Monday, 31 October 2011

24 Hours With Doctor Destiny


Hey kids! Do you enjoy reading torturously evil narratives about people being trapped in slimy psychic sadomasichism? Then Sandman may be for you! One of the most acclaimed comics of all time, for ever and ever, Neil Gaiman's exploration of dreams, evil, delights and gothic hairstyles had more than a fair share of Halloween-appropriate nightmare stories. But the one we're most interested in talking about right now comes in issue #6. The issue: '24 Hours'. Spoilers ahead, if you haven't read it yet.

Absolutely vicious from start to finish, 24 Hours takes a relatively minor Batman villain and a cast of five or six strangers and weaves a hideous tapestry of misery, deceit and mind-controlling rubies - and goes much further than you could ever predict it would. The basic premise of the issue is that Doctor Destiny, a madman from Arkham Asylum with a mind-controlling ruby in his possession, wants to go take over the World. But instead he goes to a diner, watches some trash TV, and then forces the other people in the diner to engage in twisted fantasies for his own interest. Although it sounds like a faintly simple premise for a story, Gaiman's ability to descend the reader into Hell becomes more and more powerful, and more and more horrifying. More than any other issue I've ever read - and sure, I've picked up a Warren Ellis/Garth Ennis story from time-to-time - this one is so morally repugnant that it made me physically unhappy that I was still reading it. And yet, the story was so well-told that I had to keep going, to see if the people get out or not.

And I won't tell you if they do. You'll have to read it for yourself.


This is a fairly good hint, though.

Gaiman spends a little bit of time setting up the characters: the married couple, the unlucky-in-love lesbian, the widower, and so on. But he isn't really concerned with that. Once he's established that these are fairly mundane, boring people, he can get to work exploiting them and breaking them. Over the course of twenty-four hours Doctor Destiny meddles with their minds, forcing them to say and do things they wouldn't normally do - to admit their darkest secrets and break their codes of conduct. He turns the lights off and has one of them murder the other; he has them maim themselves whilst confessing their sins. A succession of horrors await the people in that diner, and knowing that they could be saved at any moment is what makes this more than a snuff comic.

Some writers would glorify the violence through providing context. Gaiman, however, has all the characters under his thrall and can make them do whatever he wants them to do. See the meta-narrative there? Whatever, meta-narrative is a lame concept. The cast here are all under the control of somebody else, so whenever something horrible happens, the others stare at it, blankly. And that, frankly, is the most terrifying thing about the whole story. Every act Doctor Destiny makes the characters perform is shown simply, without comment. And that forces the reader to think about what's happening right now. When two characters are forced to have sex with each other, Gaiman refuses to show us which two they are. It could be two of the men, it could be forcing the married couple to have affairs, it could be making the lesbian character have penetrative sex. We don't know, we never find out, and Gaiman's craft makes the scene increasingly eerie and unnerving with each re-read.

And it's kinda funny, too. Every little irony is made, as the characters descend into enforced madness. One of Doctor Destiny's last acts in the issue is to watch a fly buzz around his head. Carefully, slowly, he raises a hand up and grasps it, puts it in his pocket. Does he kill it? Or collect it? Just one of a series of questions Gaiman asks the readers, knowing their answers will invariably be worse than anything he could actually put in the comic.

If you can make it to issue #7 of Sandman, then you'll be set for reading one of the best comic runs of all time. But understandably, there are quite a lot of people who never get that far. It's a scary comic - the freak-outiest I've ever read. It feels so hollow, that the story bounces round in your head for a long time after you put it down and gone on with the rest of your life. Let's put it like this: I've never shuddered so often while writing a review, remembering all the things that happen in Sandman #6. And now I need a hug.


So... Happy Halloween!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Ten Things That Probably Happen in Arkham City

Here at Comics Vanguard, we don't review computer games. And even if we did, we never progressed beyond our beloved and battered N64, which can still play host to a thrilling lunchtime Mario Kart if you hit it before you turn it on. So Arkham City, the critically-acclaimed sequel to Arkham Asylum, the critically acclaimed prequel to Arkham City, has yet to hit our radar. Nevertheless, we've compiled a list of ten things we imagine probably happen in it at some point:



1. Harley Quinn arrives to a fight scene in a tiny car. Batman makes fun of her, until twenty burly clown henchmen also step out the vehicle.


2. A scene where Batman hits somebody over the head with a giant penny.

3. A Jim Gordon minigame in which you get to choose the member of the Gotham PD he has an affair with.

4. The Joker sits in his apartment and watches Brokeback Mountain.

5. After being exposed to nerve toxins, Batman experiences MORRISON-O-VISION

6. Oracle appears as a fully-playable side-character

7. Superman swoops down right at the end, heat lasers everybody, and leaves Batman feeling impotent.

8. Unlockable 'Batman & Robin: The Movie' costumes.

9. After being exposed to nerve toxins, Batman experiences TONY DANIEL-O-VISION

10. Poison Ivy forms a gang and calls them The Ivy League.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

REGENERATION X: Wolverine & The X-Men

Regenesis, the new branding and ‘relaunch’ of the X-Men, began today, with the arrival of “Wolverine & The X-Men’. Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo’s flagship title for the ‘gold’ side of the X-Men, this book is set to focus on Wolverine and Kitty Pryde setting up a school for young mutants, called The Jean Grey Academy. Located on the East Coast of America, the school sees a random assortment of teenage mutant (ninja) characters attempt to live a normal life, free from Cyclops’ ‘army’ set-up over in San Francisco.

And more importantly, it’s Aaron in ‘silly’ mode rather than stern mode. Silly Aaron has previously been seen assassinating Matt Fraction and creating a Phoenix Force gun, among other exploits, and his return here is more than welcome. The X-Men books have spent a lot of time being very serious, whilst retaining outlandish plots and characters – having them get back to simply living their lives is a very welcome change of pace. Kieron Gillen will be writing the more serious and angry X-Men over in Uncanny, but Aaron seems happy to focus on little blue Nightcrawlers running amok and stealing alcohol from Wolverine’s overstocked liquor cabinet. It’s a fun, entertaining issue, and so let’s analyse it to death because that’ll definitely improve your enjoyment of the comedy.

Wolverine is Headmaster of the school, and Kitty Pryde is Headmistress. Beast is actually running the school, while Iceman, Rachel Grey, Husk and Doop seem to be the teaching staff. Doop is also in charge of the reception, and choir practise. The issue is mainly concerned with establishing who is actually at the school, with subsequent issues hopefully focusing on the roles each of these characters will play as time goes on. Obviously, the majority of the kids are known New X-Men players like Hellion, Anole and Rockslide, but Aaron throws in as many bizarre choices as possible – aliens, Grant Morrison characters, and even some of his own creations – to create a feeling that mutantkind really is a very diverse society indeed. For the first time since the Morrison/Claremont years, the school is overflowing with characters and they all feel part of the same community.

