Tuesday, 30 September 2008

LLC Recommends: Northlanders #9-#10

VIKINGS! You need to read comics about VIKINGS! Specifically (given that I think it's the only viking comic on the stands) Northlanders from Vertigo. The first eight issues were excellent, but with the second and much shorter story in Brian Wood's ongoing series, the book really comes into its own.

It reminds me a lot of Criminal. Different setting obviously, but like Ed Brubaker, Wood has built a world and populated it with enough characters to be able to tell a variety of different stories. He's not limited himself by focusing on one character in particular, so while he's arguably constrained by the genre, he still has the scope to explore different themes by introducing new characters with every arc.

Issues 9+10 are dramatically different to the first eight which told a traditional tale of homecoming and revenge (similar to the Lawless arc in Criminal in many respects). They tell the story of a young Saxon boy who grows up hating his violent Christian father and by extension the monks on the island of Lindisfarne where he lives. This hatred drives him on to help the vikings as they launch the first of their infamous raids on the monasteries of Lindisfarne.

It's a fast paced short story, with a smaller cast than the first arc in the series. But it's also much tighter than Sven the Returned was. The art by Dean Ormston is perfect, his characters look suitably windswept damp and bloody while the landscapes are rugged, full of spindly trees and shadows. The battle scenes often look like they could have been torn straight from a dark age tapestry.

It's a style that proves to be a perfect match for Wood's script. Perhaps the writer takes some liberties by putting contemporary turns of phrase and expression into the mouths of 6th century characters, but he does it for a reason and while there may be very few "arts" "thous" or "verilys" in Northlanders, there's no doubt that Wood has captured the brutal spirit of the age.

There's nothing particularly sympathetic about most of his characters, they live in a rotten world filled with violence and greed, where the struggle to survive often precludes sentiment. The reader can feel sympathy for the child in Lindisfarne, but by the end of the two issue story it's clear that the child himself has had to abandon any thoughts of sentiment to stay alive.

The conclusion of his story is a fitting one which makes me hope that we see him again. One of the strengths of Criminal is that characters who were the focus of earlier arcs often pop up as bit part players later on. It's a device that would serve Northlanders equally well. I'd also like to see Wood take another leaf out of Brubaker's book and include some back matter with the comics. A potted history of the viking raids on Lindisfarne for example.

Even without these, Northlanders is an excellent series. If you missed the first arc it's coming out in trade pretty soon and is well worth picking up. The second story is better though. At two issues it's a decent taster for what I hope is going to be a long running series.

Monday, 29 September 2008

The lightest nerd sack EVER!

Good news. Looking at Thursday's list of new comics I see that there is only ONE book that I want. I can't remember the last time this happened. Can I really limit my week's spending to just £2? I'd feel so much better about myself if I could just go one week without dropping a hefty wedge at the comic shop.

House of Mystery #6
AND NOTHING ELSE.
YAY!
I might even get through some of my monstrous to read pile.
Happy days.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

A night with old chums

To London's West End for drinks with Little Ad, Big Dave and Dotty the laser-eyed dog (centre)...


A fine evening during which much alcohol-based fun was had. I downed four pints of lager, one sambuca, two Jack Daniels and two whiskeys; a mix that might not be enough take the edge off of an alcoholic's thirst, but which sent me home drunk and left me feeling very ill this morning. Truly I am a lightweight.

No matter, before the alcohol poisoning set in, some fine chat was had.

When not railing against the "over-rated evil of Bladerunner" Dave pointed out that after reading Warren Ellis's recent run on Thunderbolts he had come to the conclusion that Ellis writes Norman Osborn as Blakey from On The Buses. "I 'ate you Parker!" Genius.

Little Ad' (no longer as little as he once was of course) wet my gaming whistle with talk of a possible Heroclix lock in at the pub where he works. He has many sentinels I hear.

Dotty danced provocatively for nachos. Tart.

