Thursday, 31 January 2008
Orbital are selling cheap, cheap Heroclix and although their sale has officially ended you can still get your hands on several DC Showcases and a bunch of other cut price trades.
There's also a heap of fantastic new comics out this week. Sadly I am so exhausted tonight that I can't even summon the energy to read a stack which includes Captain America #34, Project Superpowers #0, Green Lantern #27, Black Summer #5 and Suburban Glamour #3.
Wednesday, 30 January 2008
I've shared quite a few of his e-mails with you over the past year, but lately he's been very quiet. Thankfully he's prepared a new rant on the subject of superhero computer games. Here t'is...
"Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. I refer of course to my absence from the real world, as well as LLC.
For Christmas, Santa left me a brand spanking, all-singing, all-dancing, terra-mega, 768graphics thing, top o’ the range, game playing oojamaflip….. or desktop computer to you laymen.
Since that day I have slowly sunk into a virtual world, as my game playing experiences have become more and more immersive to the point where I am now a Computer Gollum… ‘My Preciousssss…’ Bent and huddled over my monitor in the dark hours, its stark, iridescent, gamma glow dancing of my pale fevered brow, I have trodden paths I will not tell, roamed alien landscapes, emerged triumphant and victorious from a thousand battles, and had the powers of the Gods themselves bestowed on me….. well virtually.
I must admit in one of my more alcohol induced multiplayer killing sprees, after winning a battle with no less than 94 kills (other real people I might add, sitting in rooms similar to my own) I typed to the captive audience I had:
‘BOW DOWN AND WORSHIP ME LIKE A GOD!’ (reminiscent of General Zod: Superman 2)
Checking myself, but breathless and exhausted I quickly typed: ‘Please?..... No pressure…’
Crapulent with power and alcohol and fatigue, I now put digit to keypad to speak to you from a dimension beyond that of what you understand as real. My virtual bondage.
Okay look, this is LLC right?…. And I am Big D right? So I'm gonna turn this prose in a direction more fitting. Hulk? Comics? D&D?
Well computer gaming has spelt death for the good ‘ol fashioned RPG: pencil, paper and dice. It is also responsible for blasting a fist sized hole in the board games industry; they killed much that I knew and loved. But I was oh so willing to be seduced by this new cyber-mistress that I had already flirted with throughout my youth.
I think it must have been Gauntlet...
...a 4 player co-operative game, that was my first D&Desque experience in an amusement arcade. (Anyone remember: Red Elf is about to die…?) The fact you could play with 4 of your friends simultaneously was a stroke of genius, and added to that warm, communal, roleplay feeling that you only usually got sat round a table with a character sheet in front of you, d20 cocked and ready in your sweaty palm, safe in the company of other nerds.
I soon found myself with a computer in the house. What good parent would not want to keep their young child abreast of the latest innovations in this new technological dawn? And what a fine standard bearer Sir Clive was…
What followed was my puppy-love affair with the Spectrum 48k and its multifarious games…It was here I discovered text adventures. Poor, soulless recreations of the roleplay genre, but still a substitute for a die hard fan who didn’t have any friends with big enough tables. Scott Adams- curse his oily hide, and the oily hides of everyone of his descendants, was responsible for stealing a large part of my young life with titles such as: Questprobe Hulk...
and of course, Questprobe Human Torch & Thing....
I still vividly remember Dom's voice saying: ‘Buy Scott Adams hint books!’ In his best Liberace impersonation. It was all satirical back then you see.
Text adventures were usually crafted by uninspired nerds with no story telling skill whatsoever and a modicum of computer savvy. Most of them had utterly ridiculous puzzles, unsolvable to all but the clinically insane, a frustratingly limited vocabulary, and were totally devoid of logic or wit. Scott Adams Questprobe Adventures were no exception… but they were superhero titles…. And I loved superheroes, so I wasted my life on them. CURSE YOU ADAMSSSSSSSSS! Here is a picture of the nerdy-youth-stealing-bastard...
Adams (left) and a half clit half turd alien
Things got better... Games got better. Loading times got shorter. Graphics got better. Playing a computer game actually started to become enjoyable, rather than hair tearingly infuriating.
X-Men in the arcades…WOW!
It was a pretty fantastic, side-scrolling, beat ‘em up, remembered fondly by all who played it, and choc-full of marvel-tastic characters and locales.
Oh! The pounds I wasted in the amusement arcades as a kid!
