John Buys Comics, August 5th Edition

The Sixth Gun No. 2

So last month when this came out I was running a bit behind, and last week when issue two came out I completely missed that fact. Well, I won't be dropping the ball on one of the best series of the year any longer, no sir!

So: this is (so far) the story of a gun, one of a set of six, that is in the possession of a preacher's daughter. The former owner of the gun, Confederate General Oliander Bedford Hume, is dead and shackled to his casket by chains of cold iron, yet he is pursuing her, aided by the holders of the other five: his wife and four Apocalypse-themed riders. Her only ally in trying to escape the grim fate that Hume has planned for her is Drake Sinclair, a thoroughly unscrupulous and quite mysterious rogue.

Here are the four excellent things about this series: One and Two: the writing and art. Both are top-notch. The book is a joy to look at and reads like nobody's business. Three: it manages to capture the same sense of amorality that the Old West of, say, Sergio Leone has. It is a terrible place, where evil and atrocity can really shine.

Fourth: this is one of the few places that I've really ever seen magic and the occult modernized successfully. Usually, were one to read a tale involving cowboys fighting over a magic artifact then that object would be the Spear of Destiny or something else form long ago. The Hell-forged revolvers and oracular lynching victims of The Sixth Gun are highly satisfying extensions of the mythologies of the past into the present (well, almost. In geologic terms). Why shouldn't the mystical grow and change along with everything else, after all?

Just plain great, on all fronts.

Warlord of Io

I love James Turner's comics, and not just because I get to talk about vector graphics every time another one comes out (honestly, I know nothing about 'em. I just like writing "vector graphics" - the words roll off the typing fingers).  

If you've been reading my blatherings about comics for long enough then you may recall that Warlord of Io had a single issue maybe a year ago and then moved online. Diamond's distribution policies dictated that it wasn't getting ordered in sufficient quantities, so pfft, no more issues for me. Needless to say, I was delighted to see this collection on the shelf yesterday. 

As for the plot: the titular Warlord is Zing, twentysomething video game aficionado and aspiring rock god, who inherits the throne of the Jovian satellite Io when his father abruptly retires. Zing is swiftly overthrown by a military junta and must balance his aspirations, the good of his people and the demands of ladyfriend Moxy Comet as he flees for his life. 

Setting this thing in the far future and also in orbit around Jupiter is the perfect showcase for Turner's inventiveness - I think that this book might actually include more crazy monster designs than the last Rex Libris trade, which was quite literally about crazy monsters being everywhere. Not that this is an example of craziness at the expense of plot - Io is a lovely little character piece that just happens to have weirdo aliens on every page. Hooray!

Brain Camp

I've managed my time poorly yet again. In keeping with my poorly-thought-out policy of reading books after floppies, I just finished this and it's late at night. Trust me, I would go on but I need sleep. Here are the highlights:

1. Faith Erin Hicks excels at drawing young people in strange situations. Here we have a book about science fictional weirdness at a summer camp. Predictably, it is great-looking.

2. Susan Kim and Laurence Klaven: I hadn't read them before, though I may now have to go back and pick up City of Spies. Again: young people in weird situations. Plucky youths against adult conspiracy! There's a reason I read so many books that could be described in those terms whilst I was growing up and that reason is that done well they equal pure entertainment.

To summarize: GOOD BOOK. And Hicks' art looks delightful in colour.

Kill Shakespeare No. 4

Another  highly entertaining issue! This is the one, in fact, that out-Shakespeare nerded me - I had to look up a couple of the minor characters. In my defence, I was at my most slackerly the year that I was supposedly reading all of the plays. Wait, that's not really much of a defence, is it? In any case: good job.


I have one major problem with this issue, and since I didn't notice it earlier it's probably some form of editorial oversight or the like. There's a lot of olde timey English being spoken here, which is appropriate for something set not just in Shakespearian England but in Shakespeare itself, but there are some major grammatical problems here. Thee, thou and thy are not interchangeable! Oh, the madness!

