(Not So) Current Comic Comments

I’m back. Miss me? No, I didn’t think so …

I still love you though …

Reviews, reviews, reviews … HO!

Comics bought 24/2/05

Fantastic Four #523
Waid tries to give Galen some humanity, which is something I’ve never seen before, and gives nice moments to Johnny Storm, which is the most sincere I’ve felt he’s been treated. And the last page is priceless (I wonder if he got this idea when Jemas told Waid that he wanted to make the FF into a sitcom?)

Hunter-Killer #1
Apart from Silvestri overdoing the heroine’s breast size, he does okay. He pulls off the trick of making it look like he’s trying too hard yet at the same time that he’s just sketching it. I think he’s a good artist, if a little inconsistent, and prone to the ‘flash’ art that is associated with Image. His mech stuff looks slack but actually quite detailed.

Waid’s writing doesn’t seem as controlled as his other stuff, which may be deliberate, but it has an affect on the story, allowing Silvestri latitude to do what he wants. The captions don’t sizzle, like in FF, and some of the story points seem a little odd; Wolf, the in control tough guy, gets knocked out by some bits of wood falling on him? And Ellis comes off as gormless, instead of naïve (which might be what they’re aiming at). Still, I’m interested, but needs improvement.

Legion of Super Heroes #3
Triad or Triplicate Girl? I prefer the former, personally. Anyway, we get to the three, and the art stops being good – Art Thibert is a good inker but not a good finisher for Kitson, in my opinion. This is not a good idea for a new series trying to get its feet off the ground.

Interesting reinterpretation for Lornu, having her as the only person to survive on the planet, instead of being something that everybody could do. The story splits (haha) into three, with our heroine on three dates with different members of the LSH, which gives us a nice look at them without it coming across as blatant expostion. The end is a nice twist, with a hint of darkness in the brightness of the future.

There is plenty of humour, which is a good vibe for this iteration of the LSH. ‘She can’t be Triplicate Girl, I am!’ was very funny, and the line ‘Use your power’ suggested that sex isn’t going to be ignored either. Good stuff.

Powers #9
The dialogue between Christian and Deena is one of the main joys of this book, and this issue has some great exchanges, with Bendis on top form. Deena’s boyfriend comes back in a subplot that will return. A multi-multi panel interview keeps Oeming on his toes, keeping talking heads interesting. The twist at the end was good (well, I didn’t see it coming until the dialogue in the interrogation room) so I’m looking forward to see what happens next.

Seven Soldiers #0
It’s wonderful seeing Morrison being allowed to do his thing in the DCU – great dialogue, interesting characters, something sinister and big going on in the background, a sense of history and fanboy love of the form and the buzz of creativity. JH Williams does a great job, from the weird to the normal to the superhero, and his Whip is a sexy lass in the S&M. I got a great a great rush from reading this, feeling the same sensation I got when I first encountered Morrison reading Zenith back in 2000AD, and this journey has started just as well. Bring on the story.

Sleeper #9
The mind games continue, with everyone playing an angle and trying to come out on top. The tension is electric and, although it’ll be sad to see this series end, at least it will come to a definite end, which will hopefully put an excellent cap to a wonderful series. Phillips does the noir so well; this is a perfect blend of story theme and artistic atmosphere, from the talking to the shoot out. Bring on the denouement.

Wonder Woman #213
The politics of Greek gods are played out using Diana as a pawn in a coup against Zeus, including a big fight with the hundred-armed Briareos. James Riaz does a better job than his last issue, and Rucka keeps his plates spinning. This reminds me a little of Simonson’s run on Thor, except without the brilliant bombastic art and perhaps a little slower, but good stuff nonetheless.

Continue Reading

Comics Reviews (or How I Stopped Worrying and Learnt to Respect Don & Randy)

Call myself a comics blogger without any comics reviews? What’s the name of your blog again, David? Hmm? Here’s some quick reviews on last week’s purchases:

303 #3
It’s nice seeing Garth writing something with a bit more ‘oomph’ to it than just pumping out Punisher scripts (and for the video game, apparently). The dialogue and story make you realise that he does war stuff like nobody else, and he’s matched perfectly with Jacen Burrows, whose art looks really good in colour.

