Saturday, 24 November 2012

COMIX ZONE: 24/11/12

A smaller haul this week (which can only mean a comparably larger one next time), with another first ish, another gorgeous Batwoman from J.H. Williams & co. and another pair of Spider-flavoured antics and the loss of a body part from yours truly. Let us crack onwards, ye mans and womans!
First off the plate (?) is this week's Captain America #1, written by last week's Uncanny Avengers scribe Rick Remender (lately of the superb Venom series also) and illustrated by erstwhile Amazing Spider-Man cohorts John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson and Dean White who as a team can't help but transport me back to that less-than-fondly-remembered-but-at-least-nicely-illustrated period after Spider-Man's marriage was annulled by the devil (aka Mr. Joe Quesada). I can remember reading one Captain America issue ever, in which he wasn't even Cap because the government had taken the title off him and he was wandering the Americas as, like, Flag Battler or something like that. Basically what I'm saying is, for all my immersion in comic lore, I probably know as much as you do about this guy. He's from the past, he likes America, ummm... That's all I got. So this was a fresh, icy fresh experience for me, gang. It's a good issue, too. Though I don't know why yet, Cap has been transported to another dimension and stolen a baby. That's all I'm telling you besides this book looks awesome and reads awesome and has earned a regular spot for purchase and review. I'll let you know how that infant theft goes next time the book's out which, knowing Marvel's publishing schedules, will be sometime during the, like, past or something. Dudes are quick.

Something neat about Batwoman #14, and the series in general, is that it's not interrupted by ads as they're all left to the end of the book. It says something about JH Williams' art that DC are willing to present the book this way - comics aren't known for their embrace of change and ads is money, and money is money. So yes, the art is top-notch. Top drawer. Top banana, if you will (I wouldn't, but to each his own). I'm enjoying this Wonder Woman/ Batwoman crossover so much that I might just stop reading once the book goes back to normal and bail out on a high. WW fits so well into Williams' script and scribblings that it's not hard to imagine her as a regular fixture of the book, and the Greek myth that she brings with her (including in this issue ol' Medusa herself and Killer Croc's quite unexpected transformation into the Hydra), gaghhh, it's all so suitable. More more more. The best-looking book on the shelves this and (every) month.

Finally, our pair of Spider-Men. Despite the last three issues' lacklustre Danger Zone arc, I still wound up saving Dan Slott's Amazing Spider-Man #698 for last. Old habits, all that. To Bendis' Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #17 first, then, and another chapter in the line-wide story that I've not been following in other books and feel unfit to comment on. Civil War in America seems to be the order of the day, but things are popping up or disappearing from month to month and I'm just lost altogether. I could do with less of these mega-crossovers, to be honest. I'll wait for the hardcover to fill in the pieces but for now I'll have to be content with just hanging out with Miles (and whichever artists are handling him this month) and waiting for his book to be his own again.

I'll apologise in advance, but this week's Amazing is truly amazing. Like I said last week, I had this feeling that Danger Zone was just killing time and that the really good stuff had to wait 'til now so it could coincide with the year ending and all. Scheduling, man, it's all in the scheduling. This latest (and apparently final) three-issuer, Dying Wish, kicks off with a brief sort of retrospective and wouldn't be the worst place to jump on if you were new to Spider-Man, covering as it does some of his origin aspects and confirming the status of his relationships with his family, friends and workmates. All that and the biggest, best twist I've read since I started following monthly books earlier this summer. I made a point of staying away from message boards and review sites for this one because the title seems spoilerific enough but the way things panned out left my jaw literally on the floor. That's right - literally. It detached from my body and I'm writing this with a ghastly overbite. I may never recover. Pray you never meet me in person and have to avoid staring at it. Best time to be a Spider-fan.

See y'all next week. So long as I'm in whichever house the books are delivered to on the day the books are delivered, I'll get these up on Saturday from now on.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Comix Zone NOW!

