Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Sebastian O

Sebastian O
Written by: Grant Morrison
Illustrated by: Steve Yeowell

This is an odd little collection. It's pretty thin (only three issues), and the story itself seems far more like a part of a larger story. It's Morrison doing steampunk, which sounds like it should be pretty awesome, but there's something a bit weird about it really.

The introduction by Morrison just tracks how the world evolved, and why amazing technology was available in the 19th century. Then we're plunged back into the 19th century where there are hand scanners and videophones, computers and clockwork everything. We follow Sebastian as he escapes from prison to seek revenge on the person that put him there. Fairly typical plot, but Sebastian was dandy, and Morrison has him make several almost Wildeian turns of phrase.

While Sebastian O is filled with great ideas (the clockwork house! The clockwork plants! The roaring boys!) it's also filled with some debauched characters I don't really care for (and probably aren't supposed to really). Regardless, good idea and bad, none of them really seem to be done justice. I really felt like I was reading an abridged version of a longer book, letting Sebastian get to his goal without undue troubles. Without developing some of these ideas and plot points further the book sort of fails. For example, while the people that Sebastian O fights look kind of cool I have no idea who they are. They're just random killers. In the first issue it seems as if the roaring boys are going to be really interesting, there's an oddly intricate manner of summoning/employing them and then… nothing. We don't get any follow through, it's not explained to us.

(I'm realizing that the way that sounds and the Clyde Fans review I sound like I hate subtlety and mood completely and need everything spelt out to me. This isn't the case, in Sebastian O I see all these ideas Morrison has created and I just want to know more about them.)

Perhaps a comic just wasn't the best way to do Sebastian O, I'm not really sure, I don't think that Steve Yeowell's art really adds anything to it. The collection's pretty cheap, but it is only 80 pages, and sort of disappointing. Worth it or not? I'm not sure, I'm glad I got it out of the library though.

That was pretty short, so here's a bonus review.
Swamp Thing #10 (Which volume? I have no idea) (February 2001)
Written by: Brian K. Vaughan
Pencilled by: Roger Petersen

Hey! It's a comic by Vaughan before he got all big and famous. Is it any good though? Um, not really. I haven't read any of the rest of this Swamp Thing series, in fact, apart from Alan Moore's run on the character I haven't really read any (and I haven't even read all of Alan Moore's run). So this is pretty weird. It's not about Swamp Thing, it's about his daughter Tefe, who I didn't really know about. So she and some horribly scared guy and some other guy are driving around America when they meet John Constantine who's been trying to find Tefe. Vaughn writes a pretty decent Constantine, but I don't think he looks right here. It's basically a retelling of Tefe's origin; Swamp thing appears in a panel, John Constantine is a bastard, some other stuff about the end of the world, the end. It's okay for what it is I guess. But it doesn't make me want to hunt down other issues of this series.


Monday, April 18, 2005


Wow! Last week I got feedback on the blog! This is amazing, not most of it was negative and about Clyde Fans, but whatever. The email from David Kruchowski telling me he liked my blog and the 2099 reviews I did was much appreciated! So if you're reading this drop me an email or leave a comment. Now on to the reviews!

Marvel Comics Presents #31, 34-35, 37-38 (November-December 1989)
Writer: Michael Higgins (for the Excalibur bits)
Penciller: Erik Larson (for the Excalibur bits)

I bought these cause it’s one of the few Excalibur appearances I didn’t have. I’m such an Excalibur nerd. Anyway, I had two parts of this story, and found another three recently and was excited.

Anyway these are really terrible. And not like Super-Villain Team-Up terrible, just terrible. It’s yet another Arcade story and there are Loony Toon ripoffs this time around. The only halfway decent bit is in issue 37 where the first two and a half pages are a silent Lockheed and Widget detective style comic. Ridiculous, but a longer one would have been awesome.

Pretty much all the other stories in these issues are equally forgettable/stupid. I’m wondering if I’ll get the other three issues I need though…

Thor #428 (January 1991)
“Plot, pencils & words: Rom DeFalco & Ron Frenz”

I picked this up because it had an Excalibur appearance in it that I didn’t have. A rarity, how did this multipart crossover between Thor and Excalibur escape my attention? Probably because I generally ignore Thor comics.

This is a billion times better then those issues of MCP I talked about above, but it’s still not that good. It’s basically just a fight between Thor, Excalibur, the Wrecking Crew and some cops (Code Blue). Um, yeah, it’s kind of stupid, Excalibur aren’t really written in character either, and the explanation for them being in America is just stupid. Still the last couple of pages are pretty cool, and I want to read the next issue (if not the previous), if just to see more of Emperor Juggernaut.

Thor Annual 7 (1978)
Writer/Editor: Roy Thomas (Is it just me or does it seem like a bad idea for the writer and editor on a comic to be the same?)
Illustrators: Walk Simonson & Ernie Chan

Oh man, comics used to be so fun and stupid, and this annual which I found on the floor at university one day is a perfect example. This comic is an attempt at fitting Jack Kirby’s creations the Eternals, the Deviants and the Celestials into the Marvel Universe to a greater degree. To do this Thomas tells a previously unknown Thor story set a thousand years ago when Thor travelled to South America! But first we learn that just previous to this event, followers of the Norse gods and followers of the Olympian gods fought a huge battle. What?! Where there still followers of the Olympian gods at this point? (There could be, I’m not sure, but it seems sort of unlikely). And where on Earth could they have fought? Well, Turkey maybe, I heard some Vikings got there. Okay, so it’s vaguely possible for this to have occurred, but it seems pretty damn unlikely.