One of the best but lesser known superhero titles was Marvel vs. Capcom...
It was Street Fighter format and it did include many Street Fighter Characters but had a veritable plethora of Mighty Marvel creations including relatively obscure characters such as Cable and War Machine. It also had big bad Baddies like Doc Doom, Thanos and even Omega Red. The colourful cartoonesque graphics seemed to capture the movement and energy of the Marvel characters fantastically....
Who would win out of Venom and Iceman? Lets find out! WICKED!
Things could only get better for the Marvel/ Computer Game tie in…. or could they.
For me, what spoilt (and will continue to spoil) every piece of commercial Marvel merchandise, was when
I wanted Green Goblin (and with a face like Willem Dafoe’s it was altogether possible)
They gave me a green Power Ranger.
I wanted Magneto. A veritable god among men. Noble Homo-Superior.
They gave me a geriatric waif of a man in a silly hat.
I wanted the Hulk.
They gave me a 2 hour plus movie about Nick Nolte turning into some sort of Absorbing fucking man and only a lousy 10 fucking minutes of the Hulk smashing tanks. BOLLOCKS! (Her from Labyrinth was nice though!)
I wanted Daredevil….. I wont even go into that!
Most Marvel computer games are now Movie tie-ins and as such feature the same insipid plots and characterisations and reek of the noisome funk of
Tuesday, 29 January 2008
Well I thought so anyway.
Elsewhere this week, I enjoyed Amazing Spider-Man # 548. Like I said before, there's nothing ground-breaking here, just good, clean throwaway fun. The kind of stuff I used to buy in my newsagent when I was too young to know that comic shops existed.
I still find it amusing that people are pissing their knickers over the reboot. I mean, I have some sympathy for the ones who are unhappy about the fact that things have changed, but the folk who are screaming that Spidey should just have got a divorce rather than done a deal with Mephisto because that would have been more believable need a good slap.
Wise up fanboys, this is Spider-Man for fuck's sake! It's a comic about a man who got bitten by a radioactive insect, climbs walls and fights villains who dress up as rhinos and goblins. If you want believability and realism you're in the wrong place.
Personally I like my comics silly. Occasionally they are so stupid that they rise above the disposable to become things of absurd beauty. Case in point: Wonder Woman. What a fucking great funny book this is. A book where a scantily clad Amazon leads a troop of apes into battle against a bunch of 21st century Nazis. Truly this is great literature. In the words of Wonder-Woman...
Not 'arf princess! Pass me the tissues.
Other genuinely excellent comics this week include Dan Dare #3 where Garth Ennis gives us his homage to Zulu. Also included is a sneak preview of Glenn Fabry's Gilbert & George inspired cover to issue 4...
Dan Dare also gets bonus points for continuing to carry ads for for REAL space travel on the back.
Also worth a look: Comics Now #1. I could've done without the five pages of recaps on Marvel and DC's current titles, but there are some interesting articles here, not least the exhaustive (and arguably exhausting) 20 page scholarly spectacular on DC's various Crisis events.
As a magazine that seems to be setting itself up as a conscious competitor to the appalling Wizard though, I have to say I was disappointed to see an editorial which disavows "negative reviews" and tells us that "Inside the pages of this magazine you will find positive stories that reinforce your love of comics".
They are correct to tell us that: "If you want negative reviews...you can find that in a myriad of places online", but by being too happy smiley about comics they run the risk of turning into another Wizard.
I don't want a magazine which would have me believe every comic on the stands is AMAZING and that there is no such thing as a waste of money at the comic book shop. I'm all for positive reviews and commentary where merited, but I also want to read bad reviews. After all there's a lot of crap out there.
Hopefully Comics Now will see fit to include some honest reviews further down the line, because it's a promising project. I'll certainly be back for issue #2.
Monday, 28 January 2008
Anyway clearly the madness has to stop, so burberry baseball caps off to the smart fella who came up with this hard hitting campaign...
Yes! Solve This Ongoing Problem!
Genius, I particularly like the use of a corkscrew for the letter T.
Buy your STOP! T-shirt here
I'm sure your money will be ploughed back into the battle against knife crime. The guy selling the T-shirts probably just forgot to mention that on his auction page.
PS Apologies to anyone who thought this post was going to be about AIM, RAID, MODOK or SHIELD.
Friday, 25 January 2008
Now look, I know Ethan van Sciver based his Sinestro on Adolf Hitler, but does he really need to be naming his sketchbooks "Mein Kampf"?
