Speech Bubbles: Doc Ock

Double Fisted Review: Planetary

Planetary is is evolutionary. Planetary is cyclical. Planetary is like having sex with a Higgs Boson particle. Planetary is like carving E=MC2 into fresh snow with a laser wristwatch. Planetary is science. Planetary is culture. Planetary is leftield, alternative futurespace, mainstream pop. Planetary is fucking brilliant!

If you think about the seminal Warren Ellis series ‘Planetary’ as a hairdryer this might make more sense. When I first turned the hairdryer on (opened Planetary) I felt a cold rush of air hit the back of my head and slowly traverse my scalp as it maneuvered through my follicles, gently kissed my moles and spread across the entirety of my dome as a raw egg like bacteria made from one simple blast of ambient air. This was thrilling enough but then as the the coils of nichrome wire heated due to their high electric resistivity (I read more of Planetary) I felt the curious sensation of increased activity in my epicranial aponeurosis layer of skin causing my brain to fire excitedly as the warm gusts of air (new Planetary issues) insulated my grey matter like a wooly hat but without actually wearing a hat. As the hair drying continued I realised that not only was my head warm (I’d enjoyed myself) but also that the experience had accelerated and controlled the formation of temporary hydrogen bonds inside each strand of my hair (I’d learnt stuff too) and I could now style my hair in any number of ways (my entire worldview had changed). I switched the hairdryer off and left my house with a wonderful head of hair (I was generally thrilled after reading Planetary) and knew that everytime I used that hairdryer I could find something different to do with my hair (subsequent reads are more rewarding than before).

Did that make sense? I hope it did because it took me a lot of attempts to get it right and I’ve actually burnt my scalp now after playing with a hairdryer all morning! It’s worth it though, Planetary is the best comic book series I’ve read, ever. Bold statement I know but it is. It’s as enjoyable as ‘Transmetropolitan’, more meta than Kurt Vonnegut, as exciting as ‘Y:The Last Man’, with richer characters than ‘Watchmen’ and more culture references, homages and sci-fi action than ‘The Invisibles’ & Tarantino put together. In short it’s nothing less than genius. I don’t want to talk about plot-lines, characters or anything that happens because it’s like those Indie films that you need to watch with literally no prior knowledge of it so you leave the cinema with a face like Moses after seeing the burning bush, literally godsmacked. I think it’s the perineum (gooch) of comics, it’s not something you’ve thought about before and it’s mixed in with all the other analogy comics and superhero fiction so you think it’s just part of your undercarriage but when you find it and begin to understand it… WOW!

I know this might not be the most in depth review and more of a plea for people to read this incredible series but think of it like ‘Fight Club’ or ‘Breaking Bad’ when someone hadn’t seen it, you just say I can’t say anything until you’ve seen it and you just give a brief overview and keep repeating “Oh my goodness you must watch it!”. It’s about some kick ass archaeologists (that’s right superhero archaeologists!) who just happen to have some of the coolest superpowers in modern comics and it’s drawn exquisitely so that every panel on every page is like a frame from a portmanteau film directed by Jack Kirby, Alfred Hitchcock, Akira Kurosawa, Stanley Kubrick, Terry Gilliam & Guillermo Del Toro. “Oh my fuckness you MUST read it!”. If you like comics then I think I’ve made my point, if you haven’t read all 4 glorious issues of this book already then go the fuck out and buy it. If you have read it then I’m sure you’ll agree with me (if not I want to hear your invalid opinion in the comments below) that all in all…

Planetary is just really rather good.

Double Fisted Reviews: Warren Ellis 2: Dude hates super people

THE AVATAR TRILOGY

This time in Double Fisted reviews we’re smacking round the Avatar Trilogy. Three thematically linked books concerning the superhuman. Who will come out on top and who will end lying face down in their own blood a disfigured erupted mess? Stay tuned bitches!

