Monday, January 30, 2017

ALL STAR RECOMMENDS FOR JANUARY 31ST


Biblical-pseudo-caveman comic book mayhem! Sex! Not having sex! Giant pieces of art! Yep, it's just another week in comics, the medium that can do anything. Onward.

Here's this week's Thing I Learned By Reading We Told You So: Comics as Art by Tom Spurgeon and Michael Dean:

Fantagraphics started its Eros imprint of porno comics in the early '90s because the company was a quarter of a million dollars in debt. Think about that. That's a staggering, frightening amount of money for a very small, independent publisher to be in the red for -- by today's inflated standards that's well over $400,000. I don't have too much Eros material on my shelves (there are real diamonds in the rough but much of the line, by the publisher's own admission, is pretty, pretty rough) however an Eros title that is within my immediate reach is Gilbert Hernandez's astonishing Birdland, a non-stop sex-fest culminating in an orgy so hormonally furious that it bends time, space and most interestingly, gender. Male characters become female, female become male, some become both, morphing into glamorous, generously fleshy posthumans caught in a libido-storm and sprouting all sorts of outrageous sexual organs as a result. Birdland is a brilliant, mind-bending espousal of gender fluidity for anyone of that mindset looking for something extremely racy to read. It also features some typically beautiful and deceptively simple cartooning by Hernandez, whose epic Poison River tale we'll be looking at in greater depth very soon in this column because I don't write about older stuff enough anymore.

Anyway, Eros turned out to be an inspired if controversial gambit, keeping Fanta afloat for a full decade (right up until the publisher snagged the Peanuts license) enabling them to continue publishing books they believed in for reasons of artistic merit and/or historical significance, often at a loss, which is a publishing philosophy that has been maintained to this day. Smut funded capital-L Literature and capital-A Art. There's a lesson in there somewhere...


COMIC OF THE WEEK : THE GODDAMNED VOL.1: BEFORE THE FLOOD
By Jason Aaron, r.m Guera & Giulia Brusco
Published By Image Comics

2017's most gloriously, unrepentantly trashy example of macho smash-'em up comics, The Goddamned is The Bible by way of Robert E. Howard and Garth Ennis -- exactly the kind of thing I would have paid actual attention to in Sunday School.

The first child of Adam and Eve and thus the first child born ever, Cain, wanders a pre-Christian, pre-Biblical flood wasteland like a prehistoric Mad Max, engaging in bloody brawls, cursing a whole effing lot and seeking his own impossible death at the hands of a foe he's not yet encountered. As the "inventor of murder" this wasteland of a world is Cain's fault and it's a horrorshow of a place, one clearly primed and in great need of a giant, Godly cleansing.

Pound for pound the sweariest comic you'll encounter in some time, don't let the constant flow of expletives fool you -- this is a Jason Aaron-scripted comic; it is well-plotted and moves at a swiftly violent yet somehow graceful pace across various pre-apocalyptic landscapes. In his travels, Cain encounters monsters, weird Neanderthal things, what appear to be human/animal hybrids, giants and even another famous Biblical figure. It's kind of, sort of, like Fury Road. But on foot. With cavemen. 

Is Aaron the most versatile writer working in the comics mainstream? It's entirely possible. It's almost hilarious that volume one of The Goddamned was released the same day as the latest collection of his work on Star Wars for Marvel. Aaron has said that The Goddamned has been in his head, percolating away for years, but what's interesting is that this most unhinged of books with its full frontal male nudity, frequent stabbings, full splash page crucifixions and constant brainings feels utterly spontaneous and I would not be surprised if it functions as some sort of release valve in his head for all the craziness he can't insert into his corporate work.

Aaron gives artist r.m Guera serious room to breathe - there are more splashes and double page spreads across this debut volume than in the entire run of the creative team's previous effort, one of my favourite crime comics ever, Scalped. Guera appears to relish the chance to go hog wild with his images. The landscapes are by turns horrific and beautiful, packed with intricate details of flora and fauna. Weird hybrid beasties are everywhere (the kangaroo/camel hybrid is perhaps my favourite right behind the abominable dog men). Unsurprisingly given the artist is of Serbian birth and resides in Spain, The Goddamned has the distinct look of some freshly-found European BD, worthy in fact of the French album format I so desperately want to catch on in The States. For Guera, too, this must be fun stuff to draw. Years of painstakingly illustrating Native American reservations and Casinos and a culture tragically on the skids must have been a grind. Here, however, there is fight scene after bonkers fight scene, largely silent battles punctuated mainly by Guera's own hand-drawn sound effects. His characters, barring Cain, are fittingly ugly, scarred, wounded creatures - harelips and burns and missing limbs abound. Guera shows great versatility also, not just with his apocalyptic carnage but particularly with a double page flashback splash to the Garden of Eden, that looks not unlike something Moebius might have stuck in his Gardens of Edena saga.


Colourist Giulia Brusco also deserves mention for her earthy work. This is a book largely set in mud and dust and dirt. Brusco takes to her brownish scenes and works logically and subtly, making moments of real colour count. Her dusk scenes are a highlight, as is the aforementioned Garden of Eden in which Guera wisely lets her take control. It's great work, complimenting Guera's lines perfectly.

Aaron himself has stated that this is a comic that will not be for everyone...and it's really not. However, if you want to get down in the muck, in the "shit ponds," with Cain, you'll likely find yourself dragged along in the character's increasingly brutal and bloody slipstream. Me, I'm just glad there's a pseudo-caveman book finally out, I could read a dozen a month. If that doesn't do it for you, The Goddamned is actually classically heroic at it's core, featuring a troubled hero who's done much wrong, looking for a way out and in the process actually finding a means to redemption. And if *that* doesn't do it for you, if you miss the gonzo SF of bygone '70s Heavy Metal, or can't wait for Jonny Ryan to finally finish up Prison Pit, or long for more Kentaro Miura Berserk or just miss the cheeky blasphemy of Ennis and Dillon's Preacher, The Goddamned could well fix what's ailing you.



