Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Still on holiday

Some brief thoughts from the sun lounger...

Thought #1
The cover to the relaunch of Tales From the Crypt is actually pretty good.

Sadly the comic itself is crap. Badly written, poorly drawn crap at that. Don't buy this. I did. I made a mistake.

Thought #2

I take a break from gorging myself on American chocolate and coke for one lousy minute to check the internet and my whole day is ruined by this

For fuck's sake. Not only is Ant-Man one of the best ongoing Marvel comics out there, its just hitting its stride. I bet DC follow suit by scrapping Checkmate next. Wankers.

Right, back to eating, sleeping and drinking. Wish you were here and all that. Pip-Pip.

Friday, 22 June 2007

I'm on holiday

Yes I'm packing up my Essential Power Man volume #1 and heading to the USA for a couple of weeks. Sweet sunshine!

I will be doing some updates, but lack of scanners and general lazing about is bound to lead to looooooooooooooooooong periods of zero content. You will cope.

My holiday reading...

Essential Power Man volume #1
Mantlo: A life in comics
Exterminators vol #1 and #2
Justice Society vol #1
Skrull Kill Crew

When I finish that lot I will seek out some actual American American comic shops.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Millar time

That Mark Millar gets a lot of stick doesn't he?

Shame really. I mean I didn't particularly enjoy Civil War, but the lad's produced a lot of top quality action comics over the last two or three years, including two bona fide Marvel classics in Wolverine: Enemy of the State and The Ultimates Volume #1.

That Wolverine story, (drawn by Romita Jnr) is just amazing. Wolverine v the Marvel Universe on board a shield helicarrier. Nuff said.

As for the first volume of the Ultimates, well, I've read it three or four times and really, I think it's one of the finest Marvel comics ever to see print. It ticks all the right boxes: Alcoholic Tony Stark. World War Two Cap. A Hulk who smashes. Nazis. Aliens. Alien Nazis. All done with a black sense of humour and all drawn by the brilliant Bryan Hitch who nails every single jawdropping panel.

Honestly everything about it is beyond awesome. If I had to pick just one reason to read it though, I'd go for this fight scene. It looks like it's taking place in hell, and ends when Captain America cuts a naked Nazi/alien in half with his shield before delivering one of THE greatest lines ever uttered in a Marvel comic...

You'll have to supersize the final panel to enjoy it properly...

That my friends is as good as superhero comics get.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

The Doctor Sings!

Do you like Doctor Who? Do you like a good sing-song?

Of course you fucking do.

Get the best of both>>> here



You'd scream too if the Star-Spangled Kid bit your penis

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Saturday shorts

Dave F continues to ignore my text pleas to play Heroclix with his brother's reputedly HUGE collection.

Bah! The urge to have a go at this game is getting stronger. I spent a good ten minutes in Forbidden Planet today lurking sheepishly around the booster packs while sweaty men filled their baskets with boxes of the things.

My research reveals that there are many subgenres of the game, including something called Horrorclix, a set which includes this ghastly figure...

Yes, it's a Jack the Ripper horror toy and he's standing over a murdered prostitute in contemporary garb.


Check out his special ability...

Jesus wept! Who in hell's name came up with this vile thing? Not a woman that's for sure.


My constant mantra that Orbital is the best comic shop in London's West End might need revising after a visit to Gosh comics with my girlfriend

Becky usually rolls her eyes when I drag her into a comic shop. She hates superheros and like most sane women finds the sight of pasty faced fanboys patrolling ill-lit stink dens for ancient comics a bit weird.

She seemed to enjoy Gosh though. It's small, but relatively bright and it stocks a lot of non superhero titles. I was amazed to see her flicking through a couple of books and even more shocked when she told me she was going to buy this one...

Holy crap. My comic hating girlfriend feeling comfortable enough in a comic shop to browse the shelves and then buy a book! It was quite a weird moment; one which made me reconsider my own buying habits. I love the superhero stuff, but there is a lot more out there than Spandex, and Gosh does a fantastic job of showcasing it.

Orbital do stock some non-superhero indy titles, but Gosh devotes a huge whack of shelf space to the stuff. It's a very different place to all the other shops out there and by far the most girl/kid/normal person friendly outlet I know.

I'm always going to have a soft spot for the grubby basements that deal in Marvel and DC, but Gosh is more representative of the medium as a whole and probably has a brighter future as a result.


Having said all that I'm not sure comic shops have much of a future at all. I'm keen to pick up the second Fantastic Four Omnibus which came out this week, but it costs £20 more in the shops than it does on Amazon. So who do you think is going to get my money?

