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July 23, 2021

Monsters (review)

Writer and artist: Barry Windsor-Smith Fantagraphics, May 2021 One of my favorite Marvel comics of all time is Barry Windsor-Smith’s Weapon X, a comic that tells the story of Wolverine’s origin in an interesting and creative way, avoiding many of the tropes that had plagued “origin story” superhero comics since their very conception. You can

Superheroes

Takio (revisited)—“Charged-up girls take charge”

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis Artist: Michael Avon Oeming DC Comics, May 2019 (as a collection) RUNNING DOGS OF THE CAPITALIST SYSTEM used to designate characters who emulate the virtues of capitalism from the sidelines, like a dog running alongside a bus with a wagging tongue. In China the label was intended to be nasty, like

World view

Third Planet v. Crowne Plaza Hotel – the comic book

Writer: Cris Feldman Art: Michael Charles, Maurice Terry Jr, Michael Brooks A set of legal proceedings launched in the District Court of Harris County in Texas has caused a stir in legal circles, as far away as here in Australia where your critic (in his spare time, a lawyer) practices. The plaintiffs, Criss-A-Less Inc trading

Crime

“100 Bullets” revisited, Part 1 of 3: Croatoa, MK Ultra, and the induced amnesia of the Minutemen

Writer: Brian Azzarello Artist: Eduardo Risso Vertigo Comics, 1999-2009 As ever, this review contains spoilers. It seems an odd thing to have to warn readers that this review contains insights into critical plot developments and twists, given the title concluded publication twelve years ago. Such is the compelling nature of the extended chess game that

Western Comics

White Indian (revisited)—“Eat the bad dogs first”

Writers: Anonymous editors Artist: Frank Frazetta Vanguard Press, 1981 MANY SHED TEARS for graves left behind, and search the detritus of past lives while names and episodes blow away, leaving only occasional sparkles of horror or heroes to supply a face in the era of our lost loved ones and the loved ones of others.

Superheroes

Mage (revisited)—“We live in an electric ocean”

Writer/Artist: Matt Wagner Image Comics, July 2017 – Feb 2019 SOME SAY HE MAKES NO SENSE when he talks about magic. Yet this time I believe I get it as Kevin Matchstick explains to his son in Mage, Issue 3, how magic “kinda exists alongside what we’d call ‘our world’” as in feeling the electric

Manga

Tasty Bullet (revisited)—“You got to get it together faster”

Writer: Arnold Pander Artist: Jonathan Vankin Shadowline, 2009 IT COMES DOWN NOT TO WHO’S BIGGER, but who is more determined and more virtuous, the side one wants to win, or some ones for the many ones, like the intelligentsia class that was once supposed to save the world’s benighted peasants with revolutionary modern wisdom, but

Horror

Forgotten Hymns #1 (review)

Writer and creator: Andrew Guilde Art: Isaac Perez PMB Comics, 2020 Schlock horror is the equivalent of eating out-of-date chocolate. You screw your nose up at the experience, feel mildly unwell, and are left wondering why you bothered. We may be a little snooty, but bad horror is not something to be encouraged. There is

Humor

Chicken USDA Rejected (review)

Writer, artist and creator: Dan Nokes 21st Century Sandshark Studios, May 2020 “As serious as a stick of dynamite at a Zippo convention”. This comic, with the unlikely title of Chicken USDA Rejected, created by Dan Nokes, has one of the most amusing adults-only warnings we have seen: We laughed and laughed from beginning to

Superheroes

Revisiting newuniversal (2007-2008)

Writer: Warren Ellis Artist: Salvador Larroca Marvel Comics, 2007-2008 In 2007, Warren Ellis was tasked by American comic book publisher Marvel Comics to re-rig an abandoned 1986-1989 series of titles, called “New Universe”. The New Universe series of titles featured superheroes exiting on a parallel world to that of Marvel Comics’ main characters, created in

Science fiction

Scarlet Volume 1 (review)—“A sacred heart burns”

