blahflowers: (Jiving Girl)
So, in just a quick follow-up to my last rant, I've entirely stopped reading any DC comics! I've been tipping back heavily towards Marvel stuff for years now but there's always been something keeping me connected, like an umbilical cord, to DC. But Morrison finished Batman, Johns finished Green Lantern, Williams 3 and Blackman got kicked off of Batwoman and though I looked nothing else really appealed. I liked Snyder's Zero Year story on Batman but the constant return to the poisoned well that is the Joker and each writer's belief that they can tell the ultimate Joker story is boring. At the moment DC feels tired and lacking in either ideas or the courage to strike out and try something new even though this is at a time when they've 'killed off' Bruce Wayne. Their idea of trying something new is to repeat something Morrison did five years ago and other writers over a decade before that? Wow, brave. Bring me Superman's severed head and an affidavit from God that we're never getting his soul back in this or any other universe and then we'll talk.

But in case you think I'm only going to moan about things I don't like, let's talk about Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Emma Rios. This was an absolute bugger to read in individual issues so it was nice to get the trade and read it all in one morning. This was the first thing I'd read by either creator, I think. Since then I've followed Kelly Sue to 'Bitch Planet' which I've also enjoyed, not least for its more linear plot. This book is in the category of 'Weird Western', involving as it does Death, Death's daughter and a cast of… others. It gets problematic in that Deconnick is trying to tell what is a fairly straightforward story in as roundabout a way as she can. Meanwhile, Rios's pencils are great for suggesting action and tight scenes of little or no movement but somewhere in between and it can get a bit muddled. The pages are quite tight, compressed artwork to tell an uncompressed story. There are nice touches, Death has a bunny's skull for a head for no real reason. In the end it's quite a nice spin on fairly standard Western tropes, it's sad that the fact that it has a number of female main characters is something that still feels noteworthy in this day and age. I'm interested to see where this series goes in future but this was a four issue story stretched to five in order to fill out a trade, hopefully there will be more meat in future.

One Soul by Ray Fawkes is a deceptively simple idea, take eighteen characters from eighteen different time periods (from our earliest hunter gatherer forebears through the Middle Ages up to the present day) and take us through their lives from before birth (we don't see anything start to form until page eight) through their adolescence up to their deaths and beyond. So we have two sets of nine panel grids with each character getting a panel we see them progress through life. There's the Roman girl who becomes a priestess of Artemis, the Japanese weaver who just wants to work on her art, the soldier from America's war of independence and the punk with her poetry and spiralling drug addiction and that's just four of them. Even their, in some cases, untimely deaths don't end their contributions, the panels go black but the story continues. the panels complement one another, such as one side of a double page spread with close-ups of the right eyes of the first nine characters on the left and the left eyes of the second nine characters on the right or where one character is struck by an arrow another has a heart attack. It's reminiscent of the chapters of From Hell dealing with Sir William Gull and the Victorian ideas of time travel. Beautifully executed and well worth seeking out.
blahflowers: (Jiving Girl)
I did prepare a review last weekend of 'Guardians of the Galaxy' but after I'd finished it Ronan the Accuser destroyed it before I could post it to the Internet, I can't be bothered to recreate it so in brief: go see it, it's very very good.

'Batman- Secret City' )
'Hip Hop Family Tree' )
'No Straight Lines' )
blahflowers: (Jiving Girl)
'The Encyclopedia of Early Earth' )

'Blue is the Warmest Color' )

'Lighter Than my Shadow' )

The TL:DR version? Read 'Lighter Than My Shadow', possibly read 'Blue is the Warmest Color', avoid 'The Encyclopedia of Early Earth'.
blahflowers: (Jiving Girl)
At some point the bumper for Bryan Singer's production company 'Bad Hat Harry' has changed from two comic characters to being one based on 'The Usual Suspects'. It makes sense, if you try and subliminally remind people of your one good film maybe they'll think the film they are about to see is as good as that one. Oh boy oh boy, 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' is not a good film.

(Spoilers, although strictly speaking this is such a linear film that you will know exactly what happens before the Fox logo fades away at the start) )

Still, the X-Franchise limps on, showing that when it comes to development of the property those behind the film show no signs of either evolution or intelligent design. And we've got Guardians of the Galaxy in a short while, hopefully showing how comics movies should be made, if we're lucky.
blahflowers: (Jiving Girl)
Full disclosure: I have never seen 'Watership Down'. The prospect of it bored the pants off me. I quite liked 'The Wind in the Willows' as a child and, if it's hot badger action you're after, then William Horwood's Duncton books are worth looking out for. But on the whole, talking animal stories are not my thing. So 'Beasts of Burden- Animal Rites' by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson really doesn't impress.