Aaron’s mission to be silly spills everywhere, with Bachalo a willing conspirator. If you want a book to look and feel like it’s creating a whole new World, then you’re going to want an innovator like Bachalo drawing it. Bachalo can take a splash page of anything and make it fascinating, weird, and eerie. He can also handle things like a twelve-panel page with consummate ease. There is nothing you can’t throw at him which he can’t absolutely nail. So Aaron throws absolutely everything at him. Giant text, splash pages, odd panel structures, new characters, kooky architecture, and giant monsters. The issue feels stuffed with all kinds of weird ideas and strange characters.

Although sometimes Aaron gets a little on-point with his dialogue (such as Wolverine’s exchange with Professor Xavier, which seems more aimed at justifying the existence of the book than in doing anything else). But for the most part, he keeps things light-hearted. The actual Schism still feels forced and lightweight, but he glosses over it in order to give us a nailed-down portrayal of the new, grown-up version of Wolverine and the perpetually worried Kitty Pryde. Other characters pop in and out, but it’s clear that these two are going to be the focus of the series for the time being. Their banter feels incredibly refreshing, especially given their almost total lack of any panel-time together in what feels like years. These two finally feel like old friends, with their in-jokes and reinforcement of each other giving us a friendly reminder that X-Men books don’t have to be about people ordering each other about and shouting. The core of this book is their relationship, and that gives the silliness a place of warmth to develop from.

Wolverine & The X-Men is a superb introduction to the new World of the X-Men. New readers should be more-or-less able to follow what’s happening, while old fans will revel in the chemistry between the cast and Aaron/Bachalo’s immediate synergy. Kieron Gillen, following up with Uncanny X-Men #1 next month, has a lot to live up to.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Three Reasons Why Batman #2 Was The Best Comic of the Year


Every other comic-book site is busy struggling with Arkham City right now. It's a massive game, which will probably take them at least a week to complete. So, while the staff of Comics Alliance and Newsarama get to grips with punching sharks in the face and gagging Harley Quinn, let's sneak in a quick look at Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Batman, issue #2!

Which, you may have already noted through your expert 'eyes', we thought was great. Here are the reasons why:

1: Batman

Many writers make it clear that Batman hates being Bruce Wayne. The constant socialising, glad-handing, drinking and women are just the front to hide his activities as the Dark Knight. But then they forget to make it clear just how much he revels wearing the cape and stopping some crime. Not so Snyder. The first action sequence of issue #2 shows Batman chasing some villains in a helicopter, on a train-track, using his Bat-Bike. When a train appears and come hurtling towards Batman, he simply smiles, jumps the bike onto the train, races along the roof, and jumps through the front window of the helicopter.

It's like Snyder kept finding ways to one-up himself, and decided to see how many of them he could fit into one issue. Batman is fighting a helicopter! He pulls people out the window! He races a train! He uses the train to get to the helicopter! He smashes his bike through the helicopter! It's such a great scene, and the reason it works is because Batman is having such a great time. As readers, we know how far he will go to catch these criminals, and the joy is in watching the criminals realise they've underestimated him. It calls to mind the scene in Batman & Robin #1 by Grant Morrison, in which the duo chase down a frog-man and simultaneously punch him. After years of super-prepared villains who have a plan nailed down, it's nice to see Batman get to chase down and terrify some useless goons.


2: The Supporting Cast


From reading issue #1, you'd think that Batman's supporting cast would be all the various Robins, and Alfred. Issue #2 switches that round a bit, and shows why this book is the flagship of the Batman line. Out go the two Robins who are inessential to the plot - Damian and Tim - and Nightwing is brought in as an equal partner to Batman. The first issue left with a cliffhanger which is quickly resolved, but the important thing is how Snyder establishes Dick Grayson as a vital source of support for Bruce Wayne. In only two pages, we get to see Batman's trust in his friend an long-time ally, and move the plot along. While Nightwing has his own title, his appearance here gives the Batman book a feel of grandiosity - if he wants to, Snyder would be able to claim any character from any of the other books and have them appear here.

We also get to see Lincoln March's role expanded, as well as a sequence which shows the reliability of Jim Gordon. Without a title of his own, Gordon settles into the background of this series (and Batwoman) rather easily, which is a relief. He'll probably come into his own as the series continues, but for the moment he doesn't overshadow Batman. His main purpose is to deliver some exposition, keep the ominous, dark tone of the book running, and set things up for Nightwing's arrival - which breaks the ominous, dark tone. These little moments of levity are probably going to prove massively important as the months roll on and Gotham City crushes Batman's faith and trust in himself. The characters are serving the plot in little ways, but staying true to their nature.


3: Gotham

The Christopher Nolan films show Gotham as a dank, alleyway-drip of a place. The previous films showed it as an overwrought tribute to neon Gothic architecture. Capullo and Snyder mix the two, which helps build the city into a convincing, realistic sort of place while being completely ludicrous. Again, that's a smart way of tying Gotham to Batman himself, who is both realistic and ludicrous at the same time. The fight scenes here have a sense of place, as Snyder roots them to certain locations. Wayne Tower is a perfect symbol for the city as a whole - it has a gothic style, while being modern and hi-tech in design. It represents the way Batman towers above the city, his reputation staked on his knowledge of all there is. So, of course, Snyder kicks him out the window.

Capullo's eye for composition in the free-falling sequence is staggering. He hides Bruce's plan until the last minute, meaning that the readers are as unaware as the assassin sent to kill him. His knowledge that there is a thirteen gargoyle on the tower is what saves him, and that gives him some more self-belief as a hero. But while we've seen that his faith in Nightwing, or Gordon, is well-placed; Synder makes sure to point out that his faith in the city is wrong. He's being set up, and the tower which looms over the rest of the city is actually a tribute to Batman's ego. He believes he sees over everything, when really there is something much deeper going on. Giving us a look at the skyline of Gotham shows us the actual size of the city - which is nice, after years of a never-ending skyscraper-land where new buildings pop up whenever the writer wants a new location for his stories - but also gives us a beautiful framework for the rest of the story.

We first see Wayne Tower during daybreak, as the sun rises on the city. By the time we're done, night settle over the tower and the court of owls begin their work.

An exceptional issue.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

IS Black Panther Joining the Avengers??

It's a question we've asked several times now. As part of Steve Rogers' recruitment drive for The Avengers, we know that Falcon and Storm will both be joining the team - and that's definitive. But what we still don't completely know is if Black Panther will be joining them.

Now, it would make sense for him to join the team... but it would also make sense for him to ignore the team. T'Challa is currently working through a lot of personal stuff, which handily manifests itself in the form of punchable faces belonging to people like Lady Bullseye and Kingpin. His central priority is defeating The Hand.


Marvel have released some artwork from the first issue of this new arc, drawn by Daniel Acuna, which keeps things unpredictable. Is T'Challa showing Steve that he'd be a vital asset on the team? Or is he saying that it's vital he stays off the team, and focused on protecting New York? Perhaps he's recommending that Cap ask Storm to join the team instead.

The guessing-game continues.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Alpha Flight Cancelled


Although the eight-issue Alpha Flight maxiseries HAD been promoted to an ongoing series, Marvel have apparently now decided to switch gears, and downgrade it again. This means that issue #8 will be the final one of Greg pak and Fred Van Lente's run.

