Reading DragonNero, which has a very clean, detailed beautiful line that reminds of early 2000AD. The story is slow going and each chapter is prefaced by a detailed map, which makes it feel like an RPG writeup.
Reading the rebooted Prophet series and after being really confused about the series starting at issue 21 I hit the search engines to figure out what was going on.
I was really surprised to discover this was a Rob Liefield X-Force era character!
The reboot is all moody fantasy-sci-fi with a Moebius vibe. It kind of takes no prisoners with its invented culture but so far it's engaging.
Reading through the hardback edition of Barbarian Lord so far such a bizarre mix of Nordic sagas and a reimagining of He-Man.
Barbarian Lord eventually settled down to a grimly Nordic tale of revenge, poetry and violence with the hero encountering vengeful spirits, bandits and trolls.
The thing that made the book standout was the passages of verse inspired by the skalds. Birds form a kind of chorus to the action and talk in this stylised form and Barbarian Lord himself must display his poetic abilities to win back his stolen farm.
The various death speeches are excellent exercises in pathos. My favourite was the rather bathetic final line of a character who ends up with a sword embedded in his skull: "I have long wanted to possess a sword of this quality".
Finally read my copy of Sammy the mouse #1 from 2009 (I am often very guilty of having eyes bigger than my reading time).
It's a nice black and white expressionist style with the characters being based on Disney characters like Mickey Mouse, Pluto and Donald Duck but being altered enough to avoid copyright infringement so it the original characters are only really echoed.
It's a really misery-fest with the entire cast existing on a spectrum of alchoholism. Sammy is agoraphobic and depressed, Puppy Boy suffers from seizures and cannot articulate or share what is thinking and working on.
The world is cold and uncaring and the main order of business for anyone in it is to endure their suffering.
Winter's Knight (catalogue entry) is a wordless comic featuring an aged knight who seems to alternate between exploring an abandoned village and nearby sinister wood and fantasing about a beautiful woman from an earlier period in his life.
Interestingly the knight seems neither very brave nor competent with a blade and the reason for his lonely wandering is not revealed.
Without speech (there are words, shaped to reflect how they are being imagined) much of the story is left to the flat, colourful art which so distinctive. The use of colour palettes is imaginative with tones and shifts being subtly communicated.
Surprised to find myself with a copy of Trees #1, which I had very much wanted to read. The issue sets the scene for a dystopian future where the Earth has encountered an alien form of life that is completely indifferent to existence of humanity on the planet. A series of vignettes from around the globe there seems to be more scene setting than plot this time round.
Isabel Greenberg's retelling of the Snow Queen is an enjoyable mixture of whimsy and danger.
The art is great, stylised but with an excellent sense of flat colours and subtle shading.
Starting to read Saga vol. 1, the first chapter was a bit meh but the story seems to be improving in chapter 2.
I signed up to the Image Comics store. They sell CBZ/CBR direct, which seems fairer than Comixology.
The first issues I bought were of Spread which is a post-apocalypse monster series featuring a loner with a child. The story so far is a bit meh but the artwork is excellent.
Warren Ellis's final issue in his run on Moon Knight (#6) is a well-written short story that digs into a casual put-down and builds a story that never quite carries its melodrama but never
Pencils and colour are excellent, dramatically moody and capable of carrying the out-the-top action scenes crisply.
I tried two of the Comic Readers on Windows today: C Display X (snappy title) was the most intuitive to use but the install process required an opt-out of a browser plugin and search engine change.
Comic Rack simply asked for donations, which seems fair as I'm happy to pay on a commercial OS. However it felt very powerful but complicated. Clicking didn't do things on context but acted as a toggle, page turning is via page up and down rather than the arrow keys.
Nothing really felt right.
After the roaming focus of issue one, Trees #2 spends longer on the research station, zooming out to different areas and therefore giving more of a focus to the story.
The Bunker kicks off the difficult to swallow proposal that five college friends hold the future of the human race in their hands and send back a bunker to their past selves to try and advert an armageddon they caused.
Once you struggle past it though it moves on to some of the intriguing implications of time travel. How does knowledge affect someone's actions. Are the characters changing the future or acting to bring about what they now know?
The art and colouring style is also very attractive being sparse, dynamic and impressionistic.
Trees #3 takes back to Italy and the frankly uninteresting cliches of the fascist moll and the pistol wielding professor.
The Chinese thread of the story is more interesting but doesn't go anywhere in the issue. It's more like a placeholder, "remember that Chinese kid?".
IDP: 2043 is an interesting anthology book where a single story is told by different pairs of writers and artists (rather like Nelson).
