Monday, 30 April 2007

Civil War is built on a lie!

So Marvel want us to believe that Captain America was willing to go to war with Iron Man over the Superhuman registration act do they?

Pah! I say thee nay!

Why would Cap make such a fuss today, when a mere 21 years ago he considered it good manners to take off his mask for dinner?

So there you have it, all Tony Stark had to do to get the Sentinel of Liberty to reveal his secret identity to the nation was invite him round for Sunday roast.

Sunday, 29 April 2007

Read it and weep

That "Give the Gift of Literacy" slogan sits rather uneasily on a cover which features Cap giving the gift of rapid Uzi fire.

Cap #321 is one of a huge stack of 50p comics I bought today. Got a heap of Rom, Cap and Daredevil from a junk shop on Essex Road. Then headed into town where I raided Orbital's 50p bins for more Rom, an almost complete run of Nightforce, a few old Charlton horror titles and issues #2 #3 and #4 of the Eternals (the Kirby ones natch).

Orbital was really busy. Good to see. Its my favourite comic shop in London at the moment.

Saturday, 28 April 2007

1970's martial arts mania

I eagerly await Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction's first Iron Fist trade, but in the meantime I am forced to satisfy my need for martial arts action elsewhere.

All hail Friends Reunited then.

Words cannot express how truly awe inspiring this pic from the 1976 Sussex University Kung Fu society is.

HIYAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! Kung fuckin' Fu baby!

From the same source, check out this dude - Was he actually allowed to fight with those nunchuckas? I hope so.

The caption says: "He was a man from Staffordshire"

I beg to differ. He was (and probably still is) THE man from Staffordshire

for more karate on campus follow this link

Hard to believe

Its been a laughably long seven months since issue #12, but Millar and Hitch are finally set to wrap up their run on The Ultimates.

Not long to go now...

The delays have totally ruined any plans I had to read this comic, but the day it hits the shops I plan to sit down and plough through the whole run.

Friday, 27 April 2007

The Weekly Shop #8

I feel very virtuous for resisting the temptation to buy any of those expensive trades that I mentioned yesterday. On the other hand it makes this week's shop quite difficult to talk about because I only bought two comics which I actually read today.

The ones in my shopping basket which will remain bagged and boarded for the moment are Justice #11 and The Nightly News #5.

I think most comic book fans fall into the trap that has me buying these titles: You pick up the first issue and like it, ditto #2. Then, either through the book being constantly delayed or lack of time on your part, you stop reading it, yet continue to buy the issues with the intention of reading the entire run at some later date.

I'm doing this with Justice, The Nightly News, The Astonishing X-Men and The Ultimates. I also did it with Seven Soldiers and The Eternals. Guess what they're still in the "read later" pile. Stoopid.

Really it would make a lot more financial sense to wait for the trades on all these titles, but once you get locked into the cycle of buying a comic you've started reading, it's hard to break free.

So uhm anyway where was I? Ah yes the two comics I did read.

First up: Amazons Attack #1.

I have no idea what's happening in 52 or Wonder Woman, so it's probably pointless me buying Amazons Attack which is intricately linked with both those comics and is itself going to cross over into various other DC books which I have no intention of reading.

Then again it's about Amazons attacking America and beating people up, so I stuck it in my bag.

As luck would have it, it's a very interesting little comic. A lot like an old B movie where the aliens doubled for Commies in fact. Yup you can't hide from it, those marauding Amazons are clearly stand-ins for Al-Quaeda.


They blow up landmarks

Decapitate men

and in one superb moment even chop off the head of Lincoln

(Click to supersize)

Yes they're women, but if you're in any doubt that this comic is really about America's Islamic bogeymen, take a sneak peak at the cover to issue #3...

I think you know what we're looking at here.

also goes for some metaphorical beat 'em up action with the start of a new weekly story Detonator X.

I've been looking forward to this one because its being drawn by Steve Yeowell.

His work on The Invisibles and Sebastian O goes down as some of my favourite art of recent years, and while Detonator X is a bit of a departure from the stuff he did in those books, he still produces some beautiful looking pages here.

The story, by Ian Edgington, is promising. Perhaps the anti global capitalist message is laid on a bit thick, but I can live with that. I'm all for global capitalist bashing in comics anyway, especially when it involves 100 ton robots fighting interstellar dinosaurs!

Looking forward to part two.

Warning: non-comics related footnote approaching.

