Posted in Comics n Stuff, Podcasts

Stuff I enjoyed: Robservations

I go to work, it’s fairly negative right now. I put on the TV, it’s fairly negative right now. I go out, oh wait no I don’t, at least not as I used to.

The point is, there’s a lot of reasons to not be cheerful, so I want to do some about positive stuff.

A big part of my online fandom has been comic-related podcasts and a big part of my collecting was the 90’s and when I look back at the era, I can reappraise the comics of the era a bit more dispassionately, but with a sprinkle of nostalgia. Knowing that the era was thought ill of for a reason, but recognise that I still liked a whole lot of it. It was my era.

One of the more divisive figures of that era was Rob Liefeld.

Getting a big break on the Hawk & Dove miniseries in the late 80’s, Rob Liefeld went on to make his name on New Mutants, pushing out writer Louise Simonson to get himself into more of the writing side and took the book from the mid-card to something of a heavy-hitter. He followed this up with the to-date 2nd best selling comic of all time, X-Force 1. He then left Marve, co-founded Image comics, then left Image comics and took part in half of the at times fairly maligned Heroes Reborn comics event. All this before he was 30. This is a man who has lived the comics experience, had ups and downs and really has an intersting story.

Now I have been on many sides of the argument with this guy, he’s been very successful and a great cheerleader for comics, but he’s also done some bad comics and his command of anatomy is as bad as his consistency in panel to panel art, which is to say bad. His stuff isn’t technically good, but it is exciting and chock-full of energy. He’s been something of a divisive figure and this makes him someone worth listening to.

I fell back into finding his podcast, which can be found here and started listening as a change to what I was listening to. You know what, it’s actually fun. Rob talks about comics with an abiding love, coupled with knowledge and the perspective of a more artist leaning fan. I don’t always agree with what he says, but it’s a perspective issue and I can hear something and disagree, no one is harmed, nothing is lessened.

He also talks about his career and who he’s met and worked with and it’s a very inside baseball look at the industry. It’s a little self-revisionist, but who’s history isn’t? Are you the badguy in your story when you tell it? It’s not high-art, but what it is, is a look at comics from a fan turned pro, who never lost his fanboy status. I don’t think any more of his art than I ever did, but I am a little more forgiving. He is a friendly and positive guy talking about comics with love and knowledge and it’s been both fun and informative. If you are a comic fan, it’s worth checking out, if you are not and know someone who is, it does give you insight into that kind of guy.

Well that’s me for a bit, take care everyone.

Posted in Comics n Stuff, Miscellaneous

Stuff I have enjoyed: The Sandman

I go to work, it’s fairly negative right now. I put on the TV, it’s fairly negative right now. I go out, oh wait no I don’t, not compared to how I used to.

The point is, there’s a lot of reasons to not be cheerful, so I want to do some about positive stuff.

Now as someone who has read this blog before may know, I am an avid listener of podcasts (a topic for another post perhaps) and when dog-walking, walking to and from work and during my lunchtime walk to and from home. But recently I branched out into audio-books. My wife, the MIGHTY Rosie and my boy SuperSam have made good use of Audible of recent months, so since I get the e-mails for the account and they kept recommending the Sandman audio-book/audio-drama.

For those who may not know, Sandman was a critically acclaimed comic written by Neil Gaiman. It was an epic work that pretty much launched Vertigo and cemented Gaiman’s name as a legend in the field of comics. I missed out on the comic originally. Sandman was a late 80’s comic and my collected days started in the early 90’s so, you can see how I missed that boat. I read it years later of course, but for me, the art never stood up to the writing. The character designs were good, but I never enjoyed the visual storytelling enough to keep up with it.

Back to the present and the audio-book idea intrigued me and the advertising for it was ubiquitous, so since I had credits to spare I downloaded it. I listened to it over the the space of a week or so and… it was good.

Some Spoilers

>

>

>

>

>

>

The basis of the story is that Dream of the Endless, one of several beings that represent concepts such as death, desire, destiny and despair is captured on the earthly plane by a sorcerer in 1916 and for something like 70 years is trapped, cut off from the Dreaming, the plane we visit when we dream. He escapes and the story continues into his reclaiming his tools and then his kingdom. He encounters DC universe characters like The Martian Manhunter J’onn J’onnz, Mister Miracle, John Constantine, Lucifer, JLA Villain Doctor Destiny and his older sister Death. There are also other denizens of the Dreaming, creatures of the Faerie and even a nightmare or two.

