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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The New York Four

Story: Brian Wood 
Art: Ryan Kelly
Publisher: MINX (DC Comics)

What’s it about?
“New York City – It awes me into silence sometimes. And it makes me want to shout out at the top of my lungs. Is there any place better?”

The New York Four is a black & white 2008 comic from acclaimed DMZ-writer Brian Wood aimed at young adults, with Ryan Kelly on the artwork. It was originally a digest-sized graphic novel released through Minx, a line published through DC Comics.

The book doesn't just simply revolve around a strong female lead character, but four of them! Each with their own short narratives woven through the book.

The New York Four is about these four young women that are starting their freshman year at the New York University. They all left their homes and family behind, looking for the freedom you get living in NYC.

As the story opens we meet Riley Wilder. Most of the book is seen through her eyes. Riley's pretty shy, always get straight As and spends all her time on her cell phone, only speaking to all her "friends" she met at parties through it. Her and a couple of friends are kind of short on money, so they decide to share an apartment outside the campus together.

There's Lona Lo, a gal who likes keeping tabs on everyone and kind of comes off as a stalker at times. Ren Severin who's more interested in these older guys and hanging out with other peoples than her classmates. And finally Merissa Vasquez, who's having some troubles with her grades...

One day Riley gets to reconnect with this older sister, Angie, who ran away from home much to her parents' chagrin. Riley never really knew her much before, and she finds her back that year of college!

There's also this guy, Frank, who Riley falls for... but also appears only interested in dating both sisters at the same time.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Seen the film?. Read the book: Captain America, Spider-Man, X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy

Four films in one post, because I'm rather behind!

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
This film is based on a story arc by writer Ed Brubaker and penciller Steve Epting.  The film isn't really close to the books, but it's close enough if you want to experience it in comic form.  Brubaker's run is very highly thought of and is considered a great example of Captain America stories.  If you want to read more Cap'n, the relevant trades are as follows (in order):

Captain America: Man Out of Time - This isn't by Brubaker, but is very very good.
Captain America: Winter Soldier
Captain America: Red Menace
Civil War: Captain America (best read alongside the main Civil War series)
Captain America: The Death of Captain America
Captain America: The Man With No Face - this looks like it's out of print, but should be available digitally on www.comixology.co.uk/com
Captain America: Road To Reborn
Captain America: Two Americas
Captain America: No Escape
Captain America: The Trial of Captain America
Captain America: Prisoner of War

After the Winter Soldier story Bucky got his own series, also written by Ed Brubaker, which is traded as:
Winter Soldier: The Longest Winter - this looks like it's out of print and is going for ridiculous amounts of money, so also check comixology to see if you can get it digitally for a fraction of the price.
Winter Soldier: Broken Arrow
Winter Soldier: Black Widow Hunt
Winter Soldier - The Electric Ghost - this has a new creative team.

Amazing Spider-Man 2
I thought this film was a terrible mess.  However, they did get Gwen Stacy right.  Gwen hasn't been around in the comics for a long time because she was killed by the Green Goblin in 1973.  In the comics, the Green Goblin was Norman Osborn, not Harry Osborn.  You can read the story in the trade Spider-Man: Death of the Stacys.

X-Men: Days of Future Past
Like Winter Soldier, the film isn't the same as the comic that inspired it.  In the comic it was Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat) who time travelled (not Wolverine) and there are different X-men involved.  The comic story only takes 2 issues to tell, so plays out rather differently.  It's a good story and worth reading.

The trade collects issues 138-143 from The Uncanny X-Men other series and starts as an epilogue to the Dark Phoenix saga.  Then there is a Nightcrawler story, then Kitty is introduced to the series, we have the two issue Days of Future Past story and the final issue in the collection is Kitty coming into her own and proving her worth as and X-Man.

Guardians of the Galaxy
This film seemed to be the break out hit of the summer.  Everyone seems to love it.  There have been a lot of Guardians comics and it can be quite hard to work out what to read, or to find copies.

The Annihilation omnibus is considered a good companion piece to the movie, however at £95 for the hardcover volume that's probably out of a lot of peoples budgets.  A more reasonable place to start would be Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning's Guardians collection. It's currently priced at just under £18 on Amazon, but your local comic book shop might be able to get you it for cheaper.  We have a list of recommended shops here.  Alternatively, try comixology for digital copies.  A complete list of Marvel's cosmic stuff (with lots of Guardians characters) can be found here.