Anyway, Thor goes to South America and meets the Eternals. Who are helping the Aztecs, the Mayans and the Incans become civilized, because as they aren’t white they clearly couldn’t have done any of the stuff they accomplished without the Eternals telling them what to do.

Then they fight two mutates that the Deviant’s created, and a depiction of the Incan thunder god that one of the mutates made. I really sort of wish that Thor had shown up and just met all the Incan gods, that would have been so much cooler then none of them existing. Do other pantheons of gods other then the Norse and Olympic ones exist in the Marvel Universe? I know both of those are apparently just shape changing aliens or something, but did shape changing aliens become gods for anyone else?

The Eternals and Thor eventually win the fight by attacking a Deviant monster with nuclear energy. Apparently the Eternals mastered the atom, but the Deviants didn’t, so everything they made can be blown up by nuclear energy. Virako, the leader of the Eternals (I think) realizes this and attempts to kill the mutate, not by crashing their nuclear powered ship into it, but by exposing himself “to a lethal dose of nuclear energy!” and then flying into it. Okay Virako, I can see why they made you leader…

Overall this was a fun comic, there’s an essay at the end by Thomas about why Kirby is awesome and why everyone should love the characters he created. Some stuff in this combined with some stuff on the Bullpen Bulletins page kind of makes me think that back in the old days the rivalry between Marvel and DC was fierce, but also fun. It wasn’t as nasty as it can sometimes get today. Though neither of the companies was that fair to the people they employed, and for all I know I’m completely wrong. Whatever.

One other note on the Bullpen Bulletins, it’s so odd to read old Stan’s Soapbox. They’re constantly talking about the great movie and television things that are happening with Marvel characters, and while some happened, others didn’t. When I was reading, I think it was Spider-Man 2099, there were constant references to the Fantastic Four film and how it would soon be out. I wonder if Marvel knew the film would never be released?


Friday, April 15, 2005


Clyde Fans

Clyde Fans: Book one
Written and drawn by: Seth

I read Bannock, Beans and Black Tea recently. It’s a memoir by Seth’s father with illustrations by Seth throughout. It’s interesting, though a bit repetitive. But what about a comic by Seth himself?

This originally appeared in several in six issues of Seth’s comic Palookaville, I’m not exactly sure where most of the breaks are though, the only one I notice is the one between part one and part two.

Part one seems like it could have been better served by being illustrated prose. It’s page after page after page (over sixty) of an old guy wandering around his house telling a story. The story doesn’t actually match up to what he’s doing, no he’s recollecting the rise and fall of what happened to the company his father started and that he worked for (Clyde Fans). The story is interesting enough but there’s absolutely no reason for it to be told in comic form. The art and story connect for maybe three or four panels (that I can recall) out of all of those pages. He mentions the radio as he turns it on, and he mentions postcards and shows them. The rest of the comic is just him wandering around, having a bath, eating a meal as he talks aloud for no apparent reason. Is he talking to someone who we can’t see? Possible, but unlikely as he has a bath and stuff. Instead he’s just talking directly to the audience.

I’m not really sure why Seth chooses to go this route with this part of the comic but it’s one that doesn’t work for me at all. I almost gave up reading the comic a couple of times during this half. As comics barely take any time to read and I’d just read some pretty bad comics this is a pretty big deal. Thankfully the second part of the story actually utilizes words and pictures telling a story together.

The second part flashes back to the time when Clyde Fans still existed as a company, and deals with the brother of the narrator from the first part. He seems incredibly shy, but has convinced his father to let him go out and attempt to be a salesman for the company. He fails, quite badly, and can’t really deal with talking to people. I can’t blame him, I’d hate that job. While this part of the comic was, you know, actually a comic and was much better then part one I still didn’t care for it that much. I don’t know if all of Seth’s stuff is like this, but if it is I doubt I’ll be picking it up.


Tuesday, April 12, 2005


Manga anthologies!

Shonen Jump #28 (April 2005)

I bought the first four issues of Shonen Jump as they came out. I thought about half the comics in it where pretty good and started buying the collections of Naruto, which was, and is, one of my favourite comics published.
I picked up this issue as I was curious as to how Dragonball Z ends (it says on the cover “Don’t miss Dragonball Z final monthly chapter!!”). However it wasn’t the last part of Dragonball Z, it was the last part to be published in Shonen Jump, as it’s now switching over to publishing straight into graphic novels. I wasn’t that annoyed, I wanted to see what Hikaru No Go was like and what the other titles were doing.

Dragonball Z
Not the last part, but (it would seem) the last part of the Trunks saga. Trunks goes back to the future and easily defeats all his enemies. Woohah.

Ninja action! This is by far my favourite Shonen Jump comic, I buy the collections whenever they come out. It’s so awesome. Practically every part ends in a cliff hanger making me need the next volume.

One Piece
One Piece is pretty good, but there’s just something about it that makes me not want to pick up the collections. The story in this issue has a pretty awesome flashback to two guys stuck on an island with no food, so one of them eats his own leg. Holy shit!

