Monday, 26 December 2011

The Shade

Many years ago 1997 to be precise, a friend of mine who ran a small comic shop (sadly no longer running) advised me to buy a mini series called The Shade. I had never read anything about The Shade but as the artwork on issue 1 was by Gene Ha, and my friend had also advised me to read Sandman and Hellblazer both brilliant books I decided to give it a go. The mini was a an origin of sorts that explained who The Shade was and how he got his powers it was also the start of my love for this underused character (in my opinion)
After reading the mini I sort out and bought as many books that had an appearance of the Shade in them, over the years his appearances have been more or less cameos, although he was given a prominent role in James Robinson’s Star Man a writer who superbly captures the essence of the Shade.
So you can imagine my delight when I heard that a James Robinson would be writing a 12 issue story of the Shade that would tie-in to the new 52.

Below is a quick break down of the first two issues of this so far wonderful series, well that's my opinion but then if I didn’t have opinions I wouldn’t have a blog.

#1: We first meet the Shade as he has tea with his old friend Mikaal who was Starman on Robinson’s JLA team, Shade tells Mikaal that he is not at his best as it is October and October is the month of his creation.

He always tends to feel sluggish and melancholy in this month, he doesn't eat well either is another tidbit he let out.

The action moves to and we meet private detective William Von Hammer as he escapes from a group of contract killers from Belgium of all places known as Les Diaboliques, calling it an escape is possibly the wrong word as he quickly dispatches them before they can full fill their contract. as the last assassin dies Von Hammers says ''I have to warn The Shade''.

Shade is later seen in bed with girlfriend Hope O'Dare and his mood hasn’t altered; adding Hope ties in nicely to the Shades Blackest Night one-shot story where we see first see him in a relationship with Hope. It is also in that story line that he declares his love for her, which doesn’t always end well in comics but I hopefully all will go well as I like Hope as a character and she fits well into the Shades world.

After leaving Hope as she goes to work Shade takes a walk in Opal City's park where Deathstroke appears from the shadows and its not a social call, after the usual pleasantries ‘it’s not personal’ and all that we see the Shade a little worse for wear at the end of the issue. The term he is in bits would perfectly describe his encounter with Deathstroke, and it’s hard to see where the issue can go from here. I even began to think that the story would move on to adventures of Shades past, as I could not see how he could have survived Deathstrokes attack.
I need not have worried as all is revealed in issue 2, and we see the extent of the Shades powers clever writer that Mr. Robinson
#2: With Deathstroke gone from the scene we see that the Shade standing total unharmed (why did I worry so) and the Shade we saw cut to pieces was in fact a facsimile who is made up of shadow. The Shade had sensed Deathstroke before he made himself known, and rather than go head to head with him, which he later points out he could have easily done so if he wanted too. However, he felt it better to have Deathstroke let who ever hired him think he was dead, that way he can find out who wants him dead and why without a contract still been on him.

As Shade prepares to leave Opel City to find out who wants him dead, he says his good buys to Hope who nervously says that she loves him. I found her nervousness strange as she had already told him she loved him in the Blackest Night story, but as this is a new universe I don’t know how much is still in cannon, so it may well be the first time she has said it.

Meanwhile Von Hammer is once again battling and dispatching a hit man french this time, it also during the self commentary as he battles the hit man we get to know a little more about Mr Hammer.
Where would we be without self commentary in comic books I ask myself, and I sometimes think life would be so much easier if we had self commentary in our daily life. However, I also think our daily life’s would be far more exciting if they were accompanied by a music score like the movies, but so far I have found no one who agrees with me so I may have to admit to been a little odd, but in a good way I hope.

Back to the Shade I think, while putting his world in order Shade meets up with Jake Bennetti to ask him to watch over Opel City and to keep an eye on Hope to ensure her safety while he is away. Its during this meeting he is given the warning from Von Hammer, and the name Caldecotts which may help him find out who wants him dead.
Meanwhile Von Hammer is facing off against Bete-Noir and his hench men, Noir is a shadow assassin and he seems to have the better of Von Hammer. Unfortunately for Noir the Shade appears in the nick of time to put him in his place, while Von Hammer takes care of Noir’s hench men.
After the battle both Shade and Von Hammer move to a safer place to talk via Shades ability to move in shadows,Von Hammer explains to Shade that he was hired by Caldecott Industries to find a sample of Shades blood. Unfortunately some else within the Caldecott organisation, has put out a contract on both himself and Shade. Shade then tells Von Hammer he is hiring him to work to find out who is trying to kill them both, and tells Von Hammer to go to England to confront the Caldecott’s while he heads off to Australia.
The issue ends with a full page spread of a lizard like creature in Australia waiting the appearance of Shade. 

Writer James Robinson has a fantastic understanding of what makes the Shade tick, and how he interacts with the world and just as importantly how the world interacts with him. I was a big fan of Robinson’s resent JLA book, and was very disappointed when it was cancelled to make way for the new DCU. This book has gone a long way to addressing that disappointment, but it is not only Robinson’s writing that is the shining light in this book.

The artwork by Cully Hammer is simply stunning, and with Jill Thompson doing art for a one off story set in the 1900’s at issue 8 this book can only get better. The covers by Tony Harris are also top class and worth the cost of the book alone, there I go with my opinion again. I have a couple of Tony's signed Shade / Starman prints on my wall that I bought from a resent comic con, I will be looking to see if any of these covers are available at the next con Tony attends.

