December 20, 2018

The Pull List: 12 September 2018

One of the absolute best new comic books of 2017 was Scales & Scoundrels. It was a fantasy adventure book that started as a loose Dungeons & Dragons pastiche and then expanded and developed along with its characters as they split apart and found ways to face their own problems and challenges. Superficially it was very much like Image stable-mate Rat Queens, whereas that book is dominated by a scabrous attitude and a transgressive sense of humour, Scales & Scoundrels felt more sweet. The humour was there, but the stories had something more serious and even noble about them. It was simply a charming confection.

Then it spontaneously ended, with this 12th and final issue published on 12 September. No real explanation was given - perhaps sales, perhaps personal issues for the creative time - but it simply felt too soon. With the trade paperbacks running to five issues each, these last two issues haven't even made it into a book - so readers may want to track down copies sooner rather than later, since they may potentially never get reprinted or collected.

This final issue picks up on Dorma, returned home but trapped by a rockfall among the tunnels. It's an emotional but fairly truncated conclusion, leading her to come to terms with leaving home many years earlier as well with the death of her brother. Galaad's artwork is wonderful as ever, with a deceptive simplicity. Sebastian Girner's handle on character is superb. We have lost this book for now, and hopefully it will come back, but if this is it then it goes out on a typically strong note. (5/5)

Scales & Scoundrels #12. Image. Written by Sebastian Girner. Art by Galaad.

Under the cut: reviews of Catwoman, Daredevil, Detective Comics, Hawkman, Invader Zim, Mech Cadet Yu, Moth & Whisper, Ms Marvel, Oblivion Song, Rat Queens, Sleepless, Star Wars: Darth Vader, Superman, and The Wicked + the Divine.

December 13, 2018

Dreamcast 20 #13: Power Stone

2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the Dreamcast, Sega's final - and in my opinion the finest - home videogame console. Despite a range of excellent games, it simply failed to compete against Sony's PlayStation 2. To celebrate, The Angriest counts down its 20 best games.

Most fighting games tend to follow the same basic design: a one-on-one martial arts battle between two characters that follow along a one-dimensional plane. They move back and forth, with any two-dimensional side-step simply acting to re-align that linear plane. Fighting games that attempt more complex ranges of movement often struggle because they are more complicated to control. The first one that I ever played that successfully negotiated a fully three-dimensional range of movement was Power Stone, a Capcom fighter exclusively for Sega's arcade platform and the Dreamcast. It's a fantastic, frantic gem.

December 7, 2018

The Pull List: 5 September 2018

The saga of Esther and Ed's awkward will-they won't-they romance hits that stage where Rachel finally decides she loves Ross, but then he comes back from China with Julie in the Season 1 Friends finale. We all know how that ended, and I'm sure there will be a similar resolution here. Giant Days is that kind of comic book, after all. It has the familiarity of a old, worn blanket, and is just as warm.

We don't praise John Allison's writing enough. He develops superb characters, feeding on archetypes, but he also allows them to gradually mature and develop. He tells funny stories that are often done in one issue, but they all feed into longer-term dramatic arcs as his characters fall in and out of love, make mistakes, have little victories, and so on. It feels effortless, but I suspect it's a much trickier job than most of us realise.

Max Sarin's expressive, cartoon-like artwork simply increases the appeal, as do Whitney Cogar's very effective colours. It looks sweet, and that's the perfect tone for these sweet, enchanting stories. A specific shout-out to the Babylon 5 advent calendar: this is a comic with broad, populist appeal, but Allison's a proud nerd at the core. (4/5)

Giant Days #42. Boom Studios. Written by John Allison. Art by Max Sarin. Colours by Whitney Cogar.

Under the cut: reviews of Avengers, Batman, Green Arrow, Immortal Hulk, Justice League, and Star Wars: Doctor Aphra.

December 2, 2018

Dreamcast 20 #14: Skies of Arcadia

27 November 2018 marked the 20th anniversary of the Dreamcast, Sega's final - and in my opinion the finest - home videogame console. Despite a range of excellent games, it simply failed to compete against Sony's PlayStation 2. To celebrate, The Angriest counts down its 20 best games. This project's running behind, like much of this website, since we're at the actual anniversary and we're only up to game #14 in the countdown. Never mind - happy birthday to the Dreamcast.

No games console survives for long in Japan without some role-playing games (RPGs). Starting with Dragon Warriors and Final Fantasy on the Nintendo Famicom, they have always been a key part of a console's success - guaranteeing it hardware sales purely on the back of one or two key breakout titles. The Dreamcast didn't fare outrageously well when it came to RPGs, but it did manage a couple of highlights. One of them was definitely Skies of Arcadia.

The Pull List: 29 August 2018

Still running terribly behind: here are the comics I read from 29 August, starting with Isola #5. Rook and Olwyn have reached the limit of their escape, with nowhere left to go. Hovering between life and death, Olwyn has a vision of her departed brother.

The art in Isola is astounding. It looks like a weird, glossy cross between a quality anime and a Walt Disney feature. Five issues in, and at the conclusion of the first 'chapter' (a trade paperback is out), and the quality hasn't faltered or slipped. This is one of the most attractively illustrated American comics of the year.

The story is evocative and driven by a strong action-oriented momentum. Background detail is being drip-fed to the reader one issue at a time. That cannot last forever, of course. Future arcs (issue 6 is due in January) are going to need to bed down some background context if Isola is going to continue being entertaining. This fifth issue does not quit nail the landing either, and could have done with a firmer footing: either a stronger conclusion or a stronger cliffhanger. Fletcher and Kerschl wind up somewhere in between.

These past five issues have been superb, but something needs tightening up soon if it's going to continue being such a high-quality work. Fingers crossed we get something in 2019. (4/5)

Isola #5. Image. Written by Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl. Art and colours by Karl Kerschl and Msassyk.

Under the cut: reviews of Batgirl, Daredevil, Ms Marvel, and Star Wars: Poe Dameron.

December 1, 2018

The Angriest: November 2018 in review

I spent November in Singapore on vacation and in Taipei serving on the Fipresci Prize Jury at the Taiwan Golden Horse Film Festival, and that didn't leave too much room for writing. Hopefully I can find time to speed up the schedule before the end of the year. With only one piece published this past month on The Angriest, the most popular post was a foregone conclusion. Over at FictionMachine it was a bit more competitive, but the review of The Meg won through - everyone loves reading about bad movies.

Overall in November I wrote two short essays on Japanese silent film, seven film reviews, and short reviews of eight comics books. A list of all posts is included below.

November 25, 2018

The Pull List: 22 August 2018

These reviews, thanks to work pressures and international travel, are ridiculously far behind. There may come a time when I cut my losses on 2018 comic book reviews, but until then we shall continue plugging along. Here are titles read from 22 August, starting with the new miniseries Batman: Kings of Fear, from Scott Peterson and Kelley Jones.