Today’s ratings will come in the form of times I would cry on the book out of ten.

Black Summer was about superhumans who were too human.  No Hero was about superhumans who were inhuman. Supergod is about superhumans who are no longer human at all, but something different.”

Warren Ellis

So there you have it, analysis of the books from the man himself, nothing left for me to say is there? It’s the opposite of Lynch isn’t it? “Don’t analyse my books, I’ll tell you what they are all about. It all comes back to ESSEX!! LEE ON SEEEEEEEEAAAA!!!”

Read on…

Black Summer 0-7

Ellis/Ryp

John Horus, the super muck muck, has killed the president! Not just any president, no siree. Not some fictional, apolitical drawn in the likeness of Tommy Lee Jones president stand-in, no siree. This is George W.hen can I invade a country Fuckface? Bush, all smashed up. The man who bathes in illegitimate oil laughing while he watches Modern Family ending up as nothing more than bloodstains on an otherwise pristine white coat, yes siree, a pristine white coat…

“We were supposed to be heroes” 

And that’s just issue 0. 

The Seven Guns – a team of body enhanced superhero scientists, discover that one of their own has killed the president at the same time as the rest of the country, regardless they find themselves being hunted down like dogs by the entire USArmy…

Ellis is right about these guys being too human, everybody’s always moaning and bickering, like becoming machine enhanced makes you act like a teenager who didn’t get Lady Gaga tickets ALL THE TIME.

(dramatic reconstruction of dialogue in Black Summer)

Old Friend 1: Hi!

Old Friend 2: Fuck you.

The quote from Ellis above is really talking about two things, two things which escalate and move through different stages in each of the books:

  1. The level of transformation undergone by the ‘Heroes’. For The Seven Guns this is minimal, each of them having enhanced elements of themselves via implants, leaving them mainly human. Having a Chinese hand doesn’t make you Chinese, yeah? So actions and reactions are all based in emotional states. Tom Noir is a prime example of this, after the death of his girlfriend and the loss of his leg, overcome with emotion, he quits the group and turns off his enhancements. The rest of the group keeps going and use their tech more and more leading to them becoming less human and a bit messy in the meatspace: They never switch them off/they’ve lost it.
  2. Good and evil: The Seven Guns are still inherently trying to do good, albeit in a mad robot with guns for eyes screaming at people in tescos kind of way and most of the major actions in the book stem from that. Horus kills the president because he believes him to be evil, the big fight between the Guns and the army happens because they are trying to save a team-mate and the ending (which I won’t spoil) is the only action that can bring about a ‘good’ resolution.

Ryp’s art is fantastic – reminded me of Darrow instantly, with the hyper violence and the buckets of blood that end up on everything,just check out the covers. The panels are inherently kinetic but the figures are stockier, like a little bit of Quitely was thrown in for good measure.

Verdict: I would cry on this book SIX times!!

No Hero 0-7

Ellis/Ryp

How badly do you want to be a superhero? That’s one of the central questions running through No Hero. The other is: what do you do if you’ve named your super team after one of the worst bands in history? The answer to that is, you keep changing it. They just don’t seem to be able to come up with a good one at all. Sad face.

No Hero tells the story of Josh Carver’s entry into supergroup The Levellers or The Front Line or Gas Mask Super Guys or whatever they’re calling themselves this week. With members of the group getting smashed down, blown up and generally taken apart by something menacing with increasing regularity, Carrick Masterson calls for a replacement. What he gets is a straight edge, determined vigilante, a man whose entire purpose is to join a super team and change the world, a man whose utter desperation to join the group is his only discernible trait, that and his shit face.

After being inducted into the group, Josh is turned into a ‘super hero’ via the drug FX7 and then it all gets a little bit weird… Josh’s transformation at the hands of FX7 is one of the major parts of the book. It’s fucking grotesque but it’s rendered in glorious detail by Ryp so you just can’t look away, like when dad starts crying.