WEBCOMIC OF THE WEEK : HOW I LEARNED TO LOVE BEING AROMANTIC
By Kotaline Jones

This is a super interesting little webcomic. Kotaline Jones's comics memoir about her own struggles with being both asexual and aromantic, "How I Learned To Love Being Aromantic," will resonate with quite a few readers, I'd imagine both because of its nature as "diarised comics" and in its frank, honest discussion of its subject matter. I'm not going to say too much about the content, the one real talking point and question I have comes near the end of the strip and I'd rather not spoil it, but let's just say that Jones's cartooning is simple but crystal clear, wonderfully lo-fi and intimately personal, exactly as little strips of this sort ought to be. Brave stuff.





COMICS VIDEO OF THE WEEK : TAKEHIKO INOUE - ENTRANCE SPACE PROJECT

Blimey. Take a look at this. Back in 2010, Vagabond creator Takehiko Inoue produced an enormous piece of art for the Tokyo Museum of Modern Art. This video, filmed over several days, shows Inoue at work with ink brushes a big as something you'd paint your walls with, tiptoeing over his greywash as he goes.



See you next week. Love your comics.


Cameron Ashley spends a lot of time writing comics and other things you'll likely never read. He's the chief editor and co-publisher of Crime Factory (www.thecrimefactory.com). You can reach him @cjamesashley on Twitter.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

New Comics For Wednesday 1st of February


First week of Feb can mean only ONE thing...well this year actually it's two things. 
Firstly this week marks the 25th anniversary of Image Comics becoming part of the comic book industry. To celebrate we'll be having local creators Fil Barlow and Helen Maier, who have recently had work published through Image join us for a meet and greet, signing of their work on Saturday the 4th from 12pm to 4pm. We also have other features planned for the day, so keep your eyes peeled.



While we are in the celebrating mood, Saturday the 4th also marks the start of our own anniversary period, being 6 years since we first opened our doors. We have a couple of annual celebrations planned for this too, so again keep a look out for details!

And then there was comics...so technically it's three things!


Again another local artist smashing it with an international graphic novel release. Doug Holgate working with best selling author, Marissa Meyer in WIRES AND NERVE GN which extends the world of Meyer's Lunar Chronicles series featuring lead Iko, an android with a heart of gold.

Marvel couples two new villainous limited series together this week with Ed Brisson taking a shot at the man that never misses in BULLSEYE #1 (OF 5). Then Cullen Bunn delves deeper into the history of one of the most bad ass Sith's from a Galaxy far, far away with STAR WARS DARTH MAUL #1 (OF 5).

Soaked in noir, the pairing of one of Will Eisner's classics and the artwork of Francesco Francavilla could not be more of a match made in hard boiled heaven with Dynamite's WILL EISNER SPIRIT CORPSE MAKERS #1 (OF 5).

The next entry from Aftershock Comics launches with BLOOD BLISTER #1. From creators, Phil Hester and Tony Harris this series is about a modern tale of bad people that are ugly on the inside having their true faces revealed. 

Crossover books really don't have to play along with the normal rules of their respective companies Universes. This couldn't be more true for the meeting of BOOM Studio and DC with PLANET OF APES GREEN LANTERN #1, which is rumored to feature the first new ring of power since Blackest Night! Important!

Gather your friends around, we've got a wonderful new take on a classic with stunning art from Mouse Guard's artist supreme in the WIND IN THE WILLOWS HC ILLUS DAVID PETERSEN

The DC Rebirth new trade collection continues to grow this week is the addition of the Bat-Family feature, BATMAN DETECTIVE TP VOL 01 RISE OT BATMEN (REBIRTH).

It might of taken a long while to wrap up but Marvel's most recent mega event has been put to rest and you can get up to speed with the CIVIL WAR II HC.

More classic adventures of the strongest man in the Universe can never be a bad thing, so it's grand that Dark Horse this week see it fit to release the HE-MAN & MASTERS OF UNIVERSE NEWSPAPER COMIC STRIPS HC.

The break out and break away talent of last year, Tom King completes another of his critically acclaimed series with Vertigo's SHERIFF OF BABYLON TP VOL 02 POW POW POW.

A couple of books to scare the jinkies out of you. First it's the re-imagining of the Saturday morning classic cartoon from DC, SCOOBY APOCALYPSE TP VOL 01.
Then step it up a notch in the fear stakes with the next back to print classic horror of master, Junji Ito with the JUNJI ITOS DISSOLVING CLASSROOM GN

Then there is some sweet merch to dress your room and self up with. The AMAZING SPIDER-MAN SPIDER-MAN ARTFX+ STATUE looks a treat for any fan of Spidey and look extremely cool in the completely out of season STAR LABS LOGO PX KNIT BEANIE

Also for all those that missed it the first time around, the sell out charity book LOVE IS LOVE GN makes it's way back to our shelves.


Add in the Feb copy of Previews (we hope!) for a upcoming Facebook Previews Album and you're got yourself a pretty sweet start to shortest month of the year!

See something here you need us to put aside for you, just be sure to let us know before Wednesday morning and we'll get it sorted for you.



MARVEL
ALL NEW X-MEN #1.MU
ALL NEW X-MEN #18 IVX
AVENGERS #4
BULLSEYE #1 (OF 5)
CHAMPIONS #5
DEADPOOL #26
DEADPOOL AND MERCS FOR MONEY #8 IVX
GWENPOOL #11
HAWKEYE #3
KARNAK #6
MARVEL GUARDIANS OF GALAXY VOL 2 PRELUDE #2 (OF 2)
MARVEL UNIVERSE AVENGERS ULTRON REVOLUTION #8
MONSTERS UNLEASHED #2 (OF 5)
MOON KNIGHT #11
NOVA #3
OLD MAN LOGAN #17
SLAPSTICK #3
SPIDER-MAN 2099 #20
STAR WARS #28
STAR WARS DARTH MAUL #1 (OF 5)
UNSTOPPABLE WASP #2

DC COMICS
AQUAMAN #16 VAR ED
BATMAN #16 VAR ED
CYBORG #9 VAR ED
DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS #22
DEATH OF HAWKMAN #5 (OF 6)
FALL AND RISE OF CAPTAIN ATOM #2 (OF 6)
FLINTSTONES #8
GREEN ARROW #16 VAR ED
GREEN LANTERNS #16 VAR ED
HARLEY QUINN #13 VAR ED
INJUSTICE GROUND ZERO #5
JUSTICE LEAGUE #14 VAR ED
MIDNIGHTER AND APOLLO #5 (OF 6)
NIGHTWING #14 VAR ED
SHADE THE CHANGING GIRL #5 VAR ED
SUPER POWERS #4 (OF 6)
SUPERMAN #16 VAR ED

