Well it is the end of another year and I haven’t managed to spend any time maintaining this blog. So, in what is rapidly becoming an annual tradition, I am posting an image from Goodreads of all the comic books that I have read this year.
Highlights this year were The Walking Dead, The Unwritten, Batgirl Year One and Saga.
I have been reading the first two volumes of Saga over the last few days and will continue till I have finished the currently available issues (24). This book is really good and if you are a fan of Y: The Last Man then you should also love this book from BKV. A highlight of this year will be the publication of the last issue of BKV’s self published comic The Private Eye so that I can finally read the story in one go.
Until the next time – whenever it might be – have a great 2015 if you can.
This book collects the first 13 issues of the 24 issue first volume of Swamp Thing. The stories were all written by Len Wein with the first 10 illustrated by Bernie Wrightson and the rest by Nester Redondo.
While not in the same league as the later Alan Moore era, there is enough in these stories to keep a Swamp Thing fan entertained giving an introduction to a lot of the elements that Moore later reused for his own take on the character.
The remaining 11 issues in volume 1 have not been reissued in book form and having continued on from this book to read the single issues it is clear to see why. They are not of the same quality as the Wein stories and the writers don’t seem to have any clear idea what to do with the character.
So if you are interested in exploring the earliest roots of the Swamp Thing then this volume contains all you need.
As you can see there has not been a lot of activity on this blog for a while. I have been crazy busy at work this year and have had no time to record my thoughts on books as I read them.
Is this likely to change in the future? Well probably not immediately as I will be involved in two projects at work that will take up most of my time up until at least August.
So I will post here when I can but it is probably going to be sporadic for the first half of the year at least. For now I will leave you with a graphic of all the comic books I have read this year courtesy of Goodreads (click on the image to magnify):
So it’s gone a bit quiet here again. No good reason just been busy at work and haven’t been reading any comics lately. Not that I don’t have a lot to read. Aside from my big stack of unread books at home I have also been taking advantage of the various sales at Comixology and Dark Horse and have a pile of digital comics to read including complete runs of American Vampire, Transmetropolitan, The Boys, Grendel, Terminal City and many others.
“Wait! Where’s the SWAT team? I don’t see the SWAT team! I don’t even rate the SWAT team anymore.”
Joker/Mask is the collection of a four issue series from DC and Dark Horse. The story was written by Henry Gilroy with art from Ramon F. Bachs and Howard M. Shum. I have not seen the work of any of these creators before but Gilroy is a co-writer on the Star Wars: Clone Wars TV series among other animation series credits. Bachs is a Spanish artist who has worked on a number of Star Wars comics as well as some titles for Marvel and DC. Shum is a writer on a number of titles as well as an artist.
The Joker decides to go to a museum and blow up an exhibition featuring frowning clown masks. However his day does not go well as the head henchman has sent the other henchmen to the wrong location and Harley Quinn has removed the detonators from all the explosives. But the henchman discovers a mask that gives the wearer a manic energy and superhuman powers. Wearing the mask, the Joker is able to beat Batman severely enough that he is out of action feared dead and the Joker is left free to pursue his insane agenda across Gotham while monopolising the television airwaves. Harley fears for the Joker and enlists Poison Ivy’s help to remove the mask from the Joker before he blows up Gotham for real.
This story features the Joker on maximum overdrive and overkill. Even Harley Quinn finds it hard to continue to love her Mister J and the Joker/Mask has to keep coming up with wilder and more extreme exploits to stop himself becoming bored with how easy committing crime is with super powers. While there is some really good comic moments in this book, the manic intensity of the Joker/Mask combination is sometimes too much for the reader as it is for the characters in the story. With the Joker/Mask as the main character throughout the book, the pressure to come up with gag after gag relentlessly is a perhaps a drag on the writing.
I liked the art from Bachs and Shum. It is very cartoony in style but fit in well with cartoon qualities of the Mask and the manifestation of his powers. There are even some lovely renderings of Poison Ivy as well.
A quick and cheerful read that won’t change your life but is worth a look if you can find it.
“The bliss of its waters draws all souls. Can you not feel its pull?”
“All I feel is wind and sand up my ass!”
This is a 380 page graphic novel from Dark Horse Comics and was written and drawn by the Fillbach Brothers, Matthew and Shawn. I have read and enjoyed their Roadkillbook, also from Dark Horse.
When Anna Gilmour investigates the crash site of an object that falls to Earth, the last thing that she expects to see is a giant, mute, humanoid walking from crater. She names the alien Maxwell and uniquely bonds with it. However, Max is a semi-mythical, powerful being that a lot of alien races want to exploit. The ensuing conflict threaten to consume the Earth and all living beings upon it.
I enjoyed this story but it had a bit of a multiple personality. It started out as a humorous Men in Black/X-files crossover with the Earth populated by many different races all spying on each other waiting for the return of the Strangewell. Then it mutated into an apocalyptic end of the world story as the power of the Strangewell was misappropriated by one delusional member of the alien race to which all accountants belong. Before finally becoming a morality tale on the abuse of power and knowledge. The size of the graphic novel gave the creators time to do this but it did feel like three books at times. Worth a look if you enjoyed Roadkill.
