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All-New X-Men Volume 1: Yesterday's X-Men (Marvel Now)
All-New X-Men Volume 1: Yesterday's X-Men (Marvel Now)
by Brian Michael Bendis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.39

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not my cup of tea, 18 Feb 2014
All-New X-Men Vol 1 'Yesterday's X-Men' ( also confusingly titled 'Here Comes Yesterday' in some versions.)
I purchased this alongside Marvel Masterworks original X-men vol 1 and 'Children of the Atom' - (an origin of the original X-men sent in contemporary times.) Those other purchases were far better than this one.

One reviewer, somewhere, said that this comic-book contained' 'plenty of humour', but I failed to see any myself.

The art - found this confusing, with panels all over the place - the story sometimes double-paged sequenced and at other times sequenced across one; the art on double=page sequences often squashed by centrefold binding. Emma Frost and Magick looked indistinguishable (- apart from differences in clothing and the fact that Magick had a fringe cut into her hair, but Emma Frost didn't.)

The writing - found this dull and shallow. I've previously read Bendis's Jessica Jones run in 'Alias' and his entire 'Daredevil' run, (with superb art by Alex Maleev.) Both those series were engaging and entertaining - (and are highly recommended, if you can still get hold of them) - but I've been disappointed with everything else I've read written by Bendis since, this X-Men comic-book included.

The plot - The modern day Beast journeys back in time and arrives during a scene taken from original Xmen issue 8 (Nov 1964). The original Beast is about to walk out of the X-men, Professor X is away in the Balkans and Scott Summers has recently been made leader. These originals are brought to the future (our present), where they end up confronting the modern day Scott and also save modern day (blue-furry) Beast's life.

I thought the idea was potentially interesting. I wanted to see the reactions of late 20th century X-men, plucked straight from the Cold War years and suddenly brought to a post 9-11 world in which we all own hand-held IT technology-communications devices etc, but nothing to do with social or technological change was even vaguely touched upon ( - apart from a lame line by original iceman that 'TV sets are much nicer in the future'.) I also thought this story had the potential to bring new readers up to date through potted history intros of various latter day X-men, but this potential was also missed. The modern-day X-men consist of Beast, Iceman, Kitty Pryde, Storm and Wolverine, each appearing only fleetingly and superficially, (with the exception of the Beast.) Another rival team consists of Cyclops, Emma Frost, Magneto and Magick. Both teams are dull as dishwater.

The original X-men scarcely react when a blue-furred Beast suddenly transports into their secret X-mansion.
Scott's reaction : 'Um, can we help you?'
Jean's reaction : 'Uh, what's going on?'
This typifies the atrocious levels of dialogue and one-dimensional characterisation throughout.

Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men Volume 1 TPB: X-Men v. 1
Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men Volume 1 TPB: X-Men v. 1
by Stan Lee
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars A Mixed Bag., 16 Feb 2014
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1st 10 issues of orginal X-men dated Sept '63 to March '65,

Peaks with issue/chapter 8
'Unus the Untouchable'.

Stan-Lee plotline: Hank MacCoy, in civilian clothes,inadvertently reveals his mutation to a crowd of onlookers, whilst rescuing a rooftop trapped boy. He and Bobby Drake are then pursued by anti-mutant lynch-mob. Sick of protecting humans who fear and mistrust mutants, Hank then walks out and leaves the X-men. Scott 'Summers worries that Hank is going to join the East-European, communist-inspired, 'Brotherhood of Evil Mutants', so he contacts the vacationing, telepathic Prof X, (who's off adventure-vacationing in the Balkans,) but he reassures Scott from afar, telling him not to worry.
Hank then becomes a pro wrestler, losing his single show fight to 'Unus The Untouchable' - another mutant who's planning to join 'The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants' via underhand dealings with 'Mastermind'. The heroic-looking Unus then comes across a bank robbery, defeats each of the robbers and confiscates their 'booty, just as the four remaining X-men happen to be flying over in a helicopter, looking for a 'newly detected mutant presence'. They see the commotion of the foiled bank robbery and swoop into a three page fight battle with 'Unus The Untouchable', but none of the X-men can defeat him. They leave him dangling from a spire, return to X-Mansion and therein find Hank MacCoy, reassumed as 'The Beast; creating a device to boost Unus's power. Cyclops,(assuming Beast has defected,} tries to stop him, but Beast bounces off. He traces Unus, amplifies his power, a 'Midas Touch' scenario ensues, and the undefeated Midas' agrees to never ally with Magneto, in bargain for having his power returned to normal strength.