There have been so many Batman comic books published over the decades that it really can get difficult for writers to find new angles and story ideas. Kings of Fear certainly doesn't kick off in the freshest of fashions: Batman recaptures a runaway Joker, and then has to enter Arkham Asylum to defeat him again. It's standard stuff for the character, although it does dangle some intriguing criticism of Batman's methods at one point that could lead somewhere if writer Scott Peterson is bold enough to extend it fully.

Visually there are some inventive panels and pages, but ultimately how much one likes it will come down to how much one enjoys the art of Kelley Jones. A noted Batman artist of past years, Jones has a distinctive and exaggerated style to which I've never quite warmed. Your taste may vary. (3/5)

Batman: Kings of Fear #1. DC Comics. Written by Scott Peterson. Art by Kelley Jones. Colours by Michelle Madsen.

Under the cut: reviews of Action Comics, Daredevil, Detective Comics, Justice League Dark, Star Wars: Darth Vader, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra, and The Terrifics.

November 8, 2018

The Angriest: October 2018 in review

I spent the whole of October on long-service leave (it's an Australian thing) and mostly overseas, so there wasn't too much blogging going on around the net. A review of the 2000 Sega Dreamcast game Samba de Amigo did, however, get a huge number of hits on The Angriest. Over at FictionMachine, the most-read new review was of the Australian fantasy film Harmony.

In total October saw the publication of three new and festival film reviews, one older film review, one videogame reviews, and short reviews of 10 comic books. A full index is included below.

October 7, 2018

The Pull List: 15 August 2018

One day soon, when The Wicked + the Divine has concluded, I am going to go back and re-read the entire series from issue #1. It is such an exceptionally developed and presented work that it just begs for additional scrutiny, and time to really appreciate what an excellent work of narrative art it is. The story is complex and has gradually unfolded in the most effective of ways. The artwork is among the best being published today.

In the 38th issue, a lot of questions are raised. Someone dead may be alive. Someone may be giving up godhood. Someone else has gone missing from, well, pretty much everywhere. Things are clearly nearing the ultimate climax, and it's all getting rather intense.

Every time I praise this series I find myself compelled to start with Jamie McKelvie's artwork. Simply put, there's no one in the industry who captures emotions on face than he does. He accentuates the emotion of Gillen's scripts immeasurably. He makes the characters seem real. I don't know how many more issues we've got to go, but he's making every one of them an absolute treasure. (4/5)

The Wicked + the Divine #38. Image. Written by Kieron Gillen. Art by Jamie McKelvie. Colours by Matthew Wilson.

Under the cut: reviews of Aquaman, Batman, Batwoman, Beneath the Dark Crystal, Doctor Strange, Justice League, Ninja-K, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Wars: Poe Dameron, Usagi Yojimbo, and The Wild Storm.

October 3, 2018

Dreamcast 20 #15: Samba de Amigo

2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the Dreamcast, Sega's final - and in my opinion the finest - home videogame console. Despite a range of excellent games, it simply failed to compete against Sony's PlayStation 2. To celebrate, The Angriest counts down its 20 best games.

As I noted in an earlier review of Sega Bass Fishing 2, the Dreamcast was a console big on peripherals, with multiple titles making use of their own dedicated controllers. Samba de Amigo is another one. A charming rhythm action game, it's core appeal came in its own special extras: a pair of maracas.

Seriously, who doesn't want to play a smiling monkey shaking a pair of maracas in time with the music?

October 2, 2018

The Pull List: 8 August 2018, Part 2

Rice and Mac break all manner of laws pursuing their alien suspect, and enter the spaceport for the first time. Some period later, their encounter is discussed on the news, and some difficult questions are asked.

There is a superb slow build to Port of Earth, as each issue pushes the core narrative forward to the next surprise and then comments on and illuminates the action via the framing device of a television interview. This drip-fed world building makes this an addictive read, as well as a smart and political slice of science fiction.

I am particularly liking Andrea Mutti's artwork, which has a semi-realistic, rather scratchy style that enhances the drama nicely. This is a very dramatic, straight-faced work, without much room for comedy in Zack Kaplan's scripts. It's been progressively getting better too; it's worth getting the first two trade paperbacks to catch up. (4/5)

Port of Earth #8. Image. Written by Zack Kaplan. Art by Andrea Mutti. Colours by Vladimir Popov.

Under the cut: reviews of Catwoman, Daredevil, Detective Comics, Doctor Who, Hawkman, Invader Zim, Mech Cadet Yu, Oblivion Song, and Spider-Man.

The Angriest: September 2018 in review

Reviews of comic books, including Giant Days and The Immortal Hulk, proved the most popular new post at The Angriest last month. Over at FictionMachine it was a retrospective review of Spider-Man 2 that proved the greatest new attraction.

It was a slow month in September due to work and health commitments. That said, it was very much a month for quality over quantity: online publications included an interview with Star Trek's Gates McFadden and a full-length essay on Japanese classic Humanity and Paper Balloons, plus reviews of four new theatrical and festival releases, three older films, the first episode of The Crown, and short reviews of 19 comic books. All the links are below the cut:

September 26, 2018

The Pull List: 8 August 2018, Part 1

Imagine the thinnest of stories draped over a sales catalogue; that is essentially what you get from Sandman Universe, a fairly expensive launch for DC Vertigo's new line of fantasy and horror comic books based on Neil Gaiman's famous series The Sandman. In the Dreaming, the mystical world where everybody from humans to gods go to dream, something is going terribly wrong. The search to find Daniel, the Dreaming's immortal ruler, takes Matthew the raven across worlds and to the set-ups of a raft of new stories and adventures.

I completely understand DC's desire to revisit and expand the world of The Sandman. They are launching with a couple of new and old series: The Books of Magic, The Dreaming, Lucifer, and House of Whispers. To be honest, all four look fairly promising in a 'could swing either way' fashion. Also being honest: each little prologue feels exactly like the sort of five-page preview that DC releases online every week. So is there entertainment value here? Absolutely there is. Does it also feel like a bit of a cheap rip-off. Absolutely it does. A hell of a lot like one. How desperate are you to read these new books? (2/5)

Sandman Universe #1. DC Vertigo. Written by Neil Gaiman, Simon Spurrier, Kat Howard, Nalo Hopkinson, and Dan Watters. Art by Bilquis Evely, Tom Fowler, Dominike "Domo" Stanton, Max Fiumara, and Sebastian Fiumara. Colours by Max Lopes.

Under the cut: reviews of Star Wars: Darth Vader, Suicide Squad, Superman, and Sword Daughter.

September 20, 2018

The Pull List: 1 August 2018, Part 2

Journalist Jacqueline McGee is on the hunt for a story: the apparent resurrection of Dr Bruce Banner, aka the Incredible Hulk. Joining her on her assignment this issue is Walter Langkowski, better known by his own alter-ego Sasquatch and also Banner's former college roommate.