But it really serves to emphasize the change that Josh undergoes. There’s no way you can come back from that the same, like being trapped in IKEA overnight with loads of people re-enacting the surgery scenes from Dead Ringers. Which brings us directly back to Ellis’ themes, in comparison to The Guns, The Front Line have changed in more significant ways. Each having taken the drug and having their bodies altered drastically, Ellis shows us again and again that their physiology is non-human and that they are non-human, like when Snoopy bit Charlie Brown allll up. Although they look like us, with the unfortunate exception of Josh, they are not like us. As we begin to find out more and more about the post FX7 humans we can also see this reflected in their emotional state, no longer concerned with being heroes, just in looking like ones. They have lost all connection to the human race. They seem callous, self-serving, cruel and ultimately in some ways evil.

I would cry on this book FIVE times!!!

Supergod #1-5

Ellis/Gastronny

Supergod tells us the telling of the story of the end of the world. Remember that episode of Friends where Joey tells you about the time all the Friends forgot all the social convention nonsense and all six of them plain rutted for 20 minutes, only breaking so Chandler could scream ‘Orgasm, Smorgasm! Could I BE anymore Mickey Rorke!’? 

In a nutshell that is Supergod.

Supergod smashes you in the face with death and destruction right from the word go, as our narrator sits in flame fucked London smoking a doobie and re-counting the events that lead the human race to that one final quiet moment.

It’s the ultimate arms race/religious movement mash-up/fist fight/warm bath as the history of the godrace is recounted. It’s Doctor Strangelove…on bible flavoured acid, but less funny.  Each major civilisation on Earth is involved in the race to create its own man-made God weapon first via bad science and outer space thingies, and the book takes us through each origin process on our way to the final confrontation between the Godthings.

As the ender of the trilogy this book rightly ramps up all of the themes we’ve previously seen. As we meet the titular gods we see, from both their images and action, that these are something very very different to us. From the weird sight of Morrigan Lugus the three-headed mushroom space god from England to normal looking Jerry Craven the Christian American fighter pilot who has to be contained in the USArmys approximation of Heaven just to keep him sane. We are shown that these beings are so far beyond human, so fucking un-human that their actions are above any ideas we have about good and evil, right and wrong, left and right. Even Krishna, who ultimately is revealed to be doing what he was programmed to, starts out with a likkle bit o’ genocide…

The change in artist is noticeable here, but Gastonny does some amazing work, rendering truly horrific structures made of humans as the Gods do battle, really really good stuff.

Verdict: I would cry on this book SEVEN times!!

The books really do work as a loose trilogy and I recommend they are read that way. It’s nice to see seedling ideas passed from book to book, as Black Sumer introduces the transformation ideas with small asides, No Hero meditates on it. Likewise with the idea of an international superhero arms race between No Hero and Supergod. But the deconstruction of the single idea here is the real draw, watching Ellis push his thought process out to its ultimate penis waving conclusion really is a treat.

Final Verdict: I would cry on the trilogy EIGHT times!!

Speech Bubbles: Planetary

Double Fisted Reviews: Warren Ellis 1 – Orbiter/Global Frequency/Stormwatch

Orbiter

Have you ever seen Edgar Wright’s ‘Fistful of Fingers’? It’s his first film and shows his flair for the art of directing as well as some glimpses of what would become his visual trademarks in the future. Have you ever seen ‘Within The Woods’? It’s the short film Sam Raimi did which is essentially ‘The Evil Dead’ before it was ‘The Evil Dead’, the genius and humor is there but they just don’t quite gel as ‘The Evil Dead’ would later do. Have you ever listened to the original studio version of ‘Thriller’ it’s got that Jacko feel but without the Quincy Jones production it just doesn’t feel complete. This is how I felt whilst I was reading ‘Orbiter’ by Warren Ellis & Colleen Doran. I felt like I was reading something with all the footprints & tell tale signs of the author but it wasn’t as fully formed as it should be!

