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16 May 2015

Episode 55 - Comics with a Bang! And a Bunch of Stuff…

An explosive melting pot of stuff this episode; we give you the low down on Dynamite Entertainment, discuss Avengers: Age of Ultron and various comic movie trailers, and we throw in a bit of creator rights chat in there as well!



Plus our usual review round-up including Southern Bastards #8, Superior Iron Man #8, Convergence: The Question #1, Velvet #10, Rebels #1, Kaptara #1, Never Boy #1, Vacancy, and more!

Follow us on twitter @comicsordeath, download us from iTunes and visit us at givemecomicsorgivemedeath.blogspot.com, and come and 'like' us at Facebook

 
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4 May 2015

Next World Problems!


A few months ago the lovely people at the previously-unknown-to-me Hound Comics* based out of Bethpage, New York got in touch with Give Me Comics Or Give Me Death. They wanted to see if we’d like to review some of their products. Being rabid comic readers, we of course said yes. I said I’d pick up the task as the Mike half of our operation does almost everything else. 



I was slightly bowled over when Etan Wish and Kim Crockett (Directors of Operations and Public Relations respectively) sent me digital links to 30-some comics - I’d been expecting maybe three! Not that free comics are ever a bad thing, but given my already prodigious consumption and my various other hobbies and, you know, having a job, simply fitting in reading them has proved a challenge! First world problems, I know.

However, I followed the links to my free downloads at DriveThruComics.com, opened up the PDFs on my iPad, and got to reading. Given the volume of different books, and in a desperate effort to fulfil the oft-made promise our pod listeners will have heard to add written material to this blog, these reviews will be split by title and will show up over the coming days (possibly lots of coming days - I need to practice guitar!). First up: Hound’s flagship series, Brimstone And The Borderhounds. 



The premise for this book is explained in slightly overwrought prose that takes up a full page - if this was an elevator pitch you’d need to be in the Burj Khalifa to get to the end. It boils down to this: various afterlife domains (hell, nirvana, etc) compete for souls. Souls that escape are hunted by bounty hunters called Borderhounds. The titular half-breed (half human, half hellguy) Brimstone leads such a squad with his crew, Dawg and Luscious. Thanks to his mongrel nature, he can also cross over into our world. Let the fun commence. 

(NB Brim and some of the other characters are based on the Hound-founders and co-creators’ other jobs as pro-wrestlers on the indie circuit. Sometimes you can tell, usually it makes no difference. Just mentioning it.)

Brimstone (the hell-born bounty hunter) was created by Brimstone (the wrestler) and MH Carnevali, who also writes the first five issues with Brimstone penning the sixth. The rest of the team on the first six books was Sajad Shah providing pencils for Allen ‘Vandal’ Chickering to ink and the colours and letters were handled by Thiago Castro. 

The first four issues are given over to a story called 'Another Cold Day', charting the activities of a ruthless and presumed-deceased lunatic called Mr Hostile (no spoilers here as to where he’s from and what goes down). It also introduces Detective Altar who is a recurring, supporting cast member. There is horror and action a-plenty by the end of the arc as the mood of the book is established without fuss. 

The strongest thing that the opening arc has going for it is the premise. It is versatile, offering superheroics, horror and detective/crime tropes without beginning to overextend itself. Many creator-owned comics are born of a good idea but one with a limited number of stories that can be told. You could easily see Brim running for many, many issues as he chases down menaces in various realms, including our own. 



I suspect it is not fair to judge the characters after only a handful of tales; you’re not only reading fledgling characters but also the work of fledgling creators. That being said, Brim, Luscious and Dawg have defined if not groundbreaking personalities - I could easily imagine them in the wrestling ring as they operate with limited nuance and maximum brash action.

The script is pacy and this is quite refreshing after many years of reading mainstream, written-for-the-trade comics. Some of the dialogue is corny and heavy-handed - it’s all a lot more Fox than HBO - but there are no pretensions here, so it works in a trashy but enjoyable way. It’s aiming for guilty pleasure rather than Eisner, and mostly hits the mark. 

The pencils from Shah improved vastly across the first four issues. At the start his ambition often outstripped his ability with very 90s looking panel layouts and some empty backgrounds. In this, the muddy, overly dark colours from Castro don’t help and too many pages look like you’ve put a red filter on your screen. However, it is interesting to see a penciller improve so rapidly from issue to issue. 

The fourth issue was a bit of a breakthrough, artistically. The colour palette seemed to move on from red to discover the rest of the spectrum and Vandal’s inks were far less heavy-handed. Shah’s work still occasionally veers from cartoonish and detail-light to heavily-pouched, 90s-style, frowning heavyweights in a single page. The whole package starts to come together better and look a lot more professional and the storytelling is usually clear. 



Following the initial arc, you get a shorter, hell-set tale. This serves to add context to Brimstone’s situation and introduce more of the supporting cast and some other teams of Borderhounds.

The latest two issues I’ve read also change up the creative team slightly, Sam Carlin inking, Shawn Reynolds doing lettering and Ozzie Martin (seven) and Blair Smith (eight) doing the colours. Interestingly, issue eight features the Project Meridian Foundation and highlights the real-world issue of human trafficking and child slavery, done in a way that deepens the backstory of Dawg and Luscious and so enhances the narrative whilst also raising awareness - well done!

