THE AVENGERS

October 14, 2013 Posted by admin

TITLE: THE AVENGERS

ISSUE: 51

DATE: 20/03/02

REVIEWER: MATT YEO

WRITER: KURT BUSIEK

ARTISTS: BRENT ANDERSON & TOM PALMER

avengers51As much as I’ve been enjoying the current “Kang War” storyline, this issue’s romantic interlude reminds me just how long the conflict has been dragging on for. Don’t get me wrong, Busiek’s 50 issue run has been amazing, truly adding to The Avengers’ mythos, but I feel as if he’s been treading water for a few months, drawing out the conclusion of the saga, seemingly determined to go out in a blaze of mock rock encores.

This particular comic is incredibly rare, and it took a lot of time to get it. You can earn cash for all sorts of rare finds with Casino Man Australia.

Essentially acting as a breather between global battles, this month’s tale focuses on Wonder Man and the Scarlet Witch. Held captive in a prisoner of war camp, they attempt to work out where it all went wrong, with both the lengthy conflict and their own failed relationship. Kang’s threats against humanity have rendered both heroes seemingly impotent, but their strength of will remains as they attempt to make good their escape and rejoin the fight for freedom. There are some touching moments in this issue as both characters admit to each other what they (and we) have know for a long time, but were too scared to face. Likewise, Wonder Man’s apparent sacrifice makes for some gripping reading, although Simon Williams does have a bit of history when it comes to predictable back-from-the-dead resurrections. However, truly touching is this month’s all-star creator tribute to Marvel legend John Buscema who passed away recently. The apt illustration of The Vision sums up all of our feelings on this tragic loss…

Although I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Brent Anderson’s collaborations with Kurt Busiek in Astro City, and his guest pencils in this issue provide solid storytelling at its best, I’m frustrated by the lack of a consistent Avengers art team. I guess it’s my own fault though, as I’ve been spoilt by George Perez’s phenomenal run and Alan Davis’ outstanding follow-up issues. While regular artist Kieron Dwyer is managing to carve out a great style of his own, I can’t help feeling that as one of Marvel’s flagship titles, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes deserve better.

BULLETPROOF RATING: 4/10

Devil Child

March 11, 2013 Posted by admin

Even though there are a lot of online comics, we’re still going strong. You can see people talking about us while they’re playing online slots.

REVIEWER: MATT YEO

REVIEW DATE: 31/07/02

TITLE: DEVILCHILD: HELL IS AROUND THE CORNER

devilchildWRITER: ANDY WINTER ARTISTS: NATALIE SANDELLS, PEET CLACK, TIM DOE, TIM TWELVES

As if you needed more proof that a new wave of British talent is just waiting to be unleashed on an unsuspecting comics industry, along comes Andy Winter and his creation, Devilchild. His first comics work, and the debut release from his own independent publishing concern, Moonface Press, Devilchild has been described as “Dante’s Inferno with dick jokes”. Now, being the huge Kevin Smith fanboy that I am, that one line was enough to sell it to me!

Devilchild tells the story of a decidedly reluctant antichrist, his angelic flatmates and alcoholic devil of a dad. Part-time waiter Troy Moore likes nothing better than getting wasted on a Friday night out in Camden, but runs smack into the fiery face of fate when he discovers his father just happens to be old Saint Nick himself.

Combining loose elements of Preacher, Spawn and Dogma, this tale of Heaven, Hell and hard-drinking heroines shows that Winter has a great ear for dialogue and characterisation. There’s plenty of humour and balls-out fight sequences, but it’s the (rare) quiet moments that give you an indication of his future potential as a writer. In fact, while reading Devilchild, I couldn’t help but be reminded of fellow Brit creator James Robinson’s London’s Dark graphic novel, a solid debut that eventually led to his work on such DC hits as Starman and Hawkman.

Debuting artist Natalie Sandells does a stand-up job with such a diverse cast of characters and locations as well as both action scenes and expositional moments.

Also contained within this 86-page graphic novel are three additional short stories, penned by Winter: Velocity Girl (with art by Tim Twelves) and Dosh & Pecs Do Time Travel (drawn by Peet Clack) are cheeky stabs at the superhero and sci-fi genres, but the standout for me is Feathers (with Tim Doe). This silent tale is the kind of thought-provoking comic book storytelling that wins awards and both Winter and Doe should start preparing their acceptance speeches in advance. With Devilchild: Volume II already in the works, Andy Winter and co. are definitely going to be names to watch out for! To find out more about Andy Winter, check out his Creator Showcase page.