‘Orbiter’ is a labour of love for Ellis and you can literally see the young five year old Warren in Essex decked in his hat already with full beard gazing up at the stars from the end of Southend-On-Sea pier wondering. The passion is there, the Ellis hallmarks are all over it (science, space, alternate dimensions, corruption, mystery and a childlike sense of wonder of the universe) and the story has some great ideas but it just doesn’t feel right. It’s almost as if too much personal involvement means the piece as a whole suffers, it’s like Bob Dylan before he found a guitar and harmonica!  I might be biased because I read it after I’d read all of his game changing creator owned pieces and devoured his runs on some of my favourite Marvel titles so my opinion of him couldn’t be higher and anytime I saw his name on a book my expectations were as high as can be.

‘Orbiter’ is not a bad book and as I mentioned before it does have some brilliant moments but for me it felt lacking. I would recommend only to the type of fans who have to know everything their idol’s ever done, the type of person who watches Woody Allen’s ‘Bananas’ just to see Slyvester Stallone in his first bit part role in Hollywood because ‘Rocky’ is their favourite film. It’s an interesting and sometimes insightful piece that reveals more about its creator than spinning a good comic book yarn so if you’re not a huge fan then maybe save somespace on your shelves for what’s coming up next!

Global Frequency

I have two words for you, ‘Fuck’ and ‘Me’. I really want to leave the review there because to be honest that’s all that needs to be said but Smallimus has a vaseline soaked gun speared into my rectum until I get to at least 200 words so I’ll keep going. ‘Global Frequency’ is one of those ideas in the vein of ‘Y:The Last Man’, ‘Civil War’ or ‘The Unwritten’ where you just wish you’d thought of it. A global network of 1001 real life people around the world who can be called up at a moment’s notice to intervene in emergencies. Simple, contemporary and vast, what more do you want from a comic book?

In another writer’s hands the set up could be dull or over the top, it’s testament to Ellis’ skill that he can ground the idea in real life politics, action packed scenarios and believably crafted characters. The series is designed like television so the familiarity of episodic structure and the ability to just dip in and out means the pace is not bogged down by exposition and the story is lean and exciting. The idea allows for a huge cast of characters to choose from with each Global Frequency agent bringing a different set of skills to each episode to tackle whatever situation whether it’s paranormal, political, phycological or just huge scale destruction. The artwork is different for every episode most of which is stunning and stylised meaning it feels like ‘Breaking Bad’ with its ever changing roster of exciting directors. In fact, talking of TV series this is the one more than any other comic which would instantly lend itself to the format, work has been done and pilot filmed but no series or subsequent news since 2009 has been given.

If you like comics and you enjoy HBO television series then this will be right up your street. It’s a clever, witty and exciting series with it’s technology driven plots placing it firmly in post 9/11 contemporary culture, kind of a like Stormwatch meets Occupy! The only negative thing I have to say is, like a lot of Ellis’ creations, I feel there was a lot more to be drawn from this idea. It’s a shame it was only 12 issues but they are 12 issues I would heartily recommend.

StormWatch

OK so it’s not a Warren Ellis creation but his run on the series, much like Grant Morrison’s on Doom Patrol, bought this series the sparks (literally, get it? Jenny? OH fuck you!) and depth it needed. If you were too cool for school you probably got into the whole Wildstorm Universe back in the early 90’s when it was part of the Image Comics revolution, if you weren’t like me, it will have taken you until now to start mining Jim Lee’s worlds. In a similar way to Woody Allen films there is a definite sliding scale of quality over the years with Image and Wildstorm titles respectively, even Alan Moore stumbled badly with his attempt to write Wildstorm’s ‘WildC.A.T.s’, but Warren Ellis definitely produced the Annie Hall of Wildstorm runs.

