From the writer of SUPERIOR and a great many more of the sharpest superhero books on the shelves, and the artist on another one: WATCHMEN. Millar, meanwhile, has plenty to say about class, its portrayal in the media and the practical ramifications of poverty both on the street and behind closed doors.
Uncle Jack has neglected his family but he’s about to make amends: he’s going to give Jack the opportunity to join the Secret Service. The training missions are a complete departure from anything you’d expect but all make perfect sense. Meanwhile, like all James Bond scenarios, there must be one godalmighty threat to fend off with specialised weaponry and ad hoc ingenuity.
But Marko and Alana have at least found sanctuary in a semi-sentient, wood-based rocketship along with an impromptu babysitter from what’s left of Cleave’s indigenous population. He’s singularly smart at ensuring hot heads see eye to eye with him, even winning over Marko’s mother by being candid when it counts.
Vaughan has enormous fun using this author scenario to poke fun at himself via Heist who first presents himself to the family outside his lighthouse lurching under the influence with a gun in one hand, a bottle in the other, and urine-stained Y-fronts splayed between a dressing gown whose loose belt trails over the rocks beneath his pink-slippered feet. The Will, meanwhile, is nursing his ship’s wounds on a planet that seems like paradise, even if its flying fish are sharks which circle overhead. All our protagonists will converge before the end of this chapter which, I would suggest, concludes Act One.
Whimsical slithers of lo-fi sci-fi from the co-writer and artist on Brandon Graham’s PROPHET. You’ll hear some of the critters chittering round the crowded bar but don’t presume that just because you don’t understand them, they cannot understand you. It’s a sweet tale, and I loved that last panel I quoted in which Dan the gorilla casts a comforting arm around Brian’s shoulder.
Simon’s art also takes a massive leap between the two stories and continues to evolve into something far more recognisable to readers of PROPHET, first incorporating washes then the more bulbous features and finally the distinct form of aliens he favours. No mere curiosity, I enjoyed this both for the comedy and for the recognition factor: human behaviour.
I think it would be fair to say that this is basically a mash-up of Jeff’s excellent autobiographical material, especially the more recent stuff featuring Oscar such as A MATTER OF LIFE, and his humour material like DARTH VADER AND SON. It was probably the same for cat lovers and his CATS ARE WEIRD and CAT GETTING OUT OF A BAG books.
This collection of original art and process material, accompanied by the thoughts of Paul Pope, is an excellent companion piece to the BATTLING BOY graphic novel.
Meanwhile for those who didn’t pick it up first time around all those years ago, ESCAPO gets re-released next month. So, after eight months inside in a young offenders’ institution for arson, young Shane is back on his shithole of an estate. Oh, I can only begin to imagine how many reviews are making comparisons to Galaxy Quest but for me this is infinitely more interesting in that. But it is, of course, the film Avengers Assemble – and indeed its cast as interviewed for television on the red carpet – whose leg is principally being pulled with affection. He’s been lucky enough to snag Laura Martin on colours and let us never take embellisher Paul Neary for granted who keeps Hitch’s forms soft, pliant and therefore human when other pencillers aren’t half so lucky. Back to the world premiere of Olympians 2 and its cast, some more sober than others, are about to greet their adoring fans, some of whom have cosplayed all day.
It is delirious, with an expressionistic interior monologue and art coloured to eye-popping perfection by Val Staples. There’s an eye-leading deployment of black and white during both the intricately cross-hatched panels and the smoke-ridden segues, Marco Rudy veering drunkenly from J.H. What the hell is actually going on you won’t find out until the end, which is perfectly apposite because neither will Peter. The rest is like one long, disorientating, underwater acid trip as ninety-nine foes assault him with gas, taunt him with pills (which he may have already taken) and who even knows if they are real or not? Never mind, if the evocation of chaos and exhaustion is your thing, this is done to perfection. One thing I should clear up before you even begin is that this has no ties to current continuity. Written by the author of the current LOKI series and drawn by photo-realist Greg Land whose art I happen to find very sexy indeed, this will be a breath of fresh air for those muttering that the current AVENGERS and NEW AVENGERS runs are nothing more than convoluted and over-extended science lessons. I think I know who he is this time given his specific areas of expertise (the nunchucks are always a red herring – that too is part of the tradition), personal connections and former geographical assignation. It kicks off during INFINITY VOL 1 and INFINITY VOL 2 and then deals with its fallout, Attilan-wise.
The line-up’s in flux but there’s a much greater racial diversity including black and Hispanic characters which isn’t as important as whether they’re interesting. There are some great jokes, a public which refuses to be intimidated, a wider subplot involving our man of mystery, and vitally Ewing has a pitch-perfect handle on Luke Cage and Jessica Jones otherwise it wouldn’t work at all. A reprint of all those huge, floppy Dini and Ross one-shot morality tales in one infinitely more manageable, won’t-droop-over-the-sides-of-your-bookcase volume which, a little taller and broader than the standard American comic size. Alex Ross (MARVELS, KINGDOM COME, JUSTICE) has a unique take on DC superheroes in that his versions really do show their age.