Yes. I suck. I put a NOW! in the title. Even in context this is a stupid thing to do. Like, say, you're Marvel, right, and a year or so ago your biggest competitor relaunched all their comics with a brand new, sales-grabbing #1 issue and were completely successful in successfully rebranding and rekindling interest. What are you gonna do? Well, of course, you're going to have to do the same thing yourself, and launch a buncha #1s under a single banner. Fair enough. Sense is sense. But did you have to call it "NOW!"? All in caps and with an exclamation point? I wish them the best of success, hell, I've even contributed to it - I've picked up five #1s so far - but that NOW! is just goofy. Totally gooftastic. It's the character Goofy. A Goofy Movie, if you will.

I've gone off the track somewhere here.

Comics! That was it. This week's pick features four of those NOW! #1s, a pair of DC's Death In The Family entries for the ongoing Batman saga this month and the last issue of Amazing Spider-Man before the final three-issue story launches to culminate in December's #700 and the book relaunches as Superior Spider-Man next year. I've decided I'm annoyed that I've so blindly accepted the term 'jump' as it relates to blog structuring without so much of a hint of understanding its actual meaning, so I'm just going to say click the 'read more >>' button and soothe the savagery that burns forever within at the prospect of not completely understanding Internet etymology.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

News and That

Rest easy, compadres: I'm working on this week's Comix Zone as we speak, I just got a little caught up in travellular circumstances and making up whole new words and it's got delayed but will, at least, be live by midnight Thursday and by design is already a week out of date anyway so just deal, huh?

In the meantime, rumblings have been happening that I simply cannot not comment on. Double negatives are not not cool, in case you forgot. Neither is it unfashionable to boldly split infinitives. But I digress. This is literary masturbation. Onwards to other paragraphs.

We're a little late on the reportage here, but there are new Star Warses happening on account of Disney buying Lucasfilm at the tail end of last month. Disney bought Star Wars. DISNEY bought Star Wars. As gobflabsting as that is to wrap around the mindfinger, the real joy of the revelation came with the announcement that George Lucas will barely be involved in future Star Warfare, least of all in a scripting or directing the proposed new trilogy of films. Why a trilogy? Because people are stupid, is why a trilogy. I've not the venom in me today for that rant, though, so let's take a look at the facts s'far.

Michael Arndt, writer of the excellent Little Miss Sunshine and, of course, Toy Story 3, has been hired to write the first of the three and rumours abound today that Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote The Empire Strikes Back with the late Leigh Brackett, is in consideration for the second. No directors have been confirmed yet but if there's any truth to the murmurings that Jon Favreau, whose forte seems to be directing great performances in shittily boring movies, is due to direct I'll be even less interested that I already am.

Which is very little.

We've been here before. Hearts broke, childhoods compromised, all that stuff. I'm not worried about getting my hopes up only for three new shitty films to roll along, Lucas or not: I'm just not interested anymore. Why should I be? It's been 29 years since the last relevant Star War came out. It's done, over. The name means nothing to me now. Any product I've experienced with the Star Wars name on it just hasn't been the same as those three movies. To me, it was never a brand or even a seal of quality - it was the name of three great films, perhaps my favourite ever, and nothing more. So, sure, yeah, it's a good thing, I suppose, that one of the cats who wrote for the original three films is getting involved, but only as far as saying it in a sentence. It doesn't mean anything from 30 years ago is going to be recaptured, it doesn't lend it any more credibility, it doesn't make these new films a good thing. It's still watercooler material but short of advancements in actual time-travel-filmmaking, I can't see this ever being worthwhile.

A pair of Tyreese
In TV news that's also comics news, fan-favourite Walking Dead character Tyreese seems to be in line for either a late-season-3 or season-4 spot on the show and Chad Coleman - know to fans of the best things ever as Dennis 'Cutty' Wise from HBO's The Wire - has landed the role. Or should that be landed in the role? Pick one. Anyway, Cutty is one of The Wire's best dudes, and given the honestly bafflingly high quality of the current season, it's safe to say the show is going from strength to strength. This is all Paul-approved. Consider it stamped.