Hikaru No Go
I had high hopes for this series, but unfortunately it wasn’t that good. I just can’t find people playing go online that important.

Yuyu Hakusho
Um, ghosts/demons fight each other for some reason.

Shaman King
Creepy misogyny in the “us women have to let men fight each other all the time, all we can do is make sure there’s food on the table when they get home.” What? (Combined with the sort of racist depiction of a black guy in this comic in Weekly Jump I’m just creeped out). Overall: Nice art, shitty story.

Better then expected. Probably because it dealt with time travel and weird Egyptian monsters rather then card games.

By the guy that does Yuyu Hakusho and much better. It still just seems to be your average quest manga though.

Weekly Jump #1 (2003) (Presumably issue one for 2003)

This is Shonen Jump from Japan, it’s huge, it’s in Japanese, it’s badly printed (on several colours of paper). I picked it up last summer in Toronto for a couple of dollars and only now have finally gotten around to reading it (I have such a backlog of comics, but I’ve been getting through them…).

It’s difficult to read, let alone review, a comic that’s not even in an alphabet I understand. But I’ll try. This issue opens up with Grandia, which seems like a pretty neat manga. There’s parts that for some reason reminded me of Grant Morrison, I’m not sure why. What the comic does feature though is a guy disappearing/turning into sand in midair after jumping off a building, a attempted theft, the earth equipped with things that make it look like a spaceship (with wings, antenna, eyes, hands and a mouth) and a guy with a ridiculous moustache.

Then there’s the numerous sports manga, about baseball (Mr. Fullswing), bowling (The Prince of Bowling), football (Eyeshield21), fighting and dodgeball (Hunterxhunter). This issue also has chapters of comics appearing in the American Shonen Jump: Yu-Gi-Oh (which through some bizarre fluke appears to be the chapter following the one I just read in English, creepy), Naurto, One Piece and Shaman King. These are all at ridiculously high chapter numbers (from 148 to 256) and as this was published like two years ago you can probably add like another hundred chapters to those. We’ll never catch up. As they’re so far in advance of where we currently are I can’t really tell what’s happening in relation to now. I desperately want to know how Naruto got into that situation though…

There’s a few other comics I can identify, either through them having their titles in English (Bleach, A.O.N., Ultra Red, Black Cat) and a whole bunch I can’t. These run the gamut from, I don’t know, maybe crime or something, to ineffective detectives, to romantic comedy, to fighting. There’s also one I think may be Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. I’m not sure, but it sure does have a weird art style.

Some of these comics have parts I just don’t understand. Eyeshield21 has a vampire or monster or something with point ears and fangs playing football for some reason. While there’s another one I don’t have the title of which features a, um, bomb. A female bomb. With legs and arms and eyes and a mouth. And an animate sun who she flies through and blows up. And a big black guy with an afro, who crossdresses in one panel while in another his afro opens up and there’s a guy singing inside of it. It doesn’t make any sense and isn’t that well drawn. I can only assume it’s incredibly funny. There’s also the occasionally piece of English, such as in Grandia where there’s music playing at one point (I can tell because of the music notes in the speech balloon) and there are English lyrics. The Lyrics go “(something in Japanese) / Oh Lady / (something) Dream / (something) Muscle / Wow Wow.” Japan is crazy.

Anyway this was totally worth the few dollars I spent on it, if only to see the comics that will never get released in America. I mean what was with that bomb comic? I just don’t understand…

Manga Twister #6 (2004)

I picked this up in an airport in Germany last year and out of all the manga anthologies I’ve checked out this is probably the coolest. Why? Well it’s got shojo manga on one side, then you flip it and it’s got shonen stuff. Also the comics included seem to be far more diversified then most other anthologies.
The shonen side has Detective Conan, some romantic comedy things (with action bits), a samurai comic and what look like your typical “I’m going to become the best something ever!” comics. There’s also a comic called Mar, which seems to be about some kid who wakes up in a fantasy land. The art and character designs are really nice and this is one I sort of want to check out in English.

The shojo side has your typical school girl romance comics, but also has one set in ancient Persia that seems pretty interesting. “Go! Virginal Hanayuki” is probably the weirdest/funniest title I’ve heard in forever though. There’s also “Mon-Star Attack” which doesn’t make any sense and features a girl in a bunny suit flying around looking at planets. And the bunny girl gets horns and a pitchfork (saying 666) and there’s another girl with wings.

Overall I found the comic styles and content more diversified then most anthologies I’ve seen so far, which tend to stick to just one type of story. This one has comics aimed at girls and boys, seems to choose different types of stories even within those groups and has an article about Bonsai trees!

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Monday, April 11, 2005



I have a soft spot for the Wildstorm universe. Probably because I used to read Gen13 and DV8. Hehe. Anyway, in recent years the Wildstorm universe became incredibly popular because of the Authority, lost all of that popularity, attempted to publish some mature superhero comics that were critically acclaimed and sold terribly, then DC went and got rid of two of their imprints (Homage and Cliffhanger) and replaced them with Wildstorm Signature. Now Wildstorm publishes lots of random comics, some in the universe and some not. I believe they also oversee the Humanoids and 2000AD reprints for DC.

Anyway, on to the reviews.

