Wednesday Adventures 18th September

Uncategorized

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A brief weekly rundown of recommendations of new releases I’m intrigued by, excited for and will be grabbing off the shelves to curl up with every new comics day before delving into them later in the week!

Have you hugged your local comic store owner today?

 

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Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen 3- DC Comics

In a year full of surprise returns for underused or unknown characters, a new Jimmy Olsen title was definitely one of them coupled with the return of Matt Fraction to DC! The first two issues have already shown us the lighter side of the DC Universe and it’s history as Fraction has the journalist looking towards the future while also establishing a legacy for the Olsen’s that reaches way back into his home stomping ground of Metropolis.

What shouldn’t be surprising to long time fans of Fractions work is that Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen is by far the wittiest and lighthearted books set in the DC Universe on the surface, like Sex Criminals before it also has a lot of pathos for it’s antagonist as Jimmy questions his place in the world and what he is contributing to it, fearing he is stuck in the same silly shenanigans he always stumbles into. Filled with genuinely touching moments between Jimmy and his best pal as well as conflicts with his history and family, Fraction gives a depth to Jimmy not seen in along while.

 

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Steeple 1- Dark Horse Comics

While Boom and Giant Days launched Allison to a wider audience, he already had a huge back catalogue of work in his web comics Bobbins, Scary Go Round and Bad Machinery which he has been working on since the late 80’s and after wrapping up Giant Days last month no one would begrudge him a well earned break but instead is already launching a brand new series over at Dark Horse, Steeple.

Following the tumultuous first steps of a friendship between two women both have very different word views but are thrown together to deal with super natural menaces in a sleepy costal town. Seemingly the perfect vehicle for Allison’s comic talents having demonstrated a knack for combining his very British sense of humour and the supernatural in last years By Night.

 

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“Did you ever feel like you were going to explode?” Sam Humphries and Joe Quinones hear the call and Dial W, for Wonder

comic, First Impressions, review, Uncategorized

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As a rule of thumb, when it come down to reviews and recommendations to not feature series that are in high enough number for a reader to not be able to jump on-board or empty their wallets on something that might just not click with them. Humphries’ and Quinones’ Dial H for Hero reboot, requested by now DC superstar, Micheal Brian Bendis was so good it was just begging me to break this excuse and perhaps bring it some more love that the recent decision to double it’s run from six to twelve issues (along with the equally delightful Wonder Twins) finally justified my initial excuses.

There is something beautifully simple and alluring about the H-Dial and it’s ability to call up an uncountable number of wilder and wilder super-heroes that has an almost childlike quality of sketching out endless streams of heroes and their adventures, which makes it a little more obvious why Bendis was eager to have it as part of his youth slanted imprint “Wonder Comics”,part of the starting line up in fact. For all it’s modern elements, much like Fractions’ Jimmy Olsen series running at the moment, Dial H shows a modern sensibility and style, but has an unrelentingly upbeat golden age exuberance to it that seems to be slowly but inexorably returning to the pages of DC comics and will hopefully be an energy that will attract old and new readers alike, straddling the fine line between nostalgia and the new so perfectly. The writer creates a very relateable and human cast in Miguel and Summer, the former already a compulsive thrill seaker before ever coming into contact with the glowing red phone, having struggles that can’t just be undone with a magic doohickey or a secret word.

Humphries draws from the past but being slavishly bound to it, a title that Dial H with it’s allusive and slightly foggy canon gives them a lot of space to add to the deliberately vague mythos behind the strange red rotary phone which perfect for having an established history but one has always, through the many iterations and writers has resolutely remained allusive and vague with many choosing to use the dial for it’s most obvious draw, to let their creativity run wild and create a million and one mayfly capes as the comic reminds us “a champion Never seen before and perhaps, never again!” tapping into the simple core idea that super heroes could be anything we imagine.

While never leaning back too far on parody or nostalgia,with each age and kind of hero serving the plot and the characters inner turmoil, rather than being their for sheer spectacle alone.