You may have read also that Elmo from Sesame Street has resigned from the show on account of his puppeteer being involved in scandal and some such. Isn't the world just shite sometimes?

Finally, here's all (maybe not all) of The Simpsons' McBain scenes edited into a fairly coherent movie. Like Father Larry Duff, it's tremendous fun. See you next time.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Twinkie Addendum

Seems Spider-Man is not above lying to a supervillain about forthcoming Twinkies in order to clear his name and fill a cell. This is ad from a late 70s comic is ... MARVELOUS... and has made me alllll the sadder. Goddamnit, these mothers were an edible institution:

Clicky for bigger

Friday, 16 November 2012

Lament, O Ye, That Such A Day As This Ever Could Come

Hostess, producers they of the almighty Twinkie, have run out of money and packed up shop forever.

Ne'er to be gazed upon again
I discovered Twinkies last year living in England, for sale in the local sweet shop in Crewe which shut soon after, causing me to resort to traveling occasionally to Manchester's awesome Afflecks bazaar to sate my need for that yellow sugar'd treat. I'd been obsessed with them since first seeing them stuffed whole into the mouths of a pair of characters in Buffy The Vampire Slayer about thirteen years ago and fantasized for years about what they must taste like. My first was in a train station that smelled (and smells still, I imagine) like one of my aunts' houses used to, and I was unable to describe it and sat, at once ecstatic and yet remorseful for the millions of me's that lived 'til that point and never knew such joy.

Since leaving England in June I've not since had a Twinkie, and I'm now worried that I may never again. I hear there's a shop in the next town over that sells them, and I'm hoping the student collective hasn't their finger as on the pulse of American confectionary news as I, and that I'm able to stockpile a few before the inevitable. I've not been as saddened by the loss of a foodstuff as when I recently realised (with a violent spasm of woe) that Mars Delight is no longer sold round these parts. A poem then, to commemorate this dreadful fucking day, with respect and condolence to mouths everywhere.

Rest ye, Twinkie, in hunger's heaven: yours is that perch atop;
It is not yours to look down; to see you, we need only look up.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Best Things: The Walking Dead #5

The new series of AMC's The Walking Dead has been that good that I've finally started reading the comic series again to catch up with the recently released 104th issue. In the early issues the art was a lot more cartoonish than it later became when Charlie Adlard took over, but Tony Moore's run produced one of the coolest panels ever which is presented for your rapt devourment below.

So because it's a day of the week, Lori is upset about something, this time that Carl's taken an interest in shooting:

And blahs three times to Rick about it:

She even throws a 'whatever' at him. Personally speaking, if I had a son who'd just been given a gun and I was upset about it, I'd not just walk away from something like that. But whatever. Sure enough, zomboids attack the camp (these issues mirror the first season where they were hanging about the countryside most the time), and Lori, protecting the young Carl behind her, panics and fumbles:

And Carl?


The look on his face is perfect. The panel is perfect. Perfect comics. Fuck you Lori!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


First up - and I mean even as first up as dominanting the entire header image - is this week’s mystery comic as alluded to in the last edition. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you GI Combat #6, featuring... THE HAUNTED TANK.

I can sum up very easily why I forked over my three bucks for issue six of The Haunted Tank. It is because, and this is the entirety of my reason for purchasing it, it is called The Haunted Tank. It is about a tank that is haunted. The tank is not possessed, not sentient, as far as this title wants us to know. It is merely haunted. The tank is haunted by a ghost. The tank is not a castle or an orphanage or a graveyard, but nonetheless it is haunted, completely haunted, by a fuckin’ ghost.