100 Bullets #58
Well, I wasn’t expecting that to happen, even in a book like this. Sometimes I think about getting 100 Bullets in trade form, as the longer stories read better that way, then along comes an issue like this one, which has me eager for the next part of the story, and I know I can’t wait.

Authority Revolution #5
The issue itself, while well illustrated and well written, didn’t do too much for me until the last page, where the villain is revealed. Being an Ellis fan, it’s got me hooked for the rest of the series.

Daredevil #70
The ending might be a little abrupt for some (what, only Don Corleone can have a weak heart?), but I liked it. Maleev does some nice work on the DD-White Tiger fight, capturing snapshots rather than excessive dynamism, and the dialogue matches the work perfectly. Bendis is trying to do some interesting things with his Daredevil stories, and I for one am enjoying what he’s doing.

Ex Machina #8
I’m really going to have to get Y: The Last Man, aren’t I? Vaughan writes intelligent and funny and interesting stuff here, and Runaways is great, so I’d be pretty stupid not to avail myself of good comics. I love the idea of a former superhero as mayor, and Tony Harris’ art hasn’t looked so good since the first time I saw it in Starman. This is definitely one of the best debuts of the last year.

Jack Staff #7
Is the long delay between issues killing this title for me? I was already feeling bad for passing on Burglar Bill, but I’m not enjoying this as I once did. Is it the colour? Is it the feeling that the story seems to be taking a long time to get anywhere, without giving us enough to hold onto in between? Or perhaps it’s that I didn’t read any of the British comics that this references (and soon to be restarted by Moore & Gibbons in Albion)? I mean, yes, I get the Steptoe & Son reference (Sanford & Son to Americans, I believe), which always makes me laugh, but is that reason enough to continue buying a comic series?

Ocean #4
This is another one of those great combinations; Ellis writing intelligent sci-fi (and knocking Microsoft at the same time) and Sprouse doing some fantastic work on the art, from small to big scale. Nicely paced, allowing the story and characters to breathe, with some zippy Ellis dialogue to keep you smiling.

PVP #14
Even in the world of comics, some things are subjective; you either get them, or you don’t. I get PvP – I like penmanship of Kurtz and the life he brings to his characters, and I like the pop culture riffing and geeking out that brings the funny. This is another issue with more of the same, and while the Robert Kirkman stuff doesn’t work as well as the rest, in my opinion, there’s still plenty of laughs to be had along the way. Which is more than can be said for the letter pages, where Kurtz tries a little hard.

Queen & Country Declassified Vol 2 #1
Rucka & Burchett, back together again after the Batman/Huntress mini-series, and this look at how Tom Wallace joined SIS is great stuff. This filling-in of history for the ongoing series really complements the dense tapestry that Rucka is creating in the best (only?) spy title on the stands, and Burchett does a great job of capturing the right atmosphere for the story.

Runaways #1
They’re back – the best new team in the Marvel Universe. Vaughan writes great dialogue (and I love the teen superhero rehabilitation group, Excelsior) and Alphona’s art creates the perfect mood for the story. Lots of strands and a jumpstart to the series in the final few pages with ‘a visitor form the future’ plotline, to which I am particularly partial. Long live the second series.

(Promethea #32 has yet to be read, partly because it can be so daunting, and partly because I don’t want the series to end, so I’m almost considering rereading the whole series prior to taking in #32, which is even more daunting.)

Phew, that was exhausting. And I didn’t even do the other six comics from two weeks back. I think I’ve had enough for today. Proper reviews soon, as well as my 100 Things I Love About Comics list.

Continue Reading

Film Review: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

I love seeing films for free. I’m a cheap bastard like that. Even if it means getting up on a Sunday morning. I always worry that this might colour my review; not paying money and early mornings can influence matters, no matter how one might try to maintain critical distance. I say this because I saw quite a few reviews that were down on the film (Rotten Tomatoes has a 48% rating) and I was wondering why.

