spend on podcasting, however when they do get around to podcasting they are sure to make you laugh. Just like the Oscars Evie and Aaron each give out awards to comics and creators that they were awesomed by and some that they decidedly were not awesomed by. The comic reviewing is enriched by Evie’s quick wits and Aaron’s genuinely funny musical skits (Watching porn with Greg Land, anyone?). Sure, they may not be a weekly podcast anymore for the foreseeable feature, but when a new Awesomed by Comics MP3 file hits the internet, it’s pure comic book podcasting gold.

And now for a more local flavor, I will be switching to Dutch, because this is a Dutch podcast dedicated to the Dutch geek scene:

GeekStijl Insider
Neerland’s eigen podcast geweid aan alles wat met de geek cultuur te maken heeft. Comics, games, fantasy, toys, etc. Geekstijl schuwt geen onderwerp (een recente aflevering werd geweid aan mannelijke My Little Pony fans) en staat altijd open voor feedback of onderwerp suggesties. De presentatie ligt in handen van de bevlogen fanboys Arrie ten Wolde, John Lopez en Gert-Jan van Oosten. Dit strak geproduceerde en professioneel klinkende programma bevat behalve het laatste geeknieuws, wekelijks ook een comic aanrader en een interview met personen uit de Nederlandse geek-scene in de breedste zin. Niet alleen is het fijn om tussen het Amerikaanse podcast geweld ook eens een ander geluid te horen, maar de brede insteek van deze podcast is verfrissend te noemen in een tijd waarin iedere podcast zich op zijn eigen niche lijkt te gaan richten. Zo heb ik zelf als fervent comic liefhebber al menigmaal geboeid geluisterd naar voor mij verrassende praatjes over onderwerpen als bord- en kaartspellen.

Word Balloon
Host John Siuntres, the godfather of comic podcasting, describes his show as a comic book conversation podcast, in which he talks to the creators and all kinds of other people that work in or around the comic industry. With his insightful discussions John provides for a very interesting peek behind the curtains. Whether it’s recurring big shot guests like Brian Michal Bendis and Jeph Loeb or industry veterans like Martin Pasko and Neal Adams, John gets them all and has spent hours and hours of frank, friendly and above all entertaining discussions with them. Siuntres is an experienced radio maker, and this is evident from his radio friendly voice, which he has honed for years on local Chicago radio stations. His voice, together with his impressive roster of guests and the astute conversations he has with them makes this a veritable recommendation.

War Rocket Ajax
Another great comic book interview show, with a bit more format then say the Word Balloon podcast. Hosts Chris and Matt ostensibly want to destroy the earth through the awesomeness of their podcast. I’m not entirely sure they are succeeding, but at least they are producing some minor natural disasters around the world, and their awesomeness may actually contribute to global warming. Besides interesting guests from in and around the world of comics, this podcast is a monument to Chris’s love for cartoons (both the good, the bad and everything in between) and video games as well as (weirdly enough) his nostalgic love for the skater magazine Thrasher, from which he now and then lovingly recites letters.

That’s (more then) all the comic podcasting I have time to listen to. When my commute was longer I listened to these and the following, which I also highly recommend but do not listen to on a regular base:
Smodcast, Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier shooting shit together. Pretty funny, most of the time.
Hollywood Babble on, or HBO, Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman’s showbiz podcast, also spending a little attention to geek news. Guaranteed to make you laugh!
RadioLab, making difficult subjects understandable and relatable in a beautifully produced podcast.
MATES, or Mike and Tom Eat Snacks, for fresh insights into the world of snackology and the best improve comedy.

I hope somebody finds a usefull recommendation in this list. Next week I’ll be back to review every comic I have read. Allthough to be honest I don’t think it will be a particulalry long list (Au contraire)…

Soon, more Shaolin Cowboy!!!

I’ve been reading some comics here and there, but in lieu of any reviews, I just wanted to post some exciting news. Comics Alliance reports that Geoff Darrow is working hard at a new volume of Shaolin Cowboy, to be published through Darkhorse! Praise the Lord for this man’s uncanny skill at drawing and drawing ridiculously detailed.

