Comics Roundup: FF #1, Indestructible Hulk #1, Batman Inc #5, Dial H #6
FF #1 (Matt Fraction, Michael Allred, Laura Allred)
I will confess that the Fantastic Four and related spin-offs is probably one of my biggest blindspots when it comes to the major Marvel teams, so I mainly picked this up because I’ve been recently catching up on Peter Milligan and Michael Allred’s X-Force / X-Statix. Anyone who is familiar with that series will probably feel right at home here – the artwork is almost identical. Not very much happens in this opening issue, mainly the usual getting the team together thing and introducing the various slightly obnoxious students of the Future Foundation. Frustratingly though they appear to have left the origin story of the Cosplay Miss Thing till next issue which was the goofy concept that originally piqued my interest when I read the previews. Oh well, nice artwork anyway.
Indestructible Hulk #1 (Mark Waid, Leinil Yu)
I totally missed the boat with Mark Waid’s Daredevil run and so this represented an opportunity to get in on the ground-floor with something. Sadly I wasn’t blown away. The story is a fairly predictable one-shot that lays the groundwork for Bruce Banner’s new status as an employee of S.H.I.E.L.D. The best moment is a nice little visual gag when Maria Hill utilises a plank of wood to “encourage” Banner to hulk up; the worst moment is the weird and confusing Leinil Yu artwork, which mainly has the effect of leaving all the characters oddly expressionless. At one point a random character’s hand cuts across one panel to nonchalantly rest on Maria Hill’s forehead in another. I can’t get a good screengrab of it, but you will know what I mean if you pickup the issue. Bad stuff. Hopefully this will get better.
Comics Roundup: Thor: God of Thunder #1, Multiple Warheads #1 et al
Thor: God of Thunder #1 (Jason Aaron, Esad Ribic)
I’m going to go out on a bit of a limb and say this just about edges out Hawkeye 1 for my favourite Marvel first issue of the year. It is a great punchy opening for the series, as Jason Aaron spins three linked plot threads that feature Thor at different stages in his life. The first, set in medieval Iceland, finds a younger Thor a witness to the death of a god; in the second, modern era story, Thor answers the call of the planet whose gods have vanished; and in the third, an aged Thor sits alone in Asgard as he prepares to fight one final battle. Esad Ribic’s art is wonderfully evocative as it flits across the time periods. Particularly striking is the imagery of the abandoned space station/castle orbiting in the atmosphere of a backwater planet, long-dead gods swaying in the darkness on the ends of meat hooks. The dialogue is well done, managing to tread the tricky tightrope of conveying an epic godlike pathos without lapsing into hokey sub-Shakespearan twaddle. I have high hopes for this series.
Multiple Warheads #1 (Brandon Graham)
Prophet has been my favourite ongoing comic this year, so I naturally had to grab a copy of this reactivation of an older project. It seems like a decent place to jump in, particularly as there is a handy summary at the start. This is a breezy Manga-esque science fiction comics with a ton of cute animals/aliens and oddball concepts, which feels very close to another Brandon Graham science fiction book, King City. Aside from a slightly wearying obsession with bad puns (The Liver Pool, Maca Runes, Croissant Moon, The Whaling Wall etc), which this title shares with King City, I enjoyed this a lot, especially the highly-stylised cartoonish artwork that’s crammed full of little background details and amusing visual riffs. Occasionally the actual story feels a little secondary to the art and the humorous digressions, but really it’s so charming and stylish that it’s easy to overlook that minor complaint. Brandon Graham is having a great year and continues to be someone whose books I will pickup automatically.
Thought Bubble 2012 Report
Monday morning and there’s a wistful tear blurring my vision ever so slightly, a curious lightness to my wallet and a dull ache in my spinal column that can only be attributable to the hauling around of a vast weight of graphic novels, back issues and associated geek paraphernalia. Yes that’s right: we spent this weekend at Leeds’ 2-day Thought Bubble Comic Con, the annual shindig for the great and good in the British (and elsewhere) comics community, whether that’s Marvel/DC, 2000AD, small press or anything and everything else in between.
Before I go any further, I should confess that this was not only my first Thought Bubble, it was my first comic convention full-stop. Up until the Friday before the festival, I really had no more than a vague idea of what you even get up to at comics convention. It is a tribute to the Venn diagram of organisers, creators and fans that by the end, I didn’t want it to end. How could I not be won over though, when our first experience of the festival, waiting in the queue to collect our tickets before we had even got through the door, was to get into an in-depth conversation with a very modest, but recognised, up-and-coming comic creator, who was not only very happy to give us a rundown of the process of putting together a comic, but also genuinely solicited our opinion on their portfolio and which colourist they should go with for a future project from their samples (our opinion: “They’re all brilliant, when can we buy it?”)? Where else would something like this happen?
Our Saturday started with a Gosh! Comics panel on The Best Thing I’ve Read All Year, featuring Kieron Gillen, Kate Brown, Antony Johnston and Al Ewing (Fiona Staples was also scheduled to appear, but sadly she was laid low by food poisoning for the whole weekend). The discussion focussed on web comics a little bit more than I was interested in, but there were some good recommendations nonetheless, most of which we promptly picked up. Out of the superheroic stuff, consensus seemed to emerge that Hawkeye is just about the best thing going right now, a sentiment with which I’d probably agree. There was also a lot of enthusiasm for the Hugo Tate reprint, as well as a bunch of Image stuff like The Manhattan Projects and Revival. I would have liked a bit more discussion on small press stuff, but overall it was a decent panel.