I’ll start out by saying that I enjoyed the film. I’m not a great fan of the whole sea life idea and couldn’t care less about Jacques Cousteau, so I’m not particularly disposed to the subject matter. However, I became involved with the characters, I laughed, I cared about them and was moved by the ending, which is an impressive feat in my books. The film is about Steve Zissou (Bill Murray), a riff on Jacques Cousteau, from the red bobble hats to the complex love life, leader of Team Zissou and captain of The Belafonte, sea explorer and documentary film maker. They are off on an expedition to kill the shark that ate Zissou’s friend. They are joined by a reporter (Cate Blanchett) and a man who claims to be Zissou’s son (Owen Wilson). Along the way, there are dealings with his nemesis (Jeff Goldblum), who happens to be his wife’s ex-husband, pirates and strange sea creatures.

The film is definitely Anderson-esque, if he has earned the right to an adjective of his name from the four films he’s made, with oddball characters, strange settings and idiosyncratic dialogue. The film is not about the plot, more about Zissou, as he reflects on his life, his decisions and the people in his life. Murray is great; it’s like his body and face have grown into his film persona, meaning he’s at the perfect age for his wry looks and dry delivery. All the supporting actors are people you enjoy watching; Cate Blanchett as the pregnant reporter; Michael Gambon as the producer; Angelica Houston as the brilliant but exasperated wife; Owen Wilson as the son; Jeff Goldblum as the rival; Willem Dafoe, hilarious as the German crewman with emotional issues.

There’s a wonderful unreal quality to the film, an atmosphere of ‘outsideness’ that Wes Anderson creates in his films, such as the doll house quality of the interior of The Belafonte when we follow two characters through it in a tracking shot. I think this was why I didn’t enjoy the intrusion of the bluntly real pirates in the film, even though they possess an unreal quality themselves, as it seemed unpleasant for them to be there. The dialogue and the characters are wonderfully bizarre and amusing, and I was genuinely touched by the end, where everyone touches Zissou on the shoulder in the small submarine. I wonder if some of the more negative reviews for the film are suffering from some sort of ‘I preferred his earlier stuff that I discovered before you’ attitude, as this film is easily as good as his earlier work.

Rating: DAVE

Continue Reading

Film Review – King Arthur (Director’s Cut)

Being a Brit of Celtic origin and a fan of mythology (of which comics are but a modern iteration), the Arthur story is something I was drawn to at an early age. The first ‘proper’ books (i.e. no pictures) I remember actively purchasing as a young teenager were the Susan Cooper ‘The Dark Is Rising‘ cycle, which intercalated the Arthurian legend into a modern story. I even had The Knights of Pendragon comic book, the first series, and how many people can say that? All of this preamble is to say that I may not be completely biased in opinion but, at the same time, I have a history, although I apologise in advance if I ramble and it ends up not looking like a traditional review.

This version is based on some new evidence that suggests that the legend of Arthur is based on a real person who lived in 5th century Briton. This is an interesting idea, even if it’s probably nonsense. Arthur/Artorius (Clive Owen) is a half-Roman, half-British commander of Samartian knights, who are finishing their 15-year term of service for the Roman army. They are to be set free but first Rome wants them to rescue a Roman living north of Hadrian’s wall, as Saxons are invading there. It is a dangerous mission because of the Woads, a guerrilla army led by Merlin living north of the wall, who hate the Romans and want them out of Briton. Along the way, Arthur learns about being responsible, picks up Guinevere, battles a Saxon army and founds Britain.

The good aspects of the film? Well, I liked that the Saxons and Britons speak a language without subtitles, possibly indicating the commonality of the tongues, whereas the Celtic of the Woads is almost undecipherable (which is true if you’ve ever actually heard any spoken Welsh or Irish). There is a grittiness that is nice compared to the shiny armour of such nonsense as the awful First Knight. The fight scenes, although not great (will fight scenes with extras ever be any good after we have been spoiled by the CGI majesty of Helm’s Deep?), have a certain something to them. All of which isn’t saying much, is it?

