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.