Sunday, 28 June 2009

Quick-Fire Reviews #2: week of 24th June + more + UNACCEPTABLY LATE

This week has been an exciting one by any means, with other writers joining my blog and providing quality material, something that was well timed as I screamed and stropped my way through the blog's various html editing things praying that ANYTHING WOULD WORK RIGHT.

Why am I telling you this? In the hope you understand why reviews for comics that came out wednesday (and earlier) are only being reviewed now. ON SUNDAY.

I hand my head in shame before you. Then lift it again because typing is a bitch if you're just staring at your goolies.


Uncanny X-Men First Class Giant-Size one shot by Jeff Parker, Scott Gray, Roger Langridge, So On, So Forth

In Short: I've been waiting to get to this for a while, if only because the editor of Panini's Essential X-Men (UK thing like AstonSpid) is one of the writers here and will in fact be the writer of the upcoming full series of Uncanny First Class comics. The basic content is a variety of stories explaining the pasts of the Uncanny team, all 100% true. Even that stuff about Wolverine being a secret agent from an agency called S.N.I.K.T.. Especially THAT one. Art is pretty solid throughout in a nice cartoony way, though Nightcrawler's back story could do with being prettier. Downside to it all is that you can buy this $3.99 giant comic and read it, then realise it all doesn't really matter in the slightest.
In Shorter: Doesn't Really Matter In The Slightest.

Red Robin #1 by Christ Yost and Ramon Bachs

In Short: Artistically pleasing appears to be the key term for anything I read from DC in my ongoing quest to read their stuff. Red Robin succeeds in taking a character I know NOTHING about (Tim Drake) and making him feel familiar and emotive with ease, something I put down to the quality writing displaying a strange level of depth to his denial-filled stage of grief over Bruce Wayne's death. I'll probably keep up with this one, which could grow to be better than Morrison's Batman & Robin. Maybe.]
In Shorter: Must Read!

Dark Avengers #6 by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato

In Short: Having learnt that he can't write Marvel Boy for shit the character goes missing this issue, and I'm far more inclined to be pleasant to the issue for it. Still this doesn't distract from the fact that there are only two attractions for the series at this point; Norman Osborn and The Sentry. Both are the best characterised (i.e. don't have Bendis voice, wherein everyone sounds the fucking same) and manage to capture the whole reason the Dark Avengers would have any appeal in the long run. Art Wise it's still just Thunderbolts Ellis-era with a new title so there's nothing I can say other than I've seen it all before.

Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia one shot by Matt Fraction and Marc Silvestri

In Short: EVENT COMICS TIME! Ugh, with the end of Messiah War I was really hoping we'd get a break from these crossover events, especially ones involving mutants. I just want to curl up and hope it disappears... Wait, you say this is by MATT FRACTION?! A GOOD WRITER? GOOD GOD SIGN ME UP BITCHES!
In Shorter: Read it, 'cause FRACTION!

Amazing Spider-Man #598 by Joe Kelly, Paulo Siqueira and Marco Checchetto

In Short: I haven't been reading American Son so far, but felt like picking it up just to make up for my lateness here, so my thoughts might be somewhat impeded by my lack of knowledge. In fact fuck that, I'll save on reviewing it just by stating the awful part and being pissed off. NORMAN IS THE FATHER OF LILY'S CHILD! WE WENT OVER THIS SHIT WITH GWEN STACY'S KIDS, WHY DO IT AGAIN YOU STUPID FUCKERS! IT WASN'T EVEN GOOD THE FIRST TIME!
(Note: okay okay, Harry WAS awesome this issue, I'll give you all that)

Dark Reign: Lethal Legion #1 (of 3) by Frank Tieri and Mateus Santouluco

In Short: Villains being heroes in a strange twisted way? This comic reminds me of why I miss how Thunerbolts used to be. Kinda. It's not quite like that, but it's close enough to be AWESOME. Between the funky art and solid writing it's a sure read. The main pull though? WONDER. MAN. Missed that guy. Sure we only get one page of him if that but the next two issues should make up for such a thing.
In Shorter: Potential. Pick it up just in case.

Dark Reign: The Hood #2 (of 5) by Jeff Parker and Kyle Hotz

In Short: I had some mixed feelings about this when it was announced. First up Bendis has RAPED Parker Robbins viciously with the stick of mischaracterisation in New Avengers. Then you have to consider that this very same week that The Hood has been depowered by Doctor Voodoo (BRUDDA VOODOOOOOOO). There is no feasible way this mini should turn out to be anything other than pointless shit. But then it's drawn by Hotz, who masterfully handled the original Hood MAX series. Oh and written by Jeff Parker, but that isn't relevant to my point here other than he's managed to write Robbins LIKE HE ACTUALLY SHOULD BE! It's a return to form for the character and right up there with Van Lente's Dark Reign Miniseries on my scale of LURRRRRVE.

