Saturday, 31 October 2015

Batman #27 [The New 52] - DC Comics

BATMAN No. 27, March 2014
Part of “Scott Snyder’s… eleven-part comics event exploring Bruce Wayne’s beginnings as the Caped Crusader”, this rather laborious “homage” to Frank Miller’s “Batman: Year One” still somehow manages to contain enough “elements from the Bat mythos and stories that we really love” to make it a fairly enjoyable read. Indeed with the comic’s nod to Jim Gordon being “practically blind” without his prescription glasses and re-imagining of Loeb’s “trigger happy SWAT team” dismally failing to ‘nail’ an outmanoeuvred vigilante, it’s easy to see why this particular instalment of “Zero Year: Dark City” sold 115,492 copies in January 2014.

Disappointingly however, despite all its pulse-pounding action the New Yorker’s script is still a far cry from the 1987 four-issue story-arc which its author seems so desperate to emulate, and sadly suggestions that the Goodreads Choice Awards-nominee’s narrative is rather overly “ambitious” as a result. For whereas his ‘muse’ tells a simple straight-forward tale of the crime-fighter getting trapped by the authorities within the basement of a demolished building, Snyder’s encircled Dark Knight instead gets shot in the head, has his Bat-boat blown up with a grenade, goes ‘deep sea-diving’ courtesy of an air tank, and then finally gets fished out of Gotham River by the future Commissioner; “It’s a mile from shore. They’ll find you before you make it a quarter of that distance… Your call.”

Sadly the American writer also provides a similarly convoluted backstory for Bill Finger’s detective, by spending an incredibly wordy five-pages explaining that Gordon wears his familiar trenchcoat in order to “prove a point” to his corrupt colleagues, after they forced him to participate in a dog-fight when he was a beat bobby. Such a dialogue-heavy drawn-out sequence really slows down any momentum Batman’s somewhat contrived flight from Loeb’s gunmen created. But also seems rather out of character for a Special Forces veteran who is both a disciplined “man of integrity” and not one to tolerate intimidation…      

Perhaps this comic’s biggest conundrum though is the fretful pacing of Greg Capullo’s usually stellar artwork, as each page appears to have been crammed with as many letterbox panels as the Schenectady-born penciller can manage. Such a drawing technique inevitably provides the storyline with some much-needed impetus. Yet coupled with FCO Plascencia’s ghastly green and purple hues, makes this book rather tiring on the eyes.
The "Scribblenauts" variant cover art of "BATMAN" No. 27 by John Katz

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Secret Wars #6 - Marvel Comics

SECRET WARS No. 6, December 2015
It is genuinely hard not to come away from reading one of the best-selling comics of October 2015 without a sense of bitter disappointment. For whilst Jonathan Hickman’s script is engaging enough in its portrayal of the God Emperor Doom’s medieval dictatorship unravelling around him, there really isn’t all that much for the title's devotees to get excited about. Certainly nothing that makes good upon the promising Alex Ross cover illustration, which shows a beleaguered Thanos being swamped by a shambling horde of super-villainous Marvel Zombies. Indeed such a mouth-watering confrontation doesn’t even occur within this periodical’s twenty-five pages, as Jim Starlin's creation is instead consigned to just a handful of panels depicting him goading an ‘incarcerated’ Benjamin Grimm into seeking revenge upon the “petty usurper of powers” who fooled The Thing into leaving “the only family he ever had behind.”

Just as frustrating is the fact that this particular instalment of the “Marvel Worldwide” mega-event takes place three whole weeks after the previous issue’s cliffhanger ending and thus deprives its audience of Valeria’s entire “search for the rebels who killed Stephen Strange”, Apocalypse’s “stumbling” upon Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight, as well as Black Swan’s apparent betrayal of the Cabal and suspiciously earnest subservience to the “Ruler of Battleworld”; any one of which would have been infinitely more action-packed than the dialogue-heavy scenes involving the adolescent Head of the Foundation and two surviving “Spider-Men”.

Admittedly Hickman’s storyline does still contain a small number of ‘stand-out’ moments, such as the Black Panther’s discovery of the Infinity Gauntlet hidden within the Sanctum Sanctorum. But sub-plots such as Captain Marvel's apparent ‘conquest’ of Mister Sinister’s kingdom being simply passed over in favour of laboriously lengthy conversations between Reed Richards and his ‘Ultimate’ self, The Maker, are surely wasted opportunities?

As a result the highlight of “We Raise Them Up… Just So We Can Pull Them Down” is undoubtedly Esad Ribic’s captivating and wonderfully coloured artwork. Though sadly even this appears uninspiringly subdued in places… Doubtless on account of the Croatian penciller having little material, other than characters ‘waxing lyrical’, with which to work with.
The regular cover art of "SECRET WARS" No. 6 by Alex Ross

Monday, 26 October 2015

Star Wars #9 - Marvel Comics

STAR WARS No. 9, November 2015
There is little doubt as to why Issue Nine of “Star Wars” was the second biggest-selling book of September 2015 and shifted a phenomenal 135,817 copies, for Jason Aaron’s storyline simply doesn’t stop to allow a reader to catch their breath until the magazine’s final few panels… And even then, as Mon Mothma, General Dodonna and Admiral Ackbar consign Skywalker to a grim fate as a Hutt slave within “the largest nest of outlaws and assassins in the galaxy”, the Alabama-born writer’s script provides a moment of exhilaration with the seemingly forgotten protocol droid See-Threepio and Chewbacca finally making a welcome return to the “Marvel Worldwide” publication.

Particularly pleasing, though something which seems to have more in common with George Lucas’ contentious ‘Special Edition’ than the mythology established by the 1977 original theatrical motion picture release, is Luke’s eventual capture by the formidable gangster Grakkus; a male Hutt crime lord who despite controlling “an extensive network of spice smugglers and bounty hunters” truly is “not like other Hutts” with his heavily muscled arms and twelve cybernetic spidery legs. Indeed in many ways the “collector of antiquities” with an interest in “all that remains of the Jedi” is disconcertingly reminiscent of General Grievous, considering his obsession for adorning himself with lightsabers and the company of Magnaguards. Certainly the politely spoken yet vilely murderous kingpin, surrounded by a plethora of Jedi holocrons, provides a very obvious link between Aaron’s narrative and the lore of ‘The Clone Wars’ trilogy.

