Ever wanted to read a comic but didn't know where to start? Interested in superheroes, manga, romance, webcomics and more? Look no further! We have all the recommendations you'll ever need.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Paul Dini's JINGLE BELLE: Naughty and Nice


Written by Paul Dini
Illustrated by Stephen DeStefano

Lettered by Sean Konot and Stephen DeStefano
"Little Matchstick Girl" Illustrated and lettered by Barry Caldwell
"Jingle Belle Conquers the Martians" painted by Lawrence Marvit
Chapter one illustration by Bill Morrison
Chapter two illustration by Lynne Naylor

Publisher: Oni Press

What’s it about?
Jingle Belle is a punctual comic produced by Paul Dini, which he's been releasing every Christmas since 1999. Either in the form of short stories ("one shot" issues), or little graphic novels which have been either collections of previous short stories or original material.
They have been mostly printed in black & white comics.

Naughty and Nice is the first Jingle Belle book I'd recommend starting with.
It contains Jingle Belle's first two stories from Winter 1999 and 2000, as well as a bonus colored story from "Dini Double Feature #13" and some original content (one page stories and pin-ups) by various artists including Evan Dorkin, Alex Ross, Sergio Aragonés, Jill Thompson & Coop.

Jingle Belle is the eponymous daughter of the legendary Santa Claus.
With a father that mostly spends his whole year thinking about all the children across the world and preparing for one very special night, Jings is the rebellious daughter that every parents fears to have.
With a passion for mischief, the little elf girl tries to get by living surrounded such a strict family business.

The book also has an introduction by Eddie Gorodetsky (TV writer and producer behind such shows as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air & Saturday Night Live).

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Disabled superhero comics characters - wheelchair users

Note:  I thought this had posted back in November.  Apparently not!  Well, better late than never.

Continuing our series on comic heroes with disabilities, let's look at wheelchair users.
Here we have Charles Xavier, Barbara Gordon, Wendy Harris and Niles Caulder and more.  Read on.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Elemental Micah


Writer and Artist: Michael Georgiou
Publisher: self-published

What's it about?
Micah Sampson is a seventeen year old college drop out, feeling his life draining away from his as he works as a supermarket. He has low self esteem, mostly surrounding his body, and a huge crush on the American older man who works at the fish counter. On Micah's last day at the market, said sex-bomb asks him out on a date, which also happens to be the night on which Micah discovers he has superpowers.


Elemental Micah is a blend of a superhero origin story and a tale of friendship, self discovery and finding your place in the world. As most superhero stories are about these things to some extent or another, it's a very effective blend.

What's good about it?
The cast of characters, while small so far, is well told. Micah and his friends Dana and Simon are complex, interesting characters with hopes and regrets of their own, that Georgiou weaves into the story naturally. He never pushes the superpowers to the back seat, but instead character background and conversation (it's a little early for character development) happens while, for example, Micah and Simon are chasing down a tornado in London.

What's bad about it?
Well, the art could use some work. It's obvious that this is Georgiou's first comic work to star human characters and telling a story of this kind. His character designs are great, but there's some awkwardness in telling a cohesive story with them. At some points I had real trouble figuring out what was happening. Which is a shame, because the plotting is so tight, and characters so interesting that better art would make this comic really very good indeed.


What's the art like?
As mentioned above - it needs work, but I suspect that this will pick up as the comic continues. The art is greyscale, and shows a lot of potential in terms of character design and plotting, but needs to be developed more before it's up to the standards of the writing. Nevertheless, the writing and the characters carry the story so well, that it's definitely going to be worth the wait. 

Other Information
Available to buy at Indie Comics (£2.99 an issue) and Kindle (86p an issue)

Michael Georgiou is the writer/artist behind the webcomic Steve & Bob. His artwork can also be found at michaelgeorgiou.com

Editors note - this review was crossposted at Prism ComicsPrism Comics is a website dedicated to bringing news and review of LGBT comics.  Check them out.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Western

Writer: Jean Van Hamme
Artist: Grzegorz Rosinski 
Letterer: Imadjinn 
Translator: Jerome Saincantin 
Publisher: Cinebook

What’s it about?
This is set in 1868, when America was being colonised and white folk were staking out their claims across the nation.  Ambrosius Van Deer investigates a claim that his long lost nephew, presumed stolen by native Americans (except the book calls them Red Indians) several years ago, has been rediscovered.  The meeting is made, plans are revealed, and  we skip forward 15 years.  The lad has grown up and has made his own way in the world.  Events conspire to send him back to Van Deer's daughter, Cathy.  Then the real tragedy begins.

This is a story of identity, of struggling to survive, of staking your claim in the world, and of family.  It’s heart wrenching, beautifully told and beautifully painted.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

French Toast Comix

A webcomic, by Becky Hawkins


(Images posted with author's consent)

What's it about?
French Toast Comix is an autobiographical webcomic by a lady who works as a cruise ship musician.  She's Jewish, gay and draws pretty much anything that happens in her life.  Strips might appear about a coffee shop, her mum, cruise ship culture, new places that she's visited, her art class, anything (also - stealing giant porcelain cows)!

It's not as linear as a lot of web comics, in that it mostly reads more like stand alone events.  However, you can buy more structured print mini comics if you like (see the more information section at the end of the review). Many of the entries have a text blog accompanying them, giving more information about the events being depicted.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

52 volumes 1 to 4


Writers: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid
Artists: various
Publisher: DC


What’s it about?
The DCU has suffered an Infinite Crisis and the big 3 heroes, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman have disappeared.  The other heroes have to take up the mantle, but in a world fractured and without hope, how will they survive?