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Yet spectacle there is, in spades! Recently reading something older from my shelves and after a nagging feeling checked and was genuinely genuinely startled to find it was Joe Quinones and how quickly he had developed and built up his style and experience in the few years when he hit my radar with Howard the Duck. They are worlds apart and his work on Dial H cannot be understated,representing another jaw dropping leap forward. The contrasting and wildly different styles of both heroes and the style of artwork has me flicking back to the title page in every issue to check if other artists had been brought on board but only confirmed each time what I already suspected,it’s all Joe! J.H Williams used this to amazing effect with a myriad of different aspects of Morpheous together, each drawn in a different style in Sandman Overture and Quinones takes this even further,applying it to the entire series to stunning effect. Starting with a pitch perfect parody of the quintessential, grossly over encumbered Image era hero in issue 1,that even Leidfeild himself would struggle to not recognise as his own. Quinones’ only gets more ambitious and adventurous as the series progresses.

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As with other recent series, Humphries likens using the Dial to an addiction throughout the start of the series and it’s apt given that Dial H for Hero is one of the stranger, silver age concepts that the company, or indeed it’s creators can’t seem to quit either. Despite putting their considerable clout and support behind the more marketable and well known characters, if you wait long enough a reboot might come along and the H dial sneaks in through the cracks and this one has all the workings of something that stick around a lot longer under the Wonder Comics banner.

Wednesday Adventures 4th September

Uncategorized

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A brief weekly rundown of recommendations of new releases I’m intrigued by, excited for and will be grabbing off the shelves to curl up with every new comics day before delving into them later in the week!

Have you hugged your local comic store owner today?

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Doom Patrol: Weight of the Worlds #2- DC Comics

It’s been a long hiatus but Way is back to show the world there are still stranger and more mind bending places he can send “the worlds strangest heroes” both in terms of strange locals and the casts damaged inner lives. We’ve had divorcing planets, a fitness obsessed planetary dictator a complete reinvention of Larry Trainor and we are barely three issues in!

I’d gotten used to the clean poppy work of Nick Derrington but cartoonist James Harvey’s art in Weight of the Worlds is a clear departure from that. Sketchy, disturbing and much more reminiscent of Richard Case’s jagged and tense tenure on the book with Morrison. Harvey’s work in the last issue depicting the “divorce” of two celestial bodies and the unusually intimate way one of the Doom Patrol deals with it, once again showcases just how experimental the Doom Patrol can be not just in terms of storytelling but it’s artwork.

 

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Giant Days #54- Boom Studios

The fifty fourth issue of a six issue series speaks volumes and in terms of sheer laugh of loud moments per page,Giant Days has spent it’s five years as the one of the funniest comics on the shelves and will be until the series concludes next month with Susan, Ester and Daisy spending their last few weeks at university together. It’s certainly sad to see it go but it’s a wise choice by Allison to end the story naturally after the girls third year of University rather keep it alive to fizzle out. It’s a snapshot of youth and it works perfectly as it is without extending it for the sake of it.

This weeks penultimate issue finds the trio spending the last summer together at Susan’s place before their graduation, like the readers eking out what time they have together. Giant Days has been a hell of a lot of fun and while I wouldn’t usually recommend a series so far in and coming to an end in a month you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not checking out the previous volumes and discovering John Allison’s work.

 

 

Wednesday Adventures 21st August

First Impressions, Uncategorized

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A brief weekly rundown of recommendations of new releases I’m intrigued by, excited for and will be grabbing off the shelves to curl up with every new comics day before delving into them later in the week!

Have you hugged your local comic store owner today?

 

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Powers of X #3- Marvel Comics

Without hyperbole, a handful of issues in and Hickman’s bold new take on Marvel’s Mutants is the most forward thinking and exciting X-Men series I have read in year and has the same visceral,shock to the system that New X-Men did over a decade ago as the writer continues to upend everything we know about Xavier’s misfit group to stunning jaw dropping effect.