Seems like an odd choice to me. Then again I've got a giant Nazi robot for a blog banner so who am I to criticise?
Thursday, 24 January 2008
Along with the piles of half priced yellowing tat that will no doubt find their way into my nerd sack, I'll also be picking up some brightly coloured, sweet smelling new comics. Here's my shopping list...
Comics Now #1
A new magazine produced by the folk behind the Comic Geek Speak podcast. Written by fans for fans. It has a huge article on Crisis on Infinite Earths, so I'm sold.
Wonder Woman #16
Nazis v Apes! FUCK YEAH!
Amazing Spider-Man #548
Throwaway pop culture at it's brightest and best. Now if only I could force myself to throw it away instead of carefully sealing it in plastic and storing it in an overflowing long box.
Astonishing X-Men #24
That nice man Mr Whedon is back with issue #24 of his enjoyable X book. It's the only X-Men title I can be bothered with these days.
Marvel Zombies 2 #4 (of 5)
BRAINSSSSSSS! Yeah it's a bit tired, but this still has it's moments.
Sigh. Only three more issues to go after this one. What a swizz. A savvy team book that deserved more of a chance than Marvel are giving it.
Dan Dare #3 (of 7)
Mad Dan Dare: Man of the Future obsessed with the past. An excellent take on a British icon by a twisted Irishman. Plus every issue comes with a real advert for space travel on the back. Top stuff
The Ultimates. Vol 3. Number 2
Wednesday, 23 January 2008
Obviously Marvel feel that The Order isn't selling well enough to justify an extended run, but it can't be healthy to keep cancelling comics that have barely got into their stride. After all why should I continue to part with my cash for titles that have little or no chance of avoiding the chop? And what chance do any new comics have if people like me stop buying them?
Yes there'll always be Superman, Batman, Spidey, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, but outside of those mainstays precious little is making it beyond issue 20. I guess Checkmate at DC is getting a decent crack of the whip despite less than impressive sales, but that probably has something to do with Greg Rucka. I imagine the book would be canned if he weren't such an influential figure. It might still be axed now that he's no longer exclusive to DC.
Very few other new ongoing titles get a chance at the big two. What we're left with is a raft of mini-series, often cynically timed to coincide with the release of new superhero movies and a bunch of over-hyped event linked books.
I suppose I shouldn't grumble. The established titles are the ones that make the money. If the Order and Ant-Man aren't making any dough then it's no surprise that they get cancelled. Surely DC and Marvel realise that these titles aren't going to sell in huge numbers though, which begs the question: "why are they soliciting them as ongoing series in the first place?"
If they had set Ant-Man up as a 12 issue mini series I wouldn't have felt like I'd wasted £24 at the end of the run! And if overall sales of the book had been better than expected they could just have solicited another 12 issues.
If they do insist on selling these titles as ongoing series, then they should be willing to stick with them for a reasonable amount of time. Their refusal to do so leaves me feeling more convinced than ever that I'm wasting my time buying single issues that have little or no chance of survival in an industry which is geared towards trade paperbacks and the cross promotion of big budget movies.
Tuesday, 22 January 2008
Monday, 21 January 2008
On second thoughts, perhaps that crack baby's a bit too chubby to be definitive.
Reprinted in Back Issue #26
Saturday, 19 January 2008
Friday, 18 January 2008
Some crazy fella on Facebook has done a nice little photoshop of Niven as Sinestro...
Thursday, 17 January 2008
Thanks also to the following sites for linking to me...
Down the Tubes
and for Spanish readers...
It's gratifying to know that I have a few readers out there!
Tuesday, 15 January 2008
Ultimates Vol: 3 #1 2nd Printing Wraparound Variant, $2.99
People are also fighting over the 1 in 100 (or whatever it was) variant covers on e-bay.
Meanwhile The Exterminators is facing cancellation.
'tis a depressing situation.
Monday, 14 January 2008
Number #1 on the LLC list: The End League #1
If this hadn't been written by Rick Remender I'd never have picked it up. After all who needs ANOTHER superhero team book?
Set in a super-villain run post-apocalyptic world where 1 out of every 1000 people has superpowers, the End League is essentially a rehash of ideas which have already been explored in Wanted, Top 10, The Authority, The Ultimates and Kingdom Come.
Seen it, read it got the T-Shirt etc. I wanted to hate this, but it's done so well that it doesn't seem to matter that we've seen it all before.