Jumping onboard at number #6 means I’d feel unfair commenting on this series from anything but a position of ignorance, so instead all I can do is point out the things I like about it. Not to appear, then, on that list, is the plot or characters or dialogue or even art or anything in general at all. I’m not really a fan of the Tomasi/ Gray combo (also responsible for the wide-of-the-mark Batman & Robin series also currently on racks) but I’m even less fond of war and old guys who were in the war and people giving off about the Taliban because they’re at war with the Taliban and guns and fatigues and war and junk. That’s not to say The Haunted Tank #6 isn’t without its saving graces. Here are them. This great four-panel sequence in which the phrase “Clankety-Clank-Clank”, undeterred by its total inability to strike fear in any living thing, is appropriated  in a way that aims at intimidiation and instead strikes right in the heart of dumber than a shithouse rat (thanks to wrestler X-Pac for that coolio phrase):

I wonder if that's The Haunted Tank's equivalent of "it's clobberin' time". Finally, this, which I give to you without context as that’s how it’s presented in the fucking comic:

Is he being punched or is he attacking, because no one answer you can possibly imagine is less entertaining that the other.

Should you buy it? No. What you should buy is a series of The Haunted Tank written by me, because in MY version of THT, the tank has a name (affectionately referred to as ‘Haunty’ or ‘Aitch Tee’ by his pre-pubescent pals), and goes on all kinds of non-war adventures and is really, really awesome. Don’t buy this. It is a silly thing.


As for Swamp Thing, which follows last week’s Annual issue, it still plods along at an entertaining pace telling a story that passably entertaining but can’t inspire better words in me than the word 'entertaining'. Like I said before, this whole Rotworld thing has gone on for far too long (literally since the start of the New 52) and the stage it’s at now is clearly a potential-future type deely that’s not going to impact anything and is therefore rendered a little pointless. I’ll keep reading because I like the way it looks and sounds but it’s no great shakes. People say that still, don’t they?

Animal Man, also part of the Rotworld ‘event’, is much more entertaining. I guess I get more out of Buddy Baker’s family being in trouble than I do from being lied to about Swamp Thing’s girlfriend being dead in the other book. It helps, too, that Buddy’s buddied up with Constantine and Steel in his strand of things, and that Socks the cat is still around to make the pages of the book all the more idiosyncratic. It took me a while to realise it but Animal Man’s a book I look forward to more and more each month. 

Following last week’s enjoyment of Avenging Spider-Man’s Annual I saw fit to add that title to my pull list as well. It and Swamp Thing have, with their two-weeks-in-a-row publication, fooled my brain into thinking that I can pick up whatever I want every week like some reality-bending brain wizard. It’s a good issue, nearly a great issue. The creative team is totally different from the last issue I read but it still nails that whole ‘this story isn’t important at all so instead can be totally fun’, which bleeds through to the 70s-esque editor’s notes which themselves are full of little nudges and winks. Basic plot? Spider-Man’s in the Savage Land having a ruck with some mutant dinosaurs and teams up with Devil Dinosaur, a giant red T-Rex. Funny script and great Gabriele Dell’Otto art, and what a cover, jeez, look at that thing. Gorgeous. Also, Spider-Man teams up with A DINOSAUR. I'm just happy that I'm able to still get a kick out of a sentence like that at 25, and also that the real issue which exists and is not made up is not the product of the mind of a really awesome child.

Finally (I’m a big believer in best-for-last planning when reading my hauls), issue #2 of Daredevil: End Of Days, whose first issue last month came out of nowhere and instantly became my most craved book. The second ish isn’t really a patch on the first and is very much the sort of chapter that’ll read great in a collection for feels a little like getting the short end when collecting monthly, something I’ve had to accept since starting doing so. Bendis claimed on Twitter that this issue features his favourite DD moment ever, but for the life of me I can’t figure out what it is. It may hit me on the inevitable re-read. The Janson/ Sienkiewicz/ Hollingsworth art is still completely appealing on every level, a perfect collaboration in comic book art.

So, Spider-Man in the jungle with a dinosaur vs. more dinosaurs, adventures in pointless alternate futures that no-one cares about and haunted fucking tanks. Is there a better time to be a comics fan? Find out next week when I take a look at Marvel's New 52-challenging NOW! relaunch with a batch of new #1s and a few Bat-titles from the ongoing Death Of The Family over at DC.