Two series entwining with each, House of X and Powers of X takes the concept of Mutants forming it’s own safe haven, a nation of it’s own. While this isn’t new by stretch of the imagination Hickman takes it three steps further with the newly Established Krakoa not only being a hideaway for the mutants, but establishing itself on the worlds stage with trade and economy with three beneficial drugs offered to mankind. Seeing the mutants no longer on the back foot, but confident for the future and like Hickman himself, thinking long term. It’s been an interesting experience seeing these characters in a position of power as a community instead of being hunted and hated and found myself  just for a few moments connecting with how general population of the Marvel Universe sees them and arrives at a place of fear None so evident as cyclops’ encounter with the Fanatic Four who despite their powerful abilities have a palpable sense of dread that permiates the encounter, dread practically oozing of the panels.

Anyone familiar with Hickman knows that he sets up his tenures with long time, far reaching plans that is all over his Fantastic Four and Avengers runs, with one eventually bringing about the end of the world. There’s a tantalisingly bigger picture that we are only seeing glimpses of so far, but it never looses sight of the here and now, delivering a solid story each issue that will have you thinking about it until the next issue comes out

 

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Superman’s Pal: Jimmy Olsen #2- DC Comics

Promising to kill Jimmy in 12 issues, it gives the young reporter a hell lot longer than Man of Steel afforded him and instead of being embarrassed by one the many ridiculous element of Superman’s publication history, Fraction dives into Jimmy’s disguise kit and dusts off the Silver Age silliness,producing something that is gloriously fun! It would have been so easy to smooth down the weird edges off Jimmy to a truly modern take on the character in keeping with the rest of the DC Universes love of the gritty and real, which Fraction eschews from the first page, as we see Jimmy undergo an unexpected but trademark transformations. Who doesn’t want to see Superman catching a giant turtle jimmy hurtling towards Metropolis?

While I loved the the first issue of Ruka’s Lois Lane, it wouldn’t have worked for Superman’s pal and would have seemed like a pale imitation. It’s way more fun to think of these two supporting characters going in equally thrilling but radically different adventures when the big blue boy scout isn’t around. Lois is the serious, beating the streets hard journalism, while Fraction frames Olsen more at the buzzfeed, shock value end of the spectrum. Fractions love for Olsen’s silver age portrayal is plainly obvious, but even with the slight modern sensibility, the nods to legal troubles and Jimmy “tilting towards video”, he steadfastly keeps the reporter as the perennially happy, eager superhero pal that makes his character such a delight!

 

Wednesday Adventures 7th August

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A brief weekly rundown of recommendations of new releases I’m intrigued by, excited for and will be grabbing off the shelves to curl up with every new comics day before delving into them later in the week!

Have you hugged your local comic store owner today?

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Future Foundation 1- Marvel Comics

Love them or hate them, the majority of comics fans will at least have some reaction to the news of the latest universe altering, “nothing will ever be the same again” mega events that crop up with alarming frequency. Mine? A little low level panic mostly. While writers bring much needed revamps to characters or a much needed shake-up, it’s also a worry that in concentrating on their big hitters that the newer, smaller supporting casts might get lost or forgotten about the shuffle. At best they could be inactive for a few years and at worst slipping into the realms of curious comic trivia.The recent slew of bonkers announcements from Marvel should have taught me that in this golden age of geek nothing is outside the realm of possibility, I still never in a million years thought that this would be. The Future Foundation are back everybody, and quite frankly I’m surprised as the rest of you are!

The combination of Fraction and the Allred on his first Family spin off Future Foundation that ran alongside the Fantastic Fours looping back into each other towards it’s action filled finale, picking up Ant-Man and She Hulk along the way and had an air of a book that was slipping through editorial unchecked and was able to have some real fun with it’s premise. It was a fun few years with Fraction and the Allred’s and new writer Jeremy Whitley seems to feel the same “I was a huge fan of their runs and had a special place in my heart for Fraction and Allred’s version of the Future Foundation. Seeing so much of what those runs had built taken off the table for a long time was tough” he said in interviews, whilst describing his take on the team as a heart pounding journey across time and space drawn by artist Will Robson from the criminally underrated and quickly cancelled West Coast Avengers a few years ago, bringing his wonderfully exaggerated comic style to the exploits of the teenage geniuses.