Lex Luthor is building an everyman programme, giving ordinary people superpowers, but at a price.  There’s an island of mad scientists building cricketrons, omnibots and other explosive things.  The religion of crime is building and only Batwoman and the Question can stop it.  Starfire, Animal Man and Adam Strange are stuck in the farthest reaches of the Galaxy with an ex homicidal Czarnian, now converted into the Pope of the Triple-Headed Fish God's church.  The dark half of the Captain Marvel family is growing and Black Adam is developing his compassion.  Booster Gold is being replaced by a young whippersnapper and he doens't like it.  Then there’s the Teen Titans, JLA, JSA who are all imploding without proper guidance or support.

There’s a lot going on.  More than I can describe in a short paragraph.


Monday, 31 October 2011

Halloween month has ended!

EDIT: This might show as a fresh post.  I'm being stupid and thought it hadn't published, but it may actually have published.  Apologies for the brain melt.
-------------------------------
Hi everybody.  October is over and with it our Halloween month.  We haven't published as many reviews as we wanted, blame real life for getting in the way.  But I hope you have enjoyed those we have posted.  You can view everything with a Halloween tag by clicking here.

October is also Black History Month, and we really didn't make enough of a fuss about this.  Again, blame real life for getting in the way.  However, if you do want to read stories about Black characters, click here to view everything with a CoC (Characters of Colour) tag.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Sinfest

written and drawn by Tatsuya Ishida

What's It About?Sinfest is a daily online comic strip. Originally intended for newspaper publication author Tatsuya Ishida was unable to find a paper willing to publish his product so he turned to the internet. Reading Sinfest it isn't difficult to see why it wasn't taken up and why that's a damn shame.

In some ways the world of Sinfest is a pretty normal place. The two main characters, Slick and Nique, have their on-off friendship/flirtation, they have their friends, both have their romantic troubles (mainly self-inflicted) and their dreams of fame and fortune. On the other hand it’s a damn surreal place: the Devil runs a stall (“Anything you want! Price: Your Soul”) complete with succubus booth-babes and his own personal fanboy, the characters regularly converse with God Himself and Slick's best friend Squigley is a pig on drugs. Sinfest is by turns a touching, surreal, political and thought provoking four panels once a day, every day.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies



adapted by Tony Lee from the novel by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
adapted from the original novel by Jane Austen
art by Cliff Richards
What's It About?This is a graphic novel adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith's best selling novel that merges the work of Jane Austen with flesh-eating zombies. In this version the courtly Bennet sisters are fearsome warriors in the war against the undead “Unmentionables”. Elizabeth Bennet's classic tale of love and manners now takes place in equal parts in the ballroom and in battle and disapproving aunts are now far from the only threat she and the arrogant swordsman Mister Darcy have to face.

Monday, 24 October 2011

iZOMBIE Vol. 1: Dead to the World


Writer: Chris Roberson
Artist: Michael Allred
Colors: Brian Buccellato
Publisher: Vertigo Comics


"Combine the two most horrible tastes you can imagine... like motor oil and someone else's vomit... and you won't even come close to this level of nasty. Yeah, I eat brains."
What’s it about?

iZombie is a a sort of fantasy story taking place in an urban environment.
It takes places in our modern times and updates old movie monster archetypes.

The story is told from the point of view of Gwen, Gwendolyn Dylan, who works as a gravedigger.
She's in her 20s and is actually a living dead! A zombie if you will.
Her best friends are also other undead creatures. Ellie is a genuine ghost, she seems to come from the 60s and can't leave the places she visited. Scott, aka Spot, is a were-terrier.

Gwen as no recollection of her death and her memories of her past are slowly fading from her mind.
To stay alive, or rather undead, she needs to eat brains.

This comic isn't actually an horror story, but plays a lot with elements and tropes from the genre.
It is more of a detective series, mixed with some drama and romantic clues.

Monday, 17 October 2011

X-23: Innocence Lost


Writer: Christopher Yost
Pencils: Billy Tan
Inks: Jonathan Sibal
Publisher: Marvel

What's it about?
X-23 was going to be a clone of Wolverine, but when the scientists tried to copy the only DNA sample they had, they discovered the Y part of his XY chromosome was damaged beyond repair.  One scientist, Sarah Kinney, decided to strip out the Y chromosome and copy the X.  So X-23 was created, more of a twin than a clone.

She has Wolverine's healing factor, she has his claws, his sense of smell and sad to say, his experience of horror and abuse.  For X-23 is created in a lab to be the perfect weapon.  Trained to fight and injure and kill from a young age, from the age of 12 she is sent out on assassination missions as a killer for hire.  Innocence Lost is the story of her creation, her upbringing and her fight to break free of the system.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Superhero Comic characters with disabilities - sensory loss

After putting together the Characters of Colour posts, I thought it was about time we highlighted other role models not commonly seen in popular culture.  Specifically, we will look at people with disabilities, (or disabled people, if you prefer) and we shall attempt to find some decent characters with mental health problems.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Halloween month: We Kill Monsters

To kick off our now annual Halloween month we bring you a guest post, from the land down under: 