Monday, 12 November 2012

What a Terrible Weekend of Sport (well... for me anyway)

Welcome to Red Five Standing By, the new home of our collective ramblings. In saying that though, I've been terrible when it comes
to blogging lately. As usual I'll promise to write more, but who knows if that will actually happen. I've got some spare time this evening so I thought I'd do a little bit of writing. And seeing as that the only interesting things that have occurred lately have been in sport, I thought I'd write about that.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

COMIX ZONE: 7/11/12

Another release day, another really small selection of week-old comics reviews. In terms of my regulars it was a slow week so I picked up a pair of new titles to check out, but all four of this week's issues occupy a weird limbo zone of comics publication - three are Annuals and another is what's known round these here parts as a Point One, essentially books off to the side of any ongoing storylines (or separate from them altogether) to flesh out supporting cast, tell done-in-one tales or showcase new creative teams. This is right up my street and turned out to be one of the most enjoyable hauls I've had in a while. I miss the days of a full story per month in comics and while I'm all for the bigger modern arcs (excepting maybe DC's current "Rotworld" run which has basically been playing out across two books for over a year now) it's nice to have the relative 'day off' just to see characters you love doing something that in the grand boo-bah publishing scheme of things doesn't matter. I'll see you after the jump, friendo:

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Ten Things I Love About Skyfall

"The name is James. Mister James Bond" - 23 Films.

So goes the line that, without exception, has opened every single James Bond ever made and even those that haven't been made yet (such as GoldGoldGold, The Slengthening Of The Matriarch and 007 In New York). In this latest of years, it's come to mark a fiftieth anniversary for the besuited gent, but more importantly it can at last claim to open the best Bond, James film in nearly a pair of decades.

OK, that's enough of that. I needed to get that shit out my system and I concocted that headline quote fucking months ago, waiting for an excuse to use it in an appropriate and relevant situation. Serious-head on? Skyfall is badd ass. Yeah: badd with TWO ds. I have points and points to make and I've already wasted at least one paragraph so let's just get it started up in here. Ten reasons why Skyfall pulls double duty kickin' booty, full of spoilers and after the jump which, if you like, you may consider the blog-jump equivalent of the dam sequence at the start of Goldeneye.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

COMIX ZONE: 1/11/12

I started reading comics monthly earlier this year after recieving a bunch for free from a silly internet person and then trading those to the awesome guys at Travelling Man in Manchester for some newer series simply because I hadn't the patience to try and sell them on Ebay. Prior to that I'd not bought a single issue comic in maybe ten years. When people talk about making a leap, that's what that was like for me. For many years I was intimidated by following monthly series because of the amount of catching up I imagined I had to do. Cue DC and the New 52, their line-wide relaunch from last September that set everything back to #1 and made it a lot less of a hassle jumping on board a 70+ year-old series like Batman. Soon enough I had found a suitable point for some other Marvel series and before I knew it I was a regular comics buyer, juggling brand new ongoing stories with my usual consumption of collections of older stuff. Seems to me that, as I'm reading these things every week, I may as well write about them. You may find some inspiration in these words to pick something up yourself, as I have once or twice. I've started to branch out a little and jump onto some titles I've not been buying before just to get a feel for them, with varying degrees of success to date. Also, the Ebay store I buy these from (the fantastic A Place In Space - go there) usually gets these to me on the weekend (comics are released worldwide on Wednesdays, by the way) so my thoughts will usually be on the previous week's haul, on account of my stubborn-ass "can't afford it, can't read it" policy. No day-of-release downloads for me: less paper is 'twixt fingers, it shall not be read. That was an awful long introduction. Anyways, here's what dropped through the letterbox (read: had to be collected from the the Post Office 'cause my postman is, right, you know what he is? He's a doofus) this week, in alphabetical order for the sake of fairness.