As I said earlier I am a fan of this character so I would have bought this book no matter what, but it has totally surpassed all my expectations and I cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone.

Just one final thing on the off chance that any one from Dc is reading this, when this story is over can we have the Shade on Justice League Dark.
I think he would fit in perfectly on that book, but that’s just my opinion.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

News & Film Trailers

A 6 minute prologue for the Dark Knight Rises has been released, it shows Bane and his men taking down CIA operatives by trashing their plane in Midair: Click the link below.
Batman Prologue

The new trailer for the Dark Knight Rises has been released where we get a better look at both Catwoman & Bane, this one has me chomping at the bit, click the link below to see the trailer.
Batman Dark Knight Rises

 The trailer for the prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy has also been released, The Hobbit is due for release 14/12/2012, only just under a year to go click on the link to see the trailer.
The Hobbit

If any film sequel made you ask why then its this one Ghost Rider 2,but to be fair it does look good again click on the link to see the trailer Ghost Rider

Men in Black 3 is due for release on the 25/5/2012, I'm a big fan of the films so this ones on my must see list.  Click the link to wet your appetites.
Men in Black 3

The website for The Amazing Spider-Man launched mid December I have put a link to the site, there is all the usual stuff on there I recommend you take a look.
The Amazing Spider-Man

Marvel have announced that their first big event in 2012 will be Avengers Vs X-Men it will start with an issue 0 in March then become a biweekly maxi series starting in April.

The story will revolve around Hope Summers, who may become the next host of the Phoenix Force. After the death and destruction by Jean Grey when she was Dark Phoenix, the X-Men begin to train the youngster in order to keep her safe and under control.  However, as protectors of the Earth  The Avengers want to take Hope into protective custody until they can “decide what to do” with the girl something the X-Men will not allow.
Now I have to admit I'm a bit of a lapsed X-Men reader slowly catching up in trade paperbacks, but this story certainly has me interested.

Over in the New 52 DC Universe the dates for trade releases has been announced, but if you are waiting for any particular book sit back down they are not out until May 2012 some as late as September.
The full list and dates are on the fantasic website.

Still with DC Jim Lee brings one of DC's the greatest villains to the pages of Justice League #4.
Darkseid was originally conceived and designed by the great Jack Kirby, and hats off to Jim Lee as his redesigned Darkseid has the Kirby look.
Justice League #4 arrived in stores on December 21.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Batman Beyond #8 The Story of Inque

After my resent submergence into the new 52 comics, I decided to read some none 52 books from my waiting stack. What I came across was a gem of an issue in Batman Beyond #8, this is a self contained issue focusing on the origin of Inque.

As with most of the characters in the Batman Beyond comic Inque was introduced during the original animated series run, from what I remember we were given very little of her back story. This issue fills in these gaps and paints Inque as a sympathetic character, and a victim of circumstances that were out of her control.

The issue starts off with a battle between Inque, GPD (Gotham Police Department) and Batman, as she attempts to steal a trigger system for an unknown device. During the battle Inque uses all her skills; including controlling one of the police men from the inside to make her getaway (alcohol controls me the same way on week-ends) It is after these opening scenes are over that we start to see the back story of what led Inque to the life she now has, and why she is so motivated and single minded to complete the jobs she takes on.
We see a young ink (name unknown) as a refugee in a war torn country, both her parents are killed in the early part of the story leaving her alone and vulnerable.
Trying to escape to a better world she falls into the hands of a gang of sex traders and finds herself been shipped over to Gotham in a cargo consignment. On arrival in Gotham she manages to escape but finds herself pregnant and alone in a strange land, desperate for money she enlists in a drug trial which unfortunately for her is not as above board as she thinks it is. This drug trial is what gives her the abilities that make her Inque, after the birth of her daughter we see Inque living in a charity ward as she struggles to feed herself and her daughter. As the effects of the experiments kick in and believing she is dieing Inque leaves her daughter on the steps of a church, and it is a testament to the writing and artwork that these scenes do make you feel for her. Realising that she was not dieing and in fact mutating Inque learns to control her new abilities, and realises that she now has a way of giving her daughter the life she had always wanted too, although it would be from afar.
Over the years Inque closely follows her daughter’s life from before making herself know to her when she hits her teenage years (a teenage girls years are never good in any circumstances), it’s not a meeting that goes well and again you have to feel for her as her daughters rejection hits her hard.

We also learn that Inque is dying due to her own unique genetic abilities, and has taken on the job of stealing the trigger device to gain a temporary cure for her illness.
The closing panel’s shows the other reason Inque was desperate to get herself cured, a ending I will not spoil for anyone on this blog.

The writer is Adam  Beechen who pens a brilliant story that gives depth to someone who was for me a very one dimensional character, pencils by Chris Batista, Inker Rich Perrotta and Colourist David Baron who's colours fit the story completely. 
The whole book has a different look from the cartoon style the book usually has.
I was delighted to read that a new Batman Beyond title is starting in 2012, this issue has me excited for the start of that book.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The Leeds Comic Con (Thought Bubble)

I could only attend the convention on the Saturday so my thoughts below are based on that one days attendance, and as always any opinions are purely my own.