BULLETPROOF RATING: 10/10

THE RICHARD STARKINGS INTERVIEW

March 9, 2013 Posted by admin

For nearly ten years, Richard Starkings and Comicraft have been redefining the art of comic book design and lettering. BULLETPROOF COMICSspoke exclusively to Richard about his career, his successes, self-publishing, Buddhism and Comicraft’s forthcoming 10th anniversary celebrations.

ObadiahHornsmlHas 2002 been a good year for Comicraft so far?

Busy. Very, very busy. There are a couple of top secret, hush-hush mainstream projects we’re involved with that I’m very excited about, and then, of course, we’ve launched the first of (hopefully) many comic books featuring our mascot character, Hip Flask.

Did you always want to work in the comic book industry?

My oldest brother, Mel, was a dealer in the seventies and eighties and he started taking me to comic book marts when I was just ten years old. At about that same time I started reading Mighty World of Marvel from the first issue so I could be on the same wavelength as my brother.

How did you begin your career at Marvel UK?

I answered an ad in The Guardian newspaper. Ian Rimmer was looking for an ‘Art Assistant’. I didn’t get the job at first, but I got lettering work on Transformers on the strength of one Future Shock I’d lettered for 2000 AD. Ian gave me semi-regular freelance work and eventually took me on as Art Assistant on Spider-Man Comics Weekly.

Which Marvel UK titles are you still proud of today?

All of them. They were great fun. I was almost as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed back then as I am now, and working on books like Transformers, Thundercats and Zoids with talented young artists like Geoff Senior, Bryan Hitch, Dougie Braithwaite, Steve Yeowell and Kev Hopgood was terrific. We were all incredibly enthusiastic about our work, and none of us felt intimidated by the projects presented to us. We were given a tremendous amount of freedom to do pretty much as we pleased. Simon Furman created some classic comics in the pages of Transformers (‘The Legacy of Unicron’ being my personal favourite) and Grant Morrison was pitching us some pretty off-the-wall stories for Zoids long before his stints on Doom Patrol and Animal Man. Zoids was my pet project, Kev Hopgood, the original artist on the series, and I were good friends. We were roommates when I got my job at Marvel UK, and I got him his break on Zoids just by pushing samples in front of Ian whenever I could. He actually prepared a sample page of Transformers which was never published, but which I have around here somewhere…

Eventually, Ian, with the encouragement of Tom DeFalco, gave me some editorial responsibility for Zoids. I wrote my first strip in issue 12, which was beautifully illustrated by Steve Parkhouse, and a text story for the Zoids Annual. A year or so later, I started work on a Zoids monthly with Morrison and Yeowell. It never made it to the launchpad, although I did find photocopies of the first half of issue one recently, and I can’t understand why Marvel didn’t want to follow through. It would’ve been a fantastic.

I also had a lot of fun working on Action Force with Simon, Kev, Bryan and Geoff Senior.

Are you excited about new Transformers and Zoids comic books being published?

What excites me is that the material we produced in the last century (!) stands up so well to the material being produced in the twenty-first. Simon, who works over at Titan Books these days, is already collecting Transformers material from the Marvel UK book for trade paperback publication this year. I’m sure he’s just trying to build up interest for the Zoids collections, of course!

What are your feelings about the current state of the UK comics industry?

I feel terrible! I turn my back on you guys for just 14 years and the whole thing falls apart! They said they could manage without me. Obviously not.

The bigger question you’re asking is really “What happened to British boys’ adventure comics?” The truth is that the “Boom” market of the late seventies and early eighties was fuelled by the passionate work of a handful of exceptionally talented and creative individuals working at IPC and Marvel UK. John Wagner, Pat Mills, Carlos Ezquerra, Kevin O’Neill and Dave Gibbons poured enormous amounts of energy and imagination into their work on Action, Battle and 2000 AD in the late seventies; Dez Skinn, Paul Neary, Alan Moore and Alan Davis did the same over at Marvel UK back in the Camden Town days of the early eighties. The boys’ adventure market rolled on the momentum created by these guys throughout the eighties and into the early nineties. The stories I was reading in my teens unquestionably inspired me to work in the British comics industry.

What’s lacking right now are talented and creative men or women with the editorial vision to inspire a whole new wave. There’s obviously no shortage of talent in the UK; take a look at DC’s Vertigo imprint or Quesada’s Marvel Knights line. Garth Ennis’ Adventures in the Rifle Brigade was very much like the Battle/Action stories of old. What’s most important is that talented artists and writers, English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish, are finding outlets for their work. Whether that’s in 2000 AD, Action Man or The Incredible Hulk is surely by-the-by.