This flashed up on my screen the other day and struck me as being quite sinister...

Jesus, that sends shivers down my spine.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

New feature

There's a new widget at the bottom of this page.

From now on you can check the week's American comic book releases direct from this blog. I've had to change my blog template to fit it in, but it's useful enough to make that worthwhile I think.

I'm disturbed to see the number of hideously expensive hardcover books that are being released this week. I want four of them but will not buy them no no no no:

The Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus Vol 1

The Fantastic Four Omnibus is sweeeeet and I'm sure this will be just as good. I want it, but I already have these issues in cheap essential black and white format so can't really justify the huge expense. God it is nice though.

The EC Archives Weird Science Vol 2

OK I know I said I wouldn't be buying any expensive hardcovers this week, but this one is a given. It's a bargain at that Amazon price too. Of course I should support my local comic shop by buying it from them, but seriously - IT'S £10 CHEAPER ON AMAZON!

The Agents of Atlas HC

I have the floppies, but this hardcover has some awesome looking extras including reprints of several golden age Marvel comics. That makes it a seriously tempting. Once again though I must be strong and say NO!

Punisher War Journal HC

It's taken a lot of effort not to pick up all the back issues of this. I really do need to spend less money on comics though, so I've been waiting for it to appear in trade format.

Marvel are clearly taunting me by releasing it as an expensive harcover. Well fuck them! As eager as I am to read it, I'm going to show some restraint and wait for the cheaper softcover. YES I AM.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

I knew it was real

you're screwed Superman

They say it's harmless but Supes hasn't been exposed to it yet so how would they know?

Monday, 23 April 2007

The campest man in the Marvel Universe

Not that I'm obsessed with comic book lookalikes or anything, but from the 1985 Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition Handbook here's Forge as Freddie Mercury...

That's definitely a Mercury pose, although the jacket with no shirt and skimpy shorts might have been too camp a look even for Freddie.

Achtung Alfred

From Detective Comics #827...

I know that's meant to be a shadow in his filtrum, but come on it looks just like a little tache, and what about that hair? That's not Bruce Wayne's hair. In fact that's not Bruce's Bruce Wayne as Adolf Hitler!

Equally dodgy, for very different reasons, Simone Bianchi's cover to #829.

Let's face it, this is a picture of Robin covered in Bat spunk.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

The Weekly Shop #7

Over at Jeff Parker's website Mr Parker reveals that he had to cut stuff from the latest issue of Marvel Adventures: The Avengers.

I can't see that anyone would really have been offended if they'd left that scene in. No kid under the age of 10 is going to get the risque references to sex and STD's in the book anyway, but the adults will and that's what makes this comic so good.

Better than good in fact...brilliant. Honestly I think Marvel Adventures is the comics equivalent of Doctor Who or Shrek, namely a top quality piece of entertainment which will make kids happy while still tipping enough of a wink to adults to keep them coming back for more. It's rapidly turning into one of my favourite monthlies and is one of the very few that makes me laugh out loud.

There's not too many laughs to be had in issue #1 of Frank Frazetta's Death Dealer, well not intentional ones anyway. If this clip makes you chuckle though you'll find FF's DD pee your pants funny...

God I love that clip.

As a fan of this kind of thing I'm clearly not going to pass up the chance to buy a comic based on a piece of 1970's fantasy art. And as comics based on pieces of 1970's fantasy art go FF's DD is pretty awesome.

Yes By Crom, this is a comic that cranks up the cheese levels to 11.

Whether its the kid who survives the slaughter of his entire village by hiding in the cellar...

Or the star-crossed lovers from different social classes...

Mum's gone to Icevald
(I realise only people in Britain will get that caption)

this book is an A-Z of fantasy cliches. But once you come to terms with that its really, really good and packed with hilarious panels like this...


And of course it does have that AWESOME Frazetta pic on the cover.

I'm definitely on board for the duration.

Which is good because I need another comic to buy as I managed to successfully drop Ultimate X-Men this week. Woo-hoo! It takes iron will to drop a comic I'm not enjoying but I did it. High-Fives!

I Still got my dose of the Ultimate universe with Ultimate Spidey #108, an issue in which Moon Knight schizs out and dresses as Ronin to beat up Spidey for the Kingpin - kerchinng! Easy sell.

