Friday, March 31, 2006

Marvel Zombies

Do you like Zombies?
Do you like Comics?
If the answer to these is yes then you are probably familiar with Robert Kirkmans work on Walking Dead, and the fun 5-issue mini from Marvel that is Marvel Zombies.
The series wraps up next week, so the graphic novel can't be far behind. I emplore you all to read it as it is a heck of a lot of fun, and a nice break from the death/disease/famine/we're-all-going-to-die-horribly pace of titles like Infinite Crisis and Civil War.

But that's not what this column is about.

Dear Marvel,

Thank you very much for the fun that was the recent 5-issue Robert Kirkman penned mini which was Marvel Zombies. It was a heck of a lot of fun. Cap with his brains hanging out, the Iron Torso Man, Wasp; the zombie head and the Silver Dinnerware Surfer. You can't beat that.

Let it end at that.

Everytime you have a series which recieves a modicum of success, you run it into the ground. Fact.
So many great things have started at Marvel, and you havn't known when to stop and it has ruined them.
Marvel Mangaverse. Dead from over-exposure.
MC2. Dead from early over-exposure, killed the "line" before it got going.
The second wave of recent What If's. With the exception of the Thor title; pointless.
Avengers Disassembled. Yes, Avengers 500-503 were great, but watered down due to pointless supposed "tie-ins" in F4, Iron Man and Spidey.
The "Tsunami" line of comics. WTF? Does anyone remember this launch. Namor??? at least it bought us Runaways.
Infinity gauntlet was ace. Did we need War, Crusade and Abyss?
Hulk The End one-shot was awesome. The same can't be said for the 18 issues of X-Men The End can it?

Stop flogging the dead horse! Let Marvel Zombies rot in peace.

Yours faithfully,
A Fan.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Read More Runaways

I can't remember what I was looking at this morning, but something triggered Runaways into my head, and it made me want to shout about it.

Read Runaways.

Forget monthly orders, or the HC, the way to do it is in the digest format. 6 issues for £6. I collect the singles, but I never read them as I get them, I always wait until I have at least 6 issues, because they read so much better this way. It's set in the Marvel Universe without tying in to anything else, so if you want to avoid big-expansive crossovers, this is the book for you, as Runaways is very much its own thing.

Featuring a cast of characters who have fled from home upon finding out their parents are super-villains; this great series reads like a John Landis coming-of-age flick, and one of the characters has a pet dinosaur.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Thunder, Thunder, ThunderCats - NOOOO!

So I recently bought the ThunderCats DVD's, all 68 episodes of season 1 over 2 huge DVD box sets. Quite a lot to get through really. I never saw much ThunderCats as a kid, nor any cartoon, but those I did see I enjoyed. I never collected the toys either, my Mum had a weird thing about toys; whereas most kids had a little bit of each product, a mixed bag such as Lion-O, Prowl, Princess Leia and Skeletor, my Mum had this thing that we collected one thing. From birth to '85 it was Star Wars for me, and then when Star Wars went the way of the dodo it became Transformers. It was good really, because it meant I had a shitload of Star Wars and TFs as a kid and I really looked after them, I still have many of my boxed Transformers from when I was a kid, still with weapons.
So it was with a mixture of nostalgia and apprehension I inserted the ThunderCats DVD.
Now the intro sequence is still the best intro from any kids cartoon ever, better than He-Man, Bucky O Hare and even the Transformers (Ghostbusters was a close second though, for the music alone). And then the episode began.
It sucked.
They all sucked.

I managed to force myself through the first boxset, nearly inflicting a mental breakdown upon my girlfriend whom detests the shows voice-acting. I use the term "acting" very loosely.
Now Transformers wasn't the best cartoon ever but at least The Movie kicked ass, He-Man has aged really badly since its early-80's release, a lot of cartoons from the eighties look and feel dated for the very same reason 50's Superman comics seem so kooky: no-one expected people to still be analysing / reading / veiwing the material 20-50 years later. they were meant as nothing more than disposable kids entertainment, occasionally with a forced morality tale thrown in for good measure as our modern day Mount Olympian equivalents.
But seriously, ThunderCats is by far the worse. When you look at great voice-artists such as David Kaye, Gary Chalk, David Hayter, Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy, you realise what a talent the profession takes, but the horrible voices in ThunderCats stagger belief.