Dark Reign: Zodiac #1 (of 3) by Joe Casey and Nathan Fox

In Short: Have you noticed I have trouble being mean to the comics I review here? That's because new series have this horrible habit of being awesome. So I turned at Zodiac hoping it'd be a stinking shit stain on the face of Dark Reign with a cheap Joker rip-off. But NOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOO it just HAD to be AWESOME. This is a genuinely anarchic comic, one that makes you surprised it's actually a Marvel comic. Everything about it is crazy, especially the almost-a-Joker-rip-off Zodiac himself. Not to give too much away (though it's sunday, you should have all got it by now) The things Zodiac achieves before his big reveal at the end are amazing. In fact scratch that, the REVEAL is the craziest and most awesome moment of the comic for me. I don't know why. Oh and it has a clown.
In Shorter: Buy It... Then Chastise Me For Being Too Much Of A Nice Critic.

New Avengers #54 by Brian Michael Bendis and Billy Tan

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Ah mischaracterisation. Bendis looked to have messed up Brother Voodoo entirely last issue but has backtracked like a motherfucker to fix it here it seems. The issue was largely pointless save some awesome magic character interaction (which in turn was spoiled by Brudda Voodoooooo hitting Dormammu with HIS STICK) and hinting at some magic themed event that could one day happen. Also my main gripe is Bendis ignores the Hood's activities elsewhere and just straight up takes away his power and everything. The upside is Loki offering a solution to Hood's woes.

Thunderbolts #133 by Andy Diggle and Miguel Sepulveda

In Shorter: Check It Out. Just Cringe At The Man-Widow

Uncanny X-Men #512 by NOT GREG LAND

In Short: GREG LAND IS OFF ART REJOICE! A great issue with great content and NO GREG LAND. I can rest easy loving the X-men again. Well, until the next fuck up. Oh yeah the crossover event enters Uncanny next issue.... Ugh... Sad fact is I'll probably enjoy it. Oh yeah big shout out to the 80s variant. Storm and Psylocke are unusually attractive... Shut up, I think so!
In Shorter: No Greg Land, SO BUY IT!

William Shatner Presents Tek War Chronicles #1 by William Shatner And Who Cares Who Else

In Short: Couldn't get into it but Shatner is a surprisingly competent writer (we can probably attribute that to his co-writer however). Honestly I can't see you coming away disappointed by this, just try to concentrate more than I did. Sure it's unprofessional but it's REALLY HARD to give a shit about reading a comic written by an old actor dude... Even if it is good.
In Shorter: Go On, Just 'Cause You Love Shatner

So that is that. I'm really tired now. Lazy Sunday up in a minute.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Archaic Spider-Man Reviews: Number 58

Salutations to Ganesha, and what better number to start on than 58? Nice, strong number.

In fact, the number refers to a comic we get fortnightly over here in Blighty, Astonishing Spider-Man. I'm an ardent fan of the webbed wonder, so this is the perfect comic for me; three slots fortnightly which hold classic stories a young 'un like myself has never read. The comic also keeps in line chronologically with the other Panini UK collector's editions, and carries a main storyline that is a few years behind the US. At the point of writing, Civil War is only just wrapping up over here; but I am always broadly spoiled as to what Spidey has coming in Astonishing Spider-man, or 'Astonspid', the shortened name that is creepily reminiscent of 1984's Newspeak. A cursory glance at the collection of Max (creator of this proud site) indicates that Astonspid is rare in it's lack of adverts; this week's issue has as usual, 3 unbroken stories with a single ad between each. Very refreshing.

Well, so much for the comic. I shall be reviewing my subscription copy every fortnight here on Flip the Page, in the hope that it will be interesting to a largely American fan audience to see an almost clueless limey rant and gush about last years Spider-man stories. On to the issue, Astonspid No. 58! Ooh, exciting.

This seems like a good time to Read more! So do it.

The first two slots are taken up this week by Amazing Spider-Man 537 and 538, the conclusion of the War at Home Civil war arc. It's been a hectic conflict for Peter; he's had to deal with the ramifications of, y'know, telling everyone in the world who he was. A whole bunch of baddies sprung up to get revenge, including at least 3 Mysterios in a cluster-fuck of What?-ness. Pete's revelation led to one of the most embarrassing moments in years, as the Chameleon, one of my favorite villains, was taken down single handed by... Aunt May.

But enough of the past; now Spidey is on the run with his family after freaking over Tony and Reed's Negative zone prison. There's been some fairly good drama in this arc so far, but I've been hoping the end will be a bit more... astonishing? I'm a big fan of J. Michael Straczynski, and you can tell he's doing the best he can, but the constraint's of the crossover, as ever, curtails the drama of the individual comics. Rather than actually fighting anyone, Spidey has to go over and listen to Steve Rogers explain why he is rebelling against Iron Man. For, like, 4 pages. I thought this is what the main Civil War and Captain America arc was for! By this point in the war, surely every reader knows roughly where Steve is coming from? This kinda restriction is what frustrates me about these big events; the main comics are usually good on their own, but the other titles have to restrict their stories to accommodate the main one. This theme continues when it comes to the report of the final battle in Time Square. We are treated to a few pages of random fighting, with the usual 'meaningful' commentary by Peter Parker. Don't get me wrong; when this is done well it is very effective, but here it just feels like comic's-by-numbers, with no proper emotional power. Then SOMETHING HAPPENS! Of course, we aren't told what happened. You have to buy the main Civil War comic for that, silly reader. This is a bit like reading a competently made fan-fiction with every other page missing. Ugh.