The Leeds comic con has always been a good one to visit, how I describe the convention to people who asked is it a big convention is no it’s a small convention but its our convention, living local to Leeds that’s how I felt about it. Well this year all that changed our small local convention has grown up, not only did it run over 2 days it now covered 2 main convention halls.
Talks and workshops took place in a third area near the casino a place I approached with trepidation, as I still haven’t got over loosing $60 in the Luxor casino on our resent trip to Vegas, and as a Yorkshire man I have to admit that thoughts of that night still haunt me. The attendance of some major players in the comic world also played a part in the elevation of this years convention, in the past the con has always been well supported by the majority of the UK based writers and artists from all the main and independent publishers. The part they have all played, and I believe will continue to play in the ongoing success of the convention, cannot ever be underestimated and long may they continue to do so for many years to come. In the past the convention has always had someone who was given the title guest of honour, a stand out person who usually came from one of the big 2, this year the guest of honour was Tim Sale.  However, the big difference for me this time round was it could have been any of the following people who were all in attendance: Gail Simone, Jeff Lemire, Adam Hughes, Jock, Charlie Allard, Brian Talbot and Andi Granov the list just goes on.

The first thing I noticed was how much room there seemed to be in the main hall compared to previous years, but on reflection this was probably due to the convention been split over two rooms.
Security was been ran by the local roller derby girls, some of who you just wouldn’t argue with and the Heroes Alliance UK were set up in the main entrance charging for photos, with all proceeds going to the make a wish foundation.
As usual 200AD were there in force along with a good showing from the independents and various traders selling anything from horror masks, toys, statues, figures and as you would expect comics. The top two comic shops in Leeds were also there, Travelling Man and OK Comics, I didn't see Forbidden Planet but if I am wrong I apologise.

The first person I went to see was Gail Simone who was in the second hall across the forecourt, the forecourt is a great place to see a lot of the coz players as they tend to congregate in this area, and this year was no exception. Once into the hall I joined the line to see Gail holding my trades of Welcome to Tranquillity and Batgirl #1, when my turn came around I eagerly shoved forward my copy of Batgirl saying can you sign this please Gail. I could hear myself mumbling something about how much I had enjoyed it and was loving the series, I then handed over my copies of Tranquillity to which she said ‘I have not seen any of these so far today’. It was at this point that I mentioned I had bought the books after hearing a review of them on Raging Bullets, and that it was every bit as good as they said it would be. We then had a brief conversation on how much we both enjoyed the show (Raging Bullets), with Gail adding that it was the enthusiasm and positivity shown by Shaun & Jim (Show hosts) that she loved. After handing my signed books back to me Gail wished me a good day, I left her table with my signed comics a happy man.

After a short walk around and the taking of several photos I wondered over to the main hall and joined the queue for Adam Hughes, who happily signed my copy of Batgirl #1 as I told him how I loved his cover work. I shock his hand and told him it was a pleasure to meet him and he answered likewise, again I’m a happy man. I decided it was time for a quick beer as there is always someone to talk to in the bar, and I managed to get my photo taken with a rather convincing Batman in the forecourt on the way over to the bar.

After lunch it was off to see Jeff Lemire to get my copies of Frankenstein Agent of Shade signed, Jeff was also kind enough to draw me a cool sketch of the big man himself.

I then hit the queues for Jock and Tim Sale who both signed the comics I handed them, and were happy to chat although I was conscious of not taking up too much time as the lines were very long.

Brian Talbot was next on my list as I am a big fan of his work dating back to his Luther Arkwright books, I had a copy of Luther Arkwright for him to sign and I bought his book Alice in Sunderland. The great man not only signed it, but also added a very nice sketch of the Mad Hatter on the inside cover as well, as before I was one happy man.

On my rounds as I walked around and randomly chatted with people or asked for photos if they were in costume, I also picked up a few very nice prints from one of the traders I was talking too. I feel I must point out that I attend these conventions on my own, as my wife although never questioning my passion for comics has no interest in joining me.
I have tried to get her to come with me but she will not change her stance, saying that she would end up in a line holding a place for me while I went off on my own looking at other stuff. To be honest she makes a point that I cannot argue with, and after 35 years together she knows me better than I know myself. However back to the prints, one was Star Wars showing Luke, Vader and the Emperor the other one was Batman above Arkham both were a bargain at £14 for the pair.

Time was ticking along and my day was drawing to a close so I went for one last walk around the second hall where I managed to get a photo with Gail Simone, who told me she had had a wonderful time and enjoyed been in the UK. I then managed to pick up two fantastic prints of Starman and the Shade from Tony Harris before making my way out of the hall and back home to Wakefield.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

