Tuesday, January 17, 2017

ALL STAR RECOMMENDS FOR JANUARY 17TH


Hi again, hope all's well.

I finally cracked open We Told You So: Comics As Art, the oral history of Fantagraphics. Fifty pages in, it already gets huge thumbs up. Yes, it's well established that I'm a complete Fanta dork, but as not just a publishing history but also a history of the medium itself it's a roaring success. There's Jim Steranko anecdotes, admitting to breaking into an office several nights a week to typeset magazines, an ill-fated attempt to raise cash, an encounter with Hunter S. Thompson -- this thing is already full of surprises. As Robert Crumb says in his intro about my most favourite of comics publishers, "They are not 'businessmen,' they are connoisseurs who want to put out good books...that they think ought to exist in the world. And that's a good thing, however they manage to do it."
 Can't argue with that.



COMIC OF THE WEEK : SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE BOOKS 1 & 2

By Matt Wagner, Steven T. Seagle, Guy Davis, David Hornung, Vince Locke & Friends
Published By Vertigo

The inherent danger in returning to comics you once loved after a decade or so is that oftentimes...they just aren't very good. Not so the case with Sandman Mystery Theatre, finally being properly and entirely collected in books collating a year's worth of issues. It not only holds up brilliantly but is also somehow perhaps one of the most politically and socially relevant comic books currently being (re)published. Xenophobia, homophobia, classism, misogyny, capitalism run amok -- Sandman Mystery Theatre commits itself to shedding its pulpy light on all these things, highlighting the nightmarish corners otherwise hidden by the garish brightness of "The American Dream."For a book set in the late 1930s and originally published in the early 1990s it's remarkable, unfortunately so, that its thematic relevance is so absolutely modern.

Published to capitalise on the burgeoning popularity of Neil Gaiman's Sandman comic, Sandman Mystery Theatre first appeared in 1993 as one of the first ongoing comics launched under the new Vertigo imprint. Featuring DC Comics' very own Golden Age Sandman, Wesley Dodds, who was a crime-fighter dressed in the typical PI attire of trenchcoat, fedora and suit. However, this Sandman obscured his identity by wearing an old gas mask over his face that also doubled as one of the oddest, most surreal "superhero" costume adornments of the period. There is something very strange about Sandman's appearance - the gas mask giving him the look of some sort of bug or mosquito-man, ripped from the pages of Kafka, or perhaps Burroughs' Naked Lunch. The Sandman blasts foes with a sleeping gas from a jury-rigged gas gun and as victims fall into a druggy haze, the vision of this human/insect mash-up looming over them demanding information proves utterly terrifying to those experiencing it.

Written originally by a solo Matt Wagner, Steven T. Seagle joined as co-writer in the title's second year. The book was originally slated to have a rotating core of artists, similar to Gaiman's Sandman, and for the title's first year, the incredible Guy Davis, the vastly under-appreciated John Watkiss and R.G. Taylor worked on the template four-issue story lines, with Davis eventually settling in to the role of regular artist. Davis was a fine choice, the perfect artist to bring the decadence of the late '30s to detailed, scratchy life. The only real major change to this creative line up and format was Wagner's eventual departure, leaving Seagle to write solo, and the Sandman Mystery Theatre Annual #1 (collected in Book 2) which saw a single story broken down into multiple chapters and points of view and each drawn by a different artist. Alex Ross was one of the artists involved with the annual and turns in, for my money, the work of his career. Painting in black and white, Ross' usual tendency to photo reference lends his work an annoyingly static feeling - his figures seem glued into his panels. Here, however, his pages look as though they are filled with frames clipped from some long lost film noir, utterly perfect for the series suited to photo-realism. 

While Ross utilised black and white for his brief chapter, the rest of the series was luridly coloured by David Hornung. Sandman Mystery Theatre, at least initially, was a riot of odd, vivid colour choices, almost as striking as an Argento Giallo film. Sandman's trenchcoat in the title's second arc, "The Face,"is a purple clashing against lime green backgrounds and while things eventually tone down a notch in the title's second year, Hornung's striking use of colour clearly attempts to recreate the limited colours available in the Golden Age of comics printing.

Davis and Seagle flesh Wesley Dodds out beautifully. A rich white man who inherited his wealth, Dodds has spent many years overseas becoming cultured, refined and sensitive. Despite clearly being a member of the 1%, America to Dodds is grotesque, drowning in booze and a good time even as war looms and its downtrodden are swept under the carpet. Haunted by nightmares he can't quite understand, Wesley is driven to fight crime, to stop the monsters he sees in his sleep. Wesley Dodds' Sandman is in many ways the anti-Batman. Of the many takes on Batman, my favourite is that Batman is the face, Bruce Wayne the mask. This is starkly contrasted by Wesley Dodds. Bumbling, chubby, frequently caught unawares and/or overmatched physically by opposing combatants, the reader constantly feels as though Dodds has no business sticking his nose into these horrible crimes. Weirdly, Dodds is as close to a "real world" Batman as you're likely to find in comics.