No more regular updates for the following months

I started this blog 21 weeks ago and immensely enjoyed working on it and discovering more about what I like and what not. It has been a very enjoyable challenge to write something worthwhile about comics on a weekly basis.

Sadly, real life has come in the way of my managing this blog. so, for the foreseeable future I’ll only update sporadically. I hope to be back in weekly mode after (sigh…) another 21 weeks, and review EVERY #$&*@! comic that I read.

More quick reviews: Walking Dead 90, X-reboot and a bunch more Image titles

As I’m busy once again I bring my reviews once more in a shorter form. I had a good week with the X-men relaunch and a bunch of Image comics. Enjoy:

 

1. Walking Dead #90 (Image comics)                                                                         8.8
Lots of character development, as some characters grow decidedly more towards each other (Rick and Andrea sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G…) and Rick and his son Carl finally have a good moment to express their feelings, while the guns-ablaze cliffhanger from last issue is diffused by… …words. Plus, Rick likes to kill people, it’s just easier than having to face people in an argument.

 

2. Wolverine and the X-men #1 (Marvel comics)                                               8.7
I see Doop! I see little Nightcrawlers (OMG they are BAMFS!!!), and prof X!!! OMG the whole school is a Danger Room! Not too keen on this latest version of Chris Bachalo’s art. But this was the most fun I’ve had with X-men in a great long while. And it’s also funny that it seems to me that when the rest of the Marvel Universe is interesting, the X-titles suck, and when the X-titles are great, I couldn’t give a damn about the rest of the 616 Marvel Universe (which is clearly presently the case).

3. Uncanny X-men #1 (Marvel comics)                                                                      8.7
This is some of superstar artist Carlos Pacheco’s best work since his return to Marvel. CyclopsX-men are ready and looking for a fight. If that weren’t enough Mr. Sinister activates the San Francisco Sleeping Celestial and flies of in its head, to start… …Sinister town? Great funny bits between Namor and Emma Frost! And I love Storm as the moral heart of the team, asking who in this team has never been known primarily as a super villain (and only her Hope Summers and Cyclops raising their hands).

4. Gladstone’s School For World Conquerors #6 (Image comics)        8.6
Holy shit, this was the best issue of this series so far. While the art was a bit inconsistent (especially the rendition of the adult adversary), in the story all the plot threads that got dangled in front of the reader earlier in the series get masterfully pulled together and the story reaches a dramatic crescendo as the kids lose some of their innocence and learn that the fights between superheroes and villains are staged.

5. La mano de destino #1 (Castle and Key Publications)                                  8.5
Great little first issue of a six issue miniseries about a Luchador (a masked Mexican wrestler) who’s working his way up the ranks to exact revenge on the ringmaster… Great, exciting Kirby-like art made to look very vintage!

6. Northlanders #45 (Vertigo)                                                                                        8.5
The Icelandic Trilogy continues, with the second chapter being drawn by Declan Shalvey. I don’t think I have to say anything other than that. GO BUY IT!!!
7. Chew #17 (Image comics)                                                                                               8.5
A food fight gone horribly wrong, even more strange food powers and Chew’s partner Colby is a dick. I’m loving it!

8. Northlanders #44 (Vertigo)                                                                                            8
The story about the founding fathers of Iceland continues with an account of feuding families. This is such smart writing, it’s amazing. I really admire Brian Wood´s ability to write perfectly believable human emotion in a big story of historical events.

9. Ultimates #3 (Marvel comics)                                                                                        8
I wish they would have given the artist (Essad Ribic) more time on this, some pages are deep-fried comic book gold, while others look rushed and even unfinished. In this Nick Fury, Thor and the rest of the Ultimates get their asses handed to them some more and ultimately Thor goes on a suicide mission.

 

10. Chew #16 (Image comics)                                                                                                8
Chuckles abound as the strange writings in the sky draw attention off of the chicken prohibition and onto UFO research and Layman introduces us to another culinary gifted character, a voresophic, which gets really smart as long as he’s eating.