Pak has confirmed this on twitter -- you can read it here.

New 'Journey Into Mystery' Arc Announced



AMAZING cover! Stephanie Hans is the greatest, and I am saying that because it is true and also because she once left a comment on one of our posts and it was THE MOST EXCITING THING

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Galactus Takes on Earth in Fantastic Four #600

With a big anniversary coming up for the members of the World's Greatest Comic-Book (their words, not mine: I'm partial to Shanower and Young's The Wizard of Oz), many had speculated that the numbering of FF would shift over to #600, as part of the celebration. Instead, however, Marvel have decided to let FF stay on its own numbering system -- and instead launch Fantastic Four #600 as a second series, running alongside FF. While one book seems to have a focus on the family, the other one seems to be looking at the peripheral members of the Future Foundation - Alex Power, Dr Doom, She-Hulk and more. And they're going to be facing up to Galactus soon.




Ominous!

So starting in November, Jonathan Hickman will be writing two concurrent titles featuring the adventures of the teams. He'll be joined by Juan Bobilo on FF (will he be reunited with She-Hulk?? We've been promised that she'll turn up sooner or later!), with Steve Epting jumping across to pencil one of the stories in Fantastic Four #600's jam-issue. Also contributing to that one will be Steve Epting, Carmine DiFiandomenico, Farel Dalrymple, and Ming Doyle.

Monday, 17 October 2011

This January, Swamp Thing Fights a Pig



The battle we've all been waiting for!

MORE X-Men Legacy News

Our announcement of the new writer for X-Men Legacy proved to be some kind of a ratings SMASH for this little site. So much so, that we're now desperately scavenging for even the slightest of news to reveal, in hopes of maintaining this hot flow of fresh, steaming internet traffic. Which is why we're so excited to reveal, EXCLUSIVELY, that Christos Gage is excited about X-Men Legacy.

You read it here first! Another exclusive!!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

X-Men Cover Parade

Here are some upcoming Regenesis covers, as shown at NYCC. In order, they belong to Wolverine & The X-Men, Uncanny X-Force, X-23, and X-Factor.




The New X-Men Legacy Cast.... Revealed!!





The X-Men panel is just kicking off at NYCC, and the first news is the reveal of the new cast for X-Men Legacy. Magneto and Xavier are out, while Rachel Grey joins.

And we can finally tell you the news that Christos Gage has been announced as the new writer for the series, which will intermingle casts with Jason Aaron's Wolverine & The X-Men series. We can also EXCLUSIVELY reveal that David Baldeon will be the new artist for the series! COMICS VANGUARD EXCLUSIVE!!! Here's some preview sketches of Rogue, as drawn by Baldeon:




UPDATE: Christos Gage has taken to Twitter to reveal that Rafa Sandoval will be the second artist on the book, rotating with Baldeon.

Jean Grey Rumours Swirl


This is an image you may have seen circulated around your local comic-book store, or the internet. Teasing the Cup O' Joe Panel last night, it apparently was revealed to be connected to some kind of Phoenix story which will begin in the oversized 'Point One' one-shot issue coming soon. Interestingly though, the creative team behind this story are both massive and fairly random. Matt Fraction and Jason Aaron are two of the writers, and at least they have recent experience with writing about the Phoenix. But then the other three Marvel 'Architects' - Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman, and Brian Michael Bendis - are also linked to the story. Which seems bizarre, because surely the Phoenix story belongs to the X-Offices, and specifically to Kieron Gillen and James Asmus?

Oliver Coipel, Andy Kubert, and John Romita Jr. are the artists attached to the project. What, no room for Jamie McKelvie, who has been writing Hope Summers' Phoenix-based story on and off for the past four years or so? This is simultaneously an interesting approach to event stories and a fairly madcap collection of people to set on the book.

Unless.... something else is going on here. Architects build worlds, after all. What if Marvel have been broadcasting something openly for months now, and nobody has managed to pick up on it yet?

NYCC: Scattershot DC News

DC haven't been slouching during NYCC, although their news hasn't been as widely reported as Marvel's stuff. So let's run down a few of the the things DC have revealed over the past few days, shall we? Yes, let's shall.


Frankensten: Agent of Shade and O.M.A.C. will begin a crossover starting with issues #5, in January. The first official crossover storyline of the New 52, it appears that this one may focus extensively on the two giant protagonists punching each other repeatedly.






Issue #5 of Aquaman may not feature giant monsters punching each other, but will see the the bescaled blonde dropped into the middle of a desert, left to fend for himself.


But the big news so far is the reveal that SHAZAM will be returning to the DC Universe next year, as Geoff Johns and Gary Frank take on the character. Although this is going to be restricted to a back-up feature in Justice League for the first few months, reader response may upgrade it to an ongoing. Titled "The Curse of Shazam", this storyline will feature Billy Batson as Captain Marvel. No news yet on Tawky Tawny, but you can rest assured that we're sending out spies to the DC offices even as we speak. The fans demand talking tigers!


And in sadder news, DC have confirmed that Superman's super-dog Krypto didn't make it to Earth alive, in the new continuity.

RIP Krypto.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Sabretooth Returns in X-Men Evolution 2 by Loeb and Bianchi

NYCC breaking news! Joe Quesada has taken the stage for A Cup O' Joe, and he's got some left-field announcements for you all. On top of a Bendis/Bagley 'Avengers Assemble' series coming next year to tie in with the forthcoming movie, Marvel have just announced a sequel miniseries to the infamous Jeph Loeb/Simone Bianchi story 'Wolverine: Evolution'.


That's right, the one which ended with the Canadian beheading his furry nemesis. Sabretooth will be returning, despite his death by magical decapitation and subsequent banishment to Hell. How? Well, apparently Loeb knows, but he's not telling anyone just yet. Bianchi will also return for the project, so expect slight delays.

The story, which doesn't have an official title yet, looks to be the answer to the 'it's coming' slogan Marvel have been passing around for the past few weeks.

Is The Human Torch Returning?

Marvel have issued some teaser images before their 'Cup o' Joe' panel starts at NYCC. Among them is the following image. This is a forthcoming cover for Jonathan Hickman's FF series, which appears to show a familiar blonde figure charging down Galactus. Who is it? Is it Franklin? Alex Power? Or Johnny?

STORM Joins The Avengers!



Marvel have announced that Storm is set to join the Avengers early next year, as part of Steve Rogers' recruitment drive which may see characters like Monica Rambeau, Vision, Ghost Rider, Falcon and Hercules sign up. While the actual first Storm issue has yet to be confirmed-----




UPDATE: Her first appearance will be in January's issue #21.

The Runaways Vs The Avengers Academy

NYCC: Remender and Hardman on 'Secret Avengers'


Warren Ellis is currently in control of Secret Avengers, but come next year a new writer is going to jump on - Rick Remender - teamed up with former Hulk artist Gabriel Hardman. The team is going to shift slightly as Remender's long-term plans for the book replace Ellis' one-and-done sequence of stories. Hawkeye will be the new team leader, while Captain Britain is set to quit MI13 and move over to America.