In the sub plot, or as I call it the ACTUAL STORY, Wilson Fisk wants Spider-Man and his family dead. I'm not quite sure of the reason, but heck, he doesn't need a reason. He's a big fat incarcerated Kingpin of crime! Anyway, his big strategy is to hire a sniper. Actually, I like the way Marvel got sniper-happy around this time, it always seems simpler for the super villians to just shoot the costume they want dead rather than hiring some obscure thug like the Ox to get their ass handed to them. The sniper's big tactic is to sleep near the motel where the Parkers are hiding and wait for Peter to turn up. This sort of makes sense, because a sleeping enemy probably wouldn't activate that spider-sense that so often saves our hero's skin.That is, until said sleeping enemy, y'know, wakes up.... Ok, it makes no sense as a tactic, but I'm willing to pin the blame on Quesada restricting Straczynski's freedom, because the alternative would be JMS messing up, and as anyone knows that is impossible. Yep, I'm a biased reviewer, but show me one who isn't and... I guess we would have a job for them. Shush.

So the sniper shoots randomly into the house, and Peter's reactions mean he has time to tackle MJ out of harm's way. But tragically, the bullet hits May in the gut. Oh well, nothing Peter could do, I mean, he's not a precognitive, incredibly agile superhuman with rapidly firing tensile webbing. Ok, I take back some of what I said about snipers being a more sensible choice, because Spidey has dealt with gunmen so many times, it's hard to believe he wouldn't be quick enough to get May down too somehow. It feels like a reverse deus ex machina, as the bullet arbitrarily succeeds in hitting someone. I guess they had to make it believable that May is really in danger; she's had more heart attacks than I've had hot dinners.

Well, I guess this ending has got me waiting for the upcoming Back in Black with excitement, but only really because I'm sick of the overblown speeches and comprehensively anti-climactic action which Civil War, to me, represented. Also, I like AC/DC. Seriously, shush.

-Note. I don't think that there would have been a problem in the first place if they had simply made registration optional, with big incentives to sign up. Pretty much every vigilante who wasn't a Punisher figure would probably sign on the line. Heck, that's just my opinion.

The final Astonspid slot is taken up by Amazing Spider-Man 283, slap bang in the middle of the massive Tom DeFalco Hobgoblin arc. At this point, Hobby has already framed poor old Flash Thompson. I like the fact that the New York police department are presented as so inept that they will be utterly convinced of a man's guilt with an abject lack of motive or history! While this has been happening, Peter has sworn, not for the first or last time, to hang up his web shooters forever... just as soon as he deals with the Hobgoblin. Despite his constant self assurances that he will focus on taking down Hobby, Spider-Man ends up fighting the Absorbing Man and Titania. You remember Titania, one of the women given powers by Dr Doom during the Secret Wars? Ah well. The confrontation ends with Absorbing Man almost crushing Spidey with a bigass plane, a pretty cool moment that is ruined somewhat by the artwork. Apparently, when you absorb the qualities of a plane your ears swell to massive sizes and your eye's vanish completely. The perspective is all over the place too; one moment the characters are right next to each other, the next they are far apart in vastly different poses, despite the fact that nothing has happened. The penciler is Ron Frenz, which surprised me due to his usual competence, at least where the creation of characters is concerned. It's a pretty fun issue overall; run of the mill one shot filler, but unashamedly so.

By the power of Greyskull, I've run out of comic! Next issue: Back in Black begins, with Peter out for revenge, and on top of that, Spidey has to deal with a spate of copycats. Till then, g'night.


Thursday, 25 June 2009

Flip The Page Text Review: Detective Comics #854

I don't think I can give this a full review. Seriously, I'm reading this comic and I'm almost fucking speechless. It's art. Not just art. No, more like.... Just.... WOW.

I turned to this comic this week in my continuing crusade to get into DC. I'm now laying on my floor (it's comfy shut up) wondering in what way I can express how great Rucka and Williams III's first issue of this new Detective Comics run is. It's got some great storytelling off the bat (ahaha a pun.... oh now I'm ashamed) and art that not only complements it, but BLOWS ANYTHING ELSE OUT OF THE WATER. Seriously there's an open panel about halfway through the comic that just made me stop and stare for about five minutes. It's THAT good. The image in question is the one where Kate's hair is like dripping paint with her formerly tortured self in the foreground in case you're wondering. If you don't read this you should be incarcerated at some sort of comic reading correction facility due to a negligence to genius. Yes I'm overreacting but fuck it I love this comic.

I won't spoil much simply in the hope that my lack of information on the contents of the comic piques your curiosity something strong and you go out and buy it. Which you should. Now.

Oh yeah, almost forget to mention the back-up Question story. It's not AS good, but being Renee Montoya you're guaranteed an awesome comic all the same. With a groovy haircut on Renee as The Question too. But that's just sad of me to point that out.

All of this just might be comic perfection. If it is there's no point to me reviewing anything else ever again. 10 posts on this blog and my opinions are all meaningless in comparison to how good this comic is. Perhaps I should just abandon reading it ever again to stop me becoming obsessed with the series.