Writers of the world: I will check your Elizabethan English FOR FREE at any time, it drives me so nuts.

Superman: The Last Family of Krypton No. 1 - Hey, Elseworlds is back! Hooray! And this is a lovely little story about Jor-El and Lara coming to Earth with their kid! Yay! And of course everything is going to go horribly wrong next issue! Yay!

Sparta, USA No. 6 - Yet another Wildstorm series ends. Will they step up with a new crazy yarn for me to read? Who knows? What I do know is that I was taken off-guard by the end of this one. Hooray for surprises!

Hellboy: The Storm No. 2 - I know that I go on and on about Hellboy and its sibling titles, or at least heavily imply that I could go on and on,  but hot damn. Stuff from maybe a decade ago is paying off in this title right now. There is possibly nothing else out there that encompasses both continuity and progress quite like these series do. Okay, there probably is, but I like this better.

Baltimore: The Plague Ships No. 1 - And speaking of Mike Mignola... I see now that I should never have skipped the Baltimore illustrated novel when it came out. Oh for both the money and time to read everything I want to! But enough whining: whether I have context or not the fact remains that a vampire gets harpooned in this book and that that is never not awesome.

John Buys Comics: Why Doesn't John Remember Last Week's Reviews?

Brevity is once again the order of the day! Uh, not because I’m drunk again, though. No, this time it’s simple procrastination - if I don’t curtail my wordcount I won’t write anything at all.


Captain Long Ears, by Diana Thung

In common with Calvin and Hobbes: a young boy has crazy imagination-fueled adventures with a stuffed 

animal. Crazy space hijinks.

Unique to this book: a compelling and more-accurate-than-usual look at the emotional life of a child, a very cool combination of imagination-adventures and reality. An obsession with poop, including one of my favourite poop jokes of all time (on the last page). An ending that manages to be happy without being sappy. Just terrific on all fronts.

Justice League: Generation Lost No. 2

It’s only the second issue, so I may be completely wrong, but at this point [Generation Lost] looks like it has a far better chance of hauling the DCU out of the rape-and-murder hole that it’s had one foot stuck in for the last few years than its biweekly sibling Brightest Day, if only due to the fact that the latter’s narrative arc (at 10% completion, natch) looks like it’s going to involve things getting bad and then better. All of the returned characters are going to have some terrible trials and tribulations and then emerge triumphant and the mass happy ending is going to change things FO-EVAH.

In contrast, what has happened in Generation Lost so far has been incredibly encouraging. I may just be reading what I want to here, but it looks like Giffen and Winick are actually going to be examining some of the reasons/events behind the darker storytelling trends that have been the norm for a while now. If Max Lord is alive and nobody on Earth including Wonder Woman remembers that she killed him, is she still a murderer? Hell, how does that change the perception of how events played out afterward?

Anyway, nobody was killed with a knife.

Mystery Society No. 1  

You know I love stories of paranormal investigation, and it’s actually kind of awesome that the main character is a smug asshole - it’s an underused heroic archetype! I think that I need to call a SECOND ISSUE OF JUDGEMENT on it, though - right now this is essentially a pile of interesting ideas. It’s going to be how they’re deployed that swings the Like-o-meter one way or the other - you can cram your comic full of as many psychic 1950s teenage girls and skull-masked undead… teenage girls as you want, but by god you’d better come through on some tasty plot or I will... not read no more.

So watch out.

The Brave and the Bold No. 34 - The Legion of Super-Heroes and the Doom Patrol are two of my favourite things of all time. How does mixing them together produce such a tepid and uninteresting comic? Maybe the second part of this story will retroactively make this one better somehow? I command you to wait for my analysis! Bite your nails with tension!

Green Lantern No. 54/ Green Lantern Corps No. 48 - See now, this is what I was talking about. Have most of this portentous stuff in two reasonably self-contained books and I’m kind of okay with it. Also: the triumphant return of Dex-Star, rage-fueled kitty!

