As the production line finally gets rolling at TC Central, and the first issues are almost ready to fall off the presses, in the distance – just barely visible – a figure appears, dashing forwards with a rag-tag pile of papers in his hands… yes, its time for another episode of San Futuro Chronicles
This time, there are huge numbers of comics piled up, waiting to be talked about… and just the usual four sides to cover them in (sniff! actually, the sniffs’re because I’ve got a cold, but less about my problems and more about comics).
It’s a new mini-series from the Vertigo imprint after their pathetic crossover “The Children’s Crusade” (see below). This looks like it’ll be pretty cool. So far, it seems to be about an American MK-Ultra style project to produce superheros that misfired in a big way. Just a bit on the creepy side and only just started, so why not give it a go.
Aquaman – Time and Tide
A four issue mini-series leading up to a proper ongoing monthly series, this has been variable (to say the least). For four issues not to be devoted to a single story line seems a bit sad and pointless. The first two issues had a suitably consistent theme (as Aquaman tries to mix with normal folks and decides it’s a bad idea), and were generally a fun read but were nearly spoilt by gratuitous devices like “guest starring the Flash”. Issue three, the latest one, was based in the (ant?)arctic and looked nice, had gratuitous sex, and a mythological baddy, but didn’t really seem to follow on from the first two. If the fourth one doesn’t seriously tie things up, then the monthly series must be a loser.
Battle Angel Alita 3
So, in part one Alita was rescued and defeated the end of level bad guy, in part two she fell in love, had her heart broken and defeated the end of level bad guy, and in part three… Well, so far, after here misery at the end of part two, she’s left Ido, the doc who put her back together, and sunk to playing a rollerball rip-off. To me this is more fun than the earlier series, as it has a less supernatural appearance, but who knows what’ll happen next.
The Children’s Crusade
This “Vertigo event” seemed like a crossover to me folks. Only the two “Children’s Crusade” issues really did much for the story-line, the rest of the Vertigo annuals basically being wasted in this. I’m not happy with DC/Vertigo for pissing us about like that and hope they don’t do it again. All in all a wasted opportunity and a waste of money.
Daredevil – The Man Without Fear
Five issues all of which have now come out. Frank Miller redoing Daredevil – The Origin. What more needs to be said. If you like Frank Miller/Daredevil or even just enjoyed The Dark Knight Returns, get it… (originally intended for a graphic novel, it was then chopped up to produce comics, I’d suspect that there’ll still be a collected version of it soon enough though…)
Less weird than the Grant Morrison stuff, Rachel Pollack has produced some fun stories so far, and now has Ted McKeever on the artwork so obviously this is currently stunning.
This is the first issue of a new series and it took me about five pages to decide it was poorly written crap. Then I completed the issue and decided that actually I liked it. Briefly, the first five pages that put me off were of “The Fighting American” doing his thing and taking the “Zap”, “Pow”, “Thwok” approach to the bad guys. So far, so bad. Most of the rest of the issue was his history. Basically, during the cold war, the American defense department set up a project to produce a superhero to defeat the Communists – this was project Fighting American. However, government departments being what they are, by the time the project was completed, the Eastern Bloc was gone, so there was a fully primed superhero with no target. I’ll try more of this as it seemed amusing, but I dunno how long it’ll be before it degenerates to either farce or serious superhero comics. At the moment however, it’s fun.
Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell bring out the third collection of the Jack the Ripper tale from Taboo, getting us all the way to chapter 6 of this “melodrama in sixteen parts”. Cool shit for Ripper-fans and folks that dislike the squeaky-clean Victoriana we usually get. One big plus that these collected issues get is the presence of appendices giving sources (if applicable) for events in the comic. There is no claim that the story as presented is “correct”, just that it’s as possible as most of the other versions that get bandied about. Good stuff.
A modern style tale set in comics Golden Age, featuring all the old heroes that don’t get seen anymore. Well, I guess that’s who they are as I don’t read X-Comics and aren’t old enough to have read my way through the Golden Age first time around… Basically, it gives the “it was all a cover-up” approach to the immaculate GA superheroes. Pretty good, and an obvious contender for a “Watchmen 2 – The Sequel” award.
Grendel Tales: Four Devils One Hell
I like Grendel, I like Grendel Tales… It’s fun, weird in a way that doesn’t obscure plot and looks wonderful. What more could I ask ? What more could I say ? Nothing. So I won’t.
Suppose I ought to mention this for all you anime fans (or is that Manga fans… I’m not really sure these days…) out there. From Viz, it’s a comic based around cels from the anime, and apart from the odd place where voice bubbles take a couple of reads to get the sequence right, it’s very well done. I’ve never really been tempted to watch any Gundam, but I do admit to having enjoyed this.