Michelle is an Australian-based writer and all-around geekified girl. she loves comics, sci-fi, and talking or writing about either of those two things. She'll pay good money without question for any comics written by Gail Simone, Ethan Van Sciver, Ed Brubaker, or any books written by Connie Willis. One day her name will be on the front of a comic book, right underneath the words "Written By". One day....
You can find Michelle at one of these domains:
Wordpress: Runaway Writings
Twitter: @mishla
 
Writer: Christopher Leone
Artist: Brian Churilla
Inker: Hilary Barta, Brian Churilla, Richard Ellis
Colourist: Ronda Pattison
Letterer: Jeff Powell
Publisher: Red 5 Comics

What’s it about?
Jake and Drew are mechanically inclined brothers who stumble across a genetically enhanced secret. When Jake is attacked by a monster that appears out of nowhere and injures his arm, he soon finds himself with more trouble than he can handle. His arm heals itself almost instantly but by the next day his arm has transformed into that of the creature he was attacked by – complete with super strength.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Halloween month is upon again!

It's October and that means all things spooky and creepy out to play, which means that we do a horror themed month!  So, expect some scary books dotted amongst the usual clutch :)

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Superman: Secret Identity is being reissued!

We wrote about this astoundingly good, real life interpretation of the Superman story here.  As it's now out of print it's getting incredibly difficult to find, so we were incredibly excited to find out that it's going to be re-released!

Issue 1 and 2 are reprinted on 19th October and issues 3 and 4 are reprinted on 30th November.

As it can be pretty difficult to find second hand copies of this I suggest you snap it up as soon as it's available, because it's a truly great read.  It would also make a wonderful present for the Superman/Clark/Lois fan in your life.

The whole DC Comics Presents series, reprinting old hard to find stories, are pretty good value for money.  You can find the full list of them here.  I particularly enjoyed the Impulse issue, and the Shazam issues, but there's lots more worth checking out.DC

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Bludgeon #0

Writer and Artist: Jeremy Owen
Editor and Story Collaborator: Greg Freeland II
Publisher: Burly Comics

What's it about?
The first issue of this new comic introduces us to Mike, who is moving to Albuquerque, and it sets up a few mysteries at the same time as portraying a seemingly uneventful enounter at a diner. Our hero is large, gay, and generous, yet carries with him a secret that makes him taciturn around the people he encounters; and the way those people react to him forms as much part of the first issue as his own motivation. He is the alter-ego of a superhero known as Bludgeon.



As you'd expect from a title produced by a company called Burly Press, Mike is a bear-identified gay man, and is clearly marked in the author's notes as a self-insert. So as with all good superhero stories, there are two threads we'll be following with this story  - one the mystery that brings Mike to Albuquerque, and the other his experiences and personal identification in the gay and bear communities.

What's good about it?


Jeremy Owen really manages to paint the character of Mike in a few simple panels and with sparse dialogue. Mike doesn't talk a lot, but he's polite and quietly amusing when he does, and although we don't get to see a lot of him, it's hard not to like him.

The scene in which Owen's sexuality is revealed to the reader is understated on Mike's part, but brutally honest in the reaction of the barista, who may make you squirm as much as I did, in total recognition. "OMG, you're a 'Mo?" she declares excitedly. "I can show you around town! I'll introduce you to my gays! I'm a proud fruit fly."

It's not a comfortable scene, but it's familiar, and Mike handles it with understated amusement while waiting for the subject to change. It's just part of the way in which Mike's character and background is introduced.

What's bad about it?
Well,  nothing much happens, which is presumably why this is a #0 instead of a #1. The sum plot of the issue is: "Mike is a gay superhero who has moved to Albuquerque following a mystery that's so far taken him across the country." Sure, the way in which we're told these things is well crafted as part of the story, and there's no tedious exposition scenes that are all dialogue, no action, but we're not told anything other than the bare bones. It's not even fair to say that the foundations are laid for the plot. Rather, the lines are drawn on which the foundations will be laid.If you want an action packed plot driven issue, then this isn't where to start.

But it certainly looks like action will start, and that it will be a fascinating journey when it starts. And if you want something to whet your appetite before #1 comes out, then #0 is an entertaining read.

The biggest drawback, however, would be postage and packing. Being produced by an independent comic publisher, it is only available online and free shipping is only available in the US. Shipping to the UK, for example, is $9 - approximately £5 and more expensive than the comic itself.

What's the art like?
 The art is a black and white line drawing style that works very well with Owens' bold strokes, and the way he can tell a lot about a situation in just one panel. Look at the pattern of traipsed mud on the floor of the diner as Mike enters - emphasising the emptiness of the place and laying the scene. The poster on the wall reflects the conversation we will overhear at the only occupied table in the diner.

The characters are clear and varied in the art, and characterisation shines through. There's a level of awkwardness in some of the faces and figure work, but this is the kind of thing I've seen improve very rapidly in comic art, so it's hardly fair to judge Bludgeon on it.

All in all, Bludegon is a solid introduction to a promising character. It's quiet, but that's not fully noticeable until you reach the end and wonder "what actually just happened?" If you're looking for independent superhero comics with a wider diversity in characters, this story about a gay superhero in the bear community is a good thing to add to your collection.

More Information
Bludgeon
#0 single issue
Approximately £3 (plus £5 shipping to Europe; free shipping to the US)

This is Jeremy Owen's first comic, but if you're interested in other comics with an LGBT cast, check out our LGBT tag.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

An unusual entry into our review system..