Except this line from Mumm-ra.

The stories never seem to be thought out ahead of time, limping weakly from one scene to another without and thought to structure or plot cohesion, the rules of physics seem to change by the minute and THERE ARE SO MANY FUCKING UNICORNS IN ONE POXY UNIVERSE.
At least the villain was kind of cool, despite the use of such clever aliases as "Pumm-Ra".

Anyway, I am not here just to debunk T'Cats believe it or not, I actually have a point.

A lot of people remember ThunderCats with a lot of reverence. You go into any college in this country or America, you are pretty much likely to find some dude wearing the Thundercat logo as a T-shirt, beanie, hoodie or tattoo. Why? Why would they do this?

Simply because the product has remained nostalgic, and not been rehashed time and time again. Wildstorm recently published 5 Thundercat miniseries, 4 of the 5 were great, with brilliant writing and art by some of the top names in the industry (J. Scott Campbell, Ed McGuiness!!!, Ed Benes - read 'em and weep Marvel). DC told 5 short concise stories with a lot of reverence to the TV show, which actually progressed the characters and Universe, and then got out. Brilliant strategy.
That is it, as far as the great ThunderCats revival.

Compare that to Transformers. 3 ongoing Dreamwave series which contradicted the TV show, Movie and US and UK comic books , 4 or 5 miniseries, all of which got cancelled mid-story with no resolution due to Dreamwave's bankruptcy. New, watered down T series such as Energon and Armada which are playing to the Pokemon, Mighty Morphin power rangers crowd, not to its own pre-existing audience. More toy lines than you can possible hope to purchase even after two re-mortgages and a bank loan thank you very much Takara / Hasbro. T-shirts, posters, lunchboxes, stickers. A new comic series released by IDW, all of which seem to have a choice of anything from 3- 8 covers ranging from £1.60 to £100. Re-issues of expensive toys, which then affect the market price on the older toys. Annuals. Reprints of old comics. A sticker album?!? Cardboard cut-outs, statues from 3 different companys. Busts. Jigsaws. A live action movie. Complete DVD box sets of obscure Japanese episodes with really bad dubs. The list goes on and on almost as much as I do.
The same thing happened with Masters of the Universe, and Battle of the Planets, with new action figures, comics or TV shows which failed to capture the attention of today's "fast-edit" audiences or yesterdays nostalgia junkies (which is a shame because the new "Masters" show kicked ass, and the comic was written by Kirkman).

Yet people still talk about how great ThunderCats is. Because there has been no market saturation. No new action figures, no film, no soundtrack CD, no old comic reprints, no statues, no busts, no playsets.

So, like the last minute morals added on at the end of episodes of ThunderCats, we have learnt two things from this:

1, Never trust nostalgia, feel free to leave some things in the past. Like pogs.

2, More importantly, learn the error of market saturation. This is something Marvel have been seriously lacking with lately (see, it all comes back to comics in the end).

But that's a subject for another day...

Friday, March 24, 2006

Snakes on a Plane

Are we a Slave to Format?

Format. It's all important to a comic. Should it be a two parter, six-issue mini, self contained one-shot, ongoing, finite or original graphic novel? It's nice to see that the powers that be at Marvel and DC have remembered that format is a choice, because for a while there, everything was getting a little convoluted as people "deconstructed" the story for the sake of a six issue story-line that fitted nicely into a Tpb format, and therefore a bookstore.

Avoiding the obvious like Fell and Local, more and more comics are seeing the occasional self-contained story, or as they used to be known; "filler" issue. These days, filler issues do more than fill space before the next big crossover, in a lot of cases, they are being used to further characterisation and story-line in a calm before the storm kind of way, like the recent Teen Titans annual.
Interestingly, more and more comic one-shots have been released lately, almost harkening back to the days of fifth week events (back in the day, comics shipped on a tighter monthly schedule, and in months with 5 Wednesdays, we used to see DC or Marvel offer a fifth week event to make up for the lack of core Superman or Batman titles. More often than not these so-called events were anything but). Titles like the "I Heart Marvel" range and the "What If" line-up.
Strangely though, I know a lot of people whom wait for single issues to be collected in Tpb format, such as the much lamented "Demo" or the Ellis Apparet collection.
Titles such as Infinite Crisis or Identity Crisis may well be written with the Tpb format in mind eventually, but neither do so at the expense of the single issue. Both are written with the cliff-hanger format in mind and offer a satisfying read in one issue, but as something that fits into a bigger picture. Lets face it, would the shock end to American Virgin have been half as good if there were another 5 issues ready to read straight away? Sometimes, the necessary 4 week wait between titles gives you time to think "Fucking hell, I wonder what's going to happen in the next issue?".

