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Review: Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #1

Posted by Seb Patrick at 10:12 on 07 Aug 2015
Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #1
In 1985, Swedish synth-pop band A-ha had a huge hit with their debut single "Take on Me". It reached #2 in the UK (kept off the top by Jennifer Rush's "The Power of Love", a song that is staggeringly inferior to its two mid-80s namesakes) and #1 in the US. This success was due in no small part (although not entirely - it is a fantastic record) to its music video, directed by future Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles helmer Steve Barron. In case you've somehow never seen it, it portrays a young woman reading a comic in a cafe, who finds herself drawn into its pages by the handsome lead character (A-ha's singer Morten Harket, converted to pencil form by rotoscoped animation), before helping him escape from its confines.

It's filled with incredibly striking imagery - and although the soft pencil lines look like no actual comic ever published (I've often wondered if the woman was actually meant to be the artist herself, looking at a rough draft of her own work), it's sort of surprising that in the thirty years since it was made, there hasn't been a single comic that's gone "Hey, this is an iconic pop culture image that plays with our form, we should try and make use of it somehow!"

Fortunately, Phonogram is back.

Review: Agents of SHIELD 2x13: One of Us

Posted by Ian Grundy at 12:40 on 21 Mar 2015
Agents of SHIELD 2x13: One of Us
Guest reviewer Ian Grundy returns with a look at this week's episode of Agents of SHIELD. It does not have a Thor in it, but it does feature one of your other childhood favourites: Angar the Screamer.

"I've had it with these motherfucking quakes on this motherfucking plane!"

There's something deeply unsatisfying about the way the plot of Agents of Shield lurches onwards. Every episode, every scene, and every subplot seems like it was started with absolutely no idea where any of it is going. Plots are frequently resolved by different plots showing up without warning overriding the previous plot. It's like jangling keys at the audience to distract us from the previous jangling keys.

Review: Agents of SHIELD 2x12: Who You Really Are

Posted by Ian Grundy at 22:50 on 11 Mar 2015
Agents of SHIELD 2x12: Who You Really Are
Guest reviewer Ian Grundy casts his critical eye over the latest episode of Agents of SHIELD, which almost has a Thor in it.

This week's episode guest-stars Jamie Alexander as Sif. Finally, a Sif episode! Sif's presence means there is a chance that someone might at some point actually say "Thor" out loud in a scene, as part of actual dialogue, to another character! As unlikely as it sounds this show actually started off as a tie-in with those popular Marvel movies, so it's always nice when someone from them actually shows up for a bit.

Oh wait, she's lost her memory. Never mind.

Review: Orphan Black #1

Posted by Abigail Brady at 11:28 on 27 Feb 2015
Orphan Black #1
Orphan Black is a show that surprised me. The pitch - Sarah Manning, a 20something punk slash con artist, finds that she is one of an unknown number of clones and they team up and investigate the mysteries behind their creation - was unappealing, as it sounded like a kind of generic biomedical thriller. And while that remains the ostensible plot, the real interest comes in its fantastic character studies of the multiple clones played by Tatiana Maslany, which examine different ways people - and specifically women - can exist in the early 21st century.

Review: The Sculptor

Posted by Graham Kibble-White at 12:34 on 17 Feb 2015
The Sculptor
The flat I live in is the smallest place I've ever lived. It's because 10 years ago I moved to London. To claw back space I had to get rid of – literally – thousands of DVDs (I now own two) and hundreds of books. I remember subsequently going through my Amazon history and realising everything from 2002 to 2005 was now in a charity shop.

My bookshelves remain at capacity, which means every time I make a new purchase I have to run this equation: Am I willing to either remove an item to make room for it, or pass this one along when I'm done?

I've just finished reading The Sculptor by Scott McCloud and I've already secured it a new home. For me, it's not a keeper.