My last reviews of the new 52 No1's

Green Lantern: The Lantern universe seems to be largely unaffected by the changes in the new DCU, Sinestro is still a Green lantern and doesn’t want to be, Hal doesn’t have his ring any more and cannot get used to normal life, and age wise they both look the same as they did before the change?
Aside from that the book is still at the same high standard it was before the re-boot, the story jumps between Hal on earth to Sinestro on Oa and Korugar. Its while he is above the planet Korugar we see Sinestro have a slight disagreement with one of the Sinestro Corps, and as you would expect with Sinestro a slight disagreement means someone ends up dead. Meanwhile back on Earth Hal’s seems to be finding it difficult to adapt to civilian life and has to rely on the help of Carol Ferris to get him out of jail after a run in with a film crew (think John McClane of Die Hard Fame).
The dinner date scenes in the restaurant with Carol and Hal are a joy to read, and there cannot have been only me who could see where this was going. As he sits opposite her and says “ I never thought I'd be doing this but, I need to ask you something”, Carol looks over to him all excitedly and says “yes Hal ?” probably thinking which planet was he on when he picked up the diamond for the ring. Unfortunately Hal then asks “will you co-sign a lease on my car”, the look on Carol's face is brilliant as it goes from expectant to fury in two panels. The best bit is Hal cannot understand why Carroll is so mad at him, and then when he realises he makes matters worse by saying '' you didn't think I was going to propose did you''. Well that's what I believe he was about to say if he hadn't got cut off mid sentence by a slamming car door as furious Carol drives away and leaves him standard in the rain, as they say Hell hath no fury and all that.
This is classic Hal Jordan and classic Hal Jordan is what Geoff Johns understands and does very well, it is also what makes the character seem so real as he is a hero who has faults. The final page where Sinestro shows up outside a dejected Hal’s flat and offers Him a chance of getting his ring back leaves you excited about the next issue, I was a lantern fan before the relaunch and for me nothing has changed.

Green Lantern Corps: Some one is killing lanterns and no one seems able to stop them, from the two female lanterns on a prison ship (along with the prisoners), to a whole planet of underwater dwellers nothing is safe from the as yet unknown villain.
Back on earth both Guy Gardner and John Henry are trying to balance a normal life with that of the Corps, both not very successfully but it is good to see both men out of Lantern uniform and on earth at the start of this book, and it is a reminder that both have life's outside the Lantern universe. As with the main Lantern book its business as usual for the Corps, as nothing much seems to have changed and the book is all the better for it. Peter Tomasi seems to have a good understanding of the Corps and the characters who populate it, and the crisp art by Fernando Pasrin fits well with the book with lots of shades of green through out. My only slight gripe is that there was no appearance of Soranick despite her been on the front cover, and for me you cannot have the lantern Corps without Soranick been there in the thick of the action.

Green Lantern The New Guardians: For some unknown reason the rings of a Star Sapphire and the red, yellow, indigo and orange lanterns, are leaving their owners and making their way to Kyle Rayner. Hot on the heels of the wayward rings is a member of each of the respective Corps, and its putting it mildly to say and they are not happy bunny's.
As with all the Lantern books this is a very enjoyable read, and the recapped story on how Kyle first got his ring fits into the story well. If you were a long time reader it didn't detract from the story and if you were new to the Lantern universe it can only have been helpful.  It also made a refreshing change to see a Star Sapphire other than Carol Ferris, and give that her name before she joined the Sapphires was Fatality (surly no-one calls their child that when their born) Kyle could be in for a rough time. However, given the current state of his love life, I predict that Kyle and Fatality will become an item before issue 6, but then I'm an old romantic at heart.
New Guardians has the potential to become one of the top Lantern books due to having all the colours linked into its story’s at the same time, and this is a solid start for a book I have high hopes for.

Red Lanterns: The book starts off quite well with Dex-star the Red Lantern cat (it shouldn't work but it does) going to the aid of a torcher victim, she soon finds herself in trouble until the arrival of her owner Atrocitus who says the line you didn't think a red Lantern would say ''what are you doing with my cat''. Its a fast paced fantastic start to the book, but unfortunately it all goes a little down hill from there.
We are later see an Atrocitus has seemingly lost his way after the death of Krona the Guardian who devastated his planet,and was killed by Hal Jorden in the War of the Green Lanterns story. All of Atrocitus's anger and purpose in life was was centred around his hate for Krona, and now he is dead he seemingly no longer knows what to do or where to direct his anger. As he ponders what to do next his Red Lantern Corps are left to fight among themselves, with only Bleez showing any partial signs of rational thought. Now I may be wrong here but I don't remember the Red Lanterns acting like mindless puppets, and if this is a change for the new DCU then I think its a poor one.
Now the artwork is good and the story if not riveting is OK, the opening pages where we get to see Dex-star are very good
(I love a homicidal cat, we have had a few in our time)  

I personally was unsure that a Red Lantern book could be interesting as I see them as very one dimensional all anger and rage. So far I have seen nothing to change my mind on this, but I will stick in there for the first few issue to see how it goes, as I would love to be proved wrong.
PS: Having read issue 2, issue 1 now reads a bit better so my hops for the book are improving.

So that's the last of the new number ones that I am going to review, due to the fact that some of the books are now hitting their 3rd issue, so I will review the books as I read them.

Other books I am reading that I recommend are:

Animal Man – if you think you have family problems read this and you wont complain again.

Swamp Thing – This is as good a Swampy gets

Demon Knights – Set in the early years of the DCU the artwork is beyond brilliant, I am reading this one digitally

Captain Atom – Art by Freddie William need I say more, OK then you had me at Freddie.

DC Universe Presents – I love an anthology title, this kicks off with Deadman and is brilliant

Supergirl – Got to get my Powergirl fix some where, another digital read

The Flash – We have a fun Flash and its Barry Allen

Fury of Firestorm – Gail Simone now I know I don't need to say more

Superman – Set later than Action its fun to see how Supes has grown, a bit any way. another digital one for me

Saturday, 12 November 2011

More New 52 No1's

Batman: Batman is in Arkham to help quell a riot that has broken out in there, and surprisingly mid battle he enlists the joker to help him sort it out. Well all is not as it seems as the Joker turns out to be Knightwing who replaced the joker a few days previous, by wearing a digital face mask (as you do). Later in the book all the Robins, except bad boy Jason make an appearance as the Wayne family prepare to go to the obligatory fund raiser, I was also happy to see the sniping by Damien towards Tim is still going on, what once was annoying is now one of the things I love.