It's doing Remender down to say that he does a great homage, but errrm....he does. Just as Fear Agent is a love letter to EC's Weird Science so The End League references and pays tribute to the big superteam books.
Yet for all the familiarity, there are enough new ideas in this to make it an exciting read. If you're in any way jaded by the super-hero genre though, you aren't going to like it.
Number #2 recommendation Army at Love
Regular readers will know that I've been blathering on for some time about Special Forces and how it's the ONLY book out there that's tackling the American occupation of Iraq.
Army at Love is a corker that cocks a snook at the war and the people running it while also finding time to send up corporate America and the apathy which it fosters.
Oh and it's by Rick Veitch.
There's a cheap trade of the first few issues available, the cover is plastered in good reviews. Rightly so. Top quality stuff.
Recommendation #3 Gravel #0
Starts in Iraq, but that's where the similarity to Army at Love ends in this typically gore spattered Warren Ellis/Avatar offering.
I loved the Bond style prelude to the main story. And hey, a secret agent combat wizard...what's not to like.
Saturday, 12 January 2008
He was told: "Two maximum. One of those has to be Lost Girls. And NO Watchmen!"
I'm still considering taking a copy of Barely Legal along.
I've been following the furore over the retconning of Spider-man with detached interest. I prefer my Spidey as a wise-cracking penniless singleton, so I'm not overly disappointed to see that Marvel have ditched his marriage to MJ and sent him back home to live with Aunt May.
I can't comment on the way in which this was achieved as I haven't read the One More Day story where everything was changed. Obviously everyone else out there (including a couple of very angry fat stinkers in Gosh!) thinks it was a bag of bollocks. Happen they're right.
You can't knock the first issue of the reboot though. I only picked it up out of curiosity, but Brand New Day was a top quality mainstream Marvel book. Yes I could have done with a few more pictures of Spidey swinging through Manhattan, but there was still enough excellent Steve McNiven art to keep me happy and Dan Slott writes a good knockabout, fast moving, smart talking Spidey.
Not so sure about this three times a month business, but my interest level has been raised enough to give the next issue a try.
A comic book ad from 1977 for you...
...Kids these days don't know they're born!
Friday, 11 January 2008
Wednesday, 9 January 2008
What a story! Surely the editor of the Daily Planet would go nuts for something like that...
Supes does some heat ray/super breath shit to prove he really is who he says, and...
Many years later...
Sunday, 6 January 2008
Sad. But there is some good news to be had with the release of issue #1 of the Warren Ellis/Cary Nord four part mini Ultimate Human. With its a sharp sense of cynicism, great dialogue and beautiful drawings this is a book that feels like the rightful sequel to The Ultimates.
It works where the other Ultimate titles are currently failing because Ellis doesn't try and knock down the foundations that Millar laid in the Ultimates. Instead he builds on Millar's knowing interpretations of both the Hulk and Iron Man by playing up the fallibility and foibles of Tony Stark and Bruce Banner. He respects the tone set in the first two volumes of the Ultimates and as a result Ultimate Human doesn't jar in the way that Jeph Loeb's reworking of the Utimates does. It feels like it belongs in the same universe as Millar's work.
The art is also right. I loved Cary Nord's work on the Dark Horse Conan series, so was delighted to see him get this book. His drawing is careful and detailed, a world away from the stylised neon and shrunken heads of Joe Mad's art.
It's a really good superhero book which reminded me just how good the Ultimate Universe is when done well. The characters all nod respectfully towards the past, but are free of the 40+ years of baggage that sometimes weighs down their regular Marvel counterparts.
These stripped down, modernised versions of Marvel's big toys deserve to be handled by writers and artists capable of maintaining a consistent feel for the Ultimate Universe across the various books. Sadly that consistency is lacking in nearly all the Ultimate titles right now. I've gone from reading all of them to the point where I've dropped everything but Ultimate Spider-Man - and my interest in that book is on the wane.
Unless changes are made across the board, I fear that Ultimate Human may be the last hurrah for a line which has lost direction, cohesion and believability.
Saturday, 5 January 2008
Seriously, while you cunts are living it up with your mince pies, bucks fizz and crackers I'm working more often and harder than at any other time of the year.
Glad to fucking see the back of them chum. BAH HUMBUG!
