It’s been a little while since I’ve updated the blog. This is not, I should point out, because I’ve not been writing. It is simply that I’ve not been writing here. Over at the Weird Science DC Comics site, Jim Werner has been kind enough to allow me to post some indie reviews and has asked me to do some reviews of DC crossover titles too. As Jim is such a nice chap and, consequently, is a man to whom it is remarkably hard to say ‘no’, I’ve been more than happy to oblige. Those reviews will turn up here eventually, but I’ve been a little dilatory in transferring them over, for which failing I can only apologise. In addition, I’ve made my podcasting debut on the Weird Science behemoth of a podcast which can be downloaded here. I appear about eight hours in. (Well, I did warn you.) I’ve also got a slightly longer section on their latest podcast. If you want to hear me discuss the Batman/Shadow and Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern crossovers, that’s the place to go (6 hours and 20 odd minutes in for that one).
Apart from that, I’ve been reading some stuff you might be interested in.
I suppose the big new thing I’ve been reading is comics in translation, specifically European comics. Every now and then Comixology has a sale and I bite. Recently, I finished Raptors which is a four volume series about renegade vampires and the two New York cops that become entangled with them. Written by Belgian creator Jean Dufaux and with art by Enrico Marini, the story starts very well with some wonderfully atmospheric moments. The Raptors are a brother and sister team of vampires determined to wipe out the ‘mainstream’ line of vampires who they believe have become ‘soft’ and ‘corrupted’, trading their predatory nature for the ability to walk in sunlight and, essentially, behave like human beings, albeit horribly selfish ones. This is a pretty good premise and the story is indeed rather entertaining. The final volume suffers from being a bit rushed and, consequently, a bit confusing. Lenore, the main character, makes some decisions that are a little difficult to reconcile with what’s come before but, on the whole, this is stylish stuff. The title does contain some nudity and is really for readers aged 18 and over.
Also on Comixology, I’ve acquired Warren Ellis’ original run on Stormwatch which is a useful touchstone when considering his current run on The Wild Storm for DC. The political sensibility is definitely there, but the early stories are still very much rooted in the gaudy action of the 90s/early 00s superhero genre. They are, arguably, the superhero genre taken to their logical conclusion once you factor in real world politics. Henry Bendix may seem to be well-placed to identify and fix the world’s problems, but his interventions do have unforeseen consequences, particularly his questionable decision to include Rose Tattoo on the team. What’s happening with The Wild Storm at the moment is much more subtle and much more character-based. The ready-made structure of the Stormwatch series just isn’t there and, as a result, relationships between characters and factions are less clearly defined, all of which makes for a more engrossing and enjoyable read. There’ll be a review of issue 3 of The Wild Storm up shortly, incidentally. If you’d prefer, you can see it at the Weird Science site now.
Other stuff I’ve been reading is Tim Shipman’s All Out War which offers a very engaging insight into the shenanigans around Brexit. It is not especially interested in the pro and con arguments for staying in or leaving the EU; what it does do is trace the political manoeuvrings behind the scenes and the (some would argue disastrous) steps Cameron took that ultimately ended his career. I’m only a dozen or so pages in, but already it’s proven to be very enlightening. If the ‘inside story’ of one of the biggest political decisions/catastrophes/upheavals of the last few decades is your cup of tea, this is worth checking out. It’s exceptionally readable, well-researched (Douglas Carswell’s dad was apparently the man on whom the character of Dr Nicholas Garrigan in Giles Foden’s The Last King of Scotland was based. Fancy) and rather fascinating.
Well, that’s me done for now.
This is just a quick update to let you know that I’ve had a review published on the rather wonderful Weird Science DC Comics website and hopefully this’ll be a regular (or semi-regular) thing. The review is of Dark Horse’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and can be found on the Weird Science website here and on this site here. Wherever you choose to read it, check it out. I will just say, mind, that the Weird Science website has a ton of great reviews. Although their main focus is DC, they do carry reviews of books from other comic companies including Marvel and those reviews are fair, clear and very entertaining. In addition to their reviews, their DC Comics Podcast is required listening for anyone interested in comprehensive and insightful reviews of DC books. Just don’t expect brevity. 🙂
Another website I’m really enjoying is Chris Sheehan’s Chris Is On Infinite Earths. Chris is one half of the Cosmic Treadmill podcast and, as well as being a knowledgeable and articulate guide to comics past and present, is a very nice guy to boot. How do I know this? Because he recently opened his site up to reader suggestions and one of mine was the first one he picked. For his insightful take on Legion of Superheroes #28, check out his review here. It’s an excellent read and typical of Chris’ approach. Chris manages to review an issue a day which, to be honest, is an output of which I’m genuinely envious. Again, his website is well worth a look – as, for that matter, is the Cosmic Treadmill podcast, in which Chris and co-host Reggie Hemingway look at a single issue from comics history, provide a summary, review and, invariably, some fascinating contextual information.
As for me, I’ll try to keep this blog updated a bit more regularly over the next few weeks. I’ve got reviews in the pipeline for the new Spirit series, the new Vampirella series and, possibly, some comics in translation. Stay tuned for that and, if you’re looking for something to pass a few minutes with, you could do a lot worse than the new The Wildstorm series from DC. Warren Ellis is writing; Jon Davis-Hunt is on art. It’s a thoughtful, intriguing take on the WildStorm universe and I’m rather excited to see where it goes.
Yes, I know it’s a couple of days late, but I do sincerely hope you have a fantastic 2017. My 2016 was pretty good, all told. My granddaughter is gorgeous and healthy and it’s a joy seeing her grow and begin to explore the world around her. Although teaching is as hard work as it’s always been, I’ve enjoyed it more this year than I have in a long time, despite the efforts of government, OFSTED and other related personages. I’ve also been honoured to help out at my Mum and Dad’s church doing some preaching, teaching and ministering to some great people. I hope to be doing a lot more of that over the coming months. For the last couple of months, I’ve been doing some voice work for a fantasy and sci-fi publisher that I’m very excited about and still can’t quite believe is happening. When I’ve got something more concrete to tell you (or, more accurately, show you), I’ll let you know.
I’d also like to very quickly give a shout-out to the group of people who have made the last few months of 2016 much more enjoyable than they really should have been – the fine folks at Weird Science DC Comics and the Get Fresh Crew of assorted fans, contributors and followers. If you haven’t heard a 10+ hour podcast about the week’s DC Comics output and have the curious desire to do so, the Weird Science DC Comics Podcast is for you. I’ve loved listening to their podcasts and chatting with some great people on a dizzying variety of platforms. Weird Science post a huge number of reviews on their website (and not just of DC Comics either) and also host not only their own podcast, but an excellent series called The Cosmic Treadmill which looks at individual issues from the past, hosted by Chris Sheehan and Reggie Hemmingway, who are two of the most knowledgeable comics fans I’ve come across. For fun, thought-provoking comic analysis, and a great sense of community (and a fair amount of nonsense along the way) Weird Science DC Comics is the place to be.
This year I’ve tried to do more with the blog. I’m not really interested in making it a premier comic book or science-fiction site on the ‘net (there are plenty enough of those already) – I’m just using it as a place to discuss comics, books and films that have interested me in one way or another. To those who have taken the plunge and decided to follow me and/or comment on the reviews and articles, a big “thank you”. Your views and comments are very much appreciated. Hopefully, this year there’ll be more regular content and, perhaps, more varied content, too.
All the best! Roll on 2017!