Other high-lights include 'The Blob' - introduced in Chapter 4 'Beware of the Blob', (March 1964.)

Stan Lee plotline: Begins with the X-men in training costume for two pages of 'class training'. Prof X then telepathically detects the existence of another mutant, but can't pin-point his exact whereabouts. Three pages of the X-men, in ordinary 1964 identities, then follows. Rivalry between the four male members for Jeans are comically shown, until Warren Worthington sweeps her away in his open-top yellow sports car. Bobby, Hank and Scott are left envyinng him. The three of them each then separately search for the newly detected mutant. Each mistakeningly assuming they have found him, until Scott stumbles across him at a Carnival sideshow - where he's displayed as an obese freak. Blob demonstrates his mutant power for a page. That evening, Scott approaches Blob's trailer home and clumsily tries to recruit him, but is told by the cigar-smoking Blob to 'Get Lost'. Jean and Warren then arrive, trying a different angle, they use Jean as eye-candy bait. Scott then pastes Blob from behind, Blob bears no grudges and is taken to X-mansion where he's offered full membership with the X-men. Unexpectedly he turns the offer down. A two page battle breaks out and Blob escapes, hiding in the sewers and tracing his way back to his carnival-trailer home, where he then takes lead of the entire carnival community, summoning them all to join him in battle with the X-men.

Also worthy are the first four pages worth of Jean's introduction. Beginning with three male members of the X-men 'wolfing' her from the balcony window ledge. She then enters, pristeen in classy 1963 gear - ladies' gloves, blue scarf and blue beret. The X-men, in their civilian identities, are then introduced to her for two pages worth of 'human' comedy' in which they each strive to 'hit' on her. She then demonstates her power and is put to the test. Prof X then welcomes her to the X-men and warns her of the 'Evil Mutants', which then leads on to the introduction of Magneto - which is far less interesting.

Another worthy Chapter - is Chapter 7 - 'The Return of the Blob' ['Jan '64). Cerebro is introduced to Scott, (who's then recruited to 'replace' Prof X as the father-figure to the other four.) Each of the others go-off to enjoy their civilian free-time, leaving Scott brooding listening to the 'steady drone of Cerebro's voice', (which Scott mispronounces.) A Page of Hank and Bobby is then shown in a 'Bohemian, Greenwich Village Coffee-Shop', socialising amongst 'zen-poetry' citing Beatniks. Hank's 'freakishness' is publically discovered and he's carried off by a jovial crowd of Beatniks, who declare that they're going to form a new-cult called 'Barefoot Beats'. Bobby flirts with Zelda for then brief panels. then Warren enters, fully suited in blazer and tie with a classic 1963/4 hat and whisks them off - in his yellow, open-top sports car - off to their next adventure.

Other worthy touches involve the initial introductions of the sycophantic, East-European-inspired (quasimod -like} 'Toad' and the skulking, seedy-looking, trench-coated 'Mastermind'; not to mention the Romany 'Scarlet Witch' and 'Pietro'.

Stan Lee's Dialogue is far more detailed and imaginative than say that of modern-day Bendis' .
Jack 'King' Kirby's 'art is clear cut, easy to follow and convincing in a semi-cartoon beautiful/ugly way. (despite deadline pressures to produce several detailed comic-books a month.}

Readers got much more of their money's worth back then, unlike now.
Rating 4 clear-cut stars

X-Men: Children of the Atom
X-Men: Children of the Atom
by Steve Rude
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.33

4.0 out of 5 stars Original X-men the origin, 6 Feb 2014
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Not a fan of most X-men titles, but this story, which details events before X-men 1 (1963), is really good! Set around the year 2000 with the focus on adolescence and also on bigotry. The art by Steve Rude is great for the first 3 of 6 six chapters, but unfortunately the art changes half-way through and is not as good from Chapter 4 onwards, (becoming more rushed-looking and losing much of its earlier clarity,) but the story is well-written throughout.