We're now four issues into The Immortal Hulk. The first three issues have had an almost anthology-esque structure to them, with each story using a darker, more threatening version of the character to tell horror stories. This issue feels like a much more conventional superhero comic, firming up an ongoing narrative and reconnecting Banner and the Hulk back into the Marvel Universe. It is a perfectly solid approach, but I do hope writer Al Ewing can strike a balance between the horror stories and the superhero ones. The first three issues were just too good to lose. Joe Bennett provides excellent illustrations with inker Ruy Jose. (3/5)

The Immortal Hulk #4. Marvel. Written by Al Ewing. Art by Joe Bennett and Ruy Jose. Colours by Paul Mounts.

Under the cut: reviews of Doctor Who: The Seventh Doctor, Giant Days, and Green Arrow.

September 17, 2018

The Crown 1.01: "Wolferton Splash"

I have never had a particular interest in the British royal family. I don't actively dislike any of them, but I do prefer republics to constitutional monarchies, and I have never supported the creepy tabloid culture that surrounds them like an unwanted parasite. As a result I did not rush to see Netflix's big-budget historical drama The Crown, that begins in the final years of King George VI's life before focusing soon into the series on his daughter Queen Elizabeth II.

That has been my loss. It turns out, from the debut episode at least, that The Crown is one of those rare television series whose quality is so pronounced that its subject matter seems almost entirely irrelevant. It is a series about people: their wants and needs, and their struggle to transcend the obstacles that lie in the way. The characters are richly drawn and uniformly performed to the most remarkable degree of quality. If you have not seen any of it yet, I strongly encourage you do give it a try. The hype is there with reason.

September 16, 2018

The Pull List: 1 August 2018

Seven to Eternity returns after a break with its 10th issue. I am happy for the book to take its time, because the intricately detailed artwork of Jerome Opeña must take an absolute age to compose - and I'd rather it look great that come out on a monthly schedule.

We pick up where we left off, with Adam Osidis having betrayed his companions to rescue the Mud King. Now they travel towards the mysterious Springs of Zaal, where Adam may finally receive a cure to the disease that is slowly killing him. That journey is interrupted by pirates who descend upon them from balloons.

It isn't just the artwork that makes this book so strong; it's the rich and distinctive fantasy world that Rick Remender has developed with which to tell his story. It's familiar in many respects, but peppered with superb original concepts and cultures. Want a great fantasy comic book? Look no further. (5/5)

Seven to Eternity #10. Image. Written by Rick Remender. Art by Jerome Opeña

Under the cut; reviews of Batman, Delta 13, Doctor Who: The Seventh Doctor, Giant Days, Green Arrow, The Immortal Hulk, Justice League, Mister Miracle, and Scales & Scoundrels.

September 8, 2018

The Pull List: 25 July 2018, Part 3

Fergie is a Northern English teenager who doesn't know his own supernatural history. He's currently being haunted by a ghost who appears to be Sex Pistols vocalist Sid Vicious, and being hunted down by a distinctive British secret agent who is a victim of supernatural forces herself.

Punk's Not Dead is a great comedy-drama comic by writer David Barnett and artist Martin Simmonds. It feels like a late 1990s DC Vertigo book, which is a near-guaranteed winner for me. I love that period of American comics history, where my favourite books tended to be by names like Morrison, Milligan, Ellis, and Ennis. The English setting, the intricate back story infused by history or pop culture, the mature tone, and the great art all make for a wonderful throwback. This sixth issue is one of the best so far, and provides a lot of much-needed backstory and context. It also wraps up the first story arc, with a collected trade paperback coming out in October.

That's why I'm praising it now: if you haven't been following this book already, and you're of a similar comic-reading vintage to me, it is well worth heading to your local comic shop and pre-ordering the paperback now. It's a fabulous book, and one of my new favourites for 2018. (4/5)

Punk's Not Dead #6. IDW/Black Crown. Written by David Barnett. Art and colours by Martin Simmonds.

Under the cut: reviews of Action Comics, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra, and The Terrifics.

September 3, 2018

The Angriest: August 2018 in review

With the Melbourne International Film Festival dominating August, most of my blogging this past month was based around film reviews for both FictionMachine and FilmInk. Over here at the Angriest, the most popular posts included reviews of comic books including Daredevil, Oblivion Song, and Hawkman, and the classic videogame Ikaruga. Over at FictionMachine, the most popular new reviews were of the films Crazy Rich Asians and The Happytime Murders.

Altogether in August 2018, I wrote 12 reviews of new and festival films, two older films (both, weirdly, starring Tom Cruise), three Dreamcast videogames, and 32 comic books. A full index of posts is below the cut.

August 31, 2018

The Pull List: 25 July 2018, Part 2

After 32 issues, Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen's epic science fiction epic reaches its final issue; well, it sort of reaches it. Events pick up where issue #31 left off - a super-advanced civilization of artificially intelligent robots has returned to the galaxy to judge humanity's crimes against robot-kind and deliver a final genocidal punishment.

Expect a neatly tied-up conclusion for your 32 issues' of patience and you may be sorely disappointed. Things even in a cataclysmic but also wide-open fashion. There's no sense of resolution, but rather destruction on a mass scale and a hook to follow-up series Ascender in early 2019. It feels a bit like a switcheroo, since this isn't an end of a story all but rather the end of a chapter. Next year things pick up a decade later and with a new fantasy bent to things instead of the science fiction setting that has been used so far. It feels oddly unsatisfactory, and a little like the readers have been cheated.

I will probably check out Ascender when it arrives, but as a reader I'm not entirely happy with how this first series has panned out. (3/5)

Descender #32. Image. Written by Jeff Lemire. Art and colours by Dustin Nguyen.

Under the cut: reviews of Aquaman, Detective Comics and Green Arrow.

August 30, 2018

Dreamcast20 #16: Sonic Adventure

2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the Dreamcast, Sega's final - and in my opinion the finest - home videogame console. Despite a range of excellent games, it simply failed to compete against Sony's PlayStation 2. To celebrate, The Angriest counts down its 20 best games.

Sonic the Hedgehog is Sega' most famous and popular mascot character, so it's no surprise that one of the Dreamcast's first major releases would be a new Sonic videogame. Sonic Adventure was a bold attempt to advance the Sonic franchise in much the same way that Nintendo had transformed and updated Super Mario Bros with the 3D action-adventure title Super Mario 64. To be honest, Sega's attempt was only a partial success - but those bits that did succeed were a lot of fun to play.

August 27, 2018

The Pull List: 25 July 2018, Part 1

It is the final issue of another of Saga's six-episode story arc, and as always it ends with surprises and gut-wrenching emotion. The Will has killed Prince Robot, and all that stands between him and the other refugees is Marko. A fight ensues.