Sometimes though, that four week wait can generate into "What happened in the last issue, my god, it's too insipid to remember. I'm sure Wolverine said he was the best he is and what he did, but who was he speaking to, and why?". Especially, I find, when dealing with marvel miniseries. A lot of the time, they don't tie directly into any of the ongoing series, and in the case of something like "X-Men Phoenix Endsong", you really are better off waiting for the Tpb. . Even a title as good as Runaways reads better in six issue chunks than it does as single issues, and my theory on that is this: When you see Batman on a page you have a certain notion of how the character is going to act, but in a layered book like Runaways, the characters grow and evolve issue by issue, mainly because the characters are characters and not characterisations, because they are not as important as Icons like Superman, they free the writer more, enabling him to take more chances as the characters find their own voices. In a comic like this, the choices affect the narrative and the narrative affects the choices, the status quo is a lot more fragile and therefore is harder to access, so reading in complete chunks of issues helps keep you in pace with the story.
Of course, that's not to say that Runaways is better than Batman or vice-versa, they are just juxtapositions of the super-hero anatomy.
Recent Ellis comics, such as Desolation Jones, really haven't lent themselves well to the single issue format. The series is great, but out of all his work I have read (which is nearly everything), this series lends itself to the Tpb format more than any.

Nextwave is an interesting one, seeming to deal in two issue story-arcs. I had a good friend who irrationally hated two-parters in comics, but for the most part I think they are worthwhile. Especially when you are dealing with essentially fun, irreverent, throwaway story-lines such as in Nextwave or the two-part Ultimate Spider-man story "Jump the Shark" - a story in which Spider-man and Wolverine swapped bodies for a day, it may sound kooky, but it didn't take 6 issues to tell, was a hell of a lot of fun, and no-one died for an entire story, which is a Bendis first.

Of course, the most popular format in comics is, has always been, but might not always be, the soap-opera.
Whether its a newer title like Walking Dead or an older title like Spider-man of the Fantastic Four, they are undoubtedly the soap-opera format. Same core week-in, week-out, familiar surroundings (Metropolis, Gotham, New York, Rovers Return), revolving supporting characters (Aztek in JLA, Betty Brant in Spidey) a continual narrative dating back forty years for Marvel, 20 years for DC (using the original Crisis as a restart point), featuring multiple story-threads.
There was a saying a group of friends and I had about X-Men, they never finish a story without starting a new one. The sure-fire mark of a soap-opera. But as more and more people come into the Tpb format looking for a quick hit, will this trend continue, or will it fizzle out to be replaced by complete reads such as Preacher or V for Vendetta?

The anthology series has seen more success lately, like the award winning "Flight" from Image Comics, which has sold far more in bookstores than it has in comic stores, or the "Rising Stars of Manga" range from Tokyopop. The problem with anthologies has always been the sheer disparity in the quality of the work, this is the reason why titles like negative Burn weren't as successful as they deserved to be, for every Bendis or Jenkins script, you had some real crap.

An interesting, and much more recent format has arisen: the "complete". As more and more people have gone capitalist completist crazy with series box-sets on DVD, the same thing has started to happen with comics.
The Complete Bone has reportable sold over 50,000 copies, with all fifty-five issues in one volume for the bargain price of £27 (pictured to the right, versus the original Tpb collection). Bone - the little indie-press book that could - has sold nearly a million Tpb copies in total with its various printings including its full-color Schoolastics printings. What Spider-Man Tpb can claim to have sold that many? Maybe Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 1. Do you think the Alias Omnibus will shift these numbers at £45 for 29 issues?
And who can forget the massive "Complete Calvin and Hobbes", an odyssey in comic panel storytelling for £85, every C+H strip ever.