'Beasts of Burden' )

'Neurocomic' )

'Bandette Volume 1- Presto!' )

'Stitches' )
blahflowers: (Jiving Girl)
Brighton: The Graphic Novel.
By Various

Twenty-eight writers and artists tell stories set between 1728 and 2013. Some are historical, some are personal, a few are fantastical, a couple aim for realism. We see beginnings, we see endings, we see life. We often see Brighton as it perhaps is rather than as it would like to be seen, a city supposedly noted for its liberality and creativity, as long as you're rich and white and don't want to rock the boat. If there is a theme that runs through the disparate and self-contained stories in this collection it is often one of façades being torn down, sometimes this is literal, such as with Henry Phillips's Anthaeum in the 19th century, sometimes it's more figurative when the truth behind a murder is exposed. Of course when each chapter is written and drawn by different people you sometimes have great stories badly illustrated and sometimes great artists wasted on inferior scripts. I'd be interested to know how much collaboration there was between the writers and artists on this work when this was an open call for scripts.

It's not terrible but really such faint praise is all I have to offer. Despite getting the nod from Bryan 'Alice in Sunderland' Talbot it cannot hope to compare, that was a focused and singular vision, this is just a bunch of stories. I generally prefer the historical stories (in this case I mean everything pre-1945) as they are mostly telling stories about the construction of Brighton. The post WW2 stories are largely personal stories that could be set anywhere that has a seafront and a pier. 'Brighton's Angels' by Glenn Stevens, Emelie Marjarian and Collette Tarbuck and 'Beside the Seaside' by Tom Harrop and Iain Buchanan inadvertently distil Brightons queer culture into drag queens and 70s homophobia while the latter story and 'Jonas Tindale: Night Man' by Jon Sapsed and Pete Katz are the only two stories with non-white characters. The blurb from the publishers suggests that the content of the stories was left up to the writers, all of whom from their bio pics are all white so what could QueenSpark Books do?

My favourite story is probably 'Short Back & Sides' by Mark Pembrey and Adam Moore about a local barber of the 70s and 80s. I love the artwork of 'The Sea Swimmer' by Ottilie Hainsworth and Salka (one of only a couple of the stories that address the sea that Brighton borders) and 'One Step Into the Future, One Step Into the Past' by Robin Tulley and Kathryn Miller which has Talbot-like qualities.

Getting hold of this outside of Brighton might be tricky. I got it from my local library and they had fun purchasing a copy. So why not try contacting the publishers or Dave's Comics in Brighton if you want a copy? Even if not entirely successful it's still a laudable project and, in the end, what could be more Brighton than that?
blahflowers: (Jiving Girl)
The Fantastic Four are much like DC's Wonder Woman; horribly dated, much better when they are guests in other people's titles than in their own, still being published due to the cloying conservative nostalgia of the comic genre and no-one can ever remember any of their stories. Except that time they fought Galactus. Every other issue, no-one can remember any of the stories. People claim they can remember stories but you'll find they are probably on drugs. Or having too much promiscuous sex. Mmmm, promiscuous sexy drugs....

Anyway, say you wake up one morning with an unaccountable desire to read some Fantastic Four comics and, what's worse, you want to read good Fantastic Four comics. Where on earth would you go to find such things? Luckily, it does indeed exist. Jonathan Hickman's run on Fantastic Four finished last year and was extremely good. Luckily, most of the important issues are in trades. Hickman makes the sensible choice that the two things that are key to the Fantastic Four is that they are a family and there are never four of them. Oh, and huge space opera. OK, three things... The important storyline opens and closes on a scene between a father and a son. The first time it's the young Reed Richards with his father Nathaniel in the past, the second it's present day Reed and his son Franklin. And the lesson being taught? Well, that's what the story is all about.

Hickman's run started with Fantastic Four: Dark Reign. The series dips in and out of then current events in the Marvel universe. The variety and importance of these vary, but especially as events march towards the climax, keep your internet on standby to help explain things. Anyway, by the time of Dark Reign Reed has had something of a crisis of faith in his intelligence and the team's ability to stop bad things from happening in the Marvel Universe, such as the Green Goblin becoming the most powerful man in America because the public and President Obama are massive dicks. So he builds a universe-skipping machine to try and see how future actions he might or might not take will play out. It's a rather throwaway book that can be ignored but it does lead nicely into his run on the title, which starts properly with the issues contained in Fantastic Four Volume 1. Reed is contacted by a Council comprising of Reed Richards from other universes who have banded together to do good for all creation. Problems with famine? One Reed Richards cultivates entire planets of all the food you could want? Galactus wanting to eat you? There's a Reed for that. And they want Reed, they want Reed as a new recruit. Unfortunately barely have they made the offer before everything starts going wrong.