Many thanks to @feemcbee for helping me identify and locate these titles!  If you're on twitter go follow her, she knows her Marvel.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Comixology's submit - stuff that didn't fit anywhere else.

This the last of the books from the Comixology: Submit sale we talked about in March.  This bundle isn't available anymore but the books in it are, and are well worth looking at.  Here are the remaining five that we think are worthy of note.

Smut Peddlar - short anthology of smutty stories.  Clearly for adults only and not safe to read at work. This may not have been in the bundle, but is an indie book and is good sexy fun.  It's got a mix of pairings - male/male, female/female and male/female.
Writers and artists: various
Publisher: Iron Circus Comics

Dumbing of Age - excellent book about a home schooled Christian woman starting university and meeting people from different backgrounds.  It's smart and funny. It's not mean about Christian homeschooling - it doesn't insult anyone for being who they are.  It's got a great cast who interact really well.  This made me smile a lot, when not much else did.  It started off as a webcomic, which you can read here. Start at the bottom of the page.  Includes LGBT characters and characters of colour.
Writing and art: David Willis
Publisher: Self published

Rock Star Scientists - in this world, scientists are treated like rockstars.  They get the fans, the glory and the clothes. There are 2 stories in this comic, which is split into two section called Side A and Side B.  Side A is an introduction to this world and Side B is a rather short story. Nonetheless it's worth the money.
Writing and letters: Kenny Jeffery
Art: Jordan Cutler
Pencils and inks: George Zapata
Colours: Armit Ghadge
Publisher: Angry Fruit Salad

After Twilight - this has nothing to do with sparkling vampires.  It's 2022 and Texas is in a civil war with the rest of the States to become independent.  Government and laws are based on biblical faith.  The protagonist is a librarian who finds herself involved in the struggle between the underground resistance and the theocractic leaders
Writing: Richard Alvarez, Gary L Watson, Sandra Yates
Art: Douglas Brown
Colours: Chandran and Meagan Tanner
Publisher: Nu-Classic Publishing

Legend of Oz - it's the story of Oz done as a Western.  Dorothy is a gun toting cowgirl and Toto is her horse.  The colours are rather brassy and the faces are a bit plasticky, but the story is good enough.  There is some violence so this won't be good for kids.
Writing: Tom Hutchinson
Pencils: Alisson Borges
Colours: Kate Finnegan
Publisher: Big Dog Ink

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Comixology submit: comics for kids and teens

Comixology's submit sale had quite a lot of comics aimed at and suitable for children and teenagers.  Here's the best of the ones I read:

For younger kids:
The Antler Boy and Other Stories - this is a fun kids' book with a whole host of imaginary and not so imaginary creatures.  It's great fun.
Writing and art: Jake Parker
Publisher: Self published

Squid and Owl - this is less of a comic and more of an illustrated picture book.  It's a bit weird, there's only a few lines of text on each page, and the art is quite ethereal and dream like.  It's like a stream of consciousness in picture form.  I hesitate to say it's aimed at children because adults will appreciate the beauty in the illustrations too, but it's set out a bit like a child's picture book.
Art and writing: John Holbo
Publisher: Rhinobird books

For teenagers:
The Deep: Here Be Dragons - the Nektons are a multiethnic family of aquanauts journeying through the seas in hunt of strange creatures.  The Nektons are son Ant; daughter Fontaine; mum Kaiko; and dad Will.  Ant is brilliant.  This is worth the price for the absolutely gorgeous art of deep sea monsters.  The first few pages are full of drama and danger.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Art: James Brouwer
Publisher: Gestalt Comics

Chloe Noonan: Monster Hunter - Chloe has a job to hunt and destroy monsters but she doesn't really care for it.  She hasn't got super strength or a heightened sense of danger - she's just like you and me, but maybe slightly more cynical.  This isn't like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  It is good fun and I can seen teenagers getting a lot of mileage out of it.
Writing and art: Marc Ellerby
Publisher: Great Beast Comics

Jackie Rose - This is set in an alternative 1940s and tells the story of Jackie Rose, teen adventurer.  In this volume she gets kidnapped by air pirates.  It's suitable for teenagers and has an air of a young Indiana Jones about it.
Writing and art: Josh Ulrich
Publisher: Self published

The Only Living Boy - Erik Farrell has no memory and is in a world filled with humanoid creatures and monsters.  He doesn't know how he got there but he wants to survive.  Forced into battle, he proves his worth through the use of his wits alone.  This is 53 pages and it's great.  It's a lot more serious than the others in this post.
Writer: David Gallagher
Art: Steve Ellis
Publisher: Bottled Lightning

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Comixology submit - superheroes

There had to be a post about superheroes - I mean, this is comics we're talking about.

