Stalling Beautifully – Wonder Woman/Conan #4 (Dark Horse/DC Comics)

Wonder Woman Conan 4 1This series has quickly become one I look forward to every month. The decision by Gail Simone to supplement the main story featuring Conan and Diana with a developing flashback featuring a younger Conan and a girl called Yanna who looks (and acts) an awful lot like our favourite Amazonian princess has proven to be an astute one. With an increased opportunity for mirroring and foreshadowing, it’s added greater emotional depth to the narrative and, indeed, last month’s cliffhanger emerged out of that flashback plot rather than the main one. Having finally brought our heroes into direct contact (and conflict) with the Corvidae, the story’s principal antagonists, we enter the second half of the story with a fairly clear idea of where the plot – and our heroic duo – is headed. What is less clear is how the action of the present ties in with the memories of Conan’s past. Will we get some clarity this issue? Let’s see…

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Girls On The Run – Barbarella #2 (Dynamite)

Barbarella0202041DDaltonHaving crash-landed on Parosia a planet ruled by religious fundamentalists who subsequently confiscated her reproductive organs, Barbarella is on the run, aided by an Earth agent, Jury Quire, whose cybernetic body holds a host of secrets. This issue promises to build on the first’s intriguing premise and expand on the creative team’s already impressive world-building. Barbarella and Jury just have to survive that life-threatening fall first…

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Feeling Blue – Elves vol 1 (Delcourt/Soleil)

Elves vol 1 coverPublished in translated form by Delcourt, Elves is an interesting series. Originally comprised of a group of two-issue stories, these mini-arcs have been collected and made available on Comixology as single volumes. The first deals with a society of blue elves and, as is often the case with fantasy literature, an important prophecy connected with an extremely powerful crystal which has been secreted at the bottom of the ocean where it is guarded by a huge sentient cephalopod.

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Doctor, Doctor… – The Wild Storm #8 (DC Comics)

The Wild Storm 8 coverEvery so often, I forget. I forget how vast and positively bubbling with potential the Wild Storm universe is. Warren Ellis, though. Warren Ellis does not forget. As can be seen from the really quite outrageous turn this issue takes about halfway through. With the exception of one or two moments here and there, the series so far has concentrated on delineating the nature of three major players in the Wild Storm universe – IO, Skywatch and the Halo Corporation. Up to now, it has been a series steeped in early 21st century obsessions with technology, power and the clandestine activities of organizations rich in both. This issue, however, Ellis reminds us that, as intriguing and fascinating as those organizations are, they are not the sum total of the Wild Storm universe. Far from it.

The Doctor is in, ladies and gentlemen. And she will see you now…

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Dangerous Girls – Barbarella #1 (Dynamite)

Barbarella01Cov01051EWuI guess I’m fairly typical in that I know the character of Barbarella almost entirely because of the eponymous movie starring Jane Fonda and directed by her then-husband Roger Vadim. While I’m aware of the character’s comic book roots, I’m a little ashamed to admit that this is the first time I’ve encountered her in her original format. I might be this comic book’s ideal reader, actually: aware of the character enough to be interested in picking the comic up; not sufficiently familiar with her previous comic book appearances to get worked up about whether her portrayal here is faithful or not. So, given that I don’t have much in the way of expectations, how does Mike Carey and Kenan Yarar’s first issue with the character hold up? Let’s find out…

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Shoot That Poisoned Arrow! – The Wild Storm: Michael Cray #1

Michael Cray 1 coverWarren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt’s The Wild Storm has been one of the most impressive comics to come out of DC in the last twelve months. While I know the plan was always to expand the Wild Storm line – and universe – in an incremental way, I must admit that I’d been viewing the arrival of a non-Ellis scripted title with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation. The former because more Wild Storm is undoubtedly a good thing; the latter because any dilution of quality (which seemed a possibility if Ellis wasn’t writing everything) was inevitably going to be disappointing. Well, I’m an idiot for feeling that way. Let me explain why…

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Great Cthluto Lies Sleeping – Dastardly and Muttley #5

Dastardly and Muttley 5 coverMy experiences with Hanna-Barbera comics have not been exactly great lately, and I was hoping that this issue would see me break out of “what the hell did they think they were doing?” mode and actually give me something that I could enjoy. I know, I know. It’s a radical concept, but, lo and behold, the Ennis/Mauricet team actually seem to embrace it, brazen innovators that they are. That’s not to say there aren’t problems this issue. There’s an awful lot of exposition going on here, but the issue is, for the most part, a lot of fun. Allow me to explain why…

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Ballbuster! – Dastardly & Muttley #4

Dastardly and Muttley 4 coverYou know, I love comics. Comics are the medium in which anything can happen, in which image and word can interact in quite startling ways and in which, apparently, a beloved Hanna-Barbera property can become an insane fusion of commentary on the military-industrial complex, sexism, and politics, and the kind of comedic sensibility generally found in, well, cartoons. Fancy that, eh? If all that sounds like your cup of tea, then step this way. I’ve got a comic to sell you.

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The Divided States of Hysteria #1

Note: This review originally appeared (in truncated form) on the Weird Science DC Comics website. It was written some time ago and I’ve been a little hesitant about posting it here, not least because the (admittedly gruesome and racially insensitive) cover to the series’ fourth issue triggered the kind of moral panic that has been de rigeur in Western societies over the last few years. Those of you who are interested can read The Guardian arguing for censorship here (yes, I know they’re saying that’s not what it is, but they’re being extremely disingenuous) and the man himself talking about the series and the cover here. The collected edition is coming out in February, I think. Here’s my review of issue 1…

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Rage, Rage Against The Dying Of The Light! – Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern #6

Planet of the Apes-Green Lantern 006-000This crossover series has been a lot of fun the last five issues. We’ve had a fair bit of action, a fair bit of humour and, last issue, in particular, some genuine pathos. The creative team has, on the whole, done a good job of taking some of the more memorable or important elements of each franchise, mixing them together and producing a story that manages to hang together pretty well, while at the same time being very entertaining. In some respects, that’s about as much as you can hope for from a crossover event like this. The big question is: Can the team tie up the various plot threads and deliver a satisfying conclusion to all this? There’s only one way to find out…

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