Whether or not it captures a larger audience, with a lot of it’s characters having their own long and byzantine histories, as well as what Fraction added most recently still remains to be seen. However as a previous fan of the team it’s Whitley’s commitment to not resetting them that has got me interested, not least in the continuation of Tong’s arc of self discovery. With the Molanoid discovering that, unlike her siblings, she identified as female which was just one of the smaller, personal stories that were the heart of Fraction’s time on the title. I’ve kept it as a book to keep returning to as I hope to once again when they hit the shelves this week.

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Coffin Bound 1- Image Comics

Bursting into the comics scene with his neon drenched,scuzzy detective   comic Limbo and the honing his skills on the fantasy horror the the recent Lucifer series, Brad Simpson is deft hand at fleshing out the seemingly tired tropes of detective stories with his own flair for the inventive and a splash of red hot day glo energy. What made his previous image book, limbo so great was setting his colourful cast off into creepily exciting worlds, which seems to returning in Coffin Bound with Izzy Tyburn setting off on a roadtrip across a hellish grindhouse landscape, her Vulture companion in tow.

Simpson writes some fantastic action,as his previous image series Limbo roared off at a breakneck speed with the woozy intensity of two issues rather then six. Visually inventive throwing out new ideas already and now working more collaboratively on this project with 2000AD artists Dani the previews looks like it’s a creative team working in perfect sync to bring their shared vision of a dirty,chaotic world to life,as one that just oozes and spits off the printed page.

 

 

Wednesday Adventures 24th July

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A brief weekly rundown of recommendations of new releases I’m intrigued by, excited for and will be grabbing off the shelves to curl up with every new comics day before delving into them later in the week!

Have you hugged your local comic store owner today?

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Jane Foster: Valkyrie 1- Marvel Comics

Another week, another Asgard escapes the after life…sorta. Jane Foster is back in the pages of Marvel comics, news that even more exciting after the Comic Con announcement that the next Thor film Love and Thunder will be drawing heavily on Jason Aaron’s critically acclaimed run that saw Foster pick up Mojolnir and become the Goddess of Thunder as Natalie Portman will in 2021!

Having nobly sacrificed herself at the end of the Mighty Thor series, Valkyrie has our hero return still entwined with death and acting as guide and ferryman for the dead. While some may find her return a little too soon or takes away from her heroic, heart wrenching death I’d argue that the pairing of Jane and Aaron is far too perfect to be left in comic book limbo for too long.

As mentioned Jason Aaron, a writer who has shaken up the lives of the Asgardians in exciting new ways over the last five years will once again penning the continuing of Fosters adventures on the printed page and appears to have even bigger and bolder plans for her and the Asgardians, hopefully steering the series for a while to come.

 

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House of X 1- Marvel Comics

I’m a devout fan of Marvels band of mutants, but over the last few years (it’ll vary on who you ask) the company haven’t exactly made that an easy thing to be. Oh, there has been the odd good run or issue sure like Lemire’s run on Old Man Logan,a character that seemingly had nowhere else to go, the Dazzler one shot from Vissagio that pitted mutants and Inhumans against each other, highlighting tensions in the LGBT community and putting them front and centre as an allegory for the marginalised again. I’m a sucker for the stranger, school based shenanigans of the mutants which Spider-Man and the X-men brilliantly delivered on but beyond that and the novelty of the weird and wonderful team ups as various mutants emigrated to other titles and teams, even I have to admit that the mutants have been lacking a real unified  purpose or a grand hook to keep people reading. Be it a lack of interesting stories or being left by the sidelines by now resolved copyright disputes, it’s has left Marvels mutant population feeling like the gang are just spinning their wheels or standing in place like they have never before.

In steps Jonathan Hickman to relaunch (again,I know I know!) the entire X line of books starting of with Powers of X and House of X that will apparently re-establish the importance of Mutants within the Marvel Universe (nothing to do with their recent acquisition in real life, I’m sure) and set them on a much needed forward course for the future, when Professor X lays out a new vision for the teams. A big X-men re-launch could go either way at this point but with early news indicating Hickman has already undone some of the more egregious and pointless deaths of recent years including Wolfsbane and I’m willing to give him a chance.