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis Artist: Alex Maleev Jinxworld, 2019 I WAS SHOCKED BY THE PANORAMA OF BRIDGES splayed in ruins across the Willamette River in the opening scenes of the five-issue SCARLET sequel by Brian Michael Bendis that appeared two years ago now, illustrating what revolution might look like in his hometown and mine, just

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Superheroes

Mighty Thor Marvel Masterworks, Vol. 19 (review)—“Rage against the stars and move only yourself”

Writers: Roy Thomas, Mark Gruenwald, Ralph Macchio Artists: Keith Pollard, Gene Day Marvel Comics, 2020 MILLENNIA AGO ALL THE GODS CONVENED to ponder the fate of the world when the Celestials arrived from outer space to inspect and cultivate life on Earth, which they had themselves planted many ages ago in a cosmic gardening project.

Humor

Blazer! (review)

Writer: Steve MacManus Artists: Dan Cornwell, Colin Maxwell, Filippo Roncone, Pete Western, Andrew Richmond The 77 Publications, June 2021 “Press here to Enter!” This call to action sits in an arrow pointing to a button labelled “Ignition”. It sits on the corner of the cover page, the starting point for thumb and forefinger in the

Science fiction

Giga #1-3 (review)

Writer: Alex Paknadel Artist: John Lê Vault Comics, 2020-1 Little wonder the first issue of this title sold out. Giga is a science fiction story focussed around dead mechas – giant robots with highly advanced artificial intelligences, some of which have been rendered inert as a consequence of some sort of internecine war. Sadly, we

Historical

Night Issue Zero (review)

Writers: Deain Akande and Julian Clay Art: João Bosco Released: January, 2021 The intersection between superheroes and horror is well-explored. Superheroes, at least at the point of their American genesis in the late 1930s, were crafted as kid-friendly fare. Time quickly passed, and creators endeavoured to differentiate their caped and masked character from other caped

Science fiction

Post York (review)

Writer and Artist: James Romberger Dark Horse Comics / Berger Books, 2021 Eco-apocalypse science fiction or “cli-fi” is very much in vogue. Within American comic books, Snowpiercer, a dystopian comic about an Ice Age-crippled Earth, which gave rise to a successful motion picture, is perhaps the most famous in the genre. The earliest American example

Superheroes

X-Men #20 (review)

Writer: Jonathan Hickman Artist: Francesco Mobili Marvel Comics, May 2021 This very recent issue of X-Men, a comic about mutant superheroes from American publisher Marvel Comics, adds a level of danger and desperation not seen in the title for some time. Writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Francesco Mobili have been on various tangents since setting

Franco-Belgian/Ligne Claire

Valerian and Laureline: Chatelet Station Destination Cassiopeia (“Métro Châtelet, Direction Cassiopeia”) (review)— “Musing as a duet is always finer”

Writer: Jean-Claude Mézières Artist: Pierre Christin Cinebook. First published March-June, 1980 SPACE NEVER APPEARED SO PEDESTRIAN as Laureline noses her spaceship through traffic toward the stars, demure in her spacesuit, leg up on her big pilot’s chair, gazing out at sublight speed with time on her hands, lazy day on the freeway. Then you see

Fantasy

The Manara Library, Vol. 3: The Ape (review)—“Classic fable journeys to the West”

Writer: Silverio Pisu Artist: Milo Manara Dark Horse Comics, August 11, 2018 EVERY SCENE IS BIZARRE in the most tasteful way in the world of Milo Manara, like underground comix for the Medici. A few years ago I was pleased to find Dark Horse collected THE MANARA LIBRARY in nine handsome hardbound volumes, the last

Franco-Belgian/Ligne Claire

Samurai: Brothers in Arms (review)—“Stone garden rice paper fish in a French accent”

Writer: Jean-Franҫois Di Giorgio Artists: Frédéric Genêt, Delphine Rieu Titan Comics, 2018 QUOTIDIAN GIVES THE RIGHT SENSE of elegance to day-to-day beauty simply here now. If all my life spent in poverty could inhabit the terrain of the SAMURAI according to writer Jean-Franҫois Di Giorgio, and artists Frédéric Genêt and Delphine Rieu, I would be

Horror

Croak (review) or, “Look ahead only the future matters”

