Comic Review: Miracleman A Dream of Flying

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Miracleman (originally Marvelman) was a British Hero from the 1950’s that never really made much of an impact on any classic level, then in the 1980’s the then legend in the making Alan Moore (of Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Batman the Killing Joke fame) reinvented the character for the modern age, twisting his origins and back story to suit his own narrative Alan more took this character from obscurity and made them into a comic book legend.

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I think this is in part owing to the complicated legal history of the property which has, until recently, made reprinting, and thus obtaining a copy of the original very difficult and very costly, until the rights finally wound up with Marvel Comics and as they spied a good money spinner they reprinted the series as set of hardback comics, and a vague promise that the series would finally be continued as the it was halted mid story with issue 24.

Any way marvel have given us in this volume the first four issues of their reprinted version scripted by Alan Moore (credited as “The Original Writer”) and what may possibly be the best comic art I have ever seen provided by Garry Leach and Alan Davis.

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The story begins with the Last adventure of the Miracleman Family before they disappear from the world before moving on 20 years and dealing with Miracleman’s reawakening and the consequences that brings, the effects it has on Mike Moran’s (Miracleman’s alter ego)’s family life, and how the Miracleman Family came to be.

You can tell this is some of Alan Moore’s early work and is written in what I’ve come to dub the Pre Crisis Style ( alluding to DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths and what I personally see as the end of the old school way of writing comics), that is to say, very heavy on the interlinking exposition text, and while it is beautifully written it doesn’t let the art do its job, which is telling the story, it feels like the text is competing with the art, and this is a pity because it is some of the best comic art I have ever come across.

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The story itself is ok, it isn’t great, it engages, but it doesn’t really grab you the way that it should, and this could possibly be because there is no way that the story could live up to the hype of the comic that no one could read for several decades. I will probably pick up the other 3 volumes of the series, just on the hopes that it does start to pick up, but I do think it will probably be a case of not living up to the way in which its been built up in peoples minds over the past 30 or so years.

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Comic Review: Sandman Preludes and Nocturnes

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The Sandman series is one of those keystones of the comic industry that I have been meaning to read since not long after I starting reading comics when I was 13, its only taken me 15 years to get around to crossing the first volume off my list, (it actually was on my list of 30 comics to read before I’m Thirty).

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Reading the Sandman was actually spurred on a bit by watching Foxes Lucifer (the comic it was based on is actually a spin off/ sequel of the Sandman) I was curious about the characters, the world and the background.

This volume focuses on Morpheus who is the legendary Sandman, Dream of the Endless, ruler of the Dreamworld. It looks at the consequences of the Sandman’s imprisonment away from the wider universe and how he picks up his life after that imprisonment ends. The story is set in the DC universe seeing cameo appearances from characters such as Wesley Dodds (the golden age Sandman of the JSA), Mister Miracle and the Martian Manhunter of the Justice League International, the Demon Etrigan and the Hellblazer John Constantine, and this was something that surprised me as I had assumed, I now see somewhat erroneously, that comics published under DC Comics Vertigo line were of a separate continuity (similar to the Wildstorm Universe), but it was nice to see a few familiar faces mainly because the familiar is somewhat comforting, especially as I was expecting something completely new and disjointed from what I had read before.

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Neil Gaiman’s writing is something that I’ve often found somewhat hit or miss, I’ve liked things like Stardust and Good Omens, but haven’t been to fond of things such as the Eternals or Neverwhere, and have been on the fence about things such as The Comical Tragedy or Tragical Comedy of Mr Punch. But this first instalment of the Sandman is rich and deep, even the minor throwaway characters are well rounded and thought provoking. Its definitely a grown up piece of work with many layers to it, it may even require a re read just to pick up on all the subtle references that Gaiman makes throughout the work.

The artwork provided by Sam Kieth and  Mike Dringenberg is definitely worthy of an adult aimed comic, its visually rich and the colours really stand out, even the black (and there is a lot) somehow manages to still pop out from the page and catch the eye

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Since reading this volume I’ve actually gone out and purchased the rest of the series, the prequel and several spin offs, all because I enjoyed it that much and am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the post man to bring me more to devour. And when I’m through with them, you can bet your arse that I’m going to writing some more killer comic reviews on the subject.

About Me: Five Favourite Comics and Graphic Novels

I’ve been writing this blog seriously for almost a year now, so maybe its time we got to know each other a little better. So here are some of my favourite comics and graphic novels:

Watchmen

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Alan Moore’s best known work and what is heralded as the birth of modern comic book industry. Its dark, its gritty and its probably the first american comic that was written for grown ups.

