Tagged: reviews

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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Conan The Carefully Crafted – Conan The Barbarian (2019) #2 Review

Conan The Barbarian 2 - coverMarvel’s recent re-acquisition of the Conan licence may not have had quite the same fanfare as the company’s similar re-acquisition of Star Wars a few years ago (to be fair, Star Wars had been transferred to the ownership of Marvel’s parent company Disney and that meant films as well as comics), but it’s no less significant to this comics fan. In the 80s, I read Marvel’s colour Conan The Barbarian comic assiduously and went through a short-lived but nevertheless intense phase of reading the Sphere paperbacks that collected the original Robert E Howard stories as well as those by other writers like Lin Carter, L Sprague De Camp and a pre-Wheel of Time Robert Jordan. When Marvel announced that the company would be publishing a new series of Conan The Barbarian, I was cautiously intrigued. When they announced that the series would be written by Jason Aaron, that intrigue became genuine excitement.

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Shock and Awe – Electric Warriors #1 Review

Electric Warriors 1 coverWell, I’ve been wanting something like this for a while. For too long, the Rebirth of DC has seemed to me to have a fairly narrow focus on a relatively small core of characters and the more obscure corners of the DC Universe have remained unexplored. But, no longer! Unlike the Electric Warrior title of the late 80s, Electric Warriors is in continuity and might end up bridging the gap between the DC Universe of the present and its curiously Legion of Superheroes-empty far future. Crikey! Buckle up, pilgrims. It’s going to be a bumpy ride…

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The Shadow/Batman #2 – Review

the-shadow-batman-2-cover-e1553342442420.jpgMy review for the first issue of this Dynamite/DC series ended with a forlorn hope for better things. After an initial issue that attempted to hook me with action and mystery, but instead only managed to alienate me with a confusing in media res opening and dialogue from the Melodrama 101 handbook, I must confess my expectations for this issue were on the low side. Imagine my surprise, then, when this afternoon I read a comic book that not only was reasonably easy to follow but also delivered a bona fide emotional punch to the gut. Yeah, I know. Let me tell you all about it…

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Boys’ Own Action! – Warlord #383 – Review

Warlord 383 - coverI was born in 1970 and I loved the Second World War. In 2018, the UK has largely shaken off its obsession with World War 2, arguably the last ‘good’ war in which the country has taken part, but it’s fair to say that my childhood was dominated by a conflict that left the UK without its Empire, in horrendous levels of debt to the US, in need of national re-building and yet somehow one whose result could reasonably be seen as a ‘victory’. Perhaps because of that strange dichotomy between patriotic satisfaction at a job well done and the real geopolitical and economic consequences of that endeavour, UK pop culture was positively saturated with World War 2. Airfix models of planes, tanks and soldiers; TV shows like Dad’s Army, Colditz and Secret Army (and latterly its far more successful parody ‘Allo, ‘Allo); the novels of Alastair MacLean and Sven Hassel; Biggles; comics like Commando and Battle Picture Library: as a boy growing up in the 70s, it was impossible to escape the war. And that’s not including the personal reminiscences of my grandparents (my dad’s father, not fit enough to fight on the frontlines, nevertheless helped man an AA battery on the North West coast of England that one night downed a Junkers 88 bomber on its way to bomb Liverpool) or the various documentaries about the war which regularly appeared on our black and white (and eventually colour) TV screens.

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The Wild Storm: Michael Cray #9 – Review

Michael Cray 9Michael Cray is playing a dangerous game. Pretending to give his allegiance to the Wild Storm universe’s mad Diana Prince, while secretly working with a psychotic John Constantine to foil her plan to bring back the old Greek gods so that Constantine will help him deal with the sentient tumour in his head, which is a course of action that places him directly at odds with his boss Christine Trelane, Cray’s got not only a game within a game to consider but also an opponent embedded within his own mind. To say that he’s got his work cut out is an understatement. The fact that the stakes include not only Cray’s personal well-being but the fate of the entire world only makes the game that more intriguing. Throw in the enigmatic Dr Shahi and Cray’s erstwhile ‘team’ and there’s enough going on here to make your head spin. It’s a good job that writer Bryan Hill knows what he’s doing, then, isn’t it?

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She’s The One – Aquaman (Rebirth) #10 Review

Aquaman (2016-) 010-000The Rebirth Aquaman series is a funny beast. While I’ve generally tended to enjoy Abnett’s prose writing (particularly his Warhammer 40,000 and Horus Heresy novels), his comic work has been a bit more hit and miss. His work on Aquaman, for example, has been variable. His stories are solid, but the overall pacing of the series has often been more languid than it could (and perhaps should) be. The recent Corum Rath saga, which took well over a year to resolve, is a case in point. Issue 10, however, is an issue I like a great deal. This is from back when the series was bi-weekly, Aquaman was king of Atlantis and Mera was his bride-to-be. In short, this was when the positive promise of Rebirth was still a thing (Arthur and Mera’s marriage had featured in the special) and there was a nice upbeat feel to the series. That said, at this point, Arthur had just faced off against the Shaggy Man (no, really – that’s a thing. Look it up!) and Mera was being tested by the Silent Sisterhood who are a bit like the Bene Gesserit from the Dune novels but sound like they should be an order of mute, psychic power-nullifying warrior maidens from the 41st Millennium. Ahem. It’s this testing that forms the basis for the first half of the issue.

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Wonder Woman/Conan #6 – Review

Wonder Woman Conan 6 coverApproaching this final issue of Wonder Woman/Conan is a decidedly bitter-sweet experience. The series has been generally excellent and, with Marvel having reacquired the license to everyone’s favourite barbarian, further adventures featuring these two characters looks rather unlikely. A shame, but let’s not dwell on what may or may not be, eh? There’s a city to save and crow-goddesses to defeat. Let’s hope Conan can figure out what on earth he’s meant to do with that mystically glowing lasso…

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DC In Crisis? – Heroes In Crisis #1 Review, Analysis and Spoilers

HIC CoverHas there ever been a more controversial event book than the current DC title Heroes In Crisis, the first issue of which dropped last week?  Having variously been marketed as an exploration of themes such as PTSD and what writer Tom King has termed the “new war generation”, a generation of men and women who have “spent their twenties overseas fighting terrorism”, as well as a murder mystery, the title was already generating a fair amount of controversy and comment with the revelation that the series would be centred around the Sanctuary, a bespoke high tech facility to which traumatised heroes can go to receive psychological treatment, and that at least one (reasonably) well-known hero would be killed off during the story. Given that build-up, is it any wonder that there’s been a mixed reaction to the first issue hitting and fans finding out the identities of some of the heroes who have been killed?

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The Ruff and Reddy Show #3 Review

The Ruff and Reddy Show 3 coverChaykin and Rey’s The Ruff and Reddy Show is one of the strangest comics I’ve ever been asked (oh, okay – volunteered) to review, but I think this might be the issue when I finally get some kind of handle on it. The last two issues have seen our titular pairing, after a long period of separation and obscurity, reunite in a bid to relaunch their careers. That it’s taken this long to reach that point is largely down to Chaykin’s decision to turn his ‘story’ (if that’s the right word for a narrative this threadbare) into a vehicle for a satirical look at the entertainment business, whose scattergun approach has yielded entirely predictably mixed results. The end of this issue marks the midway point of this story, though, and it looks light it might actually be moving a bit more purposefully. And thank goodness for that…

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