Where Ross excels is in the majestic, the epic and conversely in a boardroom filled with normal, underpants-on-the-inside, real-estate-dealing speculators. If the idea of this story is to educate young readers about some of the world’s injustices, then that’s admirable.


All of which explains why I still rate the SUPERMAN: PEACE ON EARTH as the best of this beautiful bunch.
If you do want to order online then you don’t get charged until the book actually arrives and is shipped straight off to you. After reading Jonathan’s review I can now imagine Jonathan telling his daughter that there *are* monster under the bed just to keep her there. Time for Jack to pay one of his rare visits to neglected sister Sharon and sort it all out. Dave Gibbons is the perfect choice for something so quintessentially British and does “reserved” to crisp, sharp-suited perfection while delivering the balls-out action to boot.
I don’t just mean nuts-and-bolts poverty, either, but poverty of aspiration and poverty of opportunity. She’s a floating, glowing, pink ghost of a girl with her lower half missing, trailing her intestines behind her. Oswald Heist, the avuncular author of the subversive romance novel that first brought the couple together.
Like everything here it is handled with delicate – or even indelicate – aplomb by Staples, as is a later scene in which Alana has managed to strike the fear of God into Heist to the extent that his hands close weakly in tentative terror, held up almost in supplication. The age-old problem with paradise, of course, is that you have to be very careful what you eat.
As surprising as anything and everything that precedes it, I think you will love the punchline.
And don’t presume that just because you haven’t been open and honest about your neo-imperialist expansion plan that these simple, insectoid souls didn’t get the measure of you the second you stepped foot on their arid, infertile soil. Some people just cannot let it lie, no matter the risk of escalation, and the title ‘Bar Fight’ says it all. Unlike the opening salvo which was so slight that it should never have been included for fear of putting potential readers off, ‘Jan’s Atomic Heart’ is a deviously well written number. Fans of both should be appeased and indeed amused though I suspect only those with kids themselves will know just exactly how on the money this observational humour is. Art heads will undoubtedly love pouring over the deconstructed pen and ink work without the colour of the finished pages, plus all the character sketches which forms the bulk of this book. I’ll probably pick it up myself actually, given it is now coloured, has an additional ten page strip, the alternate two page French ending, and all sorts of other goodies included. His mates haven’t changed much, and there’s still absolutely nothing else to do except get off your head. Thousands of them are outside squealing their tits off after the Los Angeles world premiere of Olympians 2: Devastation, the superhero movie to end all superhero movies and now officially the world’s biggest film franchise. It certainly doesn’t show: complete confidence, snappy banter and much referential mischief that turns it into a sort of multimedia, superheroic ouroboros.
It kicks off like SUPERIOR in the middle of some high-octane film footage complete with cheesy dialogue to pull back to those watching themselves on screen, some more absorbed than others.
Avengers Assemble was based stylistically on Bryan Hitch’s own four ULTIMATES books during the course of whose reviews I compared his monumental art to Hollywood special effects, and starred those Avengers assembled there by Mark Millar including a Nick Fury played by Samuel L.
I do wonder, however, if ZENITH artist Steve Yeowell popped round for tea when the last panel of the penultimate page was ready for inking. As the event is broadcast live all over the world, the movie company has promised an extra surprise. Williams III (PROMETHEA, BATMAN AND SON) to Jae Lee (INHUMANS, FANTASTIC FOUR F 1 2 3 4) and even Bill Sienkiewicz (ELEKTRA ASSASSIN, STRAY TOASTERS) complete with triangles, side-bar instructions and Gustav Klimt.
He has been lured to a neo-gothic, three-storey house by way of a low-grade photo assignment. It’s a bit disconcerting to suddenly find yourself in the aisle of a passenger jet without so much as a boarding card and a racially profiled strip-search at customs.
If it was then some of the very brief pauses for thought might make sense, but it isn’t, so they don’t.
Like the SPIDER-MAN: MARK MILLAR COLLECTION, which I always recommend as the single finest standalone Spider-Man book, it takes place during the vaguely classic period when Peter is either married to or at least dating Mary Jane Watson. So obviously “he” will turn out to be a “she” again and I will look even more stupid than usual.
If you wondered where the Doctor Strange sub-plot in those two books went, it landed here, splat in the middle of New York City which comes under assault first from Thanos’ minion called Midnight and then from a giant, tentacular, trans-dimensional beastie summoned by dear Doctor Strange possessed by the Ebony Maw. A first-class seasonal story, convincingly narrated by the being called Superman, who finds that one man’s capabilities and the best will in the world cannot overcome the politics of men. MARVELS worked so well because Kurt cleverly combined for Ross the street perspective of the photographer with the magnificent, other-worldly spectacle he was gazing at from below.