11. Uncanny X-men #544 (Marvel comics)                                                                 8
Good little ending, accentuating that Cyclops X-men will be something (or already are) something completely different then the good old X-men of yesteryear.

12. Pigs #2 (Image comics)                                                                                                  7.5
I´m not digging the art, it’s a bit too crude and empty for my tastes (it could have used some more details and refinement). On the other side, I am very much digging the story (about a Cuban-Soviet sleeper cell that was recently activated to execute their 1950’s protocol to assassinate the U.S. president). It’s the most interesting plot I’ve read in a long time. I loved the pages of the familia visiting the White Russian and inviting him to pick up arms and execute his part of the protocol. The sequence featured terribly tense dialogues, which clearly showed the different concerns of the parties (The White Russian having all but forgotten his original mission and trying to protect his family and the life that he has built up in the U.S. over the years really doesn’t want to join his Cuban buddies in their plans).

13. Extinction Seed #0 (GG Studio)                                                                             7.2
I have no idea what this was about, one part was set in the 1960´s, in another they were using laptops. Some characters are doing mysterious stuff in Berlin, coincidentally (or not?) another is heading for Berlin (and posing in bath all sexy), then there are two sexy girls tickling each other in a park while they are being observed. Oh, and a journalist (I guess) was writing about meteors. I guess this is supposed to be teasing, but to me it was confusing and incoherent. The art is good, high on the cheese cake, but a bit inconsistent in the linework. Now the coloring (by Alessia Nocera) however was fucking magnificent!

14. The Vault #2 (Image comics)                                                                                   6.5
The art in this is okay, although the facial expressions could have been much stronger. This issue has some clumsy, stiff and over-explanatory dialogues as the crew of explorers discuss whether or not to open their new mysterious archeological find (a sarcophagus with what looks like a vampire skeleton in it). What´s basically a great, original concept that could work in any storytelling medium is rendered impotent by horrible dialogues and the lack of any logic in the choices the characters make. In the end, the expressionless faces of the characters stand in the way of any of the drama and action coming across to the reader. On the positive side, the writing brings across a lot of atmosphere and the plot of this series is very thrilling.

Reviews for week 43: Ultimate Spider-man 3, SHIELD 2-6, Animal Man 2 and much more

Because of a very aggressive flu that has struck the whole family down this week, a whopping 23 books were read. But because the sickness hasn’t fully wore off yet, I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time reviewing them. So, in rapid succession my thoughts on the books I read this week:

1. Ultimate Spider-man #3 (Marvel comics)                                                            9.2
This is shaping up to be the origin story of all origin stories, it doesn’t miss a single beat. Everything from the funny, to the emotional is there. We still haven’t seen a costume, but we did see Miles his first spider-powered heroic feat! Plus, we get to see how this story fits into the greater continuity of the Ultimate universe. The art was a bit less detailed than the last issues but still beautiful. It’s a blessing that no one wears masks in this because Sarah Pichelli draws every face unique and every expression exquisite.


2. SHIELD
(Volume 1) #2-6 (Marvel comics)                                                               9.1
Apparently we’ve got Galactus to thank for the Gregorian calendar! The main plot of this series basically revolves around SHIELD’s old leader Leonardo DaVinci, who has come back and wants to change SHIELD (when he led the brotherhood, its goal was to protect Earth from anything that would stand in the way of achieving humanity’s and Earths ultimate potential), the new leader Isaac Newton however has calculated the date the world ends and is steering to that which he accepts as inevitable. Thus, the dichotomy between humanism and religion/fatalism is a central and very interesting part of the plot. Ultimately of course, this conflict comes to a boiling point; a war of ideas, actually! I really love how this series uses big ideas and weaves them into the tapestry of the rich (yet apparently vastly unexplored) history of the Marvel Universe. I am really excited to see how all of the subplots (about the two warring factions, this kid Leonid who wants to stop them, the mysterious figure of the Forever Man and Howard Stark and Nathaniel Richards stuck in the future) get woven back together. Which, I guess, is what we learn in the second volume of this series (which is currently being published). However, I will wait till we have all the issues, so I can read them all in one sitting. With a complex series like this and with the crazy big ideas that we have learned to expect from Jonathan Hickman, I think reading it in one big chunk will work better than having to wait one or two months between issues. It’s a shame I’ll have to wait a bit for the continuation of this story. But I’m sure it will be worth the wait, as this really is a tour de force of comicbooking by both Hickman and artist Dustin Weaver.

