Comic Conversations: Episode 59

Image and video hosting by TinyPicfettman, luro, and marvell2k return to talk all things comics for the week of April 22, 2015. Including but not limited to:

Comic Books News of: Ice Man being Gay, Valiant announcing they’re making Movies, Netflix ordering a second season of Daredevil, Dark Knight Returns 3, Einsers Awards Nominees, and Dazza’s Latest Article.

Lighting Round Reviews of: Convergence Justice League America, New Teen Titans, Flash, Hulk, Avengers World, and Black Vortex.

Regular Reviews of: Suiciders 3, Empire Uprising 1, Deadly Class 12, Lazarus 16, The Empty 3, Guardians of the Galaxy 26, Star Wars 4, Squirrel Girl 4, Divinity 3, Ivar Timewalker 4, and Ninjak 2.

Our Pick for Book of the Week, and We Preview Next Week’s Books with Lighting Round Reviews of Batman, Ninja Turtles, and Convergence Shazam.

And Regular Reviews of: War Stories, Multiversity, Avengers, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Inhuman, Moon Knight, New Avengers, New Avengers Ultron Forever, Princess Leia, Silk, Secret Avengers, Silver Surfer, Superior Iron Man, X-Men, and Quantum and Woody Must Die.

As always all this and so much more on brand new edition of Comic Conversations~! IT’S AWESOME.

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Comic Therapy Sessions looks at Marvel vs DC

Yes, I have finally named my column.

download (3)You know what really pisses me off? Shoplifters.

A shoplifter hit the bookshop I work in earlier this week, making off with about half a shelf of Marvel graphic novels. The fact that it’s graphic novels he stole makes me take this personally, especially as it involves lots paperwork for me whenever something like this happens. He probably would have made off with the other half if one of my colleagues hadn’t caught the bastard stuffing them into his bag, as it was he had to settle for books starting with a A, B, C or D. So if you’re wanting Avengers, Captain America or Dardevil comics from our store this weekend you’re kinda screwed.

Of course If we were to have gone after him and smashed his legs in with baseball bats, we’d have been the ones in trouble with the police, because that would have infringed his human rights. God damn Liberals, we need a bit of the Frank Castle attitude towards crime in my opinion. So until I’m allowed to “put a team together” this will happen again, big gaps appearing out of no where in the graphic novel section. And it’s almost always the Marvel shelves which are the ones getting pillaged, the DC ones they pretty much leave alone. Walking Dead also seem popular for the thieves, but in the DC and Marvel stakes it’s Marvel that get the vote from the bastard scumbag demographic.

Back in 1996 however they’d have been able to show their particular loyalty by more legitimate means in the build up to that summer’s epic showdown when Universe’s collided in the Marvel vs DC mini series (see I was going somewhere with this rant).

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I had just been getting back into comics after a few years hiatus when I first saw a poster advertising the dream match up of Marvel vs DC, to be featured in a four issue limited series. I’m sure my jaw must have dropped and my eyes bulged with excitement. This was like Bobby Heenan showing up with Ric Flair’s belt on WWF television, this was UFC buying Pride, this was seeing the Alien skull in the Predator’s spacecraft, this was Madonna kissing Britney Spears. This was world’s colliding and for an unashamedly, easily manipulated fanboy like myself, this was pushing all the right geek buttons over and over.

I was a kid again, remembering all the times at school when we’d mix Marvel and DC toys re-enacting our own naïve versions of the dream matchups like spiderman vs superman, (there was also a kid who I played with who had every action figure going but was so anally retentive he refused to allow any crossovers when plying with his toys. He once had a legit freak out at me because I dared to put his Cylon figure into a tie fighter).

What was even more intriguing was there were ballot forms in all comic shop where you could vote for who you thought should win the individual match ups of Superman vs Hulk, Batman vs Captain America, Spiderman vs Superboy, Wonder Woman vs Storm and the one everyone wanted to see Wolverine vs Lobo. The results of these matches would be decided by the fan voting. Naturally I used my democratic right, eagerly crossed the boxes against all five Marvel characters (I may have voted Batman over Captain America) and dropped my ballot in the box at the counter. Though it has to be said I’m dubious that the votes cast in Sheffield, England made it anywhere near the final tally at the offices of Marvel and DC. But whenever there is an election you should always vote kiddies (or at least draw a giant cock on the ballot).

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So how would the DC and Marvel alumni be brought together for the biggest showdown in comics history? Well with a storyline that was complete bunk of course.

In this storyline it turns out the DC and Marvel Universes are actually two cosmic deities who become aware of each other and ultimately start a rivalry. Heroes and villains begin appearing in each others worlds. In true superhero fashion some team up, others proceed to knock the hell out of each other. Eventually the two universes decide there can be only one, and announce a best of eleven series of bouts between each universes best champions, with the losing side having their universe destroyed. As well as the fan voting five main events there were also six preliminaries of Thor vs Captain Marvel, Silver Surfer vs Green Lantern, Sub Mariner vs Aquaman, Quicksilver vs Flash, Catwoman vs Electra and Jubliee vs Robin, these results entirely down to the creators no doubt sparing one company the possible humiliation of having all their top stars lose.

Like I said the plot is dumb, as all these contest of champions type books are. Really it just serves to give us an excuse to have Marvel and DC go at it. It still leads to a lot of fun moments, like Wolverine and Gambit stealing the batmobile, Jonah J Jameson becoming editor of the Daily Planet, Wonder Woman wielding the power of Thor, Moleman moving into the batcave, Clark Kent and Ben Reilly (this happened during the clone saga) teaming up as a news team and at one point simultaneously wondering how they can get away from the other to change into their costumes. And there are dream match ups galore. Even if it’s only one panel we get to see Batman vs Venom, Wolverine vs Croc and an inspired faceoff with Thanos and Darkseid.

It’s clear that the writers are having a blast, even taking sly digs at how some characters are ripoffs of their counterparts.

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All fans have their own views on how a series like this should go. I personally could have done without that version of Superboy being in the top five matches, as he had only been around for about three years and was hardly an iconic character like so many of the others. Personally I would have liked Batman vs Spiderman as these were arguably each company’s biggest, most recognisable stars and the idea of them playing cat and mouse with each other has some potential (let’s face it Spiderman rips off elements of Batman). Where would this have left Captain America? Personally I’d suggest Green Arrow who is absent here (not even getting the chance to trade arrows with Hawkeye) which would have presented a great contrast in personalities with the anarchist vs the Patriot.