Granted this is an extreme example, but virtually every graphic novel you care to mention is available for less online. Given that we seem to be moving inexorably towards the death of the monthly comic book, I just don't see how comic shops are going to be able to compete with the online giants.

In the end I suppose the ones like Gosh that stock the more obscure stuff and the cheap manga are going to be the ones who survive.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Cosmos Baby!

Scanned from The House of Secrets #147, dated Aug-Sep 1977. This is an ad for the New York Cosmos at a time when they were at the height of their powers and popularity. They won the NASL title in '77 and '78 attracting huge crowds wherever they went.

Much has been made (in England anyway) of David Beckham's move to the LA Galaxy in the American MLS, but Pele was and still is the biggest star to play over there. The story of his move to the Cosmos and the rise and fall of that team is a remarkable one. If you haven't already, then it's well worth checking out the documentary Once in a Lifetime which charts the story of the now defunct club - it's a cracking good yarn.

Friday, 15 June 2007

The Weekly Shop #15

Gahh! I grow tired of my Thursday West End comic shop routine, so I'm making it my mission to travel to some of the capital's other purveyors of geek. The brilliantly named They Walk Among Us is the first stop on this Londonwide tour.

Based in Richmond, it's on the other side of London to me so it was a bit of a trek to get to, but it's a darn fine little shop and well worth checking out. Here it is...

Cramming a lot into a relatively tight space, it has a small but diverse selection of back issues which includes a nice mix of silver, bronze and modern age books...

The shop is currently knocking ALL of these out at ridiculously low prices. Some are as little as 20p, but the majority go for 95p. I picked up four 70's issues of The House of Secrets in VF condition and a copy of World's Finest #147 for under a fiver.

This promotion goes on for the whole of June, and the guy who runs TWAU (Jon Browne) has a lot of old comics in the back of his shop to shift so he's constantly topping up those boxes.

He's a top chap actually, very keen to chat comics, I had a good yarn about golden age horror with him. He's clearly a comics fiend and is currently in the process of reading the entirety of Marvel's silver age output in chronological order. Hardcore.

He's also made it a mission to get every single volume of Marvel's Masterworks series (including the out of print volumes) in stock. Here's an admittedly shitty camera phone pic of that Masterwork section...

I've gone down the cheaper Essentials route, so won't be taking advantage of those bad boys. But I found plenty of other stuff to interest me in an excellent trades section. The Neal Adams Batman hardbacks were out of my price range, so I setteld on Volume#1 of The Batman Chronicles, a collection I had previously been unable to find in any of the West End shops.

New comics take up a couple of small wall racks, while the front of the shop is given over to toys and games - not really my bag although there were some reasonably priced second hand console games on offer.

As far as this week's comics go, I picked up just three...

Justice #12: Which will go in the "To Read pile" with the previous 11 issues.

New Avengers #31: I dropped New Avengers months ago. It had become too messy for me and felt rushed. However, this issue had a big reveal that I wanted to check out. The team has changed since I stopped buying it, but the old problems remain the same, and now the art jars with the story.

Leinil Yu's work is excellent in places, but it's too dark for Brian Bendis's brand of punchy, humour heavy storytelling. Not that there is much in the way of story here. It's just one long fight scene with a big reveal at the end. A five minute flick through job.

As for that everyone seems to know already, Elektra is in fact a Skrull. Clearly this has wider implications for the Marvel Universe; the logical assumption being that this is the start of a reveal that will see Civil War explained as a Skrull attempt to divide and conquer the superhero community.

This seems to have upset a lot of people out there in comic message board land, and I suppose if it turns out that Iron Man and his pro-registration lackeys are all Skrulls there will be a lot more readers screaming CHEAT!

It would be a bit of a cop out on Marvel's part, but it would also get them out of the almighty corner they seem to have painted themselves into. It would also provide a fitting end to the whole money-spinning crossover driven mess if Civil War turned out to be nothing more than another Skrull invasion! Eat that event junkies. Nothing new to see here after all.

All this talk of money-spinning crossovers provides me with a useful segue into World War Hulk: Yes I cracked and bought issue #1. I have to say I'm not keen on Hulk marching around in his Spartacus outfit, but if I have to see him in that getup I suppose it might as well be drawn by John Romita Jnr.

Looks fantastic. Reads OK. Just a few points for the otherwise immaculate team of Romita Jnr, Klaus Janson and co...

No English football teams play in those hideous kits.

All professional English teams have shirts with player names on the back.

Huge banners on stilts are not allowed into English football grounds.

You forgot the goalkeeper and most of the net.

That is all.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Self defence with the Ghost Rider

When grabbed from behind by a hulking marmoset man it is important not to panic

Relax, swing back the skull and deliver a firm reverse flaming headbutt...

