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Thursday, 2 October 2014

Saga volume 1

Today's review comes to you courtesy of Phil May - AHA @ReadItDaddy.  Phil is a technical wizard mashing coder by day, drawing fantastic characters and creatures by night and also reviewing children's books with his daughter over at http://readitdaddy.blogspot.com and grown up stuff at http://daddyafterdark.blogspot.com. 

Writer: Brian K Vaughan

Art: Fiona Staples
Publisher: Image Comics

What's it about?
Space operas don’t come any weirder than Saga, and just when you feel that you’re comfortable that science fiction comics are mined out and the mighty reign of the superhero comic is unshakeable, Saga spins your head around and embroils you in a graphic universe that is sprawling, chaotic and (sometimes) darkly funny.

Saga kicks off slap bang in the middle of its narrator’s birth, setting the tone for the series stock-in-trade method of shock followed by quick explanation. This is set against a background of a huge intergalactic plot involving space war, marginalization, bounty hunting and sheer unadulterated bizarreness.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The New York Four


Story: Brian Wood 
Art: Ryan Kelly
Publisher: MINX (DC Comics)

What’s it about?
“New York City – It awes me into silence sometimes. And it makes me want to shout out at the top of my lungs. Is there any place better?”

The New York Four is a black & white 2008 comic from acclaimed DMZ-writer Brian Wood aimed at young adults, with Ryan Kelly on the artwork. It was originally a digest-sized graphic novel released through Minx, a line published through DC Comics.

The book doesn't just simply revolve around a strong female lead character, but four of them! Each with their own short narratives woven through the book.

The New York Four is about these four young women that are starting their freshman year at the New York University. They all left their homes and family behind, looking for the freedom you get living in NYC.


As the story opens we meet Riley Wilder. Most of the book is seen through her eyes. Riley's pretty shy, always get straight As and spends all her time on her cell phone, only speaking to all her "friends" she met at parties through it. Her and a couple of friends are kind of short on money, so they decide to share an apartment outside the campus together.

There's Lona Lo, a gal who likes keeping tabs on everyone and kind of comes off as a stalker at times. Ren Severin who's more interested in these older guys and hanging out with other peoples than her classmates. And finally Merissa Vasquez, who's having some troubles with her grades...

One day Riley gets to reconnect with this older sister, Angie, who ran away from home much to her parents' chagrin. Riley never really knew her much before, and she finds her back that year of colege!

There's also this guy, Frank, who Riley falls for... but also appears only interested in dating both sisters at the same time.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Seen the film?. Read the book: Captain America, Spider-Man, X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy

3 films in one post, because I'm rather behind!

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
This film is based on a story arc by writer Ed Brubaker and penciller Steve Epting.  The film isn't really close to the books, but it's close enough if you want to experience it in comic form.  Brubaker's run is very highly thought of and is considered a great example of Captain America stories.  If you want to read more Cap'n, the relevant trades are as follows (in order):

Captain America: Man Out of Time - This isn't by Brubaker, but is very very good.
Captain America: Winter Soldier
Captain America: Red Menace
Civil War: Captain America (best read alongside the main Civil War series)
Captain America: The Death of Captain America
Captain America: The Man With No Face - this looks like it's out of print, but should be available digitally on www.comixology.co.uk/com
Captain America: Road To Reborn
Captain America: Two Americas
Captain America: No Escape
Captain America: The Trial of Captain America
Captain America: Prisoner of War

After the Winter Soldier story Bucky got his own series, also written by Ed Brubaker, which is traded as:
Winter Soldier: The Longest Winter - this looks like it's out of print and is going for ridiculous amounts of money, so also check comixology to see if you can get it digitally for a fraction of the price.
Winter Soldier: Broken Arrow
Winter Soldier: Black Widow Hunt
Winter Soldier - The Electric Ghost - this has a new creative team.

Amazing Spider-Man 2
I thought this film was a terrible mess.  However, they did get Gwen Stacy right.  Gwen hasn't been around in the comics for a long time because she was killed by the Green Goblin in 1973.  In the comics, the Green Goblin was Norman Osborn, not Harry Osborn.  You can read the story in the trade Spider-Man: Death of the Stacys.