The story is broken down into 20 chapters, the overall book is over 10 hours in length and this allows several arcs and stories to be told as part of the whole book’s narrative organically. The art is replaced by narration and the voices are given form by an impressive cast including James McEvoy as Morpheus/Dream, Kat Dennings as Death and the ever capable Martin Sheen as Lucifer. McEvoy is in particular excellent as Dream, offering a measured performance of someone who is beyond the regality of a king and above the confidence of a mere man. He fits the character’s voice in the way that Kevin Conroy fits Batman.

It’s an ambitious project that does it’s best to give Gaiman’s opus an adaptation with wider appeal and it sticks the landing. I have recommended it already and hope that this leads to more of these DC audible productions because this one was great.

If you have the opportunity, download the audible app, the service has the 30 day free trial thing and by the you will have listened to the whole thing.

I was unsure about this when I started listening, but by the end I wanted more.

Posted in Comics n Stuff

Stuff I have enjoyed: Dan Slott & Mike Allred’s Silver Surfer

I go to work, it’s fairly negative right now. I put on the TV, it’s fairly negative right now. I go out, oh wait no I don’t.

The point is, there’s a lot of reasons to not be cheerful, so I want to do some about positive stuff.

Earlier this year, I was finally able to finish my back issue run of Dan Slott and Mike Allred’s Silver Surfer. It was 29 issues which was split over two series that started in March 2014. I missed the boat on it at first, but picked the first few issues up for 50p per issue at a mart and decided to try to get the whole thing. A month or so before lockdown I finally got the whole thing collected and then over a couple of days read them in one go.

You know what, it’s good.

Mike Allred is an artist with a very clean style that looks animated. It’s simplistic in some regards, even cartoonish. It is however very consistent and despite its simplicity is as detailed as anyone else on the scene at the moment. The writer Dan Slott is someone I have a 50:50 opinion of. I have been mixed with his recent Fantastic Four issues and I liked maybe half of his very lengthy work on Spider-Man, but I can see one thing. He is a passionate writer, who clearly loves what characters he writes about.

His Silver Surfer run seems to be the answer to the question, isn’t the Silver Surfer a bit like Doctor Who? Think about it, human looking alien, keeps getting involved with Earth, teams up with human beings, powerful and yet not violent by nature, has an implausible method of transport. Sound familiar? It’s this aspect that Slott leans into, pairing the Surfer with a woman called Dawn. Dawn gets pulled into an alien’s plan to coerce the Surfer into helping them and they start having adventures together.

There’s weird concepts, familiar characters and brand new ones. Dawn becomes the co-star of the book, rather than a supporting character and both of them grow and change because of their association. One thing I do like is that it’s optimistic. It’s hopeful and full of wonder and a nice counterpoint to both the grimgrittydark feeling of most comics and the grimgrittydark feeling of actual reality and part of that is the art, which is mostly the pencils of Mike Allred. The creator of Madman and the artist of the X-Statix version of X-Force, his art is bright, colourful and fun.

Do you remember fun? It’s all so dark sometimes, but from time to time you need some cartoony, some funny, some silly and all of that is here. It’s a fairly contained run of around 30 or so issues, broken up by 2015’s Secret Wars event, but honestly none of that matters. It’s a good comic that isn’t tied quite so heavily to the rest of the Marvel Universe and is very accessible. The art is amazing, consistently throughout and it does tell a complete story. It has heart and consequences and I really enjoyed it.

It’s probably available in trade, it’s easy to find back issue wise and it’s available on Comixology and is well worth checking out.

Anywhere and Everywhere – Hang On!

Posted in Comics n Stuff, D-Cember

D-Cember 30th – And I am outta here

30 Day Challenge Question 30: Favourite Event

Events, the bane of a comic fan’s life, or the best of stories, epic in scale and consequence. In regards to DC, I missed most of them up until 1994, so my first one was 1994’s Zero Hour

Dan Jurgens wrote and drew this story, which took threads from Green Lantern and 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths to tell a cracking story that while convoluted, still manages to entertain and launched yet another reboot/relaunch to sort their continuity out. To be honest, it didn’t work and most of the effects of Zero Hour have been undone at least once, but it was a great story to be collecting as it came out.

 

SuperSam’s answer

This was a very one answer question since the only one he knew about was Crisis.

Crisis on Infinite Earths came out between 1985 and 1986 and had 12 issues written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by George Perez both creators were on a roll with The New Teen Titans and were very well regarded by peers and fans alike. It saw the death of Supergirl, the final run of the Flash and the death of the Multiverse and it was a comic I read to my son a few years ago. It’s as good as it ever was and deserves its place in comic book history.

Other Stuff

Well, that’s this second 30-day challenge done and also as of tomorrow that’s 2019 done as well. I do intend to post more regularly (but not daily) but I am glad I decided to see this through.