When did you realise lettering was your real area of interest?

Comics were my real area of interest. Lettering was my area of competence. I had read somewhere that one of Dave Gibbons’ first jobs in comics was doing lettering corrections for Marvel UK reprints and I thought to myself, “I could do that.” A couple of years later, that’s exactly what I was doing!

That said, I became interested in lettering after my brother gave me a whole bunch of collections of The Perishers. The art and lettering, by Dennis Collins, put a spell on me and inspired me in my teens to start writing, drawing and lettering a newspaper-style Doctor Who strip which appeared in various fanzines and even Warrior! Later on, a friend at school got me hooked on the Byrne/Claremont Uncanny X-Men books and I started to realise how much of a contribution a letterer like Tom Orzechowski could make to a book.

How complicated was it for you to move from the UK to the US and then start your own business?

It didn’t seem complicated to me at the time. It never seemed to me as if I was *Starting a Business*. I was just continuing to do business. I worked part-time for Graphitti Designs for a couple of years and, god-bless his open-toed sandles, Bob Chapman sponsored me for a work permit which allowed me to stay in California legally. Beyond that, I was just trying to survive and gradually transformed my freelance lettering career into a business of my own.

What hurdles did you have to overcome?

The biggest hurdle was a broken heart. Curse that gypsy wench!

What is the secret origin of Comicraft? What inspired you to start your own company?

Well, I was sitting in my smoking jacket in the study of Starkings Manor one night, when a computer flew through the open window. “That’s it!” I exclaimed. “Comic Book Letterers are a superstitious cowardly lot, I must be a creature of fright! I shall become… The Computerman!”

What was the industry’s initial reaction to your intention to produce completely computer lettered comic books?

Shock! Horror! Surprise! Bob Harras famously informed me that I would NEVER be allowed to letter an X-Men book with “computer” fonts. Fool! Never again will he underestimate the Cosmic Comicraft Power of Meeting the Deadline!

During your time at Marvel UK you wore many hats (art assistant, writer, colourist, editor, group editor). Would you say the skills and experience you gained there were essential for your current role?
All those hats, no wonder my hair’s graying and getting thin on top! The licensed properties available at Marvel UK were great projects on which to learn the ropes. I have a very thorough top-to-bottom understanding of each and every aspect of comic book production and my experiences at Marvel & 2000 AD brought me into contact with people like Steve Parkhouse, Alan Davis, Paul Neary, John Wagner, Robin Smith, Alan Grant and Steve MacManus, all of whom had a huge influence on me in terms of what I learned about copyrights and creators rights.

When I was at Marvel, I encouraged Alan Grant to submit ideas for a US-style monthly book. I was looking for a character with the kind of clean-and-easy internal motivations I saw in Judge Dredd, Strontium Dog and Spider-Man, but Alan wanted to tell stories featuring characters with external motivations. One of the stories he submitted was Macabre (which ended up in Toxic! a year or two later), a character who was very much on a quest. I was anxious to avoid stories which had obvious endings (Kwai Chang Caine finds his brother, Kevin Costner finds dryland). We got as far as Kev Hopgood drawing sketches, but eventually Alan told me that he felt he was at his best bringing new life to established characters (as he had done on 2000 AD and, later Batman) and so we started looking at reviving Night Raven. Unfortunately, I left Marvel before we could get the book off the ground, but my conversations with Alan regarding internal and external motivations never left me and Hip Flask is very much my attempt to deliver a character who carries his motivations with him wherever he goes.

How many comic books does Comicraft letter and design in a typical month?

Lots. Big Lots.

How would you describe the Comicraft approach to comic book lettering?

Jeph Loeb regards our role as “as important to the writer as the inker is to the penciller”. I’d add that we have to be sensitive to the work of everyone involved. Ian Gibson wrote a very kind note to me on the very last page of Halo Jones. He remarked that I was the most sensitive letterer he’d ever worked with (when I read this, I went into a corner and cried), and was one of the first artists with whom I worked who would ask for me by name when he turned in his art.

What tools and programs do you use to produce your work?

Pencils. Pens. A drawing board. The Mighty MacIntosh computer. A scanner. Fontographer. Illustrator. Photoshop. Acrobat. A DSL line. A telephone. Music.

Do you see the production of a comic book as a realteam effort?