Unfortunately, or not, I read ‘The Authority’ before going back to Stormwatch so my take on this is skewed slightly but you don’t care about that you’re just imagining me licking mashed fish fingers slowly from your perineum whilst you read it so fuck it I’ll say what I want.  Ellis’ run on Stormwatch is basically a prelude to The Authority which although surpasses Stormwatch entirely it’s lovely to see the seeds of political and military criticism as well as the left-wing, humanist stance splattered across the WildStorm universe. It’s bizarre to think of Stormwatch without Ellis’ creations running through it whether it’s the churlish Jenny Sparks or the mysterious Jack Hawksmoor or the storylines involving parallel or sideways universes or a Garden of Ancestral Memory.The run itself is an enjoyable one with overarching themes and evils but also some wonderful little one off adventures featuring either StormWatch Prime (the main team), Stormwatch Black (the covert team) or Stormwatch Red (the big guns) so the series never gets stuck like some team focused titles do. The only criticism is the story is marred slightly by the Wildstorm crossover events that crop up during the series but the main element of the run is power, who should have it? how much is too much? does it corrupt? Do the little people need it? Are superheroes capable of ruling? Power with powers and what it can lead to, fucking brilliant!

The comic is exciting and relevant with it’s still damning allusions to real world governments, political situations and international world peace organisations which keep you pondering through the night about how our normal world with so many people and places keeps going let alone a world populated with super-powered men, women and aliens! Bryan Hitch provides gorgeous artwork which showcases a cast of characters as richly designed as the Kirby/Lee pantheon as well as providing action on a ridiculous scale and keeping up with Ellis’ ideas and pulling the off with aplomb. It’s an engaging comic book even now and if you’ve liked any of Warren Ellis’ famous titles (Transmetropolitan, The Authority, Planetary) then this will be right up your street as he expertly combines real world politics, philosophical theories and science alongside kick ass action, brilliant dialogue & wonderfully realised character creations. Read Stormwatch and then strap yourself in for The Authority but more on that coming soon.

So in this Double Fisted Review Warren Ellis scored a Meatloaf – ‘Two out of Three Ain’t Bad’

Have you read these titles, what were your thoughts? Is Ellis too political for you? Do his hats annoy you? Have widescreen comics changed the industry for better or worse? When does he have time to make music with Nick Cave?

Speech Bubbles: Spider Jerusalem

Ellis, we’re coming for you

Warren Ellis kicked my brains off!

ImageThere are a couple of reasons grown men continue to enjoy comics, speak to anyone and they’ll tell you: sexual frustration, attempts to recapture youth, always having secretly wanted a cape, not having a girlfriend, crying yourself to sleep, loving superman, being a paedophile.

But if you ask anyone that reads comics, they’ll tell you: comics are an art form, the last great American art form.

 The last great American art form.

They’re wrong of course. The last great American art form is Tumblr. I can’t believe we were left to wonder what John Goodman’s head would look like on anime girls before Tumblr. Those were dark fucking times.

For myself and my dearest Meerkuts, comics became important to us while trying to escape from University. The escape consisted of nothing more than us and our friends building our own cultural universe and portalling in OMAC style from our bedrooms, but it worked. We bubbled ourselves off, Earth 4778 was ours and with crowbars in hand and filed up cake we decided the shared touchstones that make up The Multiverse.

Studying in the back watered Midlands of the UK, where the only real happiness to be had was abusing yourself in the local Big Bite and the only music scene was the saxophone busker, while lecturers showed us videos of themselves sharing their anus with a pigs heart via a stick, we often lamented the choices that had lead us to Leicester. Those were dark fucking times.

But then, those four colour bursts of glory! The notes of a thousand angels! Magnificent sessions filled with comics, books, hip-hop, decks and discovery!

Stealing kisses with Morrison, fondling Moore and stroking early Bendis! Sharing Shadow, cuddling with Cut Chemist and marrying Mr. Scruff! A heady mix of comics, hip-hop, books, films and sure footed un-adultered joy! We built ourselves a mythology from origin to twilight in various chairs and the softest movement of head nods. We were comfortable in our escape.