That makes it a somewhat unusual issue of Saga. We don't usually see actual honest-to-god comic fights in this book. Moments of violence, yes. Character beats, yes. Enormous genitals honestly more often than I think non-readers would guess. A pitched one-on-one fight really stands out. It has a proper and genuine impact. Of course the writing is always good, and it is here too. The art and colours are always impressive and beautiful to read - except maybe for the enormous genitals. This issue, however, is one of those particularly impactful ones - and in part that's really frustrating because this is the last issue before creators Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples take a minimum 12 month sabbatical.

You can't really discuss this issue without ruining it. If you're reading Saga this issue is one of the particularly good ones. If you're not reading Saga I can only urge you to buy Volume 1 and read it from the beginning. You'll probably thank me. (5/5)

Saga #54. Image. Written by Brian K. Vaughan. Art and colours by Fiona Staples.

Under the cut: reviews of Doomsday Clock, Justice League Dark, and Mera: Queen of Atlantis.

August 26, 2018

The Pull List: 18 July 2018, Part 2

Aisha is not expected to survive in her hospital bed for much longer, but before she can get to her Medina has to survive escaping the apartment building. This is a rocket of a horror comic, sprinting at breakneck speed with everything brought up to a terrifying climax. It caps off a sensational five-issue miniseries.

Aaron Campbell nails the artwork in this finale, shifting style and tone from page to page to match the requirements of the script. As for that script, Pornsak Pichetshote absolutely perfects the ending. This has been a tremendous story about racism, religious intolerance and nightmarish surreal horror. Horror is a hard genre to do in comic book form: it relies so much on the unknown, yet unlike film - which can flash moment of fear at a viewer - or prose - which forces the reader to imagine the nightmare - the comic book delivers still images which can be stared at and examined for as long as the reader chooses. It's a challenge that the writing and art absolutely meet. If you like horror, you need to put the impending trade paperback onto your to-read list.

This has been a fabulous debut for Pichetshote. I cannot wait to read what comes next. (5/5)

Infidel #5. Image. Written by Pornsak Pichetshote. Art by Aaron Campbell. Colours by Jose Villarrubia.

Under the cut: reviews of The Avengers, Justice League, Star Wars: Poe Dameron, Vs, and The Wild Storm.

August 23, 2018

Dreamcast20 #17: Sega Bass Fishing 2

2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the Dreamcast, Sega's final - and in my opinion the finest - home videogame console. Despite a range of excellent games, it simply failed to compete against Sony's PlayStation 2. To celebrate, The Angriest counts down its 20 best games.

I am not usually a fan of sports games, but in the case of Sega Bass Fishing and its sequel I found myself making a surprised exception. The first game was entertaining enough, but as is often the case the 2001 sequel added an impressive list of additional features that made it a richer and more appealing game. There was an expected tournament mode, but also a more relaxing free fishing mode that simply let the player go fishing in the location and style of their choice.

August 21, 2018

The Pull List: 18 July 2018, Part 1

Kate Kane is back in Gotham City, caring for her sister at last and teaming up with ex-girlfriend Detective Renee Montaya to fight another unexpected super-criminal. That makes this issue an incredible breath of fresh air, replacing the overwrought anguish and self-analysis that has flooded this title for multiple volumes with likeable characters and a well-developed story. I had almost given up on the character, but as always a back-to-basics approach saves the day.

Renee is a fabulous character and it's great to see her return to the DCU. One assumes that with the last reboot her history as the Question has been erased, which is a shame - but there's always the possibility of pushing her back in that direction in future. Her arrival also continues pushing this title for strong female characters, putting her alongside not just Kate and Alice but Julia Pennyworth as well. Fernando Blanco's artwork continues to be solid, serving the story ahead of anything else. With luck this new approach will continue for a while. With the CW Network preparing a Batwoman television series, it would be a shame to have the comic book end now of all times. (4/5)

Batwoman #17. DC Comics. Written by Marguerite Bennett. Art by Fernando Blanco. Colours by John Rauch.

Below the cut: reviews of Batman, The Immortal Hulk, Quantum & Woody and Shadowman.

August 19, 2018

The Pull List: 11 July 2018, Part 2

It feels a weird choice on DC's part to have Brian Michael Bendis write both Superman and Action Comics. Perhaps it was Bendis' demand when negotiating to come over from Marvel to write for the company. Perhaps DC's editors simply wanted to have a unified pair working in synch. Either way it feels like a weird redundancy.

It's an enjoyable first issue, picking up threads from the Man of Steel miniseries, but at the same time there is an unsatisfactory dourness about things. Superman performs best as an upbeat character, and to see him in both books as a morose and unhappy character feels tonally wrong. Hopefully it will pick up in the coming months, but for now Superman feels like what it is: a DC title getting written by a Marvel writer. You just want Clark to be having a better time. The art is very strong, thanks to the immeasurably talented Prado and Reis.

There's a mixture of the good and the predictable going on here. A conversation between Superman and the Martian Manhunter, in which Superman keeps zooming away to fix momentary crises, feels overly familiar, and the Manhunter's suggestion that Superman should become the world's de facto leaders feels tonally very wrong indeed. Other moments feel stronger - particularly the pretty awesome cliffhanger ending - but overall this remains a very good issue that never quite manages to be the great one that DC promised. (4/5)

Superman #1. DC Comics. Written by Brian Michael Bendis. Art by Joe Prado and Ivan Reis. Colours by Alex Sinclair.

Under the cut: reviews of The Crow: Memento Mori, Detective Comics, Isola, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Mech Cadet Yu, Port of Earth, Rat Queens, and Transformers: Unicron.

August 10, 2018

Dreamcast20 #18: Ikaruga

2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the Dreamcast, Sega's final - and in my opinion the finest - home videogame console. Despite a range of excellent games, it simply failed to compete against Sony's PlayStation 2. To celebrate, The Angriest counts down its 20 best games.

I am a huge fan of scrolling shoot-em-up games, in which the player controls a little spaceship shooting at a relentless swarm of enemy spaceships. I say this despite being absolutely terrible at playing them; once they get more frenzied than Galaga or Dragon Spirit (which swapped spaceships out for dragons), I am floundering. That aside, one of my absolute favourites is Ikaruga: an innovative shoot-em-up for arcades and the Dreamcast produced by the Japanese developer Treasure.

August 1, 2018

The Pull List: 11 July 2018, Part 1

Carter Hall's investigation into his past lives takes him to the British Museum - and an unexpected slip back thousands of years to ancient Egypt.

Full credit to writer Robert Venditti, who has certainly committed one hundred per cent to his strategy of untangling Hawkman's tortured and contradictory back story by making all previous takes on the character true at the same time. It will take time to see if this plan results in a satisfying story - which is always the bottom line - but this second issue feels more focused than the first, and does show off the concept in a clearer fashion.