”Damnation’s Flame” sees JC back in America meeting up with old enemies and President’s with their brain’s shot out… Revenge is sweet for Midnite, whose voodoo has really screwed up the freshly cleaned up Constantine, but his sister’s spirit, which has been his source of power the past thirty years, is after revenge… Fun, fun, fun. A bit close to the Grant Morrison weird for weird’s sake in places but some wonderful bits with JC and JFK chatting…
- JC: “You mean you’ve had to hold your brains in ever since you got shot through the head.”
- JFK: “I… I regard that as mere supposition, one that it would be unwise to make until all the facts are in”
- JC: “I can see this is going to be a bundle of laughs… Bollocks to it.”
Legends Of The Dark Knight
After three issues of “Watchtower” (hmmm…. good name for a religious magazine that…) featuring an old, but active Batman, we now have a single issue story “Storm”. A bad-guy foreign leader into dictatorship, torturing and human rights abuses is in Gotham. So are the necessary Freedom Fighters (or is that terrorists). Batman doesn’t want any killing on his turf, so is trying to stop them offing the leader. The CIA and the Gotham police are on protection duty, but all is not as it seems and the line between right & wrong is not drawn as cleanly as is usual. Definitely going through a good phase…
Mai The Psychic Girl
Well Jim, I finally read it (mainly because I could pick up the collected Mai books 2, 3 and 4 for ú2.50 each…). Yup, ‘tis fun as you said once many issues of TC ago. If you find it cheap buy it. If you don’t, there’s plenty of other stuff of similar quality and fun-ness… but not featuring psychic powered schools-girls!
The Mark In America
This is the second Mark series from Dark Horse – the first, about four or five years ago, was (mainly) in black and white and saw the Archon, the despotic/fascist/super-powered ruler of Lutzany, deposed with the help of our hero, Isaac. This second series is in colour, and concerns events Stateside when the Archon goes to drum up support to oust the Democrats and get him back on his “rightful” throne. So far it’s quite fun, but I’m unsure about the device of Little Lutzany in Manhattan… However, it’s now two issues into a four issue series, so I guess I’ll stick with it – it may end up as good as the original series yet…
A superhero comic with a difference… Honest… It must be… The publishers told me so. Okay, so it is different, but not hugely. The basic idea is that this is a superhero comic told from the perspective of the man on the street – in this case a journalist. So far quite fun, not something to rave about (apart from the pretty painted art) , but not something to rage against.
[Wait… can it be true… Yes, he who is second only to God (well, he reached the quarter finals, or so he claims) has permitted SFC to expand… we’ve a whole EIGHT pages this quarter… Errrmm… what do you mean it’s eighteen months rather than a quarter this issue ??? What ? Lino’s zine reviews were late… Ah. Okay.]
The sale season has started and there are some wonderful things waiting to be snapped up… for starters we have loads of scrumplicious Ms.Tree’s. Littered around bargain boxes in comics shops, these are fun for all hard-boiled detective fans, but get worse later on, when only half an issue is Ms. Tree and the other half is… ummm… something that I can’t remember the name of, but is ancient, cited as inspiration and not really as much fun… Then again, if it’s cheap enough why not! Also, I must recommend “The Baby Blue Rip Off” and “A Shroud For Aquarius”, crime novels by Max Allan Collins, the author of Ms. Tree. About a mystery writer, Mallory, who “gets involved”, they’re both darn good downbeat yarns. Less good, but also by M.A.C. and featuring Mallory, is “Kill Your Darlings”.
Cool sci-fi superhero stuff, vaguely relevant here as, apart from being available cheap in the bargain boxes, reprint collections are starting to appear. Not bad, quite fun, especially when cheap. The Nexus (Horatio Hellpop) gets to use his superpowers to kill bad guys… but he doesn’t get to say which are good & which are bad, that’s left to the Merk, an alien being that gives Nexus the powers and a lot of headaches until the killings are done. Most of the time Nexus’d prefer to get on with exploring the ruins of ancient civilisations but all in all there’s not much chance of that. Side characters include the “Hammer of God” and lots of enemies (and allies) that Nexus builds up along the way.
I guess I’ll also mention the current Dark Horse/Valiant co-production “Magnus Robot Fighter & Nexus”. Which is only spoilt by the Magnus Robot Fighter presence… I can’t understand the popularity of Valiant comics… it’s like “Golden Age” comics – there’s a reason comics changed from that style and it’s called progress. Regression never did anyone any good – just look at politicians…
Good stuff (if a tad serious for TC). This is a travelogue/documentary of Joe Sacco’s visit(s?) to (yup you guessed it…) Palestine. A first hand account of getting first hand accounts from people living under unbelievable conditions. As you may have gathered it’s difficult to explain, but includes interviews with people, and insights into the situation. Buy it & try it!