3. Animal Man #2 (DC comics)                                     9 
I can appreciate the art a whole lot better than in the first issue, which is mainlydue from me getting used to it. But I still find it too inconsistent for my taste, some panels are picture perfect and very expressive, yet others look a bit clumsy. Also, I think the uninked linework in this book is very effective and looks really interesting, but it seems to be getting into the way of the colours. In some of the smaller panels the tattoos that appear on Buddy’s body are black instead of red, and also what’s with the pink on his chin? That being said, this issue is quite the accomplishment just from looking the way it looks. I’ve said it before, but to my knowledge it has never been more true that there literally isn’t anything out there that looks even slightly like this. On the story-side, I’ve got nothing to complain about. Once again we see how Buddy Baker balances his family life as a husband and father of two with his super heroics. Undead animals still find a haven in the Baker household as Buddy and his daughter Maxine go on a journey to explain why dead animals are walking around and why Buddy is bleeding out of his eyes and suddenly covered with mysterious tattoos.

4. Batman #2
(DC comics)                                                                                                        9
And yet another artist that draws exquisite breaking glass. More smart and innovative storytelling techniques. This is the Batman book you CAN’T not read.

5. Northlanders #41-43
(Vertigo)                                                                                   8.7
Issue 41 is a beautiful little one-and-done story about the daughter of an island leader who loses all her privileges when her father dies. Very striking, unusual art by Marian Churchland, which fits the book perfect. Oh and the colours (Dave Mccaig) are also nothing to sneeze at. Plus another great example of Brian Wood writing strong women. Issues 42 and 43 are the first two chapters of a nine issue story about the first settlers on Iceland. beautiful, hard lined art by Paul Azacetta. This is one of those stories where there are no good guys and you’re constantly wondering ‘now why’d you go and do that?

6. Ultimate X-men #2
(Marvel comics)                                                                        8.5
High ratings for the art and the spotlight on Iceman, Human Torch and Kitty. Writer Nick Spencer proves his comedic genius in the bit where Johnny goes: ´Ha! Bobby used to date a crazy chick!
A little disappointed with the new villain rev. Striker, if was left up to me this character would have never been dredged up after the classic graphic novel X-men. God Loves Man Kills. Striker was originally a great character, his later incarnations though? -Pretty sucky. This latest version looks like a half human Sentinel, only not as cool as Bastion (an important and cool looking X-men villain back in the nineties).

7. Resurrection Man #1-2 (DC comics)                                                                        8.3
After finally having read this one of DC’s 52 new first issues, I understand some of the thing I heard on many a podcast. This reminds me of a solid ‘90’s Vertigo series. This totally has the feel of DC’s mature imprint both in art and writing. It looks good and really is comparable to art from ‘90’s Vertigo series like Shade the Changing Man. Even the story credits reek of old Vertigo, with its type writer font and stereoscopic colour combination. Written by Abnett and Lanning it’s a bit darker then I’m used to seeing them do, but it works wonderful.

Aaaand the price for hottest new villains goes to the Body Doubles! But maybe they are a bit too attractive, the scene where they are lying on each other in their underwear makes no sense. I understand that DC has gotten a lot of shit about their depiction of woman in the relaunch books and in most of the books that I read I didn’t have a problem with it. But this is just silly and sexist…. If it fits the story, sure make it sexy and if there’s a good reason for it, I can get behind the exploitative angle, but this is just unnecessary and totally random cheese cake… When they have some (really still not much) clothes on however, they make for really fun villains. This series chronicles the story of this guy who resurrects every time he dies, with a new power set. He seems to be missing his memory and is visiting an old friend of his dad for some answers when he encounters these two sexy bounty hunters from Hell. Oh, and in the course of two issues, he’s already died three times. Great fun!