As with most things in the comic industry, there is no perfect answer. In a lot of cases, story dictates format, but with a few products the format has come first and the story comes later. The important thing though is the choice, and the fact that there are all these different formats to play with, and even more that no-one is using: the widescreen format, the vertical format, not to mention the every growing in popularity mini-comic.
Format is a tool, not the end product, and like all tools for creativity, they need to be played with. I like to think there is a new format out there waiting to be discovered that no-one has even thought of yet, which may even revolutionise comic-books. If there is, the depressing thing is: if people couldn't bag, board it and file it away with the rest of their collection, would anyone even care?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Remember, Remember the 17th of March.

Not wanting to upset people too much, the distributors of the "V for Vendetta" movie rescheduled the release date from the relevant 400th anniversary of Guy Fawkes gunpowder and treason plot, to March the 17th, which is about as relevant to anything as a wasp passing wind.
The only way any relevance can be drawn to this film, is on this day in history 2003, Bush Jr. gave Saddam Hussain a 48 hour ultimatum: "leave Iraq, or be attacked", which people might look back on in the future as the beginning of totaliterian opression in the "free" world (in a capitalist society, is anything free?).
But before we get too pretentious, let's review a comic book movie shall we?

Lot's of things have already been said about this movie. It's spiritual father Alan Moore divorced himself from the project, leaving it to grow up to be the little bastard child it is. Fortunately, the metaphorical apple did not fall far from the tree.
The movie is a great comic-book adaptation, because that's all its trying to be. No-one is trying to replace or rewrite the original, that is still perfectly fine sat on its shelf with both author's names displayed prominently on its spine, thank you very much, so we are not going to dissect the inherant differences between the two too much, as most changes are made with the genre swap and fresh audience in mind.

V tries to find a middle ground between political cautionary tale and Wachowski visual feast. The director James McTeigue was an excellent refresher for the tired Wachowski Bros., who avoided "pulling a Lucas" by trying to do both screenplay and directing.
The film is superbly stylish, with the look of V and all attached symbolism used enough to get the message across but never so much that it appears tacky.

The two main actors, Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman are on fire in this film, with Mr Weaving conveying more emotion and expression with a head tilt than most actor's can with their entire array of facial nuances. Hugo Weaving was a 13th hour replacement for the original actor, who is too unconsequential for me too even bother to IMDB, but you'd think Hugo was born to play the role, sans the pomp and granduer most actors would have bought. And, of course, he keeps the fucking mask on.
As one journalist wrote: "Natalie Portman comes dangerously close to acting", which is a lovely back-handed compliment fully expected from the smart-ass critics of the world. Natalie Portman's acting has never been in question, it's her choice in movies I find dubious, with Mars attacks and Star Wars undoing the head-start she got over most Hollywood wannabes from her fine performance in "Leon". As Evey Hammond, Ms. Portman pulled out, in my opinion, the performance of her career.
John Hurt requires a mention here as well, as I am sure he will be overlooked by most people as he is not exactly marketable Hollywood fare these days. A role reversal here as he changes from his victimised protagonist lead in 1984, to the patriachal antagoniser of the piece. Freedom is being able to say 2+2=V.

As mentioned above, the plot differs here and there between the souce material, but never to the detriment of the story. Yes, they whole knife-trail special effect is a little in-your-face, but the entire "V cuts loose, slicey stabby" scene is there for the people in the cinema sat behind you, who utter a bewildered "What?" as response to the verbal alliterations of V. However, the film is set in London which puts it one up on Constantine, and key scenes such as the interogation of Evey are wholesale inclusive, a scene which for many people, will make or break the flick.

The one major complaint I would have: the film was far too well-lit for my liking, the grim and gritty street level filth prevailant in most early Vertigo titles and depicted so well by David Lloyd to showcase Thatcher-era "used London", replaced with an almost Communist starkness.
But that's it for complaints. V for Vendetta is one of my favourite comic-books, and it makes me happy to say its also one of my favourite movies of all time as well. This is a movie made for movie fans, but certainly not at the detriment of comic-book fans.

Friday, March 17, 2006

1 Year and 100 Posts Later...

...and thing's remain largely the same.