Remender and Hardman's tenure begins with Secret Avengers #21.1, out in February.

NYCC: New Books! Part 2

Just in case you weren't shocked and awed by the news of TWO titles being announced at New York Comic-Con, let us first explain that, yes, there have actually been more than two titles announced so far. And so, let us continue our look into some of the high-profile new titles announced over the past 24 hours. Get ready to be shocked and awed all over again!



Paul Cornell and Ryan Kelly write SAUCER COUNTY.

Ryan Kelly was the artist responsible for New York Five, Bryan Wood's critically-acclaimed miniseries about fashion or something. And Paul Cornell is known for writing the best episode of Doctor Who ever, and I suppose he also writes comics too. Comics like Demon Knights (like 'the Carry On films' meet 'Game of Thrones') and Stormwatch (like 'a Warren Ellis comic' meets 'not being self-aggrandising'). But don't let those credits trick you - Saucer County stands out as a complete departure for both halves of the creative team.

The premise for this new title - Cornell's first for Vertigo - is that on the eve of her announcement that she's running for President, New Mexico's Governor Arcadia Alvarado is abducted by aliens. She learns that there is some kind of conspiracy afoot, and that Earth is about to be attacked. But when she returns to Earth, how can she possibly hope to persuade people that what she was is real, and she's not just crazy? Or, is she actually crazy?

Cornell promises to really jump into paranoia with this title, as everybody has an agenda and the real-world history of UFO conspiracy stories will be routinely dragged into the story to keep readers guessing. The series starts in February.




Jim McCann and Rodin Escuejo write MIND THE GAP.

On top of "Fatale"; also announced by Image last night was a new ongoing series from Jim McCann which sees him team up with Morning Glories/Generation Hope cover artist Rodin Escuejo and colourist supreme Sonia Oback. "Mind The Gap" is a whodunnit with a slight twist to the formula. Well, a massive twist. Lead character Ellis Petersson is put into a coma right at the start of the book, and has to piece out who did it to her and why. How can she do that if she's in a coma, you ask dryly. It appears that she will have a rather unsettling out-of-body experience, in which conversations that her friends and family have round her hospital influence her world and how she sees it. As she floats about, all ghost-like, she'll start to piece together their words and get a glimpse at what's happened to her.

McCann is going to focus on the thriller aspect of the story, with the whodunnit squarely in focus for series - which has already got a set end date. McCann seems to have carefully planned out every detail of the series, including the fact that the 40-page first issue will only be $2.99 for America readers. And if I could be bothered to work out the exchange rate, that probably works out favourably for foreign readers, too. Would that translate to something like £2.20, Brits? If only there was a way of knowing!

Mind The Gap #1 is out in April next year, so steel yourselves. It'll be a long wait.

NYCC: New Books! Part 1

New York Comic-Con has begun! And as always, we're going to be playing catch-up every morning, relaying the news to you on a time delay because SOMETIMES I JUST NEED TO GO TO SLEEP, Y'KNOW? This year's con has already given us a truckl- wait, no. A ICE-truckload of news and new books to get excited about, so let's go ahead and start revealing them already yeah?




Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips write FATALE.

A noir thriller from the creative team behind Criminal and Incognito? Not too unexpected. A noir thriller with monsters, tentacle beasts, curses, dual-personalities and supernatural threats? That's exactly what we would never have expected from Brubaker and Phillips. We'll try to have a word with Phillips next month at Thought Bubble about the new title announced last night, but here's what we know so far. Fatale will explore the traditional concept of the femme fatale through unconventional means, mixing gangster stories with supernatural elements. The central character appears to be both hunted by monsters and perhaps a monster herself? Each issue will have two covers, to emphasise the dual-nature of the heroine, whose name is as-yet-unknown.

Published by Image, surprisingly, Fatale is currently assumed to be a twelve-issue storyline, although Brubaker has hinted that he may well go for longer, if the story takes him that way.





Chris Yost and Ryan Stegman write THE SCARLET SPIDER.

At the Spider-Man panel, two things happened. Firstly, Steve Wacker announced that the Scarlet Spider character would be returning to comics, as an ongoing series will begin next year. The Scarlet Spider is the codename used by Ben Reilly, the loved and hated clone character of Peter Parker who was last seen melting into a puddle of goo. Nothing can stop the power of spiders! Not even goo-age. Although we don't know if this new Scarlet Spider will be Ben's return or not, Wacker promised that the tone of this book will see it easily slide between Amazing Spider-Man and Venom. Not quite as dark as Remender's Venom series, but certainly not as light-hearted as Dan Slott's work on the flagship title.

You may remember that Chris Yost spent the early part of this year writing short stories for Steve Wacker like "Fear Itself: Spider-Man" and "Spider-Island: Avengers", so clearly those stories must have impressed enough that Yost has been promoted into the Web-Heads creative group alongside Slott, Remender, and Wells. And you can't ever have enough Ryan Stegman. Nothing has been revealed about the content of the book - it has a Scarlet Spider in it, but that's all we know - but you can expect to see more revealed once Spider-Island wraps up.

The second piece of news from the Spider-Man panel was that Mark Waid will be writing a crossover between Daredevil and Spider-Man, starting next year. Drawn by Emma Rios (hurray!), the crossover will see The Black Cat return to New York, for reasons unknown. Gosh, there sure are a lot of mysteries floating around Marvel's New York, eh? At any rate, this means we get to look at covers that look as lush as this one:





The Rivera-Martin art battle continues...

Thursday, 13 October 2011

ANN NOCENTI takes over Green Arrow!

To be honest, we didn't have any interest whatsoever in Green Arrow. BUT NOW WE'VE HEARD THAT ANN NOCENTI IS RETURNING TO COMICS, TO TAKE OVER WRITING THE SERIES!


Don't just sit there! Get to CBR and read their interview with her, you idiot!

Piggin’ Out #2


Yes, we need a better title for this feature. Write your suggestions on the back of a postcard and then throw the postcard away, because Comics Vanguard don’t have an office address.

Pigs #2 came out yesterday, the second part of Ben McCool and Nate Cosby’s communist epic, published by Image Comics. The concept of the series, for those of you coming to it fresh, is that after the Cold War ended, all Russian troops were evacuated from Cuba and sent home - apart from one group, identified as ‘farmers’, who were never accounted for. Pigs is detailing the story of that group, as they stage a coup and attempt to send America back to the dark ages. We know that something bad is going to happen to the President, and we know that two families in Cuba and America are involved. Beyond that, Cosby and McCool have yet to explain anything.

You may remember that we loved the first issue, and were eager to get to know more about the middle-aged Russian lady who apparently chopped off parts of the US President. Well -- issue #2 delivers characterisation in spades, but - surprisingly - all of it belongs to a completely new character, introduced here, called Felix. While the introduction page reminds us of the three plots introduced in the first issue, issue #2 is completely concerned with ‘the White Russian’, whose slightly-standard origin story is given some fresh new twists by the creative team.