“Why does everyone always talk about Megu and never about me? Me too … I’d like somebody to help me too sometime …”
Something a bit different this time. This book is a single volume Manga with writing and art by Jiro Taniguchi. This is the first work that I have read by him but he has a career stretching back to beginning of the 80s. This one was originally published in 2000 but this English edition is from 2008.
When the daughter of his dead friend goes missing, Shiga feels obligated to travel to Tokyo to help look for her. He feels guilty for not being with his friend when he died on a mountain climbing expedition with his last written words being a plea to look out for his wife and daughter. Shiga’s investigations lead to the uncovering of a secret life of the missing girl and the climb of his life to rescue her.
This was an enjoyable read without being exceptional. The story was a fairly standard thriller that didn’t really explore the motivations of the characters and left a lot unsaid about tension felt by Shiga in the presence of his friend’s wife. Also the outcome of the story was never really in doubt so, for me, there was not a lot of dramatic tension. The black and white art, however, is very nice with some beautifully detailed backgrounds of the mountains and the city of the kind that you only seem to get in Manga books.
“It wasn’t Saetta, oh no, but it was part of the shitstorm he’s stirred up. Part of the fucking walking warzone the son of a bitch just is.”
This book collects the five issue series from Image Comics. The story was by Jimmy Palmiotti and Garth Ennis and was written by Garth Ennis with art by Mihailo Vukelic. Hopefully Ennis requires no introduction from me as he is one of my favourite writers and I have written about him and some of his books on this blog. Jimmy Palmiotti is a writer and inker who often collaborates with Justin Gray and had a five year run on Jonah Hex. This series marked the comic book debut of Mihailo Vukelic.
Bob Saetta is a gangster who has turned himself over to the police and federal agents to testify against his crime lord brother, Paul, and bring down his criminal empire. However, Paul is holding Bob’s wife and child and so Bob arranges with the lead investigators that he be released long enough so that he can free his family. They agree and so begins a bitter battle waged on the streets of Brooklyn between the brothers.
This is a pretty straight forward hard-boiled crime story from Garth Ennis. Whether it is under the influence of Palmiotti or not, the violence portrayed in the book is grim and brutal but without the underlying black humour that we expect from Ennis’ own work. The reason for Bob’s turning against his brother seems like a typical Ennis shocker but there are moments of the blackest humour when Bob visits his mother to talk about what Paul has been up to. The art from Vukelic is very nice but somewhat unusual too. The colouring leaves the book looking like a sepia toned document of the past and the colour palette is muted throughout. All in all a good read but I do miss the all out craziness of one of Ennis’ own scripts.
“Look, once upon a time people stored all their deepest, darkest secrets in something called ‘The Cloud’, remember? Well one day the cloud burst.”
This is a new venture from Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin that is creator owned and only available online at a price that you choose. Vaughan is a writer known for series such as Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina and current hit series Saga. Martin is a Spanish artist who has worked with Vaughan before on Doctor Strange: The Oath and Gotham City Secret Files.
The story is set in a future where people guard every aspect of their private life including their true face from each other. In this society, the Paparazzi are private investigators who are hired to find out the personal details on subjects and the Press seem to act as the regulating force attempting to apprehend these illegal investigators.
The story has an intriguing premise in the current climate of the increasing blurring of private and public personas via social media and cloud services. The first issue, of a projected 10 issue series, rattles along and grips nicely. The art by Martin is very nice and the crowd scenes, with everyone in disguises of one kind or another, remind me of Geof Darrow.
I liked the comic very much and I hope that the creators get enough support for them to finish off the story. It will be interesting to see if this sort of venture can stand up against commercial enterprises such as Comixology Submit. The first issue is available now from the Panel Syndicate web site.
“Okay, if you’re going to be a little pussy about it I guess we can start on the baby floor. Jesus, Dave! It’s like training the Tiny Titans sometimes.”
Kick-Ass is back with a vengeance in this prelude story, to both the movie and the comic Kick-Ass 2, featuring Hit-Girl. The book collects the the five issue series and was created by the usual creative team of Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.
After the death of her father in the first Kick-Ass series, pint-sized vigilante Mindy McCready finds herself back living with her nervous mother and police detective step-father. This proves to be to be a fly in the ointment for Mindy who , as Hit-Girl, wants to destroy the Genovese family and their associates as revenge for her father. She also takes Kick-Ass under her wing supervising his superhero training but her most difficult task is fitting in as a 12 year old girl at school.
I loved this book. It full of humour taking a long hard look at the actions of comic book superheroes when fighting crime, who Mindy places a lot of emphasis on when training Kick-Ass, but also in a great series of sequences featuring Red Mist as he takes the Batman route and learns Eastern techniques from Himalayan monks and mystics. The ultraviolence is present too as Hit-Girl destroys the Genovese crime empire piece by piece and closer to home as her actions bring the mob to her door threatening her new found family. If you are already a fan of the Kick-Ass series then you will probably be picking this up anyway without any recommendation from me but if you haven’t read them and are a fan of Garth Ennis then you should give the books a try – start with Kick-Ass followed by this one and then Kick-Ass 2.
I have to mention that the series cover gallery also features this fabulous variant cover to issue 5 by Bill Sienkiewicz after Sienkiewicz: