Sunday, 23 January 2011

The Top 20 John Constantine/Hellblazer Stories

20. Hooked
Hellblazer #256-258
Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Guiseppe Camuncoli

In a story about obsession and lust, John Constantine stoops to new lows in order to win back the heart of his ex-girlfriend, Phoebe, but is soon framed for her murder.

19. Early Warning/How I Learned To Love The Bomb
Hellblazer #25-26
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by David Lloyd

A nuclear explosion drives the occupants of a town mad and it's up to Constantine to save the day before nuclear war erupts.

18. The Horrorist
The Horrorist #1-2
Written by Jamie Delano
Art by David Lloyd

Constantine deals with a young woman who has become a "horrorist," an individual that redistributes pain by unveiling to people the suffering of others.

17. Newcastle Calling
Hellblazer #245-246
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Sean Murhy

A film crew come to Newcastle to film a documentary about Constantine's old band, but end up encountering a curse left behind by John on his last visit to the city.

16. With a Little Help from my Friends
Hellblazer #229
Written by Mike Carey
Art by John Paul Leon

Constantine encounters two mysterious sisters who send him on a wild goose chase to find mystical items around London, before uncovering their sinister, ulterior motives.

15. A Murder of Crows
Swamp Thing #44-50
Written by Alan Moore
Art by Various

Swamp Thing is warned of a darkness coming to destroy the world that only he can stop, while Constantine trains him to fight it, unaware of what it actually is.

14. Rake at the Gates of Hell
Hellblazer #78-82
Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Steve Dillon

Constantine gets back in touch with an ex-girlfriend who's become a heroin addicted prostitute and encounters the wrath of both her pimp and Satan himself.

13. Original Sins
Hellblazer #1-9
Written by Jamie Delano
Art by John Ridgway

A collection of one-shots detailing Constantine's earliest years with a loosely connected story involving some demons and members of John's supporting cast.

12. Forty
Hellblazer #63
Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Steve Dillon

Constantine celebrates his fortieth birthday, and among the guests is Swamp Thing.

11. City of Demons
Hellblazer: City of Demons #1-5
Written by Si Spencer
Art by Sean Murphy

Constantine is hit by a truck and ends up in hospital; upon his release however strange things start to occur, all of which point back to the ER he was admitted to.

10. Pandemonium
Hellblazer: Pandemonium (Original Graphic Novel)
Written by Jamie Delano
Art by Jock

Constantine goes to wartorn Iraq after a terrifying creature is unleashed in London following a bombing at a museum.

9. Freezes Over
Hellblazer #158-161
Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Marcelo Frusin

Constantine deals with a mystery of a murderous urban myth and a gang of cohorts intent on causing mayhem in the middle of a snowstorm.

8. Dark Entries
Dark Entries (Original Graphic Novel)
Written by Ian Rankin
Art by Werther Dell'Edera

Constantine becomes a contestant in a reality show following the mysterious death of another contestant; ghosts and demons all become involved as he attempts to solve the mystery.

7. Hard Time
Hellblazer #146-150
Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Richard Corben

Constantine is sent to prison and is forced to survive amongst the deadliest criminals in America, while also dealing with his own personal demons.

6. Family Man
Hellblazer #28-33
Written by Jamie Delano
Art by Ron Tiner, Sean Phillips & Others

Constantine investigates the sadistic Family Man serial killer, whose actions drive John to the absolute breaking point.

And the Top 5...

5. Shoot
Vertigo Resurrected #1
Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Phil Jimenez

The banned original version of "Hellblazer #141" dealing with high school shootings in the US and their impact on the world through the eyes of Constantine.

4. Hold Me
Hellblazer #27
Written by Neil Gaiman
Art by Dave McKean

Constantine investigates a mysterious death involving a spirit not content with crossing over into the afterlife without knowing they're loved.

3. All His Engines
Hellblazer: All His Engines (Original Graphic Novel)
Written by Mike Carey
Art by Leonardo Manco

Constantine investigates a mysterious plague that is putting millions of people into a bizarre coma with apparently no cure.

2. Newcastle: A Taste of Things to Come
Hellblazer #11
Written by Jamie Delano
Art by Richard Piers Rayner

A look at John's youth in Newcastle and the horrific things that led him on the road to becoming the man he is today.

1. Dangerous Habits
Hellblazer #46-50
Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Will Simpson

Constantine discovers he has cancer and searches desperately for a magical cure, while encountering old friends and facing off against the Devil.

Dracula's Twilight

On his 673rd birthday, Dracula received
Something of an alarming gift;
a novel, lovingly wrapped, with a note from
Old Van Helsing.

‘Dear Draccy,’ it said
‘You’ll love this.’
It was the red and white edition
of the first Twilight novel.

He made it thirty pages in
Scoffing after every paragraph,
but before long he found himself
drawn to the characters; but
never engaged.

So he bought the film.
And watched it on a pouf,
sipping from a martini glass,
virgin’s blood mixed with gin.

Kristen Stewart was pure Hollywood,
but her angst managed
to give him dead wood,
which he stifled beneath lace undergarments.

The vampires didn’t seem too bad, either;
he’d been reliably informed by a hapless tween
who’d told him he’d find the creatures
of the night as vicious as his kin.

Of course before long the poof with the hair
appeared, and began to ruin the piece
‘What kind of bint,’ he said aloud, ‘would want
to shag this tosser, jeez!’

Then thirty minutes in, it happened;
the vampires started to glow like Christmas trees.
‘What the fuck is this,’ the Count cried, ‘they’ve
turned us into glittery fairies.’

He turned the telly off with a ‘fuckedy-fuck-shit,’
going for something with more class. He went back to
the good old ones like Buffy the Vampire Slayer
And thought of ways to murder that fucking cunt Meyer

Friday, 14 January 2011

Comics Greatest Moments #14

Batman: Shadow of the Bat #1

June 1992

"The Last Arkham: Part 1"

By Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle

How do you debut a new Batman series and ensure it has a lasting impact on the audience? You make it feature one of the most powerful moments in Batman's career as he is imprisoned in the bowels of Arkham Asylum with apparently no way out.

The moment kicked off one of the most powerful arcs the Dark Knight endured in the 1990s, and solidified Shadow of the Bat as a resounding success. As readers were left to ponder whether or not their hero had indeed lost his mind, the mystery of Batman's investigation and his apparent defection from the Gotham City Police Department's code meant that this was a darker Batman for a new kind of audience.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Comics Greatest Moments #13

Alias #1

November 2001

By Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos

Sometimes Brian Michael Bendis can be fucked up. And nothing illustrates this more than the first issue of his book, "Alias," which features one of the most disturbing sex scenes ever presented in a comic book. It makes the whole thing more human, but also started numerous internet debates over whether or not it was actually anal sex or not (my numbers on search engines just sky rocketed). Anyway, that's all, here's the page:

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Comics Greatest Moments #12

Ultimate Spider-Man #13

November 2001


By Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

This was the moment when Ultimate Spider-Man went beyond "pretty awesome reinterpretation" and became a truly marvellous, fully-formed series with it's own set of stakes and some truly realistic displays of youthful affection and devotion. Following the previous arc and Spider-Man's brutal showdown with the Kingpin, Peter decides the time is right to tell Mary Jane the truth about everything. What follows is 22-pages of subtle romance and intense conversation; Spider-Man isn't even in the issue, but the power of these characters demonstrates just how far Bendis had come in the year since he started the series.

The issue had lasting repercussions which still affect the characters today in the Ultimate Spider-Man issues; it's not only the moment that Peter confesses everything to Mary Jane regarding his life as Spider-Man, it's also the moment that the two reveal that they are in love. They never actually say it, but it's there throughout, and comes to a head as we reach the issue's conclusion.

The first year of Ultimate Spider-Man is still one of the best runs in comic book history, but a lot of that is down to character development, the wonderful artwork of Mark Bagley, and this single issue, which served as the defining moment for one of the best series of the last decade.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Comics Greatest Moments #11

Preacher #12

March 1996

"Until the End of the World"

By Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon

For many Preacher fans it was this moment, alongside the apparent murder of a key character a few issues prior, that solidified this arc as the greatest part of the epic Preacher series. As Jesse Custer finally stands up against his sadistically violent maternal family, there is no moment more anticipated than his revenge on his psychotic uncle, Jody. All the torment and years of abuse, as well as the suspected murder of someone close to him, leads Jesse into a fit of violent rage as he completely destroys his tormentor in a brutal showdown.

And to top it all off, the moment's brilliance is cemented when Jody smiles up at Jesse and says, with his last breath: "I'm proud of you, boy." In a way it's Jody's own sense of perverted victory, and also an example of just how violent Jesse could have become, that even though he is a brutal individual, he is still not the worst human being.

Truly, Ennis and Dillon hit a stride early on with this book, and as the second collection, this story shows emotional flair and originality rare among comics of the day, and even of the present. This is truly one of the greatest moments ever presented in a comic book, for sheer poetic violence and brutality alone.

Comics Greatest Moments #10

Detective Comics #741

February 2000

"End Game Part 3: Sleep In Heavenly Peace"

By Devin Grayson, Greg Rucka, Dale Eaglesham and Damion Scott

How do you celebrate Christmas in Gotham City? For most inhabitants of the urban hell-hole, the answer to that question was to enjoy the re-opening of the city in the wake of No Man's Land, but with a few days still to go before the big moment, the Joker decided to wreck havoc with his own celebrations. How does the Joker celebrate Christmas? By kidnapping newborn babies, of course, and threatening to kill them all. Disturbing, right? But how do you make it more disturbing? Have him settle for murdering the Police Commissioner's beloved wife as she tries to rescue said babies? Now you're talking.

Smile turned to frown, the brutality of the moment was not lost on the Clown Prince of Crime, who grimly left the corpse of his latest victim amongst the gaggle of kidnapped newborns. In the ensuing chaos, he turned himself in to the law and became the punch-bag of Gordon, distraught at his wife's passing.

And then Batman decided he'd had enough. He was going to let Gordon murder the Joker. So, instead, Gordon blew out his kneecaps. It's one of the most emotionally devastating sequences in recent comic book lore, and the moment when the Joker re-asserted himself as a true psychopath, ready for the twenty-first century.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Comics Greatest Moments #9

The Spirit #12

January 2008


By Darwyn Cooke

To conclude his epic run on The Spirit, Darwyn Cooke did something nobody saw coming; he completely destroyed the character's humanity. His final encounter with the mysterious Octopus led him into a caper involving his true love, the beautiful Sand Saref, and as is the case in these tales of heroes and villains, she rips out his heart and destroys it.

All of that power and emotion, and even the sly smirk the Spirit gives at the end all lead to an amazing final page, which is clearly the best thing Darwyn Cooke has ever drawn, as Denny Colt walks away into the cold and rain, just as he began the series; truly alone. Nothing in a Spirit book before or since has made as much of an impact, and that just shows how masterful this moment really is.

Comics Greatest Moments #8

Whiteout #4

November 1998

"Chapter Four"

By Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber

After three complete issues of intense and engaging mystery, the killer was finally revealed in the final chapter of "Whiteout," and while many people guessed the answer correctly on the first read-through of the trade, and thanks to the film it's all the more obvious, comic book readers everywhere were shocked to see Carrie confront Doc, and for him to reveal his part in the crimes.

The raw emotion that came from the sequence, as Carrie learned the dark secrets of her father figure made the scene a gut-punch, while Greg Rucka's fantastic writing had lulled us into a false sense of security and created a character who we really believed and cared about; to see him revealed as a monstrous individual, fuelled by desperation and greed was truly horrifying.

Friday, 7 January 2011

The Pull-List - 23/12/2010

The Essential Comic

Batman Incorporated #2
By Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette
Grant Morrison is the master of short form storytelling; that’s what I’ve learned from reading his Batman and Robin run, featuring nice and compressed three-part arcs, and from reading this first arc of Batman Incorporated, which concludes in this second issue. The tale of Batman in Japan teaming up with Mr. Unknown to fight the sadistic Lord Death Man has been a lot of fun, just the sort of high-flying adventures we needed in the wake of the increasingly dark Batman and Robin arcs Morrison was churning out throughout 2010. That’s not to say this isn’t dark, however; Lord Death Man is a perfectly monstrous villain, whose actions in this issue are disturbing and violent. The resolution of the issue comes thick and fast, and fits with the tone Morrison has established throughout the last two issues. Yanick Paquette’s artwork is stunning, as ever, and maintains a crisp feel throughout, without falling into the traps other such artists would with the almost muddy colouring. If there’s a flaw with this issue it’s the suggestion that Catwoman will not be a regular staple in this series; she’s one of the best parts of this issue, and it will be a shame to lose her in the coming months. Other than that, jump aboard: this is the most fun Batman book that’s been published in years.
Rating: 10/10

And the Rest

American Vampire #10
By Scott Snyder and Mateus Santolouco
American Vampire is crafted so perfectly as a piece of storytelling that it even manages to be compelling when my favourite character is omitted. Yes, this is an issue completely devoid of Skinner Sweet and his sadistic antics; instead, our focus falls upon Pearl, the young woman who became a vampire at the start of the series and has, for all intents and purposes, been our primary protagonist, as she struggles to maintain her relationship with the human Henry, who is shown to be conscious of just how dangerous being in love with a vampire can be. A large portion of the issue is also dominated by another storyline involving Hattie, who is being tortured by a regular vampire determined to unlock the secrets to killing this new breed of American monster. It’s a great concept and Scott Snyder writes it so wonderfully that every page is alive with tension and drama. The art is by Mateus Santolouco in this issue, and while not as good as Rafael Albuqurque, it does manage to retain the brilliantly gaudy and intense look the series has been known for since its inception. This story concludes next issue, but right now it’s the perfect jumping on point for anyone desperate for a fix of vampires that doesn’t totally suck (pun intended).
Rating: 10/10

Azrael #15
By David Hine and Cliff Richards
As Azrael heads towards its conclusion in February, the pieces are beginning to fall into place for something of an epic finale; the hero is dead, by his own hand, an event foreshadowed in the early issues of this series, but only now are things getting even more interesting. Batman takes centre stage as he investigates the death of Michael Lane, and David Hine manages to make the story feel alive, something the series has lacked prior to this arc. The art by Cliff Richards is competent enough and serves the book well, but doesn’t really wow beyond the first glance. Hopefully this series ends on a high note, because then it will be the first time an Azrael series can warrant a recommendation.
Rating: 7/10

Batman Annual #28
By David Hine and Agustin Padilla
After some rocky moments, this two-part annual story between Detective Comics and Batman’s yearly volumes was a great tale; Bruce and Dick in France, alongside Montoya’s Question and the mysterious Nightrunner all added together to make a great comic book adventure. These new tales, spawning from Batman Incorporated, all feel genuinely exciting and original, and David Hine shows in this issue that he understands how to weave a gritty crime tale and add layers of the supernatural and mysterious to it. This is definitely a story to check out if you’re ever in the mood for some dark, gritty Batman fun.
Rating: 7/10

Batman: Streets of Gotham #18
By Paul Dini, Fabian Nicieza, Dustin Nguyen and Szmon Kudranski
An extra-short main feature means much less to love in this instalment of the final arc of this series. We’re learning more about the past of Thomas and Martha Wayne, and the start of their relationship, as Bruce returns to the fray to take on Bedbug. The story is fairly decent, but no matter how awesome Heart of Hush made Thomas Elliot, I still absolutely hate the character and seeing him don the bandages again, no matter how obvious, was a moment to sigh. The back-up was decent, but the fact that it took precedent over the main feature is both irritating and a sign that this story is being padded and rushed to fit the required amount of issues.
Rating: 7/10

Chew #16
By John Layman and Rob Guillory
And so begins what is, for all intents and purposes, the second season of Chew. In the aftermath of last issue, everything has changed for the characters as Tony attempts to find a missing FDA genius who may be able to decipher the mysterious message in the sky. This issue also offers up our first glimpse at the horrors of the world in the middle of the Avian Flu crisis that kick started the chicken prohibition and elevated the FDA to the premiere law enforcement agency in the United States. It’s perfectly clear from every page of this issue that John Layman has a masterful plan laid out perfectly, and is giddy at the chance to show us the twists and turns as they come. Rob Guillory continues to astound with his inventive, zany art style which dominates every page of the book and catches the eye, even in the most subtle of ways. If you haven’t read Chew yet, this is the issue to start from; you can pretty easily pick up all the pieces and just run with it and enjoy what is surely one of the finest independent books on the market.
Rating: 10/10

DC Universe Legacies #8 (of 10)
By Len Wein, Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway and Scott Kolins
This mini-series has been spectacular fun; a truly wonderful and engaging history of the DC Universe through the eyes of one particular human being. In this issue, we move one step closer to the modern era as we deal with the fallout from Knightfall and the Death of Superman and head into the Green Lantern stories of the early 1990s. It’s great fun throughout, but the true highlight here is the back-up with art by Frank Quitely, detailing an encounter between Orion and Darkseid on Earth, which is truly spectacular. When this gets collected as a trade you need to pick it up if you haven’t already; it’s an outstanding piece of work.
Rating: 9/10

Fantastic Four #586
By Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting
As we draw closer and closer to the conclusion of Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting’s “Three” arc, it’s becoming less and less obvious which member of the Fantastic Four is going to perish in the final chapter. This is a great thing, though, as we witness each member of the team fall into their respective dangers and confront what could be their respective undoings. Will it be Sue Storm, trapped in Atlantis? Will it be Johnny or Ben, facing the servants of an old enemy? Or, will it be Reed Richards, stuck on the other side of the universe, desperately trying to save an alien world, as well as Earth? The answers will come next month, but until then, the contemplation is gripping enough.
Rating: 10/10

Green Lantern Corps #55
By Tony Bedard and Tyler Kirkham
At last I’m enjoying Green Lantern Corps again, and the feeling is amazing. This book has been on a downward spiral since Tomasi left to pen his godawful Emerald Warriors series, which has been glaringly entertaining in comparison to this waste of a book. Now, it looks like the Green Lantern books are on the road to redemption in time for the Green Lantern War in the Spring, and the film shortly after. This issue reveals a dark secret surrounding Ganthet and his reasons for becoming a Green Lantern; the art is great, the story feels fresh for the first time in this run, and the cliffhanger was awesome.
Rating: 8/10

Green Lantern: Larfleeze Christmas Special #1
By Geoff Johns and Brett Booth
As far as Christmas specials go, this was the most fun I had over the holidays; the character of Larfleeze is fun more often than not, and here he seems innocent and insignificant in his childish search for Santa Claus. Geoff Johns clearly had fun writing this, and it all seems to be a nice one-off to celebrate the holiday, which at the end of the day, is all you can ask of a Christmas special.
Rating: 8/10

Hellblazer #274
By Peter Milligan, Guiseppe Camuncoli, Simon Bisley and Stefano Landini
Hellblazer is a series I’ve always meant to read, but never got round to looking at properly. This arc has been my first exposure to the series on a monthly basis, and going by this arc, alongside the City of Demons mini-series, I’ve been missing out on a lot. It’s a horror comic book with a twist; it’s also a heavily involving character piece looking at John Constantine and the world he inhabits. Constantine is such a great character, and this arc in particular has highlighted that; his relationship with Epiphany is engaging and human, while also mired in the supernatural and the creepy. The next issue should be an absolute blast, because right now, this might be one of the most fun books out there, and it’s easily accessible if you’ve never tried it before.
Rating: 10/10

Incredible Hulks #619
By Greg Pak and Paul Pelletier
It’s surprising to me how much I like this book; I’m not reading anything related to Chaos War outside this, but this is an absolute joy to read, and from someone who isn’t that big of a Hulk fan that’s high praise indeed. The issue features the resurrections of some classic characters to help the Hulks in the war they’re trapped in the middle of; it’s a decent story, but not the real reason you’d pick up a Hulk book. Rest assured, though, the art wonderfully conveys the Hulk attitude of smash-crush-destroy and makes the book an even more enjoyable and wholly fun experience.
Rating: 8/10

Joe Hill's The Cape #1
By Joe Hill, Jason Ciaramella and Zach Howard
Joe Hill can do no wrong, and this book perfectly illustrates that. It was gruesome, on par with Locke and Key, and yet a perfectly human story with enough wit and drama to keep the average reader engaging throughout. The art is amazing, too, and it looks like this will be the next series by Hill to watch out for in 2011. The question is, where will it go from here, and will it be as good as this one-shot suggests?
Rating: 10/10

Justice League: Generation Lost #16
By Judd Winick and Fernando Dagnino
As cemented in the latest issue of Power Girl, Max Lord is an evil, evil man and the cliffhanger to this issue took a complete left turn from where I expected it to go. The majority of this instalment was dedicated to an extended action sequence, as the Justice League International battled the Creature Commandos. There was also a great sequence involving Batman and Power Girl that ties neatly into the events of the latest Power Girl issue. I love how this series and Power Girl are complimenting each other perfectly, and this proves to be just as overwhelmingly fantastic as the solo series for the buxom heroine. She’s only supporting here, but every time she appears, it’s fantastic.
Rating: 10/10

Morning Glories #5
By Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma
It’s almost cruel how much more awesome Morning Glories gets with each issue. This is easily the highlight of the series so far, an action-packed instalment as the Glories attempt to escape from the academy and deal with some disturbing mysteries along the way. There’s a mysterious object that influences one of the book’s most violent moments, while the majority of this issue’s humour is derived from the interactions between the Glories and the traitor amongst them. The best parts, in my mind, however, were the sequences involving Mr. Gribbs, who will surely become one of the prominent antagonists as the series continues. I don’t know where Morning Glories is going, but right now, it seems to be going in the right direction.
Rating: 10/10

Power Girl #19
By Judd Winick and Sami Basri
This issue was awesome; the first one of Winick’s run to really, properly, smack me in the face with its brilliance. The hopelessness of the Max Lord situation is becoming more and more painful to witness, and by the end of this issue, I wanted to break down and cry. I’m genuinely frightened for all of the Justice Leaguers, particularly Power Girl, and the Justice League International. The end of the issue was great, too; the cliffhanger wasn’t something I saw coming, but it worked perfectly. This is such a great series.
Rating: 10/10

Punisher: In The Blood #2 (of 5)
By Rick Remender and Rolan Boschi
It’s become clear to me reading this mini-series that Rick Remender understands the Punisher perfectly; to him, Frank Castle is the perfect protagonist, and he uses him to fantastic effect in everything he’s appeared in of Remender’s. This is supposed to be the finale to Remender’s previous work on the character, and as such, it feels like we’re building towards a gruesome climax; the Punisher is on a warpath, something we’ve gotten used to over the years, but this time it’s wonderfully personal and sadistically gritty. This might only be the second best Punisher book, but while we wait through the long interim between issues of Punisher MAX, this will do as the definitive Punisher title.
Rating: 9/10

Secret Avengers #8
By Ed Brubaker and Mike Deodato Jr.
It seems Ed Brubaker has realised that if you put Max Fury into a comic book it instantly becomes amazing. This issue was an absolute delight to read, merely for the story; the Secret Avengers’ battle against Shang-Chi’s father was a decent set-piece, while the scenes involving Max and his ulterior motives were fantastic. The art by Mike Deodato is alright, but still feels far too muddy and underwhelming for a book as big as this; I understand that he’s a big name, but it just doesn’t feel like he can hold a book like this down for very long.
Rating: 8/10

Superman/Batman #79
By Chris Roberson and Jesus Merino
I had a lot of fun with this comic book, and I can’t really explain why. The fact that most of it was set in the future with a different Batman, Superman and a robot Robin was probably one of the main generators of said enjoyment; the sheer silliness of the story by Chris Roberson made me smile throughout the whole book. It wasn’t the most deep or involving story, but it was entertaining. The art, meanwhile, felt sluggish and looked ugly in places, lessening the impact of an otherwise fabulous story.
Rating: 6/10

Teen Titans: Cold Case #1
By Mark Sable and Sean Murphy
A one-shot surrounding Tim Drake’s remembrance of his father’s death is something that seems like it should have been published two years ago, or before. That being said, this was a great one-shot featuring the Teen Titans of a time gone by; it was a fun story as they faced off against the Rogues, it was extended, too, meaning there was a lot of bang for your buck. The art by Sean Murphy was absolutely fabulous as it always is. This is worth a look, especially given the amount of content for the price and the amount of fun you’ll have reading it.
Rating: 9/10

Thor: Wolves of the North #1
By Mike Carey and Mike Perkins
Another week, another so-so Thor one-shot/mini-series; this time around the creative time is Mike Carey and Mike Perkins and they’re telling a tale of Thor in the time of the Vikings. The action throughout is fun enough, and the art by Perkins shows some great flair and energy from page-to-page, but the overall story feels rushed and weak. Considering the amount of Thor stuff on the racks right now, this is probably not one to rush out and get for everyone; but if you’re a Thor fan you’ll probably enjoy it for what it is – a fun little interlude.
Rating: 7/10

Ultimate Doom #1 (of 4)
By Brian Michael Bendis and Rafa Sandoval
Despite the fact that this is the best issue of the latest Ultimate trilogy, so far, Ultimate Doom does manage to fall into the same traps as its predecessors. It’s a fast-paced, engaging action romp with a lot of character revelations as we learn just how evil this new threat is, and also discover that an old foe is returning to make matters worse for our heroes, Spider-Man in particular. The problem, though, is that the issue feels like half an issue; it just abruptly ends and doesn’t feel as though it flows well, as a result. Bendis is normally great with these sorts of things, but in almost every issue of this trilogy the ending has come out of nowhere and not felt organic or warranted. This was still fun, though, and sets up some interesting material for the next three issues.
Rating: 8/10

Ultimate Spider-Man #151
By Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli
A month after the extra-large 150th issue event (which was technically the 149th or 151st, regardless of how much Marvel tries to fudge their numbers) and we’re back to basics for Ultimate Spider-Man; Peter Parker is hanging out at school, and we get lots of teen drama from that in the aftermath of Gwen Stacy’s departure a few issues ago. There’s also some intense action as the Black Cat returns and gets wrapped up in the Mysterio storyline from a few months back. It’s amazing how Bendis can juggle all of these plot threads and manage to keep the plot fresh, original and engaging throughout. The art by Sara Pichelli is darker than it was on her previous issues, but compliments the usual David Lafuente style and drags the book into a more anime-influenced Manga style. As we head towards the impending “Death” arc, let’s hope Bendis and his team of artists can maintain this high level of entertainment and general brilliance.
Rating: 10/10

Uncanny X-Men #531
By Matt Fraction, Kieron Gillen and Greg Land
As Kieron Gillen looks to be taking a more predominant role in writing the flagship X-book, the story seems to be becoming more and more intense and enjoyable. As the characters struggle with the mysterious virus that has infected all the mutants on Utopia, we get a glimpse into the trauma of Wolverine and the anguish of Dr. Rao. Meanwhile, there’s two sub-plots both vying for our attention; the Emma Frost revelation was nice, as was the cliffhanger that came from it, while the story of these mysterious manufactured X-Men feels like it’s going to become incredibly important, but at the moment feels bog-standard in terms of storytelling. The only real fault, though, is with the art by Greg Land which maintains a consistent level of ugly traced images and lifeless action.
Rating: 6/10

Wonder Woman #605
By Phil Hester, J. Michael Straczysnki, Don Kramer, Eduardo Pansica and Various Others
This is the first issue without JMS as the sole writer of the series, and cracks that had already formed throughout his respectable run on the book are slowly started to open up even further as we wade into Phil Hester’s run continuing JMS’ story arc. The story continues to plod along at the same pace as previous issues, with very little action, but some nice character development; there’s also a nice moment where we see a reference to Wonder Woman’s removal from regular DC continuity. The art is a major problem, though, split between three artists this feels messy and confused, and that doesn’t help when the story is starting to lose what coherence it had to begin with. It’s a shame this series is falling apart, perhaps Hester can fix it in the next issue and beyond, but for now this, along with Superman, just shows how much DC’s big anniversary boasts about JMS were all just a cruel slap in the face.
Rating: 5/10

Zatanna #8
By Paul Dini and Cliff Chiang
Puppets are unbelievably creepy and this fantastic issue demonstrates just why they’re so sinister. The idea of a puppet haunting someone is wonderfully chilling and serves up numerous moments, which each offer their own unique thrills and spills. The art by Cliff Chiang is the main reason to pick this up, though; the man is an artistic genius and every panel seems alive with emotion, power and raw terror.
Rating: 10/10

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Comics Greatest Moments #7

Green Lantern #54

August 1994

"Forced Entry"

By Ron Marz and Darryl Banks

This was the moment things started to get grim for Kyle Rayner's Green Lantern. In one of the darkest moves the character had endured in his tenure as Green Lantern, the creative team made a left field diversion and killed off his girlfriend, having her murdered by the brutishly ruthless, Major Force. Not only that but Force left Kyle a note, pretending to be her, telling him to look in the fridge where he had stuffed her corpse.

The move proved controversial and shocking, elevating the issue to the classic standard of milestone, and turning Major Force into a serious villain for Kyle to contend with. The fight that followed was brutal and gratifying, but the events themselves left Kyle feeling broken for months afterwards.

The moment is so shocking that it even warranted an internet debate spearheaded by comic book writer, Gail Simone, in which she commented on the use of females as disposable characters throughout comic book history and labelled the method "The Women in Refrigerators Syndrome".

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Comics Greatest Moments #6

Astonishing X-Men #4

October 2004

"Gifted: Part 4"

By Joss Whedon and John Cassaday

It was obvious right from the start that Joss Whedon's run on the X-Men was going to be a special one; it fit perfectly with his previous work, mainly due to his ability to transform Kitty Pryde into a Buffy parallel at every turn. The moment that he cemented his place in X-Men history, however, was when, at the end of the fourth issue of his series, he brought a character back from the dead in a spectacular curve-ball move.

Expecting to find a resurrected Jean Grey hidden in the bowels of a mysterious laboratory, Kitty Pryde found herself confronted with her long-dead boyfriend, Colossus. In a beautiful, silent moment he ran right through her and proceeded to battle the enemies in the depths, while she stood still, trying to absorb the reality of the situation. The scene is made only more emotional when Colossus breaks down in front of her, praying that he has finally died after years of torture at the hands of his oppressors.

Colossus, of course, died to save the world from the deadly Legacy Virus, injecting it into himself in order to disperse it throughout the planet. His return was completely unexpected and proved to be one of the defining moments of Whedon's run and the start of his true arc for Kitty Pryde, as she and Piotr found themselves drawn to each other once more.

Comics Greatest Moments #5

Legion of Super Heroes #293

November 1982

"The Great Darkness Saga, Chapter Four: Within the Darkness..."

By Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen

Paul Levitz's run on the Legion of Super Heroes is one of the classic runs people still talk about to this day, and the Great Darkness Saga is certainly the masterpiece at the heart of the run. From the trade cover it's obvious what the story entails, but it wasn't until the reveal at the end of Part 4 that we really knew just what was coming to destroy the Legion.

The reveal of Darkseid's return at the end of the issue was powerful and shocking, and showed the monstrous villain at full-power once more. It was to be the pivotal moment of the greatest story featuring the character, and indeed, the best story ever to feature the Legion of Super Heroes.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Comics Greatest Moments #4

Scalped #30

August 2009

"The Gnawing" Part One

By Jason Aaron and R. M. Guera

It was hardly surprising when we reached the first chapter of the arc which served as the finale to Jason Aaron's initial pitch for Scalped that we would be treated to some of the best moments in the series so far. But, the moment to take the prize was Red Crow's decision to turn on his financial backers and dish out some Rez-style justice on the always creepy Mr. Brass.

Scalped is a series that feeds of it's own sense of dread, violence and drama; the whole thing is the comic book equivalent of The Sopranos, offering up intense sequences of suspense and emotion, alongside great action scenes and character revelations.

This series is truly a masterpiece of modern storytelling, and the moment Red Crow finally takes a stand and asserts himself as this generation's Tony Soprano is an exceptionally masterful moment.

The Pull-List - 16/12/2010

The Essential Comic

Wolverine #4
By Jason Aaron and Renato Guedes
Let me start by saying this: I despise the abysmal tripe that is “Wolverine: Origin.” By writing that story the Marvel executives essentially destroyed the character of Wolverine; it was a stupid story and it made me physically angry. Now, onto my second rant: I also hate “Enemy of the State,” Mark Millar’s idiotic and incoherent attempt to deconstruct Wolverine by making him evil and redeeming him as the story progressed. It was an absolute failure, only worth reading for the gorgeous John Romita Jr art. Now, on to this issue, this has elements of both. The evil Wolverine running around in this arc has been handled much better than in Millar’s story, because unlike Millar, Jason Aaron maintains his sense of character and storytelling, regardless of the over-the-top action he puts in his books. On the topic of Wolverine’s origin, there are a handful of flashbacks in this issue, just little snippets of Logan’s past, with some particular references to THAT story, but Aaron handles them gracefully and with skill. Then there’s the last page reveal, which by rights should have me shaking my fist and screaming, a la Charlton Heston at the end of “Planet of the Apes.” But it doesn’t, because if anyone can pull this off its Jason Aaron, and considering his own grand sense of storytelling deprived him of having this kind of moment in the most recent arc of Scalped, I cannot wait to see how it plays out with these characters instead. All there is left to say is that after this issue, I am seriously in love with everything Jason Aaron is writing at present, and while this is the lowest book on my appreciation meter, the fact is, it’s still absolutely marvellous.
Rating: 10/10

And The Rest

Amazing Spider-Man #650
By Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos
Amazing Spider-Man maintains its high standards of excellence once more as we enter the third issue of Big Time. There’s the introduction of a new Spider-Suit, a battle with the Hobgoblin, some action involving the Black Cat and some great jokes littered throughout, all of which combined offer up the perfect Spider-Man comic book. It’s especially great when you consider this is a milestone issue and all the elements necessary to making Spider-Man excellent should be contained within. Dan Slott was the perfect person to put on this book, and while he’s not as hardcore as Joe Kelly or Mark Waid, his story so far has been immensely enjoyable, particularly with the aid of Humberto Ramos’ excellent artwork. The back-up featuring the return of a classic villain also offers some great entertainment and foreshadows what is sure to be a major event in the book in a few months.
Rating: 10/10

Assassins Creed: The Fall #2 (of 3)
By Karl Kerschl and Cameron Stewart
As far as video game adaptations go, this series has been the best ever produced. That’s mainly down to the duel team of Karl Kerschl and Cameron Stewart, who take on the roles of author and artist concurrently. The plot is decent, but lacks something if you’re not steeped in the lore of the games; meanwhile, the art is absolutely spectacular, meshing both men’s styles wonderfully. Truly, the art is the star of this book.
Rating: 8/10

Avengers Academy #7
By Christos Gage and Mike McKone
I’m going to be honest: I don’t care about these characters at all, and nothing anyone says will convince me otherwise. I picked up this issue solely for the Hank Pym stuff, because after all these years, someone has to do him right for once; this book managed it just fine – everything about Pym and his desperate struggle to reinvent himself over the years is fascinating to read. Then you get the standard superhero fare with these Avengers recruits, and while the idea of them is interesting, they’re bland, two-dimensional characters who serve no real purpose outside this book. I’m all for that, too, it’s just not something I want to read.
Rating: 7/10

Avengers vs. Pet Avengers #3 (of 4)
By Chris Eliopoulos and Ig Guara
I’m almost disappointed that they explained the reasoning behind the Avengers/Pet Avengers fight in this issue; it was so much fun reading it without any clue as to why they were at war, but of course, we need to understand motives – it can’t just be a dreadfully fun, unexplainable tale. Chris Eliopoulos is an absolute genius, as ever, constructing a brilliant take on the Avengers as well as their pet counterparts; it’s a shame he’s not drawing this series, but Ig Guara does a fantastic job at maintaining a gritty, yet cartoony style that almost seems to parody the dark comics we’ve gotten used to over the years.
Rating: 10/10

Batman #705
By Tony Daniel
There has to be a bad one, doesn’t there? With all the Batman books demonstrating exactly why we love the character so much, the main title falls by the wayside, trudging through poorly constructed plots with non-shock twists and artwork so ugly that more often than not my eyes could only gloss over the writing. Bringing Ra’s al Ghul’s father back into the series just seems to detract from Ra’s’ own impact, while the last page reveal of a new sidekick shows that either Tony Daniel is a closet genius, or he hasn’t got a clue how to write Batman villains. Either way, this is the worst Batman series being published right now, in almost every way.
Rating: 3/10

Batman and Robin #18
By Paul Cornell and Scott McDaniel
I’ll hand it to Paul Cornell, he’s making the best of this bad situation; not only is he reduced to fill-in writer on a series that’s featured Grant Morrison for every issue up to his arrival, but he’s also had to rush the story together. Saying that, this issue’s story was much stronger than the first instalment’s; it’s still not fantastic, or even on par with the worst plotted issues of Morrison’s run, but it’s still enjoyable. The new foe, the Absence, has a decent enough origin and she fits into Cornell’s apparent obsession with overlarge household items. The art, on the other hand, from Scott McDaniel is just insulting. Considering McDaniel was once one of the best artists in the business, it’s horrible to look at his work now and feel the sense of revulsion I do looking at almost every page. I say almost, because there are still some moments of genius, which elevate it slightly above the awfulness of the first issue; this one is less rushed and shows some sparks of promise, but ultimately doesn’t deliver. In the end, it’s worth reading this; many people will find something to love here, but for me, this is just a plodding arc between two (surely) better ones.
Rating: 5/10

Batman: Orphans #2 (of 2)
By Eddie Berganza and Carlo Barberi
Saying this is one of the worst Batman mini-series ever printed is a compliment to this issue. There was absolutely nothing redeeming about this issue, particularly as it follows an issue that, while not particularly good either, had such promise. There are a few twists in the tale, Batman pops in occasionally and acts un-Batman-like, and then the villain is revealed, but not really. Because this doesn’t answer any of its questions, and if it did, I missed them completely. This was the wordiest, most incomprehensible Batman story I’ve ever read; it made me long for All Star Batman, and that is the method of torture I use on my siblings when they’ve been thoroughly annoying. I wouldn’t give this to someone as toilet paper; my collector side is the only thing stopping me from putting this on a bonfire. From a man who’s apparently good enough to be an Executive Editor at DC, this was amateurish, bland and insulting in almost every way. Maybe DC should rethink that promotion.
Rating: 2/10

Birds of Prey #7
By Gail Simone and Ardian Syaf
So far, Birds of Prey has been bordering on drivel; it’s been cheesecake art to the extreme, and I’ve just had the horrible gut-feeling that Gail Simone has lost touch with the characters. In this first issue of a new story arc, the focus is mostly on Barbara Gordon as we find ourselves moving into the ‘Death of Oracle’ saga; it’s an interesting dynamic and her interactions with Batman are fantastic throughout, showing that Simone really does understand Barbara and her relationship with Bruce. The scenes with the rest of the Birds, meanwhile, still felt clunky and uninspired, like there was something missing constantly; it was better than in previous issues, granted, but far from perfect. The art by Ardian Syaf is great, a much needed improvement over Ed Benes; it’s no longer cheesecake-like, but manages to maintain the same glorious sense of style and innovation a book like this requires. All in all, this is a great jumping on point for new readers, and should hopefully be the start of a new era for the Birds of Prey.
Rating: 8/10

Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #513
By David Liss and Francesco Francavilla
I never expected this to be good. Not until I read the Gordon back-up in Detective Comics #871, at least. Francesco Francavilla’s artwork is absolutely gorgeous, and even if the story wasn’t any good, that would be reason enough to pick up this reinvention of both Daredevil and Black Panther. The story itself, by David Liss, is focused on Black Panther’s integration into American society; he’s not using that name anymore, but it’s obvious that he’ll be using it again before the story’s end. The antagonist, Vlad, is creepy enough and keeps the story engaging, while Panther’s new status quo is interesting to watch unfold and comes to a nice sense of completion by the end of the issue.
Rating: 9/10

Brightest Day #16
By Geoff Johns, Peter J. Tomasi, Ivan Reis, Scott Clark and Joe Prado
And so, Brightest Day continues to fluctuate between amazing issues and bland ones, this one falls somewhere in the middle. It’s basically an issue focusing on the new Aqualad embracing his destiny as a defender of Atlantis and the world; he’s a decent character, but does come off as bratty and annoying at times. Meanwhile, the only others characters to receive attention this time are Firestorm and the Black Lantern Firestorm; both of these scenes are brief, but allow for further character development. The slow pace of this series is keeping it from becoming fantastic, but there’s still a lot to love throughout this Brightest Day event. The final page offers up a respectable cliffhanger and the tease for the first issue of 2011 promises to kick off the year with a bang.
Rating: 8/10

Captain America: Man Out of Time #2 (of 5)
By Mark Waid and Jorge Molina
Mark Waid writing Captain America is always great; even after a lacklustre first issue, this series had me drawn into its grasp. The second issue improves greatly on the first, focusing more on Cap’s psychological recovery upon adjusting to modern day New York; he confuses Rick Jones for Bucky and is mistaken for a new superhero by the populace. The moment when he realises he’s not dreaming was a wonderfully powerful one, and it choked me up, too; of course, to the ultimate patriot, what he discovers would break his heart. The art by Jorge Molina and Karl Kesel is better this time around, too; it looks cartoony, but realistic enough to make a distinct impression on the reader. Hopefully there are more Waid mini-series waiting in the wings, because if this one is anything to go by, they’ll be a blast.
Rating: 8/10

Conan: The Road of Kings #1 (of 6)
By Roy Thomas and Mike Hawthorne
Conan is an incredibly fun character and this new series looks like the return-to-glory the comic franchise needed. With a new film making its way onto screens next year, this focuses on Conan’s encounters with pirates and a buxom wench; it’s great stuff, and Roy Thomas shows off his writing skills which, while dated, are still great fun to read. The art by Mike Hawthorne is suitably bloody and entertaining and make for a rounded experience.
Rating: 8/10

Darkwing Duck #7
By Ian Brill and James Silvani
How can you not love Darkwing Duck? Everything about this book, and the series that spawned it, screams genius. The adventures of a crimefighting duck battling all manner of animal foes are incredibly fun and wonderfully engaging every month. This is the penultimate chapter of a Crisis-style crossover that features an enormous number of characters from the Duck-universe of Disney. It’s incredibly amusing, action-packed and generally entertaining.
Rating: 9/10

Deadpool MAX #3
By Dave Lapham and Kyle Baker
Words cannot describe how surprised I am by Deadpool MAX. I hate the character of Deadpool and everything he stands for in the incessant ramble of 1990s stylised comic books; but, somehow, David Lapham is penning a Deadpool that is both fun to read and exciting to uncover piece-by-piece. So far this series has been comprised of one-and-done issues; this one focuses on racist cult leader, Baron Zemo, which was hilariously realised, satirising the very foundations of racism within society. The art by Kyle Baker is fairly decent, suiting the book stylistically rather than being overly good, in general. Check this out if you’ve ever been curious about Deadpool, but have been put on by regular continuity’s moronic, unfunny version; this series might surprise you.
Rating: 8/10

Donald Duck and Friends #361
By Francois Corteggiani and Comicup Studio
Boom! Studios make damn fine Disney comic books, and this book stands alongside the others as a fun romp bringing back great memories of a character that’s been around since before my grandparents were born. Donald Duck is learning martial arts in this adventure, and there are plenty of laughs to be had throughout; it looks and feels like an old school Disney cartoon and the love and care that go into every issue is exceptional. If you’re a Disney fan, there’s no way you won’t love every minute of this.
Rating: 8/10

G. I. Joe: Cobra #11
By Mike Costa, Christos Gage and Antonio Fuso
G. I. Joe Cobra has been a consistently great series, and with every issue it continues the rollercoaster ride of action and suspense as we watch Chuckles descend further into the darkness designed by Cobra. Mike Costa and Christos Gage continue to pen a tale that feels like modern day spy thrillers, but also manages to maintain the charm and integrity of the G. I. Joe licence; Antonio Fuso’s art continues to maintain the exceptionally high standard it’s enjoyed since issue one.
Rating: 10/10

Green Lantern #60
By Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke
It’s great to see Green Lantern is getting good again; after a slump over the last few months where the issues didn’t feel as enjoyable as they were surrounding Blackest Night, we come to a resolution of sorts surrounding the New Guardians arc and the implementation of the entities into the main story. This issue focuses on Hal’s battle with a Parallax-possessed Flash, and sees the identity of the mysterious villain revealed, as well; it’s great fun, and shows that Geoff Johns clearly planned for the slump to end on a resounding crescendo. The art by Doug Mahnke is great, as ever, and draws us further into the space epic; the only flaw with this issue is that, for a space opera, we’re spending an awful lot of time on Earth, and maybe now is the time to head back out into the stars and see Green Lantern return to it’s space opera roots.
Rating: 9/10