After all, I still have Van Lente. Who just.... isn't as good now I've read this. Fuck. Fuck in bold and a large typeset. In Orange.

(okay okay, just buy it and read it. You need this)

Bonus: the page of art that stumped me with beauty

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Top Ten #2: Candidates For The Black Avengers

So now that I'm done making meaningless reviews and gushing over my love for all things Van Lente (for the week) I should actually CONTINUE WITH THE BLOODY TOP TENS!

This time we're taking a look at who would make the ideal team of Black Avengers. Not in a racist way or for some special event happening around this point in time. No, this is just because it's something a friend tossed at me when he'd read the issue of Black Panther where he marries Storm. 'Cause ya know, Luke Cage speaks a bit about how he wants a black avengers team. Weak reason but we came up with some and had fun and I want to have some more top tens before I'm out of ideas so this one exists and it's here and shut up.


#10: Goliath (Tom Foster)

Following Civil War, Bill Foster died. The Black Panther met his son Tom, who informed him of his intention to stand up against Iron Man. A year later he appears in World War Hulk and is largely pointless. WHOOPDEEDOOOOOOO. Despite all this Tom Foster earns his place in this top ten purely on his abilities as a size-changer, something that pretty much any avengers team needs.
Odds of being in the Black Avengers: 100:1

#9: Cardiac (Elias Wirtham)

I'm going to cop out here and say I know next to nothing about this character and that all evidence on how awesome he is comes from the person who pretty much created the idea of this top ten. Cardiac is a never-used, awesome looking vigilante who has a pretty decent power set of super strength, regeneration and a staff that fires concussive bolts of energy and so on. In his style he's like a much cooler looking Punisher and as such fits the role of 'dude who makes decisions others won't' or 'the Wolverine' as it is sometimes known. Only opposing factor is that NO-ONE REMEMBERS HIM! Seriously his last appearance was being mentioned in a Civil War database thing. Lame.
Odds of being in the Black Avengers: 200:1 (wait do these odds actually MEAN anything?)

#8: Storm (Ororo Munroe)

Already I hear people tutting (which considering no-one reads this is not only unusual but also VERY worrying) but trust me, I know what I'm on about here. Sure Storm seems like one of the strongest choices for the Black Avengers but she is instantly relegated to the lower half of this top ten on the evidence that she is pretty busy not only being a queen, but also looking after her comatose husband. In Wakanda. A country that doesn't particularly like involving itself with the world or the world involving itself with it. In fact the only reason Ororo has pushed her way to number 8 is because she's a fan favourite. Also no T'challa isn't on this list and yes it's for the same reasons, except HE'S the one in the coma.
Odds of being in the Black Avengers: 80:1 (2:1 if it weren't for the coma/Wakanda stuff)

#7: Patriot (Eli Bradley)

Ah Eli Bradley. Pretty much every Young Avenger stands a shot at being a full-fledged Avenger down the line but Eli, like all of them, carries that massive flaw that pulls them back: THEY DON'T LISTEN TO ANYTHING ANYONE SAYS. Seriously you tell a Young Avenger to turn left, they'll turn right and fuck up somehow. Eli is no exception, especially considering this is the fool who used Mutant Growth Hormones to have powers. I mean surely he must have heard they FUCK PEOPLE UP. He learned after the fact sure, but as a Black Avenger all he'd do is fuck up and apologise later. Despite this he has a good NON-MGH power set now thanks to his brain-damaged grandfather (the most awesome Captain America according to some) and does a fair amount of good (some of which we'll hopefully see in the Cornell written Dark Reign: Young Avengers) and his role as the Captain America type person makes him a decent shoe-in, as long as he doesn't put the shoe on his hand and try to fight a souped-up tiger with it.
Odds of being in the Black Avengers: FLUCTUATE WITH STUPIDITY

#6: War Machine (Jim Rhodes)

War Machine seems like a cool idea. Take Iron Man, give him more guns and a better personality. For years he was and as such would have made a great addition to the Black Avengers line-up, maybe even number 1. Then he became a cyborg man. In fact not a cyborg man. CYBORG FROM TEEN TITANS IN A WAR MACHINE SUIT. WHO ACTED LIKE A PRICK EVEN WHEN BEING GOOD. AND SUCKS. So for all he was and could have been he warrent being at number 6. For all he is now he may as well be thrown into the sun. By the Sentry. OVER AND OVER.
Odds of being in the Black Avengers: 10:1 (But I'm bitter so in my opinion it should be like 9000:1)

#5: Darwin (Armando Muñoz)

This entry might astound.... again, none of you but I digress that it would astound all of you out there who aren't reading this blog. Why? Because not only is Darwin quite unknown to people who don't read X-Factor, he's also not always black. This is because of his awesome, if somewhat unpredictable, power of advanced evolution. This is a mutant who can evolve an ability to suit any situation. Sure he can't control it so it can backfire, like in World War Hulk where his evolution to a hit from the Hulk was to teleport away. Still when it works well IT WORKS WELL and his temporary whiteness is an interesting note on how his powers considered him better protected around white people by turning white himself. So he has depth and a great power. What's his downside? There's no way Marvel would use him as a Black Avenger, mainly because they can be ignorant of their greatest assets.
Odds of being in the Black Avengers: LOWER THAN THEY SHOULD BE

#4: Cloak (and Dagger?) (Tyrone Johnson (and Tandy Bowen?))