Some of the bad things. Even though they admit that the true life Artorius lived in the 2nd century and that they moved the story forward 300 years, there are lots of historical aspects that seem out of place, which jars throughout. Fuqua seems more at home with the fight scenes, which have been restored to their bloodier versions (before, presumably, they decided to go for the supposed Keira Knightley, Guinevere, teen audience and had to tone it down), even though they don’t really zing. His alternative ending is presumably some attempt at deeper meaning, but it’s just silly and was rightfully changed, even if the other ending has problems. The story itself should have ignored trying to link to the Arthur story, (why have Ioan Gruffudd as Lancelot eyeing up Guinevere, when that was a known invention by the French when they introduced it into the myth, because cuckolding was a popular story trope at the time?) and it could have worked better on its own (but then we wouldn’t have the recognisability of the Arthur story, working as a known quantity to get people into the cinema in the first place).

David Franzoni struggles with history, the legend, pace and dialogue, making it hard to imagine that he is responsible for Gladiator, although easier to believe that he was responsible for Amistad and Jumpin’ Jack Flash. Clive Owen doesn’t really look or sound like a leader of men, lacking any kind of authority. I don’t want to be prejudiced against him just because he comes from Coventry, but his voice doesn’t sound right, which makes me wonder how he would cope as James Bond, as the rumours suggest. Knightley doesn’t sound like a Woad at all, her plums tones at odds with the Celtic sound of everyone else, but at least she is good in the fight scenes. Gruffudd comes out best as Lancelot, boding well for the Fantastic Four film, with Stellan Skarsgard, as the head of the Saxons, holding his own.

For the most part, you get the feeling that there might a good film struggling to get out. But, when a film has Stonehenge next to the sea at the end of the film, it gets to be irritating. My girlfriend, also someone who has more than a passing knowledge of the Arthurian legend, had given up on the film long before the end, suggesting that they didn’t know where they were aiming the film. If, as some aspects of the film suggest, they were going for an Ancient Briton version of The Seven Samurai (well, The Magnificent Seven; they weren’t aiming that high), then it might have worked on the level of Braveheart (Gladiator had a more romantic edge to it, all the bloodletting aside, and the nod towards romance here really doesn’t count) but it tries to please too many people and ends up pleasing nobody.

Rating: DA

Continue Reading

Film Review – Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

Seeing people getting hit by things is funny. It probably shouldn’t be, but watching the pain of others is the basis of comedy, so we have no choice. Which is why Dodgeball is funny. Seeing balls, wrenches, cars and fists hit other people in perfectly timed physical comedy will make you laugh.

The plot sees Peter Le Fleur (Vince Vaughan) in charge of Average Joe’s Gym, which needs $50K in a month or he’ll lose it to White Goodman (Ben Stiller); however, that’s not really important. The point is that it allows for embracing and enjoying sporting film clichés for the sake of laugh-out-loud comedy, which is done well so rarely.

Vaughan is great as the relaxed counterpoint to Stiller’s preening uber-gym nut (who is funny as a man who gives his nipples electric shocks if he tries to eat a doughnut, or is caught about to hump a piece of pizza because he can’t allow himself to eat it but he loves it so much…), and the supporting cast have fun in their roles, especially Rip Torn as the grizzled old dodgeball coach, Patches O’Houlihan, who has some great lines (‘You’re about as useful as a cock-flavoured lollipop.’ ‘You look like a bunch of retards trying to fuck a door knob.’) and Gary Cole as Cotton McKnight, the dodgeball commentator, ably backed by Jason Bateman as Pepper Brooks, his dim-witted co-commentator. David Hasselhoff shows up for a very funny cameo, and Hank Azaria is very funny as a young Patches O’Houlihan in a dodgeball training film from the ’50s. Special kudos must go to Justin Long, who gets hit, a lot, in the head and in the body with all manner of objects throughout the film (and in out-takes), and he is continually funny doing so, there should be some sort of comedy award for him.