Wednesday Adventures 17th July

Uncategorized

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A brief weekly rundown of recommendations of new releases I’m intrigued by, excited for and will be grabbing off the shelves to curl up with every new comics day before delving into them later in the week!

Have you hugged your local comic store owner today?

 

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Collapser 1- DC Comics/Young Animals

When the last series of books wound down and Doom Patrol hit delays I assumed that the writing was on the wall for this inventive and exciting imprint Young Animals and went through at least five, maybe six stages of grief before the announcement of  a new line of titles including Collapser stopped me dead in my tracks.

Young Animals was an injection of thoughtful and inventive ideas onto the shelves last year and excelled in playing around on the fringes of DC’s extensive toybox, whilst still being untethered enough to do big bold things with their stable of borrowed and brand new characters to produce the kind of mind warping comics I love. All of the main books even being reinvented between runs on the label in the case of Cave Carson, Shade and Mother Panic keeping things constantly fresh and new.

From the mind of Mickey Way and Shaun Simon, Collapser sticks close to the ideas and energy behind Way’s My Chemical Romance work as Liam James finds himself torn between his aspirations and real world responsibilities before being endowed other worldly powers in the form of a black hole, which you assume would complicate the best laid plans of most people. Another staple of Young Animals early input was a focus on the personal lives of it’s heroes, directly addressing mental health issues and Way has already hinted in interviews that Collapser will do the same, with Liam suffering form anxiety even before he is gifted with powers.

 

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Loki 1- Marvel Comics

Still apparently burdened with glorious purpose, Loki is back in a new solo series following on the line wide mega event, War of the Realms. The majority of comic characters find themselves changing with the times and none have escaped wave of new creators from tweaking them or overhauling them entirely. Marvels version of the Trickster god is no stranger to this phenomenon with the concept of dying and a rebirth, bringing out a different facet or side to his character more in keeping with whatever state the Marvel Universe is in pretty much baked into the whole, you know, god thing. However unlike other characters taking a respite for a year,maybe two at the very most, there is no such downtime for Loki as his latest reinvention starts off only a few scant weeks later and like many others before it, with his sudden demise in Marvel’s ongoing realm spanning Asgard infused event.

The beautiful cover by Ozgur Yildirim depicting Loki strolling between Rainbow bridge and Brooklyn Bridge offers up something even more tantalising than his miraculous recovery from his very, very recent and grisly death is the mischievous deity in all his smouldering glory, casually tossing around his brothers weapon, Mjolnir. In a world of constant reinvention, costume switches and shifting roles, could Loki be taking on the role the thunder god. Could Loki finally, be worthy? It would be interesting to see if this creative team continues to explore the thread most recently picked up on in Aarons’ run, of what exactly it means to be worthy and Loki finding his own way into this lofty role, something I enjoyed in the Superior Iron Man and Doom’s uncertain steps into becoming a hero in his own way and adjusting his ideals and ways of thinking. What is Loki but a character constantly at war with himself. Sounds ponderous in my hands but with TV’s Late show and Marvels own Lockjaw,the series is likely to have a funnier more sardonic take on Loki audiences are used to seeing up on screen.

Wednesday Adventures 26th June

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Marilyn Manor 1- IDW Comics

Expect snappy dialogue, breakneck pacing and colliding genres as Mags Visaggio dives back into comics with her latest series from IDW, as the “first Brat of The United States” launches the ultimate rager of a party at the most famous address on the planet, whilst beset on all sides by time travel, sex, drugs and music television.

The writers own description of Marilyn Manor as “the weirdest thing I’ve ever written in the best way possible, like an apocalypse directed by John Hughes.” is spot on as Visaggio has a talent of taking the concepts and tropes of the 80’s and 90’s, solidified by the films of directors like Hughes and turning them on their head. Taking the glimpses of queer culture that would seep in from time to time, the scraps scattered here and there, supercharges them and puts those elements centre stage, re-purposing the tired into something dazzlingly. Genres thought long dead or on life support from being too well worn are suddenly fresh and vibrant when told through a queer lens.