Which brings us to the matches themselves. I couldn’t wait for issue three to be released, which promised the results of the matchups we’d all voted on. I was really hyped for the fights (particularly Wolverine vs Lobo which I was actually kinda nervous about being a Wolverine fan and hearing rumours of fans using block voting to rig results a certain way).

Sadly we were only given a few pages of action for each fight. They’re fine for what they are, but I remember thinking at the time how one issue was never going to give enough time and justice to such epic confrontations. I always thought the best format would be to give each fight their own spin off issue, attach a writer and artist that reflects the tone of the match up and do an actual story.

Fantasy booking alert! Off the top of my head I thought how Hulk and Superman could have gone down. Have Hulk and Superman have one battle where neither gets the upper hand. Both regroup and Hulk reverts to Banner who comes up with the idea of using Kryptonite in some way. However when he reverts back to Hulk for the battle the green monster gets into such a rage he’s unable to rationally use his advantage and stick to Banner’s gameplan, Superman takes the win with a rope a dope style tactic.

images (3)I’m sure writer’s who are far more talented and imaginative than me could come up with way better stories behind the fights, but you get the idea where I’m coming from.

If nothing else the single fight issues would have opened the opportunity for a real violent, drag out, bloody brawl between Lobo and Wolverine instead of the three pages we get. It’s a dream fight that is just not done any justice whatsoever. Even so, it does have the coolest moment of the series when Logan appears from behind the bar and smokes the cigar in celebration of his win. All the fights end on a similar sort of panel and it’s obvious that the battles were written in such a way that the final image could be changed to show the winner based on how the fan voting played out.

I probably wanted too much as a fan. Neither company was going to invest too much in this project. The idea was to do a series that would sell well, create a ton of publicity and showcase their main characters at the time. Comic sales in general were falling and the industry was reaching crisis point (Marvel would file for bankruptcy a year later). Marvel’s creative direction at the time was in the hands of accountants who would not have realised, or didn’t care about the storyline potential of such a mega crossover.

What’s annoying is that the two companies did take the time to do a whole series of spinoff single issues with the amalgamation books, that combined DC and Marvel characters into one. I personally didn’t care for most of these, probably because I was not as familiar with DC side and I hence did not appreciate what was behind the mash ups. Those I did understand such as Bruce Wayne agent of shield and Steve Rogers Super Soldier I felt rather bland. The only ones I did enjoy were the fun Lobo the Duck and the Batman/Wolverine combination Dark claw, as mashing up the Joker and Sabretooth into the villain Hyena was a stroke of genius.

The Amalgamation comes about after Marvel win the series and the story takes a convoluted turn as cosmic entites merge the universes in an attempt to save both. Yeah we ride full on into mcguffin, and sci fi babble territory and it all goes a bit Onslaught in it’s exposition. In truth by this point it’s not worth worrying over too much. What it does do is give all the heroes who were combatants an issue earlier the chance to team up and bond by beating up a few baddies and watching as the two Universes duel it out. Eventually the two universes call it a draw, shake hands and decide to go off their separate ways (literally, the embodiment of the universes do shake hands).

This comic has shown up on a few “worst of all time” lists. I get why, if you’re wanting a well drawn, well written piece of engaging art then this is not really for you. It’s a marketing gimmick, designed to make money and get publicity.

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But you know what? Sometimes you just gotta say bollocks to high art!

I always think of this story as being the Ultimate Warrior vs Hulk Hogan Wrestlemania VI match of the comic world. There were two types of wrestling fans watching that match. There were those cynical wrestling experts who pointed out that neither were good wrestlers and would critique the matches use of rest holds to drag it over the twenty minute mark. Then there were fans like me, who bought into the occasion and went apeshit for the back and forth match, gripped the entire time.

The experts were probably right about the assessment of the match. Good for them, but the rest of us had fun!!! It may not stand up to repeat viewings, but when in the moment it was edge of the seat stuff.

And that’s the key word, fun! Yes, if DC vs Marvel had been done right and had more time spent on it, then it could have been so much more than it was. But there is still fun to be found in the four issues that the creator’s had to work with. It’s a cute little gimmick that shouldn’t be taken that seriously, just to be enjoyed for seeing this characters interacting in the same comics for a brief time.
Yeah it wasn’t great, but I waited for every issue and won’t pretend I didn’t enjoy it at the time.

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One important point I’d like to make that the series exposes is Marvel’s failure to have ever created an iconic female superhero. Obviously Marvel needed a female to match up against Wonder Woman and had to rely on Storm who is essentially a teambook character. Marvel has created many great female stars over the years, but they’ve been almost always been amongst the ranks of superteams or female variations of already existing male stars (She-Hulk, Spiderwoman etc).

None have really stood out on their own as iconic figures. Even DC’s number two woman in this storyline, Catwoman I would argue is more well known than any of Marvel’s ladies.

Twenty years on and I don’t think things have changed that much. You can argue Black Widow, but she’s has only become famous through the films, in the comics she only ever enjoyed a guest star role or as a team member, never driven her own long term series. Hopefully the excellent Ms Marvel series will break that trend.
In any case this is a discussion to be revisited for another day.

What shouldn’t be revisited is a few of the costumes from 1990’s. Aside from the annoyance of having the Ben Reilly version of Superman hanging out with Clark Kent and not our beloved Peter Parker we also have the awful Neptune version of Aquaman (who wins his bout against the Sub Mariner by dropping a whale on him in a truly hilarious moment). And incidentally what the fuck was Thor wearing? Seriously check his God awful armour out.

And if you do want to check out Marvel vs DC, it has been collected into graphic novel form not once but twice. It seems there is a version where Marvel wins and a version where DC wins.
Of course that’s if some thieving scumbag hasn’t got to them first.

Till next time
Dazza

Comic Conversations: Episode 58

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fettman, luro, and marvell2k return to talk all things comics for the week of April 15, 2015. Including but not limited to:

Comic Book News of: March Sales, An Oscar Winning Writer writing a comic book series for ABC, the announcement of a Lando book, discussion of the Batman vs Superman Dawn of Justice trailer, and we plug Dazza’s Articles.

Lighting Round Reviews of: Star-Lord, Nova, and Uncanny X-Men.

Regular Reviews of:The Fox 1, Convergence: Parallax, Convergence Justice League International, Secret Identities 3, Loki 13, Magneto 17, Ms.Marvel 14, Superior Iron Man 7, Thor 7, and Bloodshot 1.

Our picks for Book of the Week and We Preview Next Week’s Books: A possible lighting round review of Inhuman:Special.