Somewhat more condensed, though just as frantically-paced, is the America author’s secondary plot depicting Han and Princess Leia’s flight from Admiral Keener and his Imperial Star Destroyer. Initially set upon “an unknown world in the Outer Rim”, this scorching shoot-out for once gives the intimidating black-armoured Tie-Fighter pilots of the Emperor’s Navy some considerable ‘screen time’ to demonstrate just how capable a ground force they are. Before Sana Solo, in a rather contrived U-turn, whisks the rebels away on board her spacecraft and ‘initiates’ a pulse-pounding chase sequence, complete with fluorescent green laser fire, across the planet’s surface; “Forget the comms. Just get on the cannons and keep them off my tail. If we’re lucky we’ll lose them in the atmosphere.”

Equally as exciting as the writing is Stuart Immonen’s stunning artwork, with the Canadian producing some truly outstanding depictions of the Empire’s Tie-Fighters and pilots… It’s genuinely hard not to hear the whine of the vessels' “precisely manufactured” propulsion engines as they zoom from frame to frame. Admittedly the “All-New X-Men” illustrator’s reimagining of the sluggish Hutt as a freakishly mobile, powerfully-built six-packed monstrosity is disconcerting at best, especially when Grakkus knocks the Skywalker unconscious with a single punch. But such a startlingly incongruous image is easily forgotten, if not forgiven, when it is followed by a beautiful double-splash of long-dead Jedi, resplendent in holographic blue, voicing their wisdom and advice from the past.
The regular cover art of "STAR WARS" No. 9 by Stuart Immonen

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Lando #5 - Marvel Comics

LANDO No. 5, December 2015
The script to Issue Five of “Lando” brings a very noticeable change to this mini-series’ usually somewhat cavalier atmosphere, as the smart-mouthed space-faring gambler’s almost blasé personality is abruptly replaced firstly with that of a serious cold-blooded killer, and then later as an apologetic, even remorseful, chancer who realises that his “time for cunning and guile” may well have finally come to an end having cost his “long-time cohort” Lobot their humanity. Indeed once Chanath Cha sets her plan of “blowing up this ship” into motion there really isn’t a great deal of humour to found anywhere within this publication’s remaining pages, and even Calrissian’s habitual witticisms are kept to a minimum.   

This surprisingly sudden dramatic shift in tone does wonders for the quality of Charles Soule’s writing, and genuinely makes it hard for the reader to anticipate which character is going to live or die as the tale unfolds. Such tangible tension is especially noticeable once Lando and “Emperor Palpatine’s hand-picked bounty hunter” ‘pair off’ against the “corrupted… elite warriors Aleksin and Pavel”, and Sava Korin Pers is mercilessly dispatched with a lightsaber despite the “antiquity specialist” changing her allegiance to the Sith. This almost nonchalant precipitous slaying of one of the title’s main cast is rather disconcerting and results in each subsequent death increasing the narrative’s tension quite palpably panel by nerve-wracking panel; “It’s time to be selfish. You do know we’ll need to kill them all.”

Sadly the Milwaukee-born author’s storyline does still struggle towards the end of this concluding instalment however, with the Stan Lee Excelsior Award-winner turning Lobot into little more than a mute zombie simply because he plugs himself into the Imperial luxury yacht’s interface and turns “the… escape… pods… back on”. So depressingly fantastical a fate seems rather contrived and in some ways makes this five-issue long adventure feel as if it should have focussed centrally upon Calrissian’s heroic companion and his tragic lobotomization, rather than seemingly add it to the end of the tale as a mere bolt-on.

Alex Maleev’s artwork is also disappointingly poor throughout this comic, with Chanath Cha and Lando both appearing as little more than inconsistent stiff-looking figures whose facial features worryingly distort from one picture to another. Most disheartening though has to be the Bulgarian illustrator’s apparent inability to breathe any sort of animated life in to his drawings, with the wooden malformed arm movements of this book’s primary villains as they wield their lightsabers being particularly poor.
Writer: Charles Soule, Artist: Alex Maleev, and Colors: Paul Mounts

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Batman #26 [The New 52] - DC Comics

BATMAN No. 26, February 2014
Supposedly “the best thing I’ve done on Batman”, Scott Snyder’s writing for “Zero Year: Dark City” arguably also demonstrates some of the worst aspects of the Harvey Award-winner’s work on this ongoing comic book series. For whilst the New Yorker’s frighteningly ghoulish confrontation between Bruce Wayne and the horrifically malformed Doctor Death proves an exhilarating, albeit short-lived, reading experience. The American author’s ‘different version’ of the young billionaire is not only as bitter and jaded as his close-cropped hairstyle is thuggishly brutal. But so shockingly out of character to anything which has been written before that he even goes so far as to assault Lieutenant Gordon, and point the policeman’s pistol straight at the future commissioner’s face… And this is despite the fact that Jim had just saved the ungrateful wretch from literally having his skull crushed in; “If you’ve been waiting around for a thank you, I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed, Gordon.”

Indeed, it’s genuinely hard to imagine a more dislikeable or unpleasant interpretation of the Dark Knight’s daytime alter ego and certainly difficult to believe that many of this magazine’s 119,443 buyers actually found the surly, quarrelsome industrialist anything other than disagreeably repugnant; especially when he angrily snaps at Alfred Pennyworth to “now give me my damn formal wear” simply because the loyal butler is desperately worried about his obnoxious master’s “linear cranial fracture.”

Snyder’s interpretation of James Gordon is sadly just as disappointing with “the first Batman supporting character ever to be introduced” apparently being just as “crooked” as his men and a far cry from Bill Finger’s creation, who holds such a “deep commitment to ridding the city of crime.” In fact the Brown University graduate’s “personal take on” the rising detective doesn’t even suggest that “Gordon had served in the United States Marine Corps prior to becoming a police officer” as he is literally upended and disarmed by a hospitalised Wayne, without the detestable ruffian even pausing for breath.

Issue Twenty Six of “Batman” also arguably contains some of artist Greg Capullo’s finest but also most disenchanting pencilling, with the Schenectady-born illustrator’s fast-paced layouts depicting Bruce momentarily outwitting the mad scientist Karl Hellfern proving to be both wonderfully dynamic and pulse-poundingly frantic. Dishearteningly however his drawings of the psychotic-looking shaven-headed titular character are particularly displeasing to the eye and simply make the 'yobbish' ingrate even more detestable.
The variant cover art of "BATMAN" No. 26 by Dustin Nguyen

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Star Wars #8 - Marvel Comics

STAR WARS No. 8, October 2015
Potentially there’s an awful lot to like about this opening instalment of “Showdown On The Smugglers’ Moon”. For not only does Jason Aaron’s script amply demonstrate just how powerful the Emperor’s Imperial Navy can be, courtesy of a planet-wide proton bombardment upon “an unnamed planet near the Monsua Nebula.” But it also attempts to replicate the bustling dangerously extra-terrestrial atmosphere of Wuher’s Mos Eisley Cantina by depicting the still all-too naïve Skywalker brawling with the cut-throat clientele of a Nar Shaddaa bar.