Never let it be said that TC dislikes truly cool comics… it just rarely sees them This however is cool. From Evan Dorkin, hapless begatter of Milk and Cheese, comes a science fiction adventure quite unlike any other… and none the worse off for it. Pirate Corp$ has more to do with characters than space (in the universal sense) and music (if ya reckon ska is music…) fills a fair amount of the remaining space… like, it’s really cool. Buy it, love it, have it’s babies. Then sell them into the white slave trade for millions of pounds and live a life of ease.
News item time… this title still uses the Pirate Corp$ overall heading, but because the story isn’t all that Space Opera any more, has changed it’s name to Hectic Planet. The latest issue is number six and although it says Hectic Planet is honestly Pirate Corp$ 6 (although it isn’t as it’s now Hectic Planet if you get my drift…). Also available recently was Vroom Socko: Paid In Full which tells of a psychopathic space cadet (well, space captain actually I seem to remember…) trying to collect a debt in a truly nonviolent comic that you wouldn’t be ashamed to show your mother (hahahahahaha… could TC readers really fall for that… well, it’s worth a try…)
Predator: Bad Blood
Crap title, but it does follow nicely from Pirate Corp$ as this is also from the warped mind of Evan Dorkin (somehow). Unfortunately, I haven’t yet got round to reading this myself, so this is merely listed for information rather than as an excuse for me to slap some opinions down…
Dashing on towards the conclusion, this is hard science fiction with a serious dash of adventure and some really wacky elements… An ancient Egyptian steam driven robot ? It’s been fun, and I’m quite looking forward to finding out what’s been going on (or as Lino would say, the denouement). Well worth it’s pennies, it’ll be missed. But no, I don’t see myself yearning for a sequel… something else with a similar level of skill, fun and imagination, yes, a repeat performance, no.
Robotech: The Invid War – Aftermath
Thought TC had better cover this… especially since the concept seemed cool. Take a badly hacked together TV series about giant robots laying into each other, and set a comic after the war finishes. No more giant robots and a desolate earth. The ex-goodies gather together to try and recover earth from the post-war problems. Sounds cool, some of the ex-goodies seem to think the rules of war still apply and get to work pulling rank etc. Could turn out fun, it may need more knowledge of Robotech than you’ll commonly find on this side of the Atlantic. Watch out for more news…
It’s really a bit late to review this, the second volume of Viz’s translation of the manga (no… not videos, they’re a-ni-me for any reporters out there) about two Cambodians in Japan fixing to shake things up, one via politics and one via the underground – the yakuza. Very good with plenty of gratuitous oriental sex (for those that’re into such things.. haha). Other good news on the Sanctuary front is that it’s now out in collected editions giving you the nine issues of each volume for about a tenner… not bad value at all considering each issue is 78 pages!
Sandman Mystery Theatre: The Brute
The last issue of this little tale brings a few surprises as to just what’s gone on in the previous three issues. Not really a happy sort of tale… apart from the Sandman getting his man. Well recommended for a dark read, and for having the balls to include child abuse apart from as the raison-d’etre (to coin a phrase… ).
More vertigo fodder… weird superhero stuff, looked like being very original now just seems to be stalled away from the original plot whilst the hero gets some hero-ing done (with the odd reference to the original plot just so you don’t forget it.) Fairly cool but it just don’t quite cut it here folks…
More bargain box visits here… I have been stingy lately haven’t I! All the same, ‘tis a rollicking good read and fairly linear (plot-wise) with healthy dollops of weird steaming to the sides of the main path. I’d like to see some reprint series of this… you never know, one day it may re-emerge…
Sin City – A Dame To Kill For
Frank Miller story, Frank Miller Art, weird, noir, violent. Cool shit.
Star Wars – Tales Of The Jedi
Pretty comic, but seems to have jumped hugely from issue 2 to issue 3. Issue 4’s now around, so maybe that’ll help me. If you like Star Wars, but are fed up with Luke, Han, Leia etc… it’s worth a look. Possibly cooler (especially if you like the original cast) is Dark Empire, a collected volume in which Luke faces the Dark Side of the force and gets a tad changed on the way.
A three issue ultra-flash series in which tales of police work were told. Each issues been a different case, but all are dark, gloomy and “gritty”. I liked’em, even if I did expect a continuing story.
Thing from Another World: Eternal Vows
The Thing is still there… having lasted the original film, the John Carpenter remake, the comic series of the film and the comic-book sequel to the film, it still hasn’t given up (yet). The big difference is that it’s now reached the mainland rather than being miles from anywhere. Style-wise, however, it’s probably more Predator 2 than The Thing, as he/she/it stalks the populace of a small(ish) town. Gulacy art, so pretty pretty, and competently put together.