The Wild Storm – Best Covers

Wild Storm 1 variant

The Jim Lee variant for issue 1. It’s good, but not the best cover you’ll see below…

The Wild Storm came to a close last month and it occurs to me that I should probably mark the occasion properly instead of just putting up months-old reviews of mine from the Weird Science website. It is impossible to do justice to just how excellent and visually impressive this series is. Was. Whatever. Central to that was the exceptional art of Jon Davis-Hunt, who should probably get a post all of his own. His meticulous attention to detail; his grasp of layout; his designs of characters and hardware; the determinedly low-tech, slightly worn and grubby look of the series: all of the above contributed powerfully to the success of the series. (Although I should also point out that both the Buccellatos did phenomenal work on the colours throughout the series.)

Warren Ellis quite rightly gets the plaudits for creating a highly complex but believable world of super-powered experimentation and espionage, complete with its own secret history that goes back thousands of years. His script was erudite, sharp and suffused with his characteristic dry, somewhat cynical wit, and is an absolute delight to read. The comic book, however, is – say it after me, everyone – a visual medium and any script, no matter how good, needs a top notch artist to realize it and make it fly. Having extraordinary covers helps too. The Wild Storm had a lot of them. And here are some of the best…

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Gloria – The Wild Storm #16 Review

The Wild Storm 16The expansion of the Wild Storm universe continues apace this issue as John Lynch’s road trip brings him into contact with possibly the weirdest and creepiest Project Thunderbook alumnus yet, and elsewhere Angie Spica finds a new friend on the internet. (Well, it’s all about connecting people, isn’t it?) Let’s dive in and see how they get on…

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Smouldering – Martian Manhunter 2 Review

Martian Manhunter 2 coverDC’s second twelve-issue series in a row featuring characters whose initials are ‘MM’ trundles on this week. After a quite frankly bizarre first issue which mixed noirish sensibilities with an (at times very) intimate look at pre-catastrophe Martian society, will things settle down this issue or will the madness keep on coming? There’s only one way to find out…

(This review first appeared on the Weird Science DC Comics website.)

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A Greener Shade of Kale – Superman/Top Cat Special Review

Superman Top Cat coverAlong with Scooby Doo, Hong Kong Phooey and Captain Caveman, Top Cat was a Hanna-Barbera cartoon that became a staple part of my childhood in the 70s. So, when the call came out from Weird Science Towers for people bold, crazy or stupid enough to review the latest round of DC/Hanna-Barbera specials, I got my request in quickly. Not having read any of the solicits for these issues (I mean, really, why would you?), I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Would this one-off special be an overly earnest disappointment, a right-on politically correct ‘satire’, a rollicking good-time adventure or something else entirely?  Let’s find out!

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Belit Comes of Age – Age of Conan: Belit #5 Review

Age of Conan Belit - coverI was excited about this book when it was first announced. Belit is one of the more remarkable creations in Robert E Howard’s cast of characters. The prospect of the beautiful and fierce pirate, self-styled ‘Queen of the Black Coast’, starring in her own mini-series in the new Marvel Conan universe into which Jason Aaron and Gerry Duggan had already breathed so much new life was cause for celebration.  And I did celebrate. Until I read the first issue and encountered a much younger Belit, whose father was a ‘dread admiral’ and whose mother disappeared under mysterious circumstances, and I realized we were going to get a Belit origin story. Oh, well. To be fair, Tini Howard’s Belit is a strong, engaging character and Niemcyk’s art (although not really my favourite style) has grown on me and both do a decent job of telling their chosen story. The fact it’s not really the story I wanted is just one of life’s little annoyances, isn’t it? Let’s see how it ends…

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Ding-Dong In The Desert – Wonder Woman #54 Review

Wonder Woman 54 alt cover

Jenny Frison’s covers are one of the highlights of the Wonder Woman book. Just. Awesome.