The Resistance #1-4 (November 2002-Febuary 2003)
Writer: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Pencils: Juan Satancruz

This was one of the new titles that Wildstorm launched a few years ago. It was also one of the titles that failed, only eight issues were actually made. Anyway, I liked the other Wildstorm series by Palimiotti and Gray that I’d read (21 Down), so picked these issues up from a dollar bin when I saw them. I was pleasantly surprised. The story is set in the 23rd century, the Earth had been post apocalyptic for a while, but someone had managed to organize it back to a dystopia. The comic clearly takes something from the Matrix of hip, sexy rebellion against the horrible orders that be.
There’s nothing special about this, it’s basically “kid gets caught in wrong place at wrong time and ends up joining the resistance and fighting the good fight,” but it’s told well, the world seems fully realized, and the art is really nice. The “kid” mentioned above has a Tintin haircut, which I find really amusing, and some of the designs are really nice. There are these pretty wikkid looking cyborgs with weird light bulb-like heads.

Masks: Too Hot for TV! #1 (February 2004)

This is an anthology title by a bunch of different writers and artists. It’s basically Cops, except with superheroes. It’s okay I guess, nothing in it is really excellent. I’m really just left wondering why it even exists. What is the point of this comic?

Point Blank #1-2, 4-5 (October 2002-Febuary 2003)
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Colin Wilson

This is the prequel to Brubaker’s acclaimed comic Sleeper. I’ve read the first trade of Sleeper and think it’s really good. It’s hideously overpriced though, and as much as I want volume two I can’t afford it. I hate you DC. Sleeper tells the story of Holden Carver, a deep cover agent who has been climbing the ranks of a super villain organization. He wants out but he can’t, because the only person who knows he’s really a good guy is in a coma. Point Blank is how that guy, John Lynch, got put into a coma.
As I read more of Brubaker’s Wildstorm comics I’m discovering that he’s an incredibly good writer of super powered crime/spy/espionage fiction. These comics have people in costumes sometimes, but not that often. This one features Cash Cole, or Grifter, trying to find out what happened to Lynch. I haven’t really read any Wildcats comics so I don’t really know who Grifter or Tao or anyone in this comic is. And while I think knowing who these characters are and what their powers are might help my understanding of the series, I still enjoyed them.
Cash Cole is a “shoot first, ask questions later” type of guy. But he knows that won’t work in this situation, he has to think, who shot Lynch? For what reason? And as he struggles to figure out what happened he’s also struggling to figure out what’s wrong with himself. His brain seems to be skipping and he doesn’t know why.
Overall I liked this comic, it’s cool seeing Holden Carver before he appeared in Sleeper, and I generally like Brubaker’s take on the Wildstorm universe. It’s filled with spies and criminals, and not just the type that are in the news, but the ones who operate things behind the scenes. I think it might be a more realistic take on superpowers.
I want issue three.

Coup D’etat #1-4 (April, 2004)

This was Wildstorm’s attempt to relaunch their titles. Get lots of people reading them (Jim Lee draws one!), but it failed (I don’t care that Jim Lee draws one). The miniseries is kind of weird, it’s a cross over between the four Wildstorm: Eye of the Storm comics coming out at the time (Sleeper, Stormwatch: Team Achilles, Wildcats 3.0 and the Authority), and is about the Authority taking over the US government. It creates new status quos for these comics but... it’s not that good. The issue of Sleeper featuring characters from Sleeper is good, but I don’t really care about the Authority parts. The issue of Stormwatch: Team Achilles makes me wonder why I liked that comic in the first place. The issue of Wildats 3.0 is okay, but I really don’t know anything about the characters. And the issue of The Authority just isn’t very good.
In fact this miniseries made me wonder why I liked the Authority in the first place. I’ve got the first trade and I think it’s really good and fun, but this is just blah. The Authority were practically parodies of other superheroes, and having them continue forever just makes me not care at all. I guess I’ll pick up issues of the current Brubaker written series if I can get them cheap though.

Wildstorm: Summer Special (2001)

In relation to “I don’t care about the Authority anymore” is this hideous overpriced comic. Three short stories and a few pinups and it’s all pretty blah. I grabbed this for the story by Warren Ellis but found I just didn’t care. Similarly the other Authority story was something I didn’t care about either. The final story had nice art, but didn’t make any sense and I don’t even know who the character is. There are a couple of decent pinups, but whatever. Reading these comics just made me want to go back and ready Ellis’s run on Stormwatch, I liked it the first time I read it.


Friday, April 08, 2005


Jack Staff: Soldiers

Jack Staff: Soldiers (Volume two)
Story and art: Paul Grist

I came to Jack Staff through a sort of weird route. I’d heard good things about it somewhere, so when I found issue 11 in a dollar bin I picked it up. The fact that the cover looked cool helped too. I thought it was amazing, so when I found issue 1 of the Image series I was pretty excited. It was similarly awesome. I was hooked.

Last year when volume one collection the full twelve issues of the black and white series came out I got it. It was so good. Then I saw that the first volume of the colour series had come out, so I got that too. It was similarly excellent.

Jack Staff was Britain’s greatest hero. Twenty years ago. Then he disappeared. The first volume of Jack Staff tells the story of Jack Staff coming out of retirement, Soldier’s is the story of why he entered retirement. The story jumps back and forth between twenty years ago and the presen, not revealing what happened until the two plots dovetail. The past tells the story of Hurricane (the ultimate military weapon) attacking Castletown and Jack Staff, while the present tells the story of mysterious rage attacks that are becoming more and more prevalent.

