Friday, 22 January 2021

JLA: League of One (DC Hardback OGN/2000)





Ancient serpent brought to bay, dies upon a golden spear. Brave hearts riding into death saving the living world from fear. In victory the heroes fall. Dragon slaying as she's slain. 

The Delphi Oracle

 

Christopher Moeller (w) & (a) 

Having developed a taste for reading collected editions I decided to pick out JLA: A League of One from the dusty part of my bookshelves. I hadn't read this since it was published. Unlike the other graphic novels I've been reviewing this was an original story published in both hardback & paperback editions telling the tale of how Wonder Woman betrayed the League. 

There were dragons.

Once mankind was plagued by an evil race of dragons the last of whom was seemingly destroyed or banished in the Middle Ages by an army of men. However her acolytes survived and have awakened the ancient evil deep in her Swiss lair.

Dragons feed on gold.

All over central Europe there are thefts of gold and jewellery. Treasure that will awaken Drakul Karfang last of her hateful race. Those that serve will be transformed. Or eaten.

The Oracle at Delphi has a warning that Wonder Woman takes as the death of the league so one by one with the help of a couple of sprites she disables or sends off the others. Only Batman tries to stop her but on this rare occasion he fails.











Wonder Woman sends life-pods around the sun and weakens Superman so he it takes longer to rescue the JLA. 

Diana will face the ancient evil and die in the place of the JLA.
























An unexpected tale of love, friendship and betrayal (all for the right reasons even if Kal-El is not happy) but an interesting one. Worth picking up and still in print via Amazon which surprised me after all this time and not at inflated prices like some of their offerings.

Thursday, 21 January 2021

Batman: Universe (Hardcover) (DC)


 




















Brian Michael Bendis (w) Nick Derington (a)

Batman was always one of may favourite comic book characters whether in the Dark Knight or Sixties mode his tales were usually entertaining. Batman's "Rogue Gallery" is the most memorable list of insane criminals ever created. From the Joker to the Ventriloquist these criminals were dangerous.

Then there were his female opponents, Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn to name just three who were different. As for the ever extending bat-family the supporting cast from Batgirl to Robin and beyond sharing the nights of Gotham helped develop a world for the reader to immerse themselves in.

Then there was the "wider" DC Universe in which Batman joined the Justice league, led the Outsiders but also teamed up with practically everybody that the writers could bring to Brave & the Bold including Kamandi, Scalphunter and Sgt Rock as difficult as that may seem given the time periods. But these are comics after all.

























Batman: Universe was a six issue mini-series which takes the Bat quite literally across the DC Universe as he pursues the mystery of Jonah Hex's Faberge Egg. The Riddler steals the item but isn't himself and as the Bat pursues our troublesome foe the wonderful interactive dialogue between Alfred and Master Bruce takes on a life of it's own.

From Amsterdam with the Green Arrow in toe to the Planet Thanagar and back, a veritable legion of Green Lanterns and one of the worst villains of all, one Vandal Savage the Bat lives and dies, gets transformed and back all in order to save the world if not the universe from what lay within the egg.

An entertaining adventure worth adding to your bookshelf. Currently available in hardback, a paperback edition has just been solicited by DC this month.

Rating: 5 Stars





Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Rediscovering the Nineties: Avengelyene


 






















Having missed the nineties comic boom I did try out some of the comics that I missed from various creators and companies that were not familiar to me. Of course collecting old comics retrospectively doesn't actually reveal the chaos that ensued in this dark period for the industry.

Although shed loads of comics were being shifted including that infamous product the "variant cover" people were not always buying them for the right reasons. My final trip to the Forbidden Planet in 1989 before dropping out the hobby was spoilt by this bloke buying the last two issues of some comic I was quietly waiting to pick up. The speculators were upon us.

Even when I had returned there was still a lot of this going on with that damned Wizard magazine telling everyone this or that title was "hot" (and not whether it was any good or not) promoting the monetary value before any other consideration. 

Happily that shouty journal has gone the way of the speculators (or most of them) and publishers have cottoned on to making sure popular comics are available in collected form. This enabled to regular reader to get the full story without being ripped off by over-priced issues on the walls of some shops. 

I refuse to buy variant covers to this day. I overheard a kid say in the Forbidden Planet "It's the same comic inside...." Out of the mouths of babes...