The early volumes do contain some weak stories, there are several issues to do with something called 'Nu-World' which some writer previous to Hickman was obviously very pleased with but which is such an incomprehensible mess that I couldn't even summon the enthusiasm to go look at the internet to try and make sense of it. Hickman is moving so many dominoes in to place that at one point he blatantly gives up all pretence of showing and just tells the reader important facts in the form of an essay that the Richards children, Franklin and Valeria, super-geniuses both, are writing. But Hickman never loses sight of characterisation, volume 4 contains issue #587, where one of the main cast dies and the Fantastic Four are changed FOREVERS!!1! Even though we know that the character would be back, even though we know that the title, about to become 'FF #1', would also return, Hickman manages to sell us on the 'death' as being a big thing, the final chapter, issue #588, being an issue of grief and mourning for this loss, comes off as exceptionally well-crafted even when we genre-savvy cynical readers know it'll all be undone in a year It's done entirely without dialogue and is one of the times the art, in this case by Nick Dragotta, rises above the average.

The Fantastic Four become the 'Future Foundation', not so much a superhero team as, um, a superhero team with a youth wing attached. Spider-man joins them, because heaven knows he's not over-exposed in the Marvel Universe already, and also lots of junior characters, both those created by Hickman in the course of his run and also existing MU beings like Dragon-Man and Alex Powers from Power Pack. The volumes of FF run on their own for volumes 1 and 2 before, in volume 3, becoming a companion book to the returned Fantastic Four as Hickman starts drawing threads together for the epic conclusion to his main story. FF volume 1 contains some of my favourite writing of Hickman's entire run. Two issues are devoted to a summit of villains that, through contrivances of plot, Doctor Doom gets to hold at the Four's HQ on the subject of how to defeat Reed Richards. He is forced to chair a meeting where a number of his foes bitch and argue with each other on how they would defeat him while Sue Richards and Spider-man wait outside. When Spidey asks her why she's not worried about this she coolly points out she has no reason to be afraid, she has personally defeated every villain in that room more times than she can count, she knows it and they know it.

So, we have a story of mad Gods, a pissed-off Galactus, the dangers of unchecked intellect and how to handle it if your brother might grow up to be the most powerful being in the universe. You do have to be patient as, like I said, there is often a lot of build-up and in places the ongoing story pauses for several issues to explain some other point of back-story, though this is less annoying if you're reading several collections than when you had to wait another thirty days for a comic only to find it was more stuff about Black Bolt and the history of the Kree Empire. The art ranges from workmanlike to decent, some of the other species of alien or mutant look unfortunately goofy but then I've been introduced today to the WTF, Evolution? tumblr so I suppose real-life is sometimes no better. The sub-plot with the Future Foundation curing the Thing of his rocky ever-loving appearance adds some drama and the conclusion of the story is genuinely tense and full of 'fuck yeah!' air punching moments.

Hickman did continue to write both Fantastic Four and FF for a year or so after the main story finished but, while some of them do address dangling plot threads, although they may well be collected they aren't vitally important, the key stuff is available now. Go get it!
blahflowers: (Lowe)
So... Doctor Who...

I quite liked Darkest Night, the recently concluded big crossover superheroes vs zombies event from DC Comics. Having read every comic to be involved with it I can confidently conclude that they can all be ignored and you can have a pleasant enough experience if you restrict yourself to the core title and the Green Lantern tie-ins, the rest is tedious and repetitive (hero finds someone dear to them that died comes back as zombie, they wonder if they can bring themselves to fight them, they do fight them in order to put their beloved's soul 'to rest', they triumph. Repeat about forty or fifty times). It was written by Geoff Johns, who always seemed to get a lot of hate on those intertubes, unfairly I felt. But them there's a proportion of comics fans who are vocal on the web for hating everything but buying it anyway, so I thought little of it.

The Flash: Rebirth )

Freak Angels )

Unknown Soldier )

So... Doctor Who...
blahflowers: (Default)
Who hates women more, Dave Sim or Rick Sharer?

I've talked about Comics Village before and Rick Sharer's columns about Dave Sim and his infamous essays about women. I did post there for a while but gave up when it became clear that Sharer was using the Sim columns as an excuse to post his own misogynistic opinions and didn't want to talk about them.

I just can't stop myself from looking though and this week he's jumping off from Tangents to talk about abortion.

Of course Sim does not approve of abortion so Sharer doesn't approve of abortion but remember, it's only people who Sim or Sharer don't like who participate in groupthink. And it's the familiar tale, evil women have removed men from having any say in what goes on in women's bodies and it's bad, because why shouldn't men get to control other people's bodies? It's the standard argument, Shadowsax 101, with nothing new and no real attempt to suggest any solution other than the vague unstated message of 'anyone with a Y chromosome'.

I see Gail Simone is posting in there again. That's going to go well.