And Regular Reviews of: Convergence Justice League America, New Teen Titans, Flash, Suiciders, Empire Uprising, Uncle Scrooge, Deadly Class, The Empty, Lazarus, Avengers World, Guardians of the Galaxy, Hulk, Star Wars, Squirrel Girl, Divinity, Ivar Timewalker,and Ninjak.

All this and as always, so much more on a brand new edition of Comic Conversations, IT’S AWESOME~!

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I’ve Read It. I Can’t Unread It

If you’re reading this you already know that comics can be such a wonderful thing. How many times have you got so into a series that you were counting down the days for the next issue? That excited little, giddy glee when you see the comic you’ve traveled to the dodgy edge of town to buy waiting for you on the new releases shelf (let’s face it the best comic shops are always in areas you wouldn’t wander into at night).

How many friendships have grown from having comics as a common interest? Seriously there are people who I absolutely can’t stand who I’m able to have an awesome conversation with when it’s about comics. Even the cliché and cheesy side of comics can lead to a few good laughs, affectionate banter while goodheartedly poking fun at the medium’s sillier side.

But then there is the dark mirror image to that fun. We’ve all been there. You get invested in some storyline, you buy into the incredible build, you’re excited, you get sucked in with those amazing posters and that catchy tagline like “Nothing lasts forever” that gets you all hot with anticipation. Only to be let down massively. It’s like when I was all geared up to watch the final episode of Deep Space Nine, waiting for that final epic space battle between the federation and the Dominion only to find they’d simply reused all the footage from the battles in previous episodes. That one stung bad!

Sadly for every Dardevil: Born Again or Fall of the Mutants there are many more stories that miss the mark. So take a seat and witness with my public therapy sessions as I revisit those storylines that were disappointing, uninspiring and in some cases were amongst the worst things ever to be drawn on a piece of paper.

Dark Knight Strikes Again
220px-DarkKnightStrikesAgain1No one would deny Dark Knight Returns place in comic history as a ground breaking series. It came at a pivotal moment in the development of the genre as an artform just starting to be taken seriously. It was instrumental in the development of the graphic novel, certainly the first one I ever shelled money out for.

Showing a restraint very rare in the comics industry, DC refrained for so long from returning to the future world of the Dark Knight. Fifteen years it took for Frank Miller to bring us this long awaited follow up, and sadly I wish he’d never bothered. A lot had changed in comics between the two series. Gritty adaptations of superheroes were no longer seen as being cutting edge, fact is it had become fairly common. It wasn’t that long since we’d had the excellent Kingdom Come. Even so expectations were high, after all this wasn’t some other writer continuing the Dark Knight story, this was Frank Miller coming back to the world he had created.

What arrived in comic shops in 2001 was about as welcome as a tramp wandering in from the rain. Dark Knight Strikes Again is one of the ugliest comics I;ve ever read.The artwork is God awful, a weird explosion of garish colours and blocky, inconsistent sketching that frankly looks rushed and seems to deteriorate as the story progresses. It’s like being kicked in the face while having strobe lighting beamed into your eyes.

There’s no hidden beauty to redeem this assault on your eyeballs as the story is just as bad. When I first read this book (actually first is a bit misleading as I’ve only read it the once) I found myself rapidly scanning past panels as my interest and patience were worn down by a confusing story that my mind just gave up trying to keep up with. I’ll level with you, I’ve no intention of revisiting this horrible comic just to remind myself of the story for this column. Suffice to say it’s convoluted, goes nowhere and is just a virus on your eyeballs.

One scene did stick with me for all the wrong reasons. Bluntly, Superman gets it on with Wonder Woman in an unerotic display of superhero sex, during which their love throes send shockwaves around the world, causing volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and other displays of schismatic destructions. We ‘re flippantly shown an aircraft carrier being capsized in tidal waves, presumbly causing the deaths of the crew. So yes, two of the most virtuous heroes in the history of comics don’t give a flying fuck (pun intended) that their careless shagging probably causes the deaths of untold innocent people. Wonder Woman looks horrible in this comic by the way, and let’s face it any comic that can make her look bad is one to avoid.

Doomsday

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I just want to point out this is not the Death of Superman storyline I’m talking about here, as that is as epic and well worked a story centred around a single brawl that you are ever going to find. Despite being an obvious commercial stunt, it’s worthy of being called the biggest fight of all time, an emotional ride, full of heroics with a true heartbreaking aftermath.

The graphic novel I’m including on this list of comic hell is a collection of all the stories featuring Doomsday after Superman’s death and rebirth. The main story is on the obvious rematch between Superman and Doomsday, as the Man of Steel sets off across the galaxy to make sure his nemesis is finished once and for all.

Like many return bouts it’s a disappointment. Having it set away from Earth robs the confrontation of the apocalyptic impact that we saw the first time around with Metropolis being destroyed around them. Not that there is much I the way of action anyway. Instead, this is a really pedestrian affair, with Superman for the most part stood around watching others tackle the big beast. It’s a long, drawn out story that finally sees Superman get involved wearing an unflattering new costume and dispatching Doomsday with a time travel device that I guess is meant to show brain over brawn but really comes across as a real bitch move.

Of course Doomsday strikes back many times in this collection (including the rather inevitable team up with Superman), but it’s a true case of diminishing returns. The ferociousness shown in their first battle is never replicated especially when Doomsday is given intelligence and a personality. Perhaps DC felt that they needed to evolve the character as there wasn’t much story potential in a relentless, raging beast who’s only role is to destroy everything in his path. Maybe they were right. If that’s the case though, why bother bringing him back?

The only thing to recommend this collection for is the horrifying origin of how Doomsday was created over centuries of genetic evolution. It’s a fittingly violent origin that only serves to emphasise how watered down the creature was to become. Don’t worry DC fans and not picking on you guys, from this point on it’s all about Marvel. By the way I think it’s so adorable you guys are finally trying to do your own shared movie universe. Bless you.

Acts of Vengeance

Acts_of_VengeanceWhen this massive crossover occurred in 1989 I had cut back heavily on my comic buying, restricting myself to a few X-men titles a month. I was in my late teens and had other interests that were taking my time and cash. But in any case the quality of Marvel as a whole had been deteriorating for a while (I’d even come to ditch the X-men would be ditched during the dire shadowking saga).

However the poster for Acts of Vengeance, depicting several supervillains standing over the broken weapons of the Avengers was a striking, intriguing image. Still I never read it at the time.