VERTIGO
EVERAFTER FROM THE PAGES OF FABLES #6

BOOM
BIG TROUBLE LITTLE CHINA ESCAPE NEW YORK #5
GIANT DAYS #23
GOLDIE VANCE #9
PLANET OF APES GREEN LANTERN #1
WOODS #29

DARK HORSE
BALTIMORE THE RED KINGDOM #1

DYNAMITE
VAMPIRELLA #0
WILL EISNER SPIRIT CORPSE MAKERS #1 (OF 5)

IDW
BACK TO THE FUTURE #16
BOX OFFICE POISON COLOR COMICS #2
DONALD QUEST #4 (OF 5)
DUCK AVENGER #3
ELECTRIC SUBLIME #4 (OF 4)
GHOSTBUSTERS ANNUAL 2017
JEM & THE HOLOGRAMS ANNUAL 2017
JEM MISFITS #2
JIM THOMPSON KILLER INSIDE ME #5 (OF 5)
MY LITTLE PONY FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #50
TRANSFORMERS LOST LIGHT #2
UNCLE SCROOGE #23
YAKUZA DEMON KILLERS #4 (OF 6)

IMAGE
DEADLY CLASS #26
INVINCIBLE #132
NAILBITER #29
PAPER GIRLS #11
PLANETOID PRAXIS #1 (OF 6)
WALKING DEAD #163

VALIANT
A&A #12
FAITH (ONGOING) #8

MISC
ASSIGNMENT #2 (OF 3)
BLOOD BLISTER #1
DISNEY FROZEN #5
JOSIE & THE PUSSYCATS #4
STARGATE ATLANTIS GATEWAYS #2

MAGAZINE
IMAGE PLUS #10 (WALKING DEAD HERES NEGAN PT 10)
MARVEL PREVIEWS #19 FEBRUARY 2017
PREVIEWS #341 FEBRUARY 2017

TRADES
ABSOLUTE WONDER WOMAN BY AZZARELLO & CHANG HC VOL 01
ALPHA FLIGHT BY JOHN BYRNE OMNIBUS HC
BATMAN DETECTIVE TP VOL 01 RISE OT BATMEN (REBIRTH)
CAPTAIN MARVEL TP VOL 02 CIVIL WAR II
CHESTER 5000 HC BOOK 02
CIVIL WAR II HC
COLOR YOUR OWN WOLVERINE TP
EXPLORERS GUILD ILLUS SC VOL 01 PASSAGE TO SHAMBHA
GHOSTBUSTERS INTERNATIONAL TP VOL 02
GIRL FROM OTHER SIDE SIUIL RUN GN VOL 01
HARLEY QUINN AND HER GANG OF HARLEYS TP
HE-MAN & MASTERS OF UNIVERSE NEWSPAPER COMIC STRIPS HC
JUDGE DREDD BRENDAN MCCARTHY COLLECTION HC
JUNJI ITOS DISSOLVING CLASSROOM GN
KID ETERNITY TP BOOK 01
LITTLE TULIP GN
MY LITTLE PONY FRIENDS FOREVER TP VOL 08
OFFICIAL ART OF BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA HC
ROBIN SON OF BATMAN TP VOL 02 DAWN OF THE DEMONS
ROGUES TP VOL 03 HEARTS AND TOMBS
ROLLING BLACKOUTS HC
SCOOBY APOCALYPSE TP VOL 01
SEEKERS INTO MYSTERY TP
SHERIFF OF BABYLON TP VOL 02 POW POW POW
SPIDER-GWEN HC VOL 01
TEEN TITANS TP VOL 04 WHEN TITANS FALL
THANOS DEATH SENTENCE PROSE NOVEL HC
TMNT ONGOING (IDW) COLL HC VOL 04
WAR OF KINGS AFTERMATH ROAD TO WAR OF KINGS OMNIBUS HC
WILL SAVE THE GALAXY FOR FOOD SC NOVEL
WIND IN THE WILLOWS HC ILLUS DAVID PETERSEN DM EXC
WIRES AND NERVE GN
WOLVERINE EPIC COLLECTION TP SHADOW OF APOCALYPSE
WOLVERINE OLD MAN LOGAN HC NEW PTG
WONDER WOMAN TP VOL 09 RESURRECTION
YOU MIGHT BE AN ARTIST IF HC

MERCH
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN SPIDER-MAN ARTFX+ STATUE
STAR LABS LOGO PX KNIT BEANIE

BACK IN STOCK
ART OF ROGUE ONE STAR WARS STORY HC

LOVE IS LOVE GN

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

ALL STAR RECOMMENDS FOR JANUARY 24TH


RIP John Watkiss.


It was just last week, in a review of Vertigo's new collections of Sandman Mystery Theatre, that I mentioned how underrated John Watkiss was. The brilliant artist titles including Sandman, Ring of Roses, Deadman, Detective Comics, Conan and, most recently, Surgeon X has passed away at 55 after a battle with cancer.

Watkiss's style was apparently not for everyone, although I never quite understood why. It's baffling to me that he never had a lengthy, celebrated stint on a high-profile book. Watkiss' work married the various talents he employed over his career - classic cartooning, storyboarding, fashion drawing, concept work, fine art. Comics was lucky to have him in the intermittent periods between other artistic projects he tackled over the years and it's a terrific shame there's not dozens and dozens of comic books he's left behind instead of the handful that we have -- he's an artist worthy of an Artist's Edition that we'll likely never see. 

In 2015, Titan re-issued a Watkiss-illustrated miniseries called Ring of Roses. Scripted by Das Petrou it's a cracking alternate history book that Dark Horse originally released somewhere around the top end of the '90s. If you've never read Watkiss' work before, that's a great place to start and see what you've been missing. 