Okay I don't know anything about Cloak (and Dagger?) either, except Cloak can teleport people and Dagger is white (a crucial spanner in the works where a team of BLACK avengers are concerned, but Darwin is half-hispanic so I've already fucked up a bit down the line) but we can all sit safely back and say that Cloak is brilliantly suited for a team due to his teleportation, intangibility and ability to throw people into a dimension of darkness (incarcerate enemies on the go!), and Dagger not only quells his hunger for light with her light daggers but also has the aforementioned kickass LIGHT DAGGERS as a combat weapon too. Also the powers are related to drugs in some way, which is entertaining as a concept. Would they be in a Black Avengers? You know it, Cloak is good friends with Luke Cage and has helped save the world many a time now (or just his side in Civil War but hey) and he's got a lot of potential that may have been explored in all the comics I haven't read with him in.
Odds of being in the Black Avengers: 7:1 (Dagger messes it up A BIT)

#3: Falcon (Sam Wilson)

The Falcon is probably one of the more obvious shoe-ins for the Black Avengers due to his importance as the first African-American Superhero in the Marvel U, as well as mainstream comics in general. Beyond that fact he's a firm believer in traditional superhero values (see Civil War and his stance on registration at that point) and has a wealth of experience and talent despite being essentially powerless himself (save emphatic links with all birds). A great person with potential to be the leader if it weren't for his downplayed role in the Marvel U.
Odds for being in the Black Avengers: 1:1

#2: Monica Rambeau (Captain Marvel, Photon, Pulsar) (Monica Rambeau)

The woman with a million superhero names, Rambeau is a wealth of experience and power, with almost no limitations to her power albeit only being able to use one energy state at a time. We're talking the mother of all super-powered female characters, let alone a great Black Avenger candidate. There are literally no downsides to this character other than her tendency to think she knows EVERYTHING just because she's been an avenger. She could easily lead but that'd give the character too much satisfaction so let's all be bastards and leave her at number 2 and chuckle to ourselves.
Odds of being in the Black Avengers: 1:1 (oh c'mon they're all guarantees at this point)

#1: Luke Cage

So the obvious choice sits atop the.... WHAT?!

*ahem* So the obvious choice sits atop the top ten and with good reason. Luke Cage is arguably the most popular black superhero at current (sorry Barack the Barbarian) and has ridiculous physical strength and impenetrable skin. If that wasn't enough he also has a bunch of teamwork experience with Heroes for Hire and the New Avengers. But really we all know why he's at number 1: Because this was his idea. Luke Cage was the character who wanted to create a Black Avengers team so it's with that in mind that he stands as the indisputable leader (in the absence of Isaiah Bradley) of the team. We all love him, you love him (even if you don't know it) and I'm far too lazy to add any more reasons he should be the top candidate and leader for the Black Avengers BECAUSE YOU ALREADY KNOW THEM.
Odds of being in the blah blah blee bloo oh c'mon do you have to ask?

BONUS: The "Jarvis" role!



Sunday, 21 June 2009

Quick-Fire Reviews #1: week of 17th june + more

So I've got more things to review after a small excursion to Brighton on Friday. But I'm lazy and you're busy people with lives who don't really care how much time I spend gushing about my raging man-love for Fred Van Lente. So here is where I review things REALLY QUICKLY just to let you know whether you should read them, buy them, wait for the trade or just RUN THE HELL AWAY.


ALL NEW SAVAGE SHE-HULK #3 (of 4) by Fred Van Lente, Peter Vale and Michael Ryan

In Short: This has easily been my favourite thing to come out of Dark Reign so far and with good reason. From the awe-inspiring story to the amazing art (not to mention the 90s decade variant cover, but I'm pretty sure if I DID mention it again then people may start to throw stones at me) it's been an amazing ride. This issue brings more to the table with the writing hitting a new peak, leading to a final page that results in the most peculiar "OH SHI-" moment any comic could ever have. Why doesn't Lyra have her own ongoing set up for after this? (note: she is getting to be the backup in Incredible Hulk post-600)

Mighty Avengers #26 by Dan Slott, Stephen Segovia, Noah Salonga and Jean-Francois Beaulieu

In Short: Dan Slott continues to prove why he's the writer of the best Avengers comic out there with an issue that manages to cram so much into so few pages without seeming overloaded or spoilt. The only thing that drags this comic down at the moment is that the art is somewhat mired by having a "too many cooks" situation, where perfectly functional art seems to be ruined by having two people handle it in what seems to be slightly different ways. Still, any comic where the 7th (or 8th) smartest person in the world can be beaten by a little girl has to be a great comic, something that holds true here.
In Shorter: Must Read (just squint occasionally)

DARK REIGN: YOUNG AVENGERS #2 (of 5) by Paul Cornell, Mark Brooks and Mark Morales

