Episode I - The Fanboy Menace

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A year without comics proved too much so when his wife got some money he went out and blew it on a comic shop. No stranger to Silver Bullet, Alan has been a frequent reviewer in the past and has contributed articles here and there as well as running his own newsletter for his shop and website.

Clad in the garb of the night, sickened by the insults on the message board Alan, Daredevil-like, adopted the very name that they used to taunt him. HE IS FANBOY!

Hear Alan rant, review and occasionally ask "Why aren't you reading...?"

Tempting fate after its last outing, it's back!

Why aren't you reading...

Why? Well on a purely cynical note it's another charity book with the proceeds going to the American Red Cross. On another cynical note it's a hell of a read for your money (nice thick graphic novel packed fulla' stuff for only $14.95) so it's good value. Put those things aside there's a better reason to buy this, it's simple really, it's damned good. This is an excellent introduction to the world of small press comics. You won't like everything contained in this book, in fact some of the offerings are a little hard to either fathom or swallow BUT when it's good &*&$ me it's good! I was truly moved to tears by some of the tales in here and the sheer range of styles are a joy to behold.

Why? Well I like it! Fury has come under some fire online and, um, well it's entirely justified I suppose but there is the matter of context. Right now we're pretty "Ennis'ed out" Preacher, Punisher, Fury, Rifle Brigade etc. It has all begun to blend into one big overly violent, gratuitous blood fest. In that context Fury is more of the same a piece of bland ultraviolence. Taken on its own (or with the Fanboy's amazing ability to concentrate only on the book at hand) Fury is fantastic. Good old Nicky doesn't take any rubbish from anyone, he's pure solider and it's fast paced, all action fun. This isn't highbrow entertainment; it doesn't set out to be. This is a pulp title designed to give you a laugh and keep you amused for a few minutes, it does that, it's a winner.

American Century?
Why? The art's great, the stories are original, it's gritty but not overly gratuitous (not an Ennisism in sight) and it's bloody well written. This is a title that has been overlooked in our shop but one I still get in just to read myself. This is one of them there "real life" comics, no costumes or space wars, no swords or sorcery just stories about people living their lives. The star of the show is Harry Kraft formerly a (fighter, bomber I've forgotten) pilot in WWII called up to serve again in Korea. He started the series in a dead-end job with a stuck up wife who'd only have sex with his neighbours. That quickly changed with a faked death, a new life and a few scares along the way. Harry is a normal guy. He's gutsy, he's a little bit violent and he's been through enough not to take any you-know-what from anyone. Despite his macho persona Harry is very accessible as our doorway into 1950's America because of his remarkable open mind. Nothing phases Harry from drugs to homosexuality and he is prepared to fight to defend his fellow 'man' regardless of sex or race. We follow Harry as he tries to rebuild his life every few issues either as a pilot, a bodyguard or a cop. This is a great read and one that should be a classic.

Why? I can't believe I actually have to push this book it should be selling itself! Firstly there is the combination of Oeming's deceptively simple art (a symphony of clarity and style) and Bendis' script (excellent 'realistic' dialogue, fantastic stories and great characterisations). Then there is the basic premise: Cops and Capes! Murder Detectives in a world where superpowered beings are a reality. This is NYPD Blue, Hill Street Blues, Taggart and Cracker all rolled into a mixture of the DC and Marvel Universes. If there is a criticism it is that Bendis can be too wordy and it's a bit of a chore to start reading an issue but trust me, it's worth it. Read the dialogue out loud from an issue of Powers then do the same for Thor (or some other book) notice the difference, hear the way Bendis has his characters speak, it's true to life, it's a glory to behold. Issue #15 saw the start of a brand new story arc (though Bendis' work is good enough to hop on to at any time) so it's a good time to get on board.

Why? Because sooner or later you will wind up reading this comic, everyone does. I first met Cerebus in Spawn and later I read the fantastic first graphic novel. This is the highbrow end of independent comics, a 'funny animal' story that has captured the heart of many an intellectual and pseudo-intellectual alike. This is a wordy book and it isn't for everyone but it does have its audience. If you feel like you need a bit more challenging reading than the usual spandex fest give Cerebus a try and stick with it for about 3-4 issues to let it get into the flow properly. The recent jokes about 'Preacher' and 'Sandman' have been great to spot and there's tons more there too.

Justice League Adventures?
Why? Because Bruce Timm deserves canonisation for what his vision did for Batman. This comic comes on the back of the latest animated DC series and it's in the same vein as those before it. Sadly (as far as I know) the cartoon hasn't made it to the UK yet but the comic has. The stories in this comic are as simple as the artwork but that isn't a bad thing. Too many comics are hard to decipher because the artist is trying to be clever so it's good to simply be able to follow the story without any effort. The straightforward stories make for good morality plays and entertaining action adventures. On top of this the characters are great: J'onn is J'onn, his character is as unchanging in the comics as his appearance is malleable; Flash is the cocky rookie, flirty, full of himself and completely in awe of those he's with (bit of the old Wally West mixed with the current DCU (Kyle's) Green Lantern personalities); Wonder Woman and Superman could never be anything except who they are; Green Lantern (John Stewart) is the old embittered veteran. He's been around the block (and the universe) a few times and it shows; Hawkgirl is harder to pin down, she's a good team member; but the star of the show is, of course, Batman. The comic, at least, manages to pin down old Brucie to a tee. You have to scour the panels to find the dark silhouette in the shadows or the eyes peering out from a void. The team think him paranoid and untrusting yet they respect and fear him most of all. Issue #3 is the perfect example of a JLA comic anywhere: The JLA encounter and save some beings. Batman hangs about and investigates. The JLA welcome the beings. Batman warns caution. The JLA respect his opinion but feel they have to be welcoming. Batman returns to the cave to work. Batman skips dinner. The aliens turn out to be powerful and untrustworthy. The JLA fight the, now, baddies. The fighting stops. There is confusion as to what needs to be done. A voice comes from the shadows (cool line here... an alien asks "What?" to which the Flash replies "It's always so cool when he does this.") Batman explains it all. The issue is resolved.