Henchmen - Gary is an office worker who sees an ad for henchmen in his local newspaper.  As he's lost his job he applies, gets the job, and starts work dressed as a bowling pin.  He gets to keep his glasses on.  This is an interesting take on the superhero genre.  The art and characterisation are compelling, and at 69pence for 48 pages you can't really go wrong.
Writer: Jamison Raymond
Art: Ryan Howe
Colours: RSquared
Publisher: Robot Paper

Tomorrow Jones - Tomorrow is the daughter of a family of superheroes.  She's expected to do things the traditional way - have a secret identity and wear silly spandex - but she's not having any of that.  She wants to do things her own way.  How is this going to work out?  Suitable for teens and adults.
Writing and letters: Brian T Daniel
Art: Johan Manandin
Publisher: Self published

Monday, 22 September 2014


Story: Bryan Lee O'Malley
Art: Bryan Lee O'Malley & Jason Fischer 
Publisher: Ballantine Books

What’s it about?
Seconds is the highly anticipated first new comic from Scott Pilgrim creator, Bryan Lee O'Malley. Following a pretty impressive success (for such a small indie title), which even resulted in a much bigger motion picture feature, O'Malley went back to his roots. By releasing a new self-contained graphic novel!

Seconds tales the story of this woman, Katie Clay, who is a young talented chef and the proud owner of a local restaurant, called Seconds. Lately, Katie has been struggling with both her personal and professional life. Things have been quite stressful for our heroine, she is in the transition of opening her own new restaurant, leave the old place behind and try to finally move out of that restaurant's second floor and get a proper apartment to live in. And she's been guessing her step of the way. Is that new place a good or bad decision, should she settle for that building or a better locations, and has she been making good decisions all her life and how did she lose the good thing she had going on with her ex-boyfriend?

But one day she finally get the chance to redo it all!

She finds this mysterious white-haired magical girl she calls Lis. She's the resident house spirit at Seconds.

A young waitress named Hazel was severely burnt by Katie's fault. Lis offers Katie the one-time only use of a magic notebook which grants her the ability fix past mistakes. The rules? She has to write down the mistake she wishes to "correct". Ingest a magic mushroom. Go to sleep. And the next day when she will wake up, things will have changed anew.

But soon Katie finds a loophole. She decides to grab a few more of those mushrooms and starts abusing this newfound power. Trying to fix everything, her past relationship, the future new restaurant. Everything! Until it's perfect!

And it only makes things worse and worse the more she tries changing things...

Seconds is a fun entertaining little fable featuring some gorgeous pages with help of Bryan Lee O'Malley's new team of assistants.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Comixology submit - biography

More comics found in the Comixology's submit section.  Here are a couple of autobiographical treats.

Boobage - this is a sweet and heartfelt short autobiographical tale about puberty and growing up with small breasts.  Done in a rather nice red, white and black colour palette.
Writing and art: Monica Gallagher
Publisher: Lipstick Kiss Press

Kinds of Blue - this is an anthology comic describing what depression looks like.  It's 84 pages and each story has a different style to it.  If you want to know more about depression, or people's experiences with it, this book is a good start.
Writers and artists: Various
Publisher: Hive Mindedness Media

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Comixology submit: adventure time

Another post prompted by March's Comixology submit sale.  Here are two books full of swashbuckling adventure.

Legend of Bold Riley - Bold Riley is a Indian lesbian swashbuckling adventurer.  She travels around the land performing great deeds of derring-do and bedding all the pretty maidens she meets.  It's similar in set up to traditional sword and sorcery adventure stories, except that Bold Riley is far more interesting than your traditional male hero, and not just because she's female.