I’ve never seen anything by the writer/director, Rawson Marshall Thurber, but he has a knack for comedy here, with a good idea seen through to the end (although his original ending was so, so wrong) and a good ear for dialogue and names and he makes the story flow well, so I’ll be looking out for his next film. There is nothing earth-shattering about his film, it’s not the Citizen Kane of comedy (although it is probably the Citizen Kane of dodgeball movies), but it is very funny, in a silly way, which is a good thing. In fact, my recommendation comes with the fact that I actually paid money to see this, instead of getting it via my free DVD trial, and I still liked it.

Rating: DAVE

Continue Reading

Film: 3 Reviews for the price of 1

I’ve got yet another free trial for an online DVD rental company—this is my fourth in about six months now—where you get a month to try them out without actually paying. It’s gotten so bad, I feel odd when I go an rent a film from a rental shop (especially when I rented Van Helsing [shudder]).

This means I’m so busy watching films, I don’t spend enough time writing about them. So, time for condensed reviews, which seems popular with other bloggers, like the esteemable Johnny Bacardi for example. The company I’m trying out at the moment sends out your DVDs without paying too much attention to the priority order of your selection, which explains the scattershot approach to the following three films:

Station Agent
To borrow the IMDB plot outline: ‘When his only friend dies, a man born with dwarfism moves to rural New Jersey to live a life of solitude, only to meet a chatty hot dog vendor and a woman dealing with her own personal loss.’ Tom McCarthy writes and directs a charming tale of people and they way they interact, even when they don’t want to interact. Fine acting all round from Peter Dinklage as Finbar, the hermit in training, Bobby Cannavale as Joe, the slightly annoying hot dog vendor, and Patricia Clarkson as Olivia, having difficulty coping with life and loss. It’s great to see Dinklage in a lead role, as I thought he was hilarious in Living in Oblivion.
Rating: VID

Mystic River
When the director, writer and five of the six main actors are either Oscar winners or Oscar-nominated (Kevin Bacon being the exception, which is an oversight on the part of the Academy), you know that the film is going to be serious and Oscar baiting. A story that touches on child molesting and death is never going to be light viewing, this is intense stuff. Right from the beginning, Clint creates a sombre atmosphere for the film, which stays throughout. Everyone is very good, putting in some fine performances all round, even if I find the Boston accent slightly annoying (apologies to any Bostonians reading). I’m not sure why Penn’s and Robbins’ performances were more Oscar worthy than their other respective nominees, especially as I thought their accents dropped a bit during the emotional scenes, but that’s just the way things are. A powerful story, with a downbeat and ambiguous ending, I was absorbed from start to finish.
Rating: DAVE

The Day After Tomorrow
Bit of a link here, for those like myself who enjoy these sorts of things, in that Emmy Rossum is in this and Mystic River. This is a film that is not so much a story as a lecture wrapped in disaster movie trappings. The dialogue is ropey (scientists don’t say, when someone introduces themselves as Terry Rapson, ‘Professor Rapson, of the blah-blah institute?’ emphasising Professor, when at a conference on your specialised field), the plot secondary to the central idea (of the devastating affect that industrial pollution has on the fragile ecosphere) and the acting perfunctory. It starts okay, builds well, but finishes weak, like Emmerich’s other films, but it’s the special effects that make this worth watching. Spectacular scenes of CGI destruction are marvelous to behold, but there is no emotional connection to the characters, and you’re left with the feeling that you are being harassed instead of attempting to initiate a discussion on the very important topic at the heart of the movie. With its resolution being that a few people in New York survive after billions die in the big freeze, and having the astronauts say, ‘Wow, doesn’t the atmosphere look clean now?’, it makes you wonder what the point of it was. Still, it looks nice.
Rating: DA

Continue Reading

Concise Current Comics Comments

I really have to seek psychological attention for my alliteration addiction …

A quick scan of what tickled my four-colour funny bone last week:

Usagi Yojimbo #81
Even though Usagi is nowhere to be seen, the two short stories involving supporting characters are still great stuff.