I was slightly embarrassed to be introduced to one of Dave's Pub chums as some sort of all-knowing comic guru. He seemed impressed enough that I knew The Silver Surfer's real name, so perhaps I carried it off, but the truth is (and I'm talking to you directly here Dave), I don't know that much about comics (about as much as you I'm guessing) so there's really no need to hold me up as some shining example to passing nerds. Please, don't do it again, or I'll post more videos like this...

video

You never did explain WHY you hate Bladerunner by the way.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Underground comics

And so back to Blighty. Fuck me, it's cold at night here isn't it?

Lisbon was pleasant enough, a few too many hills for my fat old form to cope with, but the weather was good and the old ladies like babies a LOT, a fact which helped keep my one-year old entertained at bus stops.

Ploughed my way through The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier (not as good as vols I+II. But it's Alan Moore, so you know, it's still brilliant), but other than that had scant opportunity to read. Still, I did have a brief moment of sequential fun on the Lisbon metro, bagging some snaps of the wall of Oriente station which features a spiffing selection of water based comic shenanigans.

I recognised a couple of the covers

Conan #98...



and, somewhat bizarrely, Alpha Flight #14...



Can't place these Namor swipes though...


If anyone knows what cover(s) they're from I'd be interested to know.

Off to the West End tomorrow to fill up on two week's worth of single issues and meet Big Dave F for a beer or two and a yarn. For now though I have to cut the rambling short and hit the sack. Toooooo tired. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Wolverine trailer

Yes, yes, I know I said no updates for 10 days, but I'm in an apartment with wi-fi, and am unable to resist sharing a quite FANTASTIC fan film with you. This one hooked me early with the Eastern European Logan and the underwear, braces, car battery and kneepads ensemble. Enjoy, and remember: "I only simulate dead!" *


* Soon to replace "I'm the best at what I do" as Wolverine's number one catchphrase.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Holiday

Right, I'm away to Lisbon. This blog is closed for 10 days. Ta-Ra imaginary web chums!

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Gilbert Shelton at Gosh!

To Gosh! for the Gilbert Shelton signing. Another fine event from London's finest comic shop!

Queues were long, as was the waiting time, but with good reason - not only was Shelton signing The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers Omnibus, he was providing everyone in attendance with a free sketch.

Here's mine...

I'm very happy with it.

Quite how Shelton managed to do so many sketches without his hand turning blue I don't know. I asked him if he was in pain, but he just shook his hand and said it wasn't about to fall off yet! He went on to explain that shaking one's hand means something quite different in France (where he now lives) than it does over here. That's what he's talking about at the beginning of the video below. It was shot on my mobile phone so it's not the best quality, but it does show a PROPER LEGEND in action, and he's drawing a picture for me, HUZZAH!

By the way, as delighted as I am to be able to share Shelton's thoughts on Cheech and Chong with you, I'm also extremely embarrassed by my woeful attempts to talk American history with him. Quite why Teddy Roosevelt came into my head, I don't know. I wish I'd just kept my stupid mouth shut. Please pretend you can't hear me and just enjoy a comics master at work...

video

Thursday, 11 September 2008

London Signings

If you're in London this Saturday you can meet two of the most important hippies ever to work in comics.

Alan Moore is signing Lost Girls at Orbital. Details HERE

Gilbert Shelton is signing the Freak Brothers Omnibus at Gosh! Details HERE

Both men are doing their thing between 2pm and 4pm.

I'm meant to be clearing out an attic, but I might make it down if only for The Freak Brothers Omnibus which looks a steal at £20.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

A brief and frankly not very well written review of a bad comic

Oh man I'm tired. Really, really fucking tired. It's not a state that makes for easy reading and consequently my "to read" pile is getting perilously close to ceiling height. Gaaah! Curse you real life, how dare you interfere with my comic habit!