The layout of the double-page spread is perfect, the model he choose for the boy can evidently act, and Ross evokes the mutual shock and horror with great pathos. Wonderwoman can help in disasters, take down criminals, but when she ventures into foreign affairs, hoping to stop the practice of using human shields in a war zone, her involvement creates fear amongst those she seeks to help. Unfortunately the solutions are distracting, for not only would be nothing to stop the dictatorship rounding up and replacing the women the second kindly Diana leaves the stage, but each one of Diana’s little tricks also involves the use of a superpower which we don’t possess. Otherwise the most interesting will come under the microscope next week, while the rest will remain with their Diamond previews acting in lieu of reviews.
He plays a lot of video games, drinks while driving stolen cars and cannot abide his Mum’s current boyfriend, Dean, who’s constantly belittling the pair of them. Successful coercion and blending in: observing exactly who told you to piss off and get a job, plus what they were wearing when they did so.


But he’s lived in a cultural vacuum and social cul de sac so his powers of persuasion leave much to be desired and his seduction techniques are lame. Each, therefore, is now on the run from their respective species for treachery, desertion… and blasphemy. Problematically, it has Tourette’s Syndrome so it is likely to say so right in the middle of your poker-faced bluff. Haunted and taunted by his dead ex-girlfriend, The Will also has to contend with Marko’s ex-fiancee who doesn’t handle rejection very well.
In related news: the best-ever use of the Lying Cat which will elicit the biggest of “Awwws” from each of you. It’s also the problem with territorial lines (which are basically male egos on a military scale), hence ‘Good Business’ and the longest story here, the titular ‘Jan’s Atomic Heart’. She is rapidly starting to get suspicious of the number of unmarked police vehicles and undercover policemen that seem to be patrolling the streets though. But I actually enjoyed reading Paul’s take on the characters and the storyline: I found it insightful into his mind as much as the creation process itself, and I would have liked a lot more of it.
Sometimes they do run a story that’s a change from the norm, like MAZEWORLD, for example, that just perfectly hits the spot. Cue the creeping suburban horror lurking inside an elderly neighbour’s home, which is precisely the sort of thing you might be paranoid enough to imagine after a few buckets… but it’s all too real. There’s an arch reference to what many comicbook creators perceived as the last Superman film’s biggest (of many) flaws and eventually there will be a moment of pure Doctor Who. Plus the double-page spread whose lettering forms the Spider-Man chest symbol with its stream-of-barely-consciousness is brilliant! The plot itself does once finally revealed with its extra generational twist, but being allowed to pass out on a desert island beach unmolested by a javelin does not.
If it’s all a little nicer than nice, well, that works a good deal better for the creators than when they tried to introduce a darker element. So she talks to Clark Kent who has experienced such frustrations and who suggests that the view from street level is substantially different from the perspective of one who can fly, and that she might perhaps try working with people rather than above them. But both factions soon realised that either world’s destruction would cause the other to spin out of orbit. Because, worst of all, they’ve successfully mated to produce a beautiful baby called Hazel. Alana’s people have dispatched Prince Robot IV from a race of walking, talking, fornicating television sets. Following a car crash, Jan’s medical insurance company has paid for him to be housed temporarily in a robotic body. I do think the whole thing feels a bit light for the money, but I am sure Pope fans will probably buy it regardless. I’d like it if they did a bit more of this sort of material instead of playing safe with the rote of established characters, but I guess they know their readership. Quintessentially British horror, I think it manages to capture both the depressing flavour of modern-day life for many of today’s inner city kids and also the B-movie feel of a low-budget cult horror classic. Hitch’s eye for sharp suits (actual suits, not battle suits – although he’s no slacker there) and slick, sleek dresses makes me clamour for a comic in which they take centre-stage. Then in the midst of the carnage our various protagonists start to show their true, un-pre-prepped colours.
Unfortunately there is one howler in this book which destroys both the subplot and, consequently, the finale. Looks nothing like the mass of other covers which will be crowding the rows of superheroic fisticuffs. He was far more comfortable in his own skin back in Peckham, so there’s every chance he’ll give up and give in to the familiar.
This unholy union is despised by all sides and for morale’s sake – to ensure no one else gets the wretched idea that love might be better than hatred – all traces of it must be eradicated. I would love to see Bryan do something without the science fiction element – like crime – so that a completely different audience could feast its eyes on his talent and enjoy his work as much as I do. I don’t know, because this is very much an ensemble effort and a virtuoso performance even if Peter appears boss-eyed on one page and looks nothing like Parker anyway. Let me tell you though, being an absolute dictator, albeit benevolent, is far harder work than you’d believe!
And she returns (in disguise) to the country where she met an impasse, joining the human shields as they’re about to be moved to another area where the bombs will be falling, blows up the truck and then frees the women. I think this is the first Alex Ross work which has taken superheroes away from an epic background and tried to pop them into contemporary grocery stores.
Nor, parenthetically, have I ever seen a grocery store so fully stocked or beautifully arranged, before or after a masked crusader comes squeak-creaking past the chewing gum and prophylactics. It may be one’s immediate, knee-jerk and quite natural desire but, hey, add to the cycle, why don’t you? I never expected to say this, but even SPAWN once handled this better, showing the nasty repercussions which aren’t even suggested as a possibility here.



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