8. Batwing #2 (DC comics)                                                                                                    8.2
Wow is this dark and bloody, and really good! Really refreshing to read a superhero book set in Africa and one where the stakes are realistic and terribly high.

9. Reed Gunther #1-2 (Image comics)                                                                           7.9
Poppycock! This was way better than I’d ever expected. Finally bought it after all the good things I kept hearing. And really I can’t find anything I’d wanted to see different. The first issue is a fun little all ages story, beautifully cartooned about a cowboy and his bear lending a hand to a female rancher who’s cattle is preyed upon by a giant river snake. The second issue sees our heroes entering a haunted mine only to find weird reptile creatures and a magic dagger… The creators have found a great way of building a continuing story through single issue stories. If this series is an indication, the brothers who created Reed will get far in the industry!

10. Aquaman #1 (DC comics)                                                                                             7.8
I can see that this would be very new-reader-friendly. I don’t think I’ll be getting into this though, mainly because of the character. But I’m curious enough to sit the first story arc out. We’re basically introduced to Aquaman, the least popular of all superhero’s , who is taking the decision to live on land instead of in Atlantis. Besides that we are also introduced to a weird race of piranha humanoids who are bound to wreak havoc on the surface world. Great art by Ivan Reiss!

11. OMAC #2 (DC comics)                                                                                                       7.3
I appreciate the art, it just not really my thing. I couldn’t get into the writing, even with a lot of effort. Again, a lot of strong nineties vibes, which I´m not digging. This was my last issue.

12. New Mutants #31 (Marvel comics)                                                                         7.2
I’m loving the thick lined indie art by David Lafuente but I bet I’m in the minority on that one. I only wish they would have gone with the more painterly style of colours-lines, like back in Ultimate Spider-man. Story not much special. It’s just one of those frigging Fear Itself tie-ins…

13. Justice League #2 (DC comics)                                                                                     7
It’s beginning to dawn on me that the Justice League just isn’t for me. I’m not a huge DC guy, and especially this new incarnation seems rather… …silly. The art is okay, but just not for me, and really, both art and story are sooooooooooo nineties, which isn’t always a good thing.

14. Dunwich Horror #1 (IDW Publishing)                                                                  6.8
This is based on the works of H.P Lovecraft. It contains a decent adaptation at the end, though I’m not sure how true to the source the main story stays.

Only quick shots this week. Winner is Cloak and Dagger 2!


1. Spider Island: Cloak and Dagger #2
(Marvel comics)                                9.2
OMG Emma Rios draws the most disgusting spiders! And Nick Spencer is a genius writer: ‘You just unchain me here, and I’ll go ahead and make you look like the smartest man who ever got his nuts chopped off by a light dagger.Dagger has some attitude, I love it! Plus, smart writing (Spencer reminds me of my lessons in history), and Cloak and Dagger have never looked better. This was fucking awesome, it makes me want to curse, it was so good!


2. The Authority. Book 1: Relentless (tpb) (Wildstorm)                                 8.9
This, back in 2000, was what got me balls deep into comics. I was always reading X-men, but after the Grant Morrison run, my devotion of the comic book medium was wavering a bit. This series was the first thing to point me away from the stereotypical, mainstream comic books about capes and tights. But it’s not just from my personal reading experience that I think this is a majorly important comic book. Just like Miracle Man and Watchmen, this was one of those steps in deconstructing superheroes. In this case by showing a group of heroes who are pro-active about changing the world and a bit more radical than your average superhero. I think this is my favorite series of Warren Ellis written superhero stories, and the first time that artist Brian Hitch stepped up his game, to look as good as it gets.
3. Severed #3 (Image comics)                                                                                              8.9
On the first page of this excellent horror story set in the 1920’s, it suddenly struck me that Attila Futaki’s art reminds me of Windsor McKay’s art on the Little Nemo newspaper strip. This story is crafted extremely well, with the first couple of pages of the first issue showing a flash forward of the main character as an old man who’s missing an arm. Throughout the rest of the series where we follow him as a twelve-year-old, you are waiting for this boy to get his arm chopped of around every corner. Brilliant stuff, genuienly creepy. This is horror at it’s very best.