Issue #2, we should tell you now, is excellent. Fantastically paced storytelling, which uses ants and awkwardly-placed toilets to maximum effect. Read the issue for more explanation on that. In ‘Piggin’ Out’, we’re going to try and piece together the plot of the series as it’s revealed to us, so expect some spoilers as we move ahead. Buy the first two issues, you guys! It’s great stuff, comparable to the kind of thing you’d find in 24 or one of those 1980s Harrison Ford films about conspiracies. There’s about ten to choose from.

So issue #2 focuses entirely on creating the character of ‘the White Russian’, a covert agent for the Russians who has been living peacefully in America for years. As we find out here, Felix has been living in America for so long now that he’s keen to give up the mission in order to stay happily married, with a daughter he loves. That desire isn’t allowed to remain for very long. The team of Russians we saw sneaking into the country last issue show up, friendly, and tell him that the mission has been initiated - The White Russian is activated.

It appears that Felix’s allies here are somehow linked to the Cuban family from issue #1, and that the death of the old man is the event which kickstarts the operation. Members of that family are in the team who show up at Felix’s door - notably the angry son, who also turns out to be an excellent motivational piano player. While we still don’t know why this family are involved in the plot, or who the woman in FBI custody is, we are at least now starting to see some pieces fit together. The whole issue here is a flashback, but it looks to be setting up the White Russian as the key figure in the abduction of the President.

Pigs #2 is out now, with a cover by Francesco Francavilla. Issue #3 comes out 3rd November, with Amanda Conner providing the cover art.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

REVIEW: Regenesis #1




Here's the problem with Regenesis: it shouldn't have been a one-shot. Establishing the five lights was accomplished over a whole arc of Uncanny X-Men, but the complete switcharound that Regenesis implies occurs over the space of one issue. This means that while certain characters get a full, meaningful sequence, others get a few panels.

Regenesis is a form of anthology, basically, as a series of characters are approached by either Cyclops or Wolverine and inducted into their team. While some characters make surprising choices, others make obvious ones or no choice at all. It's a simple concept for an issue - it's a full-length version of the battle everybody faced at school lunchtimes, when team sports were on the agenda and every kid in class needed to be on one side or the other.

While Gillen gathers that, and makes it rather blatant via a tribal fantasy sequence seguing in and out of the main story (Cyclops wears the head of a boar in this sequence), the issue itself doesn't fully work. This is because he simply doesn't have enough space. We've all seen quite a lot of restructuring recently, with Fraction having covered this sort of ground before, as well as Mike Carey. With only one page for characters like Storm, or Dazzler, some characters only get to make the briefest of arguments before we move on. Without any sense of time passing or narrative, this essentially becomes an issue of vignettes.

Gillen's spark for dialogue remains, with characters like Husk getting fun lines. Kitty/Colossus have a fantastic conversation, and Hope/Laurie (Mermaid) are the highlight of the issue. At the same time, he doesn't quite seem to have got to grasps with characters like Gambit or Rachel, so it's probably for the best that they're heading off with Wolverine. Both Wolverine and Cyclops come across as gigantic idiots, and it's hard to see why anyone would pick either of their teams, really. It takes Emma, Storm, Kitty and Colossus to make the arguments here, because both leaders seem arrogant, excessive, and overwrought.

Billy Tan's art is functional, but never great. While he gets some sequences down well, it's creepy to see the students dressed in loincloths (this HAPPENS) and he doesn't convey silence very well. Magneto and Rogue's discussion features an unspoken moment, and I don't know what that was meant to be.

So, Regenesis is an uneven issue. As is always the case with this sort of issue, I suppose. While it hits some high points, there are also some poor moments (Beast in particular is completely damned by the end of this issue, and I don't want to ever read about him again). Gillen does his best, but the format doesn't suit the story and nothing is really cleared up. Motivations are half-formed, and the dialogue can't make up for the critical thing: nobody is quite sure how serious this split is meant to be. Is it a trivial thing? Or an epic, terrifying thing? Until that gets sorted out, Regenesis is on rocky ground.

Vertigo to Publish 'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' as a Graphic Novel

DC have announced - days before the New York Comic-Con which is already promising to leave me with chronic insomnia, shaking hands and a worn-out brain for a period of at least four days - that they are going to turn Stieg Larsson's 'Millennium' trilogy of novels (massive sellers in bookstores and one of the Kindle's most-popular titles, fact-fans) into three original graphic novels. With the creative team as-yet-unnamed, all we have to go by at the moment is this intensely detailed teaser image. More details to be revealed at NYCC! Presumably.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Nick Bradshaw Update

Nick Bradshaw has drawn one of the variant covers for Marvel's oversized 'Point One' one-shot, which will showcase stories by David Lapham, Chris Yost, Matt Fraction and more. Inside the book is art from people like Ryan Stegman, Terry Dodson, and Ed McGuinness, but the cover is 100% Bradshaw (unless you buy the Kubert variant). It's a fantastically madcap piece, combining the manic energy of Humberto Ramos with the expression of Art Adams. Bradshaw is quickly becoming one of Marvel's most distinctive and enjoyable artists.

First Avengers Trailer Hits The Internet

The movie, yeah. You can find the trailer online. Search for it on youtube or w/e

Monday, 10 October 2011

Would you like to see Wonder Woman Stab a Kraken with a Trident?

Of course you would! And now you can, thanks to Cliff Chiang's cover for Wonder Woman #5.

Snarked!


Roger Langridge's name may be familiar to you from his work on Thor: The Mighty Avenger, a series which many have celebrated as their favourite of 2010. Well, if you've been wondering what Langridge has been up to since then, look no further than "Snarked!", his new series for Kaboom! Known mainly for their focus on celebrated Disney characters like Darkwing Duck, Kaboom focus on a younger audience than most comic-book companies. Aiming to charm rather than terrify, their comics are some of the most entertaining you'll find on the shelves.

Taking inspiration from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland - touching mostly on the lesser-used characters like The Walrus & The Carpenter - and spinning them off into their own adventures, Snarked proves to be a constantly engaging and delightful comic. The most engaging and delightful comic, in fact, since Thor: The Mighty Avenger. MTV Geek have a fabulous interview with him, which we recommend you have a read after you finish this.

Langridge both writes and draws the series, giving it a classic cartoony appeal while allowing himself the opportunity for plenty of sight-gags and silly touches such as a castle guard who is scared of mice, or a forlorn squirrel who only appears in black-and-white flashbacks. The story focuses on a young Princess called Scarlett and her younger brother, Prince Rusty. After her father (the King) goes missing at sea, she is left in charge of the Kingdom. And while she has a firm grasp on things, three evil advisors are plotting behind her back to take power from her, so they can rule the Kingdom themselves.

After a few failed attempts to get Princess Scarlett removed from power, things escalate and she is forced to go on the run with her brother, while a Cheshire Cat watches over her. She seeks shelter from a Walrus and a Carpenter... but are they really the safest of companions to have around?