Several years ago I discovered this massive 750 page tome collecting the Acts of Vengeance story and thought it may be fun to revisit and learn what I’d missed out on. God was I wrong. The premise behind this “story” is that the main villains feel that they’ll never defeat their regular foes because the heroes know them and their powers too well. So they come up with the idea of swapping foes, with the logic that the heroes will be unused to dealing with the new villains and vengeance will ensure (surely a better plan and frankly storyline would be to form one giant army and descend on the heroes one at a time).

Creatively there is a logic here in that it creates the opportunity for fresh matchups that we’ve not seen before, (such as Thor vs Juggernaught). Unfortunately they do nothing to mak any of these encounters remotely interesting. Every story is the same, villain shows up, attacks hero, they fight a bit for little reason and hero after winning or driving off the villain is left to scratch their head and stare off into the sunset thinking “wonder who’s behind all these attacks”.

The answer is Loki and eventually the heroes band together and go beat the shit out of him. There you go I just spoiled it for you, so no need to read this piece of shit crossover. I’ve just done you a huge favour.

Seriously, this is a bad storyline and it does not lend itself to being collected together and read as one. What it does confirm is that I was right to give up on Marvel around this time. The comics were so bad, the artwork laughably so. The Iron Man story where he battles The Wrecker is some of the worst art I’ve ever seen, it’s embarrassing that this made it’s way into print.

Gimmicks were obviously around at this time as for some reason Spiderman was running around with all these new cosmic powers. Something that naturally didn’t last. And then there is Quasar! There are three issues worth of story devoted to the most generic looking Superhero ever. Dull in character, powers and story he’s a total entertainment vacuum, how he was ever deemed worthy for his own series is beyond me. If you think I’m joking or being harsh then take a look at the Wikipedia page for this storyline. No one can even be bothered to a detailed piece on this. Hardly surprising as I found the stories so bland I ended up skipping large chunks of it.

Incredibly aside from this colossal telephone directory like collection there is a further collection of lesser tie ins, with a page count of a further 750. That’s 1500 pages of pure garbage and I challenge anyone to be able to sit down and read all of it.

Ultimates 3

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I loved Ultimates and Ultimates 2 and consider them to be amongst Marvel’s masterpieces. An incredible retelling of the Avengers with a realism and cinematic scope that makes it a breathtaking triumph. Expertly written by Mark Millar, wonderfully illustrated by Bryan Hitch, these two volumes are everything a comic in the 21st century should be.

Then Jeph Loeb and Joe Maduerira came along and thought “screw all that” and made it into a generic superhero comic. The cartoon, manga style is just so jarringly out of place, and there’s a massive overuse of splash pages with impossible superhero poses and laughable displays of human anatomy.

Combine this with a story and dialogue which is about as cliché as they come and you have a comic that resembles nothing to the previous chapters in the Ultimates. Every bit of character development seems to have been ditched in favour of a childish superhero fare that shouldn’t even be a part of the regular Marvel Universe let alone the more sophisticated Ultimate Universe.

Far as I’m concerned Ultimates 3 is just like the Star Wars prequels, they never happened.

 

Captain America: Born Again

Captain_Reborn2I admit this entry is a bit of an odd one, because I’m not saying this is a bad comic. I loved Brubaker’s whole run on Captain America. The Cold war like theme of the story played to Cap’s strengths (I’ve never felt the character worked when in the more Cosmic or magic based stories), and the artwork was glorious, if I could sum up my own taste in how a comic should be illustrated I’d just point to the artists used throughout Brubaker’s tenure.

Born Again is the conclusion to Brubaker’s saga that included the Winter Soldier and Death of Captain America stories. His writing remains strong here and the artwork is done by one of my all time favourite artists Bryan Hitch. So why the inclusion here, you may ask?

It’s to do with the way Steve Rogers is brought back to life. I remember talking to a friend just after the assassination of Captain America story and we were discussing how great it was handled, how moving the reaction of the population of the Marvel Universe was. At the end of our chat my friend laughed and said “So, what do you reckon? Clone Steve Rogers or alternative universe Steve Rogers?”

Because we knew that eventually Rogers would have to return (personally I was enjoying Barnes as Captain America and would have been happy with Marvel being bold and holding off the return for another ten years) and it was going to be interesting to see how they were going to get around Cap being shot and his body resting at the bottom of the Arctic.

Well, Marvel’s solution was creative but I still felt cheated.

You see it turns out Cap wasn’t shot with any ordinary bullet, he was shot by a gun that instead displaced him in time. All along, the overall plan being that the Red Skull was to take over Roger’s body in the ultimate victory over his hated adversary. It’s one of those bullshit old school Dr Evil moments that makes you want to slap your head and yell “For God’s sake just kill him! You had him dead to rights, shoot him with a normal gun and be done with it!” It really makes your evil masterminds look like idiots when they do something like this, especially as the comic had succeeded in imbuing a realistic sense of motivations in it’s characters.

To make matters worse I don’t think Marvel has done anything decent with Rogers since his return. Even the immediate aftermath was underwhelming as regards the reaction of the superhero population, Cap being brought back should have been a massive emotional deal and should have made a massive impact on his first major storyline back.

Which brings us to….

Siege

Siege_Vol_1_1I’ve been wanting to rant about Siege for some time, because it was such a waste of an opportunity to conclude several years worth of storylines in a spectacular fashion. I try not to play fantasy storyline writer, because I’ve never written a comic so what really do I know about the craft? But I am the sort of reader who is very easy to please, so if I’m seeing storyline opportunities which have been missed and missteps in storytelling then I think something has failed along the way.

My problems with Siege is that like so many storylines these days we are thrown into it with very little build. If you’re not a regular reader of Thor there is a good chance you’re not even aware that Asgard has been on Earth. Certainly there hadn’t been any simmering tensions that you could sense escalating into the biggest battle in Marvel history. Done right, this story should have had a year of build, a few incidents and confrontations here and there that cause mistrust between America and the Asgardians, setting the stage for an impending conflict that Norman Osborne would be happy to manipulate.

Instead the story relies on the predictable story of Osborne causing a tragedy in order to justify taking action Asgard. This is such an overused plot device that’s featured in everything from Star Wars to 9/11 conspiracy theories and it’s become boring.

Then we get the attack on Asgard (a mere ten pages into the first issue of the main title) and the resulting battle is a major disappointment. The art fails to express the epic scale needed for this being the highly touted biggest battle of all time. It’s missing the long range shots of the vast armies at war, check out the battle for America in Ultimates 2 to see what I’m talking about.

There’s also a severe lack of story to the conflict. It’s just endless brawling and shooting with no real purpose, no sense of objectives or keys to victory. There’s no flow to the battle, no sense of back and forth. You could really mix the panels containing the fight scenes into any order and it wouldn’t matter.