War of the Supermen No. 4 - Superman is home! No more military/industrial conspiracies! Whoopee!

Detective Comics No. 865 - Hey, wait. So Vandal Savage is the Biblical Cain, and Cain from Sandman is kind of Cain, and Rage-Entity the Butcher is strongly implied to be Cain… that’s a lot of Cains. But Vandal Savage is also still a caveman? I don’t know how smoothly the two origins jibe.

John Cheers Up, Buys Comics

King City No. 6

It’s way past the third issue, but I’m going to do it anyway! I am going to kick off my new THIRD ISSUE RECAP, designed to strike a balance between my own hatred of spoilers and my friend Tubby’s assertion that my reviews can read like I assume that everyone has already read the comic that I’m talking about.
THIRD ISSUE RECAP is about conveying how good something is, and works on the same assumption that SECOND ISSUE OF JUDGEMENT does: that by the end of the second issue of a series, the tone has been set and enough information about the comic has been conveyed that one can make an informed decision about it. Come issue 3, I’ll feel okay about recapping issues 1 and 2 and it shouldn’t be too hard for folks to catch up if I manage to sell anyone on the idea of picking it up.
THIRD SIXTH ISSUE RECAP! This is actually going to be a terrible recap because my copies of all five previous issues are randomly distributed among 8 boxes that are stacked up in a closet - the joys of moving. However, I shall do my best.
The titular King City is an enormous metropolis in an indeterminate future, populated entirely by thieves, spies and the like (and every building and character look amazing. Brandon Graham layers on the detail and doesn’t spare the design for even the most minor of characters, and yet it all looks super clean and uncluttered). Main character Joe is a thief who left the city for as-yet undisclosed reasons some time ago and has returned as a cat master, that is one who employs a size-and-shape-changing superintelligent cat as an all-purpose tool and weapon. He begins to reintegrate himself into the city, hooks up with his old buddy Pete (possibly a luchadore) and gets embroiled in some sort of plot involving aliens and an evil old man that is still panning out. And there’s his lost love Anna and her war hero boyfriend Max, too.
I’m glad I stepped away from this for a second, because I think I figured out what’s great about this comic: it’s full of ridiculous ideas (guy with a shape-changing cat! Street gang based on owls! Ex-KGB sasquatch running a hidden bar!) and loaded with sight gags and ludicrous situations but the characters themselves are not ridiculous – they aren’t mugging at the camera. Anna’s job might be painting mustaches on billboards, but she comes off as someone who has a job that they love, not as a gag. The story and the characters could easily be translated to, say, a noir setting. They are independent of their situation.
Plus, it looks fantastic.
R13 No. 3
Hey, maybe I should have explained THIRD ISSUE RECAP on this actual third issue. Ah, well, no changing it now. This is another one that involves comics that are inaccessible to me at this point, so I may b a bit vague.
R13 (okay, this is probably the lead character’s name, though I can’t recall him being referred to by it yet) is to all appearances a robot body topped by a dome. Floating in the dome is a human skull with the number 13 inscribed on its forehead. He’s got a mysterious past: so far we know that he’s come from the island of Crete and that’s about it. Oh, and he’s got these terrific spindly limbs that look fantastic while he’s leaping around chopping dudes.
R13’s calling, or perhaps his fate, is to be a monster-fighter. Thusfar he has had run-ins with a sea monster, a phoenix and, this issue, a Cyclops. All of this monster-mashing has earned him the enmity of Echidna, mother of monsters in Greek myth and half snake/half lady any way you shake it. More fighting ensues.
There’s no question that I am a fan of the Big Dudes Punching Creatures school of graphical entertainment, and R13 certainly succeeds on that front, but beyond that he is a genuinely charming character – he has essentially no memory of who or what he is and comes of as confused and uncertain but just basically a good guy. This is pretty remarkable, now that I think of it – Character is Searching For Identity and Purpose is all to frequently translated to Character is Self-Obsessed and Whiney. Good show!
Today’s I Am Bored drawing is R13!
Superman No. 698 - Does anyone else think that the layout of the cover on this sucker is really reminiscent of Mike Mignola? Maybe it’s just all of the hanging cities in the background. Man, I’m really enjoying these. I wish that Blackest Night had gotten to be this self-contained.
Orc Stain No. 2 - Man, this comic is great. I don’t even think it came out this week, but I got my copy of issue 2 yesterday and I want to reiterate what an insanely detailed, absurdly creative, huge world James Stokoe has put together here. The creativity inherent in the designs of the crazy organic technology alone is worth checking out, but there’s going to be an incredible gonzo fantasy story playing out over the course of this series. I can feel it in my bones.
There, I’m all done! (Turns around, notices three books he bought this week, blanches) Uh, I mean: here’s some more!
Widgey Q. Butterfluff
I have no idea if they’re still making children’s cartoons in the “exceedingly happy utopian community of tiny creatures occasionally menaced by generic evil” vein, but basically every second show that I watched as a youth fit that description, so I was powerless to resist this book.
It features – you guessed it – an exceedingly happy utopian community of tiny creatures. You have your heroine, Widgey Q Butterfluff, her male counterpart (and most amusing character) Buster B. Gooseberry, obligatory general scientician Professor Schoolbug and generic evil Lord Meanskull. Everything in SnugglePump Valley is bright and happy and anthropomorphic!
I hate to use the term subversive, but mainly because it’s misused so frequently. In this case: completely appropriate. Steph Cherrywell has done a hell of a job of subverting the ideas behind children’s cartoons, from the suspect motivation of the polluting villain to the concept of using caring as a fuel source. And it’s funny! And it still manages to be kind of sweet even while satirizing the concept of cartoons with twee sweetness as their core concept!
The Book of Grickle
I first ran into Grickle in a library copy of an earlier collection by Graham Annable, possibly also called Grickle, and am extraordinarily glad to have a chance to squirrel this away into my book pile.
Grickle is hard to quantify. The characters look like gag cartoon characters and they sometimes act like such. They frequently inhabit worlds filled with wacky gag cartoon-style antics. They emote like real people, though, both facially and in that they feel love, despair and simple joys. It’s a funny and sometimes poignant comic full of seemingly simple pictures that you will find yourself going back to study several times after you’ve technically finished reading.
Sadly, this collection does not include “Party Ass”, my favourite Grickle comic. Fingers crossed for next time.
I’m sleepy! Ye shall live in suspense over what the third book was! Forever!