See you next year internet people, love to you all.

 

Posted in Comics n Stuff

For the Geek in me 2019 was awesome: Comics

I cannot describe 2019 as anything other than a challenging year. There have been a few ups and a good number of downs. But at this time of year, I want to look back at things I liked, so here we go.

This was a mixed year for me with comics, to be honest, I have become less and less enamoured with the big two and with comics buying in general and when the solicitations for last week came, I could only see one comic that I wanted to buy. One, that’s it and I think I am only getting this to finish what will be in the first trade and then that will be gone too. But I managed to get 5 things worth talking about, barely.

Doctor Doom

This was a comic showcasing Marvel’s best protagonist. Doom isn’t a villain, but a man with a very specific view of how the world should be, our problem is that we disagree, his problem is that we are wrong. This shows what happens when people believe he has done something that he hasn’t. Doom is on the back foot and that is somewhere he almost never is. He has to keep his homeland safe, prove his innocence, find out who has done this too him and dole out the righteous retribution that needs to be doled out and he has to do all that with the world against him. This is  a story where you are rooting for Doom, despite knowing how flawed he is and it’s the only Marvel series that I am still following.

Hoxpox

Marvel relaunches the X-Men. Wow, again? But it’s the most drastic change in status quo since Morrison’s back in 2000. The X-Men have their own nation, they are looking towards the future and we get to see it, it’s not going well. Johnathan Hickman puts together a huge story, grand in scope and littered with sci-fi concepts that fit quite happily with Marvel’s merry mutants. This was an event worth reading in a way that the X-Men haven’t done in such a long time. It was nice to be on the ground floor of something so big again.

Angelic

I met the writer of this little gem, Simon Spurrier at Thought Bubble as he signed my X-Men Legacy 1. We spoke a bit about the character Legion and his work on him, which led to us talking about the TV series. I liked him, so felt the right thing to do was to buy a copy of his creator owned series first trade. This is a story about a post humanity Earth and the creatures we leave behind. It’s also about curiosity over faith and the importance of thinking for yourself. I even bought a copy later on for a friend as an X-Mas present.

Doomsday Clock

As I recently mentioned in my TV post, this has been the year of mining Watchmen for new stories and this one was a very long time in coming, since it had started in 2018. I was not a fan for most of the run, but believed that if I kept with it, it would be worthwhile. Sometimes I am right for good things. Geoff Johns sticks the landing here, with a story that left me smiling at the end. I don’t know where this leaves the DCU, but am more optimistic about it now, than I was before I read Doomsday Clock 12.

Thought 💭 Bubble

In December 2017 I went to “For The Love of Sci-Fi” convention in Manchester with SuperSam & the MIGHTY Rosie. I enjoyed some of it, but it was badly run and in the end we cut out halfway through. But I wanted to try a comic convention, so this year I went to Thought Bubble, the comics convention in Yorkshire. I wrote about it here.

I’m less and less enamoured with the current monthly comics, but my love for the medium, it’s fans and associated media is still very much present. Who knows what the future will hold.

Next time: What about actual life? What was that like in 2019?

Posted in Comics n Stuff, D-Cember

D-Cember 29th – Almost there

30 Day Challenge Question 29:  Favourite Series to Recommend

Marvel and DC Comics suffer from the narrative problem of the perpetual 2nd act. We get the origin and then the second act and then….. nothing because these stories do not end. In their normal run, we won’t get to see  Batman retire, Aquaman abdicate to his son or when the Teen Titans are no longer teens. So when we refer to Superman’s never ending battle, that’s the correct way to refer to it.

So we only get a couple of views of the end of that particular battle. Kingdom Come is one, the most famous one is Whatever Happended to the Man of Tomorrow. But for me the best of these is All Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely.

This last days of Superman story was a love letter to the Silver Age, showcasing all of the things that made Superman great, even the silly things of it and can be appreciated by anyone from long time fans to someone new to the character.

SuperSam’s answer

This wasn’t a wholly DC story, but a collaboration with IDW. Batman Adventures/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Tonally, they couldn’t be further apart, but this was a great series that showcased the characters beautifully. When I asked SuperSam why he chose it, his answer was brilliant in it’s succinctness.

“Because its fun.”

He’s a good boy.

 

Posted in Comics n Stuff, D-Cember

D-Cember 28th Keeping track of the Days

30 Day Challenge question 26: Favourite elementalist

Wasn’t a difficult choice this, I went back to the ancient elements based character and I chose Firestorm.