The fund raiser is a clever way of showing the main players in this new Gotham, as writer Scott Snyder begins to weave his magic. Greg Capullo's art is good but not brilliant although it does not detract from the story. A very satisfying first issue which sets up Batman’s new world very nicely, as Batman is my main man I had high hopes for this book and I wasn't disappointed.

Batman The Dark Knight: After landing on a roof top as Batman, Bruce Wayne emerges through the skylight to give a speech to a expectant group of Gotham’s rich and influential, it seems that this Bruce Wayne enjoys or seemingly enjoys been in the public eye. Why is he there well its all part of Wayne Enterprises revitalisation of Gotham City, a theme that seems to be running through out the Bat books. During drinks and while Bruce has several young ladies (4 to be exact) vying for his attention he is berated by a detective Forbes who is unhappy that Bruce is financing a vigilante like Batman, if only he knew. He is however saved by Jaine Hudson the daughter of a Bollywood film star and a US Diplomat, now there is definitely some chemistry between Miss Hudson and Bruce and I am starting to think that this new Bruce is a bit of a player. Unfortunately things never go as planned for Bruce as news comes through of a riot at Arkham,wait a minute is there something familiar here any one would think there was a new Batman Arkham game out. Batman is soon in the thick of things and helping a SWAT team move through the asylum, but not all is as you would expect and a old villain makes a shocking entry.
Pre the new DCU this book suffered due to the lateness of the last 3 issues, (there were only 5) but in fairness to Paul Jennkins and David Finch they have got off to a fantastic start with this one, lets hope they keep it up.

Batman & Robin: Its the new DCU and the dynamic duo are still fighting crime together, except that it is now Bruce and Damien not Dick and Damien, and all is far from well as farther and son have several unresolved issues. Damien is adjusting to working with dad, and Bruce has little or no trust in Damien’s ability to follow orders. Given his past experiences with Jason he is keen not go down the road of having a uncontrollable Robin on his hands, and we seem to seeing a more distrusting Batman in this book than we have seen in the other books. However, taking that aside its an interesting twist on the relationship between Batman & Robin and one I think I will enjoy seeing expanded, as I could never imagine working alongside my farther in any job let alone crime fighting without falling out big time. The main bulk of the story centres around Bruce who has decided to let go of the past by not marking the death of his parents every year, and instead he will celebrate their wedding anniversary thus changing his outlook by celebrating life and not death. A point that is seemingly missed by Damien, who cannot understand why anyone would want to connect to their past be it by mourning or celebrating them.
The action is ramped up when Batman & Robin attempt to foil the theft of nuclear rods from Gotham University (the most dangerous thing we had at school was a Bunsen burner), unfortunately all does not go well as the thief’s meet an unpleasant end thanks to Damien’s recklessness. Although the last panel of the story, does give an indication that all may not be as it seems with the thief’s deaths. The first two pages and the last two pages seem to be linked to the resent Batman inc story line, as a Russian Batman meets a sticky end to a yet unknown villain. This is a solid start by Tomasi and the story moves along at just the right pace, this for me is not the best of the Bat books but it is still worth the money you pay for it. If you are unsure if it’s for you stick with it, as it will be one that grows on you and I look forward to see where the relationship between Damien and Bruce is heading.

Knightwing: Dick Grayson is once again Knightwing and although I enjoyed  his time as Batman for me this is where he sits best, the new costume looks fantastic especially in the panels where you see him swinging above the streets of Gotham. I am glad that his time as Batman is still in continuity and keeping his time as Batman is a nice nod to the last 18 months of comics we have just read, as for the opening story well its a return to Dicks past as the circus where he grew up is in town. Its the first time since Dicks parents were killed that the circus has returned to Gotham, and Dick has been putting off visiting his old friends and after nights of agonising he eventually decides to pay them a visit. The circus scenes are very well written as Dick interacts with the people he once knew, it also gives you a little glimpse into the world Dick used to inhabit as a boy and clearly still misses. When he is challenged to go on the trapeze he begins to show a level of skill that clearly makes the circus troop look in wonder, and the look on Dicks face is one of sheer joy as he swings through the air. However, he quickly realises that he is probably a little too good, and quickly fakes a fall to make it look like he had lost some of his old skills.
As this is happening the villain of the piece rolls into town by bus and is met by two Gotham thugs, unfortunately for them they have picked on the wrong man and they are quickly and brutally dispatched. This new guy is no amateur and seems to have a grudge against our Mr Grayson, so much so that he is prepared to kill innocents just to get his attention. His hand to hand battle with Knightwing is a joy to read and look at and he seems to have the upper hand, which is no mean feat as Knightwing is one of the top heroes in the DCU who has gone toe to toe with some of the best of the worst. The fact that he also seems to know that Dick is Knightwing is an interesting twist, and I wonder how much he does know about the Bat family.
I for one am glad to see this book back, and look forward to many more issues to come.