Comic books are obviously team efforts. Judge Dredd is a team effort. Hip Flask is a team effort. Cartoon strips don’t have to be. Hedge Backwards is all about me. No one could write or draw it for me any more than I could write or draw Calvin and Hobbes, the Best Cartoon Strip of All Time!

Marvel’s recent ’Nuff Said month featured stores with little or no text. Were you concerned at all about the potential lack of work during this period?

We kept busy. Actually only a small handful of ‘our’ books were completely silent. Ironically enough, when we submit proofs for silent pages in regular books, we pop a little ’Nuff Said logo on the side of the page. Quesada saw this and renamed ‘Silent Month’ accordingly.

Are you worried about competition from comic companies employing in-house lettering departments?

Not until just now!

This year sees Comicraft marking its 10th anniversary this year. How are you intending to celebrate this milestone?

John JG Roshell and I are always looking for new ways of keeping ourselves fresh and interested. John was on the ground floor with me when Comicraft was created. He was my first studio assistant and one day asked how he should answer the phone. Quick as a flash, I said “Comicraft” and lo, a legend was born! Ten years is a long time, long enough for John to have redesigned the Iron Man logo twice, long enough for us to have badgered Marvel enough so that we were finally able to convince them to reprint the Miller Daredevil run and allow us to design it. Long enough that Hip Flask has made ‘cameo’ (shhh!) appearances in Fantastic Four and The Inhumans. After 10 years, the hardest part of the job is not being taken for granted and not taking the work for granted either. You’re only as good as the last book you lettered. There are some editors who only remember the day you missed the deadline or made a mistake which made it all the way to press, and forget all the top quality work you turned in overnight. Touch wood, we’re very lucky to have a pretty solid reputation and industry friends who bring great projects like Spider-Man: Blue, High Roads, Danger Girl and The Red Star to our door. So I guess we’ll be celebrating by continuing to maintain the highest standards possible in the shortest time possible!

Comicraft has also just published its first own-brand comic book in 2002, the long-awaited Hip Flask. What’s the story behind this unusual concept?

Hip Flask was originally the name of a very human, stereotypical private eye character I created for inclusion in Hedge Backwards. However, I got so tied-up with Comicraft, Hedge fell aside, and Flask never even appeared in the strip. A couple of years later, after my efforts to secure either the X-Men or Wildcats to promote Comicraft fonts came to naught, I started casting around for another, more suitable ‘salesman’. While I was looking through my sketches for Hedge, I found my original drawing of Hip Flask and proudly announced to my lovely wife, Youshka, that I’d found a character to represent our line of fonts. She liked the name, but, when I told her he was a private detective, innocuously asked me what made him different to any other P.I. “Oh, er…” I said, thinking quickly, “He’s, um… he’s Hip, he’s a — He’s a Hippopotamus!” She liked the idea, I made a quick (and unpublishable!) drawing of him as a hippo, and it stuck.

Hip’s P.I. identity didn’t stick, and thanks to artists like Brian Bolland, Ian Churchill, Jae Lee, Stephen Platt, Mike Wieringo, J. Scott Campbell, Christian Gossett, Tim Sale and Joe Madureira, Flask made a number of appearances in Comicraft ads in a variety of guises: Hip Flask the Barbarian, Hip Flask Agent of T.R.U.S.T and Komissar Hip Flask. The ads were very effective and we actually received quite a number of calls from people trying to get hold of copies of the Hip Flask comic.

In 1998, we published Hip Flask #1/2, an elaborate font catalog cleverly disguised as a black and white comic. Ian Churchill pencilled and inked an eight-page ‘story fragment’ for us and the ever-magnanimous Jeph Loeb wrote the script. In the course of creating this story Hip started to take on an identity of his own and demanded situations and stories that suited his grim yet affable character. Unlike other hippos I’ve seen in cartoons and comics, I envisioned Hip as more of a tragic hero rather than a “funny animal.”

Having worked together for several years on Cable, Avengers and The Coven, Ian Churchill and I had become close friends. Right before he was signed up to pencil Uncanny X-Men last year, he and I had started talking very seriously about a Hip Flask mini-series, and Ian had actually pencilled a couple of pages. Hip’s backstory and modus operandi had become very clear to me by this time and Ian’s willingness to work on a book with me fired-up my enthusiasm.

However, both Ian and I knew that the opportunity for him to work on X-Men was too good to pass up, but, bless his cotton socks, he’d got me started and I didn’t want to stop. Luckily my great good fortune was not yet exhausted. Ladronn and I had been working closely together on Cable and then The Inhumans. He’d started work on a Hip Flask pin-up for me and we were talking about the possibility of working on Hip some day in the waaaaaaaaay distant future. But Ladronn was taken off The Inhumans, right at the moment Ian moved on to Uncanny X-Men, and suddenly the prospect of Ladronn drawing Hip became less of a pipe-dream.