Amongst the comics I chose to pick up was Avengelyne from Maximum Press which I discovered was one of Rob Liefeld's many publishing fronts. In fact I picked up quite a few issues but the first issue was missing from the boxes. Having become a regular at Avalon Comics on my return to the hobby the owner Bruce went out back and just threw in a copy of the first issue. A "chrome" cover no less something which had become popular for some reason during the nineties.

I have to say the initial three issue mini is an OK story and I was quite happy to collect Avengelne  with all it's religious themes about the main character an apparently "fallen Angel" and her continuing fight against evil. Nothing new in particular but fun even if the art work was peculiar in places, something else that happened in the nineties.

The other main problem that seemed to wreck the industry was the tardiness of the new stars of comic-dom, something which actually continued until fairly recently. I mean I became a fan of industry "bad boy" Rob Liefeld but his inability to finish anything he starts is more than a little annoying. I'm told the gaps between issues back in the decade led to disillusionment and lost sales. I'm not surprised. 

I was "lucky" as these comics were sitting around in the cheap bins waiting to be read or as some retailers found just collecting dust. I'm glad I picked up a few of these and have to say although varied there is fun to be had with some of these comics.

As for Avengelyne it's one I did actually end up collecting and even went on to buy the revived series from Avatar when they picked up the Liefeld line. Will she return? Who knows, but I had some fun reading these comics though they are not up to today's standards....



Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Dead She Said (3 Issue Mini Series) (IDW/2008)






















Steve Niles (w) Bernie Wrightson (a)

Any comic written and drawn by a team consisting of Niles and Wrightson has to be worth picking up and Dead She Said is no exception. The tale begins with a familiar scene of a Private Detective waking up on his bed from a hard night out. A mixture of drinking and he vaguely remembers, fighting has left him in a warm wet pool. Except there is something seriously wrong here.

Jack Coogan has a gun shot wound and that's his blood he's lying in. Almost all eight pints of it so he should be dead. Hist gut is hanging out and rigor mortis has actually set in. He is dead and has to crack his joints to move. How is this possible and who the hell killed him and why. The mystery begins.

Having more enemies than friends (what private Dick doesn't) he has to figure out what happened and do something about that smell. The rotting flesh aroma that goes around with him. Even the Police are none too keen on holding him even after they find Coogan standing over the ripped apart body of the man who killed him.
























Of course he didn't do it which was obvious otherwise there would be blood all over him. He has picked up a clue though. It looks like a crabs claw but isn't. What is going on. Dropping his clue off with a mate at the museum for analysis he visits his ex or at least someone he tried to pick up. Putting his hand on her ass wasn't a great idea but help he needs. She's a mortician and Jack needs embalming.

Meanwhile a young couple disappear while camping leaving their kids wondering what happened and jack moves against his would be killer, the one who put a contract out on him. A mad scientist whose activities had attracted the suspicion of his wife who erroneously thought he was having an affair. Perhaps it would have been better for everyone if he had....

Giant ants attack a trailer park for "the meat" needed for their farm controlled by our resident mad scientist who also has another "Frankenstein" project on the go. More "Human Caterpillar" if you have seen that movie. A disgusting creation made of human bits.

The confrontation happens and Jack gains his revenge by throwing a "queen" scent on the scientist leading to his demise at the hands of his creations. World domination plans over only a fire will destroy all these monstrosities.

Jack watches as his own faux funeral takes place and his dead injuries are more pronounced than ever. What we never discover is why Jack lived.......


Monday, 18 January 2021

Judge Dredd Megazine #428 (Out Wednesday!)























One of the advantages of being a subscriber to both 2000AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine is that copies arrive on my doormat a few days before publication giving me an opportunity to read and review before the casual buyer.  Given the pandemic & the need to avoid going out (I'm in a vulnerable group) it's also the best way to ensure I get copies with the shops shut.











The latest issue begins with a one off and quite tragic Judge Dredd story that harks back to an earlier issue (though I can't recall which, must be age creeping up on me)  The Night Flyer in which people are abducted through their windows about which our perp remarks:

We live in a world filled with flying cars. powerboards, jet packs and anti grav packs....and yet people still leave their windows open at night.

And so another victim is taken though Dredd sees the culprit and pursues. The horror is about to become apparent.