Like the previous volume of Jack Staff this one switches between many different characters, given each of them a new introductory splash every time they appear. The comic is thus set out somewhat like an anthology with stories about Jack Staff, Tom Tom the Robot Man, Q (the investigators of the unexplainable), Becky Burdock Vampire Reporter, Detective Inspector Maveryk, and others. The stories all intertwine and while some of the characters may never meet, they’re actions will effect what happens to the other characters.

Grist often uses versions of characters from old British adventure comics. I’m usually not sure what’s new and what’s old in Jack Staff so I was incredibly excited when I saw the first reference to old British comics that I actually got. General Tubbs is an homage to General Jumbo who appeared in the Beano. General Jumbo was a young boy who controlled an army of remote control planes, tanks, soldiers and ships. He controls them through a wrist mounted device (basically a Power Glove) fought other kids with similar robots and had numerous adventures. Both Alan Moore and Grant Morrison have used versions of him in their stories over the years. I always thought that the character was pretty awesome, and Grist just takes the premise and twists it, making it even better.

Grist’s art is really amazing too, he uses a style I find sort of hard to describe. It is not, however, a style usually used in super hero comics, which is part of what makes it so distinct. However in addition to the art style there is the way in which Grist lays out pages that works really well. Grist uses splash pages, white space and minimalism all to great effect during the course of this collection and it’s just amazing the skill and talent which he holds. This volume is coloured by Phil Elliott and the colouring makes this comic look, amazingly, even better then it did in black and white. I didn’t think Grist could make the art look any better but somehow he did.

One of my friend’s who just read this comic was similarly enthusiastic about it and said that the existence of comics like Jack Staff sort of scares him away from drawing his comics because he doesn’t think they can live up to the quality. (I’m going to encourage him to make his own comics though.)

Jack Staff volume one was on my best of the year for 2004, Jack Staff volume two will be on my best of the year for 2005 (yeah, okay, so it came out in 2004, whatever). It’s a truly excellent and original comic that is just so much fun at the same time. Check it out.

http://www.internationalhero.co.uk/j/jumbo.htm: General Jumbo

http://www.weisshahn.de/kane/: Site about Paul Grist and his work


Thursday, April 07, 2005



I’ve got a real soft spot for the 2099 universe. I think for the most part it was well realized and it had some pretty cool characters and stuff in it. I got all of these issue ones out of 50 cent bins when I was a kid I think. Something about the shinyness maybe, or maybe I just liked the future, who knows. However, I recently picked up a bunch of issues of Spider-Man 2099 out of a 25 cent bin. Good purchase. I love cheap comics. It was also fun reading all those old Marvel Bullpen pages. Holy shit Marvel put out so many comics (so many of them terrible) and some of the stuff lets you into the zeitgeist of the early nineties.

Doom 2099 #1, 29
Writers: John Francis Moore, Warren Ellis
Penciller: Pat Broderick

Issue one had someone thinking they’re Doom, and maybe being Doom, showing up in the future and trying to take control of Latveria. It’s awesome. I love Dr. Doom. I’m going to go find more issues. It’ll fill the Super-Villain Team-Up void in my life. There’s also a pretty neat scene where we hear part of a conversation that’s continued in another 2099 title. You don’t need to read both parts to understand it, but it adds to the universe. Neato.

Issue 29 is by Ellis and has Doom taking over America. Hardcore! I need more Doom! It has an incredibly stupid clear plastic cover though.

Hulk 2099 #1
Writer: Gerard Jones
Penciller: Malcolm Davis

This was probably the worst out of the comics I read. It’s set in California, which allows you to find out about more of the 2099 universe, but it’s just sort of stupid. Retelling the origin already told in 2099 unlimited, some random stupidity about movie studios. I just didn’t care. I thought the art was pretty ugly too. It’s too bad cause I liked the story about Hulk 2099 I read in 2099 Unlimited #3.

Punisher 2099 #1, 13
Writer: Pat Mills and Tony Skinner
Penciller: Tom Morgan

How many Punisher comics were coming out from Marvel at this time? 4? 5? It was a lot at any rate. This is basically just the Punisher in the future. Shooting up criminals who got past the law somehow. Issue 13 (a “The Fall of the Hammer” crossover) has an awesome bit where Jake Gallows (the punisher) has a crisis of faith because he was raised a Thorist and has to fight Baldur, one of the Norse gods. Awesome!

Ravage 2099 #1
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciller: Paul Ryan

This was written by Stan Lee! Stan! Lee! Anyway, it’s about a guy who thinks he’s working for a company that tries to protect the environment, but is actually polluting it. He finds out and his bosses try to kill him, he runs off and gets armour from a junk yard. And lets his hair down. I’ve heard this was the worst 2099 title there was, and while it’s by no means great it’s not horrible either. I am however amazed at how corporations like Marvel assume that corporations will be big and horrible in the future.

Spider-Man 2099 #1-7, 9-12, 14-16, 18-20, 28
Writer: Peter David
Penciller: Rick Leonardi (with a few fill-ins and backups)

I actually had seven issues of this series already, and I’m sort of wondering why I didn’t buy more. I’ve discovered recently that Peter David is a pretty good writer of superhero stuff. It’s not amazing, but it’s good.