As you probably know, we usually review trades of published comics or webcomics as a whole series, but today we shall make an exception. I recently discovered a short strip giving advice to a 12 year old on how to deal with sexual harassment, or perverts, as the strip puts it. It’s great! Here is the first part of it:

Read the whole entry here.

It’s part of the Sneaky VFX comic strip you can find the rest of the their webcomic here.  I understand that this is a variation from their usual strips, but based on this entry I heartily recommend you check it out (and forward the link to all teenage girls)!

Now, who says comics can’t tackle serious issues effectively?

Monday, 19 September 2011

Metal Men


Writer and Artist: Duncan Rouleau
Story based on ideas by: Grant Morrison
Colors: Moose Baumann and Pete Pantazis
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Publisher: DC Comics

What’s it about?
This trade paperback collects the eight issues of the 2007-08 Metal Men mini-series.

The Metal Men are a rather obscure team of DC Comics characters. They were originally conceived as a super team of intelligent robots fighting other robotic menaces under the guidance of their creator Doctor Will Magnus during the Silver Age of comics.
They sort of fell under the radar over the years, that is until after the big Crisis when DC decided to revamp  various old concepts. By giving several of its proprieties a test run to see which characters could support a book in the then-modern market. (amongst others, The Martian Manhunter, Angel & The Ape or even Green Arrow were given a mini-series with only a handful of them ending up with a regular on-going series)
The Metal Men were then reimagined as fellow scientist (and friends) of Doc. Magnus turned into robots in a freak accident. But the concept sort of felt odd, turning these robots into cheap knock-offs of the Fantastic Four or the Doom Patrol.

After that, they weren't much seen anymore for a decade, besides little apperances here and there in other DC books or events.

That is were writer Grant Morrison comes in.
During DC's big yearly story arc 52, narrating a missing year from the perspective of "B and C-lister" type of characters, Morrison decided to give a sub-plot to DC's evil scientists on the imaginary island of Oolong Island. A story in which the Metal Men creator Magnus was abducted by the evil Chang Tzu and forced to work on some top secret projects.
After that, Morrison wanted to write a mini-series which would have seen the return of the Metal Men, based upong Magnus' experience from 52 and building up on his own development in that story.

Finally, Morrison stepping out for other projects (his work on Batman) DC gave the greenlight for this idea and it was creator Duncan Rouleau who took creative control as both writer and artist for this Metal Men book.

"Metal Men" is both a continuation of Will Magnus as seen in 52 and a reimagining of these characters' origin story.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Understanding Bandes dessinées - a guide to European comics

© Dupuis.

Comic books... Mangas...
Different names, same basic idea.
As popular as they might be in their local birthplace, there's a form of funny books that simply isn't as well documented and known outside their countries' border. European comics. What is known, in various languages, as "Bande dessinée" (literally, "drawn strip") the french term for Franco-Belgian comics.
Though I like to also count as such comics from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, as well as many more regions and to some extend, those from the UK as well. (more on that later, below!)

Mostly, they aren't as well represented on the net outside specific regional websites.
Perhaps its due to a lack of information regarding them or documentation beside the few high profiles long running series (Tintin, Lucky Luke or Astérix come to mind).
Or the irregular exportations of those few books, try to get a complete run of Spirou in english, at a single editor and on a regular format.
The problem is that if you don't read French (or Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, etc..) and aren't ready to end up importing those from way across the sea, you might end up letting quite something pass by you. And you won't know what you will be missing...

© Casterman.

So here's a little in-details blog post about European comics, a brief look at their histories, the various editors, the genres and some personal thoughts and recommendations.
And if there's some demand, I might review some of these books, some series I'm a big fan of.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Justice League #1



Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Jim Lee
Inker: Scott Williams
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Patrick Brosseau
Publisher: DC Comics

Regular cover on the left, variant cover on the right.  We recommend you buy the regular cover so you can avoid looking at a deformed and pin headed Wonder Woman.  The inside of the comic is exactly the same, just the cover is different.

What's it about?
It's the introduction to the new DC Universe.  In an attempt to boost sales and attract new readers to their books, DC Comics have recently undergone a relaunch.  Lovely, this is just the sort of initiative we approve of at New readers...start here!

The story is set 5 years in the past, at a time when the Justice League, DC Comics' premier team of superheroes, is just forming.  It is part of an ongoing story arc, which will probably be spread out over 5 or 6 issues.  This means this issue is just the first part of the story.  Apart from that I will tell you nothing else as it's only 26 pages long and I want to avoid spoilers.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Black Lightning: Year One



Writer: Jen Van Meter
Artist: Cully Hamner
Colourist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Publisher: DC

What's it about?
Metropolis' Southside is a slum. Ignored by police, run by gangs (well, one gang), even Superman doesn't touch the area - he says his powers don't work there, but that's no comfort to the residents. From a once promising upcoming middle class neighbourhood, the place has sunk to the point that the locals and the rest of Metropolis call it Suicide Slum.

Back to this troubled neighbourhood comes Jefferson Pierce, superstar high school principal with a track record of turning around five schools in ten years – and a secret. A year ago, he started having serious nightmares, and at the same time something started manifesting in his body; electricity and sparks that scorched the bedsheets and frightened his wife. They both hoped the return home to his family, and to help the community where he grew up would help to ease these problems.

But Suicide Slum needs more than a new principal for Garfield High School.