I can just about stave off sleep long enough to concentrate on one comic a day at the moment, which makes it vital that I pick a good one. Imagine my pain then when I pulled DC's Last Will and Testament from the stack last night. Groan.

Allegedly a Final Crisis tie-in, this one shot follows several heroes as they contemplate their last night before earth is destroyed. It's a comic that reads like the first draft for a 1980s made for TV melodrama...only worse. In amidst the angst you get to follow Brion Markov as he tracks down Deathstroke and attempts to take revenge for the death of Tara (Terra) Markov back in the 80s.

It's a slow and tedious ride. BUT it does have several pages of fantastic Joe Kubert art that make me wish he was still drawing comics on a regular basis. He packs a lot of weary resignation into the faces of his characters and almost saves what is essentially a pretty bad comic. Almost.

So there you go, I'll try and pick a better comic off the pile tonight. For now I need to get shifting to work. I leave you with a nice link to near-miss heroes and villains.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

For everyone who complains that Grant Morrison comics are too difficult to understand...

...go read this seven-year old's review of Batman RIP and hang your dumb heads in shame!

Cap date raped!


And with that I've just guaranteed my blog a heap of hits from some very sick Google searches.

Scan taken from Essential Captain America vol #1. Originally from Tales of Suspense #82

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Rockman vs The Pixies

My apologies imaginary web chums, I realise it's been a few days since I updated you on the contents of my nerd sack, but let me assure you, I haven't jacked this narcissistic blogfoolery in. No, no I've just been so busy with babies and work that I've hardly had time to look at any comics let alone write about them. Never fear though, in the words of Pearl Jam: "Hey, I, oh, Iiiiiii, I'm still alive!"

Word.

I actually missed new comics day this week, but did make it down to the West End on very little sleep for Friday. Picked up a stack of new stuff too, including the latest Hellblazer trade, (which has me all tingly with excitement), and monthly favourites Green Lantern, House of Mystery and Storming Paradise.

My absolute favourite book this week though has to be The Twelve 1/2. This one shot isn't the latest installment in the excellent Marvel series, but it does reprint several golden age rarities starring the cast of The Twelve. And very fine stories they are too, particularly the Rockman v Pixies effort from 1942, which is written by none other than Stan Lee and features a fight which ends with Rockman administering some old school punishment...

Mwahahaha! God Bless you young Stan Lee!

Webwise I've added Ande Parks' blog to my list of Inter-stops. Recommended on the 11 o'clock comics podcast, Parks' blog is a daily look at original art in the author's own collection. The scans of the art are worth visiting for alone, but Parks' commentary is what makes the site a must see. Brilliant stuff, check it out HERE

I also looked in on the new Phonogram site after picking up a natty flyer for December's Phonogram: The Singles Club. Nice to see some new Jamie McKelvie art, and I like that Gillen and McKelvie are promoting the new comic with club style flyers...

Click to enlarge

Can't wait for it. The website is HERE

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Watchmen memorabilia

Going through a cupboard full of my old junk, I found this...

I've no recollection of buying it, but I presume it was purchased at the time of Watchmen's original release. I wonder if I ever intended to sew it onto an item of clothing. Probably. However, by the time Watchmen came out I'd already experienced the dangerous derision that nerdy clothing can provoke, and this almost certainly led me to consign the patch to the box of old tat where it has resided to this day.

That FF incident was the first of two fashion based attacks which I can remember. The second came after I decided to write THE SMITHS in biro on the back of an old parka jacket. This provoked several Morrissey hating toughs into punching me in the back of the head while chanting "gay songs, gay songs" at the top of their voices.

Happy days.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

I cannot suspend my disbelief that much

I can buy into the whole 9-year old girl as psychopathic superhero thing. And the fact that the main character has survived all the way to issue #4 despite sustaining a beating that should have killed him back in issue #1, doesn't bother me. BUT the latest issue of Kick-Ass goes too far...

Perrrlease, kids buying comics!?! Pffar. Get real Millar.