John Buys Comics

What a good week. This is my happiest comics-buyying week in a long time. Everything was so... satisfying.

Chris Wisnia’s Doris Danger Giant Monster Adventures

This is precisely what I’m talking about.

Giant monster comics are some of Johnathan’s favourite comics of yore, and they’re kind of special in that they don’t crop up all that often any more - it's not like wanting to read comics with ninjas in them or something. And so I buy them just about any chance I get.

Happily, a lot of the time the giant monster comics I buy are like this: written by people just as font of the damn things as I am. Arguably moreso, in fact, since I've never produced a series of comics about them. I'm still kind of surprised that I managed to miss out on Doris Danger Seeks Where Giant Monsters Creep and Stomp, but I guess that that's the joy of the collection, isn't it?

This is a glorious comic, just chock full of Silver-ish Age absurdities, like Doris' increasingly unlikely camera-breaking incidents (after all, the comic would have to change if she ever brought home proof), the labyrinthine plot-upon-plot development and constant editorial callbacks to earlier issues, and of course the giant monsters. Meanwhile, no effort has been made to replicate things like the era's portrayal of other peoples (okay, there are some stereotypical-style native, but they were really robots), an aspect of Silver and Golden Age comics that you just have to overlook when you're reading the real deal but that is just plain make-you-want-to-leave-the-room when someone tries to replicate it and isn't, say, Alan Moore. And sometimes even then.