Review: Star Wars #1

Posted by Abigail Brady at 14:17 on 15 Jan 2015
Star Wars #1
From the off Star Wars #1 impresses me as a package. Not the cover (in any of the thousands of variants), so much as the text-only pages. This is my first ever Star Wars comic, so maybe it has been standard all along to do the recap as a scroll - maybe that's what Dark Horse had been doing. But I doubt it. Every little detail has been sweated over.

Review: Ant-Man #1

Posted by Abigail Brady at 09:03 on 12 Jan 2015
Ant-Man #1
Ant-Man is one of the least surprising #1s to launch this week, seeing as there's a film out soon and no easily collected Scott Lang material to flog, what with him having been dead recently, as he notes to his embarrassment in his job interview. After being killed in 2004's Avengers Disassembled, he exchanged places on the mortal plane with his daughter Cassie (who had, in his absence, become Stature out of the Young Avengers) in 2012, under the Marvel afterlife's apparent one-in-one-out policy.

Review: The Multiversity: The Just #1

Posted by Seb Patrick at 21:17 on 23 Oct 2014
The Multiversity: The Just #1
So it turns out that, in pretty much the most Grant Morrison thing that has ever happened, The Multiversity is basically a story about how characters on all of the different Earths in the DC multiverse can read comics about the goings-on on all of the other Earths in the DC multiverse, and one of these comics (the one that's about Earth Prime, of course), is a dangerous "haunted" or "cursed" comic that, as best as I can see, is the closest thing the series as a whole has to a unifying story macguffin.

And it further turns out that The Just, an issue that I have to admit I wasn't necessarily expecting to be much in the way of great shakes based on its cover and its solicit, is Morrison attempting to do something akin to The Kingdom (which is in itself ironic given that The Kingdom brought Morrison's once-abandoned "Hypertime" concept into official continuity for all of five minutes), only actually good. So it's a story of a world in which the Golden and Silver Age DC heroes age in real time, and so by the year 2014 have mostly (but not entirely) been replaced by their offspring and other successive generations. But rather than being made-up possible future heroes, they're all the legacy heroes from the '90s and beyond.

Or, to put it another way: The Multiversity: The Just is a Silver Age-style "imaginary story" featuring 1990s characters, filtered through a distinctly Morrisonian layer of metatextuality. With Damian Wayne in it.

I mean, if there's anything that I could better wave in people's faces and say "this is how I like my comics", I'd like to see it.

Review: Seth's Dominion

Posted by Graham Kibble-White at 14:03 on 16 Oct 2014
Seth's Dominion
It had got to the stage where I'd installed the National Film Board of Canada's app, I was so hopelessly keen to see Seth's Dominion. I'd regularly scour through their collection of melancholic-looking films. It was never there. But maybe there was something appropriate in my ill-fated pining. Seth is my favourite comic artist and a lot of his work bows with a similar yearning for things gone, made invisible by time.

When it happened, it wasn't quite akin to chancing upon that last Kalo New Yorker strip in a musty old bookshop. But it was close. I spotted a tweet from publishers Drawn and Quarterly plugging the fact Seth's Dominion was playing at the Vue, Piccadilly on October 4. Herein was a feeling of real accomplishment. The thing was, metaphorically at least, to be mine. At last!

Review: Hawkeye: "L.A. Woman"

Posted by Seb Patrick at 14:50 on 20 Sep 2014
Hawkeye: "L.A. Woman"
So there used to be this comic called Hawkeye. You've probably heard of it. It was the next great work from the writer of Casanova, in collaboration with an artist hitting the absolute peak of their storytelling powers. It came along from almost out of nowhere, and everybody loved it, and it was immediately the best and possibly the most important thing in contemporary comics. It was the kind of series that single-handedly sparked loves of the medium. It pretty much set out a manifesto for what a certain kind of Marvel superhero comic could be in the early 2010s, to the extent that its effects are still being felt, and new series in its direct lineage are still being created.

And then, something happened.