ALSO COMING HOME WITH ME THIS WEEK: 2000AD, Judge Dredd Megazine, Nightly News #5, Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four #1 (More Jeff Parker magic), Marvel Essentials X-Men Volume 1 (This was in the damaged stock bin at Gosh and cost me £1. Yes £1 for the first 24 issues of The X-Men) and issues #827-#831 of Detective comics (because I enjoyed the trade so much that I can't be bothered waiting for the next one to show up).

Saturday, 21 April 2007

When comic books were advertised on TV

Blimey hadn't seen this before. That Tharg's a bit posh in't he?

Thursday, 19 April 2007


Sound the air raid sirens because tucked away in Marvel's list of solicitations for July is this beauty...

No cover image as of yet, but never mind, it's enough to know that The House of Ideas are finally reprinting The Invaders!

Best of all I don't own issues #1-8, Marvel Premiere #29-30 or Giant Size Invaders #1 so (issue #9 aside) it's all going to be NEW to me! Gott in Himmel I loves me some World War II superhero action so I do.

Captain America the death of a dream

Yes all those folks who were stupid enough to pay £25 a piece for a copy of Cap #25 in March have already been fleeced. No new suckers are stepping in to fill the breach leaving poor speculators feeling lucky if they can get £3 for those Steve Epting covers which they thought were going to make them rich.

There are still some jokers out there who are convinced there's a fortune to be made though.

I imagine this chap thinks he's going to coin in a similiar amount of dosh as Ed Brubaker from the death of Cap...

I will definitely pick up this book from Twomorrows Publishing...

It's got an awesome Art Adams cover and, well, it's all about apes for pete's sake.

Can't go wrong with apes. Especially superpowered apes.

I have a feeling this one (also from Twomorrows) won't be quite as enthralling.

Seriously, is there really a market out there for this book? I can understand that the unseen art would be interesting, but I can't believe that anyone would really pay $24 to read an interview with John Romita's wife.

"Yah, he was always drawing my John. Him and Junior used to fight over pencils all the time"

Bad music, buses and Batman

What is it with these mobile phone mp3 players that kids have these days? Getting all those files on a phone is clever, but when it sounds like a cheap transistor what's the fucking point?

If they really wanted to appreciate their shitty rap and saccharin soul they'd get some headphones because these glorified walkie talkies they insist on carting around make a noise like wasps on a snare drum.

I've decided that the only possible reason the little oiks persist with their pissing machines is to make reasonable people on public transport lose their minds. If I'm right then their plan may be working.

Their continued presence on my bus to work has forced me to start wearing ear plugs just so I can concentrate on my reading. Even then the tick, tick, tack of their awful music seeps through. Gahhhh!

It takes a particularly good book or comic to focus my mind in the presence of these twerps, so it says a lot for Batman: Detective that I've managed to read the whole of the new trade while surrounded by the sound of braying mongoloids and their bleeping retrotrannies.

Written (with the exception of one story) by Paul Dini, Detective collects issues 821 through 826 of Detective comics. Like All Star Superman these are stand alone tales which are probably more suited to the monthly format than this collected version.

Dini understands that a comic called Detective should be about a detective and while there are plenty of great moments where Bats goes to town on the bad guys (he pushes a hood under a train within three pages of the first issue) the real strength of this Batman is as a sleuth.

Dini isn't afraid to ditch the spandex and have Bruce Wayne do the investigative work either. It says a lot for his writing that the scenes where Wayne is piecing together clues are as good as those where Batman is taking down the bad guys.

Those bad guys are done really well by the way. Any decent Batman book is going to be built around the classic rogues gallery and Dini knows it. He did a great job on them in the animated series and he isn't slow in introducing many of the old villains here either. There are some nice new takes on the Penguin and the Riddler both of whom are trying to go straight (it's clear that neither of them is going to make it) as well as a very funny Joker story which owes plenty to Grand Theft Auto.

The fill in issue by Royal McGraw is excellent, while the art is superb throughout. Not surprisingly then Detective kicks the much hyped All Star Batman in the balls. Even when that comic does eventually reappear I'm not going to pick it up, there's no point really not when Detective is doing Batman so well on a REGULAR basis.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Charity Shop comics: Comic Relief 1991

A fine visit to Hackney Oxfam today. For £4.50 I got 5 vintage Fighting Fantasy books, a Morecambe and Wise annual, this awesome bit of schlock horror from 1980...

