So, a watery city following on from the earthy city in #575. What's the betting we get a fiery and an airy city to complete the foursome before the war of the cities? I like the idea of the Fan 4 going to hell. Thought that Reed (water) would end up being the one chosen by the watery dudes to speak for earth though, not Sue (air). Ach well, good stuff.
The night is filled with fever dreams of grappling hooks and X-Ray vision scans of Joker's henchmen. Something sucks the stale air and hisses. Just the cat. Don't worry. Don't worry. Back to sleep. Day comes. Not enough rest. Too soon the pains start across my triceps and chest. I keep forgetting how much harder everything has become. I almost tread on a piece of Lego on my way to the bathroom. Spot it just in time. Lucky. Lucky old man.
This has to stop, I have a toddler to look after. There he is, smiling. Good soldier. He wants breakfast. So do I. In my gut the creature writhes and snarls and tells me what I need... Batman:Arkham Asylum. NO! Rice Krispies! Yes, Rice. Krispies. Not thinking, I open the cupboard, crockery falls out. Hits me like a freight train. The plates hold. Lucky again. Twice now.
The day passes. The family sleeps. I've come alive again. The night is mine again. On goes the Xbox. Damn your corrupt save, with its flashing exclamation mark. Damn it. It's too late. Should be in bed. Need to rest. Not now! Not tonight. I'm back in the game! Bane attacks. He charges blind. A quick one to the nerve cluster in his deltoid. It doesn't hurt him. But no force on earth could help him move his left arm now.
2am. Something tells me to stop. STOP IT! I don't listen to it. A wolf howls. I know how he feels. It ends tonight, Joker!
Hello! Apologies for the lack of activity. After saying I probably wouldn't be playing it much, I've been sacrificing every spare moment of time I have at the altar ofBatman: Arkham Asylum on the Xbox. What can I say? I'm not much of a gamer, but the combination of a well crafted superhero story with involving mechanics has truly hooked me - I'm even watching the cut scenes for heaven's sake!
I realise that it's been out for yonks, and that anyone who is interested in this sort of thing will have already bought it, so there's not much point in me giving Arkham a proper review; suffice to say it's primarily a stealth game, but there are elements of adventure, beat-'em-up and platform thrown in. Boss battles are great fun and, importantly for fans of Batman, the villains are all true to the comics. The story is written by Paul Dini, and it's actually REALLY good. It'd make a decent comic or movie, and it definitely makes an excellent game.
So there you go, that's what I've been doing. In the moments before I close my eyes and see neon trailed batarangs streaking across my eyelids though, I've also been reading a few comics. The best? Easy peasy! Punisher #14. I can't believe that The Punisher is my favourite comic at the moment. Honestly, I have no attachment to the character, never have done. But this? This is the perfect Marvel comic. Predictably, I like it for precisely the same reasons that hardcore Punisher fans seem to hate it, namely that it's absolutely ridiculous. I could never get on with the grim and gritty hyper violence of Punisher, but now that he's turned into Frankenstein's monster and teamed up with The Legion of Monsters to fight a Basil Cronus type baddie and an army of monster-hunting samurai, I'm in my element!
Not that this book is just about silliness. The latest issue is fun times infinity to the power of sensational, but it's also a damn fine examination of what drives a man to lose his mind and become a psychopath hell-bent on revenge. We're not talking Frank Castle here either, no. Punisher #14 is an origin story for the villain of the current arc, Robert Hellsgaard. What's beautiful about it, is the way in which his story mirrors that of Frank's. He sees his family killed by monsters, (just as Frank sees his killed by the mob), and devotes the rest of his life to killing them. In other words, he IS Frank - or at least he's motivated by exactly the same emotions as Frank. Great stuff. Made all the better by guest artist Dan Brereton who riffs on the old Warren horror stories and monster mags of the 70s to provide a set of amazing visuals. 100% the best Marvel comic I've read in years. A++.
I occasionally get emails asking me if I remember the legendary London comic shop, Dark They were and Golden Eyed. Well, sadly I don't - bit before my time I'm afraid. BUT, for those who do, here's a treat. I popped into Orbital today and snapped this little beauty on the wall of the antique film poster shop which trades out of one of Orbital's alcoves...
Here are the accompanying notes...
Nice one! Also on display, this...
Proper relics of British comics fandom there chums. If you find yourself in the vicinity of Orbital, make sure you go and check them out for yourselves.
You are surrounded by unread comics. You have little or no time in which to read them. When there is time, you find yourself unable to keep your eyes open. Thursday is approaching. Do you:
Admit that your single issue habit is no longer viable and switch to trades (turn to 85)
Fill up on coffee and stay awake reading, until the backlog of brightly coloured tat is no more (turn to 101)
Ignore the teetering mountains of never-to-be-read bilge and make your way to the comic shop to fill your nerd sack with more expensive goodies (turn to 232)
Ignoring the feelings of guilt and self-loathing, you compile your shopping list and prepare to board the bus to the west end of the city. Deduct 2 stamina and turn to 73.
Glancing at your shopping list you note that you are no longer bothering to buy Astounding Wolf-Man or any of the Superman titles, add 1 to your luck. Your shopping list looks like this:
Blackest Night The Flash #3
Blackest Night Green Lantern #51
Blackest Night Green Lantern Corps #45
Joe The Barbarian #2
Captain America #603
Doctor Voodoo Avenger Of The Supernatural #5
You are are keen to read Joe The Barbarian and The Punisher. You can't remember what is happening in any of The Blackest Night stuff. You buy it anyway.
On your way home you bump into your missus. Test your luck. If you are lucky turn to 86. If you are unlucky turn to 97.