COMIC OF THE WEEK : HOUSE OF PENANCE
By Peter J. Tomasi, Ian Bertram & Dave Stewart
Published By Dark Horse

It feels way too early in the year to be handing out unabashedly five-star reviews but here we are, off and running and ready to spout forth effusive praise. It's also extra tricky when the comic being discussed is based on real life occurrences. There's a lot to talk about with House of Penance and the temptation to "spoil" events that actually occurred a century ago is great. If you know next to nothing about The Winchester House Mystery, resist the temptation to Google until you've read House of Penance, that's all I'll say. If, however, you know all bizarre details fear not, for writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Ian Bertram have created a story almost as multi-levelled as the Winchester House itself. It's history renovated as Grade-A weird fiction with an annex built on a strong message about gun violence.

So first, some spoiler-free truths. Construction of The Winchester House began in San Jose, California in the year 1884 and, depending on which side of the conflicting "facts" you believe, basically did not stop for decades. The mansion is a sprawling construction, designed with no floor plan, built upon and built upon and built upon until 1922 when its owner, Mrs Sarah Winchester, passed. Sarah was the widow of William Winchester and if that surname is ringing bells, it's with good reason. William Winchester was the owner of Winchester Repeating Arms or Winchester guns, yep, that most famous brand of rifle you'd have seen booming away in Westerns and such. Sarah was a particularly tragic figure in that not only did she lose William in his late thirties, but also their daughter, Annie, at only the age of five. 


In House of Penance, the presence of the departed hangs heavily not over only Sarah, but over the comic as a whole. The loss of William and Annie not only provides supporting characters (and readers if they so choose) to believe that Sarah has gone utterly grief-mad but also provides Sarah with the motivational fuel to continue her "crazy" quest - the continual construction of the mansion. Again, if you know the "true" story already, you'll know exactly why Sarah carried out her virtually ceaseless construction and comic's creators stay true to this, but add in a distinctly weird/Gothic flavour to the mix. By what or whom I'll not spoil, but the mansion is haunted.

House of Penance feels a little The Fall of the House of Usher, a little House on the Borderlands, a little House on Haunted Hilland is all the better for it. Sarah Winchester recruits a veritable army of construction workers, all of whom have dished out various levels of violence in their lives and most of whom still live for the sound of their firearms discharging. There are beautiful little visual moments treating guns as fetish objects - construction workers leer at a locked room full of firearms as though it's a peep show. Sarah confiscates, and melts, her workers' firearms upon arrival but the constant "Blam!" of hammer striking nail obviously recalls the "Blam!" of their guns brilliantly. A shoutout quickly to letterer Nate Piekos, who scatters these "Blams" throughout almost every page of the book. The sound is always present at a visual level to the reader, but never obfuscates Bertram's artwork. "Blam!" is as much of a presence as whatever haunts the house and is not only important to the narrative but functions as a reminder to the reader that not only does construction of the interior of the house never stop, but neither does gun-dealt death in the world outside.

Bertram is an absolute show stealer. Tomasi (as he does with all his artists) gives him the floor and the results are absolutely stunning. Bertram illustrates the presence haunting the Winchester House as phantasmagorical viscera, entrails, blood and spattered brain matter - the literal products of traumatic violence turned ghostly. The literal gore, in turn, resembles the supernatural entity, visually linking them together cleverly.

Characters stand in seas of blood, are entwined by tentacles of intestinal tract, witness blobby rose thorns of vein protrude from beneath floor boards. Bertram frequently draws this bloody goo coming from outside the borders of his panels, emphasising at all times that something terrible is trying to get in. Lovecraft would be proud. He draws with incredible intricacy, characters looking somewhat like a cross between Dave Cooper and Rafael Grampa. Bug-eyed Sarah alien in her beauty. The death-scarred (inside and out) Warren Peck, linked to Sarah by a shared sense of guilt, with his cauliflowered ears looking like blobs of chewing gum and battle wounds carved into his body resembles an extra from Moebius' Blueberry comic who got lost and stumbled into hell. The Winchester House is every bit the character it needs to be - expansive and oh so weird. This madhouse has staircases going nowhere, doors that lead only to a two-storey plummet to the mansion's grounds, its dungeon of a furnace room boiling away hellishly. Bertram's work culminates in a six-page spread that is a crime against the medium for not being printed a single foldout. It's astonishing work and it's perfectly coloured by Hellboy's Dave Stewart who never met a shade of red he couldn't work with happily.

By its conclusion, House of Penance reveals itself to be a beautiful allegory, perhaps the greatest anti-gun statement the medium has made since Joshua Dysart and Rick Veitch unflinchingly chronicled the life of a single Kalashnikov rifle in Unknown Soldier. It's a bold and beautiful book, it's creepy and smart and as cleverly, trickily constructed as the Winchester House itself. It's a reminder not to sleep on the work of Tomasi, who continues to chip away without too much fanfare over on some of DCs top characters and to buy, without hesitation, anything that Ian Bertram illustrates. 



WEBCOMIC OF THE WEEK : THE UNQUOTABLE TRUMP
By R. Sikoryak

R. Sikoryak is a busy man. Mere months away from the Drawn & Quarterly release of his Terms & Conditions book (which takes the massive legal document we all blindly click "yes" to and "adapts" it in a series of sequences mimicked from various comics) he's already hard at work on his next project. The Unquotable Trump is incredibly clever, taking the brand new President's most outlandish sound bites and transposing them into images based on classic comic book covers. "The Black Voter" is possibly my favourite, with Trump fist fighting Marvel's T'Challa, The Black Panther, in an image taken from John Romita's old cover to Jungle Action #5. Here Trump bellows his infamous "What the hell do you have to lose?" line as he swings a meaty fist at T'Challa whilst African American bystanders (in place of the Wakandan warriors on the original) record the action on their smart phones. Great stuff.




COMICS VIDEO OF THE WEEK : JOHN WATKISS @ H2O GRAPHICS

To end this week, here's a video gallery of some of John Watkiss' striking commercial work. Encompassing everything from Tarzan paintings to design work for Sky Captain to his concept work for The Walking Dead TV show, there's so much beautiful work stuffed into this four-minute video and a pretty potent final reminder that this is a major talent who met with success but got nowhere near his due. 



See you next week. Love your comics.