Of course the larger selling point for this new volume of Hawkman is Bryan Hitch's artwork. It is tremendous, as Hitch's work generally is, with a strong combination of splash pages and smaller panel-based art. It's well inked by Andrew Currie and Daniel Henriques, with solid colours by Jeremiah Shipper. Even if this time-crossing storyline stumbles, it will at least look great while it does. (4/5)

Hawkman #2. DC Comics. Written by Robert Venditti. Art by Bryan Hitch, Andrew Currie, and Daniel Henriques. Colours by Jeremiah Shipper.

Under the cut: reviews of Daredevil, Ms Marvel, Oblivion Song, and Star Wars: Darth Vader.

The Angriest: July 2018 in review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's "Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places" is an odd sex comedy episode, but my review of it was far and away the most popular post on The Angriest this past month. The Season 5 reviews were pretty much the most popular posts in July, including "Nor the Battle to the Strong" and "The Ship". Over at FictionMachine, and the review of the excellent Taiwanese documentary Black Bear Forest was the most popular new post, yet the 2016 essay on the making of Bedknobs and Broomsticks remained the most-read post overall.

Overall in July 2018, I reviewed 10 new theatrical or festival films, four older films, five TV episodes, two videogames, and 47 comic books. A complete list of reviews, published at The Angriest, FictionMachine, VCinema, and FilmInk, is included below.

July 31, 2018

Doctor Who: "The Zarbi"

It is 20 February 1964, and time for the second part of the Doctor Who serial "The Web Planet".

On the planet Vortis, the Doctor (William Hartnell) and Ian (William Russell) continue exploring the surface before being captured by the ant-like Zarbi. Meanwhile Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) finds herself captured by the Zarbi and the Menoptera, butterfly-like humanoids whom the Zarbi are hunting into extinction. Vicki (Maureen O'Brien) is still in the TARDIS, which the Zarbi then drag into their lair.

There is something quite impressive about this episode, which presents Doctor Who's first genuinely alien planet. There is no one here outside of the regular cast that looks in any way human. The ant-like Zarbi stumble around like drunk pantomime horses, and while the bee-like Menoptera have humanoid bodies, they are buried under bee masks and wings. I'm straining to remember for certain, but I'm pretty sure Doctor Who never tells a story so devoid of humans (or their analogues) ever again.

July 27, 2018

The Pull List: 4 July 2018, Part 3

The Man of Steel hits its sixth a final issue, which means wrapping up the immediate crisis of Rogol Zaar's attempt to blow up the Earth to kill Superman as well as revealing precisely what has happened already to cause Lois and Jon's absence.

The Rogol Zaar section is straight-up superhero action, as Supergirl assists Superman in defeating Zaar before his plan comes to fruition. It is very well illustrated by Jason Fabok, with a lot of pace and energy. That really is all backgrounded, however, in favour of Lois and Jon, and that's kind of where the issue struggles a little.

Superman's father Jor-El has arrived once again (oh yeah, he didn't die on Krypton after all), insisted on taking his grandson Jon around the galaxy to better train him in how to be a better super-human. Clark and Lois debate whether or not Jon should go, and ultimately Lois accompanies him on the voyage. After the terrible acts performed by Jor-El in his previous appearance, one would assume the idea of handing him your son would be unimaginable. Instead Lois and Jon willingly go with him, and Clark reluctantly allows it all to happen. It gets them out of the way for whatever ongoing story Brian Michael Bendis has in mind, but it's an awkward process and feels very badly shoe-horned in. It's not a great sign for the immediate future of the Superman ongoing titles. (3/5)

The Man of Steel #6. Written by Brian Michael Bendis. Art by Jason Fabok. Colours by Alex Sinclair.

Under the cut: reviews of Doctor Strange, Doctor Who: The Seventh Doctor, and Sword Daughter.

July 26, 2018

Dreamcast20 #19: Chu Chu Rocket

2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the Dreamcast, Sega's final - and in my opinion the finest - home videogame console. Despite a range of excellent games, it simply failed to compete against Sony's PlayStation 2. To celebrate, The Angriest counts down its 20 best games.

Some times the best videogames are the simple ones, and they often don't come simpler that puzzle games. Chu Chu Rocket. Conceptually it's pretty easy: there's a grid upon which a train of mice are walking in a straight direction. Also roaming the board are cats looking to eat the mice. The player can drop arrows onto the grid to change the direction of the mice and guide them into a rocket that allows them to safely escape. If they get on the rocket, the player wins. If they get eaten by cats, the player loses.

It's a simple enough concept, but it's all playing just a little too fast to handle. It rapidly becomes a frantic combination of strategy and twitch gaming as the player starts having to lay down paths in faster and faster ways and in more and more complex set-ups.

July 25, 2018

The Pull List: 4 July 2018, Part 2

Spinning off from the events of Batman #50 comes an all-new volume of Catwoman, featuring its first-ever all-female creative team of writer/artist Joelle Jones and colourist Laura Allred.

While attempting to lie low in Mexico, Selina Kyle is in trouble with the law once again - not for anything she has done herself, but because of the two police officers shot dead by an apparent copycat. Despite having enough issues on her own, she is reluctantly dragged back into costume again.

Joelle Jones has been doing sensational work with Tom King over in Batman, and Laura Allred is a well-established and strong talent in colouring, so the visuals of this new ongoing were never in doubt. Nicely dense panel layouts get a lot of story into one half of the book, while the other half loosens out to accentuate the action. It's a superb balance, and the art and colours match the slightly grittier aesthetic that Jones has chosen.

The big surprise is in the writing: Jones absolutely nails both the story - it's intriguing and intelligent - and the characters. It gives Selina a great sense of both agency and humanity. This is a superb opening chapter to what I suspect will be a big success. (5/5)

Catwoman #1. DC Comics. Story and art by Joelle Jones. Colours by Laura Allred.

Under the cut: reviews of Giant Days, Justice League, and Prism Stalker.

July 24, 2018

Doctor Who: "The Web Planet"

It's 13 February 1965, and time for a new episode of Doctor Who.

The TARDIS is dragged down by an unknown force to a seemingly desolate and rocky planet. Unable to break free, the ship remains trapped. Giant ant creatures lurk outside. A piercing noise in her head incapacitates Vicki (Maureen O'Brien). The Doctor (William Hartnell) and Ian (William Russell) head outside to explore. Soon the piercing noise returns, and Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) leaves the ship alone under some form of mind control.

Doctor Who enters into a new serial with the strangest goings-on since "The Edge of Destruction" all the way back near the beginning of Series 1. Vicki falling under a trance, Barbara succumbing to mind control, glimpses of giant ant people - it's all weird and off the wall stuff, particularly since it follows directly on from a four-episode comedic farce in "The Romans".

July 23, 2018

The Pull List: 4 July 2018, Part 1

So after much build-up and anticipation, Batman reaches the wedding of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. It is kind of impossible to discuss this issue without spoilers, so if you haven't read Batman #50 but plan to, head beneath the cut and read the reviews of the other books instead. This one's is going to be spoiler city.