The story doesn't try to match the tone of Carroll whatsoever, with Langridge's story more like an old Laurel and Hardy film, or something Norman Wisdom would put on. That's not to say that things are dated, because the dialogue is absolutely engaging to contemporary audiences. Langridge taps into a universal sense of humour which will make even the stoniest heart jump for joy. Every page is lavished with attention, and the stunning artwork exaggerates every single facial expression in the most perfect way. Snaked! is a wonderful thing to read, but also looks fantastic.

What's brilliant is the effortlessness of the thing. Langridge makes every joke seem like a classic, even when he's invented them himself. He proves that there is no such thing as a "kids" book. What we have instead is a truly "all-ages" title, which will make children giggle, teenagers smile, forty-somethings laugh, and pensioners utterly charmed. From the self-made stubbornness of Princess Scarlett through to the wily wits of Wilburforce J. Walrus; each character proves to be far more than a stock character-type. There are surprises here, and the twists - while gentle - actually do catch you out.

The best compliment for a comic is that you never want it to end - but that when it does end, you feel like you've gotten true value for your money. Langridge packs in an incredible amount of story into these pages, so that the status quo is completely changed by the time you reach the end. On top of that, the jokes are solid throughout, with nary a clunker to be seen anywhere. Snarked! #1 is my favourite comic not just of the week, but of the month and also year. And don't forget to read the letters page for an adorable letter written by Elizabeth Eickmeyer, age 10. Read the response she gets, and you'll understand that Langridge really 'gets' how children think. Like the rest of Snarked issue #1, it's pitch-perfect.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Jeff Lemire Gets Drunk and makes Various Promises to Twitter

If you were on Twitter last night, then surely you were witness to Jeff Lemire, Scott Snyder, JT Krul and Joshua Fialvok starting up a massive war between each other. Snyder began the (good-natured, before you get carried away) battle of wills by retweeting a fan who said they enjoyed Swamp Thing #2 more than Animal Man #2. Lemire picked up the attack and launched a counter, which I won't print here but will link to like so.

Snyder refused to be defeated. He set up a Team Synder camp and tried to woo various Vertigo writers to join him, while Lemire did the same. Krul and Fialvok were among the writers who picked a side, with others joining of their own accord. Even Marvel's PR leader Ben Morse got involved, oddly enough. Sterling Gates got involved, and then Snyder set up a mandatory conscription for all the other Bat-writers, in a flagrant abuse of power.




"Did you guys know that next Monday @Ssnyder1835 and I aregoing to the DC offices to pitch a huge Swampyand Aman year long xover?"
http://twitter.com/#!/JeffLemire/status/122506807670353922

"It's happening you guys. It's called DEADWORLD and it's epic. Swampy and Aman and Abby and Maxine vs the world!"
http://twitter.com/#!/JeffLemire/status/122508597765746688


And finally he opened himself up to questions, where he revealed that Batman and Frankenstein would both be involved in the crossover as well, linking all four of Snyder and Lemire's DC Universe books together.

Now, you guys! We're not saying that Lemire was telling the truth here. YOU CAN NEVER TELL WITH JEFF LEMIRE. He is a master of deception. But the thing is.... what if he's telling the truth??

Brian Wood To Write Wolverine?

It's starting to look like it. As Jason Aaron walks on to Wolverine & The X-Men, Hulk, and that other series I've momentarily forgotten the name of; as well as Scalped; Marvel's teasers seem to suggest that the newest writer on the solo Wolverine series is going to be the man behind DMZ, Demo, Northlanders and the big superstar push of 2012. With several mysterious announcements attached to his suave utility belt as NYCC approaches, Brian Wood seems to be the next man destined for headline status in mainstream comics. Marvel have released a teaser showing Wolverine and Quentin Quire, suggesting that the switch between Aaron and Wood will happen early next year.



Aaron's said several times that he's telling one large Wolverine story during his run, and that story DOES look to be currently heading towards conclusion. While a few people think this is confirmation that Wood will be handling X-Men Legacy, for us it seems far more likely that Wolverine is the destination. I just wish I could pick out the name of the artist. It's on the tip of my tongue...

Thursday, 6 October 2011

How are Animal Man and Swamp Thing Connected?


One of the most interesting things about DC’s relaunch is that several of the books seem to be heading towards crossovers. Rather than quickly forcing titles into overlapping with each other, though, DC have instead opted for a much slower approach to their storytelling. Books like Stormwatch and Superman seem destined for a crossover, for example, but it probably won’t be until 2012 when we first see any concrete evidence of that happening. The most interesting of these crossovers, by a large margin, would be the prospect of Jeff Lemire’s Animal Man and Scott Snyder’s Swamp Thing series’ interacting.


Now, as you read this article you may throw up your arms because we've made such terrible blunders - yes, we're new to both characters. So if we have got anything wrong, we apologise, whip ourselves with sticks, and ask you to lay out our mistakes in the comments section below. Also I am a little drunk. Full disclosure!

It's starting to seem more and more likely that these two characters in particular are heading on a collision course at some point in the future, mainly because both Lemire and Snyder have outright stated that this will ultimately be the case. But even if they hadn’t said anything about it, already within the books we’re starting to see hints of connections between both characters. For a start, they both have an innate connection to the natural world. With Buddy Baker being drawn into ‘the red’ and Alec Holland told he should join ‘the green’, what exactly is going on with these two titles?

Swamp Thing’s first two issues have been mostly devoted to exposition, setting a lot of things in place – which makes it a great place to start. Issue #1 revealed that Alec Holland was not Swamp Thing, and issue #2 revealed that he had NEVER been Swamp Thing. He had been killed before Swamp Thing ever came into creation, his body cloned by ‘the Parliament of Trees’ and then taken over by the Swamp Thing entity. When that Swamp Thing died, the original Alec Holland was brought back to life during Blackest Night (we think) and retained all the memories of his dead clone. Quite a lot to take in!

Holland is approached by a previous Swamp Thing host, who explains everything before promptly sitting down and dying. And it is in these moments that we first get a hint of a crossover. ‘The Green’ is a concept used often in Swamp Thing stories, referring to plantlife in general. Plants are suggested to be linked by a cosmic force which drives them into being, and imbues in them survival instincts. The Green is that force, and its existence is vital to the continued existence of plantlife on Earth.

Over in Animal Man, Buddy Baker has been learning a bit about ‘the red’, which has been present in past Animal Man stories but never clarified before now. Lemire’s take on ‘the red’ is that it is a similar force to the green. The Red, however, is concerned with the nature of blood. The Red connects all animals to each other, which is why Buddy can harness the powers of any animals in his vicinity via ‘the life web’. He can reach out through the force of The Red and replicate the abilities of other animals connected to him by this force. So while Animal Man can access The Red; Swamp Thing has access to The Green.

It’s in Swamp Thing #2 that these two powers are referenced simultaneously. The dying Swamp Thing tells Alec Holland that the creation of a ‘pure’ Swamp Thing can only occur with “the fusion of man to green”. Man is then explicitly referred to as ‘red’. So clearly we can now see that the green and the red are complementary forces, essential for the continuation of the world’s natural environment.