Cameron Ashley spends a lot of time writing comics and other things you'll likely never read. He's the chief editor and co-publisher of Crime Factory (www.thecrimefactory.com). You can reach him @cjamesashley on Twitter.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

New Comics For Wednesday 25th of January


Cmon, January! Cut us some slack! You have been just so chock full of fantastic releases all month long and this week as well before we even get to our instore event news for this week!


The first All Star Women’s Comic Book Club meet up for the year will be SATURDAY, JANUARY 28TH 5PM-6:30PM

Come and join us and meet new friends and talk about book of the month, MOCKINGBIRD TP VOL 1 I CAN EXPLAIN. 
Remember that the All Star Women’s Comic Club is open to all levels of women readers! So fans both new and old are most welcome!

Now mooooore comics!

Check out some horrifically good Joe Hill reads with the JOE HILL GRAPHIC NOVEL COLLECTION HC.

Featuring the work that ushered in a new age of comics, JACK KIRBY FANTASTIC FOUR ARTIST ED HC presents some of his most dynamic art in a gorgeous oversized format. And paying tribute to the work of the the King, the KAMANDI CHALLENGE begins here! The industry's top creative teams take the Last Boy on Earth on an epic journey in this round-robin cliffhanger extravaganza!

Another week, another stack of DC Rebirth trades to hit the shelf. This week its GREEN LANTERNS TP VOL 01 RAGE PLANET (REBIRTH) and NIGHTWING TP VOL 01 BETTER THAN BATMAN (REBIRTH)

With Trump's inauguration fresh in our minds, the newest instalment from the Back to the Future franchise hits the shelves with good timing. BACK TO THE FUTURE BIFF TO THE FUTURE #1 (OF 6), details Biff Tannen's apocalyptic rise to power, with help from the Grays Sports Almanac! Also perfectly timed is the satirical D4VE, and this time he's running for President! Ryan Ferrier and Valentin Ramon continue their acclaimed futuristic comedy with D4VEOCRACY #1.

The ultimate showdown between DC's biggest heroes and villains concludes in JUSTICE LEAGUE SUICIDE SQUAD #6 (OF 6), but who will emerge from the rubble? Combined with the JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA KILLER FROST REBIRTH #1 one shot, the set up for the New Justice League Of America is all but set!

A wild night in a seedy honky-tonk leaves Sonny Gibson on the run from both criminals and the law, as Jason Latour brings us more tales from the seedy underbelly of the south with LOOSE ENDS #1 (OF 4).

While a TV adaption is under development with SyFy, catch up on the next eerily installment of Emmy's saga with HARROW COUNTY TP VOL 04 FAMILY TREE.

Designed as an agency to bring down both metahuman heroes and villains who step out of line, Checkmate may have the support of world governments, but one of their own might be their biggest threat yet! CHECKMATE BY GREG RUCKA TP VOL 01 reprints the beginning of Rucka's explosive series.

But if Rucka Batman is a little more your speed, this week gives you the chance to pick up deluxe format of the criminally underrated BATMAN DEATH AND THE MAIDENS DLX ED HC.

Sick of the heatwaves here in Melbourne, well it's Winter somewhere in the world and Hellboy is facing the worst of it in HELLBOY WINTER SPECIAL 2017 ONE SHOT.

The team up you never knew you wanted until now arrives this week with the first issue of BATMAN 66 MEETS WONDER WOMAN 77 #1 (OF 6).

The Avatar Last Airbender saga continues with tribe and nation tensions at all time high in AVATAR LAST AIRBENDER TP VOL 14 NORTH SOUTH PART 2.

Prepare to drop, roll and laugh with the second collection of the outrageously funny short works of Joan Cornella in ZONZO HC.

Female lead fantasy tales take centre stage in the new BOOM series LADYCASTLE #1 and the first collection of Gene Ha's Dark Horse book, MAE TP VOL 01.

Hot on the tail of the release of Netflix's Season Two hit series, VOLTRON LEGENDARY DEFENDER TP VOL 01 collects the first adventures of this new take on the might lion robot warrior.
And if that wasn't enough of a space Kaiju fix for you, monsters are on the rampage across the Marvel landscape in AVENGERS #1.MU and SPIDER-MAN DEADPOOL #1.MU.

Prepping for the latest installment of the Aliens franchise, catch up with the best thing to happen to Alien comics in years with the all too short lived ALIENS DEFIANCE TP VOL 01 from Brian Wood and local Tristan Jones.

In the aftermath of the war, Tony Stark and Carol Danvers turn to the one person they think they can trust... Steve Rogers. Check out the epilogue to Civil War with CIVIL WAR II OATH #1.

A couple of new series featuring the distinct differences between people at the opposite ends of the class system are definitely worth a look. Hickman and Coker's supernatural/murder mystery involving the 1% of the world's 1% in BLACK MONDAY MURDERS TP VOL 01 ALL HAIL GOD MAMMON. Then THE DREGS #1 from Black Mask combines a city's homeless vs gentrification issues in a eerie mystery with shades of Soylent Green.

Years before the birth of Wonder Woman, the Amazons set off on world-wide reconnaissance mission to find others like them. But when half of their team is captured by Norse Gods, its up to Hessia to lead the rescue. ODYSSEY OF THE AMAZONS #1 kicks off the brand new mini-series by Kevin Grevioux,

And a massive week for cool merch with a number of items. Marvel's biggest heroes just got a lot smaller with these new 5" vinyl figures from Funko; CAPTAIN MARVEL , LADY THOR, SHE-HULK , and SPIDER-GWEN, which nicely complements the release of the latest Blind Box figures with the DC BOMBSHELLS MINI VINYL FIG SERIES 1-1/2. The first of Mondo's 1/6 original TMNT figures arrives with TMNT LEONARDO 1/6 SCALE COLLECTIBLE FIGURE. And get fully in character with your favourite Merc with a Mouth with the MARVEL DEADPOOL DELUXE MASK & SPEECH BUBBLE PX BOX.

Ok, too much stuff, Jan! Calm down! If you spotted something else we needed to stash for you, just be sure to let us know before end of business on Tuesday night and we'll get it sorted for you!