The actual story of Hip Flask is very simple. Hip lives in Los Angeles — Mystery City — a couple of hundred years from now. He and a number of other ‘Elephantmen’ or ‘Unhumans’ are the survivors of a series of genetic experiments performed by their creator, Doctor Kazushi Nikken. Rehabilitated and relocated by the U.N, Hip works for the Information Agency with his colleague Vanity Case. In the story of ‘The Big Here & The Long Now’, they are drawn into conflict with businessman and crimelord, Obadiah Horn, another survivor.

The biggest influence on me as a teenager was 2000 AD during its heyday. Hip Flask is very much the kind of character I could imagine fitting in amongst Judge Dredd, Strontium Dog and Robo Hunter. John Wagner, Robin Smith and Alan Grant, who used to trounce us at softball on a regular basis during my stint at Marvel UK, were a huge influence on me. But don’t tell them that.

Do you still intend to produce more online episodes of your semi-autobiographical comic strip, Hedge Backwards?

Still intend to, still do. There’s a new, introductory episode up today!

You’re also a practicing Buddhist. How were you inspired to practice and study this particular philosophy?

I was introduced to the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin by John Carnell, the co-creator of The Sleeze Brothers. He was one of a number of writers working for me on The Real Ghostbusters, but there was something very special about his work which made it stand out from the rest. I couldn’t figure out what it was, ’till one day Andy Lanning took me aside and told me, with a little hushed awe, that John was a Buddhist. As I got to know John better, I learned more about the practice of Buddhism, and he gently encouraged me to chant “Daimoku”, or the title of the Lotus Sutra, “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo”. I picked up a book called Guidelines of Faith and came across the Buddhist concept of “Turning Poison into Medicine”. I realised that John’s Ghostbusters stories were full of situations that showed poison being turned into medicine — for instance, ghosts that haunted hotels weren’t zapped, they were encouraged to work in harmony with the hotel management — and, when I confronted him with this subtle but obvious attempt to propulgate his beliefs, he laughed and told me he wasn’t working Buddhist philosophies into his work consciously, but after five years of practice, they were starting to surface nevertheless. This impressed me greatly and I started practicing myself shortly thereafter.

Has it influenced your creative output in any way?

My personal approach to work in general and lettering in particular was shaped by a story shared with me by a Buddhist in New York by the name of David Kasahara. At the time I was lettering just to make a living and I was struggling to enjoy what I had once enjoyed struggling to master. At a Buddhist meeting in New York, I approached Mr Kasahara with my complaints. He listened kindly and then proceeded to tell me the story of a dishwasher in a restaurant who was unhappy with his lot because he just hated cleaning up dirty plates. He complained to his wife who chastised him and suggested that, instead of bemoaning the circumstances his life had delivered to him, he should express his gratitude to his employers by taking it upon himself to make the plates and glasses shine so brightly that the customers would come back to the restaurant just because the crockery was so clean! At the time I remember rolling my eyes and saying to myself “What does that mean?!” But I couldn’t stop thinking about what he’d said and began to see how his story was relevant to my work. Generally, you don’t pick up a comic book and rave about the lettering any more than you would sit in a restaurant and say: “Wow! These knives and forks are shiny!” But then again, nobody likes to eat from a dirty plate.

SPIDER-MAN

June 18, 2012 Posted by admin

Comics are great because you can get them on the go. Another great thing to enjoy while on the go is this casino on mobile.

TITLE: SPIDER-MAN

REVIEW DATE: 28/05/02

REVIEWER: MATT YEO

DIRECTOR: SAM RAIMI

STARRING: TOBEY, MAGUIRE, KIRSTEN DUNST, WILLEM DAFOE

UK RELEASE: 14/06/02

SPIDERVERTICALThanks to my good friends at Columbia TriStar, I recently attended an advance UK screening of one of the summer’s hottest movie, Spider-Man. Now I have to admit, I’d had my reservations about ol’ webhead’s first big screen outing, fearing a Hollywood hack-job, shades of Batman’s darkness and a complete lack of respect for over 30 years off storytelling. But y’know what’s it was actually pretty amazing!