Unfortunately this ends up in an uneven and inconsistent story that rarely grabbed my attention and which alternates between dystopian action, expressionist angst and dinner party philosophy.
The ending is also improbably utopian, which is a nice surprise but doesn't feel earned after all the nastiness that has come before. Does a true heart really receive a fair hearing?
The best section is Dan McDaid and Irvine Welsh's tribute to V for Vendetta. The art and the story are complementary and drive forward together. The art shifting to reflect the emotion of the scene.
An interest pretext for a story but the execution lacks conviction.
The new X-Factor series has amazing cover art but more humdrum interior work. The standard of Marvel's art is amazingly high now, but often character-less.
The story is too slow burn and it feels like something that would be better read in collection rather like the more inventive earlier reboot of X-Factor.
That featured superheroes as celebrities, this one does superheroes as corporate social responsibility. There's something about this team that engages writers to try different takes on the same tropes.
For me its really important that I enjoy both the art and the writing in a comic. Either aspect can save the other but for me I'd rather read straight prose than see a story poorly illustrated.
Astro City Volume One: Life in the big city was really interesting from a story point of view with interesting takes on Superman, superhero romance and the consequences of secret identities.
The art wasn't really to my taste. In terms of future volumes I felt that creating a setting and mythology allows you to tell the story you want but it somehow lacks the authenticity that years of collective storytelling builds up.
Rat Queens Volume One was good fun with its gender-inversion ironic take on fantasy adventure tropes. Overall though the humour felt juvenile and for a book that features an all-women cast it felt a lot like women being written by a man.
Saga's art is consistently beautiful but the story is a mess until the arrival of Heist in Volume 2. From this point on the story gets much more focussed and loses the ridiculous adventure story aspect in favour of focussing on the problems and rivalries of the protagonists.
The slow burn revelation of Heist's seditious propaganda is the storyline that draws everything else together.
The story is in high gear by Volume 3 and in the final issues I was struck that even Prince Robot IV finally gets a sufficiently insightful moment that we can empathise with him as a complex character. Up until then we've been told he has problems and that he's unhappy but he's so one-dimensional that I didn't care.
The fakeout death of Lying Cat in Volume 2 is very weak sauce.
Enjoyed Butterfly #1 despite its rickety and melodramatic tale of inter-generational CIA trickery. The story is well structured, with a neat twist about halfway through. The artwork is attractive and cliffhanger has kept me engaged.
I read this view Comixology's guided view and it really worked for me, with some good pullbacks to allow you to appreciate the full panel after some tight focus.
I read through Volume 1 of the rebooted Black Widow. The art is lovely with a painterly quality and some stylistic references back to 70s film posters.
However the story and the dialogue fail to really match the quality of the art.
Hawkeye volume 2: Little Hits is a pretty good book, building on the unique styling of the first. The writing is much ropier with my pet gripe being that Hawkeye alternates between ploughing through legions of goons and having them beat him to a pulp, requiring nothing more than for him to wear plasters and take painkillers.
However there are several standout brilliant episodes. The first is the non-linear Six days in the life of which has Hawkeye trying to enjoy a regular Christmas and behave like a normal person. The panel structure and repeated graphical motifs are simply some of the most interesting I've seen in comics recently.
This gets built on in Pizza is my business which invents a whole iconography to convey the thought process of a dog along with continuing to develop the new language of speech bubbles that Fraction has been working on. In this story the dialogue is just scribble apart from the limited vocabulary that the dog understands. This whole story is nothing less than genius and ultimate pushes the whole form forward in a way that nothing else is doing.
I also liked the meta-framing of issue 8 My bad Penny which uses comic covers to chapter the issue and just when it feels too arch reincorporates into the narrative in a dramatic crashing way that transforms the story.
Batwoman Vol. 1: Hydrology has turned out to be fascinating read from low expectations. The first thing is that the art by writer-artist J. H. Williams is amazing with an intriguing mixture of styles in the same book. There are lots of gauzy paintings and then a very sharp, clean and detailed panel style that is more like Geoff Darrow.
There is a spread detailing the forensic reconstruction of a street fight where the ability to overlay completely different stories is used with a panache I haven't seen outside of Matt Fraction's scripts.
Story-wise there's an interesting mix of intrigue, caped politics and street-level investigation. The overarching story points though are supernatural with a ghost modelled on Mexican folklore abducting children.
One of the really interesting aspects of the plotting is the confidence that the writing team have to not to resolve anything to readily and always have a few threads running while avoiding the Lost-syndrome of runaway questions with no answers.