You try to conceal your nerd sack, but you are not fast enough! Your missus is enraged that you are bringing more expensive tat back to the house. You try to tell her that you will be selling some of the old stuff on ebay, but she will not listen and attacks. You must defend yourself.
Your Missus: Skill 13 Stamina 12
You may escape this encounter at any point by promising to donate one third of your comics to charity. If you wish to do this deduct half your remaining stamina and return to 1.
James Kochalka performing his 8-Bit smash, Dragon Puncher. Music provided by the Game Boy Advance...
Kochalka is, of course, the man behind Superf*ckers, one of my favourite comics EVER! If you haven't read that, then there's a collected edition coming out VERY soon. Have a listen to the theme tune while you're waiting...
I've just added a new link to the sidebar. It's for a blog devoted to classic illustration from the 1940s and 50s, which goes by the name, Today's Inspiration. The guy behind it is a commercial artist who clearly has a deep love for his subject matter, (hence the name of the blog). It's stuffed to the gills with information on the people who provided the cover art to the war, romance and detective comics of yesteryear, and packed with beautiful scans like this one...
It's also got a sidebar full of links to similarly amazing sites. Top stuff. You can find it HERE.
Hey chums! Been a bit quiet on the old blog the past week. Had my birthday, the missus's birthday and a lively two-year-old to contend with, plus I got an Xbox, so spouting chuff about comics has had to take a back seat. The Xbox is quite a nice thing, I've never really been a hardcore gamer but it's been pleasant to do a bit of button bashing. I got Batman, Bayonetta, Bioshock II and Gears of War II all of which seem like good fun. I tell you what though, I fucking hate cut scenes. Been a while since I had a console, but the irritating talky bits seem to have taken over. That Bayonetta has a cut scene every two minutes. You can skip them, but their very presence ruins the flow of the game. It's sort of comparable to watching a programme on American telly where the whole thing is compromised by the constant ad breaks. To get round that, people buy box sets. I'd like it if there were a box set style option to play games without the cut scenes because, really, who cares? Anyway, to be honest with you I don't think I'll be playing the Xbox that much. With my son running about there's only so much free time to be had. Playing video games impacts on my reading time, and in the long run comics are going to win.
It was my birthday yesterday. I got The Rocketeer collected edition and Robert Crumb's Illustrated Book of Genesis. Yay! We all know The Bible is fucked up, right? I've never read it though. Now that some of it's available as a comic I'm giving it a shot. It's worse than I thought it was going to be. Check out this sick shit...
urggh! Lot's daughters shagging their dad! The Bible is FILTHY!
So, I failed to make yesterday's mart. I woke up late, looked at the mountains of unread back issues surrounding me, and decided that I REALLY didn't need to be buying any more tat. There's always next month, eh?
Instead of traipsing down to the Royal National, I relaxed with my latest ebay purchase, Annihilation. I've been meaning to read it for a couple of years now, and finally scored the trades for a very low price. Just finished up the first installment, and it's different gravy. Abnett & Lanning get massive props for their work on Marvel's cosmic line, and I enjoyed their Nova issues a lot. But for me, the shining star of that first volume is Keith Giffen. The Drax The Destroyer story is off the hook! Alien desperadoes pitching up in a smalltown America and terrorising the good folk therein. A lone, flawed hero coming to the rescue. This was classic Western stuff set to a cosmic beat. The ending was a bit of a let-down, but you can't blame Giffen for that, he had to tie the mini into the wider Annihilation story so we were never going to get a completely satisfactory resolution. Still, overall this was top stuff and I expect I'll gobble up the remaining two trades in super quick time.
Other than that, I enjoyed Darrick Robertson's Conan one-shot The Weight of the Crown quite a bit. It was an interesting look at the flaws in Conan's character, (basically he's into birds, booze and fighting to the detriment of everything else), with some lovely looking battle scenes to geek out over. I'll always pick up Conan comics, cos I love a bit of the old barbarian action, so I do. But I still really, really want to see Conan drawn as Arnie. I think it would work, sort of along the same lines as Gary Frank who draws Superman as Christopher Reeve. For me Arnie is as much Conan as Reeve is Superman. Someone make it happen.
First page of the first issue of Marvel Team-Up there. I don't want to knock a classic, BUT in what world is "Have Yourself a Sandman little Christmas" considered even remotely humorous? I mean, that's not a pun, is it? If they'd gone with Frosty the Sandman or Sandy Claus is coming to town I could've swallowed it, but: Have yourself a Sandman little Christmas? Seriously? WTF? Better still, this Yuletide tale appeared in a comic dated March 1972! Epic Fail!
Scan from Essential Marvel Team-Up Volume One (Won at Big Dave F's Nerdgasm Quiz last Sunday)
No doubt about the highlight of Big Dave's NerDgasm quiz last night...
Hearing that quote played over and over again at ear-splitting volume had me near puking with laughter. Pure genius.
I teamed up with John who was the only London Loves Comics reader to turn up (at least I brought you one, Dave!) and fuck my old boots if we didn't go and win the thing. Yay! And on a tie-break no less. Our prize for first place was a stunning haul of comic swag...
I took The Marvel Team-Up Essential and the lead Spidey figure, leaving John with the Spidey Essential, Two Avengers DVDs and the Kraven and Venom figures. I also won a natty Spectre figurine in a surprise raffle held earlier in the evening. Bonza!
Not sure when the next quiz is, but I'll be sure to let you know. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE if you can, try to make the next one. There were 13 of us last night, but at £2 an entry, I'm fairly sure that Dave lost money on the night. He spends a lot on the prizes and puts a huge amount of effort into making the occasion an enjoyable one. Anyone who's been can attest to the brilliance of the quiz, but it needs support to continue. Either that or Dave will have to start skimping on the prizes, and we don't want that.