The first chapter, particularly, has lots of amusing, quirky touches - , on page 8 two police officers discuss events that occurred in Fantastic Four issue 3 (1962), Bart Simpson skateboards in the top corner of page 15, Marilyn Manson appears as 'Charlie Monroe' on page 19, along with the 'Jerry Springer Show, and is that Mulder and Skully from the X-files on page 24?

Later on, in chapter 4, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four makes a cameo as a guest on the TV talk-show 'Politically Inept' alongside Tom Hanks as 'Ted Banks'. These fun cameos help to elevate this comic book above the usual X-men fare.

The most interesting X-men comic I've ever read, up til now, anyway.


4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gritty, versatile and interesting - the antithesis of bland, 24 Jan 2010
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This review is from: Statement (Audio CD)
Well worth every penny and more! This work really does deserve wider publicity and wider listening.

Mostly fronted by the gritty voiced 'Vi-Subversa' - who was in her late forties/early fifties at the time - with a vocal sound far closer to say Marianne Faithful on 'Broken English' than to the bland ranting of say Steve Ignorant from Crass. Poison Girls were more akin to Brechtian punk cabaret acts, such as the highly talented Dresden Dolls or Nina Hagen; like such acts, Poison Girls were multi-faceted - displaying far too much personality to be accurately categorised under same label as Crass, Conflict and Chumbawumba (- all of whom seem rather drab and one-dimensional in comparison).

Like the Dresden Dolls, Poison Girls expressed tender feelings as well as more violent ones. They sang about personal intimate thing as much as about greater political issues. Vi Subversa was a vivid, versatile performer - well-adapted to playing many different roles; in 'Old Tart's Song' she plays a prostitute, in 'Bremen Song' she is a witch, in 'Whiskey Voice' she is an aging alcoholic, in 'Idealogically Unsound' she is playfully flirtatious and wonderfully girly, whilst in 'Velvet Launderette' she plays a sinister Johnny-Depp-style Willy Wonka. Fantastic stuff. Dramatic, theatrical and highly entertaining. Great tracks all of them.

A mosaic of sound effects is interwoven into many of these songs; On the first album 'Hex' (German for 'Witch') - 'Bremen Song' begins with bird song and mantra-like harmonics, whilst 'Reality Attack' begins with the sound of supermarket tills etc. On the second album (Chappaquiddick Bridge) vocal sounds are played around with and tweaked more - ie on 'Underbitch' the word 'bitch' mutates into 'Spitz', whilst in 'Hole in the Wall' the words 'Seek and Hide' become 'Seig und Heil' etc. 'Chappaquiddick Bridge' conjures up a film-noir world of criminal mobsters, cold war espionage and nervous breakdown, whilst the third album 'Where's the Pleasure' has a maturer, world-weary vibe and is even more musically divergent - the opening track, (also called 'Where's the Pleasure') has echoing reggae-rifts. Other songs seem closer to folk music than to traditional rock and roll.

There are a couple of clangers; 'Bremen Song' on 'Hex' is brilliant until the theme moves from witches burning to the holocaust - at which point the song suddenly becomes cacaphonious. Similarly, the song 'Alienation' (on the second album) has a fantastic beginning - with stunningly strident guitars etc, but it grows overtly raucous towards climax, which goes on far too long. There's also an awful OTT sugary-pop-style song called 'Mandy is having a Baby' on the third album - a real anomaly on an otherwise very interesting and engaging album. The final LP - 'Songs of Praise' - has a more commercial feel to it - as if geared for the bland mass market, rather than the authentic underground from which it had emerged. Haven't listened to this final album much yet, but I enjoy the other three albums so much that it doesn't matter. This box set still gets and deserves a full five stars.

Incidently, the box set comprises of four albums plus singles and EPs - 72 tracks in all. Anyone who appreciates intelligent music will find some track of appeal and interest amongst this box set.