The Boys

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Garth Ennis series that posits the theory that if super powers really did exist, people with them would probably be insufferable cunts. Its rude, its crude and its really powerful, it makes light of the superhero genre and will be a classic for years to come.

Superman and Batman Generations 

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A tale that takes superman and batman back to their origins in the 1930’s and ages them in real time. It looks at their relationships and the strains that their choices put on their lives, and the lives of their families.

Judge Dredd: America

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Judge Dredd is a wholly unrelatable and unsympathetic character, what makes the world of Judge Dredd such an amazing and lasting institution is the characters that surround Dredd, and America is a story about freedom and how people are willing to let go of liberty in exchange for security, and like all good stories is makes you think, think about the important issues, the issues that should be important to us at any rate.

Annihilation

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It kick started Marvel’s space renaissance and gave birth to the modern Guardians of the Galaxy that have now been immortalised on screen. Its a space opera that unites many obscure areas of the Marvel Universe, shakes some up, kills some off and it generally an amazing story.

 

Comic Review: The Tragical Comedy Or Comical Tragedy of Mr Punch

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As part of the thirty comics that I want to wade through before the time I reach the terrible prospect of my thirtieth year of existence I purchased a copy of Neil Gaiman’s The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy Of Mr Punch. A rather morbid and dreary tale of a man reflecting upon the experiences of his youth spending time with his grandparents and various relations, interspersed with various experiences of the traditional show Punch and Judy, and those responsible for bringing the magic to life.

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The comic really highlights the violence of Mr Punch and that this sort of thing can have a truly lasting effect on children, and this is mirrored in the experience of the narrator who is introduced to the worlds of violence and of sex, and showing the early signs of disillusionment that come from witnessing adults as people for the first time, by being subject to their foibles and innate humanness the illusion crumbles and the child begins to become an adult, in possibly the worst way imaginable.

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It is a work typical of Gaiman who manages to show magic and enchantment in even the most banal of situations and the dark moodyness is really highlighted in the artwork of Dave McKean and lends an almost Tim Burton like quality to the story.

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Mr Punch is his usual terrifyingly evil self and McKean really has go the essence of the little bastard down. But I suppose if your going to do it “That’s the way to do it.”

Politics, Princesses And Partying

Today has been a busy day. It started this morning with councillors advice surgery where the public basically comes and complains at their local councillors, and we then take these complaints and do something about it, hopefully to solve the problem for them.

After this was done Marianna’s Mother, Jessica, and I took a trip to Pontypool for Geekedfest’s Pontypool Town Takeover where we got to see all the wonderful cosplay as well as enjoy the entertainment provided, Marianna was pretty frightened of one chap dressed as a storm trooper, but was quite enamoured of the various princesses she got to meet, who were all equally enamoured of her Wonder Woman costume.

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Wonder Woman and Merida

After returning home Marianna went to spend the night at her Grandmothers, and I’m about to don my dinner jacket and head to a friends wedding reception.

The Formula For Pulp

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I’ve been reading/ watching a lot of pulp sci-fi lately (which isn’t a new thing), but there is one thing that I’m noticing, and that is that the plots for all of the pulp sci-fi classics are all exactly the same.

If I describe the plot to you see if you can guess the film, book, comic or tv show.

  1. A human male is somehow transported to an alien world
  2. said human male will meet a local tribe, and will be captured and or fight, before gaining said tribes trust/respect and then learns that the planet is made up of lots of warring peoples all ruled by one tyrant.
  3. Human male will then meet a princess who is part of the resistance against said tyrant, will fall in love and then join the resistance.
  4. Human male will suffer self doubt before uniting all tribes on the planet against the tyrant.
  5. Final battle
  6. Human Male either marries princess and rules or is sent back to Earth to pine for princess and scheme to get back.

This formula actually applies to pretty much all stalwarts of the genre across all media, It accurately sums up the novel Princess of Mars, which gave us the John Carter film, it sums up Buck Rogers In The 25th Century. It is an accurate summation of the Flash Gordon serials, comics and film and is a true synopsis for DC Comic’s Adam Strange A Man Of Two Worlds.

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So if you ever feel like writing a pulp sci-fi masterpiece, you now know the winning formula, it worked for some pretty big names in cinema.

Vintage Throwback: Mister Miracle#1

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I’ve been collecting comics for the best part of two decades now and one of the mainstays of that collection was the Giffen, Dematteis run of Justice League. About a year ago I finally completed that entire run, and picked up some of the sister titles that went along with it, like Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Huntress, Martian Manhunter and Mister Miracle.