Please click to read some truly inspired blurb

and an abysmal Comic Relief special from 1991. Never mind the fact that it features a galaxy of my least favourite British comedy personalities, the real horror of this comic lies in it's cheesy appropriation of Marvel and DC legends to raise money for charity. I won't bore you with a lengthy analysis, these two panels should serve to give you a flavour of this awful publication.

Monday, 16 April 2007

Massimo Belardinelli RIP

So farewell Massimo Belardinelli. I didn't even realise you had died until I happened upon this.

It's sad that the passing of such a fantastic creator has gone almost unnoticed but not all that surprising. Belardinelli was one of the finest artists to work on 2000AD, but unlike many of his contemporaries he never made the transition to American comics and as a result superstar status eluded him.

He still leaves an amazing body of work behind him and will always be special for me because he was responsible for the art on one of my favourite 2000AD strips.

His collaboration with Alan Hebden on Meltdown Man, which ran for 50 issues between progs 178 and 227, still holds the record as the longest consecutive run by a single writer and artist team on 2000AD.

might be better known for his work on ACE Trucking, Dan Dare or Slaine, but Meltdown Man really got into my brain as a kid. In my opinion it is one of the most underrated stories 2000AD ever ran.

The story was good, but Belardinelli's art made the strip, in particular his depiction of The Yujees - the half human/half animal products of genetic engineering who populated the post apocalyptic world of Meltdown Man.

They were nightmarish and violent and to be honest they scared the crap out of me, but I was fascinated by the Yujees and as a result Meltdown Man was always the first thing I read during its lengthy run.

Then as now I could spend hours looking at Bellardinelli's detailed artwork. He was a truly weird and special talent. RIP.

Awesome Belardinelli city/landscape - click to enlarge

Scary Yujees

Time to start saving...

...the second Fantastic Four omnibus is on the way

At £60 it's an expensive tome, but it won't put as big a dent in your wallet as this little lot

Friday, 13 April 2007

The Weekly Shop #6

I've recently discovered Back Issue, a bimonthly magazine for nostalgiaholics from TwoMorrows Publishing. It's a cracking read jammed full of features on the comic creators of the silver and bronze age. I was reading an interview with Sal Buscema and Steve Englehart from issue #20 yesterday in which they reminisce about their classic run on Captain America.

It's clear that these boys had it a lot tougher than their modern day counterparts, as Englehart says: The famous thing Roy Thomas said to me when he hired me was, "If you can turn this in on time and make it sell, you can keep doing it. And if you can't, we'll fire you and get somebody else."

Englehart admits that he had no idea where he was going from one issue to the next, but he was never late. Ditto Buscema who worked on several titles at once: "I may have been doing two or three issues a month at that time, maybe even more" he says.

Now I don't want to imply that old comic creators are good and new comic creators are bad, because its clear that some very fine comic creators are plying their trade today, but there must be a lesson to learn from the old school - particularly the artists - who met their deadlines.

I mean does anyone out there remember what's happening in the Ultimates? A book which has been rendered unreadable by its ridiculous delays. Or Astonishing X-Men? Another one which I still buy but have given up reading until the run is done. Or All Star Batman, when the hell did the last issue of that come out?

At least All Star Superman, which turned up this week after a three month hiatus, is built on stand alone stories. That makes it more palatable, but it would still be better if the darn thing shipped on time!

Anyway, ranting aside, it is good to see All Star Supes again. Despite being notoriously slow Frank Quietly is one of my favourite artists and his work with inker Jamie Grant makes this comic one of the nicest looking books out there.

Enough has been said elsewhere about Grant Morrison's homage to the weird world of silver age superman, so I won't burble on too much about his scripts. Suffice to say it's good to see Superman going back to his wacked out roots in a book which should delight kids as much as it does adults dosed up on class A's.

Even with a guest appearance from Bizarro, All Star Superman isn't my book of the week though. That's because my two favourite mainstream Warren Ellis comics also hit the shops.

Thunderbolts #113 is another knockout issue. Ellis's take on Norman Osborn is superb, a man so utterly, utterly mad that even the psychos in the team he oversees are worried about his state of mind.

Not for the first time, the latest issue features Green Goblin on the cover.

Bit of a cheat since Osborn hasn't gone goblin yet, but hopefully it's only a matter of time.

The other Ellis book is of course New Universal #5. I heard somewhere that despite a leap in reader numbers over the first couple of issues that sales figures were declining on this one now. I know this happens with the majority of new titles, but I had hoped this book would continue to pick up readers because its an honest to goodness piece of comic excellence.