Yep, next to the first Superman and Batman flicks (oh, and The Rocketeer), this is the most accurate, exciting and downright fun superhero movie I’ve ever seen. Watching everyone’s favourite wall-crawler swinging through the streets of New York, taking on the maniacal Green Goblin and generally doing whatever a spider can left me with same giddy feeling I have when reading Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man. It’s a sense of seeing your childhood hero stripped down to basics and indulging in some truly entertaining storytelling.

There’s not going to be any spoiler information in this review, but the plot of the film essentially follows the same route as the classic ’60s Lee/Ditko stories, adding a few modern elements to the mythos and wrapping them up in that unique Sam Raimi way. Yes, we get to see nerdy high school student Peter Parker gaining superhuman powers from a spider bite, testing out his newfound abilities and using them for financial gain in a wrestling match. Likewise, the epic “with great power, comes great responsibility” speech and death of Uncle Ben are played out with just the right amount of drama.

Kirsten Dunst is credible as love interest Mary-Jane Watson, the girl Peter wants but knows his responsibilities will always come between them, and forget any Jack Nicholson/Joker comparisons you might have heard, Willem Dafoe really makes the split personality of Goblin role his own. However, standout role of the film has to be J. K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson, a newspaper editor with the shortest fuse and worst barber in the world. Also well worthy of a mention are the film’s visual effects. There’s a slightly surreal aspect to them that adds to the comic book “feel” of a Spider-Man movie. It’s almost as if your brain can’t quite get to grips with the image of a colourful superhero strutting his stuff in broad daylight (as opposed to dark comic book films such as Blade and Batman) and yet you totally accept it.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Sam Raimi’s movies, but what he’s accomplished here is nothing short of incredible. Of course it’d be a little cynical to suggest that what the world (and the US in particular) needs at the moment is an everyman hero and yet that’s exactly what we get. Maguire’s Parker is one of us. A guy with big dreams and ideas who wants to make a real difference. Thanks to quality acting, believable characters, an engaging storyline and stunning special effects, you’ll come away grinning like a five year-old having loved every minute of it. And with the cast signed on for two sequels, it looks like the successful Spider-Man franchise is set to swing for some time.

BULLETPROOF RATING: 9/10

X-FORCE

November 16, 2007 Posted by admin

TITLE: X-FORCE

ISSUE: 125

DATE: 20/03/02

REVIEWER: MATT YEO

WRITER: PETER MILLIGAN

ARTIST: MIKE ALLRED

xforce125When Marvel kick-started its X-titles last year, many feared the changes their favourite titles would be undergoing as a result of the company’s new experimental editorial regime. However, while fans dreaded what might be in store for flagship titles X-Men and Uncanny X-Men, the thought of yet another X-Force relaunch was greeted with little enthusiasm. And yet, for me, Pete Milligan and Mike Allred’s mutant pop culture reimagining is easily the most consistently inventive and entertaining of the lot.

This issue finds the playboy-sponsored super team tackling a South American dictatorship in an attempt to boost their flagging PR appeal, the recruitment of yet another team member and the prospect that one of them might soon be taking a permanent vacation. As usual, there’s plenty of trademark black humour as Milligan plays the team off against not just each other, but also their bratty sponsor, manipulative government agents and the media. New recruit Dead Girl makes a welcome reappearance and I can’t help but feel that she’ll play a major part in the death of one the main cast next issue…

Mike Allred’s work is always stunning and it’s great to see him being exposed to the kind of mainstream audience that wonders what all the fuss is surrounding Madman. His lines are smooth and strong, backed up by wife Laura’s bold and inventive use of colour, and you get a real sense that he’s having a ball with this cast of varied characters. What’s more, with many artists struggling to even meet regular monthly deadlines, it’s even more impressive that Allred manages to find the time to ink his own work, creating a unique look that gives the title its own visual flavour.

However what really appeals to me about Milligan and Allred’s X-Force is that the title always a real… anarchistic feel to it. It almost feels like a cheeky two-fingered salute to Marvel as every month they attempt to subvert the reader’s perceptions of what a mutant superhero title should be. Compared to Warren Ellis’ disappointing fumblings with X-Force, Milligan and Allred have managed to steer their band of misfits in a genuinely exciting and inventive direction.