Dodds' love interest comes in the form of Dian Belmont. Dian's father is a D.A. and a kind of Commissioner Gordon to Dodds' Batman, if you will. Dian is a character vital to the series, not just as Wesley's anchor to the "real world" and a rich emotional life, but as a window into the gender politics of the time and a potent reminder that, despite the sexism inherent in the period, that many women were fiery, independent individuals. Dian is a liberated, modern, and experimental woman, smoking marijuana with friends (which Dodds finds amusing, having been a bit of a pothead in his international travels), frequenting jazz clubs in Harlem, maintaining friendships with queer women and having a previous relationship with a Chinese man. 

Murder mysteries have a tendency to peter out towards their end, sputtering to a conclusion as killers are revealed. Sandman Mystery Theatre skirts the often anti-climactic reveal of the criminal by basically telegraphing up front who the killer actually is. The murderers that propel Sandman Mystery Theatre’s plots forward really are not all that important, they are colourful, pulpy figures designed solely to allow the creators to focus on the socio-economic themes that form the spine of the series and allow greater exploration of Wesley and Dian's complex relationship and the uniquely particular time in which they live. The title never, ever forgets to be thrillingly lurid despite this and remains a beautifully illustrated, cleverly constructed comic throughout one that, as mentioned at the top of this review, really should not feel as fresh and relevant as it does. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Sandman Mystery Theatre is a wonderful way to be reminded of this very sad but true clichĂ©.


WEBCOMIC OF THE WEEK : I WORE THE MASK OF DROTHOR!

By Steve Ditko

Back once again to The Bristol Board site, which just last week unearthed this 1960 gem by none other than the astounding Steve Ditko. A bitter, penniless "mask maker" reduced to making "creations for Halloween" hits his old Grimoires for creative inspiration. In an old dusty tome, he finds mention of an old magician named Drothor. Any who try to capture Drothor's image are doomed to meet a "tragic fate," so of course, our mask maker decide to give it a shot. What could possibly go wrong?

If this isn't a showcase of utterly prime Ditko, it has to be very, very close. It's gorgeous and lively work, lushly inked. Ditko may be the artist the most closely linked to the sleek acrobatics of Spider-Man and the psychedelic, physics-shattering realms of Doctor Strange, but he was equally gifted at drawing shadowy Gothic horrors as this little piece from Tales To Astonish #11 so clearly demonstrates. If you're left with a hankering for yet more classic Ditko after reading this, I highly recommend the ongoing reprint series showcasing his pre-Marvel genre work published by Fantagraphics and edited by Blake Bell.






COMICS VIDEO OF THE WEEK : TEOTFW

Returning not only to print mid-year (in hardback!) but also coming to our television screens for a series is Charles Forsman's TEOTFW (The End of the Fucking World). Teenage misfit love turns increasingly and eventually criminally violent in TEOTFW, Forsman's harrowing breakthrough work, a series which he originally serialised in minicomics sold for $1 before Fantagraphics first collected the entire series a few year years back. Here's a little promo piece for the comic, showcasing Forsman's punk rock twist on the classic American cartooning of, say, Charles Schultz. It's clearly a big year for the artist as he wraps up his current Revenger & The Fog series and readies the debut of something called Slasher, forthcoming from Floating World Comics. Bring on the TV show, however, debuting on Netflix sometime later this year. Congrats, Charles.



See you next week. Love your comics.


Cameron Ashley spends a lot of time writing comics and other things you'll likely never read. He's the chief editor and co-publisher of Crime Factory (www.thecrimefactory.com). You can reach him @cjamesashley on Twitter.

Monday, January 16, 2017

RESIDENT EVIL THE FINAL CHAPTER PREVIEW DOUBLE PASS GIVEAWAY!


Based on Capcom’s hugely popular video game series Resident Evil comes the final instalment in the most successful video game film franchise ever, which has grossed over $1 billion worldwide to date.

Picking up immediately after the events in Resident Evil: Retribution, Alice (Milla Jovovich) is the only survivor of what was meant to be humanity’s final stand against the undead. Now, she must return to where the nightmare began – The Hive in Raccoon City, where the Umbrella Corporation is gathering its forces for a final strike against the only remaining survivors of the apocalypse. Only at the movies! January 26.



Thanks to those famished folks at Sony Pictures and RESIDENT EVIL THE FINAL CHAPTER in cinemas January 26th, we have 10 Double Passes to a Special Preview Screening at Hoyts Melbourne Central on Wednesday 25th January at 6.30pm to give away!

To go into the draw for your chance to win all you need to do is comment "I'd only survive a zombie outbreak with the help of, " and tag the person you could see yourself owing your life too and you'll be entered in the draw.

SPECIAL NOTE: As this prize is for a specific time and date, please only enter if you can attend the screening. 


Terms and Conditions:
-Only entries made via the comments on the Facebook post will be included in the draw.
-Entries will be "liked" by All Star to notify the comment have been entered in the draw,
-All entries will go into the All Star Barrel and winners will be drawn at random.
-Entries close 5pm Sunday the 22nd of January and winners will be announced Monday the 23rd and notified soon after as to how to collect their tickets.


