Monday 11 May 2015

One Last Round-Up and a Moan

Haven't blogged much lately, due to being extremely busy, and even more exhausted, having recently started a new job which I am finding very difficult to adjust to. After long days with early starts I've mostly been coming home and just crashing out, and am behind on reading, watching, writing and everything. Now I seem to have been hit by some loathsome bug, and probably should not have gone out after work on Saturday to catch up with old friends and colleagues. I didn't last very long, by all accounts. Now I feel deathly and in dire need of some proper rest.

During these tough few weeks, there was, of course, the general election, the results of which are so utterly depressing that I'm feeling truly knocked back. There doesn't seem to be much to hope for over the next five years, or indeed for the future, in a country where the wealthy vote to protect their own interests, the young and poor are so worn down by continual attacks on their livelihood that they see little point in voting at all, and those in the middle vote out of fear of alternatives. Where we can go from here, with a government that has a vested interest in vetoing proportional representation, I don't know. I feel strongly for those demonised protesters in London, people who must feel that their vote means nothing and that there's no other way to be heard.

It was Free Comicbook Day two Saturdays ago, but I decided not to venture into town during the beginnings of the Brighton Fringe Festival and fight my way through crowds in order to queue up for a grab-bag. Mostly because I was utterly exhausted after seven days of work at two jobs. I'll probably download a batch once they are made available to do so, but for now I have a handful of issues from my pull list that were just released, a couple of freebies, some UK reprints and the odd extra. That's going to be it for now; I need to save some money and comics are becoming a major expense. Plus both the big publishers are in the midst of their over-the-top, multiversal crossover events, which I can't really be bothered with. So it seems like a good time to take a little break.

So here's the last comics round-up for a while, until the universes settle down. There are a number of projects I've started on, that hopefully I'll make some headway with once I'm settled in. I also really want to head back into fiction; I've let a couple of potential opportunities go lately, due to enormous busy weariness.

FCBD: Doctor Who (Titan)

A nice selection of mini-adventures for Doctors 10, 11 and 12. This is a fine way to do a free comic, giving a little hint of each series' style (no ninth Doctor, sadly, but his series has only just kicked off). The best is George Mann's twelfth Doctor story, "The Body Electric," which is Clara-focused but not syrupy or indulgent. "Give Free or Die," Eleven's story, parodies the concept of Free Comicbook Day, and is really quite funny, while Ten's story, "Laundro-Room of Doom," is amusing, if very slight. There's a sneak peak at what's to come with Paul Cornell's three Doctors event, but given that it's set for five weekly issues, I'll wait for the trade. Although I'm eager to see how Twelve interacts with Eleven.

FCBD: 2000 AD (Rebellion)

Will the Tories still be around in 2137? I can really believe they will. Mega-City One is ultra right wing, after all, even if it is a shithole. "In Through the Out Door" is the lead strip in this free magazine, Judge Dredd at his satirical best. By all accounts, 2000 AD do some of the best free publications out there, producing a bumper issue mixing new material with reprints. This gets by mostly on the appeal of nostalgia, with Dan Dare, Nemesis the Warlock and Dr. Sin all returning (the latter with a new strip). Even this is secondhand nostalgia for me, mostly having met these characters through old handmedown issues. Death Rock is drawn by Ben Willsher, who is an absolute favourite of mine, but the story of Ajax Bloodthirsty is pretty broad even for a parody. There's a cute retro short with 3000 AD, and Slaine rounds it off for those who like blood and muscles.

Essential X-Men #10-11 (Marvel/Panini)

This is what, a year behind the Marvel line? Eighteen months? In any case, it's good fun, a better way of approaching divergent timelines and alter-egos. This is the period after the original teenaged X-men have been brought to the present, an event which has had tumultous repercussions for the timeline. Now the future X-Men/Bortherhood have travelled back to the present, so there are three, or even four, versions of certain characters. It's actually very well done, and there's some intriguing character work, which is so well supported by the comics medium. You have the young, hopeful humanoid Beast, his hubristic, blue-furred current self, and his horned future self, who has lost all hope of mutant integration. Then there's the snowy teen Iceman, his more assured adult self, and his final, sage-like Ice Master form. It works very well, and sets this beyond the basic punch-up it is at the core. Also, evil future Professor X Jr. get his back broken, which is just hilarious.

The Amazing Spider-Man #18 (Marvel)

Perfectly serviceable Spidey from Slott and Gage. I'm actually really enjoying the professional Peter Parker, especially the idea of reformed, or reforming, villains being brought on staff. Having the Living Brain on hand is a lovely touch. There's a different dynamic at play that could be developed into something genuinely interesting. The Black Cat's descent is another source of potential. However, it's too little too late, since this is basically just a holding exercise to get the series from the Spider-Verse crossover to its end to make way for Secret Wars.

Spider-Woman #7, Spider-Gwen #4 (Marvel)

Both very enjoyable titles, but not ones I feel I'm going to be hurt by missing the odd issue. Might end up grabbing some further titles after the dust settles, but for now, this is a good spot to jump off. Spider-Woman is covering some of the same ground as TASM, dealing with villains from their point of view, not a bad follow-up to The Superior Foes series. Working with Ben Urich and often out of her depth, Jess Drew is more akin to the early Spidey than Parker is. Spider-Gwen remains the best retelling of the Spidey origin story I've seen, a genuinely modern take on the storyline rather than a rehash, allowing unique relationships with classic core characters such as May and Ben Parker, Frank Castle and Hobie Brown.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4-5 (Marvel)

I've only just realised that I've been missing a joke with Squirrel Girl. I've missed the point of some rhyming fun, because we don't say squirrel the same way in England. In America, Squirrel Girl rhymes. (I also just won her for my Marvel Puzzle Quest team, so it's not a total waste of a day). Issue four is simply one of the best comics I've read this year, Doreen facing Galactus in her inimitable style. Turns out he's not such a bad guy if you take the time to chat with him. Issue Five isn't as good, simply because after that there's no way to go but down after Squirrel Girl vs. Galactus on the Moon. It's still great fun though, a selection of daffy vignettes that are more fun than whole runs of other superhero titles.

The Wicked + The Divine #10 (Image)

A bit of filler, this one, really only there to bridge the major game change last month with the showdown that's due next. Essential, but inevitably a weak link when reading issue by issue, rather than in the trades. So I might drop this after the current run finishes and read it when the book arrives. Still utterly spellbinding in its design though, so it's never a waste of time.

The Multiversity #2 (DC)

Bought primarily out of a need for completeness, this is in fact the ninth release in the Multiversity crossover but the only one to continue from the original set-up. It's an OTT punch-up, the sort of thing that usually leaves me cold due to its excess of spectacle over story. Morrison manages to create a reasonably coherent event, though, with some fine moments, even if they are rather lost in all the heady spectacle. The infinite mass punch of a phalanx of Flashes, the cartoon physics of Captain Carrot, the Lovecraftian nightmares invading reality... all fantastic elements, but never given room to breathe. The whole is less than the sum of its parts; however, it is tied up in a satisfying manner.

No comments:

Post a Comment