John Byrne's Next Men #1
By John Byrne
John Byrne was once a premiere creator; his Marvel and DC work, at least throughout the 1980s, lives in legend as some of the greatest comic work of all time. Then, in the ‘90s, he lost it. And no matter how much he struggles, he can’t seem to claw back his success; but whereas his X-Men co-collaborator, Chris Claremont seems to have embraced his current Z-List creator status and churns out books that are, if nothing else, entertaining, Byrne cannot make anything work well. His Angel books have been weak and ugly, and this return to his Next Men series is an absolute travesty of a comic book; bad writing, average artwork and the sense that Byrne has finally abandoned all concepts of dignity. This should be avoided at all costs; for good Byrne work, head back into the Marvel vaults and pick up his X-Men issues.
Rating: 4/10

Mighty Samson #1
By Jim Shooter and Pat Olliffe
Modern mythology is hard to pull off, but somehow Jim Shooter has managed it with this new series, bringing back a character from the days of Gold Key Comics in the 1960s. It’s an ancient-style story set in a mythological village within a modern wasteland; this concept alone is enough to carry the issue: that and the fact that some of it is incredibly brutal and adult. The art is by Pat Olliffe, whose style seems to have deteriorated over the years; it’s now just a shadow of his original style, which wasn’t great to begin with. He does a respectable job bringing the world to life, but when you consider it to the classic issue reprinted within, it has a lot to live up to.
Rating: 6/10

The Occultist #1
By Tim Seeley and Victor Drujiniu
As a one-shot introduction to the world of The Occultist, this book was a lot of fun. We get the full origin of our protagonist, some decent action and drama and at the end there’s a neat cliffhanger and some serious questions still left to answer. Mike Richardson and Tim Seeley have constructed a great story for this series and this shows just how fun it’s going to be. The art by Victor Drujiniu is standard fare, but works well with the story and adds layers of atmosphere as it progresses. If you’ve read it, then hopefully you understand that this book will be a lot of fun when it picks up again in 2011.
Rating: 8/10

Proof: Endangered #1
By Alex Grecian and Riley Rossmo
Are you paying attention, boys and girls? Good, because after what seems like a lifetime of trudging through darkness and monotony, Proof is back, and better than ever. This issue sees the start of a new series for the enigmatic John Prufrock, the Big Foot turned government agent. Its great fun to watch events unfold as Proof gets his game back on and we encounter various characters that will have an impact on the plot as it progresses; the ending promises some interesting developments over the remaining issues, while also keeping the unsettling and gritty feeling of the book consistent to the very end. If you’ve been burned on sub-par Proof recently, this is your chance to read a book that’s hitting all the right notes.
Rating: 9/10

Strange Tales 2 #3 (of 3)
By Various Creators
Some things just shouldn’t work, and an epic collection of indie creator-driven Marvel stories is one of those things. But it works so well, and that’s almost frightening to comprehend. This issue is special for a lot of reasons; from its amazing cover to its Harvey Pekar gem of a story to the hilarious Terry Moore Thor story this is easily the best issue in a mini-series that has been a wonderful surprise. When the trade appears, grab this; you’ll have an unbelievably fun time.
Rating: 10/10

Superman #706
By G. Willow Wilson and Amilcar Pinna
DC needs to abandon this storyline; it’s a sad thing to admit, and an unlikely thing to happen, but they just need to retract it and issue an apology to readers. It’s not even the delays, or JMS’ departure, or the fill-ins. It’s the fact that this book just keeps piling on insult after insult to Superman fans and turning this series into an empty shell. This interlude issue by G. Willow Wilson is better than the last fill-in, focusing on Perry White and an accusation of improper conduct between the Daily Planet and Superman; interesting, sure, but woefully boring once it gets going. That, and the artwork by Amilcar Pinna is so ugly it ruins every page of the book and makes the story the only thing holding the book together. It’s such a shame that Superman has fallen so far so quickly, but that’s more down to editorial allowing bad storytelling than anything else.
Rating: 3/10

Thunderbolts #151
By Jeff Parker and Kev Walker
Wow. That’s the only word that can describe this issue of Thunderbolts. After the mammoth 150th issue, who’d have predicted that it would get even better this month? Certainly not me, that’s for sure. The issue’s focus is primarily on the origin story of Ghost, and that is truly fascinating. He’s been one of the less interesting characters so far, but somehow, Jeff Parker makes him absolutely fascinating and sympathetic – you’re on his side, despite all the horrible things he’s done. The art by Kev Walker, too, is absolutely mind-blowing; his pencils deserve to be pored over for hours. Despite a great issue, the last page hurt it; the character featured is someone I care nothing for, but with hope in my heart, maybe Jeff Parker will make him tolerable.
Rating: 10/10

Uncanny X-Force #3
By Rick Remender and Jerome Opena
How much fun is this series? Never before would I have thought a series featuring Fantomex and Deadpool would be such a joy to read every month; after the amazing first issue and the second issue’s coasting decency, we find ourselves with the best issue so far. The third issue introduces us to Apocalypse’s final horsemen, and gives us brief origins of each; they’re a hardcore bunch, and the flashbacks show just how disturbed each of them are. The present day battle is decent, too, with Wolverine facing off against the leader of the Horsemen while the rest of team lie dying. Rick Remender writes each of these characters wonderfully, and as a team they maintain a high level of entertainment value and intensity; the art by Jerome Opena is the best of his career, dark and stylised and perfect for the book. If you’re not reading Uncanny X-Force, even if you’re not an X-Men fan, the question is: What’s your excuse?
Rating: 10/10

Comics Greatest Moments #3

The Flash #182

March 2002

"Absolute Zero"

By Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins

Nothing says super villain quite like an awesome origin story and some horrendous moment of villainy and sadism to elevate them beyond the reaches of 'casual' villain. In this issue, Captain Cold's origins are revealed as he takes revenge on Golden Glider, the man who killed his sister.

For a villain who sees ridiculous at first glance (much like the rest of the Flash's Rogues), Captain Cold transformed into a human being in this one-shot; he was pure evil, sure, but now he had a reason to be. This issue had such an impact that it's been reprinted at every opportunity, and has been solidified as one of the defining moments in the Flash mythology.

In fact, this is probably the best issue of Geoff Johns' run on the book, and it's still from his first two years worth of stories. Considering he's writing the book, and Cold, again now and it's one of the best things on the stands, that's a staggering achievement.