Disappointingly however, neither of these ‘separate’ storylines probably managed to totally enthral this comic’s 145,066 strong readership, with the Alabama-born writer’s inclusion of some quite ludicrous ‘Keystone Cop capers’ depicting Luke, along with the rest of the disreputable drinking establishment's customers, scrambling after the thief who stole his father’s lightsaber, undermining what initially looked set to be rather tense stand-off between the aspiring Jedi and “an entire world of pirates and outlaws.” Indeed the American author’s portrayal of the ‘headstrong farmer boy’ is arguably so unrecognisable that it is almost as if “the young rebel pilot” has learnt nothing from his part in the destruction of “the evil Galactic Empire’s greatest weapon.”

Equally as questionable though has to be Aaron’s decision to populate the Imperial Star Destroyer’s target with the nauseatingly irksome Sana Solo. Referred to by Rebel Editor Jordan D. White in the “Star Words” Letters Page as “pesky”, Han’s supposed wife proves incredibly annoying just as soon as she appears and interrupts the smooth-talking scoundrel’s entertainingly ham-fisted attempt to woo Leia Organa. Overly confident and arrogantly presumptuous, the dislikeable ‘bounty hunter’ is clearly as ‘crazy’ as she is obsessed with having the ex-smuggler “come back where you belong… with me” and ruins an otherwise enjoyable opportunity to explore the early fiery relationship between the Alderaan princess and Millennium Falcon captain.

Fortunately Issue Eight of “Star Wars” is blessed with some truly terrific-looking artwork by Stuart Immonen. Who in difference to his predecessor’s inconsistent attempt to capture the likenesses of the film trilogy’s main actors instead still manages to make Luke, Han and Leia instantly recognisable by focussing his attention upon each of the characters more familiar physical attributes, such as Skywalker’s blond tousled hair or Solo’s Corellian attire. In addition the Canadian’s dynamic drawings of Anakin’s son fighting his way through a bar room full of rabble rousers are charged full of energy, with the scene’s backgrounds literally bristling with a plethora of detailed alien faces and forms.
The regular cover art of "STAR WARS" No. 8 by Stuart Immonen

Monday, 19 October 2015

Moon Knight: Silent Knight #1 - Marvel Comics

MOON KNIGHT: SILENT KNIGHT No. 1, January 2009
Whilst admittedly containing plenty of festive elements such as Santa’s Grotto, Christmas Trees, Turkey dinners and romantic couples looking forward to a future of happiness and children. Peter Milligan’s script for “Silent Knight” is undoubtedly one of the darkest and most depressing Yuletide one-shots which “Marvel Comics” have ever published with its systematic brutalisation of everything ‘the season to be jolly’ holds dear. Indeed the thirty-two page periodical actually begins with the sadistic slaying of a portly, white-bearded Father Christmas by two masked gunmen just as he's serving up a wrapped gift to a youngster, and doesn’t then stop presenting instances of gratuitous violence befalling the blameless until its narrative’s conclusion when Moon Knight dispatches rough justice upon the badly battered surviving shooter; “Now comes the part that really hurts.”

Ordinarily such an overwhelmingly demoralizing portrayal of the winter holiday, and the seemingly random shattering of innocent dreams would probably prove a tough tiringly grim read for the 17,644 people who bought this comic in December 2008. But the British writer somehow manages to make this particular instalment of Marc Spector’s “holy mission” a genuinely enthralling read, and even manages to include a few ‘laugh out loud’ moments amidst the gruesome goings-on, courtesy of the smart-mouthed “manifestation of Khonshu that takes the form of an evil man”.

In fact the goading ghost of a person “Moon Knight himself killed years ago” is possibly the highlight of the storyline, as he pokes and prods the “mentally unstable” mercenary throughout the night, chastising the hero for his inactivity and indecisiveness as the two armed murderers mercilessly dispatch Santa and then go on to commit a seemingly fatal car-jacking whilst the former soldier was preoccupied “gazing stupidly at these lovers” through their apartment window.     

Less successful, on account of the artist’s somewhat rushed-looking sketchy drawing style and an over-reliance upon a swirling snow effect, is Laurence Campbell’s illustrations. Moon Knight himself is depicted competently enough, with Spector’s brooding shadowy visage appearing all the more impressive on account of some wonderfully heavy black and deep blue colouring by Lee Loughbridge. Yet whenever the former "Judge Dredd" penciller brings any of his characters into the light, such as the panels set within the flat of “Marc’s long-time lover” Marlene, his figures appear frustratingly flat and lifeless.
Writer: Peter Milligan, Artist: Laurence Campbell, and Colorist: Lee Loughbridge

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Lando #4 - Marvel Comics

LANDO No. 4, November 2015
Reportedly “cooler than ice cold”, at least as far as writer Charles Soule is concerned, this issue’s titular character takes something of a back seat role within the narrative in order to allow the New Yorker more time to focus upon the corruption of the Dark Side of the Force. In fact, apart from having Lando hastily flee the scene of Aleksin’s abrupt betrayal and then argue with Korin Pers as to whether they should escape the Emperor’s “luxury yacht”, the “one-time owner of the Millennium Falcon” is noticeably absent from much of this comic’s main storyline.

Instead, the 61,542 readers who made this particular twenty-page periodical the eleventh best-selling comic of September 2015, are presented with a harsh lesson as to just how persuasive and overwhelming the Sith Order can actually be. Especially when one is an alien clone warrior who has been potentially hypnotised by a robotic-looking head purportedly crafted by the ancient Lord Momin. For within just a handful of panels since first staring at the “treasure trove of ancient Sith artefacts” the black panther-headed Aleksin has not only ignited a red double-bladed lightsaber similar to that famously used by Darth Maul. But has used the saberstaff to sever the right forearm of his former “love” with whom he was planning on bringing up his offspring with; “Has something happened to me? I hadn’t noticed.”