When the big day arrives, and with the happy couple choosing to do it with two witnesses and a judge on a Gotham City rooftop, Selina leaves Bruce at the altar. No wedding ensues. Batman and Catwoman are not married. The titular event does not actually occur. Two immediate thoughts come to mind. The first one is that this is not a surprise. The Joker explained last issue how Bruce being happy will destroy Batman, and Selina's best friend Holly explains it again here. Both are correct: with Batman being the brooding monomaniacal creature of the night he's been portrayed as for the past three decades, being happy would absolutely ruin him. Anybody expecting a happy ending simply hasn't been reading Batman comics for a long, long time. The second thought is that whatever went through the minds of comic readers who did expect an actual wedding that led to writer Tom King being sent enough credible death threats that he spent the whole of San Diego Comic Con with an honest-to-god bodyguard is genuinely a worry. It's just a comic book, guys. In a few years DC will launch a line-wide crisis and reboot it all anyway.

You can see what's being attempted here, with full-page narrated splash pages allowing a range of guest artists to contribute work to the celebration, and it is remarkably clever that King uses unreliable narration to flash back to conflicting back stories of years past, but it also makes the book a little bit of a drag. It actually feels a little dull, and it's only the concluding cliffhanger that actually gives the book the spark that it needs. As an issue in its own right, it is a little underwhelming, but it does kick off what look like another great 50 issues of King's run. (3/5)

Batman #50. DC Comics. Written by Tom King. Art by Mikel Janin. Colours by June Chung. Guest art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Trish Mulvihill, Becky Cloonan, Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson, Frank Miller, Alex Sinclair, Lee Bermejo, Neal Adams, Hi-Fi, Tony S. Daniel, Tomeu Morey, Amanda Conner, Paul Mounts, Rafael Alberquerque, Andy Kubert, Tim Sale, Jose Villarrubia, Mitch Gerads, Clay Mann, Jordie Bellaire, Ty Templeton, Keiren Smith, Joelle Jones, David Finch, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Greg Capullo, FCO Plascencia, and Lee Weeks.

Under the cut: reviews of The Avengers, Beneath the Dark Crystal, Delta 13, The Immortal Hulk, and Lowlifes.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: "Nor the Battle to the Strong"

It is 21 October 1996, and time for another episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Dr Bashir (Alexander Siddig) and Jake Sisko (Cirroc Lofton) are travelling in a Runabout when they receive a distress call from a Federation colony. A splinter faction of Klingons are attacking the base, inflicting heavy casualties. Jake is keen to visit to get material for his developing writing career, but Bashir is reluctant to put him in harm's way. Reluctantly arriving to assist in the colony's makeshift hospital, Bashir does his best to assist while Jake is confronted with the real horror of war.

"Nor the Battle to the Strong" feels like it's about a month late - war with the Klingons ended four episodes ago - but it still works as both a relatively strong war story and a showcase for Cirroc Loften's Jake Sisko. It also provides a rare team-up between Jake and Bashir - a pairing that works so effectively it's a shame it isn't really done again.

July 22, 2018

The Pull List: 27 June 2018, Part 2

This month marks 50 issues since G. Willow Wilson's awesome character Kamala Khan has featured in her own comic. Never shy to celebrate an anniversary, Marvel presents a festive jam piece of writers and artists; still led by Wilson, but with plenty of support as well.

Kamala's attempting a sleepover with her friends from high school, one that gets persistently interrupted by other heroes needing help, small-fry villains demanding a fight, and other secret complications. It's a cute framing device that allows the issue to work in vignettes by different creatives, each of them brief enough to sustain the novelty without feeling forced or tedious. Some work better than others, but as a one-off comedy issue it's all pretty enjoyable.

That said, Marvel's current attempt to simultaneously number their comics by both issue of the current volume and issue of the entire legacy series is weird. This book is issue #31, but it's also issue #50, but to be accurate (Ms Marvel didn't start with Kamala Khan) it should be issue #123. Marvel need to decide how they're counting these things and stick with it. The pedants in the audience are growing frustrated. (4/5)

Ms Marvel #31. Marvel. Written by G. Willow Wilson, Saladin Ahmed, Rainbow Rowell, and Hasan Minhaj. Art by Nico Leon, Gustavo Duarte, Robert Quinn, and Elmo Bondoc. Colours by Ian Herring.

Under the cut: reviews of Detective Comics, Harbinger Wars II, Saga, The Terrifics, The Wicked + the Divine and X-O Manowar.

July 20, 2018

Dreamcast20 #20: Omikron: The Nomad Soul

2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the Dreamcast, Sega's final - and in my opinion the finest - home videogame console. Despite a range of excellent games, it simply failed to compete against Sony's PlayStation 2. To celebrate, The Angriest counts down its 20 best games.

In the alien city of Omikron, the player assumes the role of a police detective investigating a string of serial killings. When that detective is killed, however, the player begins a string of reincarnations from body to body while uncovering a supernatural war running out of sight for thousands of years.

Released in 2000 to decidedly mixed reviews, Omikron: The Nomad Soul was an adventure game with varied gameplay - some action, some puzzle-solving - with the original wrinkle of reincarnating the player's character as a different person each time they die. The universe created for the game is imaginative, and for 2000 it seemed like a pretty imaginative one.

July 17, 2018

The Pull List: 27 June 2018, Part 1

It is genuinely odd, given the success of Black Panther in cinemas this year, that the response from Marvel Comics is not simply to relaunch the book with a new volume (sensible enough) but to relaunch it as a far future Star Wars-esque space opera with a whole new generation of namesake characters flying around in space fighters in battle with a galactic Wakandan Empire.

Of course it's a great and fresh take on the property, with a fast pace and a huge imagination in re-working old elements in new ways. This issue is dominated by a space dogfight, which could potential be a one-note bore. Instead writer Ta-Nehisi Coates uses it to express T'Challa's character and temperament.

The real star, however, is artist Daniel Acuña. His strong use of Afro-futurist imagery, and effective design, provides a rich enhancement to Coates' story. The book looks tremendous, and has a definite 'big budget' kind of blockbuster look to it. It's a strangely timed book, but absolutely a very welcome one. (4/5)

Black Panther #2. Marvel. Written by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Art and colours by Daniel Acuña.

Under the cut: a bumper crop of mini-reviews focused on Batgirl, Descender, Invader Zim, The Man of Steel, Mera: Queen of Atlantis, and Star Wars: Doctor Aphra.

July 13, 2018

The Pull List: 20 June 2018, Part 3

The second issue of Mark Waid's relaunched Doctor Strange feels a lot stronger than the first: with the slightly improbably set-up of Tony Stark sending Stephen Strange into space out of the way, the story can now move to developing a new setting, a supporting cast, and an exploration of what magic means in the Marvel Universe when you're surrounded by aliens, spaceships, and ray guns.