This is the story of the origin of Black Lightning. Not how he got his superpowers, that happened off panel and before the events of the book, and aren't even explained. Jefferson Pierce is just in possession of 'metagene' making him the DC equivalent of a mutant, but without the civil rights metaphor. The subject of race relations in this book are completely literal. Instead, it's the story of how Jefferson Pierce learned to use his powers as another way of helping his family and neighbours, at the same time never forgetting his purpose as an inspirational principal.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Wonder Woman: Eyes of the Gorgon


Writer: Greg Rucka
Penciller: Drew Johnson, James Raiz, Sean Philips
Colourist: Ray Snyder, Sean Philips
Inker: Richard and Tanya Horie
Letterer: Todd Klein
Publisher: DC Comics 

What's it about?
It's a book based heavily on Greek myth and legend.  Previously, the Gorgon sisters Stheno and Euryale coerced the sorcerer Circe into resurrecting their third sister, the monstrous Medusa.  Once revived, Medusa is burning with the thirst for revenge on Athena, responsible for cursing her.  The sisters decide the best to do this is to slaughter Wonder Woman, Athena's champion on Earth.  Of course, a lot of time has passed since they last walked the earth so the plan does not go smoothly.

Woven in and around the main plot are intrigues and plotting of a higher nature, as Athena stirs up rebellion among the Gods of Olympus.

Like the best Greek stories, this is a book of heroism, honour, sacrifice, love and tragedy. 

Monday, 22 August 2011

Characters of Colour in superhero comics: the women (part 3) and a Spider-man

And so we come to the final entry in the our characters of colour in comics series, looping back to focus on women again..  We hope that we've showcased characters that interests you and we hope that you've been intrigued enough to search out some books.  There seem to be a lot more superhero men than women around, part of this is, I think, because there are more male superheroes than female ones, which is a pity.  Another thing I think we've learnt is that ongoing superhero series tend to feature white people, not characters of colour.  The only way this will change is if people buy more comics with characters of colour in them, showing the publishers that there is a demand.  So please, if you like the sound of any of these characters, buy a copy of the book!

To recap, the previous entries in our series can be found here:

Women (part one), women (part two), the X (wo)men, men (part one), men (part two), men (part three), men (part four), men (part five) and non-superhero comics.

And now, on with the women.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Green Arrow: Crawling Through the Wreckage

Writer: Judd Winick
Penciller: Scott McDaniel
Inker: Andy Owens
Colorist: Guy Major
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Publisher: DC

What's it about?
Oliver Queen is a multi millionaire with a secret identity - he is also the masked vigilante Green Arrow, crimefighter of Star City.  We start this story one year after a large proportion of the city was blown up.  In the last year a wall has been built, effectively ghettoising the poorer parts of the city (sound familiar?); corporate fat cats are trying to turn a profit at the expense of human lives and a former criminal is the only one bothering to keep the peace in the ghetto.  Oliver is not happy with these developments.  But that's OK, because at the end of issue one we discover that he's now Mayor of Star City (and still moonlighting as Green Arrow).

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Marvels


Writer: Kurt Busiek
Art: Alex Ross
Letterer: Richard Starkings
Publisher: Marvel

What's it about?
Marvels is the story of the Marvel universe, from 1939 to 1974, told through the eyes of journalist Phil Sheldon.  From the elegant black cover, to the back page, it's an astonishing story of the rise of the superhero and what it means for ordinary people.  As the name suggests, it's a book to inspire awe and wonder, it is truly a marvel.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Characters of Colour in superhero comics - the men (part five)

This is the more independent edition, where we look at a few of the male characters of colour who sit outside of the mainstream superhero comics published by Marvel and DC.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Finding out about monthly issues

On this here blog we usually talk about trades – those books that collect between 4 and 8 issues of a monthly comic.  We do this because we believe it is an easier way in for readers, but as big changes are afoot at DC comics I think it’s about time to talk about the monthly issues and where to find them.  We have briefly talked about the different publishing houses here, so this post shall serve as a bit of a reminder.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Blankets


Writer/Illustrator: Craig Thompson
Publisher: Top Shelf

What's it about?
In an autobiographical tale, Craig Thompson tells the story of his childhood and adolescence, focused through the lens of first teenage love. In many ways, it is a very typical and relatable story of growing up.

Growing up in a fundamentalist Christian family in Wisconsin, Craig struggles with his relationship with his brother, with God, and the other people in his life. Plagued by feelings of inadequacy heaped on him by his parents and other adults, and rejected by his peers at school, Craig is a loner who isn't quite sure where he fits in this unpleasant, trying world.



Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The Question: Zen and Violence



written by Dennis O'Neil
pencils by Denys Cowan
inks by Rick Magyar
colours by Tatjana Wood
letters by Gaspar Saladino and Albert DeGuzman
Publisher: DC

What's It About?Vic Sage is an investigative reporter in corrupt and rotten Hub City, using his secret identity as the mysterious Question to further his television career. He is arrogant, selfish and reckless and one day he finds himself lying on the bottom of the river. One lucky rescue later he goes into training to become a better fighter so he can survive his return to Hub City and maybe even become a better hero in the process.