The second volume of Mister Miracle spun out of the Justice League International series at the beginning of 1989 and was written by one half of the JLI writing team JM Dematteis with art for issue #1 being provided by Ian Gibson.

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Mister Miracle (Volume 2) #1

The story goes into the history of the character Mister Miracle and this particular issue serves well as a jumping on point for new readers, it tells the origin of Mister Miracle (aka Scott Free), of how he was the son of Highfather ruler of the New Gods, who was traded to Darkseid, ruler of Apokolips in order to prevent a war, of how he escaped that hell hole with his wife Big Barda and escaped to Earth where he then became an escape artist, before joining the Justice League and then eventually settling in the suburbs.

And that is where this story picks up, with Scott Free trying to reconcile his personal life with his life as a superhero, it opens with he and his wife, and his assistant Oberon (a surly Dwarf) moving into a new home in Bailey, New Hampshire. Its interesting to see the newly wed dynamics play out, setting up a new home can be bad enough, without adding super heroics and villain attacks into the bargain. So seeing the problems that setting up a new business and making good impressions with the nosy neighbours brings up whilst coupled with maintaining a secret identity and running from the (para)demons of your past is a delightful premise.

JM Dematteis’ writing is its usual flawless prose, my olny criticism is that trying to fit in every detail of Mister Miracle’s past life and exploits into three pages of exposition was maybe not the best way to proceed, but I understand that there is a fine line between giving the readers the info on a character that was probably needed a bit more in the 1980’s, I mean it isn’t like today where you could just look up their fictional biography on wikipedia. The early villain reveal was a nice touch and didn’t detract anything from the final page cliff hanger that we were left with.

The Art is typical of the late 80’s/ early 90’s especailly at DC, there were a lot of line and colour was used quite liberally to good effect, Mr Gibson certainly knew his stuff when it came to pencils and managed to portray a whole range of emotion.

As a first issue, it really sets the tone for the rest of the series, that its going to be fun and hopefully wont take itself to seriously, and will use the rich backstory of the characters but wont be overly reliant on them, and will be able to stand on its own two feet and be its own thing, and hopefully wouldn’t be stuck in the shadow of the original Jack Kirby Series.

This post is part of a series that will review various things that may not necessarily be new. It’ll look at comics, films, books, audio dramas, band’s, CD’s, clothes and TV shoes from yesteryear, partly to fill you in on some gems you may not know about, but mostly because it gives me filler for days when I’m feeling lazy or hungover, or for when the creative muse has left me in its entirety. 

Comic Review: Rat Queens Sass and Sorcery

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I’ve had this on my shelf for about a year and I hadn’t got around to reading it until yesterday. I don’t know why but I’ve been on a fantasy/ sword and sorcery binge for the past few weeks, probably brought about by my 500th rewatch of the the Lord Of The Rings films. So after wading through the harry potter franchise and not really wanting to start something that would take me another week to get through, I picked up my copy of Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery.

The story follows the eponymous Rat Queens, a mercenary band made up of magic wielding elf Hannah, the hipster dwarf Violet who unironically shaves her beard,  the hippie halfling thief Betty, whose idea of a good meal is a big bag of drugs and candy and the agnostic cleric Dee, whose parents happen to be Lovecraftian monster cultists.

Like most mercenary groups, they like to drink and have a good time, and if you expect this not to lead to violence and sex, then that’s a little sexist of you. The story opens with the residents of the Rat Queens home town becoming sick and tired of mercenary bands of the cities continually brawling and endangering the town. So the residents set up a plan to send the various mercenary groups on missions which will end in their deaths. The Rat Queens survive and then set about to find who wants them dead.

Its a story which is pretty simple, but the way its written makes it a good one. Basically is a story that relies on the banter, that back and forth between friends, that in many cases is actually borderline abuse, I mean my closest friendships are defined by how well we can insult each other.

The art (by Roc Upchurch) is a little on the cartoony side, but that actually works quite well as it kind of shows that this is a book that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is a little parody like whilst being its own thing at the same time, in much the same way that Terry Pratchett did with the Discworld Series (a higher praise I could not give).

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It is cool the way that it subverts the traditional fantasy tropes and makes these young women act in a way that would seem perfectly normal if it were Conan or Kull and its about time that someone did it. There are a couple of LGB issues that the book features, mainly how difficult playing the game can be for an inter species lesbian couple. Casual drug use crops up. And so do issues of racial (or species?) and religious identity.

It is a good read, and when I have a little cash (so it’ll probably be a while)  I will pick up the next two volumes of Mr Kurtis J. Wiebe’s series.