Waid always tends to have a strong handle on plot and character, and he's working much better now that he actually does that and not foreshadow his series via a narration-dominated prologue. New characters work well, and Strange reacts to his imprisonment on another planet in a manner that rings true. Jesus Saiz's artwork is excellent, and wonderfully detailed.

I swear you can feel the hand of Marvel Studios pulling the strings, though. With the huge runaway success of Guardians of the Galaxy and Infinity War in cinemas, this all feels like a dry run for Benedict Cumberbatch to take to the skies in future years for an intergalactic adventure. Based on this first proper issue, that hypothetical sequel just might work. (4/5)

Doctor Strange #2. Marvel. Written by Mark Waid. Art and colours by Jesus Saiz.

Under the cut: reviews of Batwoman, Delta 13, Punk's Not Dead, and The Wild Storm.

July 9, 2018

The Pull List: 20 June 2018, Part 2

With Aisha still in a coma, Medina makes the decision to return to the apartment block and uncover more information about the supernatural presence that lurks there. Meanwhile, Ethan and Reynolds discover the belongings of alleged occultist Arthur Quinn.

I have highlighted Infidel before, and with the release of its fourth issue it is well worth highlighting again. Pornsak Pichetshote is writing an effective and visceral horror story that drags in bigotry, religious faith, as well as a healthy serve of haunted house archetypes. Horror this good rarely makes it into the comic books.

One of the reasons that the horror works so well is Aaron Campbell's artwork. It is realistic, detailed, and atmospheric. It's all emphasised nicely by Jose Villarrubia's subdued colours.

I know it is a cliche to write 'they don't make them like this any more, but on the whole they really don't. There is an old-school DC Vertigo feel to this series that makes me think back on early issues of The Sandman or Hellblazer. It's great stuff. (4/5)

Infidel #4. Image. Written by Pornsak Pichetshote. Art by Aaron Campbell. Colours by Jose Villarrubia.

Under the cut: reviews of Aquaman, Daredevil, and Usagi Yojimbo.

July 8, 2018

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: "Looking for par'Mach in all the Wrong Places"

It is 14 October 1996, and time for another episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

When Quark's (Armin Shimerman) ex-wife Grilka arrives on the station, Worf (Michael Dorn) is immediately smitten - but due to his exiled status in Klingon society he has no means of courting her. When Quark shows a romantic interest instead, a reluctant Worf begins teaching him how to woo a Klingon woman - with the help of Dax (Terry Farrell).

Star Trek adapts Cyrano de Bergerac in the weird, faulty little romantic comedy that absolutely not be as entertaining as it is. A lot of its appeal comes down to Armin Shimerman's consistently wonderful performance as Quark. He spars well with everybody with whom he shares the screen, from an early scene with an eavesdropping Dr Bashir (Alexander Siddig) to his courting of Grilka (Mary Crosby) to his conversations with Worf and Dax. It's funny to think that Deep Space Nine started with the Ferengi being probably the most disliked alien civilization in Star Trek; by this stage of the franchise they're one of the most fleshed-out and entertaining. That's mostly down to Shimerman working his character so hard.

July 6, 2018

The Pull List: 20 June 2018, Part 1

In the last issue of Batman, the Joker tried to hold an entire church of worshippers hostage so that he could ask Batman where his wedding invite was. It was a superb single-scene issue, showcasing a conversation between hero and villain. This latest issue provides the second half: a bomb's gone off, Batman is unconscious, and Catwoman swings into action for a one-on-one all of her own.

It is truly superb: this two-part prologue to the forthcoming Bruce-Selina wedding is insightful, clever, beautifully thought-out, and emotionally powerful. While the last issue focused on Batman's direct relationship with the Joker, this issue focuses on the Joker's relationship with other other Gotham City villains - and what it means to be Batman's enemy.

Mikel Janin and June Chung's visuals make excellent work of what could be a visually limited story: two badly injured people talking with one another while both running risk of bleeding to death. Together I think they're the best storyline so far for Tim King's Batman. (5/5)

Batman #49. DC Comics. Written by Tom King. Art by Mikel Janin. Colours by June Chung.

Under the cut: reviews of The Avengers, Justice League, The Man of Steel, and Star Wars: Poe Dameron.

July 3, 2018

The Pull List: 13 June 2018, Part 2

With the war against Apokolips reaching a cease-fire, Scott Free and Barda sit down to negotiate peace terms with Kalibak. The offer from Apokolips, however, may just be too high for Scott to accept.

Mister Miracle has been an absolute stand-out for DC Comics since it commenced nine months ago, combining a smart, complex script by Tom King with stunning and innovative art by Mitch Gerads. There is an insidious sort of underlying threat that has run beneath the entire book, and as the series marches towards its 12th and final issue the truth of what that threat actually is feels viscerally close. It is remarkable how tense everything is becoming.

Tom King is really demonstrating himself as DC's most valuable creative at the moment, with his intelligent and provocative work both here and in Batman. He's become one of those writers whose work you simply buy and read regardless of subject matter. This series has been pitch-perfect, and as it enters its final stretch it is difficult to imagine it's going to falter now. (5/5)

Mister Miracle #9. DC Comics. Written by Tom King. Art and colours by Mitch Gerads.

Under the cut: reviews of Copperhead, Mech Cadet Yu, Oblivion Song, and Port of Earth.

July 2, 2018

The Angriest: June 2018 in review

Some fairly significant health issues (I have been diagnosed with MS) slowed down the rate of posting on The Angriest and FictionMachine, so thank you for reading what I did manage to get out over the past 30 days. The most popular post on The Angriest this past month was a review of the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Tuvix" - it's my least favourite episode of the whole series, so it's nice to see something positive came out of it. Over at FictionMachine, it was the review of Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom that was the most-viewed new post (although the most-viewed overall continues to be the June 2016 essay on Bedknobs and Broomsticks, a post that just keeps on giving.

In June 2018, I reviewed five new or festival films, seven older films, five episodes of Star Trek, and 56 comic books. A complete list is included below for your convenience.

July 1, 2018

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: "The Ship"

It is 7 October 1996, and time for an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

While on a mission in the Gamma Quadrant, Captain Sisko (Avery Brooks) and his team find themselves marooned on a desert planet but in possession of a crashed Jem'Hadar spacecraft - and when the Jem'Hadar come to retrieve their property, Sisko is disinclined to surrender it.

The Deep Space Nine writer's room certainly doesn't waste time getting back into war with the Dominion. Just one episode after wrapping up the Federation-Klingon War, the DS9 crew are trading blows and gunshots with the Dominion's best shock troops in this 42-minute war movie packed with stereotypes and smart ideas in equal measure.

June 29, 2018

The Pull List: 13 June 2018, Part 1

A 12 year-old boy who likes to call himself Remco gets taken by a bright light in the woods, and wakes up in the surreal Cloud Hotel, hidden in the sky and populated by other children. While Remco seems able to return back down to Earth and come back again, a girl named Emma seems trapped there forever.

