Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Monday, October 5, 2015
The Doctor is in with Aaron and Bachalo before the wheel, DOCTOR STRANGE #1 is bound to be excellent. Another new start for our favourite webslinger but how will Peter's life be effected by Marvel new status quo in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1. Bendis gets to take a spin in a brand new suit of armour with talented David Marquez on art with INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #1. Needed more Batman in your life? BATMAN AND ROBIN ETERNAL #1 starts a new weekly dose of caped crusading. Hey look, it's like all the STAR WARS comics in one week PLUS the trade release of STAR WARS DARTH VADER TP VOL 01 VADER and STAR WARS TP VOL 01 SKYWALKER STRIKES. What do you do after you live through and terribly horrific event? Join a SURVIVORS CLUB. I guess? ROWANS RUIN #1 is the latest offering from BOOM, Mike Carey and Mike Perkins with a rather sinister horror vibe. GRUMPY CAT #1 proves even internet memes can get a comic. Garth Ennis does a love story the only way he knows how in TRAIN CALLED LOVE #1. Local creators Fil Barlow and Helen Maier release their latest world building story in 8HOUSE #4 YORRIS PART ONE. Brian K Vaughan unleashes his next work, this time teaming up if artist surpreme, Cliff Chang for something that kind of sounds like the Goonies meets Super8 in PAPER GIRLS #1. Chip Zdarsky does his part to help along the Archie brand relaunch with Erica Henderson on JUGHEAD #1. Kelly Sue's gives space prisons a bad name in the first collection of BITCH PLANET TP VOL 01 EXTRAORDINARY MACHINE. Remender's Hogwarts for Assassins becomes even more dangerous of our lead characters when teen angst rolls onto campus in DEADLY CLASS TP VOL 03 THE SNAKE PIT. Warren Ellis keeps our heads spinning with the first trade collection of alchemy, world spirits and sentient computer programs in INJECTION TP VOL 01. Life got you down, friendship to the max and LUMBERJANES TP VOL 02 will pick you up! Kirkman's horror mystery adds more layers in OUTCAST BY KIRKMAN & AZACETA TP VOL 02.
Look, like we said, this shipment is epic. If you can't find something here to get excited about...you just aren't trying hard enough!
Anything you need to add just let us know! :D
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
I’ll write about a few artistic discoveries I made as well as some newer works by amazing non-translated creators and older works by some now sadly no longer with us over the next few weeks, but as I battle the Being Home Blues right now I’ll just quickly point out that I Am A Hero by Kengo Hanazawa is coming next April from Dark Horse (don’t tell me I didn’t warn you in advance!) and it is not to be missed. I’ve “read” the first 500 or so pages of this Zombies-in-Japan epic (roughly the first Dark Horse omnibus edition I’m guessing) and while it is a slow burn, once the zombies show up they don’t stop coming. Hanazawa’s fond of playing out big shocks over sequences of stunning and numerous widescreen double-page spreads that only the expansiveness of manga can allow. His artwork is intricate and fluid and his zombies are utterly disgusting. Give it a shot.
Years ago, all the adults disappeared from the town of Alexandria, leaving the kids to carry on in their absence. On the whole, this cast of teenaged punks, nerds and jocks, navigating the minefields of their surging hormones, the complexity of their inter-personal relationships and the responsibility of raising younger siblings, does incredibly well without any grown-ups to guide them. It’s not all punk rock parties and young love, however. An apocalyptic vibe hangs over Alexandria, with the kids well aware of what’s happened to their parents, an odd religious undercurrent and, much more ominously, murders committed on their suburban streets.
Ben Schiller is one of Alexandria’s teens. She’s got a crush on a handsome football player with his own secrets, an increasingly complicated relationship with her best friend Otto and a sister named Empathy who she worries about constantly. Sacred Heart is seen predominantly through Ben’s eyes and Suburbia expertly dilutes the high concept nature of Sacred Heart’s premise with beautiful moments of both character interaction and the continuing banality of everyday existence. Even in this most unusual of circumstances, the young characters struggle to keep on keeping on as time marches onward and more of their peers are killed.