Justice League International: The United Nations have put together a multi national task force and called them Justice League International, so far the team consists of Booster Gold, Fire, Ice, General Iron, Red Rocket and our very own Godiver. Now as Lady Godiva is best know for riding around the streets of Coventry in her birthday suit, I was interested in what her power would be and at the end of the issue I still don’t know. The one thing I am sure of is that its not incapacitation by nudity, we can leave that sort of thing to the book Voodoo (read review below). Booster Gold is nominated as the JLI leader although to be fair at first he thinks he is joining the main Justice League, and doesn’t hide his disappointment well when he finds out he isn't. Guy Gardener quits when he learns Booster is to be leader, and although his attitude is typical Guy its slightly at odds with how he is portrayed in the GL Corps book, but then if you don’t read both titles you would not know. Batman for reasons only known to him joins the team uninvited, and I wonder how he has the time to be on two JL teams and appear in his own 5 titles, but hey this is comics so I will cut the Bat some slack. There is a Max Lord substitute in the character of Andre Briggs, Max Lord was in charge of JLI when I used to read them in the early 90’s and a part of me would like to see him here. I am unsure of how much of Brightest Day is still in continuity and that may have figured in Max Lord not been in this book, we will have to wait and see as the book develops over the coming months. As for the plot the team are sent to investigate the disappearance of a UN research team in Peru, and its not long before the team find out the reason for their disappearance. As they are first attacked by what appear to be mud men, and just when you think they have the upper hand the final page reveals the true menace our would be heroes will be facing. I wont spoil it for anyone by revealing what it is, but it had this lover of the original JLI jumping for joy because this villain could have come straight out of those 90's influenced pages.
I read the JLI in all its formats when it was first out, and after the resent JLI Lost I was particularly looking forward to this book. The first issue is a strong start and it didn't disappoint on any level, I enjoyed this new JLI as much as I enjoyed the original team.

Voodoo: Now if you like your woman or technically shape shifters big busted and scantily clad then this is the book for you, now I fall into two of the above category’s (not the shape shifter one I may add) but for me this book was a vast disappointment. I am not familiar with the character of Voodoo so I’m not sure if this is the same interpretation of the character that went before, but from what I read in this first issue I won’t be sticking around to find out. Now I am no prude but I found most of the scenes in the book to be titillation (excuses the pun) just for the sake of it, and for me none of the excessive flesh bearing panels helped to drive the story forward any more than it would if they had been left out or at least toned down. The first issue of Catwoman caused a bit of controversy across the net for her final scene with Batman, well that was nothing compared to what’s in this book. I will not dwell upon the plot and if you want to buy it, you can then make up your own mind without too much influence from me.
Not one for me guys sorry. 

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Zombies, Leeds comic con,the Avengers & DC sales in news and rumors

The Leeds art festival Thought Bubble will run from the 14th to the 20th November this year, it culminates in a comic con that has been extended to run two days 19th / 20th. The comic con will be held at Saviles as in previous years, tickets are £10 for a day pass Sat or Sun £18 for a two day past. Guests include Tim Sale, Adam Hughes Jeff Lemire and Ben Templeton-Smith, plus many, many more.
I have attended the last two conventions and had a fantastic time if you get the chance check it out.
Click link for more information

The new series of The walking dead airs in the UK on Friday 21st 10:00 on the FX channel, if you cannot wait that long for a zombie fix check out the web episodes on the FX website.

More photos have surfaced from the set of the new Superman movie, and appear to show Russell Crowe in his Jor-El outfit; Russell is playing the farther of Kal-El (Superman) a role played in previous films by Marlon Brando.

The first trailer for the Avengers film hit the web last week, and from what is show it looks like it will be one hell of a film, I just hope what we see arnt all the best bits.

DC Comics New 52 initiative has produced sales of 5 million comic books in just six weeks. DC released 52 brand new or relaunched comics all of which started at issue #1, this was part of a bold staturgie to revitalise comic sales by attracting new or lapsed comics fans back to the heroes of the DC Universe.
In a press release, DC claimed the figure represents the company's biggest sales in more than 20 years.
As well as the 5 million comic figure, DC confirmed sale numbers for some of their top titles:

JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 - 250,000 copies.
ACTION COMICS #1, BATMAN #1 - 200,000 copies.
SUPERMAN #1 - 150,000 copies.
Normal sales of top titels is around 100,000 copies, so the New 52 line isat the momment see to be a success. Sales figures will be monitored over the ongoing month as it has been rmmored that all the books have arouind 12 issues to prove themselfes or they could be canccelled.

On top of this all the new 52 books are also available digitally, on the same day the print versions go on sale in comics shops. Digital sales have not yet been released by DC, but it is belived that digital sales have been better than were expected. Given that the digital comic can be read on all the main platforms, Ipad, Iphone, Android phones and PC and laptops, it is a fair asumption that digital sales will go up I myself am reading Superman & Demon Knights digitaly.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

More new DC 52's - Hex, Vampires, Detective Comics and the coolest Aquaman ever.