Writer: Leia Weathington
Art: Marco Aidala, Vanessa Gillings, Kelly McClellan, Konstantin Pogorelov and Jason Thompson
Letters: Charles "Zan" Christensen
Publisher: Northwest Press

Rogues - it's a fantasy world and the two Rogues are Bram (a beefy fella) and the Weasel (a buxom lady).  The artwork is rather cheesecakey - Weasel has a full bust and a skimpy wardrobe whereas Bram gets a jacket and trousers.  But the book is aware of this and presents a fun and comedic story about how the humble chicken foils thieves everywhere.
Writer: El Torres
Art: Ruben Rojas and Juan Jose Ryp
Colours: Fran Gamboa
Publisher: Amigo Comics

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Comixology submit: drama

In the third of our posts prompted by March's Comixology submit sale we focus on books that can be loosely described as dramatic.  The books are all quite different though, so perhaps I need a better description?


Nathan Sorry - this is excellent.  It's such an inspired idea I'm wondering why I haven't seen more stories like this.  Nathan should have been in the World Trade Centre on 9/11 but missed his flight.  The world thinks he's dead so he uses an accidentally stolen laptop and $20 million to find a new life, but begins to lose his grip on his identity.
Art and writing: Rich Barrett
Publisher: Self published

Bob And His Beer - this is about different people's experience of bereavement, how we can deal with losing those with love, and how we can all be connected.  Very good.  Might be tough to read if you are recently bereaved, but if you can stick with it you'll find it's quite comforting.
Writer: Sarah Stringfield
Art and letters: Cary Stringfield
Publisher: Captain Clark Comics

Snow - Dana is a shy, meek woman who works at a bookshop.  One day she arrives in work to find out the store is closing down, which leads to her slowly finding her confidence and having an impact on her neighbours' lives.  This book is utterly delightful.  It's 164 pages, but you'll race through it in no time.  The black and white art is incredibly expressive. It's set in just one (real!) street in Chicago.
Art and writing: Benjamin Rivers
Publisher: Benjamin Rivers Inc

The Chairs' Hiatus - lovely comic about an indie music duo's break up, new lives, and reunion.  It's less about music and gigging as it is about people and the complexities of relationships.  Contains LGBT characters.
Art and writing: Matthew Bogart
Publisher: Self published

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Comixology submit: spooky and mythical

In the second of our posts prompted by March's Comixology submit sale we focus on books that have mythical elements, that are sometimes a bit fairy tale and sometimes a bit horror.

Who Needs the Moon - there's a vampire in Kingsford and the townsfolk don't know anything about it.  Enter a werewolf, who can do something about it.  The art in this is intelligent - something I rarely say.  The colour palette and panel layout tell the story more than the words.  In fact, many panels have no words, but there is never a problem in understanding what you are seeing.  This is a great and challenging (in the best way) comic that really does deserve your attention.
Art and writing: Todd McCullough
Publisher: Self published

Ink and Thunder - three supernatural short stories written and drawn by Becky Cloonan.  These are beautiful and inspiring and sumptuous.  All three have a feeling of immense sadness and yearning about them.  Cloonan is a professional storyteller and these have to be three of her best.
Writing and art: Becky Cloonan
Publisher: Self published 

Fairy tales
The Demon's Sermon on the Martial Arts - I haven't read much of this but it looks impressive. Paraphrased from the comixology description:
This is a classic collection of martial arts parables.  The stories feature demons, insects, birds, cats and more.  They may seem whimiscal but they contain essential teachings that offer insight into the fundamental principles of martial arts.  This graphic novel is based on Issai Chozanshi's eighteenth century text.
It's in black and white and has a classic Japanese art style.
Adaptation: Sean Michael Wilson
Translation: William Scott Wilson
Art: Michiru Morikawa
Original writer: Issai Chozanshi
Publisher: Shambhala publications

Twas the Night Before Krampus - This is a black and white book about the Christmas Eve fight between St Nicholas and the evil Krampus.  This is a rather unique and creepy Christmas story.  Not suitable for kids.
Writer: Ben Avery
Art: Tim Baron
Publisher: Lifesize Monster Ghost

The Order of Dagonet - this is written by Jeremy Whitley (he who wrote the amazing Princeless).  Mythological creatures of ancient Britain return and knights have to be found.  Although created by Americans, it's got a really British voice and a really good handle on British folklore. N.B: this wasn't part of the sale but I've included it because it is an independent comic.
Writer: Jeremy Whitley
Art: Jason Strutz
Publisher: Action Lab Comics

I've tagged all of these as age mature as although older teens would probably like them, they have a bit too much to them be considered age: general.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Comixology submit: sci-fi

In March we posted about a Comixology submit sale.  These are creator-owned comics made available digitally on comixology.  I finally got around to reading the bundle and there were some marvellous books in there, so our next few posts will be spotlights on the best of the bunch.  The books are no longer in the sale but most are fairly inexpensive.  Each title contains a hyperlink to the series on comixology so you can easily find them.