A huge thanks again to Sony Pictures and RESIDENT EVIL THE FINAL CHAPTER in cinemas January 26th,

Find out more at www.ResidentEvilMovie.net

© 2017 Screen Gems Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

New Comics For Wednesday 18th of January


No fooling, the start of 2017 is just filled with excellent new releases and this week does not disappoint!

The Rebirth trade paperback roll out continues with FLASH TP VOL 01 LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE (REBIRTH) and JUSTICE LEAGUE TP VOL 01 THE EXTINCTION MACHINE (REBIRTH) hitting the shelf.

Dive into Matt Kindt's latest masterpiece exploring sabotage under the sea with DEPT H HC VOL 01 PRESSURE.


Get a double dose of Harley with HARLEY QUINN TP VOL 05 THE JOKERS LAST LAUGH, and HARLEY QUINN HC VOL 06 BLACK WHITE & RED ALL OVER; wrapping up of her pre-Rebirth misadventures.

If Marvel's resident crazy is more your style, merch up with some amazing new figures of your favourite Merc with a Mouth with MARVEL DEADPOOL 1/4 SCALE AF and MARVEL NOW DEADPOOL ARTFX+ STATUE.


Kirby's work continues to stand the test of time, Just ahead on the new mini series is KAMANDI CHALLENGE SPECIAL #1; collecting the origin story of the Last Boy on Earth, plus another big storyline! 

Following that King Kirby theme, Marvel's next mini event, MONSTERS UNLEASHED #1 (OF 5)
sees a bunch of classic Kirby creatures return to the Marvel Universe for the first time in years and they are ready to rampage!

The most mysterious Batgirl of all, Cassandra Cain is pitted against the Joker in BATGIRL TP VOL 03 POINT BLANK, the third volume featuring her classic storylines.

The next instalment of Marvel's epic exploration of the Star Wars universe with possibly the coolest plot line you've never thought of before in STAR WARS TP VOL 04 LAST FLIGHT OF THE HARBINGER.

Any week with new Image issue #1's is always a good thing. Check out Charles Soule and Ryan Browne's dark magic tale by way of Breaking Bad with CURSE WORDS #1. Then have a look at 
FEW #1 for a taste of Mad Max like survivalist suspense.

Then after it's first arc break, Brubaker and Phillips return with KILL OR BE KILLED TP VOL 01  and then get up to date on this edge of madness vigilante smash hit with KILL OR BE KILLED #5.

Just the tip of the awesome Image Comics release iceberg, the hit detective series with a difference comes to it's end with CHEW TP VOL 12
While new releases like Aaron and R. M. Guera's barbaric biblical adventures in GODDAMNED TP VOL 01 THE FLOOD and the alien invasion story in reverse with HORIZON TP VOL 01 only hint at exciting new worlds for us to enjoy. 
Don't overlook Joe Casey and Chris Burnham's re-release of their righteous purveyor of over the top violent justice in OFFICER DOWNE TP. 
And then there is also the conclusion of the first arc of adult relationship drama in SUNSTONE OGN VOL 05

BOOM Studios also has big crime comic releases for this week that couldn't be more different. First the collection of the surreal, anthropomorphised prison musical KENNEL BLOCK BLUES TPcoupled with shadowy family drama in SNOW BLIND TP.

Also from BOOM, wrestling fans rejoice with the start of the new series WWE #1.


In the wake of Civil War II, Carol Danver's hero rating could not be higher. Still being surrounded by a world of adorning fans, why is she finding it hard to sleep at night. Heavy is the head that wears the crown in MIGHTY CAPTAIN MARVEL #1 NOW.


A hero finding himself and unlocking his abilities features in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA THE RAY REBIRTH #1 continuing the character driven one shots before the new Justice League Of America series starts. 

The softcover collection of the next stage of Jane Fosters life starts here in MIGHTY THOR TP VOL 01 THUNDER IN HER VEINS.

A cult toy icon of the 80's, reborn and re-envisioned, join the adventures of the Space Knight in the first collection of ROM TP VOL 01.

Start the lead up to the last Wolverine film release with back tracking some classic runs with creator Daniel Way in WOLVERINE BY DANIEL WAY COMPLETE COLLECTION TP VOL 01. While at the same time get a real sense for the plot of the new film by following the dark adventures of the oldest Hugh Jackman in WOLVERINE OLD MAN LOGAN TP VOL 03 LAST RONIN.

AND HOPEFULLY our missing Previews for January 2017 actually show up this week to give you the low down on the latest upcoming releases!

Another winning week for sure. Anything extra you like the look of, let us know to put it aside for you before Wednesday morning and we'll get it sorted.