The preview pages show a quantum leap for Zarcone’s artwork who had already captured the agony and ecstasy of the Madness with DC’s Shade, this time capturing every neon drenched debauched detail of the rager at Marilyn Manor, in all it’s tacky, nostalgia inducing gay-glo glory. 80’s nostalgia never really dies and the creative team of Vissagio and Zarcone having worked on books like Eternity Girl, Sex Death Revolution and Shade the Changing Girl have seen them both reinvigorating old IP’s and dead genres and Marilyn Manor shows all the promise of their combined talents to do the same to the classic “one wild weekend” story in this new four issue series.

 

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Peter Porker, The Spectacular Spider-Ham- Marvel Comics

Iv’e gushed, fawned and professed my ever lasting love of Latour and Rodriguez’s Spider-Gwen and all the seemingly bizarre and strange choices for the character that has made her one of the most amazing capes to debut in the last few years. Chief among them being to have a long standing friendship not between the regular old spider-man, but the porcine web-head of Earth 8311, The Spectacular Spider-Ham. Out of all the semi obscure fan favourites to fight their way to a new and bigger audience in recent years, Peter Porkers is one of my personal favourites, back in his own title obviously following the success of a certain animated film.

As he explained in Into the Spider-Verse, he’s been doing the whole crime fighting thing for over thirty years now, so he’s no stranger to being in the limelight. While has had a few more recent outings before the comic version of the Spider-verse it will be interesting to see a modern sensibility and higher quality artwork lavished on Porker for once, with the team of Latour and Miller, who clearly have a strong grasp on what makes the web slinging trotter such a big hit with audiences even after several decades.

 

Wednesday Adventures 12th June

comic, Comic spotlight, First Impressions, Uncategorized

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A brief weekly rundown of recommendations of new releases I’m intrigued by, excited for and will be grabbing off the shelves to curl up with every new comics day before delving into them later in the week!

Have you hugged your local comic store owner today?

 

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Silver Surfer Black 1- Marvel Comics

The last, big run on the sentinel of the spaceways was an absolute delight. From the start Slott and the Allred’s acknowledged it’s debt to Doctor Who,citing it as an influence for the series and very quickly it became apparent that it was the guy with the silver surfboard who was giving us the weirdest, most spectacular and quirky sci-fi adventures, rather then the chap with the blue box. It really cemented them as maybe my favourite recent team to work on the character, that is until this week and the release of Silver Surfer black with the talents of super star writer and artist team of Donny Cates and Tradd Moore.

Cates has been quietly writing his way around the entire encyclopedia of the best Marvel characters as well as penning some new creations with Cosmic Ghost Rider and demonstrates a firm grasp on seemingly all of them to this point,leaving me eager to see what his has in mind as the “silver surfer fights for his soul” and returning the character to his more introspective roots after Slott took him on adventures flights of fancy. Moore is the perfect artist to play around with the already weird and wonderful cosmic corners of Marvel, and anyone who enjoyed his work on Ghost Rider and the deeply idiosyncratic and kinetic look he gave to Robbie’s world should check out this series.

 

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Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man 6- Marvel Comics

If both the comics and movie versions proved anything, there can never be enough Spider-men,but with Miles Morales now also residing in the Marvel Universe proper, is Spider-byte one webhead too far? Nah!

Even with so many about the writers have excelled in giving them their own distinct personality and tone of stories around them from Silk to Superior to Gwen and while a younger version of Spidey was last seen kicking around an alternate universe with his Uncle Ben during Spider-Geddon,Marvel have been unusually tight lipped about the secret identity of this ensy weensy Spider leaving fans of the web-head theorising and speculating on another Spider character in the Marvel Universe. Tom Taylor and Juann Cabal have been giving us a much more down to Earth Spider-Man returning to his roots as a local hero which should be perfect to explore his relationship to a new member of the Spider family rather then a splashy punch ’em team up. Although, that would be nice too if they can swing it!