In Short: First of all, I have to admit that I am one of the people to blame for Cornell's formerly ongoing series Captain Britain and MI13 getting cancelled. I bought it in trades (I'll get to that later) but never bothered with the issues. So I can hold my head high and proudly say... That I'll be doing the same for this. That's not to say that the issues are bad by themselves, it's just more that these stories Cornell writes flow so much better in their complete trades. If you do want to just pick up this issue though, you get some great representation of the ACTUAL Young Avengers and of Enchantress II, one of my favourite new characters to come out of this limited series (the best being Melter II). Still don't like Coat of Arms, probably never will. She's annoying and Cornell doesn't quite seem to realise that yet. Still she shares a nice dynamic with Speed so I can't complain too much. Oh this isn't really 'in short', I fucked up this time.
In (much) shorter: Wait for the trade unless you REALLY can't wait!

Dark Reign Hawkeye #3 (of 5) by Andy Diggle, Tom Raney and Scott Hanna

In Short: I wish Diggle was this good with his Thunderbolts work at the moment. Bullseye/Hawkeye isn't hard to write well, but this is a step above the basics. A genuinely captivating story with a cliffhanger each issue that keeps you coming back for more. Gotta big up Raney too for taking another decent step up from his art on one of my favourite limited series Secret Invasion: Inhumans.
In Shorter: Read it, buy it if you can track down the first two issues.

CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI13: HELL COMES TO BIRMINGHAM TPB by Paul Cornell, Leonard Kirk and Pat Oliffe

In Short: ACTUAL cover looks like a badly blown up picture but let's ignore that. Captain Britain continues to school people on why they SHOULD have been buying the issues and WHY they should feel bad that it's getting cancelled. Admittedly Cornell said he's done with it anyway after the current arc but still BE ASHAMED. I know I am. So go buy this awesome series and realise that not only is Dane Whitman one of the best characters in current Marveldom, but that you PROBABLY WON'T SEE HIM AGAIN FOR AGES YOU ARSES INCLUDING ME!
In Shorter: Buy it 'cause we're all arseholes.

BONUS: Issues of stuff from recent times that I only just got around to getting because I'm a retard

BATMAN & ROBIN #1 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely

In Short: I never liked Bruce Wayne. I usually like Grant Morrison. Combining the writing of Morrison and the absence of that moody prick Bruce seems like a no-brainer, and it stands up to my expectations. Damien is a little douche but that's deliberate and he'll learn over time. Dick Grayson is awesome and totally proves why he's the best person for the cowl. Pyg and his freaky mask stuff at the end disturbs the shit out of me, which in my book is a nightmare-inducing job well done. Definitely managed to find its way onto my regular purchases. Still, I could really do with less Pyg related moments of horror in my life.
In Shorter: Buy It, Read It, HAVE NIGHTMARES.

POWER GIRL #1 by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner

In Short: Remember comics being pure dumb fun? I don't but if there was ever a time where that was the case Power Girl represents it with full gusto. I bought it because it was cheap and found out upon reading it that it might well be the first DC comic to actually make we want to follow it with no skepticism. In a comic book where it's all about pretty fights and boob related quips. If this is the future of comics I'm going to get stupid but fuck me am I gonna be happy. Sure I haven't explained anything here but that's because it's too basic to explain. Just FUN!
In Shorter: FUN! FUN! BOOBS! FUN! .... BUY IT! IT'S FUN!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Flip The Page text review: Dark Reign Mr. Negative #1 (of 3)

Sometimes I'm lucky enough to get an opportunity to throw a review out there in time to not seem like I'm far behind the blogs people ACTUALLY read and as such here's my first review of a current comic: Mr. Negative #1 by Fred Van Lente and Gianluca Gugliotta.


Dark Reign has churned out a fair amount of material now, be it ongoing genius like the return of the Agents of Atlas or promising limited series like Dark Reign: Young Avengers. That isn't to say that the output has been perfect (Dark Avengers has been pretty mediocre so far and the current New Avengers content has been crappy despite what sales indicate), so will Mr. Negative's debut mini-series live up to the mostly great standards the new status quo has established?

Yes. No. Kinda.

Dark Reign: Mr Negative is the sort of comic that is hindered greatly by its expectations that whoever picks it up knows a fair amount about the current criminal hierarchy in Marveldom. The Hood is the new kingpin of crime and taking over other people's rackets, apparently including those of Martin Li, the billionaire philanthropist known to the public as the owner of the F.E.A.S.T. project (essentially a soup kitchen) and privately as Mr. Negative, Chinatown's crime lord. Understandably this sort of situation is negative for him-

*is shot for a horrible pun*

*dramatic music plays me off*

WAIT WAIT I'M NOT DEAD! Okay I promise no more awful puns or needless exposition. The point here is that without a knowledge about The Hood and Martin Li this series would rely a lot on you taking most information at face value, including the mysterious nature of Li's powers themselves. In fact it's safe to say that if you haven't read anything Marvel in a few years (or at least not read Spider-Man's Brand New Day) you'd be forgiven for thinking that this was just a new take on Genis-Vell, the second Captain Marvel. One where he appears to want to stab Spider-Man on the cover.