Not quite so surprising and somewhat less shocking, is the fact that Palpaltine’s “personal fixer” Chanath Cha is presumably a former love interest of Calrissian. The “merciless hunter” had been, up until this revelation, stealthily stalking Lando and his antiquity specialist since arriving on board the Imperialis through the spacecraft’s “access hatch just aft of its rear sensor array”, and generating a fair bit of moody suspense as a result. Sadly though all of this nicely developed anticipation quickly evaporates as soon as the “lady” mercenary holsters her blaster, removes her odd retro-looking helmet and is greeted by “the galaxy’s greatest fool” with a “Well, hey, hey, hey.”    

Just as unconvincing as Soule’s attempt to capture the “incomparable” silver screen performance of Billy Dee Williams with his supposedly witty writing is Alex Maleev’s drawings of Aleksin using a lightsaber. Not only does the Bulgarian illustrator depict the tall lithe fighter as little more than an awkward cumbersome killer. But the alien’s confrontation with his “dear Pavol” disappointingly lacks any sort of life or vibrant energy whatsoever. Something which is actually quite astounding considering the penciller’s dynamic depictions of Lando as the ‘scoundrel’ races through the yacht’s dark corridors.
Writer: Charles Soule, Artist: Alex Maleev, and Colors: Paul Mounts

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Batman #25 [The New 52] - DC Comics

BATMAN No. 25, January 2014
Whilst undoubtedly “reshaping the history of the Dark Knight, his allies, his enemies and his city”, Issue Twenty Five of “Batman” is arguably not as “astounding” a read as “DC Comics” advertised at its time of printing. Indeed, despite the overly expensive $4.99 priced book somehow being the best-selling title of November 2013, Scott Snyder’s narrative depicting a yobbish-looking Bruce Wayne doing little but talk to Alfred Pennyworth and later Jim Gordon, proves as enthralling an experience as the magazine’s dull all-black embossed cover…

Admittedly the creepy machinations of Doctor Death and his sinister “bone juice”, which causes “every bone in your body” to break and start “growing and twisting until you die”, is rather well-written, if not rather downright disturbing. But even this sinisterly unnerving storyline is then ruined by the New Yorker abruptly turning the character of Lucius Fox, the billionaire’s loyal business manager, into a psychotic servant of the mad scientist.

It’s also clear from “Zero Year: Dark City” that the American author is determined to depict a thoroughly hateful, and as a result disconcerting, relationship between the young industrialist and Jim Gordon. In fact Snyder actually has the thuggish close-cropped orphan cause the politely-spoken policeman to be facially injured by a flock of bats he manufactured to fly at the head of the curious detective; “You should get that looked at, Lieutenant Gordon… Now I’m sure you have better places to be. I know I do.”

Greg Capullo’s artwork is not an entirely agreeable facet to this particular twenty-four page publication either, with the Schenectady-born illustrator’s reimaging of the Batmobile into some horrific-looking “Hot Wheels” roadster, complete with golden radiator covers and gilded bat bonnet emblem, simply being one of the worst designed vehicles the Caped Crusader has ever had the misfortune to acquire. The fact the car can supposedly ‘transform’ itself in order to defy gravity and drive along ceilings makes the automobile appear even more ludicrous a contrivance and ruins an otherwise interesting stand-off between Gotham City’s finest and the masked vigilante.

Fortunately this comic does contain one saving grace courtesy of a short night-time tale concerning Cullen and Harper Row as two children terrified during a citywide black out. Co-written by James Tynion IV and immaculately drawn by Andy Clarke, this ‘minisode’ provides an early example of the siblings’ unhappy rapport with their father and Bluebird’s impressive understanding of electrics.
The variant cover art of "BATMAN" No. 25 by Alex Garner

Lando #3 - Marvel Comics

LANDO No. 3, October 2015
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given that this mini-series’ author actually thought the titular character’s first appearance in the “Star Wars” film franchise was “A New Hope”, Issue Three of “Lando” noticeably strays away from exclusively focusing upon the “prodigious gambler” and instead attempts to fill in some of the gaps as to the background of his “long-time friend Lobot”. Regrettably however, whilst such a change in direction is laudable, especially after Charles Soule’s disappointingly dire previous attempts to capture Billy Dee Williams’ wonderfully charismatic ‘silver screen’ portrayal of Calrissian, the Columbia Law School graduate’s depiction of the future Cloud City Chief Administrative assistant is arguably even worse, with the cyborg apparently proving to be little more than a living “locomotive system” for his neurocortical implants”.

Indeed, having been badly wounded by “the full force of an Imperial Guards’ staff” “Lo” is swiftly consigned to being little more than a piece of disorientated mumbling baggage who needs carrying to “a medical bay one deck down.” This clumsy use of “Lando’s aide” as a mere plot device is made all the more frustrating when its revealed that the man is apparently in more danger of allowing his implants… to take over his mind” and “lose himself” than bleeding to death from his substantial wound; “If my body is healing… I can hold back… the implants.”

Just as disconcerting is the “New York Times best-selling comic book” writer’s usage of this comic’s supporting cast members, most noticeably the “alien clone warriors Aleksin and Pavel”. These “baddest blades in the galaxy” genuinely seem to have been included within the narrative solely to provide some worthy opposition to “the Emperor’s personal protectors” and appear unworthy of being bestowed even the simplest snatches of dialogue. The inclusion of “antiquity specialist” Korin Pers” is equally as perplexing, especially as the female Ugnaught lost her eye as a result of one of Lando’s smuggling schemes. Galactic credits clearly mean a lot to the diminutive Sava or else its hard imagine why the armed ‘historian’ would accompany a man she so clearly despises on any sort of adventure, perilous or not… But then again Soule clearly needs someone within Calrissian’s contrived crew to recognise the true treasure within Emperor Palpatine’s luxury space yacht and inform both the romantic smuggler, as well as the reader, that all the valuable artefacts stored within the stolen vessel’s “central chamber” belong to the Sith.