MARVEL
AVENGERS #1.MU
BLACK PANTHER #10
CAPTAIN AMERICA STEVE ROGERS #10
CARNAGE #16
CIVIL WAR II OATH #1
DAREDEVIL #16
DEADPOOL #25
DOCTOR STRANGE #16
ENCHANTED TIKI ROOM #4 (OF 5)
EXTRAORDINARY X-MEN #18 IVX
GHOST RIDER #3
GREAT LAKES AVENGERS #4
GUIDE TO MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE CAP AMERICIA CIVIL WAR
HULK #2
INFAMOUS IRON MAN #4
IVX #3 (OF 6)
MARVEL UNIVERSE ULT SPIDER-MAN VS SINISTER SIX #7
MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR #15
PROWLER #4 CC
PUNISHER #8
SOLO #4
SPIDER-MAN DEADPOOL #1.MU
SPIDER-WOMAN #15
STAR WARS #27
THANOS #3
THUNDERBOLTS #9
TOTALLY AWESOME HULK #15 NOW

DC COMICS
ACTION COMICS #972 VAR ED
BATGIRL #7 VAR ED
BATMAN 66 MEETS WONDER WOMAN 77 #1 (OF 6)
BATMAN BEYOND #4 VAR ED
BLUE BEETLE #5 VAR ED
DEATHSTROKE #11 VAR ED
DETECTIVE COMICS #949 VAR ED
DOOM PATROL #4 VAR ED
FLASH #15 VAR ED
FUTURE QUEST #9
HAL JORDAN AND THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS #13 VAR ED
HELLBLAZER #6 VAR ED
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA KILLER FROST REBIRTH #1 VAR ED
JUSTICE LEAGUE SUICIDE SQUAD #6 (OF 6)
KAMANDI CHALLENGE #1 (OF 12)
ODYSSEY OF THE AMAZONS #1 (OF 6)
SCOOBY DOO TEAM UP #22
SIXPACK & DOGWELDER HARD-TRAVELIN HEROZ #6 (OF 6)
SUICIDE SQUAD #10 VAR ED (JL SS)
TEEN TITANS #4 VAR ED
WONDER WOMAN #15 VAR ED

VERTIGO
FROSTBITE #5 (OF 6)

BOOM
ADVENTURE TIME #60
ADVENTURE TIME COMICS #7
BACKSTAGERS #6 (OF 8)
JOYRIDE #9
LADYCASTLE #1
LUMBERJANES #34
MUNCHKIN #25
POWER RANGERS PINK #6
SKYBOURNE #3
WARLORDS OF APPALACHIA #4

DARK HORSE
ALIENS DEFIANCE #9
ALIENS VS PREDATOR LIFE AND DEATH #2
BRIGGS LAND #6
BTVS SEASON 11 #3 MAIN MORRIS CVR
CONAN THE SLAYER #6
DEAD INSIDE #2 (OF 5)
DEPT H #10
ELFQUEST FINAL QUEST #18
ETHER #3
HARROW COUNTY #20
HELLBOY WINTER SPECIAL 2017 ONE SHOT
SERENITY NO POWER IN THE VERSE #4 (OF 6)
SLAYER REPENTLESS #1 (OF 3)
SPELL ON WHEELS #4 (OF 5)
TARZAN ON THE PLANET OF THE APES #5 (OF 5)
TOMB RAIDER 2016 #12

DYNAMITE
BETTY BOOP #4 (OF 4)
GARTH ENNIS RED TEAM DOUBLE TAP #7 (OF 9)
WONDER WOMAN 77 BIONIC WOMAN #2 (OF 6)

IDW
BACK TO THE FUTURE BIFF TO THE FUTURE #1 (OF 6)
BATMAN TMNT ADVENTURES #3 (OF 6)
COMIC BOOK HISTORY OF COMICS #3 (OF 6)
D4VEOCRACY #1
JEM & THE HOLOGRAMS #23
MICRONAUTS #9
MICRONAUTS ANNUAL 2017
MY LITTLE PONY FRIENDS FOREVER #36
OPTIMUS PRIME #3
POWERPUFF GIRLS (2016) #6
STAR TREK GREEN LANTERN VOL 2 #2
TMNT ONGOING #66

IMAGE
ARCLIGHT #4
DANTE ONE-SHOT
ISLAND #14
LOOSE ENDS #1 (OF 4)
NO MERCY #13
REBORN #4
REVIVAL #46
SAGA #42
SHE WOLF #5
SHUTTER #26
SURGEON X #5
WAYWARD #20

ONI
LETTER 44 #29
RICK & MORTY #22
SPACE BATTLE LUNCHTIME #8 (OF 8)

VALIANT
BLOODSHOT USA #4 (OF 4)
DIVINITY III STALINVERSE #2
SAVAGE #3 (OF 4)

MISC
ANIMOSITY THE RISE #1 ONE SHOT
DARK SOULS WINTERS SPITE #3 (OF 4)
DISNEY DARKWING DUCK #7
HILLBILLY #5
NO ANGEL #2
THE DREGS #1
UBER INVASION #2
WARHAMMER 40000 WILL OF IRON #4 (OF 4)