So, Wonder Woman, eh? I’ve been a Wonder Woman reader and fan for a lot of my life and it’s always an honour and a privilege to read and review her adventures. The last couple of issues have seen Diana team up with Artemis and the new Aztek in order to free her aunt Atalanta from the clutches of Tezcatlipoca, the Shadow God and sworn enemy of Aztek and the now-defunct Q-Foundation. While the art for those two issues (by Aco) was astonishing and there were some rather nice ideas thrown into the mix, it’s safe to say that the story’s resolution, depending as it did on a somewhat hackneyed ‘let’s-all-band-together’ Maguffin and a typically Orlando-esque quantity of technobabble (“I’m hacking a weapon from a higher plane of existence and hoping I don’t lose my mind, okay?” – Hmmm. Passive-aggressive technobabble at that), left much to be desired. It’s a good job, then, that this issue the creative team lowers its sights a little and decides to tell us a tale that’s more grounded in political reality.

Let’s find out how they get on…

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Electric Warriors #2 – Review

Electric Warriors 2 coverLast issue’s opening instalment in this limited series set in the 27th century was as perfect a display of writer Steve Orlando’s strengths and weaknesses as one could wish for: intriguing background conveyed through dialogue that is invariably being shouted out during some kind of combat; non-infodump dialogue marinated in a sauce equal parts silliness, melodrama and social justice posturing; judicious plundering of the more obscure corners of the DC Universe; and, dammit, despite all that, some hints that there might be a story here worth reading. Having spent last issue setting up the basic premise of this series, it’s now time for some serious action. Let’s see if Orlando and artist Travel Foreman deliver, eh?

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Fairy Tale In Emerald – The Green Lantern #7 Review

The Green Lantern 7 coverTo date, Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp’s run on DC’s The Green Lantern has been a lot of fun. Billed from the start as a space police procedural, its initial six issue arc has been suffused with the kind of sharpness, creativity, cleverness and borderline silliness that can justly be described as quintessential Morrison. In the hands of a lesser artist, this approach might have ended up more confusing and silly than clever and sharp, but Liam Sharp’s art is uniquely suited to the demands of Morrison’s scripts. The fecundity of his imagination and his consummate skill as an artist are on display in boldly-crafted layouts, jaw-dropping alien vistas and bold alien designs that, despite their strangeness, never lose their sense of physical presence.

Issue 7, however, is a whole other level of storytelling.

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Martian Manhunter #1 (2019) – Review

Martian Manhunter 1When hearing the words ‘Martian Manhunter’, which three words first spring to your mind? Fire? Shape-changing? Invisibility? For me, it’s probably: strength, dignity and Oreos. But that’s probably just me. I’ve always had a soft spot for J’onn J’onnz. His tenure as a member of various incarnations of the Justice League in the 80s and early 90s included some of that team’s stint in Detroit and the extraordinarily fun Giffen/DeMatteis run. Throughout, the character possessed the kind of dry, understated wit that was tailor-made for a teenage me who had just discovered sarcasm and was exploring the possibilities offered by sardonic irony. (And, yes, I was mostly insufferable to be around back then…) The question, I suppose, is what kind of Martian Manhunter am I going to find in this series? Well, we’re not going to find out if we just hang around in the introduction all day, are we?

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Low Expectations – The Unexpected #5 Review

The Unexpected 5 - coverLurching from one stale encounter to another with all the grace of a 65 year old on their way home from a night on the town two months after a hip replacement operation, The Unexpected has been one of the most sense-bereft comics I’ve read this century. Featuring admittedly potentially interesting characters Neon and Firebrand and their quest for… something to do with the wildly dangerous and profoundly unstable Nth Metal Isotope that improbably came into existence at the end of issue 1 just when the pair of them needed something to do, this series has become a manic travelogue of the DC universe. We’ve had Slaughter Swamp and Blackhawk Island. In issue 3 it was Monster Valley; in issue 4 it was Gotham. (No sign of Batman. Mind you, Neon and Firebrand did arrive during the day…) This time around it’s the Bavarian Alps and Castle Frankenstein where awaits Hawkman. Who might, to be fair, actually know something about the incredibly dangerous Nth metal isotope which has existed for four issues and still hasn’t exploded yet.

One can but hope. Here’s a review of issue 5, people!

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