March the 8th marked the one year anniversary of this site, which is somewhat of a milestone I guess as most blogs tend to go inactive after about two months as most people realise they didn't have as much to say as they thought they did . Personally, I have always found the best blog's to be something-centric, like this site talks about comics, FALISV talks (somewhat sporadicaly) about video games, Matt Boyce's blog revolves around his art, Tagrope about wrestling etc...
I suppose an even bigger milestone is 100 posts, that averages out at just under two a week, but I also deleted 2 or 3 which I didn't like after posting, these include the famous "Bob Geldof please fuck off" post and the famed "Valentines Day WPO shooting", both funny, but didn't serve any purpose or fit into the tone of the website. Just because I have a sick sense of humour, doesn't mean I have the right to drag you all down with me.
Speaking of which, I was in Sainsburys a few weeks ago...

So what has changed in the last year, well, our founding father and co-writer Sam Pay had left for greener pastures. Okay, maybe not greener, he was in London last I heard, and I am sure whatever he is doing he is putting his absolute all into because he is that kind of guy, whatever he turns his hand too, I am sure he will suceed.

What else? Have I had anything published? No. Have I written much? Yeah, got some great stuff down on hard-drive, not quantity but I like to think quality, I just need time to develop these ideas. I have taken a break from writing to read a shed-load of theory books and study the structure of writing more, I am currently annotating "Story" and will go onto "hero with a thousand Faces" next, which is all about cultural ideology and shared consciousness.
The shop is doing well, as is I think the entire comic industry. Every year both seem to do slightly better, with some absolutely cracking reads being released last year. And with the advent of Superman and X-Men 3 movies, things can only get better (note to self, never, ever quote D:REAM again).

So I guess I better write something of interest otherwise the 100th post will be about absolutely nothing.

Cool as fuck, this means I have uploaded the entire story and the cover to the much-lamented missing issue of "Hellblazer", print it out, distribute it for free, remind people what Constantine can be when he gets the chance. This issue got banned becasue they (DC / Warner Bros.) didn't want it to piss people off, thing is,
most thing's worth saying usually do.
I know I whinge about Hellblazer being broken, and I probably will until Ellis goes back to it.

Speaking of free-speach, the "V for Vendetta" movie launchs today, I will check it out tonight and let you all know what its like (in my humble opinion) as soon as possible. Just remember, despite what they say in the film, it's set in Thatchers Britain.

just a quick note to apologise for my spelling in todays entry, I am having contact lense problems and can barely see out of my left eye so it hurts to look at the screen, I have my head down and I am just typing. Let the fates fall where they may.


DMZ is fucking excellent, I didn't want to read it issue by issue, so I waited until I had the first 5 issues so I could read a whole chunk at once. As usual, Brian Wood has me hooked with a great concept and lots of off-beat ideas, lots of fun and as with a lot of media products these days, it is very much anti-bush regime but without saying it, kind of like the Ultimates series from Marvel.
I am not completely sold on the artist, although there is a great level of detail in the art and some amazing grafity ideas (most of which I would hazard a guess as saying were Wood's idea), he often fails to draw your eye to the key part of the panel and I am left with an in-distinct idea of what the lead character looks like.

DC Comics

This really needs an entire post sometime next week, but DC continue to entertain me week in and week out, being a true Marvelite, I never thought I would be behind DC like I am now.
The internet "fans" piss and moan about DC and johns, but they so wanted this massive "Infinite Crisis" crossover, I think they just like having something to moan about. Cunts.

Ultimate Avengers

Yeah, pretty good movie all in all. It's a ronseal movie because it pretty much does what it say's it will on the can: Ultimate Avengers. Not quite "The Ultimates", but not just "The Avengers". It follows the plot of the first Ultimates series fairly closely, combining the Skrull story with that of the Hulk rampage, but don't expect to see Hulk eat anyone, try to kill Freddie Prince Jr. or fuck Betty Ross. worse than that, they've gotten rid of Thor's beard!!! Bastards.
The extras are pretty good, you can select an option so that fun facts pop up on the screen, such as "in the comic book, this sceen led to actual domestic violence", fun for all the family.
All in all though, lots of fun and worth checking out, especially with a sequal on the way.

