June 1

The Legion of Regrettable Super Villains – Jon Morris

Legion of Regrettable Super VillainsEvery hero needs a villain. But not all villains are dangerous some are incompetent, comical, or just weird. In his follow-up to The League of Regrettable Superheroes, author Jon Morris presents over a hundred of the strangest, most stupefying supervillains to ever see print in comics. Meet D-list rogues like Brickbat (choice of weapon: poisonous bricks), Robbing Hood (steals from the poor to give to the rich), Swarm (a crook made of bees; Nazi bees), and many more. Drawing on the entire history of the medium, The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains affectionately and hilariously profiles oddball criminals from the history of comics.

 

My thanks to Jamie at Quirk Books for my review copy.

Factual books talking about fictional stories are brilliant distractions.  I have shelves of books which break down all 36 seasons of Doctor Who. Star Trek is also well represented as are volumes on Spider-man characters, every hero ever to be an Avenger, Batman through the years and even a Thunderbirds anthology.  So when Quirk Books kindly let me review The Legion of Regrettable Super Villains I was like a kid in a sweet shop (or a reader locked in a bookshop).

Jon Morris has trawled the archives of comic book history to find us some of the more obscure villains to grace the pages of comic books.  Spanning tales from the Golden Age (where there were a plethora of characters I confess I had never heard of). To modern times where there were signs some creative teams were rushing toward deadline and the inspiration-fairy had left them in the lurch. There are some weird and wonderful characters to read about and you can decide for yourself if you feel that some may be due a revival.

As with any of these collections I was instinctively drawn to the characters and stories that I recognised (and there were several).  By comparing my own opinion on some of the Regrettable Villains against that of the author I could benchmark how fairly, or not, they are being treated.  Overall I was very pleased with the outcome of that experiment as I seemed to be quite aligned to the author’s way of thinking for the most part.

Each Villain gets introduced, some of their history explained or the reason for their appearance outlined and we hear who they were pitted against.  There are some dark and twisted creative minds at work in the comic book world, some of these crooks are seriously disturbed and I am not sure some of the stories would be agreed by editors these days.

Regrettable Super Villains isn’t the type of book I can sit and pour through in a single sitting or two.  It was enjoyed over a few weeks as I dipped in and out of it and jumped from section to section. For a comic book fan it was sheer browsing pleasure, we need more books like this…these oddball weirdos must never be forgotten.

 

The Legion of Regrettable Super Villains is published by Quirk Books and is available now in gorgeous hardback and a digital version too. Copies ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Legion-Regrettable-Supervillains-Oddball-Criminals/dp/1594749329/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1495404300&sr=1-1&keywords=league+of+regrettable+supervillains

Category: From The Bookshelf, Graphic Novels | Comments Off on The Legion of Regrettable Super Villains – Jon Morris
April 20

Hulk: Gray – Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale

Hulk GrayThis tale examines in new detail the earliest days of the Incredible Hulk. As Dr. Bruce Banner makes his first transformations into his brutish alter ego, relationships that will influence his life and the life of the Hulk are forged… and destroyed! Collects Hulk: Gray #1-6

 

Reviewing the comic via my comiXology app

I’ve been a reader for as long as I can remember and comic books have been a regular feature on my bookshelves (and in very long, white boxes) for around 30 years. When I was very young I was introduced to Spider-man and The Incredible Hulk through a weekly comic published by Marvel Comics UK.  They are nothing like the monthly publications that you find in stores like Forbidden Planet – think the Beano or Dandy but with more Thwip and Smash.

Hulk SpideyThese days I cannot afford to feed my comic book addiction to the extent that I would like so I rely upon my local library for many of the Graphic Novels that I read and I make very good use of an app on my phone and tablet called comiXology.  A phone app to let me read comic books…mind blown!

Hulk: Gray is a six part adventure featuring Dr Bruce Banner and his angry alter ego. The blurb describes it as a story which “examines in detail the earliest days of the Incredible Hulk”.  It is that – the story plays out in the immediate aftermath of the gamma explosion which changed Dr Banner’s life forever.  Technically it is a flashback recounting of the events as Banner is chatting to his friend Doc Sampson and trying to explain his side of events.

What initially drew me to Hulk: Gray (other than a love of the character) was the creative due of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. I had read, and loved, their Batman series The Long Halloween. Loeb writes a great story and Sale’s artwork really appeals. I do find that some comics can be a bit of a let down for me if I don’t like the art style (Secret Invasion I am looking at you).  But Loeb and Sale are a great duo.

Hulk is in a “Hulk Smash” persona. Poor vocab and limited comprehension he just wants to be left alone. But General Ross and the US Army are hot on his tail – particularly when Hulk finds someone to take with him as he escapes the troops…Ross’s daughter Betty. Loeb does a fabulous job of showing how Hulk cannot express Banner’s love for Betty but that Hulk somehow knows that this girl is important to Hulk.

The immediate suspicion of General Ross is quickly put in place and the friendship of Hulk and Rick Jones is established too.  For fans there is also an unexpected cameo from another Avenger founding member to enjoy (a meeting which had never been documented prior to this story).

A highly entertaining story from one of the best writing teams of recent times.  Hulk: Gray has a lot going for it.

Until next time True Believers, Make Mine Marvel.

 

Hulk: Gray is a Marvel Comics publication which is available as a single volume Graphic Novel and on Kindle or a Comixology App.  Order it here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hulk-Gray-Jeph-Loeb-ebook/dp/B00AAJR0FY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1492720057&sr=1-1&keywords=hulk+grey

Category: Graphic Novels | Comments Off on Hulk: Gray – Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale
January 9

World War Hulk – Greg Pak

world-war-hulkAn epic story of anger unbound! Exiled by a group of Marvel “heroes” to the savage alien planet of Sakaar, the Hulk raged, bled and conquered through the pages of last year’s “Planet Hulk” epic, rising from slave to gladiator to king. Now the Hulk returns to Earth to wreak his terrible vengeance on Iron Man, Reed Richards, Dr. Strange and Black Bolt ? and anyone else who gets in the way. Stronger than ever, accompanied by his monstrous Warbound gladiator allies, and possessed by the fiercest and purest rage imaginable, the Hulk may just tear this stupid planet in half. Collects World War Hulk (2007) #1-5.

 

 

Hulk stories are hit or miss for me. I love the earth-bound stuff but stick him in space and I am less of a fan.

World War Hulk is an Earth story so I came at it with high hopes and it does deliver, unfortunately it was just a bit too “Hulk Smash” and quite story-lite. There is a need for all the fighting as Hulk is returning to Earth to seek revenge on Reed Richards, Iron Man, Black Bolt and Doctor Strange – they banished him to space for the safety of people on Earth.

What they could not have known is where Hulk may end up, the battles he would face and the loss that he would suffer. Hulk has never been more angry and he will let no hero stand in the way of his rage.

The high battle count in this 5 part adventure means much of the artwork depicts fight scenes and battered and bloody heroes, split over 5 months this may have been easier reading – as a single volume it needed more story to break up the punching.

A high profile EVENT in the Marvel universe but not on the scale of Secret Invasion or Civil War. Hulk Fans will love it but casual readers will find it a bit more tricky to embrace.

 

 

Category: From The Bookshelf, Graphic Novels | Comments Off on World War Hulk – Greg Pak