Suburbia’s cartooning is just lovely, with her punk rock kids, starkly contrasting black and white and even her lettering recalling Jaime Hernandez by way of Brandon Graham’s full-lipped, rounded figures of all sizes and shapes. Her layouts are superb and her manipulation of comics space-time is a highlight. Her montage pages are exceptional, widening out her “lens” to cover a large portion of her cast in single-panel, everyday moments, creating breadth and scope within her world and yet also intimacy. Each of her characters is distinctive and whole, with his or her mannerisms and psychological concerns and, although it does not affect the narrative at all, the social order of High School intriguingly remains very much intact even though classes are no longer in session.
Sacred Heart is difficult to discuss without spoiling. It’s a comic that cares more about its characters than pushing its plot (the major story reveal is literally on the very last page, so don’t flip to the end if you are perusing a copy) but with Suburbia’s teens talking and interacting like actual teens, the complete banishment of exposition is actually one of the book’s great strengths. Its surprising subtlety and ambiguity means that much is left unexplained or to the reader to decode and further mysteries are revealed as existing ones tie up. However, Sacred Heart is created with such a sure hand that there’s no doubt Suburbia knows where she’s headed and how she’s going to get there.
Sacred Heart is, at over 300 pages, a complex, thrilling and lovingly created graphic novel that deserves not only a massive teen audience but also one way beyond the confines of that demographic.
Bring on part two, please.
Rebounding from the last lacklustre issue like Rocky in pretty much all of the Rocky movies, Heavy Metal’s January 1978 issue is a smash. The editorial is again, tremendous, with our unnamed scribe reinforcing the magazine’s commitment to European material in the face of letters (one of which is printed in this issue) from “…American hewers of wood nymphs and water babies [who] feel our usual three to one ratio is downright unpatriotic.”
Great stuff. One can only imagine the submissions that HM received from American would-be Moebiuses and Druillettes of the time and indeed a rummage through the blind submissions pile would be on my comic book Time Machine To-Do list.
Corben’s “Den”continues ever on, as does Moebius’ “Airtight Garage” with Jerry Cornelius himself making his first (I believe) comic book appearance.“A Rose For Ecclesiastes,” a prose story by Roger Zelazny accompanied by illustrations by the legendary Gray Morrow proves much more satisfying than last issues hot mess by Len Wein accompanied by a game Howard Chaykin. Morrow’s full-colour drawings surround the text completely on each page (almost, I must confess, to the point of confusion on a couple of pages), dating the piece but wonderfully so, for nobody really draws like this anymore. Certainly nobody colours and shades with pencil like this anymore.
There’s more of Chantal Montellier’s savage deconstruction of male culture in “1996” (although the end to this two-parter is something of a disappointment after such an excellent set up), “Conquering Armies” concludes darkly and utterly gorgeously (I will be featuring the remastered Humanoids edition of this story, Armies, sometime soon. Hot tip: order and purchase this before it’s out of print) and “Talapalca” by Dominique He presents an SF twist on a real Incan legend, gorgeously drawn in a highly-detailed style that verges on pointillism at times.
The utter star of the show however, is the opening chapter of “Ulysses” by Jacques Lob and Georges Pichard. A psychedelic take on Homer’s epic (with the poet himself aboard Ulysses’ ship The Penelope), synchronicity rears its all-knowing head once again as your humble reviewer not long ago finished volume one of Fraction and Ward’s Ody-C but is also in the middle of David Gemmell’s trilogy of novels that tackle this very material but strip the myth from it, humanising it – great books all.
Lob you may know as the writer of Snowpiercer, but it’s Pichard’s art recalling the design-oriented, ‘60s stylings of Guy Peellaert with the bodacious curves of John Buscema’s sultry vixens that’s the stand out. In short: this is wonderful. I’ve read it in its entirety several times before and if I had more time on my hands, I’d write an essay on this and Ody-C and how myth and psychedelia intertwine so lovingly.
Maybe one day.