    I Vampire:
Vampires have been secretly living among the DC heroes, or strictly speaking secretly been dead among the DC heroes. Now their leader Mary (not the most charismatic name I know) has decided to declare war on the human race, and claim the world she sees as rightful theirs. In her way is Andrew (another charismatic name) a 400 year vampire who believes its better to live in the shadows and is also the sire and former lover of Mary.
The book has a Vertigo feel to it and if it wasn’t for the 52 logo you wouldn’t have known it was part of the new 52, the art work is simply stunning and the colouring match the mood of the story perfectly. I picked this up because I love vampire story’s apart from the Twilight, Vampire diary types, I like my vampires to have a bit of bite if you pardon the pun, I am more of a 40 days of night person. What I find intriguing is that these vampires seem to be educated but still have a dark edge to them, I’m looking forward to see what direction this book takes as I think the inclusion of superheroes may dilute the horror element in it, we shall see.

All Star Western:
Jonah Hex rolls into Gotham looking to bring in the Gotham Butcher, and its not the type of butcher you get you meat from at the week-end. Now its good to see that the Gotham of old has similarities and ties to the modern Gotham, as we see when Hex finds himself down a back street and he is confronted with a similar style of villain that populate today’s Gotham back streets. Only this time instead of a Batman or Robin confronting them, they are introduced to two of Hex's friends (pistols) and he shoots them down. Hex is reluctantly aligned with a local profiler Doctor Amadeus Arkham as he begins hunting down the killer in his own uncompromising way, which includes a bar fight and getting information from a local tavern girl (I was been kind to her there). I will not spoil any of the revels in this first issue but it becomes personal for Hex, as personal as it can get for a heartless bounty hunter, and I for one cannot wait for issue 2. This is Hex written at his best, which is no surprise as there is no one better at writing Hex than Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray. The artwork by Maritat and colour by Gabriel Bautista fits the story perfectly, and despite the book having the new 52 logo on it for me it is a continuation of the brilliant run that went before it.

Aquaman: If anyone had told me that an Aquaman book could be cool, I would have dismissed them out of hand as hopeful dreamers. This book changes all of that Geoff Johns has crafted an Aquaman for a new age, during Blackest Night and Brightest Day Aquaman had been pushed back into the forefront of the comic readers eyes. However he shared top billing with other heroes of the DC Universe in both books, and I for one doubted that he could carry his own book, I was wrong as Johns has taken him to a whole new level. Right from the beginning we are left in no doubt on the power he has; as he flips an armoured truck speeding to wards him then takes a bullet to the head that leaves a slight cut above his eye. There are in jokes like the police not been too happy about having help from Aquaman as it makes them look bad, or the man in the restaurant who asks ''what’s it like to be nobody’s favourite super hero'' things that play off thoughts comic fans have had for years.
You are cleverly given pieces of Aquamans s early life back story, so anyone new has some of the information needed to understand his motivations and sense of responsibility. I was also glad to see Mera’s inclusions as she was another character who came into their own during Blackest Night and Brightest Day, finally the underwater creatures at the start and end of the book looked creepy enough to keep anyone out of the water.
This is one of the new books that I thought I would enjoy, but wasn’t expecting to be bowled over by it in the way I was.
A brilliant start, and any easy choice to continue buying this book.

Detective Comics: The Batman is on the trail of the Joker who is on a killing spree, this Joker is as dark as an interpretation of him as I have seen in a long time, and the story is all the better for it. In this first book alone he hacks a kidnapper to death, even though he says he is the Jokers biggest fan, god knows what he would do to anyone who didn’t like him. A SWAT team is blown to bits and if it wasn’t for Batman a train full of passengers’ would have all been gassed, all in a days work for a maniac in Gotham. The fight between the Joker and Batman is a real slugfest, this Joker fights back and he don't fight fair.

The police don't seem too friendly towards Batman either as they take shots at him as they enter the Jokers lair, they then try to shoot him down with an helicopter gunship just for good measure. The story moves at a terrific pace and the end scene in Arkham is truly chilling and leaves you wondering what the hell is going on, which is a good thing from the writers point of view and keeps people coming back for more.
I am a Batman junkie and would buy Batman books no matter what, fortunately this is a fantastic book and hopefully will get more people to buy the Batman books.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

My thoughts on the new 52 books that I have read so far:

Action Comics: Shout it from the roof tops but Grant Morrison has made Superman interesting, by setting the story in his formative years we have a Superman or Superyouth running around in a pair of jeans with a S logo t-shirt and a red cape.
Now my immediate thoughts were this is how I must have looked when I was a child running round the back streets of our home town, although I wasn’t as bulked up didn’t have a Superman t-shirt and my cape was my mothers best tea towel, but it brought back memories. Taking my reminiscing aside this book was interesting because this Superman is venerable, he can be hurt plus he doesn’t seem to have the same moral compass he has in his later years. The Superman of the old DCU would never have dangled anyone off a roof top to get a confession, which was more Batman style than the big blue’s. Throw in that the police, army and an ambitious Lex Luther trying to bring him down then you have one hell of a good book.

Catwoman: Now there have been a lot of things said about this book since it came out some good some not so good, I enjoyed the story and thought the way Catwoman was written was as true to the character as you could get. The only slight issue I had was with the final page while Selina’s characterisation was spot on, I felt the Batman one wasn’t but then again it maybe for this new Batman. I am willing to give this book a few more issues yet to see how it goes, a solid but not fantastic start.

Legion: Never read Legion so I didn’t know who most of the characters were or what there powers were, however this did not stop my enjoyment of the book. I am definitely looking forward to see where this book is going, and plan to continue buying the book.