Spider-Man 2099 is Miguel O’Hara, a scientist at Alchemax working on splicing animal genes. His bosses make him experiment on a human and he wonders if maybe they’re not that great… Then they hook him on rapture, a highly addictive, legal drug they manufacture. To try and beat the drug Miguel attempts to overprint his genes with his old genes that he has on record. However one of his coworkers, who hates him, sabotages it and Miguel gets imprinted with spider genes. He gains spider powers, which in this case means light sensitivity, the ability to shoot web from his arms and talons on his fingers and toes that allow him to climb walls and rip stuff to shreds.

The comic follows Miguel as he fights evil corporations, thugs, gods, samurai and other things you expect to see at the end of the 21st century. David’s managed to create a future that is, um, I won’t say believable, but at least consistent with some really awesome ideas. One of my favourites bit is the Thorists, people that worship Thor and the other Norse gods.

The cast is filled out by Miguel’s fiancé, his brother, his brother’s girlfriend, his holographic house keeper, his boss and a number of other characters that are actually developed. Shocking really. There’s also backup stories that tell tales of young Miguel O’Hara and how he grew up.

Leonardi’s art is good for the most part, and I think he does a really good job with the costume (which features a sort of skull/spider thing on the front), the fill in artists are decent too.

I like this title, it’s fun. I want to read all of David’s run on the title. I won’t read the issues Ben Raab did though. I hate Raab’s writing so much.

2099 Unlimited #3, 10

This is an anthology title with (I think) three different stories per issue. The first two are just superhero ones. Both have Spider-Man stories that aren’t that great. Issue three has a pretty cool Hulk 2099 story though. It does feature, um, Guerrilla Ecologists who, uhm, set off a massive bomb to save the environment? I’m not really sure, they blow up the fault line in California and make it an island. Weirdoes. There’s bizarre backup stories that aren’t that good (haha, you’re view of the internet is stupid!), and issue 10 has a neat Machina Jones story.

I can’t seem to find a good 2099 page, maybe I’ll have to start one. But first I’ll have to track down those issues I don’t have…

Oh, here’s one, sort of: http://marvunapp.com/Appendix/app2099.htm


Wednesday, April 06, 2005


Catwoman: Selina’s Big Score
Story and art: Darwyn Cook

I like heist stories, I think they’re really fun, however I didn’t find Selina’s big score to be as great as other people have made it out to be.

While the comic may be titled Catwoman, Catwoman doesn’t really show up in it. She’s there for a couple of panels in a flashback, but that’s it. What this really is is a Selina Kyle the thief comic. That’s fine by me.

It starts in Morocco where Selina has apparently spent the last of her money getting read to steal a gold cup of some sort. She succeeds, but discovers the cup is fake. Out of money and with nowhere else to go she has to return to Gotham. However apparently Selina Kyle and Catwoman are both dead? I’m not really sure what the details are. I guess she faked her own death to escape, I don’t know and this comic doesn’t really tell me.

Selina gets back to Gotham and starts looking into something that could be a big score for her, set her up so that she can do whatever she wants to. After years and years of thievery I would have assumed she’d have millions of dollars somewhere, but I guess not. Bad planning I guess. She finds out that the mob are going to trade some diamonds for heroin with some French Canadians. She wants in. So she has to get her crew (like all heist stories do really). There’s Stark, who taught her how to be a thief, but who she double crossed years ago, Swifty, who’s a fence or something, he’ll be driving the boat and another guy who’s name isn’t mentioned and isn’t really developed. That’s one of my problems with the comic, some of the characters aren’t developed that much, it’s sort of annoying.

There’s also Slam Bradley, private eye, wandering around in the background. When he first is mentioned there’s something about him looking for Selina so I think that’ll be a subplot. But it’s not, was it dealt with somewhere else? I don’t know. All I know is that he burnt his case files on her, for some reason at some point. During this comic and it’s not mentioned? Before this comic (I know there were Slam Bradley backup stories somewhere at some point)? I’m just sort of left in the dark.

The actual heist itself is sort of annoying too. It’s not complex enough for my liking, well no, it is complex. I think I the characters just found the stuff they needed for the heist too easily. Maybe what I wanted was more heist story less other stuff story. Hmm…

One of the major selling points of this story is the art. But for whatever reason I just can’t get into Cooke’s thick lines and sort of cartoony art. I think maybe it’s the colouring, it just didn’t impress me that much.

Overall this was a disappointment, I thought it was going to be good and really fun, but for whatever reason it wasn’t. Maybe I just read it at the wrong time.


Tuesday, April 05, 2005


Movie reviews

I’ve been watching some comic book based movies recently (and eventually I will have non-superhero based reviews up here, I don’t know why I’m in such a superhero phase).

Spider-Man 2
Because I’m a bad nerd I never saw either Spider-Man or Spider-Man 2 in theatres. In fact I hadn’t seen Spider-Man until a couple of months ago when I watched it at my girlfriend’s house. I thought it was good. Anyway I was coming home the other day and stopped by Rodney’s house (yes, he will hopefully soon have reviews here too) and he said he was about to watch Spider-Man 2. I thought “I should watch this,” so I did. And I didn’t get home until 4am. This movie is long! (Okay, only two hours long, but yeah…)

I realized when I started to watch this I couldn’t remember the plot of the first movie at all. Peter becomes Spider-Man, fights the Green Goblin, Stan Lee appears, etc. But it didn’t matter that much, I mean these movies are basically taking the general idea from the comics and just putting them in a movie. I’m not sure if it works better as a movie. I mean they have the ability to just pick and choose what they want to used, they can ignore all the crap and just use the cool stuff.