More blog later in the week.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Bristol International Comics Expo

13th - 14th MAY 2006

Should be good fun this one, I will be up there the entire weekend, Friday - Sunday. I'm sure I will probably be seen hanging around the Mamtor area, and generally mingling with the creators and dealers.
Originally I wanted to actually hire a stall up there, spread the word about Comic Connections and maybe sell a few comics, but as far as things involving Glyn making a decision go, it looks like it won't be happening.


There will be a plethora of Comic creators there, as well as more back issue comics than you can shake a pointy stick at (not that you can't find most of what you are looking for in store mind you :).
You have lots of great creators attending such as Andi Watson, ex-Marvel EIC Roy Thomas and loads more. But most impressive is DC Golden-boy: Geoff Johns.

UK Web and Mini-Comics Thing

If you are in London this weekend, go to the UK web and mini-comics thing, all the details are on the poster above.
I am unable to go, so if you can, do so. Make sure to say hello to Matt Boyce whilst you are there, he will be signing copies of his debut book "Life is Humiliation" and pimipng Mamtor's "Event Horizon" vol 1 and 2.

Monday, March 06, 2006


DMZ, Exterminators, Testament and Loveless all have one thing in common, they are all new Vertigo number ones, each of which are getting attention from a variety of sources.
Indeed, when you look at the past history of the Vertigo line, Alan Moores Swamp Thing, Hellblazer, Ennis and Dillons Preacher, Neil Gaimans Sandman and the reprint of V for Vendetta, you look at one of the most prolific comic lines of all time with some Triple-A creators, and recent additions Fables and Y The Last Man certainly havn't come as a dissapointment to anyone, or harmed people like Brian K Vaughan's career or Eisner winning chances. Anyone hoping to launch a new series for Vertigo is facing some stiff competetion and scrutiny.

Get ready to add some new names to the Vertigo Hall of Fame, courtesy of American Virgin. A book which in my opinion - if it continues this strongly throughout - is deserving of an Eisner award.
Created by writer Steven T Seagle (Its a Bird) and indie-sensation Becky Cloonan (Demo), with covers by fan favourite Frank Quitely, the first issue of American Virgin - released this Wednesday coming - pulls no punches, with excellent characters and dialogue straight away, which really help set the scene and bring you into the world in a meagre 22 pages.
This book charts the life of Adam Chamberlain, 21 year old Virgin and spokes-person for Virginity Pledge Cards, trying to get young American's to save themselves by saving themselves. Riding dangerously close to stardom and with corrupt and corrupting family members at all sides, all Adam want's to do is keep himself pure until his girlfriend returns from Aid Working in Africa, upon whence they will be married. But Adam is about to learn that what we want and what we get really are two different things.

Look, I know a lot of people are going to be watiing for the trade on this and thats fine - especially with Vertigo titles, but if we don't support the single issues we might never get a trade release (Outlaw Nation anybody?). I implore you to check this series out, and maybe, just maybe Steven T Seagle will get the Eisner award he so-deserved for "It's a Bird".

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Who is Brian Wood?

According to Google Image search, all these lovely lovely people, none of whom look at all like rapists.

Anyway, this was going to be a column about Brian Wood, but in my medicinally induced headfuck state, I forgot that Wizard had recently done this (just with less potential rapists). So, to reiterate quickly, if you are going to read any Brian Wood, make sure you read:

Channel Zero / CZ Jennie One

And if you own "Fight for Tomorrow" by Brian Wood, send it to me care of Comic Connections, 4a Parsons Street, Banbury, Oxon. If you do I will send you a tube of Smarties, with all the blue ones taken out, like when you were a kid and they didn't make blue ones and you couldn't get M+M's in the UK yet and the concept of a blue Smartie was like, out there.

Bird Flu, Walking Stick, Red Bull. Kick = Splode.

Fuck, I feel like crap.

This is Sid being ill Day #9. It doesn't get better, it gets worse. Still, to celebrate hitting ill double digits, I actually have an NHS GP appointment tomorrow (and who said the system was failing?!?).

However, never being one to let a bad situation get me down too much, I have used this time off work as an excuse to catch up on my reading and viewing somewhat.

The biggest achievement is finally reading the original Crisis. Yep, that's right:

Crisis on Infinite Earths Absolute Edition.