Legion Lost: Never read Legion so I didn’t know who most of the characters were or what there powers were, and for some reason this did stop my enjoyment of the book.
I found it hard to figure what was going on and why it was happening, the reference to the Flashpoint Breakwall also had me confused (not always the hardest thing to do)
I will give this book at least on more issue but it didn’t grab me from the get go, which is a disappointment as I was looking forward to the Legion books.

Frankenstein Agent of Shade: This is the one book that had me hooked after listening to the podcasts from C2E2 and it did not disappoint, Frankenstein is a member of SHADE a type of X-files government funded organisation. After a village is decimated by creatures unknown Franki is sent in to investigate what is going on and to also find his four armed missing wife who went to investigate before him. There he is joined by a Wolf Man, Mummy, the Creature from the Black lagoon hybrid and a vampire crossbreed. I know this sound completely bonkers but trust me it works and if you haven’t picked this up please do so. The artwork reminded me of early Sandman type artwork which is not everyone’s cup of tea, fortunately for me it is to my tastes and I am loving it immensely.

Blue Beetle: I first read Blue Beetle when he appeared in JLI Generation Lost, and enjoyed the character that much I bought his past issues to read up on him. So when it was announced he would get his own book, my interest was peaked, as I thought he was OK as a team player but not sure if he could hold his own book. Well this first book goes a long way to prove me wrong, and what's really good about this first book is we get an introduction into the history of the scarab that creates Blue Beetle and how Jamie Reyes comes into contact with it thus creating the Blue Beetle.
The book its self is excellent in both the pacing of the story and crisp clear artwork, that suit this book perfectly, the villains are creepy enough to make you think I wouldn't want to take them on.
Now I have read some complaints on the Internet about the absence of Ted Kord who people see as the original Blue Beetle but as I never read a great deal of story's featuring Ted's Kord it doesn’t bother me too much, however if you look at your Blue Beetle history Dan Garret was the original and first appeared way back in the 1930's, and I don't hear no one crying for him to come back. Forget what went before this is a good read, I for one am in for the long haul on this on.

Swamp Thing: After the poor search for Swamp Thing mini series I had big concerns about this book but I needn’t have worried, this book is written by Scott Snyder a man who can do no wrong at the moment, check his American Vampire book out to see what I mean. This is a good solid start with the horror aspects of the story pitched just right, plus if you are unsure who the main characters are or their back story’s you are quickly brought up to speed without it affecting the main plot line. The fact that Swamp Thing’s appearance in the book, is not until the last panel didn’t effect my enjoyment of the story at all. If I do have one gripe its that the drawing of Superman (he makes a cameo appearance) is very poor, he looks unlike any Superman I have ever seen even in the new DCU, but it didn’t spoil the story significantly for me so its only a small niggle.

Green Arrow: A younger Green Arrow is in Paris to catch the bad guys with the help of an Oracle type assistant who feeds him information via an earpiece, I would love to know what network he is on as on our resent trip to the USA I couldn’t get a signal but I digress. The story is good with a ending that made me want to see more which is always a plus, So I have high hopes for book two and beyond.
If you like your Green Arrow young and without the beard, ala Smallville style then this is the book for you.

Batgirl: I wasn’t going to get this book as I have never had a desire to read any of the Batgirl book, but as I was a fan of Gail Simone I thought I would give this one a try, and I must say I wasn’t disappointed. For those of you not in the know Batgirl is once again Barbara Gordon the daughter of Commissioner Gordon, back in the old DCU Barbara the then Batgirl was shot by the Joker and lost the use of her legs. She reinvented herself as the cyber hero Oracle, and eventually headed a team of heroes in the book Birds of Prey (Gail Simone writer) that’s the abridged versions. In this new DCU she was also shot by the joker and wheel chair bound, something we find out through flashbacks with the first issue. However, something has happened and she is now cured, what has happened we don’t know yet but I look forward to finding out as there are always cheques and balances to pay in the DCU.
The new villain introduced in this first issue is called The Mirror and seems set on killing people who he/she believes cheated death, a bit of Final Destination plot here I think. The drowning of one man who was the only survivor of a ship disaster could have come straight out of the Final Destination films, and I may never water our garden without a shiver going down my spine again. Personally I can forgive any general similarities to the Final destination films as the book is top draw in both story and art work, this is a good first book and gets you hooked from the start it is a good addition to the overcrowded Batman family of books.

Justice League: The first story arc of this book takes place around 5 years before the present DCU story lines, and is the story on how the Justice League was formed.
In reality this first book is all about the first meeting of Batman & Green Lantern, now as these are two of my favourite characters I am not complaining. Batman is his usual confidant self who would prefer to work alone; Hal is a slightly inexperienced Lantern who is out to prove to Batman and the world he can contain any situation. The thing I enjoyed with this book is when they meet you don’t get the usual slug fest, then the decision to work together for the common good. We do get the distrust that Superheroes meeting for the first time would have of each other, and the scene where Batman takes Hal's ring off just to point out he’s not concentrating is a joy.
All in all it’s a good first issue and the appearance of a angry Superman in the last panel indicates things are going to start moving along, Jeff Johns as crafted a solid start and Jim Lee’s art work is well its Jim Lee’s artwork, for me its OK but not over exciting.
A book to keep your eye on I think.

So that’s all the new 52 books I have read so far, I have my Batman & Green Lantern books to read this week-end so I will report back my thoughts on those when I’ve read them.