BULLETPROOF RATING: 9/10

METAL HURLANT # 2 & 3

August 10, 2007 Posted by admin

TITLE: METAL HURLANT # 2 & 3

REVIEW DATE: 05/01/03

REVIEWER: STEVEN MAXWELL

WRITERS: JIM ALEXANDER, ALEXANDRO JODOROWSKY, GEOFF JOHNS, PIERRE WAZEM

ARTISTS: PASCAL ALIXE, IGOR BARANKO, FRED BELTRAN, CHRISTIAN GOSSETT & SNAKEBITE, PIERRE WAZEM, J.H. WILLIAMS III

REVIEW:
metal1If your view of adult European comics is one of dodgy ‘erotica’ from aging Italians and tacky, airbrushed Heavy Metal covers, then the revival of Metal Hurlant from the Swiss-based company Humanoids Publishing, may go some way towards changing your mind.
Originally conceived by Moebius, Philippe Druillet and Jean-Pierre Dionnet in the late 1970s as a showcase for cutting-edge, European science fiction comics, Metal Hurlant (literally ‘Screaming Metal’ in French) spawned Heavy Metal itself. But, as Dionnet explains in issue #3:”Heavy Metal magazine quickly (and to my profound horror) plummeted towards falsely poetic and truly cheesy paintings of flying horses and sterile images of bimbos with perfect hairdos.”

For the relaunched title, the Metal Hurlant team rely heavily on the work of long-time Moebius collaborator Alexandro Jodorowsky. Short stories from the Chilean author, and occasional filmmaker, are included in both issues, along with a serialised graphic novel, Megalex, with Fred Beltran. The story – a nature vs. technology parable – is fairly typical of Jodorowsky’s work, where he attempts to blend mysticism and science fiction with touches of humour.
Fred Beltran’s airbrushed artwork, which illustrates the strange events on the city planet of Megalex, is slick but strangely reminiscent of the Heavy Metal imagery so disliked by Dionnet.
Elsewhere, the fantastic J.H. Williams III, of Promethea fame, and the Bilal-like Igor Baranko, tackle Jodorowsky short stories with varying degrees of success. Williams’ illustrations of a Jodorowsky vampire spoof fare rather better than the story, which surely must have lost something in translation, and add a real touch of class to the anthology.

Of the low points in this otherwise excellent collection, there is a Judge Dredd rip-off called Monster Police Department, where the Mega City-style cops hunt down – you’ve guessed it – monsters, and an impenetrable dose of existential angst from Swiss contributor Pierre Wazem, which resembles a self-analytical Tintin story.
Despite this, Metal Hurlant is a brave attempt to bring some quality control back to European comics and if the editorial standard remains sufficiently high, it could well help to show English-speaking readers that there is more to adult European comics than the corny erotic nonsense of its American namesake.

BULLETPROOF RATING: 8/10

JSA

August 5, 2007 Posted by admin

TITLE: JSA

REVIEW DATE: 27/01/02

REVIEWER: MATT YEO

ISSUE: 32
WRITERS: DAVID GOYER & GEOFF JOHNS

ARTIST: PETER SNEJBJERG

REVIEW:
jsa32-coverThis issue sees the JSA enjoying some quality downtime before kicking off their next multi-part epic,’Stealing Thunder’. Back on board is much-missed
co-writer, Geoff Johns, who’s been busy penning his latest big screen adventure, Blade II.
I’ve been enjoying JSA since its successful relaunch over two years ago and the title’s unique appeal, characterisations and pacing continue to impress me. Although the action takes a backseat this month, there are still plenty of choice moments and juicy plotlines being set up for future stories.
Unlike other team books, the JSA has always felt like more of a family to me and there’s certainly plenty of group-bonding this issue, from Black Canary’s critique of her comrades personalities and mournful farewell to a great dinner scene where everyone squabbles over who’s ordered the best food.
David Goyer and Geoff Johns are easily DC’s finest double act. The month they keep the pace jogging along until the shocking conclusion and, as usual, you’re left wanting more but having to wait a full month until next issue. Fresh from a long run on Starman, Peter Snejbjerg provides fantastic guest art, with his unique use of shadows and breathtakingly simplistic work looking as stunning in full colour as I’m sure it would in black and white.
I’ve never been a particular fan of Jakeem (J.J.) Thunder and always felt that we were being given an updated, streetwise kid with a pet Thunderbolt just for the sake of it. However, although the apparent return of the original Johnny Thunder is merely a taster for what’s to come, I’m starting to feel that Jakeem could really come into his own over the next few months.
As Goyer and Johns have proved time and again in JSA, nothing is ever as it seems and I for one have a feeling J.J. Thunder will have an essential part to play in the forthcoming ‘Thunder’, storyline.
Another amazing issue and check out those final few pages for some truly frightening characterisation as well as the return of a much-demanded classic JSA villain!

