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.