Creed Utopiate?
Why? I don't know. Maybe you fancied something different? This is a mixture of many recent things such as Sandman, Books of Magic, Zero Girl, Buffy TVS and more. I'd recommend this to all fans of any of those whole-heartedly. Creed has the potential to hit the right buttons with many readers but not all of them. This is a story of dream worlds mixing with reality, a tale of teen angst and a good indication of why it is a bad idea to bring frogs that can turn into dragons into school.

Green Lantern?
Why? Why not. This is a very underrated and overslated title. Poor old Judd got a hammering in the letter columns from neo-nazi readers who thought him to be satan incarnate for creating a gay character. I personally was deeply offended by their letters and (whilst I applaud DC for being brave enough to publish them) sickened that they ever made print. I cannot for the life of me see what scum like them would see in this title other than the fact that the very visual nature of Green Lantern's superheroics can occasionally negate the need for words and thus for reading. This is a title that has been very character lead. The hero is an artist who has recently has his phenomenal power upgraded to God-like status. The support characters are former Green Lanterns, his artistic assistant and some other friends. All in all it's a good comic. It has its rocky patches but it remains entertaining. Kyle is a great character that under Winick's scripting I have come to like a lot. Jade is sexy and well written and it's nice to see her dad, dear old Alan Scott giving his advice where needed.


I've not got too much to rant about this time. Actually I'm pretty much all ranted out what with idiot officials, stupid indistinct illnesses and idiot customers who want us to stock the current UK reprints of Spider-Man (I think they've just reached the Clone saga for crying out loud). I've (well, Dawn) has a baby on the way, the house is a mess, my signing has been postponed (why, oh why couldn't Bucky have been drinking on Hogmanay like any sensible person. Everyone knows that drunks tend to bounce rather than break. Gotta love him though he sounded so upset on the phone according to my wife. He even phoned Craig to apologise for the fact that he wouldn't be there to do an interview for SBC. Fool, we both told him to shut up, worry about himself, get back to work and get better!), I've got a week to do my accounts for last year, books I haven't looked at for at least, oh, a year, I've got a headache, no money and people are attacking me on the message boards. Fortunately there is a bright side; a fellow comic shop owner told me to remember Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back when it comes to message board postings, I've (well, Dawn) has a baby on the way, the business is in a spanking new location and it's really picking up (fancy that a comic shop next to a tattooist, a Hells Angel bar and a Post Office is doing well... what ever next a sweetshop that does well in a schoolyard?), idiot customers are at least picking up Peter Parker: Spider-Man and are coming back for more of Mark's work and Paul's great writing, the debts are going down and being ill means a break at home tomorrow for a change.

Comics 2002 is coming soon to the UK and I've heard that none of the big US companies are coming! Oh I've heard all the arguments but frankly none of them hold any water. Dark Horse can afford to buy licenses such as Star Wars so they can afford a plane ticket. CrossGen can afford to pay Chuck Dixon so they can afford a plane ticket. DC have TIMEAOLWARNER behind them so they've got no bloody excuse at all! Marvel aren't bankrupt anymore and Toybiz have had a good year so they have no excuses (and Spider-Man is out this year!), Image is run by millionaires and so it goes on! What it comes down to is the fact that they don't give a damn about their fans. Oh I'm sorry if the turn out wasn't to your liking (F**K ME the place was packed, you couldn't move the sweat-stink of the genuine, grubby, perverse little fanboys would sear your eyes like acid. It was as busy as it could be) but poor old Kev did his best. Why don't all of you get together and help? Why don't you pool resources to get some TV advertising? It really makes me sick how little these companies care. I asked the major companies why they don't advertise in the main stream, why they don't try to promote comics to a wider audience. There answer: Tried it, didn't work... TRIED IT WHEN? Do you know what they tried? Fluffy animal stories given to kids on rides, stupid adverts here and there! GEEZ look in Wizard you ponces! Look at your 'In House' adverts. You know how to push your wares! Look at the Kingdom Come teaser ads. You pratts are sitting on some of the best creative minds in the world. You have top writers, top artists and names that people know. Do it right! Do it smart! Push where the shops are, push the right kind of ads in the right places! There are some mainstream mags reviewing comics but it's too little and it's too out of date. There is no excuse for your lack of vision and there is no excuse for you sickening disdain for the British fans.

Ugh. >spit< bit of bile rising there, all gone now I've got that off my chest. Oh just reread that, whoops, it's sure to bite me on the ass one day, ah well...

Until next time, I apologise in advance for actually liking comics rather than wanting to rip them to metaphoric shreds!

Visit Alan Online at Pipedreams Online

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