O'Neil and Cowan's The Question is a potent mix of mystery, violence and philosophy written in the noir manner.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Superman: The Black Ring Volume 1



Writer: Paul Cornell
Artists: Pete Woods, Cafu, Pere Perez and Sean Chen
Inkers: Pete Woods, bit, Pere Perez and Wayne Faucher
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Publisher: DC Comics


Today's guest review has been written by Anj, who usually blogs about all things Supergirl related at Supergirl Comic Box Commentary, one of the best resources for Supergirl fans on the web.  Here he introduces himself:

This is Anj from Supergirl Comic Box Commentary and I was thrilled to be asked to review the Lex Luthor-centric trade Superman:The Black Ring Volume 1, which collects Action Comics #890-895. As a lifelong Superman Family fan, I think this is an interesting choice for review. Despite its name, Superman is not seen in this portion of the story at all, having gone on an introspective walk across America in a story called ‘Grounded’ in the Superman title. With Superman away, Luthor steps into to star in the title. And Lex is also free to do what he wants. It is most definitely a Luthor story but with a couple of interesting wrinkles to his characterization.

Whats it about?
This is the first half of a story arc in which Luthor is questing for Black Lantern energy globes and therefore ultimate power. From a continuity point of view, this story takes place after Blackest Night, a huge crossover event in which beings called Black Lanterns, essentially zombies, wielded the power of the dead to try to destroy all life. The details of this event aren't necessary for the new reader as long as they can roll with Luthor’s goal of finding and controlling Black Lantern Energy.

Luthor’s quest for this power takes him on a journey where he encounters numerous other villains of the DC Universe: Mr. Mind, Deathstroke, Gorilla Grodd, and Vandal Savage. He also meets Death from the Sandman universe. Luthor is joined on his quest with some allies, a right hand man named Spalding and a Lois Lane robot (a Lois-bot) who acts as lover, confidant, and counselor.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Meet the team!

Given the new reviewers we have gathered over the last six months or so I thought it was high time we gave you a bit more information about the regulars! Here goes nothin':

Eyz: I'm a graphic designer from Switzerland. I have first studied Mathematics & Physics, then went into art & communication later. What I would really want to do for a living would be drawing comics and illustrations - but this goal is currently "on hold". In the meantime, I keep a blog and make silly comic strip parodies.

You can find Eyz at his blog G33K life. Eyz also did our banner for this blog, and I'm loving it.

James: The wandering mind of James Ashelford generally runs towards mysteries, science-fiction and character comedy in just about any medium but particularly comics. Quite apart from enthusing about graphic novels here he blogs about all and sundry at A Less Than Reputable Source from wargames to comics to classic radio comedy.


Debi: Debi moved from London to New York when she decided that one postgraduate degree wasn't enough and she still wasn't ready to get a real job. Having spent her twenties studying dinosaurs, she's now
studying educational theory so she can make all your children love dinosaurs just as much. If science museum educators could get away with wearing tights and a cape, it would be her ideal job.

You can find Debi at Thagomiser. Debi is our newest reviewer so we look forward to seeing her reviews soon!

Lissbirds: When she's not obsessing over comics, Liss obsesses over classic movies and ballet. Her sole ambition in life is to own a lemur. And to publish a novel. Oh, and to become Supreme Dictator of the World and institute a four-day work week, National Squirrel Appreciation Day, and make it a law that all men must wear hats, preferably Fedoras. In her spare time she enjoys sarcasm, lolcats, and things that are purple.


You can find Liss at Comics Make Me Happy.

Our guest contributers can be found on twitter, and if you want to find out more about them visit this list for everyone involved in the blog.


As for me, I'm Saranga. I live in the UK and have loved comics for most of my life, although for years and years I was far too embarrassed to actually buy them - that only started when I was about 23. From there my fannishness just blossomed and now (aged 31) I buy between 3 and 12 issues a week. When not nerding out over comics I learn British Sign Language and am intending to qualify as an Interpreter, although that may take a few years yet. I also blog at Pai where I talk about comics, feminism, Ddeaf stuff, politics, Smallville, Buffy and more comics. You can find me on twitter @sarangacomics.

This blog was my idea, I decided to set it up as there seemed to be very little resources helping people get into comics - most blogs assume you already read comics, and that's not very helpful to the newbie. I am eternally grateful to my co-bloggers for their enthusiasm and dedication to this site. I hope you all are finding it interesting and useful. As ever, if you have any questions or remarks, leave us a comment! We do our best to respond.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Characters of Colour in superhero comics - the men (part 4)

Aaand we're back to our characters of colour series.  Showcasing the best, most interesting or most prominent characters of colour in superhero comics, and a few other genres besides.  You can read previous entries on women (part one) here, women (part two) here, men (part one) heremen (part two) here, men (part three) here, the X (wo)men here, non superhero comics here, men part five and finally women (part three) and a Spider-man.

With this entry we're going back to DC comics.


Thursday, 21 July 2011

Batgirl: Silent Running

Today's guest review is brought to you by Jamie Rimmer, who has this to say about himself:
Hmmm lets see I'm Jamie Rimmer, by day I'm a mild mannered office worker, by night a shadow lurking, comic loving geek. Paintbrush in hand I aim to right the wrongs of the World one injustice at a time. Loves superheroines, pretty art and coffee, hates bullies and small mindedness. Still waiting for my letter for Hogwarts.  You can follow Jamie on twitter under @theyallfalldown.