Thor By J. Michael Straczynski Volume 2 TPB (Graphic Novel Pb)
Thor By J. Michael Straczynski Volume 2 TPB (Graphic Novel Pb)
by J. Michael Straczynski
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.39

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great drama. A comicbook masterpiece, 17 Sep 2009
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The artwork is spectacular ... Balder - a pure and noble knight - is cast in the visual mould of Richard the Lionheart. Odin is one-eyed, ram-helmeted, bear-skin clad and shamanic. The storm giants are blue-skinned and garlanded with fangs with tusks through their noses and horns dangling from their ear-lobes. Loki is an alluring, but intensly sinister, transexual and - the ultimate femme fatal - Hela - Goddess of death, is antler-headed and veiled in shadows...

The apocalyptic fall of the gods - 'Ragnarok' - has come and gone. A resurrected Asgard hovers above the Nevada desert. King Odin - trapped in the spirit world and watched over by the twin ravens of thought and memory - is locked in perpetual combat with Surtur, the fire demon. Thor, as Odin's successor, enters the spiritworld of the Odinsleep and therein learns of Odin's guilty secret - of how the throne was ursurped - and of King Bor's tragic curse. Meanwhile, Loki reveals a life-changing secret to Balder - a secret with far-reaching consequences for the throne of Asgard. The story then loops full-circle as Loki sets into sequence the whole cycle of destruction, ultimately toppling Thor from the throne.

A minor, but amusing subplot involves a developing 'courtship' between a modern mortal - the baseball-capped 'Bill' - and the olde world White Goddess Kelda. The story is also deftly interwoven into the mainframe Marvel universe - set during the first anniversary of Captain America's death, against the 'Dark Reign' backdrop.(Thor uses divine-power to communicate with Steve Roger's beyond the grave, whilst later on Osborn's 'Dark Avengers' make a very brief cameo appearance.)

(One minor nitpick is the portrayal of Jane Foster as a typically modern woman - ie hardened and career-driven, utterly devoid of any softness. There is a particularly superfluous, cliched scene in which she slaps Donald Blake across the face - as cliched as the obligitory nerd who turns out to be the real hero, or the bully/jock who turns out to be 'gay' etc - so twistedly 'political-correct' and contrived.) However, apart from this very minor nit-pick, this really is a work of exceptionally high calibre.

A true masterpiece. Can't wait for vol 3.

The Nimrod Flip Out
The Nimrod Flip Out
by Etgar Kerrett
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars weird and wonderful - a book full of gems, 9 Nov 2008
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This review is from: The Nimrod Flip Out (Paperback)
Etgar Keret's stories are bizarre and off-beat. He has a mind like a corkscrew

Most of his stories instantly ensnared me - pulling me right in from the very first sentence! Be warned - these tales are probably unlike anything else you may ever have come across.

The actual story called 'The Nimrod Flipout' - after which the book is named - had me laughing aloud. Other stories therein - such as the unforgettable 'Glittery Eyes' - are self-contained pieces of pure art. Each story is quick-paced - told with the sharp, ranting style of a stand-up comedian - but these stories are not jokes, (some of them are far from funny - though most of them are rich with absurdity.) He touches upon many everyday nuances - both light and dark and he writes with a deceptive simplicity. These stories are just so easily readible - sometimes compellingly so - but they contain myriad shades and moods.

These stories are, all at once - quirky, insightful, surreal, down-to-earth, zany, ironic, original, refresingly macho, totally unpretentious, and brilliantly clever.

Even if you don't normally read books, even if you never indulge in any sort of fiction whatsoever - you may still enjoy this book. Anyone, anywhere, will find something in this book that will grab, shock, amuse, inspire, provoke or entertain them. Read it, see if I am right - I dare you!

Schrodinger's Baby
Schrodinger's Baby
by H. R. McGregor
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, convincing, thoroughly compelling., 18 Aug 2008
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This review is from: Schrodinger's Baby (Paperback)
THE STORY - is mainly set in and around a fairly typical student household. It is narrated by Kerry - an articulate, studious, rationalist, who becomes involved with Kerry - a gutsy, volatile, dramatist. Their relationships - both with each other and with their fellow housemates - becomes the main focus of the book for until, about a third of the way through, Julia discovers what initially appears to be a dead body - a dead body dressed cornily in a vampire-costume! This body (or apparition?) then disappears, Julia begins questioning her own sanity and her relationship with Kerry becomes increasingly strained as the truth behind the mystery gradually unfolds. The characterisation is spot on - containing a believable and realistic set of characters.