However if you DO know about the various characters involved then you're in for an undeniable treat. Fred Van Lente has proven to be the best writer to handle anything dark reign related and this trend has continued into Mr. Negative. The smaller aspects that would get ignored in a limited series this size by other writers shine through here, including a great summary of Martin Li's arrival in the United States, something that mostly circumvents any issue with not feeling a connection to the character (which I've established is difficult considering the reasonably presumptious failure to introduce or explain many of the aspects involved in the crime world). This is aided by some beautiful art from Gugliotta, an artist I have to shamefully admit I can't recall seeing anything from before. Whether this is because Gugliotta is new or I'm ignorant is unimportant, because this could be any artist and easily stand as an example of great work, especially when looking at Li's Mr. Negative form and the unsettlingly captivating White Rabbit.

I'm not sure what else I can say about this limited other than it's worth picking up for the more savvy Marvel fan, but newcomers could find it a confusing, if not FUCKING EXCITING, read.


BONUS: Some of you may have noticed that the cover is in a rather fitting negative and may be wondering "what does it look like when switched out of negative. Et voila:



Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Ten Worst Covers Conclusion: DO BETTER

Figured it'd make sense to separate this from the MASSIVE Top Ten #1 post, mainly to showcase some actual positive stuff. For each of the worst covers, the artists involved have produced exceptional work on other covers (excluding Das Pastoras and Rob Liefeld). The focus here will be to showcase the good they've done, including my personal favourite cover of all time! Oh and to throw in the conclusions, that'd help.


THE BEST COVER EVARRRRRRRR: All New Savage She-Hulk #3 Variant by Juan Doe

Sure it's simple and part of the cheap decades variant gimmick Marvel's doing at the moment, but just LOOK at how pretty this is! It's the sort of unique and vibrant colour art that could actually draw people in, even the non-comic fans. Sure I'm probably overselling it but fuck it's BEAUTIFUL!

Good covers by those who have created crap:
Alex Ross

Greg Land

Humberto Ramos
Ed McGuinness
Juan Doe (again)
Ariel Olivetti
Alex Maleev

See? They can ALL DRAW WELL.

LUKE: Covers don't sell things to me. Well Watchmen, but that doesn't even
need characters on the cover. it's stylised, ya know?

LAURA: I don't care

MAX: My opinion of a good cover is a pretty one. Like these here. It isn't rocket science. Just don't do work that looks like arse... Oh wait, opinions... I forgot about opinions!


Monday, 15 June 2009

Top Ten #1: Worst Marvel Comic Covers

Comics often sell on the impression their covers give off, especially new series. The only issue is that some comics have such disgustingly hideous artwork, clutter or other factors that you just want to run the hell away. Herein will be the worst of the worst offenders, featuring such non-talents as Rob Liefeld(obviously), Greg Land and a true legend who got perhaps a little too much praise considering some of the shit he churned out. "Worst ____ Comic Book Covers" Part 1 of 3!

Read on, you crazy diamonds!
EDIT: apologies about the massive space before clicking read more, not sure what I've done there. Still I'll figure it out by the next one.

(Every now and then Luke the Swift and his lady-friend Laura will pipe in with their opinions in these top tens. Like here!)

#10: Reborn #1 Alex Ross Variant

MAX: This managed to sneak in at the last second. Avoiding my bias against Steve Rogers(USAgent is better) this is just an awful cover. Pink-Opera-Singing-Cap fading away into white painfully with a big ball for a left hand? If anyone actually hunts out this variant cover I'll be shocked. I mean this guy churned out some great covers for Marvels, but this could be so much better. Instead it's just a SHINY TURD.

LUKE: It looks like they just didn't bother to draw his legs. It's like they couldn't be fucked, throwing out some half-finished art. Also for what's supposed to be him RETURNING it looks like he's fading to white.

#9: Uncanny X-men #500 Greg Land Variant

MAX: There was so much I was going to say about how awful this cover is, how Cannonball looks like a grunge musician for some reason, Armour is hidden right at the back, Storm appears to be listening to music at a rave and such, but just as I was about to get started I came across THIS, where it has been pointed out that it is.... *ahem* (sorry, bit of linkage overdose) pretty much all just traces and recycling. Greg Land isn't an artist. Just a terrible hack.

#8: Wolverine #42 by Humberto Ramos
MAX: Apparently Wolverine doesn't need a forehead to be the best at what he does, just a REALLY BIG MOUTH. Civil War covers bother me for having half the page taken up by the words CIVIL WAR, so the last thing I need is for there to be a crappy piece of artwork to go with the shitty layout.

LUKE: Oh yeah that's awful. Wolverine has no pointy ears, looks like someone else completely and kinda fat for some reason. It just bears no resemblance to him. Never seen any older image of wolverine where he looks like that.

#7: 'Rulk' #1 by Ed McGuinness
MAX: The Hulk has always been about being freakishly muscley and looking strong, so seeing a tumour plagued Liefeldian monstrosity fill up the entire cover with his freakish visage... Well it just makes me wonder why people bought it.