BULLETPROOF RATING: 9/10

JLA

July 17, 2007 Posted by admin

TITLE: JLA

ISSUE: 64

REVIEW DATE: 20/04/02

REVIEWER: MATT YEO

WRITER: JOE KELLY

ARTISTS: DOUG MAHNKE & TOM NGUYEN

jla64Okay, last issues scathing review may have been a little on the negative side, but I’m sticking by it. The good news is that this month’s issue seems to be getting back on track with Casey cutting back on the exposition (slightly) and opting to let the League act instead of talk. I’ve also finally warmed to the main theme of this arc, which deals with definitions of the truth and their cause and effect.

This concluding issue sees Wonder Woman having to back down and ask for help from Rama Khan, the man she feels may be the key to halting the planet’s descent into chaos. But nothing is black and white in this story and it’s those moralistic shades of grey that Casey attempts to shine some light on. Although the story is wrapped up a little too neatly for my tastes, there are some great moments that almost elevate the whole storyline above mere pedestrian status. These include a Hal Jordan costume cameo, the league transforming into extreme versions of themselves and Wonder Woman’s triumphant reforging of her golden lariat. However, I still have problems with the current creative team and their approach to the JLA. Casey’s Morrison-lite stories have a been-there-seen it kind of feel and his trademark humour falls flat on more than one occasion. Likewise, the art team of Mahnke and Nguyen deliver solid, but less-than spectacular visuals, some of which hint at greater potential that never appears.

So maybe I’m being a little hard on the new guys, but they do have legacy and responsibility to live up to. The outgoing teams may have set the creative bar at an all-time high, but Casey and co. desperately need to find their own take on the world’s greatest heroes and quickly. If they manage this and achieve a consistently entertaining run, there’s hope for DC’s big guns yet.

BULLETPROOF RATING: 6/10

DAREDEVIL

October 22, 2006 Posted by admin

TITLE: DAREDEVIL

REVIEWER: SAM WATSON

DIRECTOR: MARK STEPHEN JOHNSON

STARRING: BEN AFFLECK, JENNIFER GARBER,
MICHEAL CLARKE DUNCAN, COLIN FARRELL

UK RELEASE: 14/02/03

p-dare2I finally got to check out Daredevil this weekend and it was well worth the wait! What I really liked about Marvel’s latest movie is that it’s a really dark comic book film that successfully manages to mix the classic Frank Miller era stories with Kevin Smith’s recent ‘Guardian Devil’ run. The movie kicks off with clever credits sequence (in Braille!) and then cuts to DD hanging from the cross of a church in N.Y., all battered and bleeding. Then it’s flashback time and we see his origin sequence, which is pretty faithful, and there’s even a Stan Lee cameo! Then we cut to the present day and you get to see great stuff like Matt Murdock in court with Foggy Nelson (Jon Favreau is hilarious), DD fighting thugs at night, Matt’s first meeting with Elektra, the introduction of The Kingpin and Bullseye and a bit of Daily Bugle reporter Ben Ulrich.

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There are so many good points about this film it’s hard to know where to start. I loved the fact that Matt sleeps in a water-filled tank at night to block out the sounds of the city, watching as he arrives home after a night on patrol and pulls out a broken tooth and takes painkillers, the SFX they use to show his radar sense, the fight sequences, a pissed-off Bullseye killing people with pencils, paper clips and even a peanut(!), the death of Elektra and even a great Kevin Smith cameo as pathologist Jack Kirby.

By the end of the film I’d laughed, gasped, cheered and really entertained. It’s a knockout superhero flick and I reckon it’s even better than Tim Burton’s Batman. Roll on Daredevil 2!

BULLETPROOF RATING: 9/10

BULLETPROOF COMPETITION

August 25, 2006 Posted by admin

Having the best comics in mint condition will make you feel like royalty. You’ll also feel like royalty when you play Royal slot machines.

EXCLUSIVE: WIN SIGNED NEW X-MEN COLLECTIONS!

How’s this for a nifty launch competition? We have four copies of Marvel’s first New X-Men collection to give away! This editon reprints the mind-blowing Morrison, Quitely and Van Sciver stories that ran from New X-Men 114 to 117. What’s more, each collection is personally signed by ultra-hot artist (and all-round nice bloke), Frank Quitely!

To win one of these prizes, just send an e-mail to us with the answer to this question:

Which Wildstorm superhero team title was Frank Quitely working on before his move to Marvel?

Send your answers to: editorial@bulletproofcomics.co.uk

Closing date is Friday 31st January, 2003. Winners will be notified by post. For a full list of winners, send an e-mail to:
editorial@bulletproofcomics.co.uk