Having set light to the man gibbon's head you should now have released yourself from his grip

Leaving you free to...

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Down and out with Doomlord

In his continuing quest to understand Earth people, Doomlord dons his man mask...

and goes for an educational stroll in the park...

The examination begins...

Quid? Smoothie Boy? These are terms of which Doomlord knows nothing. No matter! Let the examination continue....

This old pisshead is indeed fascinating. But I need to take a more hands on approach with him.


I'm sure he'd understand...

I am DOOMLORD. I am all heart.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

The Weekly Shop #14

It's weeks like this that tempt me to start downloading my comics illegally. I'm sure there are plenty of folks out there who think that buying seven comics and two trades doesn't really constitute a heavy week, but believe, me when you buy your comics in England that's an expensive little shop right there.

Never mind, you can't take it with you right? And gratifyingly enough there were NO duds on this week's list, making me feel slightly less guilty about bringing more stuff home to horde.

The best book of the week, Black Summer #0, only cost 65p anyway! Can't feel guilty about that. Alright the story is only eight pages long, but it features a superhero murdering the President. 65p to read about a superhero doing in George Bush. Bargain! And you get a nice little text piece thrown in at the end.

Given the subject matter you don't need me to tell you that this book is written by Warren Ellis. He's covering similar themes in Thunderbolts, but he obviously has to tone things down in a mainstream Marvel book. It's clear that this won't be the case with Black summer, you only have to look at the cover to see that...

Yup that's George Bush's body on the floor

I like this intro, it feels a lot like Ellis's early work on The Authority, a title that I loved when it first came out. My only concern, apart from some government employed spook assassinating the writer, is that this might end up being another heavily delayed book. I'm a big fan of Juan Jose Ryp's incredibly detailed artwork, but I'm guessing it 's going to take him a long time to produce the pages for this. I'll stick with it whatever the delays though because I admire Ellis for putting out politically relevant books like this.

Detective Comics #833 is an entirely different comic, but no less enjoyable. Paul Dini returns to writing duties this issue and produces another great Batman story. If you haven't already, give this issue a try. It's just a great Batman comic.

If you've read some of my previous bilge then you know I'm a big EC fan. That makes Rick Remender and Tony Moore's Fear Agent an easy pick for me. It' would be doing the book a disservice to call it a homage to Weird Science (The EC book not the 80's film) but Remender's love for that title is writ large over this tale of alien invaders.

I borrowed the first trade from the library and will get round to the second at some point. In the meantime the new mini-series Fear Agent The Last Goodbye which focuses on the back story behind the ongoing series is a great place to hop on and get a flavour of the story.

When I was picking up my week's stash, the chap behind the counter paused as he ticked off Irredeemable Ant-Man #9 and said: "Everyone is buying this". I can only hope he's right because this book is really starting to hit its stride and it would be a shame to see it cancelled now that Robert Kirkman's groundwork is starting to pay dividends.

Be it Invincible, Walking Dead or Ant-Man, Kirkman's stories all reward the patient reader. The first few months are spent carefully setting up a multitude of plotlines which gradually start to intertwine as the story gathers pace.

I remember starting the first trade of Invincible and thinking it was nothing special, and then Kirkman dropped the Viltrumite bomb and suddenly the book took off. It hasn't touched down since. Walking Dead was the same and there are signs that Ant-Man is just about to get a real head of steam on.

Having a disagreeable character as the lead is potentially problematic, (Eric O'Grady isn't a guy the reader can empathise with and he's certainly no hero), but these are exactly the reasons this book stands out from the crowd. Like Black Summer it's a fresh take on the superhero genre and all the more welcome for that.

Outsiders #48 and Omega Flight #3 both offer more standard superhero fare. Nothing wrong with that and I enjoyed them both in a forgettable sort of way. Not sure about Scott Kolins' art on the latest Omega Flight though, looks a bit hurried to me. And I'm still not convinced that Beta Ray Bill would struggle to beat the Wrecking crew...but I'm glad to see Alpha Flight back even if they are called Omega Flight.

It seems Garth Ennis has left Midnighter. Issue #8 is written by Christos Gage. Enjoyable story with some laughs along the way. Not as good or sick as Ennis, but still worth picking up - a tongue in cheek version of Detective comics (sort of).

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Another Knightmare death

I've become obsessed with finding Knightmare deaths. This is the funniest I've seen so far. Silly Welsh feckers.

The two little links to Knightmare parodies which appear at the end of this vid are also worth a look (the second is particularly funny).


Thursday, 7 June 2007

West End comic shops, living and dead

Ladies and gentlemen, because you demanded it, here's the LLC guide to the comic shops of London's magical West End.