MARVEL
ALL NEW X-MEN #17 IVX
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #23 CC
AVENGERS #3
AVENGERS #3.1
BLACK PANTHER WORLD OF WAKANDA #3
BLACK WIDOW #10
CAGE #4 (OF 4)
CAPTAIN AMERICA SAM WILSON #18
CLONE CONSPIRACY #4 (OF 5) CC
DEADPOOL AND MERCS FOR MONEY #7 IVX
DEADPOOL THE DUCK #2 (OF 5)
GAMORA #2
GREAT LAKES AVENGERS #3
GWENPOOL #10
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #3
MIGHTY CAPTAIN MARVEL #1 NOW
MONSTERS UNLEASHED #1 (OF 5)
MOSAIC #4
PATSY WALKER AKA HELLCAT #14
SPIDER-GWEN #16 NOW
SQUADRON SUPREME #15
STAR WARS DOCTOR APHRA #3
STAR-LORD #2
ULTIMATES 2 #3
UNCANNY INHUMANS #18 IVX
US AVENGERS #2
VENOM #3

DC COMICS
AQUAMAN #15 VAR ED
BATMAN #15 VAR ED
CAVE CARSON HAS A CYBERNETIC EYE #4 VAR ED
GREEN ARROW #15 VAR ED
GREEN LANTERNS #15 VAR ED
HARLEY QUINN #12 VAR ED
HE MAN THUNDERCATS #4 (OF 6)
INJUSTICE GROUND ZERO #4
JUSTICE LEAGUE #13 VAR ED (JL SS)
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA THE RAY REBIRTH #1 VAR ED
JUSTICE LEAGUE SUICIDE SQUAD #5 (OF 6)
KAMANDI CHALLENGE SPECIAL #1
NIGHTWING #13 VAR ED
RAVEN #5 (OF 6)
SUICIDE SQUAD MOST WANTED #6 (OF 6) EL DIABLO & AMANDA WALLE
SUPER POWERS #3 (OF 6)
SUPERMAN #15 VAR ED
TRINITY #5 VAR ED

VERTIGO
LUCIFER #14

BOOM
KONG OF SKULL ISLAND #7
MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS #11
SLAM #3
WWE #1

DARK HORSE
ANGEL SEASON 11 #1
BLACK HAMMER GIANT SIZED ANNUAL #1
DARK HORSE PRESENTS #30

DYNAMITE
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA GODS & MONSTERS #3 (OF 5)
GRAND PASSION #3 (OF 5)
JAMES BOND HAMMERHEAD #4 (OF 6)

IDW
ANGRY BIRDS COMICS GAME PLAY #1
DIRK GENTLY SALMON OF DOUBT #4
OCTOBER FACTION DEADLY SEASON #4
REVOLUTIONARIES #1
STAR TREK WAYPOINT #3 (OF 6)
TMNT UNIVERSE #6
WALT DISNEY COMICS & STORIES #736
X-FILES (2016) #10
YAKUZA DEMON KILLERS #3 (OF 6)

IMAGE
BLACK ROAD #6
CURSE WORDS #1
DEMONIC #6 (OF 6)
DESCENDER #18
DRIFTER #16
FEW #1
HORIZON #7
KILL OR BE KILLED #5
MANIFEST DESTINY #25
MAYDAY #3 (OF 5)
POSTAL #17
ROCKSTARS #2
THEYRE NOT LIKE US #13

ONI
JEFF STEINBERG CHAMPION OF EARTH #5
NIGHTS DOMINION #5

VALIANT
DIVINITY III ARIC #1
GENERATION ZERO #6
HARBINGER RENEGADE #3


MISC
ARCHIE #16
HOOKJAW #2 (OF 5)
MIRACULOUS #9
MOTOR GIRL #3
SIMPSONS COMICS #236

MAGAZINES
PREVIEWS #340 JANUARY 2017

TRADES
ABE SAPIEN TP VOL 08 DESOLATE SHORE
A-FORCE TP VOL 02 RAGE AGAINST DYING OF LIGHT
BAKER STREET PECULIARS TP
BATGIRL TP VOL 03 POINT BLANK
BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA TP VOL 05
BLOOD QUEEN OMNIBUS TP
BOBS BURGERS ADULT COLORING BOOK SC
CHEW TP VOL 12
COMPLETE SCARLET TRACES TP VOL 01
DEADPOOL BEGINNINGS OMNIBUS HC
DEPT H HC VOL 01 PRESSURE
DONALD DUCK TIMELESS TALES HC VOL 02
EVIL DEAD 2 DARK ONES RISING TP 03
FLASH TP VOL 01 LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE (REBIRTH)
GARTH ENNIS TRAIN CALLED LOVE TP
GODDAMNED TP VOL 01 THE FLOOD
GREEN LANTERN HAL JORDAN TP VOL 01
GRUMPY CAT GRUMPUS HC
HARLEY QUINN HC VOL 06 BLACK WHITE & RED ALL OVER
HARLEY QUINN TP VOL 05 THE JOKERS LAST LAUGH
HORIZON TP VOL 01
JUSTICE LEAGUE TP VOL 01 THE EXTINCTION MACHINE (REBIRTH)
KA-ZAR TP SAVAGE DAWN
KENNEL BLOCK BLUES TP
KILL OR BE KILLED TP VOL 01
LAST SONS OF AMERICA TP
LEAVING MEGALOPOLIS HC VOL 02 SURVIVING MEGALOPOLIS
LUKE CAGE IRON FIST AND HEROES FOR HIRE TP VOL 02
MECHANISM TP VOL 01
MIGHTY THOR TP VOL 01 THUNDER IN HER VEINS
MY LITTLE PONY PRINCESS TWILIGHT SPARKLE TP
OFFICER DOWNE TP
RED ONE HC VOL 02 UNDERCOVER
ROM TP VOL 01
SCARLET WITCH TP VOL 02 WORLD OF WITCHCRAFT
SNOW BLIND TP
SPIDER-MAN 2099 TP VOL 05 CIVIL WAR II
STAR WARS TP VOL 04 LAST FLIGHT OF THE HARBINGER
SUNSTONE OGN VOL 05
TEEN TITANS GO TP VOL 03 MUMBO JUMBLE
TRANSFORMERS TITANS RETURN TP
WARHAMMER CONDEMNED BY FIRE GN
WOLVERINE BY DANIEL WAY COMPLETE COLLECTION TP VOL 01
WOLVERINE OLD MAN LOGAN TP VOL 03 LAST RONIN
WOLVERINE ORIGIN COMPLETE COLLECTION HC
X-O MANOWAR TP VOL 13 SUCCESSION AND OTHER TALES