This book’s biggest drawback though has to be the indistinct, hastily sketched and overly dark artwork of Alex Maleev and colorist Paul Mounts. The Bulgarian illustrator’s drawings are particularly difficult to endure during the fight scenes between the writer’s panther-people and the Emperor’s red-garbed finest, due to the horribly wooden and unnatural poses given to the combatants.
Writer: Charles Soule, Artist: Alex Maleev, and Colors: Paul Mounts

Thursday, 15 October 2015

The Amazing Spider-Man [2015] #1 - Marvel Comics

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN No. 1, December 2015
Promising an “all-new, all amazing” Spider-Man whose “friendly neighbourhood just got a whole lot bigger” this “over-sized” opening issue of a brand “new series… written by fan favourite Dan Slott” is certainly the “action-packed” read its stunningly colourful Alex Ross cover promises. But just because a comic contains the likes of Mockingbird, Spider-Man 2099, Silk, Peter Porker, Spider-Gwen and Miles Morales all battling it out with a horde of villains and costumed criminals doesn’t necessarily mean the fifty-eight page periodical delivers an entertaining experience, nor is arguably value-for-money…

Indeed the magazine’s lead story, which bizarrely portrays Peter Parker suddenly as “a globe-spanning entrepreneur” complete with “classic Spider-Mobile” and a “new costume” is so totally different to anything this side of a “What If?” title, that it's actually hard to take in what is going on within the narrative. Especially when having stopped some Leo-Sect technology thieves following a car chase through the streets of Shanghai, it appears that Hobie Brown, a.k.a. the Prowler, is apparently the current “Web-head” of San Francisco; “Come clean, Parker. How many of us Spideys do you have running around?”

Interestingly though having established such a phenomenally different aspect to the inventor’s “wall-crawling alter-ego”, the second half of “Worldwide” inexplicably then reverts the titular character back to the luckless “poor man’s Tony Stark” from the title's 2014 comic book series, complete with his scheming, untrustworthy business partner Sajani Jaffrey. In fact, with the exception of Hobie’s Spider-Man getting mauled by the ‘wedding crashing’ Zodiac, Slott's supposedly fresh take on “the world’s greatest super-hero” is disconcertingly all-too familiar to what he has written before, and even ensures that the anachronistic automaton, the Living Brain, makes an appearance at Parker Industries in London.
 
Equally as disheartening is the quality of this anthology’s other (much shorter) stories, as four of the five tales appear to be nothing more than teasers for their own titles and thus dissatisfying end with either the words “to be continued in the pages of…” or “find out what happens next in…” Fortunately “The Cellar”, written by Slott and Christos Gage, does provide some semblance of fun with early Sixties Spidey crook the Ox making a welcome return to the Marvel Universe; albeit Steve Ditko’s super-strong co-creation is only featured within the adventure in order to better reveal the sinister 'behind-the-scenes' shenanigans which are going on at “the new [New York] prison… The Cellar.
Writer: Dan Slott, Penciler: Giuseppe Camuncoli, and Inker: Cam Smith

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Daredevil #18 - Marvel Comics

DAREDEVIL No. 18, November 2015
Undoubtedly a comic of two halves, the first twelve-pages of “Signature Piece” prove to be a genuinely pulse-pounding read as Matt Murdock, disguised as Ikari, attempts to save the lives of his two dearest friends by fooling Wilson Fisk into believing that the assassin has killed his alter-ego. Indeed it is hard to imagine a more tense atmosphere within a comic book as “it sinks into” the Kingpin “that Daredevil’s no longer his to murder personally” and the Crime Boss’s “hostages aren’t breathing at all” due to their host’s gunmen holding weapons to each dinner guest's head.

Such an uptight, frighteningly nervous scene is actually then made all the more terrifying as the blind vigilante goads a badly beaten Foggy Nelson into striking out at one of his captors, and simultaneously launches himself across the dining room table towards his arch-nemesis. Wonderfully drawn by Chris Samnee and tightly scripted by Chris Waid, it genuinely seems in all the confusion and noise which follows that at any moment a panel will suddenly depict one of the blind lawyer’s hapless associates being gunned down. Something which makes every turn of the page and movement of the reader’s eye a nerve-wracking experience.

Fortunately for the costumed crime-fighter's buddies however, the Eisner Award-winning author ignores their momentary vulnerability and instead focuses his narrative upon the long-awaited, highly-anticipated, though all-too short, confrontation between ‘The Man without Fear’ and the Tenth Comic Book Villain of All Time as ranked by “Image Games Network”. Initially obtaining the upper hand on account of his great size, it at first looks like Murdock’s clever charade will meet in failure and death at the hands of his formidably bulky foe. But one fork in the bald-headed maniac’s foot later and it’s the “extraordinarily heavyset” crook who is bloodily ‘eating a knuckle sandwich’; “This. All of this. A nice piece of work, Murdock.”

Sadly, having provided such a terrifically electric climax to his two main antagonist’s confrontation, the rest of this series' final issue is disappointingly dire with Waid bogging down his storyline with nauseating ‘wrap up’ sentimentality. Even Daredevil’s woes with San Francisco’s Deputy Mayor, a sub-plot which certainly seemed to have had a lot of potential for some ‘renegade superhero fleeing the Authorities’ shenanigans, is inauspiciously resolved within the space of a single panel as the vigilante’s “arrest warrant [is] rescinded” and Charlotte Hastert helps “clear my name against all my firm’s angry wiretapped clients…”
Storytellers: Mark Waid & Chris Samnee, and Colorist: Matthew Wilson

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

West Coast Avengers #1 - Marvel Comics

WEST COAST AVENGERS No. 1, September 1984
Whilst Roger Stern’s somewhat pedestrian-paced script for Issue One of the “West Coast Avengers” limited series is nowhere near as frustratingly tedious a read as Stan Lee’s Silver Age story “The Old Order Changeth!” There is, perhaps understandably, a number of similarities between this “bold new chapter in the annals of Earth’s mightiest heroes” and the May 1965 “spectacular special issue” of “The Avengers” which heralded “the start of a great new Avengers line-up!”

In fact the narratives for “Avengers Assemble!” and its thirty year old predecessor are in some ways upsettingly undistinguishable from one another with both featuring a new team leader pulling together a fresh collection of hesitant, nervous and somewhat unproven super-heroes, and then housing them within an expensively lavish state-of-the-art compound. The Noblesville-born writer even goes so far as to include several ominous nods to the one-time publishing President’s original storyline by having 'his' Hawkeye once again refer to the Super-soldier serum enhanced Captain America as an Avenger who doesn’t have “any amazing powers” and then offer a perceived super-villain, in this case the anti-hero Maximillian Quincy, a place on the “Wackos” having been impressed with the Shoud’s skill in penetrating their Los Angeles-based estate's defences; “Besides, what you did reminds me a little of how I introduced myself to the Avengers -- I broke in too!”