TRADES
ABOMINABLE MR SEABROOK
ALIENS DEFIANCE TP VOL 01
ART OF DOUG SNEYD TP
AVATAR LAST AIRBENDER TP VOL 14 NORTH SOUTH PART 2
BATMAN ARKHAM MANBAT TP
BATMAN DEATH AND THE MAIDENS DLX ED HC
BLACK MONDAY MURDERS TP VOL 01 ALL HAIL GOD MAMMON
BLACK PANTHER TP DOOMWAR
CALL OF DUTY BLACK OPS III TP
CHECKMATE BY GREG RUCKA TP VOL 01
DISNEY GREAT PARODIES GN VOL 01 MICKEYS INFERNO
FAIRY TAIL GN VOL 57
GENERATION ZERO TP VOL 01 WE ARE THE FUTURE
GHOST & LADY GN VOL 02 (OF 2)
GREEN LANTERNS TP VOL 01 RAGE PLANET (REBIRTH)
GUNNERKRIGG COURT TP VOL 04 MATERIA
HARROW COUNTY TP VOL 04 FAMILY TREE
HICKSVILLE DEFINITIVE ED GN
IRON MAN EPIC COLLECTION TP BY FORCE OF ARMS
JACK KIRBY FANTASTIC FOUR ARTIST ED HC
JOE HILL GRAPHIC NOVEL COLLECTION HC
LETTER 44 TP VOL 04 SAVIORS
LIBBYS DAD GN
LOVE HC VOL 04 THE DINOSAUR
MAE TP VOL 01
MARVEL TSUM TSUM TAKEOVER TP
MICKEY MOUSE HC VOL 02 TIMELESS TALES
MICKEY MOUSE SHORTS SEASON 1 TP VOL 01
NIGHTWING TP VOL 01 BETTER THAN BATMAN (REBIRTH)
PUNISHER MAX COMPLETE COLLECTION TP VOL 05
ROAD TO RIVERDALE TP VOL 01
SHADOW GLASS TP
SPIDER-MAN COMPLETE CLONE SAGA EPIC TP VOL 02 NEW PTG
STAR WARS LEGENDS EPIC COLLECTION TP VOL 01 NEWSPAPER STRIPS
STARFIRE TP VOL 02 A MATTER OF TIME
STUMPTOWN HC VOL 04
SUPERMAN BATMAN SAGA OF THE SUPER SONS TP NEW ED
THIEF OF THIEVES TP VOL 06
TIME SHARE GN
UNCANNY X-MEN SUPERIOR TP VOL 03 WAKING FROM DREAM
VOLTRON LEGENDARY DEFENDER TP VOL 01
WARHAMMER FORGE OF WAR GN
XENA WARRIOR PRINCESS OMNIBUS TP VOL 01
ZONZO HC

MERCH
BATMAN BLACK & WHITE STATUE BY JASON FABOK
DC BOMBSHELLS MINI VINYL FIG SERIES 1-1/2 BMB DIS
MARVEL DEADPOOL DELUXE MASK & SPEECH BUBBLE PX BOX
ROCK CANDY MARVEL CAPTAIN MARVEL FIG
ROCK CANDY MARVEL LADY THOR FIG
ROCK CANDY MARVEL SHE-HULK FIG
ROCK CANDY MARVEL SPIDER-GWEN UNMASKED FIG
TMNT LEONARDO 1/6 SCALE COLLECTIBLE FIGURE

BACK IN STOCK

GREEN VALLEY #3 (OF 9) 2ND PTG

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

ALL STAR RECOMMENDS FOR JANUARY 17TH


Hi again, hope all's well.

I finally cracked open We Told You So: Comics As Art, the oral history of Fantagraphics. Fifty pages in, it already gets huge thumbs up. Yes, it's well established that I'm a complete Fanta dork, but as not just a publishing history but also a history of the medium itself it's a roaring success. There's Jim Steranko anecdotes, admitting to breaking into an office several nights a week to typeset magazines, an ill-fated attempt to raise cash, an encounter with Hunter S. Thompson -- this thing is already full of surprises. As Robert Crumb says in his intro about my most favourite of comics publishers, "They are not 'businessmen,' they are connoisseurs who want to put out good books...that they think ought to exist in the world. And that's a good thing, however they manage to do it."
 Can't argue with that.



COMIC OF THE WEEK : SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE BOOKS 1 & 2

By Matt Wagner, Steven T. Seagle, Guy Davis, David Hornung, Vince Locke & Friends
Published By Vertigo

The inherent danger in returning to comics you once loved after a decade or so is that oftentimes...they just aren't very good. Not so the case with Sandman Mystery Theatre, finally being properly and entirely collected in books collating a year's worth of issues. It not only holds up brilliantly but is also somehow perhaps one of the most politically and socially relevant comic books currently being (re)published. Xenophobia, homophobia, classism, misogyny, capitalism run amok -- Sandman Mystery Theatre commits itself to shedding its pulpy light on all these things, highlighting the nightmarish corners otherwise hidden by the garish brightness of "The American Dream."For a book set in the late 1930s and originally published in the early 1990s it's remarkable, unfortunately so, that its thematic relevance is so absolutely modern.

Published to capitalise on the burgeoning popularity of Neil Gaiman's Sandman comic, Sandman Mystery Theatre first appeared in 1993 as one of the first ongoing comics launched under the new Vertigo imprint. Featuring DC Comics' very own Golden Age Sandman, Wesley Dodds, who was a crime-fighter dressed in the typical PI attire of trenchcoat, fedora and suit. However, this Sandman obscured his identity by wearing an old gas mask over his face that also doubled as one of the oddest, most surreal "superhero" costume adornments of the period. There is something very strange about Sandman's appearance - the gas mask giving him the look of some sort of bug or mosquito-man, ripped from the pages of Kafka, or perhaps Burroughs' Naked Lunch. The Sandman blasts foes with a sleeping gas from a jury-rigged gas gun and as victims fall into a druggy haze, the vision of this human/insect mash-up looming over them demanding information proves utterly terrifying to those experiencing it.

Written originally by a solo Matt Wagner, Steven T. Seagle joined as co-writer in the title's second year. The book was originally slated to have a rotating core of artists, similar to Gaiman's Sandman, and for the title's first year, the incredible Guy Davis, the vastly under-appreciated John Watkiss and R.G. Taylor worked on the template four-issue story lines, with Davis eventually settling in to the role of regular artist. Davis was a fine choice, the perfect artist to bring the decadence of the late '30s to detailed, scratchy life. The only real major change to this creative line up and format was Wagner's eventual departure, leaving Seagle to write solo, and the Sandman Mystery Theatre Annual #1 (collected in Book 2) which saw a single story broken down into multiple chapters and points of view and each drawn by a different artist. Alex Ross was one of the artists involved with the annual and turns in, for my money, the work of his career. Painting in black and white, Ross' usual tendency to photo reference lends his work an annoyingly static feeling - his figures seem glued into his panels. Here, however, his pages look as though they are filled with frames clipped from some long lost film noir, utterly perfect for the series suited to photo-realism. 

While Ross utilised black and white for his brief chapter, the rest of the series was luridly coloured by David Hornung. Sandman Mystery Theatre, at least initially, was a riot of odd, vivid colour choices, almost as striking as an Argento Giallo film. Sandman's trenchcoat in the title's second arc, "The Face,"is a purple clashing against lime green backgrounds and while things eventually tone down a notch in the title's second year, Hornung's striking use of colour clearly attempts to recreate the limited colours available in the Golden Age of comics printing.