And cool stuff they use in spades. I think using Dr. Octopus as the villain was a good idea, the science based villains are one of the major villain types in Spider-Man and it’s used well here. There was a good balance between the Spider-Man and Peter Parker stuff. You get your action, but you also get what makes the character so important.

Some of the dialogue was pretty lame, but I think that was in homage to the comic books themselves, which have had plenty of lame dialogue. There were some scenes where this was clearly a Sam Raimi movie. The scene in the hospital with the chain saw, it was excellent. But I have to wonder why Bruce Campbell wasn’t cast as the doctor.

Overall I thought the movie was good, but for whatever reason this review is incredibly disjointed. Um, yeah.

So what about for the next movie? I hear people constantly wanting Venom as the villain, but I don’t know if they could do him in one movie. Other ideas abound, the Lizard (I mean Dr. Curt Connors did appear in this movie… but another science villain so fast?)? Man-Wolf (sort of lame, but the John Jameson appeared in Spider-Man 2 as well, plus lots of J. Jonah Jameson)? The Green Goblin is set up too, but I think that’s too soon. Mysterio? Kraven? Sand-Man? Scorpion? Rhino? There are so many cool Spider-Man villains to choose from. I don’t really care that much as long as the sixth movie (if they get that far) is a sinister six movie.

Anyway, watch these totally wikkid lego versions of Spider-Man 2 (there’s a normal version and an alternative ending version, watch both).

Link: http://www.spiteyourface.com/spidey.html

The Cat Returns
This was one of the Studio Ghibli films released a few weeks ago. It was the one I knew the least about (I’d seen both Porco Rosso and Nausicaa before), but I picked it up anyway.

It’s a film by Hiroyuki Morita, who had worked on other Studio Ghibli films before. Hayao Miyazaki and others had been afraid of what would happen to the studio and were actively seeking out new people to direct films. However if this is representative Ghibli should be in good hands.

The movie based on a comic by Aoi Hiiragi, which hasn’t been released in English. It’s sort of a sequel to the movie Whisper of the Heart, which also isn’t in English. However where Whisper of the Heart is a drama thing, this is a comedy.

The movie follows Haru, who seems to be having some bad luck at school. On the way home she rescues a cat from a speeding van. After being saved the cat thanks her and walks away. Haru is pretty scared and confused. Stuff gets even weirder when the king of cats shows up and thanks her. Then she starts receiving gifts, which aren’t that great.

Eventually Haru meets up with Muta and the Baron (from Whisper of the Heart) and ends up in the kingdom of the cats.

It’s a really fun little story, a bit short (at 75 minutes) but over all good. I’d actually rank it higher then one of Miyazaki’s films (Kiki’s Delivery Service). However it’s not as good as similar “journey to magical kingdoms full of cute things” movie My Neighbour Totoro. But really, what is?

Unfortunately the short included on the Japanese version of the DVD isn’t included here, but overall this is definitely worth picking up if you’re looking for something cute and fun. If you’re looking for giant robots, try something else.

Link: http://www.nausicaa.net/miyazaki/neko/



Commie Superman

Superman: Red Son
Writer: Mark Millar
Artists: Dave Johnson, Kilian Plunkett

I haven’t read much of Mark Millar’s stuff, but what I have read leads me to believe he’s hideously overrated. I only read his first two story arcs on The Authority, but I felt that they weren’t as good as the stories Warren Ellis began the series with. Still, it wasn’t that bad.
However Red Razors is horrible. It’s just bad and stupid and urgh, I wish I’d never bought it. But this is a review of Superman in the Soviet Union. Not a Judge Dredd type character in SovBlock.

Superman: Red Son has the interesting premise of Superman’s spaceship landing in Ukraine instead of Kansas. Superman is brought up to fully believe in Stalin and the communist state. In the fifties he is brought to the attention of Stalin, who uses him to help prevent disasters and also to show how superior communism is. Meanwhile Lex Luthor is the greatest genius in America, and he spends his time creating ideas to bring down the communist menace that is Superman.

Superman begins turning the world to communism. Not through force, but through his ability to save everyone and make people’s lives better. If a country was communist then his protection expanded to them. If it wasn’t then he usually left them alone. America begins to collapse (though eventually begins to turn around thanks to Luthor). But which side will win? Communism represented by an alien super being or capitalism represented by a human.

The idea of the book is great, but the way it’s pulled off just doesn’t work that well for me. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s Millar’s writing style, maybe it’s the way he went with certain ideas that I would have done differently. I don’t know, I just finished reading this and felt deeply unsatisfied. The idea hadn’t been lived up to.

Okay, so I’m a massive Russian geek. How’s the Russian stuff hold up? It’s alright, I have major problems with some bits where signs in the Soviet Union are in English right next to ones that are in Russian. That doesn’t make any sense to me. Similarly there are a few places where letters are flipped around to make things look Russian. I can’t understand why this is done; I mean why use the Cyrillic alphabet sometimes but not others. It’s not even a case of it being different pencillers, this happens in one panel in some cases. The art’s pretty good though, I like the designs of Soviet Superman, and the designs of the monsters Luthor creates to battle Superman.