JLA Classified #3
Super hero madness from the mind of Grant Morrison. Ed McGuinness is an able partner. I felt this was over too quick, but that could be because I wanted to see more of the story.

Legion Of Super Heroes #2
I like Waid’s take on the LSH, so I’ll be sticking around for the foreseeable future (which is a pun reference to the story itself, involving Dream Girl’s home planet, where they can see the future; who says comics are self-referential when the blogger’s do it too?). Smart and funny, and Kitson has excellent storytelling skills.

Planetary #22
Warren Ellis riffs on The Lone Ranger. Some fun with Western pulp and some back story on The Spider, one of the seven, meaning that everyone has to go scrabbling for back issues to see how things connect. Fantastic Cassady art, as always, complements a perfect package.

Sleeper Season Two #8
Twists and turns and putting the characters in difficult situations. Brubaker keeps up the high level of quality on this comic, while Phillips’ moody and dark art matches the tone perfectly.

Fantastic Four #522
The most enjoyable the FF have been in a long time. Waid obviously likes Johnny Storm and, like Wally West during his Flash tenure, sees a bit of himself in the character, allowing him to write from his perspective so well. Ringo’s art is a great mix of the cartoony and the cosmic, and it’s hard to see another artist having such a good take on the characters for the foreseeable future.

Continue Reading

Film: Monkeybone – Why?

Monkeybone was shown on C4 over the weekend, and was the first time I had seen it. Now, I am only left with questions, including why am I writing this post.

Monkeybone is apparently based on a graphic novel that I had never heard of (and I can’t find it via Google, which is not a good sign; if anyone can point me in the direction of Kaja Blackley and Dark Town, I’d appreciate it) that has been turned into a very odd film. I would normally go into some detail about the plot and other aspects of the film, but I really can’t justify doing that for this film, as it would give it a validity that it doesn’t deserve.

Why did the various actors in the film do it? Why is Chris Kattan (one of the most annoying alumni of SNL) on the posters for the film when he doesn’t even turn up until near the end and only stays around for about 15 minutes? Why does Charles Taylor (of Salon.com) love it so much? Is he insane or just medicated? Why did John Turturro do the voice of Monkeybone? Why is Harry Knowles, supposed purveyor of good films, fleetingly in this? Why does Stephen King play himself in this film? Why does the now Oscar-nominated Thomas Haden Church have an uncredited role in this?

The real fault is my own. I have this strange compulsion to watch films that nobody else would go out of their way to see. It’s not a desire to see films that are so bad, they’re good, like Showgirls (which I have seen, just because). It’s banal nonsense which doesn’t work and has no reason to exist anymore. I saw The Saint with Val Kilmer. Two hours of my life, gone. I watched Dungeons & Dragons. I still shiver thinking about it. I watched Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever in the bloody cinema, no less. Why do I punish myself so? There are so many good films to see that I haven’t yet. It’s so stupid.

I did redeem myself over the weekend by watching a lovely slice of b&w British quality in School for Scoundrels, with the ever-wonderful Alastair Sim and Terry-Thomas in finest oily form, but I still feel slightly dirty for having soiled my eyes with Monkeybone. Admittedly, it’s visually arresting when in the Downtown section of the film, but that’s not reason enough for making it in the first place. Down with mediocre films, I say, if for no other reason than I won’t have to watch them.

Continue Reading

Film Review – Sideways

I got to see this last week due to The Times preview screenings. This is the only reason for buying The Times.

This is a delightful film. This description sounds a bit soft, but that’s the most appropriate word. It is a film about two middle-aged men who realise that life has past them by and it won’t get any better, but a delightful script and delightful acting make this a joy to watch from start to finish. It’s warm, witty, moving, dark, annoying, disturbing and uplifting, and what more could you ask from a film?