MERCH
MARVEL DEADPOOL 1/4 SCALE AF
MARVEL NOW DEADPOOL ARTFX+ STATUE

POP LABYRINTH SARAH & WORM VINYL FIG

Monday, January 9, 2017

ALL STAR RECOMMENDS FOR JANUARY 10TH


Well, hello and welcome to a new year of comics and a new year of All Star Recs. If you're looking for things to read in 2017, you could fix your peepers on my 2017 comic book forecast column of three weeks back or, better yet, click on over to Zainab Akhtar's list for The Guardian. Both lists have some crossover (a surprising amount actually, go me) but Zainab always has some deep cuts up her sleeve and, unexpectedly, a focus on the mainstream which I tend to largely neglect. It's a great list.


COMIC OF THE WEEK : CLEAN ROOM VOLS 1 & 2
By Gail Simone & Jon Davis-Hunt
Published By Vertigo

An absolutely demented mash-up of charismatic cults, occultism, Lovecraftianism, mass-market horror paperbacks and the fetish-filled, latex sexiness of Hiroya Oku's Gantz is Gail Simone and Jon Hunt Davis' Clean Room. It's a comic so gloriously over the top in its pulpy thrills and conceptual craziness it's actually something of a miracle that A) It has so far survived and is still being published in 2017 and B) That Vertigo of all places rolled the dice on it in the first place (shout out once *again* to former DC editor Shelly Bond).

Reporter Chloe Pierce is in the midst of her world falling to pieces. Suffering a severe depression after her fiancĂ© Philip's suicide, Chloe decides to follow in his footsteps, only failing thanks to the efforts of her neighbours, the beardy, salt-of-the earth Haverlin brothers. Returned to the land of the living, Chloe is now seemingly haunted by Philip, whose "ghost" shows up with half his face blown off. Driven to uncover just why Philip killed himself, Chloe begins to investigate The Honest World Foundation, an organisation "somewhere between the lines of self-help and religion," and it's leader, former horror novelist turned inspirational guru, Astrid Mueller. The Foundation had its psychological hooks deeply in Philip and what Chloe begins to uncover is a potentially sinister, shadowy movement masquerading as a kind of kooky, celebrity-filled religion. 

The obvious surface parallel is Scientology, with its cultishness, its Hollywood devotees. Right off the top the clearest example of this is The Foundation's key text, Mueller's An Honest World is clearly in place of L. Ron's Dianetics. Mueller, also allegedly like the Church of Scientology, has her Mr Fixits ; a tight knit inner circle of followers who do her bidding behind the scenes unquestioningly and with whatever amount of coercion and manipulation may be required. The Foundation is clearly in many ways as much of a money grab as L. Ron Hubbard's baffling melange of SF and psychological exploitation and is filled with just as many techno-meters for readings and as much baffling jargon for psychological/emotive states, however it serves a very different, far more horrifying purpose. 

Scientology has its Thetans (effectively "souls") and its Body Thetans (the "alien soul" that causes all "our physical and mental illnesses and discomforts") and it's these Body Thetans that must be "cleared". Clean Room takes this idea one step further - forget Body Thetans, we've got demonic/extraterrestrial/inter-dimensional presences attached to us and the only way to get rid of them is for what passes for Astrid Mueller's "help." The titular Clean Room is the space where these "exorcisms" are performed - an immaculate white space housed within the Foundation’s HQ - where Mueller either "enters" or manifests the subconscious of those who can pay for the privilege and where what so often begins as a counselling session ends up a literal horror show.