Writers: Scott Peterson, Kelly Puckett
Penciller: Damion Scott
Inker: Robert Campanella
Colourist: Jason Wright
Letterer: John Costanza
Publisher: DC

What's it about?
This book features the origins of Cassandra “Cass” Cain, an Asian-American teen, raised to be a trained killer by her assassin David Cain. Cassandra has an uncanny knack for reading body language, at the expense or learning to read, write or speak. She can understand your thoughts, emotions and intentions by watching your body and to all intents and purposes, body movement is her language, like English, French, Russian, or Japanese is yours. Her dear old Dad chose to re-wire her brain in this way by not allowing her to hear spoken language for several years. This approach also left no room for socialisation, so Cass has no idea about normal human interaction.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Vixen: Return of the Lion


Writer: G Willow Wilson
Artist: Cafu
Inker: Bit (finale)
Colorist: Santiago Arcas
Letterer: Rob Clark Jr
Publisher: DC

What's it about?
Vixen, or Mari MccCabe, is a member of the Justice League of America (or JLA, Earth's protectors).  She has a totem which allows her to access the mophorgenic field and channel the abilities of any animal on earth - speed of a cheetah, strength of an elephant, flight of an eagle etc.

Born in Zambesi, a fictional African country, she has lived in America for many years.   Now, she has discovered more details about her mother's murder.  This information takes her back to Zambesi and the village of her birth to investigate and seek revenge on the killer.  Mari finds herself answering other, unexpected questions - where does she fit into her old village life?  How did she become the person she is now?  What can she do about the rot circling her childhood home village?
 Vixen: Return of the Lion is a story about Africa, about preserving community, about roots, about the strength in allies and the need to protect your own.  It's about finding and grounding yourself. 

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Ex Machina: The First Hundred Days



Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Tony Harris
Inks: Tom Feister

Colors: JD Mettler
Publisher: Wildstorm Comics

What’s it about?
Have you ever wondered how the life of a superhero would look in real life?
What would he try to accomplish? Would fighting crime with super powers be actually enough?
What kind of repercussions would such a man have?
If we can consider the sort of popularity they'd gain, like a movie star, what if they were to use this fame to try to enter politics where such men could actually end up making a difference on a larger scale?

That is probably what Brian K. Vaughan had in mind when he decided to work on Ex Machina.  Ex Machina is the tale of Mitchell Hundred, the superhero known as The Great Machine in a world where only this man became a superhero...during the turn of the century in the early 2000s. It features a very political background over which Mitchell's story is told via flashbacks and even some flashforwards, alongside the present day events following his establishment as Mayor of New York City.

A dramatic story with a political aspect, mixed with some of what you would expect from superheroics, some shenanigans with villains and a mysterious origin story.  It may take place in a sort of alternate reality, but it feels that more real because of it.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Daredevil/Echo: Vision Quest

Writer and Artist: David Mack
Letters: Virtual Calligraphy's Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics 

What’s it about?
Vision Quest is Maya Lopez’s story. 
Maya is a Dancer, a performance Artist, and Actress and a Boxer.  She has the extraordinary ability of being able to mimic any action or movement she sees, perfectly and without error.  This talent was first discovered at primary school when despite being Deaf, she played a complicated piece of music after seeing a musician perform it once.

Maya was first introduced in Parts of a Hole, with what felt like a solid introduction to her story.  However this book provides more detail as to her background, her relationship with her father, her Native American community, her experience of Deafness and Sign Language and her experiences growing up.

Maya Lopez describes herself as an echo – because she’s Deaf, because she has her father’s imprints upon her, because she doesn’t feel quite real in her own body.  Vision Quest sees Echo return to her Native American community to search out the Chief and seek advice on her life.  He advises her to go on a vision quest and the meat of the story is born.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Seen the movie? Read the book - Thor and Green Lantern

You may have noticed a few high profile superhero films coming out this year.  A month or so ago we had Thor, Marvel comics' favourite Norse god.  A few weeks ago we had Green Lantern, DC's favourite space cop.  Hopefully you enjoyed the films and now want to read some of the comics.  Well, we've got some suggestions for you.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Characters of Colour in non superhero Comics

Just to take a break from the superhero aspect of all these posts, today we will focus on the non superpowered denizens of the comics medium.


You can read our other posts in the series as follows:
women (part one), women (part two), men (part one)men (part two), men (part three), the X (wo)men, men (part four), men part five and finally women (part three) and a Spider-man.


Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Characters of Colour in superhero comics - the X (wo)men

Yet more posts in our series, here is the fourth entry on the men, where we focus on the X-Men and their assorted hangers on.  You can read previous entries on women (part one), women (part two), men (part one)men (part two), men (part three), non superhero comics, men (part four), men part five and finally women (part three) and a Spider-man.

The X-Men have always been a symbol of diversity and discrimination.  Their whole schtick is that they are different to everyday 'regular', so ordinary humans fear and attack them.   They can be read as a metaphor for characters of colour, gay, bisexual and transgender people, disabled people, anyone who is different and stands out from the rest really.  As such, it is entirely appropriate for the X-Men to have a cast of varying ethnicities.  Let's start.  There's a lot of them.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Sale on digital Wonder Woman comics

DC are having a 48 hour sale on digital Wonder Woman comics.  It started Saturday so is running for about another 24 hours.  All issues are 99 cents, which is about 67 pence in English money, and so they are extraordinarily cheap.

We haven't been able to compile a list of recommended issues to buy, but two other (reliable) bloggers have.  See here for Ragnell's guide to the Golden Age (books published between 1939 and 1949, ish) Wonder Woman comics and see here for more modern recommendations from the DC Women Kicking Ass tumblr.