Writer: Cory Andrew Sousa Artists: Francesco Iaquinta, Chris O’Halloran Designer: Dezi Sienty Alterna Comics, 2017 IF YOU HOLD MY HAND I can take you to the spot where I found the camera. There is probably nothing there to see. The camera, though. You should look at that. On screen, before a silhouette shudders from the

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Crime

MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN JUNKIES (review) (or, “Send no bail I’ll escape on my own”)

Writer: Ed Brubaker Art: Sean Phillips Image Comics, October 2018 I CAN TELL A STORY IN PERFECT FAITH the facts are straight, and still be wrong. Light glances off the real in imaginary ripples before reaching us. This is how the art gripped me in this unsettling crime novella, as if seen in an intervening

Independent/Self-Published

The Monuments (review)

Creators: Michael S. Bracco, Oliver Mertz, Mike Isenberg Independently published, 2018-2021 The most beautiful of all ruins, in science fiction, surely is that of the giant mecha. Here is the promotional blurb for this 140 page graphic novel, The Monuments: THE MONUMENTS is a 140 page, beautifully illustrated, mystery/adventure story from Oliver Mertz (FIRST LAW

Franco-Belgian/Ligne Claire

Carthago (review)—“Reputation outlasts your passing”

Writer: Christophe Bec Artists: Eric Henninot, Milan Jovanovic Humanoids, 2016 NATURE SOMETIMES ALLOWS HUGE CREATURES, though most are long gone. Whales, giant redwoods, big dodo birds, maybe soon the whole Amazon forest are recent casualties within memory alongside ancient extinctions like the dinosaurs 66 million years ago downed by nuclear winter following an asteroid impact

Science fiction

Revisiting FASHION BEAST (review)—“Earth Day 51”

Story: Alan Moore, Malcolm McLaren Artists: Antony Johnston, Facundo Percio Avatar Press, 2012 I WANT TO BE IN THE SCENE like a machine, be in the scene, like a machine. Man, I can’t tell you where I was when I first heard Malcolm McLaren doing his dance extravaganza music, it would sound too cool. That

Superheroes

The Wrong Earth #1-5 (review)

Writers: Tom Peyer and Paul Constant Artists: Jamal Igle, Juan Castro Ahoy Comics, collected May 2019 The “nature/nurture” debate has been the fodder for various superhero genre titles over many years, especially as creative teams began to explore “What if…?”, “imaginary stories” and later, “Elseworlds” within the well-plumbed continuities of major American publishers. In Marvel

Franco-Belgian/Ligne Claire

Beatifica Blues (revisited), or “My badge says I don’t exist”

Story: Jean Dufaux Art: Griffo Dargaud Benelux, 1987-1989 LIFE WAS SUPPOSED TO GET BETTER. People power was supposed to bring us to our senses, but then the spawn always spawning call it a spawn and nothing else with a name took us to the brink of destruction and beyond. Dystopian fantasies of the 1980s fondle

Science fiction

Geiger #1 (review)

Writer: Geoff Johns Artist: Gary Frank Image Comics, 2021 Stop us if you have heard this tune before. For those of us who lamented the demise of the ground-breaking but eventually anchorless Vertigo Comics imprint and the ill-fitting replacement by the DC Black Label imprint, there is something bitterly satisfying about DC Comics’ Chief Creative

Fantasy

DEATH OF LOVE (review): “HOW TO SAY FOKKE”

Writer: Justin Jordan Art: Donal Delay Image Comics, Valentine’s Day, 2018 FACE IT YOU KNOW how it feels. Love hates you. You are a complete clod, a horrible fraud, totally clumsy and inept, and not in a cute way. People rappel away from you, gravity exhales around you in flushing torrents, and eventually you want

Fantasy

Death Kanji (review)

Writer: Jordan Patrick Finn Artist: Greg Woronchak Independently published, 2020 Death Kanji is an excellent independent publication written Jordan Patrick Finn by with art by Greg Woronchak. Here is their Kickstarter pitch: With its roots in the short stories of HP Lovecraft and the films of Akira Kurosawa, Death Kanji tells the story of a samurai’s struggle to

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