Bright lights, big city, old comics baby!

The West End stores have traditionally occupied a very small area. I've numbered all the existing shops, as well as some of the ones that have disappeared...

1. ORBITAL (current premises)

I've warbled on plenty about this place. What more can I say? OK it's a bit grubby, but forget the decor, this is a great comic shop.

It doesn't have as many trades as Forbidden Planet but there are still plenty to choose from and they are usually cheaper than FP. It stocks all the mainstream monthly books, a fine selection of indie comics, a BIG run of DC and Marvel back issues and the best 50p bargain buckets in the capital.

The knowledgeable and friendly staff help give it a real old school comic shop vibe. No wonder it's always packed.

EDIT: This basement has now joined the ranks of London's comic shop dead! My thoughts on Orbital's new shop can be found HERE

2. GOSH!

Still in its original premises opposite the British Museum. The layout has changed since the '80s, but it remains an excellent comic shop.

Boasts a wide selection of trades (currently offering 3 essentials or showcases for the price of 2) all the usual monthlies and an impressive comics history and graphic design section.

The back issue section isn't as as good as Orbital's, but it is worth checking out for the bulk deals that seem to be a speciality - I've picked up big runs of Alpha Flight, The Nam and Captain America for bargain prices.

The staff are very friendly (especially the Aussie guy*, who is always happy to recommend titles he thinks are worth reading).

*EDIT: I now know that he's from New Zealand and called Andrew.

3. Forbidden Planet (current premises)

London's geek mecca. Forbidden Planet stocks a huge range of DVDs, toys, statues, t-shirts, games, books and yes, comics.

Don't expect to find many back issues though, FP no longer sells anything more than a month or two old. You will be able to find all your mainstream monthlies and a comprehensive amount of trades here.

Like all megastores it's a bit impersonal, but if it's new Marvel and DC comics or trades you're after this is the place for you.

4. Comicana

I'm not sure how Comicana survives. It's the pokiest of all the West End shops and the cramped conditions make shopping there an uncomfortable experience. It does have a huge selection of old comics, but they are pricey and it's difficult to understand why anyone would pay over the odds when they could get their back issues cheaper at Orbital, Gosh or E-Bay.

5. Comic Showcase (Old 1980s site)

The original site of Comic Showcase, just across the road from Forbidden Planet's new shop. I used to shop here quite a lot in the '80s. When I was 13 I inherited a small amount of money from my uncle and wanted to use it to buy an original Watchmen page which they had for sale. It featured Rorschach and would no doubt be worth a fortune now. They said I was too young to appreciate it and refused to sell it to me. Tossers.

6. Comics Showcase (Charing Cross Road site recently closed)

Showcase moved to Charing Cross Road in the '90s (I think). The shop was OK, sold a lot of indie stuff and the usual monthlies, but was obviously struggling and closed last year. That'll teach them not to sell me original art.

7. Orbital (original site, I think. Old Compton Street)

Orbital's original premises on Old Compton Street. At least I think that's where the shop was. I went in there quite a few times, but can't be exactly sure that this is where they were - let's say I'm 95% certain. Anyway much like the new place this was a basement, a lot smaller and smellier though. The new place is a lot better.

8. Forbidden Planet (Second site. New Oxford Street)

Now an internet cafe, FP was here until a few years ago. They even sold back issues in this place although the toy and film section was a lot smaller than it is now.

9. Forbidden Planet (original site, Denmark Street)

The original Forbidden Planet site, now a music shop as are most of the shops on this famous old road. I have a lot of fond memories of this place, it's where I bought most of my comics once I discovered they were available in places other than my newsagent.

10. Alley to Ben's favourite shop (I think it was called Paradise comics)

Just a few doors along from the original FP site is this little alley which used to house the pokiest little comic shop known to man. Seriously it was little more than a hole in the wall. I can't remember for sure, but I think it was called Paradise comics, which is ironic given the fact that it was so shabby.

It didn't sell any new comics, just old ones. You had to give your bag to a dirty little man behind the counter when you went in, he'd give you a playing card in exchange and you got your bag back when you left. No idea why he did this, the place was so small that it would have been impossible to nick anything without him noticing.

Currently empty, the sign on the door is just directing people to a bar in Denmark Street.

original site of Paradise (?) comics

The plague started here you know (threw that one in for Ben).

Original site of Forbidden Planet Two

Just around the corner is the site of the old Forbidden Planet Two shop. The original FP store stocked nothing but comics. If you wanted film and TV memorabilia or cult videos this was the place to go. I bought some Twilight Zone videos in there as I recall.

Happy days.