Putting aside such potential plagiarism of a “classic Avengers” comic however, Stern’s twenty-three page periodical also proves to be something of an inauspicious experience due to its failure to live up to its initial concept’s promise. Bob Hall and Brett Breeding’s cover art genuinely gives the impression that this ‘new’ title could really be something innovatively different, and even suggests that diverse characters such as Rom the Space Knight, the diminutive acrobat Puck and “genius psychiatrist” Doc Samson may be permanent cast members. Disappointingly though, with the exception of Mockingbird, the American author instead simply regurgitates a number of arguably failed former “New York team” associates, and even portrays a couple of these “out of my league[rs]” as being somewhat displeased when awarded a “spot” on the line-up. Indeed Tigra is actually paid $1,000 by the Vision just to catch “the next shuttle flight” to California and “help the [West Coast] Avengers out.”

Fortunately Hall’s precise and detailed pencilling goes a long way to help make amends for the graphic novelist’s uninspiring storytelling. With the former “Charlton Comics” inker’s depictions of an overly enthusiastic, somewhat pushy Hawkeye and self-doubting "Jimmy Rhodes" Iron Man, resplendent in his shiny red and gold armour, looking as good as any bibliophile could ask for.
Writer: Roger Stern, Penciler: Bob Hall, and Inker: Brett Breeding

Monday, 12 October 2015

Daredevil #17 - Marvel Comics

DAREDEVIL No. 17, September 2015
There’s an awful lot to enjoy within the twenty-pages of this periodical, as a bloody and severely battered Matt Murdock finds himself losing both a battle of wits with his arch-nemesis Wilson Fisk and a deadly game of ‘Cat and Mouse’ with the murderous Ikari; a ‘horn-headed’ assassin who “has all of… [Daredevil’s] fighting abilities” and “enhanced senses”. In fact the blind vigilante has rarely been depicted, certainly under the penmanship of Mark Waid, in a more grimly-determined serious mood, and even considers allowing his brutal opponent to kill him on the off chance that the hero’s sacrifice can save the lives of his friends.

Disappointingly however, despite such enthralling, action-packed contents, the 29,904 consumers of this opening instalment of “Finale”, a stunning drop in readership by almost three and a half thousand copies, will genuinely have had to work in order to fully appreciate the flow of the narrative’s events. For whilst this comic features a wonderfully acrobatic martial arts rooftop fight sequence which would arguably put Shang-Chi to shame, its action is continually interrupted by scenes plucked from either a similarly tense ‘evening meal’ between the “monster” Kingpin, Murdock, Kirsten McDuffie, Foggy Nelson and Julia Carpenter or a somewhat less successful four-way skirmish involving the likes of the Shroud and Jubula Pride. Indeed if not for the Alabama-born author’s constant top left-corner reminders as to where within the timeline each page’s action takes place, many would doubtless get lost within his script’s choppy, confusing series of events.

Happily however, for those bibliophiles willing to persevere with the storyline’s somewhat illogical layout and also agreeable to the occasional ‘flip’ backwards for a brief re-read, there is still plenty of entertainment to be had from this comic book. Certainly only the most casual of Daredevil fans would struggle for their hearts not to swell with pride when the crime-fighter tears off his gaudy three-piece suit to reveal the famous all-red ‘Double-D’ costume underneath.

Chris Samnee’s pencilling is also near the top of the storyteller’s game, most notably with his characters' wonderfully telling facial expressions. Whether it be Murdock’s cold set lower lip as he single-handedly opens the Kingpin’s greenhouse door using one of the Crime Lord’s own mobster bodyguards as a battering ram or McDuffie’s terrified sideways glances at Fisk whilst supposedly being his guest, every one of the Harvey Award-winner’s figures has so much more to say than just their dialogue.
Storytellers: Mark Waid & Chris Samnee, and Colorist: Matthew Wilson

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Daredevil #0.1 - Marvel Comics

DAREDEVIL No. 0.1, September 2014
Originally ‘published’ as a four-issue mini-series through their “Infinity Comics” imprint, this “Marvel Worldwide” one-shot managed to just about squeeze itself within the top one hundred selling titles of July 2014, by shifting a commendable 33,437 copies. An especially impressive achievement considering that this “road trip unlike anything you’ve ever experienced” before had already been available to the public since its “made-for-digital” release five months earlier.

Disappointingly however, for those readers who preferred to wait until they owned a tangible product as opposed to an electronic edition, it is extremely unlikely that many would’ve felt the delay was worth it. For whilst Mark Waid’s narrative is engagingly entertaining enough, and genuinely delivers on the pre-release promise of placing the titular character “on a brand new journey full of adventure, excitement, and more than a few dangers”. The seemingly rushed, sketchily drawn artwork by the Eisner Award-winning writer’s “Irredeemable” collaborator, Peter Krause, is far less appealing, and at times is truly off-putting.

Mercifully, with some considerable perseverance on behalf of the reader mind, the Alabama-born author’s surprisingly complicated storyline does eventually manage to shine through the lack-lustre illustrations. Especially once Hornhead has defeated the rather ridiculous-looking Man-Bull deep within the tunnels of a sewer. Indeed for those fans worried that this book would simply be a mindlessly dull ‘gap-filler’ between Issue Thirty Six of the 2011 “Daredevil” series and the “All New Marvel NOW!” comic title, Waid’s early mysterious ‘man on a plan with no heartbeat’ sub-plot should have proved reassuringly enthralling.

Admittedly the one-time “Fantagraphics Books” editor’s script isn’t anomaly free by any means, as it is never properly explained just who is chasing the confused and paranoid Frank Senic “adaptoid”. Nor why three motorcyclists abruptly appear from the back of a passing truck, and bizarrely chase Daredevil and his ‘new-found friend’ as far as a busy train yard; “At least he’s not paranoid. Three riders, maybe four. Not grouped tight enough where I can hit them all at once, so that’s out.”