The villains of the books also seem to have some kind of connection. While three creatures known as ‘The Hunters Three’ are breaking into The Red by ‘rotting’ in, a creature called ‘Sethe’ is trying to wreck the harmony of The Green. These creatures all seem to share some common bonds – they feat on natural creatures for sustenance, and can also possess humans. Most interestingly, it’s suggested that all four creatures can take on the forms of anything they kill – meaning that all four of them currently look human.

So with The Green and The Red both under attack from natural enemies, and Animal Man and Alec Holland both struggling to understand their roles and connection to these primal forces, it seems increasingly likely that the two are now going to have to work together in order to save the World.

Which, y’know, you probably could’ve worked out from the fact that Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder have already said that was going to happen. But then you wouldn’t have been able to enjoy reading this article, as we assume you just have! It all comes full circle.

Let's All Pop On Tumblr

Let's look at some art and then the artists what have drawn the art what was mentioned previously. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!



Corey Lewis draws Venom!



Katie Cook draws Wonder Woman!



Steven Sanders draws Beast!

Dan Hipp draws J. Jonah Jameson!

Hurray for the internet!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Batwoman #2 Preview: Bad News for Fans of 'Words'



Entertainment Weekly, of all people, are the ones with the exclusive preview pages from next week's Batwoman #2 by J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman. And while the pages look spectacular once more, just look at how little dialogue there is here. While some comics are happy to let the artwork do the heavy lifting, the writing on Batwoman doesn't even make a cup of tea for its hard-working creative partner. To say the dialogue is sparse would be an understatement, which of course is also an ironic wordplay on our part. Kudos, Comics Vanguard!

Here are some pages to look longingly at and then wonder why DC even bother with hiring writers.

http://www.ew.com/ew/special/0,,20534314,00.html
http://www.ew.com/ew/special/0,,20534315,00.html


Will Batwoman #2 continue to get the incredible praise that was offered to the first issue? Or will the World finally see The Truth of ComVan's Words?

Psylocke Is A Fraud!! and other stories

Noted actor and writer Kurt Braunohler is one of a number of creative artisans recruited by Marvel to work on "Shame Itself", an upcoming tie-in literary piece to Matt Fraction's 'Fear Itself' event storyline. With a cover by Skottie Young and writing from hot talents Wyatt Cenac and (friend of the site) Elliot Kalan, this one-shot promises to truly delve into the heart of the Marvel universe and see what makes the heroes tick. The issue will jump from character to character, giving us quick insight into different people around the MU.

We bring up Kurt Braunohler in particular as Marvel have today released a preview image from the comic which reveals the creation of an in-universe, canonical magazine called 'Marvelous' - the cover of which was written by Braunohler. This magazine offers some startling insights into the World of Marvel - as seen below




Alongside the reveal that Jean Grey considers herself to be certifiably insane is the news that the body-swapping, racially-dubious 'Psylocke' - one of the X-Men - doesn't do any exercise. Instead of working hard to give herself the supermodel figure she gets paid for, she uses her psychic powers to trick her body into thinking it has exercised. Through this cheating manoeuvre, she has offered Frank Cho, Greg Land and several other artists the opportunity to really show what they're made of. But it's all a lie! The moment she stops thinking about exercise, her body will rumble and break free, revealing herself to be a fattie!

Truly a sensational slice of characterisation from Braunohler, and one which we're sure will feature into Regenesis at some point. Canon!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Marvel Reveal Brian Hitch 'Cable' Variant Cover

After the success of Marvel's recent retailer initiative (which has been used by several companies recently, before appearing on Ryan Stegman's incentive cover for Spider-Island), the company are at it again. This time, they're celebrating the launch of Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness' 'X-Sanction' miniseries, which sees Cable come back to life and launch an attack at Captain America et al. Any retailer can be featured on the front cover, which presumably makes them rare and stuff.

To give you an example, we've doctored the cover so it's appropriate to our refined sensibilities:

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Superman #1 Page-By-Page



I wanted this to be light-hearted fun as I went through the ridiculous Superman #1 page-by-page and annotated it for you. But as things go on I get gradutally more and more bitter and angry that I have to read this thing. Read on, and watch the collapse of a human mind!


Page 1

And so we enter the story. In only three hours, we shall have finished the issue. Things start with the Daily Planet Building, which we are told was built in 1826. This means that we have a bit of an Egyptian mystery going on here, because that massive gold globe seems to be sitting on top of a relatively small pike. How did it get up there? People will ponder this mystery for untold days and nights.

This is actually a very nicely presented page, with only eight panels to get through. Oh, how we will long for such modest pages once we get further in!


Page 2

Here we see the various employees of The Daily Planet react to the destruction of the building. Nobody thought to take the massive globe off the top before collapsing the building, which seems like reckless construction work if you ask us. Lois Lane and Perry White are among them, while Jimmy Olson appears to have gone for a Justin Bieber haircut and been de-aged to fourteen. The new Daily Planet building retains the “giant metal ball” feature, although now it’s smoothed out the rings and put in four helicopter landing pads. It’s nice to see that in the age of digital media and the decline of newspapers, billionaires are still happy to wantonly throw away money.


Page 3

Morgan Edge, a character who traditionally proves to be aligned with evil forces, is revealed as the new owner of the Daily Planet. We know he’s revealed as such because he is announced by the Mayor of Metropolis, then by a newspaper anchor, before a word caption clarifies it one more time for anybody who is still unsure. After three pages, we’ve had twenty-five panels.

There’s a great moment when Edge says “I’ve come not to bury the Daily Planet, but to raise it”, and everybody in the room cracks up for some reason. Apparently this is the very cutting edge of humour, and Lois Lane’s new boyfriend – Jonathan – forcibly restrains her so he can tell her how amusing it was. No kidding, he has his hand on her shoulder, and it looks like he’s forcing her to stay in the chair. Perry White, to his credit, remains sour-faced.


Page 4

The title page. Jesus Merino draws a great-looking Superman, you have to admit. The title of this issue is “What Price Tomorrow?” This is a question we are going to have to face several times before the issue is through.


Page 5

This page is a sensation. First we find that Jimmy Olson watched the building collapsed from about five metres away, protected only by a thin metal fence. And they’re stood on top of their van, rendering the fence even more completely useless. His co-worker, Miko, is visibly excited about seeing some destruction first-hand, and calls it “the big boom!” Then she spots Superman and says that this is “a hot news day!” Then she goes on the DC Universe’s version of Twitter, and calls this “cool!”

Miko better be revealed as a time-traveller from the 1940s.


Page 6

Although Miko’s exclamations are soon going to be proved literal, as the Metropolis Astrodome keeps setting on mystical fire. Two security guards are on duty, but they seem more concerned in the fascinating global media corporate takeover than in the fact the building they’ve been hired to protect sets on fire randomly.

Superman is flying around, lost in his own little World. He’s thinking about a conversation he had with Lois recently, which he started off by shouting “Bull!”

Oh, Superman. How rude! Lois responds in lovely pink caption boxes, before we cut over to the scene on the next page.