Sadly, I'm not free tomorrow (or today as it is now) or I'd be making a trip to Orbital comics to meet Brian Wood and get my copy of Northlanders and Local signed. As it is though I'm in St Albans with the missus and her chums so I can't go.
I shall make sure to be at Orbital for this though (pasted in from Facebook so excuse the shite formatting)...
The Orbital Sale!!!
Sale Starts 25th Jan - 28th Jan!!
Comics & Collectibles - Manga - Designer Toys
* 50% off Back Issues
* 20% off Silver Age
* 10% off Graphic Novels
* 10% Toys
* 1000s of Comics for just 50p
* Up to 50% off selected Manga
* Up to 50% off selected Toys
* Up to 50% off selected Designer Toys
Orbital Comics - 148 Charing X Road, London WC2H 0LB
Tel: 0207 2407672
Orbital Manga - 4c Orion House, Upper St Martins Lane, London WC2H 9NY
Tel: 0207 2405577
Orbital Designer Toys - 10-11 Moor Street, London W1D 5NH
Tel: 0207 4344507
Should be a few bits and bobs worth picking up.
So as I say, a lot quieter at work today which gave me the chance to pop out for a few pints and surf the net for comic book news. I spent a good chunk of the evening marvelling at THIS
Yes, it seems some rich fella has paid John Byrne a huge amount of dosh to draw his adolescent wank fantasy of a comic. Jeez, how the mighty have fallen. I grew up idolising Byrne for his work on X-Men, Alpha Flight and the Fantastic Four and now here he is taking the coin from some dufus.
How many words does the guy want to fit into those balloons anyway?
Many of my blog posts (including this one) have been cobbled together rather hastily over the last couple of weeks, often when very tired and/or drunk. Sadly this resulted in me going off on a small rant about the lack of decent horror comics while completely forgetting that the first two issues of Crawl Space have been rather magnificent. Sorry about that FEAR FANS!
Sleep now Sutton, SLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!
Thursday, 3 January 2008
I heartily recommend Jimmy Olsen Adventures by Jack Kirby. The great man was in his 50s by the time he started knocking this stuff up on his drawing board, but you would think it had been written and drawn by a 20 year old hippie. Like, far out man...
I'd love to have seen what Jimmy Olsen fans made of his debut on the series. I mean look at this (click it to inflate the Kirby magic)...
Whether it was scotch, LSD or Jefferson Airplane, you can't tell me that Jack wasn't dabbling in something naughty when he produced this stuff.
Wednesday, 2 January 2008
Here are a few things I'd like to happen in 2008...
Fewer events: World War Hulk, Civil War, 52, Countdown, Sinestro Corps. Yada, Yada, Yada. 2007 was event heavy and left me feeling heartily fed up. I didn't want to be forced to buy Civil War to understand what was happening in Captain America or put up with the fact that Green Lantern suddenly made no sense because everything had been fast forwarded by a year thanks to 52.
I enjoyed Sinestro Corps, but significantly this was a tale which was largely contained in Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps. It certainly didn't feel like a cynical ploy to make me spend a fortune on a bunch of comics that I didn't want just so that I could follow the story in the comics I did want.
More single issues that work as single issues: It gets a bit tedious buying comics that are clearly being written with one eye on collected editions. One of my favourite comics of 2007 was All Star Superman because every issue stood on it's own. As for most of the others? Pah!
I'm seriously considering kicking single issues altogether this year. The trades are cheaper, 90% of comics seem to be written with the collected editions in mind and a good proportion of them come out at irregular intervals that make remembering what is happening in the story difficult.
A NEW 2000AD: I'd like a decent British comic to read. I'd like that comic to be 2000AD. I don't mind the fact that the comic is now aimed at a more mature audience, but to make that work they need to ditch the old format, you just can't tell the stories they seem to want to tell in short eight page bursts. Ditch the weekly format, make it thicker, cut it down to two strips per issue.
A decent horror comic: Walking Dead is the only really decent horror title out there. I want something that does the same job House of Mystery used to do. Tales from the Crypt is pants. Strange Cases isn't scary. Someone's got to do a proper scary book.
More affordable Golden age reprints: Dear Marvel and DC. I like Golden age comics, put some of them on the same crap paper that you put Essentials and Showcases on and sell them to me cheap. Thank you.
Collect The Crunch: I can't find The Crunch anywhere. Not even on e-bay. It's genius. I have proved as much HERE. I demand that someone collects the entire run in a beautiful omnibus for me to read. Thank you.