You can have a massive battle and still give it a story, take the battle of Agincourt or the stand of the 300 at Thermopylae, read any field battle in Shakespeare. Hell, take the battle scenes in Secret Wars, where at least you had some psychology to the action, even if it was as simple as having combatants getting knocked out and thus being taken out of the battle until there was only one triumphant side left standing.

When Cap and his forces arrive on the scene it should be a turning point, changing the tide of the battle. Yet when he does make his entrance there’s no real sense of who actually has the upper hand at that point, if the cavalry is going to come to save the day you need to show that the good guys are on the verge of defeat. Otherwise it’s just more guys joining the battle, which is kind of what we get.

What’s annoying is that this could have been so great, but even the stuff they had been building well they don’t take advantage of. Take the feud they had between the Avengers and Osborne’s dark avengers. The doppelgänger nature of the rivalry led to a natural, personal feud and Siege would have been the perfect place to have the ultimate showdown between the two sides. However it’s lost in the big mess of the larger battle. Surely a story could have been worked in where the Dark Avengers separate themselves from the main conflagration for some dark reason and the Avengers go after them and bring them down? Hawkeye taking down Bullseye, Ms Marvel taking down Moonstone, it writes itself really. But instead the big showdown is with The Void and I swear to God I thought I was reading Onslaught all over again.

There are some good moments in Siege. I especially liked the Avengers: Initiative side of the story where ironically it’s through the villains Taskmaster, Constrictor and Diamondback that we get the human story of fear and trepidation of combatants going off to war. Initiative also expands on the investigation into Osborne’s role in the stadium massacre which is a welcome side story from the events at Asgard (although Songbird who had pledged to bring down Osborne should have been included here, again another build up that was ignored).

Overall when I finished reading it I felt a massive dissatisfaction and could only think of ways it could have been so much better. And that is not how a major storyline should leave a reader.

Now after reading my sinister six of comics that darkened my favourite reading pastimes I’m sure you’ll notice a couple of glaring omissions. Where is the Clone saga? Where is Brand New Day?

Well the truth is, this isn’t meant to be an extensive lists on the worst comics of all time. Like all my articles, this is just my personal experiences of being a comic fan. So Clone saga isn’t covered here because I’ve never read it, never will and not going to pretend that I have. Likewise I haven’t read Brand New Day but I will say that erasing a good chunk of Spiderman’s history severely pissed me off and actually put me off reading Spiderman any further. Let’s face it, if you’re going to erase events from Marvel’s continuity there’s a lot of stuff that should take precedence.

So anyway, after this miserable experience I can console myself with the fact that I have less than a week to go before I get to see Age Of Ultron. A whole week before North America, sorry to my friends over the pond, I’ll try not to spoil the end of credits scene for you all.

Til next time, I’m Dazza

Looking Back at Dardevil: Born Again

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Sometimes I think there is a conspiracy where I work. I don’t work that many Sundays, but you can bet the ones I do will be the day after a big UFC event (which in the UK will air in the very early hours Sunday morning) meaning I either have to turn up for work half sleep or spend the day hoping I don’t hear an MMA fan spoiling how Ronda Rousey won in 3 seconds. Likewise the big sporting events like the FA Cup or Grand National always seem to fall on one of my Saturday shifts, meaning a fraught journey home trying to avoid the result (imagine trying to get through a Monday after the Superbowl and not hear the score and you’ll realize the predicament I’m often in).

And wouldn’t you bloody know it, I happen to be working all through the weekend when all ten episodes of Marvel’s latest television event Daredevil descend on Netflix. Which means by the time this article appears on Comic Conversations I’ll be way behind the curve and most of you will have likely binge watched the whole thing already and will be losing your shit over the moment at the end where Nick Fury walks out of the shadows to talk about “The Defender’s Initiative.”

Well I’m nothing if not topical and so in a stunning coincidence this week I’m looking back at one of the most ground breaking storyline that Marvel has ever produced. Frank Miller’s Daredevil: Born again.

This storyline blew my mind as a teenager. Despite been a comic reader since a small child I’d only had regular access to Marvel comics for about a year and I was still trying to piece together the backstory to the Marvel universe. The importance of individual writer’s and how they could shape the direction of a title was something I was only just beginning to realize. Yet inexperienced as I was, I could still recognize that what I was reading in Daredevil was something different and special.

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As much as I loved comics I was more than aware of the stigma attached, that superheroes were for little kids, something I should have abandoned years ago along with action figures and cartoons. I knew nothing of the new wave of mature comics which were starting to be make sounds on popular culture. The media stories announcing proclaiming “comics not just for kids” were still a few years from being written as Dark Knight returns (also by Miller and released around the same time as Born Again) and Watchmen had yet to challenge those perceptions.

I’d only read a couple of Daredevil’s at this point, but I already recognized this was a grittier, moodier comic than the others I’d been reading, even more so than the X-men. Nothing highlighted this more than the recent story where Matt Murdock discovered his girlfriend Heather Glenn dead after hanging herself (in one of the most shocking single panels of all time). With his conflicting double life as being a servant of the law and a justice seeking vigilant, the troubles in his personal life seemed a notch above the usual superhero angst I was used to.

Even so, when Miller came on board he raised the ante on what I could expect within a comic. Sex was something that was only really hinted in my experience of reading comics, and drug use would only be approached with clumsy “just say no” propaganda. So try to imagine the shock of reading a comic where a previously bland, stereotypical superhero girlfriend returns as not only a porn actress but also a down and out heroin junky, reduced to selling her body to get her next fix.

It’s her betrayal that begins the story. Hitting rock bottom she sells out Daredevil, trading his secret identity for “an armful.”

Soon the information in the hands of Kingpin, who systematically destroys Murdock’s life one piece at a time. Kingpin’s scheming gets Murdoch disbarred, destroys his business, his home and isolates him from his friends, hounding him until he’s an exhausted, paranoid mess. There’s a chilling scene where Murdoch uses a payphone to try and reconcile with his estranged best friend Foggy Nelson. We hear Murdoch’s side of what appears to be a two way conversation, only when he leaves the phone off the hook do we hear the voice of the speaking clock and realize he has lost his mind.

When he snaps and confronts the Kingpin in his street clothes he is soundly beaten and humiliated in a fight narrated only by the sounds of blows being landed, a change in atmosphere from the usual superhero fight scenes. It’s chilling and uncomfortable to watch Murdock’s descent. Reduced to wandering the streets homeless he’s stabbed by petty crook Turk. Wounded, he drifts into a convent where he fights for his life.