 4. Spontaneous #4 (Oni press)                                                                                         8.8
The plot about a mysterious string of spontaneous combustions stays very… …mysterious. However, this issue things take a turn as we learn that the cause of everything that´s going on lies closer to the main characters then they´d ever imagined. Once again beautifully drawn and very humanly written.
5. X-men Regenisis (Marvel comics)                                                                              7.8
This issue explains how the X-men get divided between the newly formed school of Wolverine in Westchester and the Cyclops led militarized mutant enclave of Utopia. I was shocked and perhaps a bit disappointed by Storm staying in Utopia, and shocked yet pleasantly surprised to see Emma heading for Westchester. …and then disappointed again by her staying.
6. Action Comics #2 (DC comics)                                                                                    7.5
The art looks rushed and badly inked. From the backup material, it becomes clear that it’s mostly the inks that are to blame. Because the pencils by Rags Morales look great. Otherwise a perfectly likable story of a vulnerable Superman and Lex Luthor who may be manipulated by a greater force.
7. Spider-Island Spider-Woman (Marvel comics)                                               7.4
Pretty solid art by Giusupe Gamuncoli, combined with a story by Fred Van Lente that very effectively portrays Jessica Drew as the insecure heroine that we have gotten to know over the years. In this one-shot she has to rescue Alicia Masters, the Thing’s blind girlfriend. Reed Richards wants Master’s blood to contain the basis for an antidote for what’s happening with the whole Spider-Island thing. In the course of the issue, of course she has to face down with the Thing and also, The Gypsy Moth?
8. The Authority. Book 3: Earth Inferno and other stories (tpb) (Wildstorm) 7.4
The cover of this trade credits Frank Quietly as artist before Chris Weston, inside however, the first half of the Earth Inferno story arc is drawn by Weston. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but, when you expect Quietly art, Weston is a bit of a letdown. I understand however, that this was the era that this title met a lot of misfortune. Still, I’d like the publisher to be more honest about the insides. Fun little book where writer Mark Millar explores the characters a bit more than his predecessor. Which doesn’t mean the scale of the action is less, this arc sees Earth trying to expunge all life. This also has two nice little one and done stories I had never read before!

Finally… …book of last week review 41: Ultimate Hawkeye 2

Okay, once again stuff is interfering with writing reviews, so here’s a short one for my favorite book of last week. Hopefully, I’ll be more current coming sunday.

1. Ultimate Hawkeye #2 (Marvel comics)
And this shows once more why Ultimate Hawkeye is so much cooler than his 616 counterpart. He’s more akin to an athletic and military schooled version of Bullseye than the fun loving Robin Hood clone that we know from the Avengers. He’s portrayed by Jonathan Hickman as a strategist ala Captain America, only with a kick ass attitude (remember, this is the same guy that used his fingernails as deadly ranged weaponry back in Millar and Hitch’s run, not the glasses wearing Grifter lookalike from Jeph Loeb’s run). Not only do we get to see this great character in action, but we also get treated to some beautiful artwork which is even better than last issue. Dynamic layouts; emotional facial expressions; energetic action scenes; beautiful splash pages; and a confident thick line of ink: I COULD NOT possibly love this series more… …Could I? Well, this issue ends with Hawkeye asking Nick Fury for backup from the Ultimates. However, since the Ultimates are occupied elsewhere, Fury sends Ultimate X, his covert mutant team of Angel, Firestar(?), Jean Grey and the Hulk. Kill me now, I can’t wait for next issue.