Plus! A stupid number of awesome monster pinups by Mikke Mignola, the Hernandez brothers, Mike Allred, Tony Millionaire... So many great monster pictures.

The Tick New Series No. 1

I have to admit that I was a bit worried. I have noticed, over the long, cold years, that relaunches of humourous-type comic series have an unfortunate tendency… not to be good. There was a wee little portion of my brain that was steeling itself to see a minimally-illustrated book that relied on reheated jokes from earlier series and had no discernable direction. I mean, I knew Benito Cereno was better than that, but you just start getting twitchy after you see it happen enough.

But my warning signals were misfiring - probably I just got too close to a stack of old issues of Countdown or something - this is a fun reintroduction to the Tick. I mean, it's a Christmas comic, yes, and thus doesn't really have the option of getting too deep and plot-ful, but that actually works very well, as Cereno uses the "let's see how evertone is spending the holidays" schtick as an opportunity to establish just who is going to be playing a part in the series - a very good idea, what with all of the cartoon and live-action characters that certainly aren't going  to be showing up.

Anyway: fun, suitably Tick-ish, features Man-Eating Cow. Hooray!

Green Lantern No. 48/Blackest Night No. 5 - I am officially declaring Larfleeze the Sensational Character Find of 2009. I haven’t had the urge to buy an action figure for a very long time, but now I want a little Agent Orange of my own, to help me with my coveting. Very fun. Plus, this week basically explicitly confirms that at least some Black Lanterns will be returning to life (that and the fact that currently heart-freee Damage appearing in the  ad and preview for the new JSA series. Way to keep up the suspense, guys).

Creepy No 2 - I am honestly surprised at just how successful this revival of Creepy has been. No attempt has been made to fix what wasn’t broken, and thus I can sit back and read something like “Muscle Car”. My uncle’s old copies of Creepy and Eerie did a fine job of scaring the hell out of me when I was a child and I’m just pleased as punch to know that I’ll be able to offer the same kind of opportunities to any children that I may or may not end up having.

Chew No. 6 - As much fun as the Tony Chu/Mason Savoy dynamic was, the Enigmatic Mentor archetype was never half as fun as the Cop Who Knows When to Bend the Rules, which works out nicely because Chu’s old partner John Colby is back and just as entertaining as he was before getting knifed in the face in issue 1. Plus, he’s a cyborg now, with a USB jack in his face and everything. Chew is now a psychic/cyborg cop buddy comic set in an alternate Earth where chicken is illegal and the FDA is the most powerful law-enforcement body in the US - I swear, the better this thing gets the harder it is to explain.

Beasts of Burden No. 3 - My joy at there being another issue of this is leavened somewhat by the fact that I just found out that there will only be one more. I guess I know what my Seasonal Holiday wish to Grampy Tanglebeard will be this year.

This issue: Orphan in love! Rats! Mystery! If there’s a better comic about talking animals battling the supernatural then I don’t know what it is.

Detective Comics No. 859 - I didn’t really notice last issue, as I was all gaga over the excellent job that J.H. Williams III was doing of differentiating past and present artistically, but Greg Rucka is putting together a really solid origin for Batwoman, one that transcends the old “bored socialite fights crime” version without discarding it. Even if this was her unspoken origin from the start (and I did miss the series in which she got stabbed through the heart, so this might be a rehash) this is some really solid storytelling. Good show!

Arkham Asylum No. 2 (of 3) - Poor Dr. Arkham. Does he ever get a break? Maybe someday there will be a one-shot or a Bizarro Tale in which he just has a nice day and nobody escapes from the Asylum and eats someone. At least this has Mr Freeze in his underwear, hitting a guy with a bag of ice. How can you argue with that?

Superman: Secret Origin No. 3 (of 6) - I reckon that this is the second-best portrayal of Clark Kent acting the oaf that I know of (the first of course being All-Star Superman). It’s good to see that Johns is keeping the businessman aspect of the Byrne Lex Luthor, if not the fat part. I also enjoy the implication that Metropolis was just a terrible town until Superman showed up, like the worst stereotype of New York.