Those inside the Clean Room must be thoroughly scrubbed and outfitted in a full body suit before entry. Perhaps it's just me, but the outfit seems inspired more by rubber fetish outfits than superhero suits and, as mentioned earlier, the costumes as much in common, if not more so, with the fetish-filled Gantz than, say, Superman, and the fact that the book is packed to the rafters with sexuality in all its varied glory would back this suggestion up:


Simone, who I mistakenly typecast for many years as a writer solely capable of solid but unremarkable superhero work, absolutely smashes expectation here. The world of Clean Room is ever expanding, rich in character and just bursting at the seams with one crazy idea after another. At times, individual issues can feel a little constricted and I would love the series to have more room in general to breathe, but that's hardly Simone's fault, confined to the 22 monthly pages Vertigo's format allows for. Davis-Huntis an English artist/video game designer whose comics work improves literally by the issue. His slick character work initially recalls Ian Churchill somewhat (of whom I'm personally not a big fan), but his visual world-building is absolutely stellar, his imagination vast, his monsters perfectly designed, and his commitment to packing pages with detail is not only commendable but produces frequently stunning results. His pages are so intricate that at times you'd swear Frank Quitely was drawing backgrounds -- no corners are ever cut and the importance of creating an immersive, real world is paramount to his sequential work. It's a shame the title is losing him to Warren Ellis' The Wild Storm as he seems integral to the sleek, pop sexiness of Clean Room's visual aesthetic.


A quick mention also of colourist Quinton Winter who, colouring alongside Davis-Hunt, turns the traditionally dark palette of the horror comic on its ear by using seriously bright hues. Clean Room's evil entities are largely coloured pink and a bright pink at that. In fact, the title is pretty much drenched in pinks, all of which look particularly striking against the solid white walls of the Clean Room itself or eerily casting a neon glow in darker spaces. It's an inspired, unexpected choice.

With surprise after bonkers surprise, it feels like Clean Room is just getting warmed up at the end of volume two. It's a shame that so much of an individual title's success is dependant on its first issue sales. With ongoing comics -- good ones -- the rewards come later, often much later, as twists and turns happen naturally and plot developments increase exponentially. 

Clean Room is sleek but deeply weird, violently horrific but very funny. It features a captivating and utterly ruthless lead in Astrid Mueller and is built on an absolutely rock solid foundational premise. Clean Room is building up perfectly from this premise, hopefully to a conclusion that's yet years away, one that its creators justly earn by continuing to deliver work that's as engrossing as the first two collected volumes of the series prove to be. Aside from its staggering visuals, Clean Room is the cleverest take on the old horror staples of cults, exorcisms and what we conceive of as demons in a long, long time. It's a riot of intricate visuals and loony concepts and paranoid conspiracy. So many stories take a pinch of this and a pinch of that and serve up a thoroughly unpalatable cross-genre soup as a result. Clean Room is tasty, however, oh so tasty - comics genre fusion at its finest.


WEBCOMIC OF THE WEEK : TEST OF LOYALTY
By Sam Alden

A great one by Sam Alden to kick off this year's webcomics. "Test of Loyalty" sees Noelle, a production assistant working on a live action webseries set in medieval times, has been unable to renew her visa and faces an uncertain future. In this world, drones fly overhead and check visa statuses via an individual's mobile phone. As a drone check takes place mid-shoot and Noelle's status scans red, a choice must be made, and quickly at that. Beautifully cartooned (as always) by Alden, "Test of Loyalty" feels as though it could and perhaps should be expanded.





COMICS VIDEO OF THE WEEK : FRANQUIN PRESENTE SON PERSONNAGE PREFERE

I'm not one for many New Year's goals, but on this year's list: Read More Andre Franquin.

Here's the Belgian creator of Gaston, the Marsupilami and the most highly-decorated run of the legendary Spiro and Fantasio BD way back in 1969 belting out a quickie picture of Gaston with little more than a giant permanent marker and a chic bowl cut. Amazing work.


See you next week. Love your comics.


Cameron Ashley spends a lot of time writing comics and other things you'll likely never read. He's the chief editor and co-publisher of Crime Factory (www.thecrimefactory.com). You can reach him @cjamesashley on Twitter.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

New Comics For Wednesday 11th of January


Week two of 2017 and judging from this list...there are no signs of it slowing down. Let's get to it!

Following swiftly on the release of Divine Comedy last week, local writer Jason Franks has his long out of print work, SIXSMITHS GN about a family of suburban Satanists available to a worldwide audience through Diamond Comics.


Also on the local talent front, it seems to be Tom Taylor Time, with multiple releases this week. 
The first title proving that if you wish and dream about something long enough you can see them come true with the pairing of  JUSTICE LEAGUE POWER RANGERS #1 (OF 6). Tom's creator owned series with artist James Brouwer, The DEEP #1 gets a single issue format treatment from Boom Studios. And one of the titles that put Tom on the map gets collected into one volume with INJUSTICE GODS AMONG US YEAR TWO COMPLETE COLL TP.


More locals smashing it on international releases is artist Erin Hunting featuring on the cover of the new JUGHEAD #12 this week.

Not only a great comic, the talent behind one of Image's best books response to the recent trend toward online harassment with a charity cover to support the victims of and create awareness of this callous and cowardly act with the SOUTHERN BASTARDS #16 CVR B CHARITY VAR.

Still ahead of the new JLA in the next month, get a little more background story on another team member in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA VIXEN REBIRTH #1.