Transmet caught us both off guard however. It brought us back to the world. Spider brought us back down from the mountain.

Transmet slapped us about and made us pass the books to and fro in hushed, almost dirty tones.

“You gotta read this, we can’t talk until you have”, “I’ve just read five, don’t come near me. Just read it”.

That fucking face. Those glasses. That adamant arrogant belief that nothing matters more than the truth. The satire, the humans, the heartbreak. These are the things that remain.

Transmet was the perfect storm. It was speaking directly to us in our favourite language, wearing the perfect dress and all kitted out in nylon. It wasn’t just about comics like Watchmen or Dark Knight, it wasn’t as metaphorical as the Invisibles, it was a living, breathing world that was used to comment on our own. It is The Chair leg of Truth beating you in the face over and over again for forever and it is brilliant. Personally, at that point in time, the comic made me realise that what happens outside of Earth 4778 is also very, vitally important and I thank Mr. Ellis for that. It’s hard for Superman to get that across y’know? Spider breezed it. In Transmetropolitan we saw relevance, humour, and people to admire. People that taught us that sometimes an uncomprising, hardlined view that folks really should just be fucking nice to each other really is all it takes.

It’s pretty safe to say we’ve followed Warren Ellis ever since.

As part of the evolution of this site, we’ll be taking some time to look at some our favourite creators in depth. For the next month or so we’ll be posting quite a few pieces on works by Mister Ellis and offering various degrees of commentary on the cannon of our lovely, mad futurist bastard.

We hope you enjoy it, and please let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Origin Grinder: Vietman!

When the Americans invaded Vietnam. Soft Toy factory owner Phan Ken received a bad batch of napalm -facewise. Instead of falling prey to death, Phan was forever changed by the chemical compound. He soon found that he had special powers and decided to commit himself to the enforcement of truth, justice and the Vietnamese way.

For today Phan Ken is…

Vietman!!!!

Ode to an Extraordinary Gent

Constructing worlds as if from Martian sand your voice spoke to me,

Burning bronzed bridges and building black bodies you invaded my mind.

 

Caped denizens of a saccharine earth crumbled under your gaze,

The death throes of the 20th Century signalled by your tamed quill.

You broke the mould, giving ecological dignity to a sentient plant

But like a fastidious Jesus you just can’t get along with Grant?

 

You’re an absolute edition of yourself, if you were a paperstock you’d be… a good one

You love to suck grapes but won’t allow yourself to drink the wine.

 

Future shocks, tardis props and fearful symmetry,

Pissed on cops, victorian toffs and Thatcherite antipathy.

Occultist rock, heroin sops and Todd Klein caligraphy,

Doomsday clocks, erect Yuggoths and childhood soft pornography.

 

Shaping pastures of dystopian creativity in my head you sang to me,

Translucia Baboon, Brechtian remixes and punk poetry populate my psyche.

 

But why are you so obsessed with rape?

What’s the deal? Is it a right of passage?

Do all your artists have to be able to pencil a plundered cunt?

Why are you fixated on female violation?

What’s your point? Is it punctuation to you?

Do you use vaginal defilement instead of commas in your scripts?

How can you write that many Shakespearian assaults?

What’s the angle? Are you imitating the Bard?

Do you imagine all books are gaping ducts to be pillaged by your pen?

How are you so engrossed with molestation?

What’s your beef? Is it a Glyconist thing?

Does your religion expect imagined labial assault instead of prayer?

 

Silk Spectre, Kid Miracle Man and Mina Murray,

The Lost Girls, Agent Brears and Griffin, Hawley.

Promethea, Evey Hammond and Mina again,

There’s one in every book when’s it going to end?

 

I worry you’re a victim and the scars run too deep,

Or else you’ve got a rape fantasy.