The Last Resort No. 4 - So the zombie-style folks in this comic are infected with a modified form of the Toxoplasmosis parasite (a wee beastie that you pick up from cats and that supposedly alters your behavior, making you more aggressive)? That’s actually pretty clever, and slightly eerie as we were talking about that very parasite at supper (this is exactly the kind of dinner conversation that you get when you date a pathologist. I once learned how to do an autopsy over lunch at the Elephant and Castle). As I theorized, the horror movie tropes are starting to make themselves known and the retribution is a-coming.

Superman No. 694 - Mon-El’s back! Mitch has a secret and it's not that he's gay!! The Parasite is in, like three comics this week!

Justice League of America No. 39 - Well, I bought it for the ring. I think that it officially put Firestorm’s girlfriend on the “girlfriend in a refrigerator” list, though. So now I have.. evidence?

Battle for the John Buys Comics

Azrael: Death’s Dark Knight No 2 of 3

You know, this isn’t half bad. I didn’t pay too much attention to Azrael the first time out but he had some interesting history, with the secret religious order and the mental conditioning and so forth (and wouldn’t it have been a great idea for DC to have brought him back a few years ago, during the height of Da Vinci Code fever?) but was way too tied into the spiky Early Nineties sensibilities for my taste. Not that I won’t read all his stuff eventually - my quest to read All Batman Ever is a heavy burden to bear.

So this series is concerned with Michael Lane, one of the prospective replacement Batmen from the Morrison run, being offered the role of Azrael by a splinter faction of the Order of St. Dumas. Hey, there’s some cursed armour, some flaming swords, some personal tragedy - lots of fun. Oracle puts in a much better appearance here than she does in her own book, which must be set in the future or the past or something, I guess. Best of all? The League of Assassins! Those guys don’t get used enough, I assure you, and they have the Hook with them to boot, in one of the few comics that I’ve read where the Hook neither kills Boston Brand nor is killed himself. I think that the Hook might just be one of the most frequently-dead characters in comics. Also, Leland McCauley, who is a Legion antagonist, appears, I think.

Anyway, given my expectations going in, this was an enjoyable time.

Battle for the Cowl: Arkham Asylum No 1 (of 1!)

I was going to lead into this one by saying that just like it was interesting to read a story featuring the Hook wherein he doesn’t die it would be so to read a comic about Jeremiah Arkham not going mad, but I’ve changed my mind. All of the best Arkham Asylum stories have ol’ Jeremiah and the very best ones imply that he’s completely off his rocker without stating it outright.

So the Asylum was blown up during Batman R.I.P. and now Jeremiah Arkham is wandering around in the wreckage remembering the good old days when costumed maniacs used to taunt him. It’s a decent enough comic but it’s definitely the final nail in the coffin for Battle for the Cowl as any sort of accurate title for this whole mess. As far as I can make out, the actual Battle for the Cowl comics and maybe Azrael are actually concerned with actual battling for an actual cowl. The rest of these comics (Commissioner Gordon, Man-Bat, etc) are like unto a separate series about what Gotham is like sans Batman - why not call the World Without a Batman and get on with things? Oracle I think is just kind of tacked on because she’s part of the Bat-family.

This issue is notable because it features a new version of No-Face (no doctor, this one), thus showcasing my astonishing prophetic abilities. And he’s interesting! Also, Humpty Dumpty!

Supergirl No 40

WHAAAA? Superwoman is… whaaa?

Neat! Good reveal! What a twist! I have one important question that is totally a spoiler!

You know what I like about the Superman titles right now? That the bad guys are just so thoroughly rotten - even Cat Grant, though I’ll bet a dollar that she’ll have a life-changing experience and mend her ways some day. I’m still a little sad that Agent Liberty is dead, but I just like having as many different superfolk running around the DCU as possible (and it’s not like someone else won’t end up in the suit PDQ). I think I’m going to have to go back and read me some more Supergirl - I’m late to this particular ballgame.