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It’s not just Murdoch’s story. Karen attempts to reach out to Murdoch, trading sex with a fan for passage from Mexico to America only to find herself kept prisoner by him leading to a harrowing ordeal of abuse. Meanwhile reporter Ben Ulrich is investigating Murdoch’s fall, suspecting the involvement of the Kingpin. He follows the trail of corruption, but each breakthrough seems to lead to one murdered witness after another. He finds himself and his wife under attack because of it, spied on and intimidated by the Kingpin’s goons that seem to lurk everywhere. Even the normally stoic reporter is driven to the edge of backing away from the story.

It’s a grim, harrowing tale and Miller uses many story creative techniques to convey Murdoch’s fall and brushes with madness. Panels become narrow and tight, already uncomfortably claustrophobic they are crowded further with text of Murdoch’s inner monologue weighed down with paranoia. Each issue opens with Murdoch asleep, the setting mirroring his own descent, starting with the comfort of his original apartment, switching to the slum he is forced to live in, then homeless in an alley tucked in a fetal position and rock bottom fighting for his life in a hospital bed in a convent until finally when he begins his fight back the first scene is of him standing over a broken punching bag. Here we see an effective use of scenes switching between Kingpin and Daredevil, as Murdoch pounds the bag and the crimeboss chairs a meeting.

This is echoed many times throughout the story. The brief fight in the Kingpin’s gym is the only time the two meet in person, but whenever something significant is happening to Murdoch the scene switches to Kingpin either musing alone on the progress of his plan or working out intensely in his gym, as if it’s him delivering the physical blows to his opponent.

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Miller pushes the boundaries of the comic medium many times with a cinematic style that shapes the grim mood of the story. My favourite of these moments involves Ulrich talking on the phone to one of his witnesses already wounded and confined to a hospital bed. As the witness opens up, one of the Kingpin’s employees, a terrifying, heavyset nurse enters and slowly approaches. Urich is allowed to listen in on the attack as each panel switches from the slow strangulation of the witness to the reporter’s horrified reaction. As the turmoil of the Daily Bugle offices goes on around him we close in on Urich, his eyes bulging in shock, his face changing colour in fear.

With the dark and violent tone of the story the final showdown requires a powerful enemy and we more than get that when Kingpin unleashes his most dangerous asset on Hell’s Kitchen to draw out and kill Murdoch once and for all. In Nuke we have a psychotic embodiment of America’s dark side, his face tattooed with the stars and stripes, his patriotism wildly extremist (he almost breaks a stewardess’s wrist until he’s assured the beer she’s served is American), he’s addicted to red, white and blue pills that serve to control or unleash his anger.

Nuke’s appearance risks taking the story down the cliché of the “end of level boss” type of conclusion, but he’s introduced in such a stunning manner with a one man massacre on a military base and built up as such a dangerous threat in a single issue that the impending showdown with Daredevil is a blisteringly heated one. There’s a memorable scene where the Kingpin makes an emotional speech, clutching the American flag to manipulate and rile Nuke into a patriotic frenzy.

When Nuke attacks Hell’s Kitchen it’s a massacre of relentless firepower, echoing the helicopter attack scenes associated with the Vietnam war that shaped Nuke’s life. As Murdock’s rushes back to save Karen in his apartment it’s through his senses that the slaughter is conveyed to us, as he hears every cry and death of the victims caught in carnage. When he reaches her she’s injured and clutching his Daredevil uniform. In the unfolding scene you want to cheer when a billyclub hits Nuke in the head, and the final page of this penultimate issue is of Murdoch once again clad in the Daredevil outfit, stood amongst the flames. I remember literally getting goosebumps at this moment.

When Marvel comics arrived at my local newsagents (a whole month’s worth would arrive at once) normally it would be the Avengers or X-Men titles that I would buy first (skimming my lunch money would allow me to buy a comic a day) but the next month it was the Daredevil featuring he finale to Born Again that I bought first. And it did not disappoint.

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Born Again is heavy on the use of religious metaphors and iconography, both obvious and obscure. Now it would be really easy for me to research the whole concept of being Born Again and go through all the biblical allegories the story is built upon. Truthfully though this is not the area I’m interested in. I’m of the belief that no matter the intentions of an artist when creating a piece of art, once it’s released for the public at large to see, all control on how it is interpreted is forfeited (Take Oliver Stone and the speech in Wall Street about “greed is good” which was meant to be an indictment on capitalism but was instead embraced as inspirational by the yuppie generation). Instead it’s what the individual chooses to take from that art that really matters.

When I read Born Again, I find a very human story. One of struggle and survival, of rising from the very lowest level a person can fall to and rebuilding yourself and carrying on anew. The principle players in this drama all do that. Ben Urich has to fight through his fears when the threats and harassment brings him to breaking point. Karen has to face her addictions as she takes the first steps to overcoming them and her redemption. Murdoch has to start a new life. When the story ends he is not back where he started, there is no comfortable reset button. His home and career are still gone, his friends remain estranged. His life has changed drastically through the story. Yet the final moment in the story is a full page shot of Matt and Karen walking through Hell’s Kitchen, and in it Matt is smiling! It’s not like Daredevil at all, which is what makes it a heart warming, uplifting moment.

This was a daring, complex, involved story for Marvel to publish. Unlike where DC positioned Dark Knight Returns out of current continuity and can be read as an alternative reality, Born Again is part of the regular series of one of it’s key characters. Dark Knight returns obviously got the attention and the accolades as Batman is the more iconic figure and of course comes with the crowd pleasing match of him against Superman. Yet of the two I personally prefer Born Again, and I’d go so far as to call it one of my favourite stories ever. It opened me up to the idea that comics could be so much more than simply sequential drawings telling a story. Comics could be art, provocative and thoughtful and were a unique genre that could be as constantly evolving in terms of telling a story through both plot and artwork.

Above all, Born Again was my favourite kind of story, one where it centers on the heart and spirit of human beings. And ultimately I think that is a way bigger story than one of entire universes crashing against each other.

This should be on everyone’s to read list.

Til next time,
I’m Dazza, still loving comics, cartoons and action figures.

Comic Conversations Episode 57

Image and video hosting by TinyPicfettman, luro, and marvell2k talk all things comics for the week of April 8th, 2015. Including but not limited to: Comic Book News of Daredevil dropping on Netflix and we tease a Mystery Announcement.

Our Lighting Round Review of Miles Morales and Deadpool.

We Review: Astro City, Convergence, The Question, Jupiter’s Circle, Descender, Nameless, Rat Queens, Saga, Walking Dead, Hawkeye, Angela, Ant-Man, Avengers World, Darth Vader, Guardians 3000, Howard the Duck, Hulk, Spider-Man 2099, and Rai.