X-Men: Days of Future Past
Like Winter Soldier, the film isn't the same as the comic that inspired it.  In the comic it was Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat) who time travelled (not Wolverine) and there are different X-men involved.  The comic story only takes 2 issues to tell, so plays out rather differently.  It's a good story and worth reading.

The trade collects issues 138-143 from The Uncanny X-Men other series and starts as an epilogue to the Dark Phoenix saga.  Then there is a Nightcrawler story, then Kitty is introduced to the series, we have the two issue Days of Future Past story and the final issue in the collection is Kitty coming into her own and proving her worth as and X-Man.

Guardians of the Galaxy
This film seemed to be the break out hit of the summer.  Everyone seems to love it.  There have been a lot of Guardians comics and it can be quite hard to work out what to read, or to find copies.

The Annihilation omnibus is considered a good companion piece to the movie, however at £95 for the hardcover volume that's probably out of a lot of peoples budgets.  A more reasonable place to start would be Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning's Guardians collection. It's currently priced at just under £18 on Amazon, but your local comic book shop might be able to get you it for cheaper.  We have a list of recommended shops here.  Alternatively, try comixology for digital copies.  A complete list of Marvel's cosmic stuff (with lots of Guardians characters) can be found here.

Many thanks to @feemcbee for helping me identify and locate these titles!  If you're on twitter go follow her, she knows her Marvel.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Comixology's submit - stuff that didn't fit anywhere else.

This the last of the books from the Comixology: Submit sale we talked about in March.  This bundle isn't available anymore but the books in it are, and are well worth looking at.  Here are the remaining five that we think are worthy of note.

Smut Peddlar - short anthology of smutty stories.  Clearly for adults only and not safe to read at work. This may not have been in the bundle, but is an indie book and is good sexy fun.  It's got a mix of pairings - male/male, female/female and male/female.
Writers and artists: various
Publisher: Iron Circus Comics

Dumbing of Age - excellent book about a home schooled Christian woman starting university and meeting people from different backgrounds.  It's smart and funny. It's not mean about Christian homeschooling - it doesn't insult anyone for being who they are.  It's got a great cast who interact really well.  This made me smile a lot, when not much else did.  It started off as a webcomic, which you can read here. Start at the bottom of the page.  Includes LGBT characters and characters of colour.
Writing and art: David Willis
Publisher: Self published

Rock Star Scientists - in this world, scientists are treated like rockstars.  They get the fans, the glory and the clothes. There are 2 stories in this comic, which is split into two section called Side A and Side B.  Side A is an introduction to this world and Side B is a rather short story. Nonetheless it's worth the money.
Writing and letters: Kenny Jeffery
Art: Jordan Cutler
Pencils and inks: George Zapata
Colours: Armit Ghadge
Publisher: Angry Fruit Salad

After Twilight - this has nothing to do with sparkling vampires.  It's 2022 and Texas is in a civil war with the rest of the States to become independent.  Government and laws are based on biblical faith.  The protagonist is a librarian who finds herself involved in the struggle between the underground resistance and the theocractic leaders
Writing: Richard Alvarez, Gary L Watson, Sandra Yates
Art: Douglas Brown
Colours: Chandran and Meagan Tanner
Publisher: Nu-Classic Publishing

Legend of Oz - it's the story of Oz done as a Western.  Dorothy is a gun toting cowgirl and Toto is her horse.  The colours are rather brassy and the faces are a bit plasticky, but the story is good enough.  There is some violence so this won't be good for kids.
Writing: Tom Hutchinson
Pencils: Alisson Borges
Colours: Kate Finnegan
Publisher: Big Dog Ink

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Comixology submit: comics for kids and teens

Comixology's submit sale had quite a lot of comics aimed at and suitable for children and teenagers.  Here's the best of the ones I read:

For younger kids:
The Antler Boy and Other Stories - this is a fun kids' book with a whole host of imaginary and not so imaginary creatures.  It's great fun.
Writing and art: Jake Parker
Publisher: Self published

Squid and Owl - this is less of a comic and more of an illustrated picture book.  It's a bit weird, there's only a few lines of text on each page, and the art is quite ethereal and dream like.  It's like a stream of consciousness in picture form.  I hesitate to say it's aimed at children because adults will appreciate the beauty in the illustrations too, but it's set out a bit like a child's picture book.
Art and writing: John Holbo
Publisher: Rhinobird books