Cloud Hotel is an original graphic novel from the award-winning writer and artist Julian Hanshaw. It is a distinctive and moving work, one soaked in surrealism and melancholy. Partly inspired by a childhood experience, Hanshaw tells a story that feels poetic, funny and weirdly unsettling. It's quite hard to put a finger on it, but it's a story that I like.

His distinctive art style certainly marks its territory as an independent work. There is a sense of the grotesque about his characters, all with deep-set haunted eyes and squared-off heads. His use of panel layout is exceptional, particularly in some of the book's particularly odd and inexplicable moments. It may feel like a bit of a puzzle in terms of narrative, but it has a superb handle on tone. (4/5)

Cloud Hotel. Top Shelf/IDW. Story and art by Julian Hanshaw.

Under the cut: reviews of Darth Vader, Hawkman, and The Man of Steel.

June 27, 2018

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: "Apocalypse Rising"

It is 30 September 1996, and time for the Season 5 premiere of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

With Odo (Rene Auberjonois) confirming that Klingon Chancellor Gowron (Robert O'Reilly) is a changeling, he, Sisko (Avery Brooks), Worf (Michael Dorn) and O'Brien (Colm Meaney) head on a top secret mission to the heart of the Klingon Empire to reveal the infiltrator and potentially stop the Klingon-Federation War.

"Apocalypse Rising" is a high concept blockbuster of an episode - in its ideal sense, at least - and brings back Deep Space Nine for its fifth year in an energetic fashion. In practice it doesn't quite work as well as it should on paper, almost as if the production team elected to pull their punches. I have never managed to quit work out why.

The Pull List: 6 June 2018, Part 3

Scott Snyder kicks off a new ongoing DC series with Justice League, following on from the events of Dark Nights: Metal and No Justice, and truth be told it's pretty amazing.

I'm not sure if you were reading comics about 20 years ago when Grant Morrison and Howard Porter took over the Justice League comic book. It was relaunched as JLA with an all-star roster of heroes, and a deliberately big picture scope and 'widescreen' presentation. That's exactly what it feels like we're getting here: big-screen JLA all over again. The book puts the Martian Manhunter back at the centre of the League where he belongs, and surrounds him with the heroes you would expect to see. For enemies Snyder brings in the famous villains, and he ties it all together with a big apocalyptic and deeply ominous opening chapter. If the point of a first issue is to get readers to buy the second, then this is an unqualified success.

Jim Cheung and Mark Morales' artwork is excellent, and just distinctive enough from the current style of superhero comic to make a strong impact. With luck they will stick around to make as definitive a run here as Snyder managed with Capullo and Miki on Batman. Tomeu Morey's colours are wonderfully warm and nuanced. You couldn't want for a better-looking Justice League. (5/5)

Justice League #1. Written by Scott Snyder. Art by Jim Cheung and Mark Morales. Colours by Tomeu Morey.

Under the cut: reviews of Green Arrow, Isola, Prism Stalker, Sword Daughter, The Unexpected, and Vagrant Queen.

June 26, 2018

The Pull List: 6 June 2018, Part 2

Back in Marvel's crossover event Civil War II, Bruce Banner (aka the Incredible Hulk) died. Now he's back. How? Quite simply, he's the Hulk - and the Hulk is too powerful to die.

The Immortal Hulk brings back the original and best Hulk (apologies to recent stand-in Amadeus Cho) with a fresh coat of paint and a deliberate skew from superhero adventure to comic book horror. Writer Al Ewing takes what is - let's face it - a pretty lazy reason to bring the Hulk back, and transforms it into something genuinely horrible. When we first see Banner, he's about two pages away from a fatal gunshot wound to the head. No matter how many times that happens, however, night will fall, his body will rise and the Hulk will emerge. It's a nicely bleak set-up for this new volume.

Joe Bennett and Ruy Jose give the book a nice aesthetic, giving everything a slightly old-fashioned edge. Bennett's art comes into its own in one climactic moment - you'll know it when you turn the page. Between this and Doctor Strange's current sojourn into space, it seems Marvel is playing with fresh and innovative angles on its long-running characters. Hopefully they're successful enough to allow these new set-ups to play out in full. (4/5)

The Immortal Hulk #1. Marvel. Written by Al Ewing. Art by Joe Bennett and Ruy Jose. Colour by Paul Mounts.

Under the cut: reviews of Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles, Giant Days, and The Man of Steel.

June 25, 2018

Star Trek: Voyager: Season 2 in review

What a difference a year makes. The second season of Star Trek: Voyager marked a significant step up from quality, particularly once it got away from the season's first messy episodes - hang-overs produced as part of the Season 1 shoot.

One key challenge that faced the series in its second year was how to extend its storytelling from a series of self-contained adventures to a more extended storyline that crossed over and developed from one episode to the next. It was a challenge because the core premise of the series is that the USS Voyager is always moving, by-and-large in the one direction, and that makes it very hard to believably bring back the same antagonists or alien civilizations. Voyager's solution? Bring those antagonists back anyway, and hope like crazy that audience doesn't interrogate things too much.

June 24, 2018

The Pull List: 6 June 2018, Part 1

In 1967 Australia, a crashed alien spacecraft is uncovered in the middle of the Maralinga nuclear test site. 60 years later, a satellite clean-up mission in Earth's orbit discovers another spacecraft drifting in space. What is inside that ship links both time periods, but it will take 1967's Group Captain Gilmore, Allison Williams and Professor Rachel Jensen - along with the Seventh Doctor and his companion Ace - to find out how and why.

Titan Comics' range of Doctor Who tie-in comics returns with revised trade dress and a new three-issue miniseries featuring Sylvester McCoy's Seventh Doctor. Let us not beat around the bush: this is hands-down the single best issue of Doctor Who that Titan has published to date. It is smartly written by McCoy-era TV script editor Andrew Cartmel, giving it an immediate authenticity and pitch-perfect tone. It is being published in extra-length issues, allowing for more plot per issue - and that really helps. Christopher Jones' artwork is exceptional, and captures the TV characters perfectly - and it's more than just the Doctor and Ace, since Gilmore, Williams and Jensen all return from Ben Aaronovitch's 1988 TV serial "Remembrance of the Daleks". It's a welcome return: they always seemed like they should have returned on TV.

A back-up strip sees the Doctor and Ace revisit the Psychic Circus and the werewolf Mags - a strip made oddly special by the artist being Jessica Martin, the actress who play Mags on television in "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy". Her art is not outstanding, but it's a cute touch. It's all just a bonus, however; the core storyline is essential for any discerning Who enthusiast. (5/5)

Doctor Who: The Seventh Doctor #1. Titan Comics. Written by Andrew Cartmel. Art by Christopher Jones. Colours by Marko Lesko. Backup written by Richard Dinnick, art by Jessica Martin.

Under the cut: reviews of Batman, Doctor Strange, Scales & Scoundrels, and Star Wars Adventures.