Picks for Comic of the Week and We Preview Next Weeks Lighting Round Books: Star-Lord, Nova, and Uncanny X-Men.

As well as our Regular Reviews of: The Fox, Paralax, Justice League International, Secret Identities, Loki, Magneto, Ms.Marvel, Superior Iron Man, Thor, and Bloodshot.

All this and as always, so much more on a brand new edition of Comic Conversations~! IT’S AWESOME.

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Comic Conversations Episode 56

Image and video hosting by TinyPicfettman and luro return to talk all things comics for the week of April 1st, 2015. Including but not limited to:

Comic Book News of Marvel getting worked by the April Fool’s Joke of Runaways getting picked up as a Netflix Series and Daredevil’s actual debut on Netflix later on this week.

Light Round Reviews by fettman of Uncanny Avengers and the original graphic novel, Rage of Ultron.

Our Regular Weekly Reviews of: Avengers: Ultron Forever 1, War Stories 7, Convergence 0, Black Cross 2, Spider-Man 17, Avengers 43, The Last Padawan 1, Punisher 17, Spider-Gwen 3, and Uncanny Inhumans 0.

Picks for Book of the Week

As well as previewing next week’s books: A Lighting Round Review of Imperium. Astro City, Convergence, The Question, Jupiter’s Circle, Descender, Nameless, Rat Queens, Saga, Walking Dead, Hawkeye, Angela, Ant-Man, Avengers World, Darth Vader, Guardians 3000, Howard the Duck, Hulk, Miles Morales, Spider-Man 2099, Rai, and Deadpool.

And as always, all this and so much more on a brand new edition of Comic Conversations, IT’S AWESOME.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Happy Easter

It’s Easter, the weekend where we all celebrate our Lord and Saviour doing a Nick Fury by gorging on chocolate eggs brought to us by a giant bunny rabbit that visited us unseen in the night. So before I go all Galactus on my pantry of sugar rich goodies that I bought yesterday evening when they cut the prices to clear, I’d like to present my Easter gift to you all:
Image and video hosting by TinyPicOpen this eggbox of an article and you will be treated to half a dozen bitesize reviews of some of my favourite cult comics, specially selected for their varied flavours. Like all good treats they may not have lasted long but they tasted great at the time.

Ok enough with the clumsy Easter chocolate theme. What follows are some comics that I personally enjoyed from my many years as an avid reader that while they’ll struggle to get on many best of all time lists, I personally have treasured memories of reading. You may never heard of them, but one of the joys of a fandom like ours is discovering unsung or forgotten works and sharing them with a larger audience.

 

Top Ten by Alan Moore

top 10It’s ironic that as much as Alan Moore hates the superhero genre, he’s written some of the most interesting takes on the concept. And while he may think he’s satirising and attacking the whole superhero world, he’s not doing so in such a savage fashion (like Garth Ennis does in the Boys) that superhero fans aren’t going to love his stuff. He may not like it, but I think he’s many time breathed new life into the genre.

Top Ten is one of his lesser known works but I find it one of his most entertaining. We follow the cops of precinct 10 in their day to day lives, policing a city where every citizen has super powers. Its breathtakingly vast in creative storylines and rich with characters possessing diverse and imaginative powers and the many novel crimes that result in a city of rampant super powers.

It’s the artwork that truly makes Top Ten memorable. An exhausting amount of detail has gone into this book. Some characters can make an appearance for only a single panel but are designed with such care that you can believe they are living, breathing citizens. There is so much going on in every panel, some of the most fun to be had is scanning the background and spotting the many gags, whether it be a joke graffiti or poster or one of the many sneakily added cameos from Marvel and DC illumni. Pay attention and you’ll be rewarded by glimpses of Jack o lantern or Northstar and Auroa flying in the distance. My favourite of these easter eggs was a mirror universe version of Kirk and Spock walking through an airport. Anyone who enjoys superheroes should seek this out, not just Alan Moore completists.

The New Statesmen

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It was in the late 80’s that I could feel an exciting shift in the world of comics. I was becoming aware of a vibrant world beyond the Marvel Universe and the idea of adult comics was starting to take hold. The UK in particular was having it’s own revolution, the comic fan’s own version of the punk rock movement.

Spearheading this was the fortnightly published “Crisis”, a mix of comic strips (traditionally British comics would follow an anthology format) with political, satirical and socially challenging leanings.

One of the main strips was The New Statesmen, a story that blew my mind as it was the first time I’d encountered “superheroes” treated in an adult fashion. The statesmen are genetically engineered superhumans each assigned to a different state of America (which incidentally now includes England as the 51st state).

Some of the Statesmen become celebrities, some become agents of America’s increasingly militaristic foreign policy. One in particular uses his status to get involved in politics promoting a right wing Christian agenda. It can be a hard story to follow at times (there’s lots of references to back stories and history that never gets explained), but it’s worth persevering with and re-reading a few times.

In many ways New Statesmen was ahead of it’s time. The themes of American interventionism, genetic modification and celebrity consumerism seem even more relevant today than they were on publication back in the late 80’s. It was also the first time that I saw gay characters in a comic (beating Marvel by five years), this at a time when homophobia was rampant in society during the disturbing days of section 28 (look it up kids).

Dragon’s Claws  

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While the shelves of British newsagents once bulged with a wonderful library of home grown comics, the UK branch of Marvel was mainly concerned with reprints of American stories in a British format. However in the late 80’s (late 80’s again look, 80’s were awesome) Jim Shooter gave the go ahead for Marvel UK to release a new brand of it’s own original titles in the monthly American format, with a leaning towards the science fiction popular in British comics (Superheroes while popular on import were never a feature of home grown British strips).

Dragon’s Claws (originally meant to be Dragon’s teeth), was the first release of this experiment, set in a dystopian future, rife with crime and social unrest. The world’s governments attempt to distract the population with “The Game” a violent gladiatorial team sport, contested seemingly on the streets by an outlandish array of outsiders and lunatics. The sport spirals out of control and after a match where over a hundred civilians are killed the Game is banned. However this only leads to further trouble when the unemployed teams continue their violence through crime and gang warfare. The sports retired greatest team Dragon’s Claws are recruited to police the outlaw teams.

It’s not the most original premise, 2000AD had done a number of similar strips such as Harlem Heroes and which in turn was inspired by the film Rollerball. However Dragon’s Claws, aided by Geoff Senior’s excellent artwork was highly enjoyable, action packed with every issue introducing more outlandish figures (the Claws regular enemies the Evil Dead are an absolute delight) and was succesfully building a colourfully dangerous and exciting world.