Gotham by Midnight #5 brings together Batman and The Spectre. The story is moderately interesting with the ghosts of Gotham's slaughtered Native Americans seeking justice from the Spectre. Since there is no tangible defence for the Euros here much of the issue is taken up with the idea of killing Corrigan, the Spectre's human host.
Ultimately a nun sacrifices herself in imitation of Christ to save the city. Either that works for you or it doesn't. For me given that the Spectre doesn't feel like it fits in a Judaeo-Christian context it wasn't satisfying.
The real standout though is the art by Ben Templesmith which is very reminiscent of early Sam Keith, a very exaggerated cartoon style with extremely bright colours.
Reyn #3 I'm not sure what drew me to this science-fantasy series, ultimately in underwhelmed on all fronts.
The Question #2, I loved the original Question series (with all its weird storylines, misery and dodgy politics).
This female version is at the centre of a flirting triangle with Huntress and the new Batwoman and a story I couldn't fathom about the character's dying father and Harvey Dent.
Ultimately I don't like the idea of a wisecracking, flirty Question, I'm too wedded to the idea of a grimdark miserable character.
I'm enjoying the charms of the collected edition of Nimona.
The overall story of inverted heroism and villainy rockets along.
The transfer from a web comic has resulted in large gutters and frequently tiny hand-lettering that is difficult to read.
Nimona herself also often comes across a manic dream pixie-girl. This gets balanced by Ballister's, emphatic curiosity about her past and the truth of her powers. But as a character she, despite being eponymous is more of a spirit animal than a protagonist.
Tokyo Ghost is visually excellent and has a suitably timeless cyberpunky story but it also has this signature piece of interesting panel layout: a two-thirds landscape panel with floating text in the final third.
I bought Batwoman 38, mostly because I have a fondness for some of the weirder elements of the DC universe, like Ragman but Juan Jose Ryp's pencils really blew me away.
Four Eyes has an intriguing art style, mostly black and white with a different palette for Four Eyes the dragon and Enrico's training gloves.
The setting is a kind of Steampunk Depression America.
Ultimately the story didn't engage me, it felt like this was the immigrant story of America told again with urban fantasy trappings.
It's taken me eight years to read Comic Journal #294 and it's a massive disappointment. I was interested in the interview with Jason but he's one of those interviewees who doesn't really want to reflect on his work or say that there is anything deeper than superficial motivations and influences on his work.
The Mark Tatulli interview is a lot better but also spends a lot of time on newspaper syndication of strips (things were already bad in 2008) which isn't really my thing at all.
I found an old copy of a Lando comic in a box today. It has a symbolic title which I've discovered is catalogued and Untranslated #2
It's one of those cyclic sci-fi conflict stories that features characters who speak symbol based languages and are fighting one another before symbolically dying and being reborn.
It's the stuff I love from him.
I really enjoyed Ron Garney's art on the recent Daredevils (#4 and #5) but the story was a bit ho-hum.
The Black Road is doing an interesting thing with its covers where only blue and red are being used as colours on primarily black on white illustrations.
Visually it is quite striking.
The Fourth Planet has beautiful art and an interesting perspective on different alien races but ultimately it might be something that I prefer to read in a collected format.
Moonshine has beautiful art with a pencil line that is reminiscent of early Frank Miller and a nice palette of colours.
However the story of hill billy moonshiners, FBI agents, mafia goons and werewolves feels stale and too full of cliches.
Girrion channels Nausicca, the Prince of Katamari Damarcy and a little bit of Jim Henderson to create a science-fantasy tale that moves quite slowly and fails to really work in an episodic form but which might work better in a collected form.
It does have a great central idea in this issue of a tribe of scavengers living inside a damaged spaceship parked in the atmosphere of a planet, the result of a conflict they current inhabitants poorly understand. That had echoes of The Force Awakens for me.
Moon Knight #10 (2016 series) has a neat trick at the end of the issue where the panel series rotates with the comic ultimately being turned upside down.
I don't think I have seen that before and it is a trick that intimately links to the physicality of the book.
The story is so-so, with the visual imagery of New York drowning under a sea of sand being the biggest idea.
Cowboys and Insects has a bright, colourful post-war American style that reminds me of Geoff Darrow and David Aja.
The story features an alternative history where giant mutated insects fuel the post-war American economy and provide a metaphor for Jim Crow discrimination.
As ever violence underpins the American dream and the central character has too choose whether they will conform to expectations and enjoy the benefits of majority rule.
It's quite a dark story but lighter than the source material it's riffing off.