 

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The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 45- Marvel Comics

Ratatoskr is back! As the War of the realms rages across marvel entire line, the squirrel girl team have found themselves with an easy slam dunk, returning to arguably one of the runs best villains and the most organic feeling tie in to the Asgard themed event with the Norse chaos squirrel teaming up with Doreen against the Asgardian hordes.

While I tend to lean towards newer comics or ones still early in their runs in Wednesday Adventures,I’m keenly aware that this weeks 45th issue puts us only five issues away from the end of this hilarious and downright touching series. Squirrel girl has established her appeal as more than just an obscure fan favourite now turning up alongside Ms Marvel in the recent Marvel series and has carved out a unique niche among the rest of the heroes as throughout North’s tenure she has sought to get out of situations through dialogue and compassion. While it’s obviously to stop every story ending with Doreen just punching out the bad guy, it really helped to make her adventures stand out among her more well known peers. Here’s to the last five issues to come!

 

“Have you ever considered freedom? Real freedom? Freedom from even yourself?” Fantasy PI in Schimer and Balboni’s Fairlady

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Comics are fertile ground for a good old genre mashup, and Schimer and Balboni’s new image series Fairlady brings the figure of the hard-worn and weary Marlowe-esque gumshoe and lands her right smack dab in the middle of a war torn modern fantasy world. Jenner Faulds is the titular Fairlady, the only woman in her field of work, a mix of private investigator and bounty hunter for hire accompanied by her huge feline partner Oanu. The pair make a living investigating the worst and most unwanted cases in the Feld, where homes and business living in and around the decaying and destroyed carcass of a huge metal figure laid out. A machine of a war that is only alluded too and mentioned briefly in this issue when Jenner muses on her past to her partner.

Jenner, a war veteran is weary but not fully jaded is shown to be making a difficult living in a line of work that resents her, balancing the need to survive while trying not to loose her own humanity as she walks a fine line trying to strike an uneasy balance between the two. As an opening issue it makes it clear that she will be operating in the shady grey areas of this fantasy world.

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Fairlady’s fantasy elements are very light and understated throughout the issue, Schirmer making a wise decision not to overload the first issue with lore and magic at the expense of tone and character development in terms of story. As much as you need explaining for you to get invested in this case and scant else, leaving future issues to really explore this world. In terms of the fantasy elements, the heavy lifting comes from Balboni’s artwork, filling scenes and panels with clues and visual word building from the Feld and the towering metal shards that curve over the business district to the intricate workings of a slave driven lift, cleverly presented in three page tall panels showing our protagonists ascent.

In the age of “decompressed storytelling” and sprawling line wide stories Fairlady offers another surprise, with the cover proudly boasting this issue “contains a complete Fairlady mystery” and indeed while it builds on the characters, the mystery is a done in one story, expanded and solved in a single issue in an effort to give the reader a sense of a full experience. Future issues covers feature this unique selling point, giving the feeling that the mysteries will be shorter and self contained, leaving the character development to build up over the series arcs and will it be fascinating to see how like it’s protagonist, the series will strike this balance.

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While we see the feline Oanu arms crossed and menacing on the cover he’s really a big kitty cat in this issue, meeting most people with a cheery disposition and pushing Jenner along when she is being stubborn. Most of the focus of this initial issue is on the private eye Jenner with Schirmer giving tantalising teasers into a character who is already surprisingly deep and complex beyond the initial tough persona she puts on around other Fairmen and criminals in order to get the job done. The ever present spectre of a war still fresh in peoples minds draws comparisons to shows like Firefly and Fairlady already has it share of lovable rouges and villains ready to be explored. As a fantasy procedural though it owes a low more to the likes of Marlowe, focusing in more on the feelings and motivations on the characters, striking a dark fantasy noir tone rather than spelling out the nuts and bolts of the solutions for the reader.

Fairlady is a strong start for a series that offers a fascinating world and compelling protagonists to explore and experience it, in a market with quite a few different spins on the classic fantasy tropes it still manages to make itself stand out with the amount of detail and attention both Schirmer and Balboni lavish upon it.