On the upside it did actually seem like Russia (or the Soviet Union I guess). One of my problems with Red Razors was that it claimed to be set in the Soviet Union, but it might as well have been America with signs in Cyrillic.

So how is it overall? It’s, um, okay I guess. There are some good parts, and there are some bad parts, but overall I can’t really recommend it.

Link: http://theages.superman.ws/History/redson/: Mark Millar on Superman: Red Son


Sunday, April 03, 2005


Short reviews 2

Silver Age Showcase: The 7 Soldiers of Victory #1 (July, 2000)
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Dick Giorano

I picked this up for a $1 because I thought it was an actual old 7 Soldiers of Victory comic and with Grant Morrison’s version coming out soon I wanted to check it out. It’s actually part of a crossover from 2000. It’s okay, not great, the art’s pretty good and the villains are pretty fun, but I’m reading one part of a ten part crossover.

What if… Karen Page had Lived? (February, 2005)
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Lark

This is half recap! What the hell? Also, this is totally not what “What if...?”’s are supposed to be about. I want “What if Daredevil was a mutant?” or something.

Arsenic Lullaby #7 (1999)
Story and art by: Douglas Paszkiewicz

I’ve read one issue of Arsenic Lullaby before, but I can’t remember which one it was. I think it might have been the issue before this. This comic is good though, it’s creepy and wrong in some places, but in a really funny way. This issue seems like it was put together wrong, it’s incredibly jumpy in the order of the stories. There’s one longer story going throughout the issue, but it keeps getting interrupted for two or three pages while other, random, stories get told. Still, worth looking out for.

Link: http://www.arseniclullabies.com/

IDW Free Comic Book Day Edition (2004)
Story and art by: lots

This has excerpts from four different comics. CSI, the Shield, 24 and 30 Days of Night. The 30 Days of Night one is the only one that seems vaguely interesting, I can’t believe the shitty art which appears in the others. I mean if you pay big money for the licences why not actually put work into the comic? Especially when your comics cost so much (I’ve wanted to check out 30 Days of Night, but it’s too pricey).

Killer Princesses #2 (June, 2002)
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Lea Hernandez

Several years ago I promised myself I would never buy another comic by Lea Hernandez. Why? Because I was incredibly bitter that she never released the final issue of a miniseries as an issue. You could pay to read it online or buy the graphic novel, but issue seven of Rumble Girls was never released. It just bugged me a lot. I did not, however, pay for this issue. It was pretty good. The writing’s good, though waaaay dirtier then I originally thought it would be. The art goes from really nice to kind of shitty. The variations in quality are strange.


Friday, April 01, 2005


Hino Horror volume 1: The Red Snake

Hino Horror volume 1: The Red Snake
Story and art by: Hideshi Hino

Hideshi Hino has apparently released over two hundred volumes of manga in his thirty year career. That’s six or seven 200 pages volumes a year. That’s like 50 American comics a year. That’s a number I can’t even understand. He’s also directed like nine films that just sound fucking creepy from their descriptions on imdb.

I’ve know about him for several years as he is apparently a major influence of Junji Ito, who’s comic Uzumaki is one of the best horror anythings I’ve read or seen in the last few years. It’s really amazing, go read it.

Anyway, I was curious about Hino’s work, he was supposed to be really good and is regarded as Japan’s master of horror comics. I wasn’t new to his work though. I’d read one of his works that was released in the early 90’s. Hellbaby was a pretty neat book, not as good as Ito’s stuff, but it wasn’t really in the same genre of horror. It was still good though.

So when Hino’s books started getting published here I was curious about them. There’s already fifteen out with more on the way. They seem to have stopped publishing two a month for the moment though (talk about flooding the market). I think the main problem with these books is that some of them are probably regarded as extremely excellent, while others are merely good. Unfortunately it’s not particularly easy to find out which is which

It’s sort of interesting to note that the company publishing these books is actually based in Japan. I wonder if that will become the way that manga companies release their stuff in North America. No more CMX controversies that way.

I started reading with the first book, and really it was only by chance that I started with this one as it was lying around in Rodney’s house and I borrowed it. The story is really pretty bizarre. It’s about a kid in this giant house that he can’t seem to escape. His family is all insane, his dad raises chickens so that he can give the eggs to his grandmother who thinks she’s a chicken and lays eggs. Meanwhile his grandfather has this giant growth on his face and he has it massaged with more eggs by his mom who also squeezes pus out of it.

Then things get weirder. It’s a pretty gross book. But it’s still really good. There’s a really bizarre dream logic that goes on in the book. The main character accepts what’s happening but is horrified at the same time, and the way the plot moves makes it seem like something that could happen in a dream. The art is really good, not really what you’d expect from a horror comic perhaps (and especially not a North American horror comic), but it works for the type of story it’s telling.
Based upon this and Hellbaby I’ll be checking more of these out. In fact I’ve already got volume three, so I’ll be reviewing that soon.

Coming soon: Review of Hino Horror volume 3: Oninbo and the Bugs from Hell (and maybe others, some of these sound awesome!).

http://www.dhp-online.com/HinoHorror/: Check out all the Hino Horror books that are out so far.
http://imdb.com/name/nm0385842/: Read the reviews of Za ginipiggu 2: Chiniku no hana and discover why Charlie Sheen reported the movie to the FBI.

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