 

The Lazy Ramblings Of A Lazy Guy (On Being In Love)

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I was recently introduced to the Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Fellow by Jerome K Jerome. The book consists of 14 essays on 14 topics

  1. ON BEING IDLE.
  2. ON BEING IN LOVE.
  3. ON BEING IN THE BLUES.
  4. ON BEING HARD UP.
  5. ON VANITY AND VANITIES.
  6. ON GETTING ON IN THE WORLD.
  7. ON THE WEATHER.
  8. ON CATS AND DOGS.
  9. ON BEING SHY.
  10. ON BABIES.
  11. ON EATING AND DRINKING.
  12. ON FURNISHED APARTMENTS.
  13. ON DRESS AND DEPORTMENT.
  14. ON MEMORY.

Jerome K Jerome is pretty much me down to a tee. He’s lazy and just writes whatever comes to mind. He doesn’t care who he offends, and I often felt that he may have been somewhat high when he picked up the pen. But Mr Jerome has inspired me, so I am going to be writing a series of posts on the topics that Mr Jerome turned his hand at. (I know I’m ripping the guy off, but quite frankly I don’t care)

On Being In Love 

Have you ever seen someone and known that they would be a terrible distraction to your life. That was how I would describe it, that feeling of knowing that this person is going to really change your life. That knowledge that this is going to be massively inconvenient.

That’s how it all begins then you slip into it, the early days are all wine and dinner and flowers and dancing, but then comes the big pants and netflix, the cups of tea, the farting and the lack of make up, if you can get through that, that is true love. The enduring real world version of the thing.

Foreigner wanted to know what love is, well its two people who have decided to just give up and settle with each other because they find the other person somewhat less detestable than the rest of humanity, that my friends is love.

This is the second in series of posts ripping off the work of Mr Jerome K Jerome and his seminal piece The Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Man.

 

The Lazy Ramblings of A Lazy Guy (On Being Idle)

 

The Man Down My Local (1).pngI was recently introduced to the Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Fellow by Jerome K Jerome. The book consists of 14 essays on 14 topics

  1. ON BEING IDLE.
  2. ON BEING IN LOVE.
  3. ON BEING IN THE BLUES.
  4. ON BEING HARD UP.
  5. ON VANITY AND VANITIES.
  6. ON GETTING ON IN THE WORLD.
  7. ON THE WEATHER.
  8. ON CATS AND DOGS.
  9. ON BEING SHY.
  10. ON BABIES.
  11. ON EATING AND DRINKING.
  12. ON FURNISHED APARTMENTS.
  13. ON DRESS AND DEPORTMENT.
  14. ON MEMORY.

Jerome K Jerome is pretty much me down to a tee. He’s lazy and just writes whatever comes to mind. He doesn’t care who he offends, and I often felt that he may have been somewhat high when he picked up the pen. But Mr Jerome has inspired me, so I am going to be writing a series of posts on the topics that Mr Jerome turned his hand at. (I know I’m ripping the guy off, but quite frankly I don’t care)

On Being Idle

Laziness is both a blessing and a curse, there is nothing more satisfying than spending a day lazing about on the sofa, especially when you know that there are plenty of more important things that you could be doing, and therein lies the curse. Having to put aside that bliss, can prove difficult and indeed a real hardship and can even lead to outright resentment. Or at least this is how I feel. I’ve now reached the point where I actually hate to have to do things. When people interrupt my doing nothing I really do get a little bit angry about the whole thing.

Since the advent of the internet the whole staying in thing really has taken off, with the world of online streaming services and takeaway foods that you don’t even have to speak to people to get, the world of insular laziness has actually become more and more of a easy thing to achieve.

Laziness and indeed idleness itself is a state of mind, its where you sacrifice any sort of social life just to achieve the pleasure that comes from doing nothing. It’s hard to get into the head space required to want to do nothing but watch Game of Thrones in your pants while eating cereal straight from the box.

There are some people who couldn’t be lazy if their lives depended on it. They just lack that lack of drive. They have too much motivation, too much determination to just get things done. The world would stop without those people, without them we wouldn’t have anything. But thanks to those people the rest of us, those lazy fellows can enjoy the things those great enablers have given us. Thanks to them we can vegetate until we fuse to with our sofas, until bed sores set in and until we have to wash ourselves with rags on sticks.

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The world takes a dim view of laziness, but to those who say this is say to you…meh I’ll tell you later.

 

This is the first in series of posts ripping off the work of Mr Jerome K Jerome and his seminal piece The Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Man.