Invincible No. 61

So: last issue insane villain Angstrom Levy brought in a bunch of alternate versions of Invincible (and have I ever mentioned how fond I am of alternate versions of characters? If I were a super-hero I’d eat lunch with a different alternate-universe Johnathan every day. Even the evil ones surely couldn’t resist a good sammich) and they all fought basically everyone in the shared Image Universe and wrecked the whole damn place. I’m sure that you’ve gathered that I’m not fond of the crossover event as a whole but this one was pretty well done, all-in-all, possibly because it was so blessedly short. And this issue was great. Invincible is another of those great series that actually change over time - heck, the status quo has been stood on its head about seventeen times so far, and for good reason. Half a dozen nigh-invulnerable, super-strong dudes slugging it out with dozens of super-heroes? Of course a few cities are going to be leveled, and now we get to read about all sorts of delicious aftermath. Robert Kirkman and Ryan Ottley are a heckuva team - I’m very sure that this comic would swiftly go off the rails into unreadability if someone else tried to write it.

Mister X: Condemned No. 4 of 4

Man, I almost wish I hadn’t picked up the first issue of this when it came out a few months ago. It’s great - visually interesting and full of terrific weird characters and set in a city that drives people mad and there are retro-future robots and such everywhere - but as I soon learned it has a lot of prior history and now I’m going to have to go back and read it all to satisfy the information demands of my own fevered brain. Not that it was hard to follow: Mister X has been out of circulation for a while so this story acts as a very effective introduction to the setting and to some of the cast, setting the mood along the way. People use the word “noir” a lot when they talk about this series and it’s very appropriate - lucky for me there appears to be a trade or three on the horizon so’s I can catch up.

Oh! There was an Art Frahm joke in the first issue! Tell me how I could resist that.

Viking No. 1

Good times! This is a gorgeous damn comic, with all kinds of painted art and super nice (non-glossy!) paper. Hell, it even smells good for some reason.

The writing is good and - and I hope that this comes out right - will be better after a few more issues come out. Hmm, wait. By which I mean that once I come back and read this again after getting to know the characters involved and so forth I’ll appreciate it even more. There’s no short story to set the stage and no text box pops in to tell me who every character is as they appear so things must be figured out contextually. It’s a good technique if done well, and Ivan Brandon has managed to do it quite well here. Also, he hasn’t fallen into the trap of over-romanticising the past: the characters aren’t noble, honour-bound warriors speaking solely in archaic terms and neither are they grunting, blood-soaked savages. Like most people in history they speak colloquially and are concerned with making money and dealing with their crazy family and having a good time. And fighting with spears. Big thumbs up, JOHN APPROVED.

Warlord of Io and Other Stories

Oh, good show James Turner. You can always be counted on to write and illustrate something very strange and very wonderful, like the very odd Nil: a Land Beyond Belief or Rex Libris, a book that makes the part of me that loves working in libraries very happy indeed.

The title story, "Warlord of Io" features a lad named Zing who becomes ruler of that whole damn moon when his father retires to the pleasure domes. There are lotsa good weird aliens and space facts and such... I sure hope that this continues as is promised at the end of this chapter, as Turner's imagination is very appealing to me. The rest of the comic follow suit, demons and Tiki Pirates and all.

I mean, just check out the map on the inside cover - there's something called The Great Steel Anenome Brain... can you afford to miss this?

Ho ho ho, what's this?

Showcase Presents: legion of Super-Heroes, Volume 3!

Hooray! And how, you ask, do I feel about this?


Also this week: Batman: The Brave and the Bold No. 4, which remains a very good comic adaptation of a cartoon based on a comic book character, which is a surprisingly failure-ridden subset of the comics field. I am extraordinarily fond of the cartoon and this comic does a great job of capturing some of its energy. And being able to hear Aquaman shout “Outrageous!” in my head enhances the experience to no end.

Johnathan... out!