Page 7

Things are going meta-textual now, guys. Lois argues that this kind of publicity stunt is exactly the kind of thing that the public needs to retain interest in print media. Clark, however refuses to listen to her. He is convinced that this is all part of some conspiracy to lie to the public.

So, okay, that’s definitely Perez winking at readers about DC’s reboot. The Lois sections are very clearly about DC’s decision to reboot, and try things again. So what does that say about Clark’s theories? Either that fans are delusional – and Superman is wrong; or that DC are corrupt – and Superman is right. Strange message to put into your comic, that.

Lois is revealed to be the new anchor of Morgan Edge’s TV network, which makes her look like a right little social climber. She further cements herself as a not-very-nice person by telling Clark that the most important thing is popularity – if he sells out, then he’ll get to be on TV! Not really sure why Superman likes this version of Lois.


Page 8

Probably the best page. An alien creature, part-parrot and part-fish, picks up a giant alien trumpet, and plays it. Then he dumps the trumpet and walks off. There is literally no context to the scene besides a caption which says “for more on this mystery, pick up Stormwatch #1!”

It’s bizarre.

Sometimes writers want to set up future storylines, and that’s fair enough. But normally they at least try to fit in some context for these teasers. This doesn’t even look like a story that’s going to happen in the Superman series. It’s an advert for Stormwatch.

Bizarre.


Page 9

The Superman-Lois argument is still going on, mostly as blue vs pink narrative captions while Superman flies about. Clark calls this relaunch “a dog and pony show” and Lois reacts like he’s just sworn viciously at her. He immediately apologises for this reprehensible phrase, and walks off. I don’t think “dog and pony show” has ever been considered an unbelievably rude phrase, but apparently in Metropolis it’s the high of indecency.

This page continues the Clark and Lois fight from the past, shows Superman in the present, continues the news takeover story, and brings the mysterious fires back. Often simultaneously. Only seven panels, and four stories are simultaneously going on.


Page 10

Superman comes across some terrorists who’ve stolen a fuel tanker. A new set of narrative captions appear, written by an unknown character – possibly even Perez himself. This narrative makes sure to note that the fuel tanker is “explosive”, so you’ll never guess what’s going to happen in a page or two from now.

Superman sweeps down, and tells them off for “drag-racing”. There is only one car on the road, Superman. Not exactly a race situation. As a journalist, he should really learn to polish up his one-liners.


Page 11

By now one of the security guards has been killed by the mystery fire, and the news conference has just finished. The journalists are now told about the terrorist tanker kidnapping, which suggests that perhaps it’s not a good idea to operate a “no phones” policy if all your journalists are stuck in the same room and nobody’s stayed back at the office.

We’ve been introduced to approximately eight different journalists by now, all working for different sections of the company. Perry White demands that his people capture “the kind of detail and analysis only PRINT can offer!”, which doesn’t seem at all accurate now we have 24/7 news channels.


Page 12

There’s a blackout at the Astrodome. The remaining security guard thinks that the mysterious fire which made his friend vanish, and the subsequent blackout, are all part of an elaborate prank. He truly deserves to get blown up. And does!

Superman is negotiating with the terrorists. Both sides seem happy with the idea of the terrorists being murdered somehow, and now they’re debating what the method of execution should be. Superman suggests drowning or asphyxiation, while the terrorists suggest suicide and self-implosion.


Page 13

The terrorists reveal that they were bluffing. Journalists swarm the area, and all four Daily Planet helicopters are presumably in the air at once. Superman gives them till the count of three, but the truck blows up before he can finish.


Page 14

My eyes are tired from all the captions. Now we jump from the scene to all the different journalist teams – print, tv, something which looks like a twitter-analysis computer – and how they’re handling the story. We get three more journalists introduced, before Superman gets shot by some kind of fireball.


Page 15

Someone actually says “madre de dios”.

Perry White uses his patented journalism to establish that if someone is firing fireballs at Superman, then Superman probably wasn’t the person who blew up the truck. That’s why they pay you the big bucks, Perry!

Narrative captions kick back in, as some novelist seems to be writing about the fight. The narrative uses a lot of very big words, so this probably isn’t a Clark Kent or Lois Lane report.


Page 16

More sample dialogue – “sweet jeez – the fire monster’s hit the Swan Towers building!” This comic is set in the PRESENT.

And now we come to it, you guys. “The fire creature pointed at the Man of Steel. It’s language was a Tower of Babel of Incomprehensibility”. YES! THAT JUST HAPPENED, EVERYBODY! THE GREATEST LINE TO EVER BE WRITTEN IN A COMIC-BOOK.

The captions continue to describe Jesus Merino’s artwork, which always annoys me. You can let the artist tell his own story from time to time, y’know! If there’s a single panel in this entire damn comic which isn’t filled almost completely with words, then I’ll be surprised. Maybe Perez is getting paid per-word?


Page 17

I can’t be bothered anymore.


Page 18

The fire monster has launched a fireball at some reporters. Superman picks up a wooden billboard and uses it to stop the attack. In response, the fire monster blows up the police helicopter. Nice to see that in a pinch, Superman will save some reporters rather than some policemen.


Page 19

The police all get introduced now. Superman’s tactic in fighting the fire monster is to use himself as a human shield.


Page 20

There are fifteen panels on this page. F&^% this.


Page 21

Superman throws the Daily Planet’s globe at the fire monster. I have completely checked out, emotionally and physically. Every time I need to turn the page, my brain tries to stop me.


Page 22

Lois Lane hacks into a police camera in order to get footage of the monster’s face. “in this aerial footage, exclusive to PGN news, we can see the absolute look of terror on the creature’s face” shouts the anchor, as we see a panel in which the creature’s face in not visible.


Page 23

Superman reveals his plan: he believes that even “alien fire” needs oxygen to survive. How many planets has Superman been to which don’t have oxygen, but still have the capacity for fire? His tactic seems to work, but it’s a complete fluke win on his part.

The fire vanishes, and everywhere is fine. We have no explanation for the attack, or anything that happened. Clark reads his own article on the battle, complete with a “Superman interview”. Not so ethical now, are you Clark? Interviewing yourself is hardly the moral move to make. Also, I thought you were meant to be quitting the Daily Planet in disgust, but you seem to still be writing for them? So confused right now.


Page 24

Clark goes to see Lois and apologise for his hideous “dog and pony show” comments earlier.


Page 25

But Lois’ boyfriend is in the apartment too! And they’ve just been having some sex with each other!!

The issue ends with a ten-panel layout. In total, Superman #1 contains TWO HUNDRED AND FOUR PANELS. Over twenty-five pages. Jesus Christ.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan REUNITE


Brian Wood, writer of Northlanders, Demo, and several other projects you really should've read by now, has posted a mysterious image on his blog which we will surely never truly understand. UNLESS of course, it's referring to the fact that Brian Wood is going to be teaming up with frequent co-collaborator Becky Cloonan for a new story, published by Dark Horse Comics.




But if that's not the case, then this teaser is surely the most riddling of puzzles to ever tax the mind of man.