I could be nasty and say how critics love this because they are happy that a nerdy, bookish, lonely, slovenly chap can find love in the arms of Virginia Madsen, but I won’t.

Paul Giamatti is wonderful as the wine-loving, failed writer, and it’s a shame that he didn’t get an Oscar nomination. Thomas Hayden Church, Sandra Oh and Virginia Madsen are also perfect in their respective roles, inhabiting their characters rather than ‘Acting’, and you get the sense of really getting to know who these people are, which is a wonderful feat in two hours.

The ‘Pinot’ scene, where Giamatti describes his love of the Pinot grape but is actually talking about himself is very touching, when it could have been uncomfortable in its obviousness if the actors weren’t just perfect. It’s one of many great scenes, which include verbal sparring and slapstick, that make this my favourite contender for adapted screenplay.

Payne is becoming an accomplished director, bringing his own feel to a film, and can obviously bring a lot out of his actors (especially if he can get Jack Nicholson to not ‘do’ Jack in a film, as he did for About Schmidt). The recurring visual of darkness behind doors can be seen as a metaphor for the charcters’ view on life, but it also allows for a pleasing ending, where a knock on a door and a fade to darkness are a much more rewarding and hopeful ending than a conventional union would have.

Rating: DAVE

Continue Reading

Comics: Apparat review

The Apparat line of comics was Warren Ellis writing a set of one-off issues of comics based on the idea that superheroes didn’t exist in the publishing world. See here for the official site, which includes some information from Ellis and the covers. There’s also a preview here.

Frank Ironwire
Ellis likes his emotional detectives; the debauched individual who gets deep into the heart of the crime because that’s their job and they are very good at it. This stuff reminds me of the Derek Raymond novels, which isn’t surprising as I only read them after they were recommended by Ellis in the first place. Our hero is a bleak, crumpled old man but with a poetic soul, even though he’s up to the stomach in man’s inhumanity to man. Art from Carla Speed McNeil is a little scratchy for my personal tastes, but she gets to the heart of the story and brings the reader into it as well.

Simon Spector
This could easily work as an ongoing, so it’s a shame it won’t be, as that would defeat the object of the exercise. This is pure pulp action, with guns blazing and people being rescued and individuals trained to perfection and drugs, reminding me of Doc Savage and the Shadow, but there are plenty of others in the mix. Jacen Burrows is an excellent Ellis accomplice, and I agree with Greg that it’s a crying shame that he isn’t doing more high-profile work. The ballet of violence is exquisite and the drug-fuelled connection of clues is very nicely done by both writer and artist.

Quit City
This is a quiet tale which could easily exist outside the conceit of the Apparat idea, as it doesn’t touch on the aspect of aviation which it implies. It’s more about not interacting with the pulp genre that it is in, and the story, of a former aviator coming home and meeting the ghost of the boyfriend she ran away from in the first place, reminds me of his Hellblazer stuff more than anything. The art by Laurenn McCubbin is more light and collage-y than normal for an Ellis book; she is a talented artist, but the looseness of the work seems at odds with the constraint of panels and page-to-page storytelling, but she creates a fully realised world that many comic book artists unfortunately don’t.

Angel Stomp Future
Aaah, the Ellis sci-fi stuff; his home turf. You know you’re in for fun when the first panel has “Speculum Bar – where warm drinks are mixed in and served from the muscular rectums of young Algerian girls”. This has all the strangeness of the real world filtered through Ellis’s warped brain and twisted just a little more for our viewing pleasure. The lead character is a strong Ellis woman; smart, lippy and doesn’t take any shit, but still a little damaged. I’d love to know more about this character. Juan Jose Ryp is fantastic on art duties – like Fabry crossed with Darrow – wonderfully detailed and deranged, and I wonder if the gag about the retroactive abortion booth was the script, artist or both. Reminds me why I miss Transmetropolitan (Ellis’s best work in my opinion) so very much.

An interesting experiment from Ellis, making you wish other mainstream creators would do something similar.

Continue Reading