For teenagers:
The Deep: Here Be Dragons - the Nektons are a multiethnic family of aquanauts journeying through the seas in hunt of strange creatures.  The Nektons are son Ant; daughter Fontaine; mum Kaiko; and dad Will.  Ant is brilliant.  This is worth the price for the absolutely gorgeous art of deep sea monsters.  The first few pages are full of drama and danger.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Art: James Brouwer
Publisher: Gestalt Comics

Chloe Noonan: Monster Hunter - Chloe has a job to hunt and destroy monsters but she doesn't really care for it.  She hasn't got super strength or a heightened sense of danger - she's just like you and me, but maybe slightly more cynical.  This isn't like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  It is good fun and I can seen teenagers getting a lot of mileage out of it.
Writing and art: Marc Ellerby
Publisher: Great Beast Comics

Jackie Rose - This is set in an alternative 1940s and tells the story of Jackie Rose, teen adventurer.  In this volume she gets kidnapped by air pirates.  It's suitable for teenagers and has an air of a young Indiana Jones about it.
Writing and art: Josh Ulrich
Publisher: Self published

The Only Living Boy - Erik Farrell has no memory and is in a world filled with humanoid creatures and monsters.  He doesn't know how he got there but he wants to survive.  Forced into battle, he proves his worth through the use of his wits alone.  This is 53 pages and it's great.  It's a lot more serious than the others in this post.
Writer: David Gallagher
Art: Steve Ellis
Publisher: Bottled Lightning

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Comixology submit - superheroes

There had to be a post about superheroes - I mean, this is comics we're talking about.

Henchmen - Gary is an office worker who sees an ad for henchmen in his local newspaper.  As he's lost his job he applies, gets the job, and starts work dressed as a bowling pin.  He gets to keep his glasses on.  This is an interesting take on the superhero genre.  The art and characterisation are compelling, and at 69pence for 48 pages you can't really go wrong.
Writer: Jamison Raymond
Art: Ryan Howe
Colours: RSquared
Publisher: Robot Paper

Tomorrow Jones - Tomorrow is the daughter of a family of superheroes.  She's expected to do things the traditional way - have a secret identity and wear silly spandex - but she's not having any of that.  She wants to do things her own way.  How is this going to work out?  Suitable for teens and adults.
Writing and letters: Brian T Daniel
Art: Johan Manandin
Publisher: Self published

Monday, 22 September 2014

Seconds


Story: Bryan Lee O'Malley
Art: Bryan Lee O'Malley & Jason Fischer 
Publisher: Ballantine Books

What’s it about?
Seconds is the highly anticipated first new comic from Scott Pilgrim creator, Bryan Lee O'Malley. Following a pretty impressive success (for such a small indie title), which even resulted in a much bigger motion picture feature, O'Malley went back to his roots. By releasing a new self-contained graphic novel!


Seconds tales the story of this woman, Katie Clay, who is a young talented chef and the proud owner of a local restaurant, called Seconds. Lately, Katie has been struggling with both her personal and professional life. Things have been quite stressful for our heroine, she is in the transition of opening her own new restaurant, leave the old place behind and try to finally move out of that restaurant's second floor and get a proper apartment to live in. And she's been guessing her step of the way. Is that new place a good or bad decision, should she settle for that building or a better locations, and has she been making good decisions all her life and how did she lose the good thing she had going on with her ex-boyfriend?

But one day she finally get the chance to redo it all!

She finds this mysterious white-haired magical girl she calls Lis. She's the resident house spirit at Seconds.

A young waitress named Hazel was severely burnt by Katie's fault. Lis offers Katie the one-time only use of a magic notebook which grants her the ability fix past mistakes. The rules? She has to write down the mistake she wishes to "correct". Ingest a magic mushroom. Go to sleep. And the next day when she will wake up, things will have changed anew.

But soon Katie finds a loophole. She decides to grab a few more of those mushrooms and starts abusing this newfound power. Trying to fix everything, her past relationship, the future new restaurant. Everything! Until it's perfect!

And it only makes things worse and worse the more she tries changing things...

Seconds is a fun entertaining little fable featuring some gorgeous pages with help of Bryan Lee O'Malley's new team of assistants.