I worry that for every Mogo there’s a vulvic desecration,

Or a teenage wizard penis.

You’re not a hero in a lazily thought out costume, you are a writer.

You are witty, devious and brimming with social conscience,

You are quick to get riled up and pour scorn but you have a quaint laugh.

Sodium tinged tears cut rivulets through your extraordinary beard,

You are a Weeping Gorilla spouting glistening diatribe.

 

IS THERE TOO MUCH RAPE IN MOORE’S WORK?

IS THE FEUD WITH MORRISSON PREVENTING US REACHING UTOPIA?

AM I READING INTO THIS ALL TOO MUCH?

Double fisted reviews: I like to watch girls fight

I forgot comics existed

The site has been pretty light lately.

I’ve been trying to finish the Green Lantern Rebirth stuff but I can’t bring myself to be really hateful about Geoff Johns again for a little while. But it will come soon. I’ve just read Batman Earth One. It will come soon.

But then I stumbled across a comic shop and bought some stuff and decided I’d try my hand at this old review type thing. Random results below:

America’s Got Powers 1-3

Jonathan Ross/Bryan Hitch

Was anyone actually surprised when The Only Boy in the World to not have Powers™ suddenly got Powers? Anyone? Anyone at all?

I guess I should have pointed out that spoiler but I can’t actually believe it counts. If any book carries any variation of this sentence:

“The Only Boy in the World to not have Powers™.”

And doesn’t expect its audience to immediately know that by end of issue one said Boy with no Powers will have Powers of some kind then that book dear internet is a fucktard.

And yes I appreciate that I have both now spoilt the comic and insulted the book to boot. Both apparently big no-nos in the world of reviews. BALLS.

ROSS ROSS ROSS ROSS ROSS ROSS. It’s hard to divorce this book from the wobbly chinned station hoping lovable scamp of a TV personality that is old Jonno. Jonathan Ross in the UK is like Cumulative Moss, one rainy day and he’s got his claws in somewhere, bouncing his chin slightly out of view. I honestly still can’t tell if my enjoyment of this book comes from the fact that I’m impressed that Ross can tell a story or that said story is slightly better than I thought it would be. America’s Got Powers turns out to be less chinese men singing Whitney Housten and more Running Man lite. It feels like it’s being played by the numbers but there are enough twists to keep things interesting. Worth a look.

 

The Flash 0

Francis Manapul/Brian Buccellato

THE UN-SECRET HISTORY OF THE FLASH!

Yawn. B-origin. The best thing about this book is the art. It is simply one of the best looking books DC is publishing at the moment. If it were a dog it would be a Danish Hound in a military costume on a knitted jumper. It’s hot. It’s one of the books I can only read when wearing wire wool mittens so I don’t beat off. I normally only use the mittens when I’m looking at dog jumper catalogs. The stuff these guys are doing with panel design is very, very special.

I would be a prick if I didn’t also mention the wonderful muted colours right now. And I have, so I’m not.

Issue Zero is Barry Allen’s origin: lighting x speed = done. We all know it and going through it again is not worth anyone’s time. The writing team bravely try and side-step this case of origin by numbers by focusing on the emotional impact of Barry’s mothers murder and the will they kiss/won’t they kiss question of his Father’s innocence. Unfortunately, by compressing the fun aspects of an origin story: the accident, costume design and first job are all confined to single, admittedly very nicely done, panels. But unpacking the emotional Downturn Abbey aspects of the story leaves the issue playing out like a weird unscreened episode of Casualty where you spend an hour getting to know a dysfunctional family but nobody gets hurt at the end.

 

Uncanny Avengers 1

Rick Remender/John Cassaday

I liked this a lot. Avengers and Mutants,”The worth of boast worlds”.

Remender already did a lot to woo me with his wonderful run on Uncanny X-Force so this was a no-brainer. I’m also very excited about Captain America under his watch, he might get to stop fighting Nazis.