Davis and Seagle flesh Wesley Dodds out beautifully. A rich white man who inherited his wealth, Dodds has spent many years overseas becoming cultured, refined and sensitive. Despite clearly being a member of the 1%, America to Dodds is grotesque, drowning in booze and a good time even as war looms and its downtrodden are swept under the carpet. Haunted by nightmares he can't quite understand, Wesley is driven to fight crime, to stop the monsters he sees in his sleep. Wesley Dodds' Sandman is in many ways the anti-Batman. Of the many takes on Batman, my favourite is that Batman is the face, Bruce Wayne the mask. This is starkly contrasted by Wesley Dodds. Bumbling, chubby, frequently caught unawares and/or overmatched physically by opposing combatants, the reader constantly feels as though Dodds has no business sticking his nose into these horrible crimes. Weirdly, Dodds is as close to a "real world" Batman as you're likely to find in comics.

Dodds' love interest comes in the form of Dian Belmont. Dian's father is a D.A. and a kind of Commissioner Gordon to Dodds' Batman, if you will. Dian is a character vital to the series, not just as Wesley's anchor to the "real world" and a rich emotional life, but as a window into the gender politics of the time and a potent reminder that, despite the sexism inherent in the period, that many women were fiery, independent individuals. Dian is a liberated, modern, and experimental woman, smoking marijuana with friends (which Dodds finds amusing, having been a bit of a pothead in his international travels), frequenting jazz clubs in Harlem, maintaining friendships with queer women and having a previous relationship with a Chinese man. 

Murder mysteries have a tendency to peter out towards their end, sputtering to a conclusion as killers are revealed. Sandman Mystery Theatre skirts the often anti-climactic reveal of the criminal by basically telegraphing up front who the killer actually is. The murderers that propel Sandman Mystery Theatre’s plots forward really are not all that important, they are colourful, pulpy figures designed solely to allow the creators to focus on the socio-economic themes that form the spine of the series and allow greater exploration of Wesley and Dian's complex relationship and the uniquely particular time in which they live. The title never, ever forgets to be thrillingly lurid despite this and remains a beautifully illustrated, cleverly constructed comic throughout one that, as mentioned at the top of this review, really should not feel as fresh and relevant as it does. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Sandman Mystery Theatre is a wonderful way to be reminded of this very sad but true cliché.


WEBCOMIC OF THE WEEK : I WORE THE MASK OF DROTHOR!

By Steve Ditko

Back once again to The Bristol Board site, which just last week unearthed this 1960 gem by none other than the astounding Steve Ditko. A bitter, penniless "mask maker" reduced to making "creations for Halloween" hits his old Grimoires for creative inspiration. In an old dusty tome, he finds mention of an old magician named Drothor. Any who try to capture Drothor's image are doomed to meet a "tragic fate," so of course, our mask maker decide to give it a shot. What could possibly go wrong?

If this isn't a showcase of utterly prime Ditko, it has to be very, very close. It's gorgeous and lively work, lushly inked. Ditko may be the artist the most closely linked to the sleek acrobatics of Spider-Man and the psychedelic, physics-shattering realms of Doctor Strange, but he was equally gifted at drawing shadowy Gothic horrors as this little piece from Tales To Astonish #11 so clearly demonstrates. If you're left with a hankering for yet more classic Ditko after reading this, I highly recommend the ongoing reprint series showcasing his pre-Marvel genre work published by Fantagraphics and edited by Blake Bell.






COMICS VIDEO OF THE WEEK : TEOTFW

Returning not only to print mid-year (in hardback!) but also coming to our television screens for a series is Charles Forsman's TEOTFW (The End of the Fucking World). Teenage misfit love turns increasingly and eventually criminally violent in TEOTFW, Forsman's harrowing breakthrough work, a series which he originally serialised in minicomics sold for $1 before Fantagraphics first collected the entire series a few year years back. Here's a little promo piece for the comic, showcasing Forsman's punk rock twist on the classic American cartooning of, say, Charles Schultz. It's clearly a big year for the artist as he wraps up his current Revenger & The Fog series and readies the debut of something called Slasher, forthcoming from Floating World Comics. Bring on the TV show, however, debuting on Netflix sometime later this year. Congrats, Charles.



See you next week. Love your comics.


Cameron Ashley spends a lot of time writing comics and other things you'll likely never read. He's the chief editor and co-publisher of Crime Factory (www.thecrimefactory.com). You can reach him @cjamesashley on Twitter.

Monday, January 16, 2017

RESIDENT EVIL THE FINAL CHAPTER PREVIEW DOUBLE PASS GIVEAWAY!


Based on Capcom’s hugely popular video game series Resident Evil comes the final instalment in the most successful video game film franchise ever, which has grossed over $1 billion worldwide to date.

Picking up immediately after the events in Resident Evil: Retribution, Alice (Milla Jovovich) is the only survivor of what was meant to be humanity’s final stand against the undead. Now, she must return to where the nightmare began – The Hive in Raccoon City, where the Umbrella Corporation is gathering its forces for a final strike against the only remaining survivors of the apocalypse. Only at the movies! January 26.



Thanks to those famished folks at Sony Pictures and RESIDENT EVIL THE FINAL CHAPTER in cinemas January 26th, we have 10 Double Passes to a Special Preview Screening at Hoyts Melbourne Central on Wednesday 25th January at 6.30pm to give away!

To go into the draw for your chance to win all you need to do is comment "I'd only survive a zombie outbreak with the help of, " and tag the person you could see yourself owing your life too and you'll be entered in the draw.

SPECIAL NOTE: As this prize is for a specific time and date, please only enter if you can attend the screening. 


Terms and Conditions:
-Only entries made via the comments on the Facebook post will be included in the draw.
-Entries will be "liked" by All Star to notify the comment have been entered in the draw,
-All entries will go into the All Star Barrel and winners will be drawn at random.
-Entries close 5pm Sunday the 22nd of January and winners will be announced Monday the 23rd and notified soon after as to how to collect their tickets.


A huge thanks again to Sony Pictures and RESIDENT EVIL THE FINAL CHAPTER in cinemas January 26th,

Find out more at www.ResidentEvilMovie.net

© 2017 Screen Gems Inc. All Rights Reserved.