Here at GMCoGMD we always rate our reviews out of ten (one being dreadful, five an average book, ten being awesome) and make a point of saying we’ll use the full range (as many reviews only ever seem to use six to nine).

So how do I rate Brimstone And The Borderhounds’ first eight issues? I really like the premise - it’s interesting and versatile. The characters vary from cliche to curious. The writing is mixed, sometimes barrelling along with comedy and action without wasting time on pointless exposition, but at other times delivers clunky, unlikely dire-logue that would have seemed dated in the 80s. As mentioned, the art improves from issue to issue across the board, with the pencils gaining confidence and the inking and colours gaining clarity as the series progresses. 

So, my first foray into Hound Comics’ world scores a healthy five out of ten overall, and I am enthusiastic about the future of this book as it has plenty of legs.

Now, back to the iPad…

Lee  


* For those wanting to know more about Hound, check out the company bio on ComicVine here: http://www.comicvine.com/hound-comics/4010-2768/ 

12 April 2015

Episode 54 - It Came From Outer Space!

We get all Fox Mulder this episode as we discuss aliens - in comics! The good, the bad and the ugly, and why they aren't alien enough for us.



Plus reviews of Descender #1, Concergence #0, Ultra Comics, Black Vortex, Avengers and Miami Vice Remix #1

Follow us on twitter @comicsordeath, download us from iTunes and visit us at givemecomicsorgivemedeath.blogspot.com, and come and 'like' us at Facebook


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1 April 2015

Episode 53 - John Byrne, The Godfather of Modern Superhero Comics

He's the definitive X-Men artist! He reinvented Superman before reinventing Superman was a thing!  He's worked on pretty much every Superhero comic there is!  He's the latest entrant into our Hall of Fame!  He is John Byrne.



Plus a ton of debut issues in our reviews round-up including;
Howard The Duck #1, Southern Cross #1, Chrononauts #1, Hawkeye #1, Invisible Republic #1, The Surface 1, Shamballa, Sex #20, and Hound Comics.

Follow us on twitter @comicsordeath, download us from iTunes and visit us at givemecomicsorgivemedeath.blogspot.com, and come and 'like' us at Facebook

 
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13 March 2015

Episode 52: Best vs Definitive

In episode 52 we take a look at long-running series and discuss which creative teams produced the DEFINITIVE takes on those characters and which produced the BEST!  Don't worry we (try to) explain what we mean!



Plus our usual review round-up including Criminal, They're Not Like Us #3, Jupiter's Legacy #5 Curb Stomp #1, Effigy #1, Storm #8, Magneto #15, Crossed One Hundred #2 and All New X-Men #38.

Follow us on twitter @comicsordeath, download us from iTunes and visit us at givemecomicsorgivemedeath.blogspot.com, and come and 'like' us at Facebook



12 February 2015

Episode 51 - Multiple Realities and Collecting Comics!

In episode 51 we preview the who-knows-exactly-what-they-are big 2015 events from Marvel and DC; Secret Wars and Convergence.  We also get all practical and advice-like discussing cataloguing your comics collection.




In our reviews round-up we give the yay or nay to Star Wars #1, The Sculptor, Ivar Time Walker #1, Uncanny Avengers #1, Inhuman #11 and New Avengers #29.

Follow us on twitter @comicsordeath, download us from iTunes and visit us at givemecomicsorgivemedeath.blogspot.com, and come and 'like' us at Facebook.

Part 1 00:00:00 - 01:10:56 Secret Wars and Convergence
Part 2 00:10:57 - 01:50:22 Cataloguing Comics
Part 3 01:50:23 - 2:23:26 Reviews

 

22 January 2015

Episode 50 - The Gimmies!



Not only is this our 50th episode, its also our annual awards episode - The Gimmies! We decide what was hot and what was not in 2014. Our nominees are listed below - listen in to find out who were the deserving winners!


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Best Single Issue

Multiversity: Pax America
Cyborg M85
Silver Surfer #5
Outcast#1

Best Mini-Series

Stray Bullets: Killers
Sandman: Overture
Annihilator
Trillium

Best Writer

Jason Aaron
Matt Fraction
Brain K Vaughan
Grant Morrison

Best Graphic Novel

Just So Happens
Seconds
Here
Hilda & The Black Hound

Best Colours

Jordie Bellaire
Ive Svorcina
Javier Rodriguez
Tula Lotay

Best Writer/Artist

David Lapham
Jeff Lemire
Luke Pearson
Lando

Artist

Jason Latour
Fiona Staples
J H Williams III
Frazer Irving

Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition

Benjamin Wright
Lando
Tsemberlidis

Best Ongoing Series

Saga
Southern Bastards
Sex Criminals
Lazarus

Best Publisher

Image Comics
Humanoids
Nobrow
Vertigo

Follow us on twitter @comicsordeath, download us from iTunes and visit us at givemecomicsorgivemedeath.blogspot.com, and come and 'like' us at Facebook