Equally as puzzling, towards the end of this forty-four page periodical, is Waid’s portrayal of the blind crime-fighter as an overconfident, arguably arrogant vigilante. Considering that Matt Murdock has had access enough to the Avenger’s files to know of the Super-Adaptoid, its rather incomprehensible to believe that he takes the Thinker as “no physical threat” and actually derides the evil genius for being “overweight, slow and empty-handed.” Little wonder that the “master tactician who prides himself in being prepared for every eventuality imaginable” quickly wipes the conceited look off of Daredevil’s face and forces him to ‘think outside of the box’ in order to lift “frank’s preprogramed paralysis” and save the day.
Writer: Mark Waid, Penciller: Peter Krause, and Colorist: John Kalisz

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Marvel Two-In-One #43 - Marvel Comics

MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE No. 43, September 1978
In many ways “The Day The World Winds Down” is a fairly typical example of storytelling “in the mighty Marvel manner” of the Late Seventies. For not only does this seventeen-page periodical start with a lengthy montage as to the origin of the issue’s super-villain, Victorius, “a humble researcher toiling to recreate the Super-soldier serum that made… Captain America”. But its narrative then predominantly consists of little more than the title’s main protagonists battling it out with their opponents, before the adventure is actually resolved more through the use of the heroes’ brains than brawn.

Indeed in something of a role reversal it is actually Captain America who somewhat bizarrely reverts to simply duking it out with the “reborn” Victor Conrad. Whilst it’s left to Ben Grimm, now ‘just’ a normal being once again, that gets to reason with Jude, the Entropic Man and convince him that the arguably benign monster’s “coming was ill-timed” as Mankind doesn’t want to give up its existence yet; “I know life ain’t a picnic -- But it’s still the best game in town!” 

Despite following this well-tested formula for ‘success’ however, Ralph Macchio’s writing is disappointingly still even more contrived than usual for a “Marvel Comics” publication of this era and it genuinely feels that the New Yorker’s storyline was purely manufactured simply to have Steve Rogers engage in a fist-fight with a second-rate replica of himself. Why else, having seized control of the Cosmic Cube and already used its formidable power to “reform the remains of Yagzan” back from the dead, would Victorius then leave the device unattended, disrobe down to his ‘combat costume’ and tackle the Golden Age legend single-handedly?

Captain America also behaves entirely out of character throughout this issue, first clumsily silencing the Thing because he supposedly wants to hear the former AIM scientist’s backstory, and then later setting aside his shield due to “the First Avenger” apparently believing that “It’s time for a little lesson in unarmed combat techniques” to be given to one who wields the Cosmic Cube. Even the inclusion of the Man-Thing would appear to have been an afterthought, with the “empathic, humanoid creature” simply doing nothing within the adventure than shamble up to where Conrad left AIM’s miraculous invention and touch it. Hardly action enough to warrant top billing upon the cover of “Marvel Two-In-One”…

Fortunately such weaknesses to this tale of “Death in the Everglades” are easily forgotten courtesy of some early artwork by the Eagle Award-winning John Byrne. The British-born American illustrator’s pencilling of “Wing-Head” whilst he punches and kicks Victorius throughout the swamp is as dynamically drawn as any bibliophile could want. Though dishearteningly it would appear that printing deadlines got the better of the Englishman as some of the panels suggest a ‘friendly’ hand helped out on the final finished product.
Writer: Ralph Macchio, Artists: John Byrne and Friends, and Colorist: Phil Rachelson

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Secret Wars #5 - Marvel Comics

SECRET WARS No. 5, October 2015
Power mad, secretive and sinister, this fifth instalment of Jonathan Hickman’s “Secret Wars” saga proves to be a real return to form for “Wizard” magazine’s fourth Greatest Villain of All Time, with the South Carolina-born writer portraying the Latverian sorcerer at arguably his most despicably evil ever. Whether feigning grief over the death of a friend he himself murdered or stooping so low as to blatantly threaten his ‘own’ infant daughter when she dares question his motivation, Victor Von Doom has rarely been depicted as being so thoroughly abhorrent and masterfully manipulative. Though considering his reputation as the loving, caring God of “Battleworld” is at stake, it is easy to see why the incredibly ambitious ‘deity’ is so readily willing to kill even those closest to him without a moment’s thought.

Disappointingly however, having gone to such great lengths in order to establish to this issue’s 204,416 readers just how duplicitous and vengeful the armoured Emperor can be, the American author then fails to actually provide the dastardly antagonist with anything interesting to do within the comic’s remaining narrative, and instead simply has the disfigured scientist exchange profound witticisms with an ‘imprisoned’ Molecular Man.

Admittedly this eight-page long conversational-piece is somewhat crucial to this series’ overarching storyline, as it supposedly provides a comprehensible explanation as to how Jack Kirby’s co-creation was so fantastically empowered by the “omnipotent” Beyonders in the first place. But considering just how promising the start of this comic book was, what with Doom’s insincere grief at Stephen Strange’s demise, and contrived earnestness in capturing the Sheriff of Agamotto’s killers, the complete lack of any subsequent action is something of a major let-down; especially when it’s clear from the book’s ending that some of the members of the Cabal, such as Thanos and Black Swan, have clearly been up to no good since being teleported from Victor’s presence.

Quite possibly this periodical’s most enthralling asset is therefore Hickman’s treatment of Foundation leader, Valeria. Clearly brilliantly minded despite her obvious youth, the child genius’ considerable curiosity as to what precisely occurred “out there” to allow “a bunch of bad boys and girls” to escape “the judgement of God” places Susan Storm’s daughter in a particularly perilous predicament. One which very quickly starts to make ‘Marvel Girl’ question her Daddy’s explanation as to why Doom didn’t destroy the rebels when he first encountered them, and the monarch’s motivation for such a fabrication; “And more than anything else we have to find out what they want. And why it scares God so badly.”
The regular cover art of "SECRET WARS" No. 5 by Alex Ross

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Daredevil #15.1 - Marvel Comics

DAREDEVIL No. 15.1, July 2015
Selling a respectable 28,919 copies in May 2015, at least according to “Diamond Comic Distributors”, this rather incongruous one-shot anthology celebrating “the life and times of Daredevil - Fifty years in the making” not only provides Marc Guggenheim with the chance to script a tale about the costumed crime-fighter set during his early ‘yellow and black’ days. But also gives long-time series artist Chris Samnee the opportunity to deliver “his first solo writing assignment” by ensuring that the super-hero thwarts a sinister scheme of Diablo’s to turn New York’s salt into a drug which will “give all its recipients exactly what they crave.”

Sadly for those Hornhead followers hoping such a collaborative comic would transport them back to the Sixties era of Stan Lee and Gene Colan, the story “Worlds Collide” is doubtless something of a disappointment. Peter Krause’s rather pedestrian-looking artwork is at best just about negotiable due to the Minnesota University graduate’s bland style of pencilling. Whilst the nineteen-pager’s rather predictable narrative, as the rookie blind lawyer defends a murderer who he apprehended as Daredevil and unsurprisingly discovers that the “shooter” he ‘socked on the jaw’ was actually an innocent man, is hardly a ground-breaking adventure.