Sadly the concept did not succeed, dedicated comic book stores were still a rarity at the time (the smaller format of the comics was blamed for them being lost behind their larger competitors on the newsagents shelves) and Dragon’s Claws finished after only 10 issues. It’s a shame as it was a comic with lots of potential and there seemed to be much to learn about the background of the Claws. If ever a comic was worthy of a mini revival it’s this one.

Umbrella Academy  

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Even though I’m not the typical demographic, I’m a big fan of My Chemical Romance. I don’t care if their fanbase is made up of emo teenage girls, I love their music, had a great time at one of their gigs and “na na na na na na na” is one of my favourite videos of all time. Watching that video it’s obvious that comics are a big influence on the band (Grant Morrison has a starring role as a villain) so it’s no surprise that lead singer Gerard Way has dabbled in comic writing.

And Umbrella Academy is pretty damn great.

Most celebrities who try writing comics will do so by guesting on already established books, but Gerard Way took the bold step of creating his own superhero team in a world of talking gorilla’s, rampaging Lincoln Monuments, talking goldfish, God as a cowboy and a time travel mission to shoot President Kennedy. Really I can’t do justice to how totally wild and amazing this comic is. Maybe if you took the craziest elements of the X-men and feed them a bunch of cocaine you’d get something like this.
It’s one of the most imaginative, out of this world comics I’ve ever read, while still remaining totally accessible to it’s readers.

Full of humour, unforgettable, stylish characters and just an amazing display of imagination, Gerard Way has created a stunning work and proved that he is one talented son of a bitch.

Blood Fang                         

bloodfangIn the early 80’s, my comic reading was changed massively when a weekly anthology strip Eagle was launched. Up til then my comic intakes consisted mainly of titles such as The Beano which was one page comedy strips (known I believe as funnies in America), but Eagle changed all that. Headlined by a revamped Dan Dare strip, Eagle was built on action strips, featuring a mix of sci fi, detective, horror and even a few sport stories (I can remember nearly every fight in the boxing career of Liverpool’s Danny Pyke).

One of my favourites was Bloodfang, an unusual tale of a Tyrannosaurus Rex struggling to survive in the harsh prehistoric world. Authentically written and drawn from a nature viewpoint, Bloodfang’s rise from fragile pup to king of the dinosaurs is a compelling tale. We’re witness to his birth as Bloodfang hatches roaring from his egg in the strips opening panels. Immediately he makes his mark on the savagery of the dinosaur world, killing his new born brother and sister as they hatch in a survival of the fittest rites of passage.

Soon, Bloodfang runs afoul of his own father and pack leader Blackheart, in a confrontation that leaves him wounded and orphaned when his mother dies protecting her young pup. Outcast from his herd, he learns to survive on his own cunning and hunting skills until he’s grown powerful enough to build his own pack and challenge Blackheart’s leadership.

Obviously there is no dialogue, so it’s left to the narration panels to tell the story and it does so with the style of a natural history documentary. Wonderfully written it gives a real personality to Bloodfang as well as explaining the workings of the dinosaur kingdom.

The first series of Bloodfang ran for 12 three page episodes (the lineup in British comics would change constantly) and it’s amazing how much story was told in such a short page count, indeed this was a constant achievement by the British creators at the time.

Bloodfang made a surprise appearance only two issues later in a short story called “The Time Machine” where mankind in the year 2150 starved of natural resources begin travelling back to harvest the prehistoric environment by hunting Dinosaurs. This kicked off Bloodfang’s second series where he comes into conflict with the human settlers and is eventually captured and taken to the future used as a zoo exhibit. Naturally Bloodfang escapes and goes Godzilla on the 22nd century.

Both series are fun, but it’s the first one I really have fond memories of and shows the freedom and diversity that the British anthology offered to creators. This series was collected in a best of Eagle monthly which crops up on ebay from time to time (I’ve still got mine that I bought on publication), which also features a chilling two page story where animals in a research centre rebel and take revenge on their human captors. (British writers were always sneaking in edgy social commentary).

 ABC Warriors

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I really wanted to choose a comic strip from the longest running UK comic 2000AD. Really I’m spoilt for choice. For nearly 40 years 2000AD has been producing a relentless stream of anarchistic, balls out, scare your parents Sci Fi. With a punk rock attitude, 2000AD has thrilled readers with a cast of down and dirty anti heroes that has had more than a few moral guardians in the UK screaming for the comic to be banned. And when I look back at some of this stuff I thank God that my parents were both cool enough not to censor my reading too much as a kid and also paid little attention to what was in the comics I was buying (cos comics are for kids ya know).

The strip that I’ve chosen to represent 2000AD is the ABC warriors. The warriors are a misfit band of robots, who when they aren’t bickering amongst themselves are going from one warzone to another bringing their own band of heavy metal mayhem. Imagine the transformers in a Sam Peckinpah movie and you get the general tone.

ABC warriors is one of 2000AD’s most regular strips, main characters being strait-laced leader Hammerstein (who actually appeared in the much derided Stallone Judge Dread movie) the ultra cool assassin Joe Pineapples, always clad in signature sunglasses and long leather coat ( it’s hinted at he dabbles in a bit of cross dressing), the sadistic and treacherous Blackblood (evil as he is you can’t help yourself liking him) and Rojaws, a sarcastic sewage droid who’s actually fuelled by the waste he finds down there (yeah, gross).

My favourite era of the group’s adventures was when they appeared in the strip of Nemesis the Warlock (another awesome strip with Nemesis another of 2000AD’s anti establishment warriors), leading back into their own regular series with the excellent steampunk tinted Black Hole saga. With their backstabbing in fighting, dark humour and some beautifully alien artwork this was everything I loved about the dysfunctional robot team.

I remember 2000AD collecting some of their best stories in an American format to sell overseas, but outside of Judge Dread I’m sure most of the comics characters are pretty unknown even to avid comic collectors. I really do recommend grabbing some of the collected editions of 2000AD’s best titles, they’re truly rebellious unlike anything I’ve seen outside of the UK.

 

So there we have it. I’d just like to point out that this was article was meant to be a cheat for me, as I’m busy with family stuff this weekend and didn’t think I had the time or energy to write a new article. So not wanting to break my streak of one article a week I thought I’d do a quick piece on a few of my favourite, lesser known series. It’ll be quick and easy I thought to myself and wouldn’t you know it I think this is the longest one I’ve written yet.

So til next time

Dazza