I first tried to read this book about 7 or 8 years ago, when lot's of people heralded it as a classic but couldn't tell me why. Sure it was a big crossover and it streamlined continuity, but now that continuity had been streamlined why would I want to go back and read a book with 700 characters who were about to become obsolete? Surely I was better of with Brynes "Man of Steel" and Millers "Batman: Year One"? Surely the mainly prose History of the DCU would suffice if I craved the information?
Fast-forward to todays comic book marketplace where DC is leading the way in superhero fiction (as opposed to what exactly?), where the majority of the last three years worth of stories - although self-contained - have all been building to the current, and most excellent, Infinte Crisis.
If you really want to get the most out of Infinite Crisis, it really does help to go back and read the original Crisis. And if you want to get the best out of the original Crisis, it really does help to read the current Crisis. The two work so well off of each other, for instance: If I had just read the original Crisis, I wouldn't have a clue who Pyscho Pirate is or what he is doing there. If I just read the current storyline (see the upcoming Powergirl Tpb), I get a hint that Pyscho Pirate ties into something bigger than this but I don't know why. But when you read both, even in the wrong order (and I read Crisis inbetween issues 4 and 5 of Infinite Crisis, you can't get much more arse about face than that), it really helps to bring the story arcs together.
And with the excellent back up material (a bit like the special features on a 2 Disc DVD set), this Absolute Edition looks heavily behind the scenes into the making of Crisis. An excellent purchase.

Scott Pilgrim

I have heard nothing but good things about this book all over the internet, and I have always enjoyed offerings from Oni Press, but it took Stephen Holland from Page 45 telling me in what quantities he sold the book (a lot) to make me actually move it higher up my to-read pile.
I can certainly see the appeal here, it is a good fun book, attractively put together in an easy to transport, fits in the pocket format not all to disimilar from most Manga digests. The page count is high for what is a £8 book, you definately feel like you are getting a lot of story for your money (the whole "bang in relation to buck" theorum).
The book starts out simple enough, with Scott Pilgrim as your average everyday 23 year old prot*. All he wants to do is hang out with his mates, play his guitar and date his high-school girlfriend. Everything is going well until a girl called Ramona skates into his life. The usual trials and tribulations occur until towards the end of the book, when her evil ex-boyfriend shows up and threatens to fight Scott, but this isn't a bottle of Newcastle Brown over the head type fight, this is Space Channel 5 meets Parappa the Rapper, with the odd Street Fighter 2 special move thrown in for good measure and an impressive 64 hit combo.
The future of the series is then laid out for us, if Scott wants to continue dating Ramona, he will have to over time, fight all seven of her evil ex-boyfriends.
If you're over thirty-five, you might be hard pushed to understand some of the subtler references which are deeply mired in pop-culture, but even then you should still get a kick out of this book. A whole lot of fun for the MP3 generation from creator Bryan Lee O'Malley.

*prot = protagonist

Complete Calvin and Hobbes

The most impressive thing for me isn't the price (£85 for every C+H ever), the weight of the item (bloody heavy) or even the contents (see above), but reading the discourse at the front by creator Bill Watterson explaining how he almost walked away from Calvin and Hobbes just as it was starting to get popular because he didn't want to cheapen the strip by licensing the characters to plush toys and underpants. Thats a level of integrity practically unheard of by most creators, especially with a character as potentially marketable as Hobbes. The other interesting thing is hearing about his reasons for quiting the strip after only ten years; so as not to water down the end product. A level of reasoning that one wishes the Wachowski Bros., George Lucas, Chris Claremont and The Simpsns crew had thought about.
I know a lot of people don't see the association with comic-strips and comic-books, but as far as I am concerned they are all as valid as each other. I think Asterix, Tin-Tin, Garfield, Dilbert, Blankets, Soulwind, Superman and Spider-man all deserve to be represented, and respected as strongly as each other.

Battle Hymn

From Image Comics, a re-invention of the Marvel Invaders series, but with bitter real-world politics and relationships. The superhero team are drawn together and we see them go on one mission which is a failure before the group start to fall apart. Great characterisation carry this somewhat substandard retelling through to its dark ending.
This book is worth every penny just to see Proud American beat the shit out of the Defender of Liberty. All in all its very good fun, but it doesn't really do asnything you havn't seen done before, an average story with some good moments.

That's enough from me for now, I am forgetting how to type and need medicine.