First up, sci-fi:

The Accelerators - two scientists from the 1960s are jumping forward in time: he is pursuing her, hoping to destroy her research. On their jumps they pick up a teenager from the 1990s and end up in a surprising future where everyone has their own time machine.  Issue 1 showed a lot of promise.
Writer: R.F.I. Porto
Pencils and inks: Gavin P Smith
Colours: Tim Yates
Letters: Crank!
Publisher: Self published

Arrival - this is black and white and has some lovely line art.  It's clear and easy to read, yet has a lot of strength.  Story wise, it's a sci-fi tale set in 2057.  There's a mystery from the stars and human life has changed in some ways, stayed the same in others.  I wasn't so bothered about the plot but the art is just too good to ignore.
Writers: Thomas Kovach and Nishan Patel
Art: Thomas Kovach
Publisher: Mystery Box Comics

The Bunker - this is one of the best comics in the bundle.  There's a great amount of characterisation and detail in here.  For a cast of five people this is pretty impressive.  A group of friends go to the woods to bury a time capsule and find a bunker with goods from their future selves, addressed to their younger selves.  Issue 1 is a double sized issue.
Writer: Joshua Hale Fialkov
Art: Joe Infurnari
Publisher: Oni Press

Relaunch -
I think of this as a proper sci-fi book.  A lot of the panels show the spaceship and techy workings of space travel.  We get a real sense of the isolation astronauts must feel.  The main (nigh on only) character, Cris, works on a deep space utility shop and things start to go wrong.  The first issue leaves us hanging and hungering for more.
Writer: Ron Perazza
Art: Daniel Govar
Publisher: Comic Book Think Tank

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Lost at Sea

Art & Story: Bryan Lee O'Malley
Publisher: Oni Press

What’s it about?
Lost at Sea is a black & white graphic novel by Bryan Lee O'Malley. It was first published in 2003 through Oni Press.

It's a "coming of age" story about this girl named Raleigh. She is on a road trip with some fellow classmates from school she doesn't know much. She tagged along as they were driving across America, from California back home to Vancouver, Canada.

Raleigh has always by a loner, distanced from other kids at school. She doesn't talk much and keeps to herself since her childhood friend moved away.

She was visiting her father and tried to go back to this long-distance boyfriend she had a relationship with. Since she missed her train back home, she kinda took this occasion to join a road trip when these guys Stephanie, Dave and Ian were also on their way back.

She spends the story thinking back and forth about her relationship (this guy she met on the internet!), who she was, who she is now and who she wants to be.

Oh. And also, she believes cats are after her. She thinks her mom sold her sold her soul as a kid, for success and her career. Yep.

The story does get kinda surreal at times. She sees cats everywhere. She believes a cat stole her soul. She forces everyone to wake up in the middle of the night to attempt to catch the cat back, as she slowly opens up to the others.

It's a comic about a girl just as much looking for a point of anchor in her life had she been actually "lost at sea".

A fun quirky tale about four college age-kids driving back home around holidays.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Gotham City Sirens Volumes 1-4

Credits: Various
Publisher: DC comics

What's it about?
Gotham City Sirens focuses on the DC villains/antiheroes Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn.  These three women are probably the most famous female residents of Batman's Gotham City (aside from Batgirl, of course).  They aren't exactly friends.  Catwoman (Selina Kyle) has worked with Batman too much to be true friends with the more criminally minded.  Poison Ivy doesn't really like people.  Harley Quinn gets on with most people but would leave them hanging in a moment if her beloved Joker called.

Volume 1 brings the Sirens together by having them share a house (a really big house, more like the size of a warehouse).  Ivy and Harley set out to discover Batman's identity from Selina; the Riddler has reformed; and one of the old Joker sidekicks turns up.