LUKE: It looks like RULK's got lizards crawling up his arms. Also he has another set of shoulders just for his NECK!

#6: Civil War: X-men #1 by Juan Doe
MAX: Cyclops has aged considerably from holding his breath and turning purple, whilst Bishop is being played in this picture by an anorexic Seal. Not to mention that this abomination is once again crushed above CIVIL WAAAAAAR. *mutters miserably* And just in case this doesn't sound as bad as the previous entries, I feel the need to point out that Juan Doe can do awesome covers at the drop of a pin, so this is just... unexplainable.

LUKE: Cyclops just looks like a geriatric. It reminds me of someone but I can't think who.

#5: X-Men #1 by Jack Kirby
MAX: I get that the old King Kirby comics get a lot of praise art-wise and rightly so on most occasions, but this is just stupid. ICEman is made of snow (or a much less pleasant substance. Ick) for some reason and is throwing his snow (or spunk) at Magneto's cape. Because when you think of how to beat a master of magnetism you think CAPE. It's ridiculous, and this is without even going into Cyclops' mysterious turtle looking neck up the top left, or Jean Grey's random pose in the background. Kirby's covers were usually of situations contained within the comic so it helped that he usually drew great art. This just makes me wonder what awful shite might be contained within(luckily the issue itself is pretty good).

LAURA: Iceman looks like he's papier mache and there's random bits of metal sticking out the walls for some reason that they're swinging on. Lame.

LUKE: Iceman has an impressive curveball. Under that trajectory it shouldn't hit magneto's cape at all. I'm pretty sure the curve would go the other way. Angel looks pretty badass with that rocket launcher though. *is told that that's just some random metal about that he's swinging on* What? That's just... What?

#4: Cable #1 by Ariel Olivetti

MAX: Since when did Cable's techno-organic arm need articulation and a biohazard symbol. That's just retarded. He's ridiculously huge compared to the kid strapped to his front as well. Has Cable been experimenting with Pym particles? No, Olivetti is just a bad artist with a fetish for overly muscular people. Wait... Is Olivetti just Liefeld in disguise?!

LUKE: Better than Olivetti's cover to the Punisher War Journal 2 paperback in my opinion. Cable just looks like an action figure with the metal arm and his right hand
looking like it's molded to hold a toy gun.

#3: Secret Invasion: Dark Reign One-Shot by Alex Maleev

MAX: I LIKE Alex Maleev. I mean I genuinely like his art, especially the Nick Fury and Daisy Johnson stuff in Mighty Avengers. I'm looking forward to Spider-Woman with baited breath(which considering I don't even like the character says a lot). So you can imagine how appalling it is to see this shit churned out. The cover has nothing on how bad the content of the issue is, but we're looking at a Loki cosplayer, a twat in a hoodie, some random dude in the middle, Emma Frost(okay that can't be done wrong she's pretty easy), Namor(unlike the fat pervert within the issue) and a kinda hunchbacked midget DOOM! Maleev can do so much better than this painful shit, so it sits here in its rightful place at #3.

LUKE: Loki's jugs don't look right. I mean it looks like they're in a bra,
but it has to be the least supportive bra i've ever seen. They're just drooped
and it's weird.

MAX: Not a bra. It's a..... Corset maybe?

#2: Captain America #2 by Rob Liefeld

MAX: Ah and so we come to something by Rob Liefeld. I've tried to avoid putting more than one thing by him into this Top Ten, else have it only contain his terror. Also to anyone who knows about Liefeld you have to understand how bad whatever #1 is for Liefeld to come second to it. I mean JUST LOOK AT THIS! Cap's neck appears to be made out of millions of strands of string, explaining the pain and starved look on his face(string people can't eat. FACT!). It doesn't even look like Cap has eyes (something Linkara of AT4W fame has named Youngblood's Disease, and with good reason) and this is without even mentioning how Captain America's shield is attached to him by MAGIC! This is awful, Liefeld is awful, my eyes are hurting and I want to stop looking at it now.

LUKE: Captain America looks kinda like a rodent. I don't know why. He's got a head growing out of his leg! Did he crush it between his MASSIVE THIGHS? There's like an arm on the floor, has he killed a woman?! Does the red skull just keep arms in his collar?! Is Liefeld just practicing drawing arms on the cover, forgetting it was going to be a cover? I mean it's a man's arm by the look of it, WHAT'S GOING ON?!

#1: Wolverine: Revolver One-Shot by Das Pastoras


LUKE: That's Wolverine? It's like he's drawn over some fanart of Wolverine
a 12 year old fan has sent in. What's that bat-monkey thing behind him? Is
this marvel apes? Wolverine doesn't even look like any possible human being, it's like the blood has been drained out of him or something.

LAURA: This gave max a nightmare.

MAX: *whimper*

MAX: *ahem* This prestigious award for shittyness in cover artistry can only go to the one person so atrociously bad that in all his years working on various comics I couldn't find ONE good cover with his artwork. Of course I am talking about our second place wonder, ROB LIEFELD!

FEAST ON IT ALL! Also I couldn't think of what to put in the speech bubble shut up.
Conclusions and what GOOD covers look like to follow soon.