Saturday, February 19, 2005

You wanted REVIEWS? No? Well fuck you pal, 'cus you got 'em anyway!

Experts. On television. They always say, if you're going to invest in something, make sure it's something you know about. Fair enough, but I only know about three things: vintage guitars, red wine, and comics. And damned if I have enough collateral to speculate on red wine or vintage guitars.

So, I've found myself buying as well as selling lots of comics in the last few weeks. For a start, I bought a complete set of D Curtis Johnson/J.H. Williams III's CHASE series (1-9) on eBay. I bought this because of the amazing revelation I had recently, after nearly 32 issues of PROMETHEA, that Williams is the real deal, an artist's artist, the most versatile of his generation, and that maybe I owed it to myself to fill in the blanks of my knowledge of his ouevre. Plus, I think I may have accidently played a part in hooking the guy up with a gig recently.  I wasn't expecting an awful lot from these comics, as I was totally unfamiliar with the writer, but managed to be nicely surprised: it's as good a meta-comic (i.e. a comic about comics) as anything Bendis or Slott have done, featuring a likeable-but-prickly female protagonist that may well have been a key influence on the later, more celebrated work by these more storied authors. He's great on the minutiae of detective work, so the guy does his research unlike so many comic book hacks (no names, no pack drill "cough... DAN JURGENS ...cough"), and is an as or more convincing a writer on technological matters as Warren Ellis (but I read in his bio that his day job is at Apple Computers, so that's hardly surprising). Plus, it looks as if these comics have zero chance of ever being reprinted, so as their legend grows, and everyone comes to a similar conclusion as me about Williams, these issues should become harder and harder to find. Kerr-ching!

Got a load of pre-ordered goodies from the comicshop a couple of weeks ago, and completely forgot to mention any of them. For that, I must apologise to my faithful readers (all three of them: ah, that old hip-hop standby, a big shout-out to Stevie, Ed and Jacko! That should get me a couple of free drinks at Christmas). So cue up that instumental version of Whole Lotta Love, 'cus here's the chart rundown!

CLASSIC 40 OZ. by Jim Mahfood: Not great by any means - Mahfood shovels out all manner of crappy ancient work here in lieu of new product; sketch books, old mini-comics, even college coursework. That said, the actual book is such a cute, tactile edition that its hard to dislike.

HERO SQUARED by Keith Giffen, J Marc DeMatteis, and Joe Abraham: This is brilliant, highly recommended. I'll remind you that the Eisner committee don't throw out their awards for nuthin', and that this writing team is on fire at the moment. How often does something billed elsewhere as just a goofy humour comic actually remind you of story beats from such morose classics as Alan Moore's 80's work on Captain Britain and Marvelman, Warren Ellis's The Authority and Mark Millar's Wanted? Plus, the villain's henchman Sloat is another of Giffen's timeless comedy creations, ranking alongside Ambush Bug, Lobo, G'nort, Vext, any of them.
Plus the artist is great, too: he has about to be nicked from under Giffen's nose by Wildstorm written through him like a stick of rock.

NEW AVENGERS #3 by Brian Bendis and David Finch: goes a long way towards recovering after the wobbly start that was Avengers Dissasembled. No more misfiring grand theatrics, instead replaced by believable character moments and a last page twist no-one could have seen coming.

LEGION OF SUPERHEROES #2 by Mark Waid and Barry Kitson: I so want to end up liking this, but I may have to face facts and just give up. Great concepts ruined by boring execution just can't hold my interest for long. I'll give it another couple of issues, and if it doesn't all kick-off bigtime, it's dropped.

SUPERMAN #213 by Brian Azzarello and Jim Lee: One question, Mr Lee - how come Baron Zemo from The Micronauts is the new bad guy? With only a couple of issues to go, Azzarello's storyline starts to fall into place. Talk about leaving it to the last minute. Everything about this run has been mismatched: the writer and the protagonist, and especially the creative team. Jim Lee could draw a definitive Superman story, but it won't be this one.

WE3 #3 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely: If this comic doesn't move you to tears, then you're one evil, hard-hearted bastard. Deserves a place in every school library beside Briggs' WHEN THE WIND BLOWS. I might change my mind at any minute, but this may be the best thing published by the Big Two since 1989.

LIFE DURING WARTIME #7 by Si Spencer and Dean Ormston: I bought this because of the cover (what a sad, shocking revelation). A great Frank Quitely effort. Reminds you that the CONSTANTINE movie could have easily pleased the fans if they'd just seen the light and cast Paul Bettany as JC. But, oh no.  So, I've bought over half of this series ( issues 1,2,3,6 & 7) yet can't bring myself to care for it. What an easily duped git I am, and DC's welcome to my money. Its like the piss-weak writer has all these great characters at his disposal, but doesn't have a fucking clue what to do with them. Guess that's what happens when you start dipping into the writing staff of EASTENDERS - it's been the same problem there for a year or two, too.