This is a story about opposites - how various traits and states of being can co-exist alongside their own antithesis - ie life and death, truth and lies, logic and passion, reasoning and madness, intimacy and mistrust. On another level it is about the blurring of absolutes.

As soon as I'd finished this book I immediately turned back to the first page and began re-reading it all over again. I enjoyed it so much.

WHO WILL AND WILL NOT LIKE THIS BOOK This is probably a book for and about contemporary urbanites and generation-xers, perhaps some more conservative, traditional types over in rural middle-England may find it difficult to identify and relate to? Also the 296 pages of text are divided only into three parts - this may put off tabloid-reader-types who may need bite-sized, easily-digestible fragments of text that are broken-down beneath lots of sub-headings, or reduced into tiny chapters, before they will read anything? Nevertheless it's a very gripping and lucidly written read.

Thor By J. Michael Straczynski Volume 1 Premiere HC: Premiere v. 1
Thor By J. Michael Straczynski Volume 1 Premiere HC: Premiere v. 1
by J. Michael Straczynski
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of the imagination. Sheer heaven., 18 Aug 2008
Basically, Thor is ressurrected and he recreates Asgard in the rural heartlands of America. He then seeks out other lost gods - who are now living temporal mortal lives, without memory of their former godhood, (that is until they are 're-awoken' by Thor.) It sounds daft, I know, but it's well-done. I particularly enjoyed watching the ordinary locals' - and their almost believable reactions to their new, supernatural, 'old-world' neighbours. This is a refreshing change from the cliched superhero genre. It's not fast-paced and it's short on violent action - so anyone looking for an action-based tale may be disappointed. The story builds and unfolds at a rather gradual-pace - which in my view only adds to the overall depth and brilliance of the story. I found it compelling... enthralling, full of enjoyable characters and sheer magic. I especially enjoyed the new version of Loki - (surely the most alluring and even sinisterly sexy version ever created!)

Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 22, 2009 5:04 PM BST

Madman Atomic Comics Volume 1: v. 1
Madman Atomic Comics Volume 1: v. 1
by Mike Allred
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars bizarre and fantastic, 8 Aug 2008
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This is one crazy comicbook. All conventions are abandoned here. Mike Allred gives full rip to his wild imagination. His artwork is better than ever! And his wife's vivid, bold colouring is totally mind-blowing.

Mostly set in outer-space, (as well as in the delusions of Madman's mind). Also featuring Astroman, The Atomics and an hallucinatory Mr Excitement. This book is a beautiful dream ... a fantastic escape from a grimmer, reality - A brief holiday from the real world - Healthier and cheaper than doing drugs. Give yourself a great lift - buy or borrow this comicbook now! (Though the ending is a bit weird.)

Handmaid's Tale
Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly satisfying read, 7 Aug 2008
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This review is from: Handmaid's Tale (Paperback)
Possibly inspired by Islamic revolutions of the late 1970's - Atwood re-imagines American society in the grip an ultra-conservative, theocracy.

Under this regime, biblical scripture is used to justify hierarchical polygamy. High-caste 'Wives' govern biologically-fertile 'handmaids'- kept purely for procreative breeding, these 'handmaids' are sober, pious and nun-like - but they retain the dangerous allure of 'scarlet women' ... being parodoxically both entrapped and yet empowered by their vital role as surrogate mothers.

This is a post-feminist and matriarchal, but rigidly controlled and totalitarian society. It is NOT a cliched 'post-apocalyptic' story,(as the last reviewer erroneously claimed.) It is, however, one possible direction into which modern western societies may be presently regressing. It is a gritty, multi-layered tale, but it is largely about religious ideology as a form of social control.

The story is told with such a sense of exquisite clarity. The sheer pace and mood had me enthralled! It is a vivid, lucid tale, yet richly shrewd and astute. I particularly love the way in which the plot is tantalisingly 'strip-teased' - by flowing back and forth between the present (future) and past (present) Convincingly realistic, profoundly haunting and richly stimulating ... a thoroughly satisfying read!!

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