An elderly man with dementia survives a tornado destroying his small home country town, while also delivering to his possession a mystic broadsword, that seems to be attracting equally mystic beasties in Image's new, GOD COUNTRY #1.

The DC Rebirth smash hits continue their roll of more trades with the first of last year's breakout writer, Tom King's BATMAN TP VOL 01 I AM GOTHAM (REBIRTH) along with the first AQUAMAN TP VOL 01 THE DROWNING (REBIRTH)

Country, honour, family, tradition, revenge and most of all power are making the critically acclaimed series from Ta-Nehisi Coates an unmissable hit with the second trade of BLACK PANTHER TP BOOK 02 NATION UNDER OUR FEET

Hauntings and dark things are afoot in Dark Horse's grimly good, HOUSE OF PENANCE TP

Social media is a force of nature and a monster...or does it create them in the second collection of UNFOLLOW TP VOL 02 GOD IS WATCHING

It can be tough to find time for young love with school and part time work and all. But young Spider-man, Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy, Spider-Gwen manage to make time in this sweet little cross over starting in SPIDER-MAN #12 NOW

Before the new Batwoman Rebirth series, check the "Batwoman Begins" story starting in DETECTIVE COMICS #948

Artist supreme, David Rubin takes a shot at the classic adventure tale of BEOWULF HC for Image Comics.

Getting the omnibus treatment is the swords and mayhem classic of BLADE OF IMMORTAL OMNIBUS TP VOL 01.

Celebrate a life of talent and colour of iconic imagery from the DAVID BOWIE COLOR THE STARMAN SC VOL 01

Teach the younger generation about a man who's imagination will live on forever or perhaps for a "young and heart" childhood keepsake for yourself with the I AM JIM HENSON YR HC.

Live the dream of being on set and go behind the scenes of one of the greatest action/adventure films of our time in the OFFICIAL MAKING OF BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA HC. 

Brandon Graham's Space Conan via way of classic 90's Image heroes series finally comes to it's climatic end with PROPHET TP VOL 05 EARTH WAR

Running with that Space Conan imagery, Titan takes a crack at it with their new mini series, KHAAL #1 (OF 4)

Talking about Conan's of sorts, Dynamite releases it's new original fantasy warrior princess, RED SONJA #1.

A HUGE week for indie releases with some of the highlights being Hitman hijinx in ASSIGNMENT #1 (OF 3), Cullen Bunn's creator owned GRAVE LILIES #1 about the crash arrival of five mysterious powered women and the time and space travels in RIFT #1 (OF 4).

On the merch front, we've got a new series of blind pack figures with RICK AND MORTY MINI FIGURES 24PC BMB DISP.

Wow! Yet that is another great week! See something extra you are after just let us know before Wednesday morning and we'll get you sorted.


MARVEL
ALL NEW WOLVERINE #16
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN RENEW YOUR VOWS #3
CAPTAIN AMERICA STEVE ROGERS #9
DAREDEVIL #15 NOW
DARK TOWER DRAWING OF THREE SAILOR #4 (OF 5)
DEADPOOL #24
DOCTOR STRANGE PUNISHER MAGIC BULLETS #2 (OF 4)
DOCTOR STRANGE SORCERERS SUPREME #4
FOOLKILLER #3
GREAT LAKES AVENGERS #4
GUARDIANS OF GALAXY #16
IVX #2 (OF 6)
JESSICA JONES #4
MARVEL UNIVERSE GUARDIANS OF GALAXY #16
MAX RIDE FINAL FLIGHT #5 (OF 5)
MIGHTY THOR #15 NOW
MS MARVEL #14
OCCUPY AVENGERS #3
POWER MAN AND IRON FIST #12
ROCKET RACCOON #2
SILK #16 CC
SPIDER-MAN #12 NOW
SPIDER-MAN DEADPOOL #13
STAR WARS POE DAMERON #10
TOTALLY AWESOME HULK #14
UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #16 NOW
UNCANNY AVENGERS #19
UNCANNY X-MEN #17 IVX

DC COMICS
ACTION COMICS #971 VAR ED
ALL STAR BATMAN #6
BATGIRL AND THE BIRDS OF PREY #6 VAR ED
DARK KNIGHT III MASTER RACE #7 (OF 8) COLLECTORS ED (RES)
DEATHSTROKE #10 VAR ED
DETECTIVE COMICS #948 VAR ED
EARTH 2 SOCIETY #20
FLASH #14 VAR ED
GOTHAM ACADEMY SECOND SEMESTER #5
HAL JORDAN AND THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS #12 VAR ED
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA VIXEN REBIRTH #1 VAR ED
JUSTICE LEAGUE POWER RANGERS #1 (OF 6)
JUSTICE LEAGUE SUICIDE SQUAD #4 (OF 6)
NEW SUPER MAN #7 VAR ED
NIGHTWING #11
RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #6 VAR ED
SCOOBY APOCALYPSE #9 VAR ED
SUICIDE SQUAD #9 VAR ED (JL SS)
SUPERGIRL #5 VAR ED
SUPERWOMAN #6 VAR ED
TEEN TITANS GO #19
TITANS #7 VAR ED
WONDER WOMAN #14 VAR ED