The latest issue introduces Emmet Proudhawk, a native Indian shaman who also works for the CIA. As with all the other main players he appeared in the original New Universe.

Like all Warren Ellis's work, New Universal crackles with intelligence. Even if you don't like Salvador Larocca's celebrity smattered art (and I do by the way) then you should be picking up this book.

I Also picked up Tales of the Unexpected #7. As per usual I made a vague attempt at reading the Spectre story, but it really was too horrible and I soon found myself heading for the the DR 13 backup which rivals All Star Superman in the weird and wacky stakes.

This months highlight: an awesome panel in which a flying pirate ship stops to ask directions from a bunch of skyscrapers...

Surreal comic brilliance.

2000AD is getting more enjoyable as I pick up the plot of the various ongoing story lines. This week's issue featured a decent little Future Shock story and some nice Ezquerra work on Judge Dredd

Sass is the word mutie!

I understand that the mammoth Dredd origins story which is currently running has fallen prey to delays because Ezquerra has had trouble meeting deadlines. That contradicts what I was saying earlier and shows that even old school greats miss deadlines. To be fair to Ezquerra though he is pushing 60, so I think he has more excuse than some of the young guns at Marvel and DC.

2000AD Extreme features a bunch of Dredd stories culled in the main from the 1980's annuals. Again there's some terrific Ezquerra art on display here in a story from the 1983 annual in which Dredd confronts a gallery of his most notorious villains. Notorious Dredd villains drawn by Ezquerra = Thrill power overload...

The only disappointment of another otherwise excellent edition is the cover which isn't one of Brian Bolland's better efforts. Considering that 99.9% of Bolland's artwork is godlike in its genius, the powers that be should be showered with rigelian hotshots for coming up with a rare dud from the master.

Some thoughts on a Thursday stroll through London

My Thursday afternoons usually follow a familiar pattern: Off the 73 bus and into Gosh comics for a quick look. Down to Comicana - a poky little place crammed full of overpriced back issues. Into Forbidden Planet where I buy my weekly fix and then onto Orbital where I wade through the 50p boxes and maybe pick up a trade (they're often one or two pounds cheaper than at FP).

Today I went straight to Orbital because it occurred to me that a shop which offers me trades at a cheaper price than Forbidden Planet AND still stocks back issues AND 50p comics really deserves my support more than an impersonal megastore (even if it is a damn fine impersonal megastore).

So anyway, there was nothing of much interest in the 50p bins this week, but I picked up my weekly books (more on those in tomorrow's weekly shop #6) and was interested to hear the guy in front of me expressing surprise that Orbital had any new comics on the shelves at all. Apparently the Easter bank holiday had delayed Diamond's distribution by one day and none of the shops were supposed to be putting stuff up for sale until tomorrow.

"We've had permission from Diamond" said the guy behind the counter. So all well and good. Except that FP, Comicana and Gosh all had notices explaining that comics would be out on Friday this week and NONE of them had any of this week's books on the shelves.

I can only guess that they all received their shipments today, (can't see any reason why a small shop like Orbital would receive its books before a giant like FP) , so unless the guy at Orbital was telling porkies, there's no real reason why any of the other shops couldn't have got this week's comics on the shelves either.

If there was some sort of agreement not to put the books out until Friday though, I imagine Orbital will be very unpopular with the other shops for jumping the gun.


One book I had tentatively thought about getting but didn't was the Civil War trade paperback. I know I've ranted about not reading Civil War or it's multitude of tie-ins out of principle, but what can I say? I like Marvel comics and now Civil War is out in trade I want to have a look. EXCEPT the crooks at Marvel are charging £16.99 for it! £16.99 for a paperback collecting a seven issue mini-series?! FUCK OFF!

I'll pick it up when it's been reduced to a tenner. Or better still borrow it from the library.


I was worried to see that FP had already reduced the price of the first Checkmate trade by a few quid. Sales on the monthly issues are in gradual decline and if the trade is being sold cheap after just a couple of weeks on the shelves then I guess this series really doesn't have much longer left. Sad because to my mind it's one of the best monthly comics out there.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Your adventure ends here...

Various fighting fantasy deaths culled from the pages of "The Warlock of Firetop Mountain", "The City of Thieves", "The Caverns of Kalte", "The Chasm of Doom" and "Shadow on the Sand"