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.
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.
“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.
“First thing you learn about birds, they ain’t got no manners.”
Alabaster: Wolves #1 cover
The series was written by horror/fantasy author Caitlin R. Kiernan and is set in the world of some of her novels. Caitlin’s work is familiar to me not through her prose work but the various Sandman spin-offs she has written for Vertigo including The Sandman Presents: Bast; The Girl Who Would be Death; and The Dreaming. The art was by Steve Lieber who was artist on Whiteout on Oni Press, Underground on Image and Shooters on Vertigo.
Dancy Flammarion is a teenage albino girl who is God’s instrument of justice on the Earth. Accompanied by a seraph she wanders across America ridding the world of supernatural creatures in God’s name. In this series, she comes across a seemingly deserted town in the American south but which is home to werewolves and other beings. Having killed a female werewolf and lost the protection and guidance of her angelic guide, Dancy finds herself questioning her life after being rescued from a burning church by the ghost of the werewolf she killed.
Dancy Flammarion first appeared in the novel Threshold and features in a book of short stories called Alabaster. This book had the look and feel of a series that could have been published on Vertigo and so should have been perfect for be but was ultimately disappointing. While this series can be read on its own merit without any previous knowledge of the character, I felt that there seemed to be a lot assumed in the background of the character of of Dancy that would have meant more if I had read the prose stories. Also the story in this series does not feel like a complete tale. It feels like the middle passage of a bigger story and so suffers from the same limitations that a lot of middle books in trilogies can suffer from. While the book was not for me it might well appeal to a fan of Kiernan’s writing who is familiar with the character and I would encourage anyone in that position to give this series a try.
It’s been a bit quiet around here lately – sorry about that. Extended holidays and a touch of flu have meant that I have not been reading much in the way of comics recently – currently I am enjoying the the excellent Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks.
Anyway the New Year starts tomorrow – or at least gets back to normal – with a return to work. So hopefully I will get back on track working on the backlog of titles I have accumulated from various Comixology and Dark Horse sales.
And because I love her so, here is another burst of old school Björk.
The latest comic book incarnation of The Shadow comes from Dynamite. The first story, The Fire of Creation, was written by Garth Ennis with art by Aaron Campbell. Ennis has had a string of hit series for both the major publishers as well as his recently concluded series, The Boys, for Dynamite. Aaron Campbell is a new name to me but he seems to have worked mainly on other Dynamite titles such as Green Hornet and Sherlock Holmes.
Set sometime in the 1930s, Lamont Cranston is working with US Military Intelligence to prevent an ex-crime boss turned Japanese army officer getting his hands on the “magic rocks” being auctioned among the world’s super powers by a Chinese crime lord. Along the way he must escape assassination attempts by the Nazis and the interference of the Military Intelligence officer sent with him to legitimise the mission.
I gave this one a try because I like the gun-toting vigilante known as the Shadow especially the incarnation from the 80s by Andrew Helfer and Kyle Baker. This version did not live up to that mainly because writers seem to have been restricted in what they can do with the character since that time – the book was pulled from DC without warning in the middle of a storyline. As a Garth Ennis piece it also did not live up to its potential, probably for the same reason, as a lot of the signature Ennis tropes are missing – the black humour, sexual deviancy and gallons of blood and gore. So we get a fairly standard pulp thriller that touches on the origin of the Shadow and his relationship to Lamont Cranston and Kent Allard without going into too many details. The Shadow’s only companion in this story, from his usual selection of sidekicks, is Margo Lane and the action mainly takes place outside of New York in a China under the control of Japan. A good enough read that retains the pulp essence of the character but I think I will stick to my Helfer back issues.
“Why? Because I kill people and do really rotten things to puppies and kittens?”
My first digital comics read on my new tablet is this six part series from DC. The series writers were Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty. There were numerous artists on the series: Pete Woods; Andrew Pepoy; Marcos Martin; Mark Farmer; Alvaro Lopez; Walter McDaniel; Andy Kuhn; Ron Randall; Rick Burchett; Mark Lipka; Dan Davis.
While incarcerated at the Slabside Penitentiary, the Joker is diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour. He reacts by inciting a riot and using the prison’s own defences to “jokerize” the other inmates – may of whom are super-villains. Having created his own super-army, the Joker escapes and lets them loose upon the world hoping that he will be killed by an old friend before he dies.
The annoying thing about this series is that it is not self contained. And for a series featuring the Joker there is not nearly enough scenes in which he appears. The chaos caused by the Joker ripples throughout the DC Universe and some of the action takes place in other comics. This would be fine if the main series told its own story consistently but instead there are scene and plot changes between issues that are just not explained and so the story has unsatisfying holes in it. This is the reason I tend to avoid crossover events, and don’t read too many modern Marvel books where there constantly seems to a crossover happening. I hate the presumption of publishers that either readers are reading all their books or that they will stump up the extra to follow the story beyond a central series.
As I have already stated, the story is less a story about the Joker than it is about the victims of his cruelty. Oracle and Nightwing are the ones to suffer most throughout the story. Their moral stance on the Joker and his continued existence testing them and their relationship to the limit. This could have been a great story in the vein of The Killing Joke or A Death in the Family if it had been allowed to develop within its own pages with a consistent art team but the disjointed nature of the series ruins its emotional impact for me.
As I said at the start, this is my experience of digital comics and using a tablet to read them. In general my experience has been positive. I bought a 10″ Samsung tablet and the size of the visible screen is only slightly smaller than a standard comic page – which is important as I don’t like the directed zoom way of reading comics that can divorce the words from the images. A big plus is the regular sales on Comixology and Dark Horse Digital and, as there is a lot of old stuff I have still to pick up, I can wait for issues to be bundled or sold for 99 cents an issue. For example, the collection for this series is out of print and I picked it up for $5.94 rather than the $30 which is the cheapest second hand copy on Amazon UK or Abe Books (once shipping is included). The only downside is the price of new comics that tend to be same price as the print version which has never seemed right to me for any digital media.