Art:9               Writer:8.5                  Overall:8.7

Runner ups for week 41: Swamp Thing 2, The Rinse 2, Marvel universe vs Wolverine 3&4

2. Swamp Thing #2 (DC comics)
This isn´t a gay thing or something, but man am I hot for Scott. Comic writer Scott Snyder that is. For a relative newcomer he has a remarkable track record. I´ve read all but one of the series he has worked on and loved them all (American Vampire being the exception). This newest incarnation of Swamp Thing, continues this trend. The second issue of this series was wordy, very wordy. But not in a bad way. This issue explains whether or not Alec Holland ever really was Swamp Thing. It also explores a new take on the Swamp Thing saga, as we learn that the Swamp Thing is a legacy character. According to this, the swamp monster that we have grown to know and love is only the most recent incarnation of the living embodiment of ‘the green’. In this issue a representative of the parliament of trees offers Alec Holland the chance to become Swamp Thing, and as such to become their greatest knight and take the fight to the new bad guy Sethe. After his decision, he gets chased out of his motel by a mob of Sethe’s twisted walking corpses, only to be saved by the person he really didn’t want to meet. Really great art by Yanick Paquette once again, with things like birds and plants which actually look like the way they do in the real world. This is my surprise hit out of the 52 new books by DC, I had never read any Swamp Thing, but this offers the perfect jumping on point. Art:9                   Writing:8.5              Overall:8.7

3. The Rinse #2 (Boom studios)
I continue to be amazed at how exciting writer Gary Phillips has made this story about money laundering. This should be boring and dry, but instead it’s both intelligent and informative as well as raw and thrilling. Most of all though, this is one of those very original series, which we only get few and far between. That’s why I’ll savor this story. Sure there are crime comics, mostly they handle with fucked up people doing fucked up things. But this is something else entirely, the main character is a successful small time hustler who gets tied up in a very big case. Before he knows it he’s got both mobsters and police after him. Phillips has infused his characters with a great deal of humanity. All of them, no matter how small their role, have an extraordinary strong and realistic presence on the page. And to make this click even better, once again we are treated to a perfect cliffhanger. The art by Mark Laming seems a bit cleaner, compared to the first issue. It looks like Laming’s gotten confident enough to do his own thing and isn’t leaning as much on influences from Sean Phillips on Criminal. Now I’m wondering if publishing this review will get me followed by the anti-money laundering bot again…
Art:8               Writing:9                    Overall:8.5

4. Marvel Universe vs Wolverine #3-4 (Marvel comics)
This series follows the events of the world being overtaken by an airborne virus that turns people (including those with superpowers) into aggressive, base savages. In the end, it’s up to Wolverine, Captain America and the Punisher to take a stand against the infected (lead by the Hulk), while Marvel’s top scientist try to fix things. Great covers, beautiful art and everything that would make a die-hard marvel reader excited: unexpected team-ups; graphic violence (the Hulk bites Wolverine’s arm off); characters that have never interacted with each other, driven to do so out of sheer despair; plus some dramatic action scenes featuring a virtual who’s-who of the Marvel universe, all rendered in really intense, dark art. The art by Laurence Campbell and Lee Loughridge reminds me a little of Sean Philips. Which talking of whom, this series reminds me a bit too much of the original Marvel Zombies by Philips and Robert Kirkman. I think that this reads much better, because it’s not intended as jokey/mondo/exploitative as Marvel Zombies was. Also, I don’t understand why the ‘zombies’ are still cognizant but seem to have devolved a couple of thousand years. They know no science, but only magic, and both Hulk and The Thing have kind of donned a shamanistic wardrobe. This series was really well written by Jonathan Mayberry, one of the most underrated writers at the big two. I would really like to see him write Marvel´s next big summer event. Ultimately though, I have to say I was disappointed by the ending of the series. There’s no real resolution, just a two year later epilogue that leaves a lot of stuff open. Still that doesn´t take away from this being one hell of a romp through the darkest corners of the Marvel universe.

#3 Art:8.5                   Writing:8.5                 Overall:8.5
#4 Art:8.5                   Writing:7.8                 Overall:8.2