I read the last issue of 'Y The Last Man' this weekend. I need to read the whole series through in one go but my general feeling is that the story was okay but never great. For the few standout issues, such as those that tell the life stories of the main female characters, there were some duds, such as the confrontation with agents of The Setauket Ring, or issue 58 and the end of Alter's story. Considering the premise of the story it doesn't manage to say anything about men and women and the differences between them but is a fun action-adventure.
blahflowers: (Default)
I'm still able to log in to Comics Village...

Phil Hall: Seneth Somed: Good ideas Phil, but they don't go far enough. I'd suggest you also require a retinal scan to log in, and the sign-up should require faxing a copy of your official ID and birth certificate to the webmaster.

Actually, that's exactly what I'd want if it would stop thoroughly cowardly people from being completely what they're not in real life. The Internet is a lot of crappy things, but one of the crappiest is its ability to allow cowards, freaks and sad bastards access to fake IDs to try and inflict hurt and pain on someone else. Fuck, if you're going to do that at least have the guts to do it under your own name. I'd be happy to give my mobile number to some of you cunts, just to prove that I'll gladly call you all a bunch of cunts (almost) in person rather than having to do it via this medium - equally, I'd happily give any information to the owner of a site or forum if they could guarantee that no other wanker on there was hiding behind some fake ID so they can be all big in the trousers or large in the chest!

Some little bitch with piercings, black hair and what she thinks is a 'tude: Well, I won't be crying myself to sleep if I get booted off, I would just point out that my language has been a lot more moderate than yours and, from reading back what's been said, I think I've been a lot more sensible and unemotional than you...

Here, this'll make you laugh... I don't give a fuck about your language :)

'Sensible' and 'unemotional', I'm betting unemotional is what your boy/girl friend thinks while you lay there like a slab of meat as you get fucked. Sensible is probably something you preach but don't practice.

Blah, you're all blah blah blah, darlin', I suggest like Gail you go and get a life :)

Phil Hall: I'm bored with you Seneth and your little friend Ms Blah. And as Simone has obviously done the sensible thing and extracted herself from this thread before it bites her on the arse so badly she can't sit down for a week. I am going to do the same. Be sure to drop into my column: Eat Shit & Die and see me ridicule comics fans yet again - because they're such easy targets ;)

Part One. Part Two.
blahflowers: (Default)
It's all gone a bit 'Kylie Minogue in the DW Christmas Special' in that Dave Sim's comics thread...

Me: Oh Philly, Philly... Your comedy misogyny and fascism does make me laugh. It would almost be worth posting my name and address to see if you followed through on those ridiculously hyperbolic threats but I fear you will have to do with imagining me being abused by rapists, if that's what makes you happy.

Phil Hall: Blah - I'm going to be talking with our webmaster about having you a) removed and b) making it that new members/people who want to post on columns have to submit a pop3 email address rather than a web based one. I've never had to hide behind silly identities to be rude and offensive and I don't see why you should to.

Yes, he's concerned about me being 'offensive' from behind a blanket of anonymity. The worst I've done is call him stupid. The worst he's done, well, you can check the link.

Part One. Part Three.
blahflowers: (Default)
Ouch! Who cranked up the North Wind? I swear I could have walked around in a t-shirt a few days ago, but switch to January and it gets bitter out there.

Talking about bitter, who the crikey is 'Phil Hall'? Here we are, in a thread in the middle of nowhere and I get a masterclass in how to huff and puff and produce the weakest threat in the history of stupid comic webtiffs:

Who the fuck is Blah Flowers? Why do these pathetic morons all have to post under fake names? Glenn can we make it that people have to disclose their real names, because I'd like to bounce this twat around his house for a while; see if he hears a void.

This is why I do my column, for as much of a cunt I am, at least I admit it readily. There are so many self-important smug cunts in comics who for some reason can only be smug and cunty if they hide behind some facade. For all of her fat and ugliness, at least Simone doesn't have to hide, eh Blah? Fucking moron.

And then, once I've stopped laughing checked all the doors and windows are locked because the Big Bad Wolf must surely be outside,

Oh, my apologies Blah. You're a woman... still doesn't stop me wanting to slap you about - stupid bitches need a good slap every so often. You want misogyny, I've got bags full of it, especially to people like you. I'm betting you are lesbian with a penchant for black, piercings and dodgy haircuts...

There is a fucking definite case for the return of fascism, especially if it means that utter wastes of space like you and Gail will be locked up in some big penitentiary with a lot of male rapists - that'll actually really give you something to bleat about.

I presume, as he mixes it up with Gail Simone further up the page, he's someone with previous for sub-Warren Ellis-style rantings. Look how he shows how 'politically incorrect' he is by offering to beat me up, giving thumbs-up to fascism and as for the 'lesbian with a penchant for black, piercings and dodgy haircuts', well, I'll give him two out of four...

Part Two. Part Three.
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