We hope you find something you like!

Characters of Colour in superhero comics - the men (part three)

Continuing our series, here is another post on the men, also looking at Marvel characters.
You can read previous entries on women (part one), women (part two), men (part one)men (part two)the X (wo)men, non superhero comics, men (part four), men part five and finally women (part three) and a Spider-man.


Nick Fury is the General of S.H.I.E.L.D., a governmental agency specialising in espionage and law enforcement.  Marvel's Ultimate universe is a re-imagining of their 616 (main) universe.  It was created to entice new readers into Marvel comics and was intended to operate as a good jumping on point, as it started the world from scratch, as it were.  In the 616 universe Nick Fury is white, in the Ultimate universe, he is black and is drawn to look like Samuel L Jackson, who portrays Fury in the recent Iron Man, Hulk and Thor films.  You can start reading about this Nick Fury in The Ultimates: Super-Human and The Ultimates: Homeland Security.



Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Characters of Colour in superhero comics - the men (part two)

Continuing our series , we will now look at some of Marvel comics' male characters of colour.
You can read previous entries on women (part one), women (part two), men (part one)men (part three), the X (wo)men, non superhero comics, men (part four), men part five and finally women (part three) and a Spider-man.


The Black Panther -There are two characters with the Black Panther title.  T'Challa, created in the 1960s and his sister, Shuri, created more recently. T'Challa is the king of a fictional African nation called Wakanda. The local god is the Panther Spirit, the king as the champion of the people is considered the living avatar of the Panther God on Earth hence the ceremonial Black Panther identity. He is married to Storm of the X-Men (of whom, you can read here) and recently renounced the Panther identity, passing the monarchy and identity to his sister Shuri.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

We've made some changes...

You may have noticed some changes in the blog!  We have fiddled around with the layout and changed the background.  The reformatting is by no means complete, but the changes thus far are as follows:

First time here? Read this!  Previously called Aims, Objectives and Information, this has been moved to the left of the blog.

Underneath this is a list the most popular posts over the last month, so if you don't fancy trawling through the archives to find new books, have a scroll through these posts to see if anything catches your eye.

Under this is the blog archive, listing posts by month and name.

On the right hand side is the list of regular contributors, recent comments (so come join in the discussions!), and labels.

Although the revamp is still in process, it would be good to know what people think.  Leave us a comment!  Does the overall colour scheme work for you?  Is it easier to find extra information now?  Are the font and text colours of a decent size and colour?  Do you have any other comments?  Let us know!

Friday, 17 June 2011

Final Crisis: Revelations

Writer: Greg Rucka
Pencils: Philip Tan
Inks: Jonathan Glapion, Jeff de los Santos, Walden Wong
Color: Ian Hannin, Nei Rufino
Letters: John J. Hill
Publisher: DC

What's it about?
The world is in the midst of a Crisis.  The New Gods are coming to earth, the anti life equation is spreading among humanity claiming civilians and superheros alike.  It heralds the arrival of Darkseid and his subordinates, dedicated to evil, corruption and violence.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Final Crisis: Rogues Revenge


Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils and inks: Scott Kolins
Colours: Dave McCaig
Letterer: Nick J Napolitano
Publisher: DC Comics

What's it about?
The Rogues have been on the run for a year.  Longtime enemies of anyone wearing the Flash mantle, they were tricked into killing the latest Flash by another villain, Inertia.  In so doing, they broke the unspoken and fundamental rule - never kill a Flash - and so brought the wrath of all other speedsters down on them.

Now back to mete our revenge to Inertia, a much bigger Crisis is coming...

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Northlanders: Sven the Returned


written by Brian Wood
illustrated by Davide Gianfelice
colours by Dave McCaig
letters by Travis Lanham
published by Vertigo 

What's It About?
It is 980 A.D. and the Norseman Sven has returned home to the Orkneys from Constantinople to claim his inheritance. His father is dead but as he enters Grimness Settlement he discovers that his ruthless uncle Gorm has claimed the inheritance for his own.

An outsider and a stranger Sven finds himself alone, fighting a one-man war to reclaim what is rightfully his and return to Constantinople with its warm, wealth and exotic women before the past he escaped long ago kills him. 

Monday, 6 June 2011

Starman Omnibus volume 1

Story: James Robinson
Art: Tony Harris
Inks: Wade von Grawberger
Colors: Gregory Wright
Letters: John Workman, Bill Oakley, Gaspar Saladino
Publisher: DC

Other creative credits as follows:
Issue 6: Pencils by Teddy Kristiansen, inks by Chrstian Hojgaard, Bjarne Hansen and Kim Hagen
Issue 11: Art by Matt Smith
Issue 14: Art by Tommy Lee Edwards, Stuart Immonen, Tony Harris, Chris Sprouse, Andrew Robinson, Gary Erskine, and Amanda Conner with Inks by Wade con Grawbadger and Gary Erskine. 

Today's review is a guest post brought to you by Mothee.  Mothee is a comics fan, just graduated from film school and would like to be a writer.  You can find Mothee at the following places:
Twitter: @Mothee

What’s it about?
At it’s core Starman is about legacy. It’s about growing up. It’s about doing the things you don’t want to do. It’s about a father’s love for his son. It’s about taking the reigns of your own destiny. It’s about the finest work of fiction in any medium that I’ve ever read.