Admittedly Gruggenheim’s script does eventually improve when the inexperienced crime-fighter unwisely chooses to confront the real killers whilst they’re inside a storage locker filled with super-villain cast-off ordnance such as the Ring Master’s hat, Doc Ock’s tentacles and “the Shocker’s gauntlet.” However even this moment of dramatic tension is short-lived as despite “still [being] new at this” the sightless vigilante swiftly overpowers the two men with a single throw of his baton; “I don’t want any trouble.”

Fortunately “Chasing The Devil” on the other hand is a rather enjoyable, if somewhat tongue-in-cheek, romp through the shafts of “the Syracuse Salt Mine” and features a rare ‘Modern Age’ appearance of the much maligned and undervalued “thorn in the side of the Fantastic Four” Diablo. Clearly penned in order to compliment Chris Samnee’s considerable drawing talents, this simple story gets straight down to business by having the “friend in the red pyjamas” overhear of the ninth century alchemist’s diabolical plans as they’re broadcast to a passing police car. A flurry of fists later and the “big red buffon” has both foiled the drug-dealing aspirations of Jack Kirby’s ‘corny’ co-creation and given his ‘ghost-writer’ Foggy Nelson another chapter for Murdock’s autobiography.
The regular cover art of "DAREDEVIL" No. 15.1 by Chris Samnee and Matthew Wilson

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Marvel Zombies #3 - Marvel Comics

MARVEL ZOMBIES No. 3, October 2015
Despite this third part of Elsa Bloodstone’s “Journey Into Misery” containing some extremely “recognisable [“Marvel Worldwide”] characters reimagined as decomposing cerebravores” and at times portraying more zed-killing action than even a “Shield Section Commander” can stomach, it is quite possible that many of this title's (declining) 34,629 strong audience failed to find Simon Spurrier’s narrative an entirely satisfactory read owing to its rather tiring wordiness. Indeed for large swathes of the twenty-page periodical little actually occurs apart from Ulysses’ daughter conversing with either a captive Deadpool, whose brain the zombies have been consuming “every day for two years, since they nabbed” the Merc with a Mouth “offa the Shield”, or the mysterious “little munchkin” who has accompanied the Monster Hunter throughout her ‘pilgrimage’.

Much of this dialogue is undeniably necessary in order for the former “BBC” art director to finally start answering some of the many questions his storyline has raised, such as the identity of the bandaged ghoul who has been fervently following her. But it is also used to explain, in some significant detail, just how Elsa’s relationship with her famous father came to an ignoble end and the Bloodgem-empowered immortal finally died. These flashback sequences, whilst morbidly interesting, are continually used by the British novelist to break-up the comic’s action and as a result often frustratingly interrupt an otherwise enthralling series of dynamically-charged panels.

Just as cumbersome is Spurrier’s rationalisation as to why Mystique, the Constrictor and Crossfire, amongst several others, are intelligent zombies. It makes some sort of logical sense that now the flesh-eaters have “extra smarts” they are able to ration themselves to “a sliver” of Deadpool’s brain every day in order help stave off “the hunger”. But just how did the ravenous Undead make such a discovery in the first place when ordinarily their gut reaction is to simply consume the entirety of their prey at one sitting?

Fortunately in many ways, Kev Walker’s tremendous artwork more than makes up for any deficiencies found within this issue’s storyline. In fact some of the wonderful zombified cameos the Leeds-based illustrator depicts are arguably worth the cover price alone; especially those of the Mole Man rising from the depths in front of a determined “Purrrincess Presumptuousness” and then later a cave-dwelling Morbius, who receives a lethal head-butt for his troubles; “Bleh!”
Writer: Simon Spurrier, Artist: Kev Walker, and Color Artists: Guru-eFX

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Nameless #5 - Image Comics

NAMELESS No. 5, September 2015
Almost exclusively focusing upon the titular character’s overnight stay at the eerily decorated home of a man “convinced to convert this place into his very own torture palace” by the imprisoned lunatic’s spirit guide Wodello, and the possessed anti-hero’s subsequent surprising mutilation of his fellow residents. This fifth instalment in Grant Morrison’s supposed “first real attempt at creating a horror comic” is certainly the “soul-destroying” experience its Scottish playwright intended.

However whereas the “living legend in the field of comics” undoubtedly meant for the sinister shenanigans portrayed within this “origin story of the man known only as Nameless” to be the source of its readers’ sense of despair and hopelessness. It is actually the Glasgow-born author’s own incomprehensible narrative, packed full of unfollowable gobbledegook, which generates such a strong feeling of bewilderment and gloom.

For whilst the occultist’s visit to Razor House proves to initially be an enthralling, sinister and superbly shadowy journey into “a complex mash of Polynesian and Mayan mythology.” Its storyline quickly transforms into an unfathomable mess as Morrison sacrilegiously spouts that Jesus assembled his dozen or so disciples because “it takes thirteen Human minds concentrating in unison to approximate the computer power of a single outsider [extra-terrestrial] brain", and Paul “Big Daddy” Darius convinces Nameless, along with Major Ed Merritt, Nadia Korenyov, Salem Sime and others, that by blowing a whistle and sitting in front of a “hunk of iron, nickel, palladium, iridium and other trace elements” they can summon God; or rather a trapped “sadistic psychopathic monster” which Mankind has named God.

Such an incomprehensible plot would not necessarily be such a complete mess however, if it weren’t for the counter-culturist’s insistence of abruptly throwing this tale’s timeline all over the place, so that "Star Of Fear" depicts the adventurer brutally murdering his fellow investigators in one panel, falling through outer space in the next, and then having an injection at the doctors in some surgery room straight afterwards..?

Fortunately this ‘trip’ to “the dark side of the Qabalistic Tree of Life” is incredibly well-illustrated by Chris Burnham. “The Number One New York Times Bestselling Artist of Batman Incorporated” seems, somewhat disturbingly, especially good at depicting the insanely graphic dismemberment which his fellow storyteller’s script apparently calls for, and despite all its depravity and tastelessness, the American’s pencilling of a skinless Nameless being slowly sliced by a storm of razor blades is a stunningly drawn sequence.
Words: Grant Morrison, Art: Chris Burnham, and Colors: Nathan Fairbairn