It always amazes me how preachy and cry-ey super heros get whenever anyone dies. Guys like Wolverine and Thor who go around smashing faces all week long seem to break out the knitting as soon as they hear one of their friends have gone into a coma. Wolverine really eggs it out in this one for CharlieFace, throwing guilt in the eyes of everyone at the funeral. The equivalent of sitting in the corner of a shopping centre shouting ‘sheep are rubbish at chairs’ on Christmas eve.

After that it’s Rogue’s turn to have a good cry about something or other, but when isn’t she crying over something or other? ‘Charlie’s dead wah wah wah. Nobody can touch me wah wah wah.’ Nobody wants to touch you. Stop crying. Idiot. Wipe the snot off your face.  Also someone should tell Cassaday that she’s a girl, he’s definitely drawing her as a man.

Havok gets a big intro as he’s going to rocking up as the leader of this group eventually. It’s going to be a lot like Beverly Hills 90210 in my mind, that’s where Havok always takes me. I guess he’ll have to go through some sort of ‘can’t take the weight’ dilemma before learning to love himself after the menopause and getting his groove back. I have to admit I don’t care about this at all. Havok. He means nothing to me, I’m more excited about my idea for the Reverse Scotch Egg™. I can’t even see him on the page he’s so bloody dull. It’s just a blank space, I can only see him in my periphery and even then he looks like an old Amstrad computer.  I do however like the way he leaves Cap and Thor to save citizens while he changes out of his Sting costume and into his party suit. Stupid Mutie.

It’s a nicely done first issue with some intriguing set-ups that I’m eager to see carried out. The team is actually quite weak for me, Rogue, Scarlet Witch and Havok just doesn’t seem like a great idea unless you want to start a team called ‘Shit Mutants’. Remender is talking it up a lot and if he really is going to ‘go hard or go home’ then this will definitely be worth sticking with.

Free!! Bonus Mini review!!! Marvel AR app!!!!!

It’s shit.

 Wolverine and the X-Men

Jason Aaron/Chris Bachalo

I’ll admit I picked this up purely for Bachalo. Native Americans generally bore me so despite all the hype I naturally haven’t bothered to read any of Jason Aaron’s stuff. I’m talking about Scalped rather than the dude’s actual race so let’s not break out the anti-racist bunting just yet. I’m not even sure Jason Aaron is a Native American. In fact he looks pretty Arian, which explains why he’s writing Thor. Only Nazis write Thor.

Crawling like a bloody stump from the wreckage that is the X-Books current continuity comes The Jean Grey School for Higher Learning: Wolverine’s last-ditch attempt at realising Old Stand Up Charlie’s coal-faced dream. I’m not going to even pretend I know or care at this point what made Wolverine and Cyclops cut off their X-Heart tattoos and go their separate ways but thank Magneto they did. I don’t want to piss in Cyclops’ face while he’s lying under the bleachers crying but this book kicks the ass off anything starring that one-eyed daddy killing sour puss.

First things first, It’s funny. Sentient coffee machines, Doop, Kid Gladiator, Toad the Janitor: it’s all good. Aaron plays fast and loose with X-history, tossing elements and bad guys from here and there into the mix and the x-centric non sequiters that result made me drug-giddy, like I’d od’ed on continuity. High concepts burn your eyebrows every 3 panels while the issues themselves run on these mash-up perpetual motion machines Aaron must have invented especially for us. Ask me if I want to see Wolverine and Quentin Quire as James Bond in an outer space casino mashed up with Kitty Pride Inner Space while she’s pregnant with microscopic Brood assassins? There is only ever one answer: Yes fucking please.

The X-Men very rarely get to laugh, due to being nearly extinct and all that (Pandas don’t laugh either), but in Wolverine and the X-Men it feels as though everyone is getting the chance to have some fun and man…that Bachalo art is sweet.