The other stories in the latest issue all continue from the last issue including alternatte universe mega City in Megatropolis and proto-Judges in Dreadnoughts.  We also discover that Judge Death has developed a dislike for poets in part five of Deliverance as one of his misguided disciples finds out.

















There's also an interesting article on John Sanders one of the people responsible for Fleetway's line of comics and the world he lived and worked in. There's also mention of "stroppy staff" at 2000AD which doesn't surprise me but creative people usually are and the fact that the comic has survived and prospered despite the collapse of the British comics industry is a tribute to their sterling work.

The book Kings Reach is also out now.

The Judge Dredd Megazine comes bagged with part three of the 2000AD Encyclopedia!

Rating: 4.5 Stars.

Also out this week is the latest 2000AD with a splendid Slaine cover. the art on this series is superb.

All publications available from: 2000ad.com

Support British Comics!




Sunday, 17 January 2021

Brave & the Bold (Vol 2) #32 (DC/2010)


 




















J. Michael Staczynski (w) Jesus Saiz (a)

Team-up comic books were always a favourite of mine from a very early age. Starting with World's Finest which was mostly, but not always Superman & Batman and of course the first volume of Brave & the Bold which became a mainly Batman team up book while DC Comics Presents featured Superman, these have always had the attraction of featuring characters not seen that often or put our heroes in a situation one might not expect!























Marvel had their Team up with Spider-Man and there was the lovable Thing meeting all and sundry in Marvel-Two-In-One but these had long disappeared by the time that Dc revived this title. This second volume featured all sorts of unusual team-ups and were a mixture of story-arcs and one off stories.

This particular issue offers Aquaman teamed up with The Demon, a jack Kirby creation who always seems to be lurking somewhere in the DC Universe. This time the power of the Demon and the King of the seas need to be combined as there is a threat to all life on earth.

It just so happens some poor sod washes up on the beach and ends up being taken along for the ride as they face this Cthulhu like thing coming out of a pit in the bottom of the ocean surrounded by an army of those who have died at sea.

Of course our heroes combine their powers and Aquaman shows his ability to control fish or sea life is of great use as he brings an army of his own to the fight. This time the creature from the other side is beaten but he will try again. 

The Demon and the King will be waiting...........
 



 

Saturday, 16 January 2021

Star Trek: Voyager - False Colors (One Shot) (Wildstorm/2000)


 






















Nathan Archer (w) Jeffrey Moy with Philip Moy (a)

One of my favourite Star Trek franchises was Voyager and the sight of Seven of Nine gracing the cover of any comic was enough for a fanboy like me to pick up a copy. In fact this was the first Star Trek Comic I ever purchased having only just returned to the hobby after nearly a ten year gap. 

This was also Wildstorm's first Star Trek comic as DC had decided to give the newly reacquired franchise to their newly purchased imprint. Jim Lee had left Image for a better deal at DC and taken his studio and properties with him. Wildstorm had a reputation for good art and story telling though the acquisition of Jim Lee's talent was no doubt a major factor in DC's decision.

Produced in a "Prestige Format" this one-off tale of Voyager was a well written & illustrated foray into the world of Star Trek: Voyager and really had the feel of the show. Having purchased this and last read some twenty years ago I had forgotten the story which had at it's core the Borg and Seven taking the lead.











Photo: Fair use

Voyager encounters a debris field of wrecked spaceships and there's more. Something indicates the presence of the Borg but something isn't quite right. Deciding to flee before any further encounter with their worst nightmare the crew find themselves trapped in a stasis beam emanating from a giant ship that is Borg and isn't at the same time.

There are two hours before their shields exhaust and the ship will be boarded so Seven along with Chakoyay and Tuvak disguise themselves as Borg and enter the alien vessel where they encounter aliens also posing as Borg. Seven manages to scare the proverbial out of their opponents who think they are facing the real deal and flee.

It turns out the ship is controlled by pirates who salvaged parts of a Borg ship for their own use but do not realise that these components are gradually asserting their identity which Seven takes advantage of. In the ensuing battle the Borg fragments separated and the pirates are beaten. Seven has to be forcibly severed from the Borg machinery before Voyager can make good it's escape.

The Borg are coming and the pirates find themselves at their mercy long after Voyagers departure. 

This time assimilation will be real....