If I played it too safe for your tastes in my review of Sacred Heart, here’s the humble and charming Liz Suburbia herself, via the wonders of the interwebs, having a chat with readers at San Francisco’s Comics Experience store.
Extremely forthcoming about her process, the struggles of creating comics and working full-time, the editing of Sacred Heart, the re-creation of pages, the backstory of her planned epic and where it will lead, it’s a great chat even if the audio gets a touch swampy at times.
Be warned: here be SPOILERS. Lots and lots and lots of them, so if you don’t like that sort of thing, please do read the book first – your reading experience will be much richer for it.
Monday, September 28, 2015
Fifth week of the month normally means a small week for comics but we refuse to slow down! With the help of our good friend and head of Pikitia Press, Matt Emery we'll be hosting a NEWZEALAND COMICS SHOWCASE this Sunday the 4th of October. Along with Matt selling the best quality comics from New Zealand on the day, we'll also have Dharma Punks creator Ant Sang, Tom Garden from System Earth and Tim Molloy of Mr Unpronounceable fame dropping by to showcase their work! So join us Saturday and discover some of the great talent making our way from NZ! Of course until then...COMICS!
Need more tales of the team bad ass from Marvel's Agents Of Shield before the show returns?CAVALRY SHIELD 50TH ANNIVERSARY #1 should do the trick. Fifth week means Annuals and Special week for DC! Finally SANDMAN OVERTURE #6 (OF 6) ends this dreamy epic. New creator owned fantasy and sorcery with FROM UNDER MOUNTAINS #1 from Image. The continuing saga of teen adventures never looked this good in the latest ARCHIE #3. Get up to date with the lovable space rascals in GUARDIANS OF GALAXY PREM HC VOL 05 THROUGH LOOKING GLASS. Cullen Bunn drives into a very supernatural take on MOON KNIGHT TP VOL 03 IN NIGHT. It takes a year for them to come out but the WALKING DEAD HC VOL 12 sure does look good on the shelf. ONE PUNCH MAN GN VOL 01, let's all hope this book is is nearly as good as it's title. Early Remender series gets the big collection treatment with STRANGE GIRL OMNIBUS TP. Always keen for new Farel Dalrymple work, PALEFIRE GN delivers on some heavy and costly teen angst.
Small but still solid week, with an event to boot! Did someone say something about a Grand Final? Comics are the main event! Anything else you see that you need, just let us know.
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Dennis Macheras and Casey Silver blaze through their character introductions, throwing onto the page a menagerie of combatants that look as though they’d fit quite at home in a Mortal Kombat game whipped up in a frenzy by Rob Liefeld. Clearly, these two care not a whit about anything other than making things look as crazed and kinetic and, frankly, ludicrous as humanly possible.
Characters named 8 Bit Assassin, Slater and Radika rub spiked shoulders and fists with all manner of unnamed warriors in a manner that doesn’t care whether you can follow along as it skips through time like an severely ADD kid with a TV remote or Grant Morrison at his most indulgent (Sorry, I still love you, Grant!).
All this sounds rather negative, I know, but the thing is these guys are totally aware of what they’re doing. I think. They have to be, right? The aesthetic of this comic is just way too cultivated to be some random act of accidental osmosis. See, Nemesis Enforcer: Bad City is actually awesome. “Awesome” is a word I hate being used in reviews as it’s the laziest, most indistinct of superlatives. But there it is, I just popped it in there proudly because Bad City is a bit like Prison Pit for ageing gamers who still have copies of Brigade locked away in Mylar bags. You try and find a more fitting word than “awesome” to describe that.
So what the hell is happening here? Who cares. Is there going to be more of this? Who knows.
All I know is that something called the Nexus Lens is collapsing and the future, with its character dissections, crumbling realities and... uh...pierced dimensional membranes (or whatever the hell that is happening in that last panel), is likely worse than even a place called Bad City can possibly bear.
Hopefully, having created this piece of action comics chaos, the creators just drop their pens and walk away high-fiving, the clap of their unclean hands unleashing a cloud of residual amphetamine from their clammy palms into the air. That’s how it plays out in my head, anyway...