VERTIGOLOST BOYS #4 (OF 6)

BOOM
DEEP #1
JIM HENSON STORYTELLER GIANTS #2
JONESY #9
NAMESAKE #3
SONS OF ANARCHY REDWOOD ORIGINAL #6

DARK HORSE
CALL OF DUTY ZOMBIES #2
GROO FRAY OF THE GODS #4
LOBSTER JOHNSON GARDEN OF BONES ONE SHOT
SHADOWS ON THE GRAVE #2
STRAIN MR QUINLAN VAMPIRE HUNTER #5 (OF 5)
WORLD OF TANKS #4

DYNAMITE
FLASH GORDON KINGS CROSS #3 (OF 5)
JAMES BOND FELIX LEITER #1 (OF 6)
RED SONJA #1

IDW
DONALD QUEST #3 (OF 5)

IMAGE
BIRTHRIGHT #21
GOD COUNTRY #1
GREEN VALLEY #4 (OF 9)
HUNT #5
INVISIBLE REPUBLIC #14
MOONSHINE #4
MOTOR CRUSH #2
OUTCAST BY KIRKMAN & AZACETA #24
SAVAGE DRAGON #219
SOUTHERN BASTARDS #16 CVR B CHARITY VAR
SPAWN #269
SPREAD #18
STRAY BULLETS SUNSHINE & ROSES #20
VIOLENT LOVE #3

ONI
ANGEL CITY #4 (OF 6)
INVADER ZIM #16
MEGA PRINCESS #3
MOTRO #3 (OF 10)

VALIANT
NINJAK #23

MISC
ASSIGNMENT #1 (OF 3)
CAPTAIN KID #3
CAPTAIN KID #4
CHIMERA BRIGADE #4 (OF 4)
DADS WEEKEND ONE SHOT
DIE KITTY DIE #4
DISNEY FROZEN #4
DISNEY STAR VS THE FORCES OF EVIL #4
DOCTOR WHO 10TH YEAR THREE #1
DOCTOR WHO 11TH YEAR THREE #1
GRAVE LILIES #1
HARD CASE CRIME TRIGGERMAN #4 (OF 5)
JADE STREET PROTECTION SERVICES #4
JUGHEAD #12
KHAAL #1 (OF 4)
KING CAT 76
MAGIC WHISTLE VOL 3 #3
REGGIE AND ME #2 (OF 5)
RIFT #1 (OF 4)
SHERLOCK BLIND BANKER #1 (OF 6)
SHIPWRECK #3
SPONGEBOB COMICS #64
THE SKEPTICS #3

MAGAZINES
HEAVY METAL #284

TRADES
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN WORLDWIDE TP VOL 04
AQUAMAN TP VOL 01 THE DROWNING (REBIRTH)
ATTACK ON TITAN GN VOL 20
BATMAN TP VOL 01 I AM GOTHAM (REBIRTH)
BEOWULF HC
BLACK PANTHER TP BOOK 02 NATION UNDER OUR FEET
BLADE OF IMMORTAL OMNIBUS TP VOL 01
BOMBYCE NETWORK GN
CALL OF DUTY BLACK OPS III TP
CAPTAIN AMERICA SAM WILSON TP VOL 03 CIVIL WAR II
CONAN TP VOL 20 WITCH SHALL BE BORN
DAVID BOWIE COLOR THE STARMAN SC VOL 01
FATHOM BLUE TP VOL 01
FLASH THE SILVER AGE OMNIBUS HC VOL 02
FOURTH POWER DLX HC
GHOST & LADY GN VOL 02 (OF 2)
GREEN ARROW TP VOL 07 HOMECOMING
GUARDIANS OF GALAXY TP VOL 01 ROAD TO ANNIHILATION
HELLBLAZER TP VOL 15 HIGHWATER
HOUSE OF PENANCE TP
I AM JIM HENSON YR HC
INJUSTICE GODS AMONG US YEAR TWO COMPLETE COLL TP
LEGEND OF ZELDA LEGENDARY ED GN VOL 02 ORACLE SEAS
LITTLE GRUMPY CAT THAT WOULDNT LITTLE GOLDEN BOOK
MARVELMAN CLASSIC TP VOL 01
MICKEY MOUSE MYSTERIOUS MELODY HC
OCTAVIA BUTLER KINDRED GN
OFFICIAL MAKING OF BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA HC
PROMETHEUS LIFE AND DEATH TP VOL 01
PROPHET TP VOL 05 EARTH WAR
REINDEER BOY GN
RENATO JONES ONE PERCENT TP SEASON 01
RENFIELD TALE OF MADNESS TP
ROAD TO RIVERDALE TP
SECRET HERO SOCIETY HC VOL 02 FORT SOLITUDE
SHADOW GLASS TP
SIXSMITHS GN
THIN TP
TOE TAG RIOT TP
UNFOLLOW TP VOL 02 GOD IS WATCHING
WARCRAFT LEGENDS TP VOL 02
WOLVERINE TP WEAPON X UNBOUND

MERCH
RICK AND MORTY MINI FIGURES 24PC BMB DISP