An attempt to do a sort of Spider-Man like character, Firestorm was the synthesis of Professor Martin Stein and high-school slacker Ronnie Raymond. Martin as the brains and Ronnie was the body and the two became quite well-regarded superheroes as well as members of the satellite era Justice League.  Though nuclear in origin, fire is at the heart of what this guy both did and what he looked like, very few people can pull off the head on fire look.

Super Sam’s answer

Volcana from Superman the Animated Series

She was a villain whom he can understand and feel sympathetic towards and he was always happy to see her again, when she showed up again.

30 Day Challenge Question 27: Favourite non-human race.

There’s a lot to choose from here, DC has no shortage of alien species, going from the human-like (braalians, daxamites and thanagarians) to the bizaare (martians, xudarians and whatever the hell Mogo is) so this was a hard one, but I went with the Durlans.

 

Alongside the Skrulls from Marvel, the Durlans are shapeshifters and use stealth and guile to achieve their goals. Unlike the Skrulls, they have more mystery to them, cloaked from one another and everyone else and they aren’t as arch as the Skrulls and often you’re not sure whose side they are on. During the Invasion, they were clearly badguys, but one of the Reep Daggle, serves proudly as the Legionnaire Chameleon Boy. It’s that sense of mystery as much as their appearance that puts them in this top spot.

 

SuperSam’s answer

DC’s first alien race and the one we have seen the most of in different ways: Kryptonians.

From the Silver age’s Buck Rogers-esque version, to Byrne’s cold Man of Steel version and the Superman the Movie version, Krypton is always interesting to see. SuperSam’s preferred version is the DCAU version, with a heroic edge to them and the first episode of that series was entirely set on Krypton and he was fascinated by the whole thing.

30 Day Challenge Question 28: Favourite Era

There’s no real picture to go with this one, but for me, the best era was that period from 1994 that followed on from Zero Hour: Crisis in Time.

Once Zero Hour 0 was done every current DC title as well as several ones that started there got a 0 issue. It was either a look back at the past, an origin or something that fell into the zero issue mileu.

It was line-wide jumping on points and I started reading many titles as a result. I really got into the DCU at that time and every now and again I go back. It’s a period that meant a lot to me and one that re-reading still gets a smile from me.

SuperSam’s answer

The only era that has made any impact on SuperSam in terms of the comics has been Rebirth. A couple of years ago, we were at a comic mart in Manchester and SuperSam looked through long-boxes and it was  for Rebirth comics, which like Zero Hour had definitive jumping on points before going onto ongoings. He may never get the bug again, but he did that day and it was somewhat magical.

Other Stuff

We’re in that limbo b’twixt Christmas and New Year, where you have to try and work out what day it is all the time. Due to circumstances, the three of us took my nephew to the Riverside Bowl and had a game f Laser Tag and a frame of Ten Pin Bowling, all kinds of fun was had.

We are near the end of this little experiment Internet People, I am ready for D-Cember and 2019 to be done. See you all soon.

Posted in Comics n Stuff, D-Cember

D-Cember 26th

30 Day Challenge question 25: Favourite video game

Given the family’s fondness for lego co-operative games, there was only one answer.

A worthy companion to the Marvel Superheroes game this was, for the most part a hell of a lot of fun. Good controls, loads of characters and there is always something to do.

I haven’t put a SuperSam answer in, because it’s a family feeling, everyone enjoyed it. Well, not the dog.

Back soon internet people.

Posted in Comics n Stuff, D-Cember, Uncategorized

D-Cember 24th

30 Day Challenge Question 24: Favourite cartoon adaptation

Superman the Animated Series was the follow up to the epoch-making Batman series and using the same animation style expanded the world into a more Sci-Fi direction. It had a great cast and some great stories.

It even showcased the Fourth World, bringing it to a new audience.

Super Sam’s answer

Taking the mantle from Justice League, this show had a massive cast and some brilliant stories. SuperSam and I are currently watching through it. When I asked for his reason, he just told me it was awesome, what else did he have to say.

Other stuff

Christmas Eve is here and I am out of here for a day or so.

Have a great Christmas time internet people. And if Christmas isn’t your thing, then have fun whatever you do or whatever you celebrate.

My love to you all.

Posted in Comics n Stuff, D-Cember

D-Cember 23rd – Last Minute Panic Buying?

30 Day Challenge Question 23: Favourite method of transportation

It’s back to the Fourth World for this one

When you want to make an entrance, what better way to do so than a sonic boom?

The New Gods of New Genesis and Apokolips travelled in style you have to admit that. At least they don’t have to knock on the door, you already know that they have arrived.

Other stuff

Christmas shopping and you can see the panic in the eyes of so many fellas as they last minute the shit out of their Christmas shopping.

I know, because what was I doing this morning?