NEMO_HOI_FC_PromoThere’s no denying that Alan Moore is a visionary comics writer, his résumé speaks for itself. But in recent years as his work has taken a more avant grade and experimental approach, not always for the better. The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, once his most well rounded book has descended into psychedelic insanity, perhaps as a reaction to the ill fated movie, and subsequent books, especially the recent 1969 and 2009 editions, although brimming with inventive ideas became oblique and pretentious. They were still packed full of insightful references from the world of music, art and literature and Kevin O’Neill’s art still bristled with energy and imagination, but as the references became increasingly obscure and the characters often more and more self indulgent each issue seemed to require a degree in occult literature and an epic companion glossary just to make head nor tail of it. Although it is great to know that someone is at least making intelligent comics,  showing off how much you know about obscure literarty characters it does not always make for the most interesting read. 

Transformers Monstrosity O01_CVRFollowing in the metallic footsteps of last years Transformers: Autocracy from IDW Publishing comes another digital exclusive title in the form of Transformers: Monstrosity. Written by the same time of Chris Metzen and Flint Dille and with the stunning painted artwork of Livio Ramondelli it continues the story of the early days of the Autobots and Decepticons on Cybertron. Following on from the events in Autocracy, Orion Pax has assumed the title of Optimus Prime after ousting the despotic Zeta Prime and defeating the rebellious Decepticons – who had aided his coup d’état but betrayed him and left him for dead before he uncovered the Matrix of Leadership and vanquished the duplicitous Megatron.

VerityFair-Main-Menu-001-229x300The latest comic book to get the ‘Deluxe Digital Graphic Novel’ treatment from developers Panel Nine is Terry Wiley’s 2008 book Verity Fair. Telling the story of wannabe starlet Verity Bourneville (aka Tracey Perkins) and her various misadventures, from working in a fish shop to trying to make it as an actress. This is much more than just a ‘slice of life‘ Brit comic as Wiley’s captures the nuances of this eclectic 40-year old expertly. Creating a character who is both wildly entertaining and poignantly tragic in equal measures which in turn makes her a heroine whose stories are endlessly readable, whatever the format.

Hawkeye 7When it comes to weaving real life incidents into a comics storyline avoiding mawkishness and insensitivity is not easy and is the primary reason that many comics choose to base their books in fictitious cities or alternative timelines. However for a company like Marvel who pride themselves on their links to New York and the sense of realism it gives their stories then it means that when something as profound as Hurricane Sandy happens then they are almost duty bound to cover it, just as they did with 9/11 in 2001. However to get the tone right is not easy, reconciling the fantastic world of the Avengers with the real life heroics of everyday New Yorkers requires a subtle hand to avoid sensationalism and poor taste, but fortunately for Marvel they have an ace up their sleeve in Matt Fraction’s brilliant Hawkeye.

104686Ever since Bill Gaines’ iconic EC Comics titles bit the dust (thanks to the introduction of the Comics Code in the 1950s) there has been a space in the market for a fun, gruesome comic-horror anthology. Although there have been many excellent horror comics from the likes of DC, Chaos! and Dark Horse there hasn’t been a collection of tales fit to carry EC Comics torch. Until now.

EEEK! From Asylum Press/Rat Race Comics is a retro gem. It has captured the essence of EC‘s output and brought it kicking, screaming and stabbing into the 21st century. Creator Jason Paulos has expertly grasped the often missed humour bull by the horns and created a dark twisted niche for himself – and what’s even better is that it’s a digital exclusive!

superior 1Last week saw the debut on ComiXology of Mark Millar’s Millarworld books, the creator-owned titles he releases on his own imprint that include the likes of Kick Ass, Secret Service and Super Crooks.  Alongside last week’s releases of Kick Ass spin-off Hit Girl and ultra-violent post-modern superhero tale Nemesis, this week sees the release of one Millar’s most underrated recent books, the wonderful Superior featuring art by frequent Millar contributor Leinil Frances Yu

As one of the many high profile superstar writers and a man with a very prominent public profile, it’s very easy to pigeon hole Millar as the ‘ultra violent Kick Ass guy’. Many of his most notorious books feature a violent and splatterific edge that many other mainstream writers would avoid going anywhere near – this is after all the man who featured a scene of testicular torture in Kick Ass #1 and saw Wolverine burst from the Hulk’s stomach in Old Man Logan – however this is also the man who gave the Avengers their attitude in Ultimates, turned Superman into a Soviet icon in Red Son and plotted the epic Civil War, which proves he is more than just a shock merchant and Superior is the kind of title that reinforces what a smart and astute writer Millar is.

MonkeyBrain Logo 150pxThis month sees not one, but FOUR new titles from the brilliant crew at MonkeyBrain Comics. And as we have come to expect, they are all completely unique in their own special way, and unlike anything else in the MonkeyBrain roster. But they are all equally compelling and interesting, continuing MonkeyBrain‘s habit of fostering some of the most exciting new talent in the world of digital comics.

XOmanowar001X-O Manowar is one of those cult books that has floated around the periphery for years but never quite managed to crack the big time, that is until now. Launched back in the early 90s this tale of Alric the Visigoth and his intergalactic space armour was created by Marvel legend Jim Shooter, Bob Layton and Jon Hartz and featured early work from the like Joe Quesada (on X-O #0). An instant cult favourite it would spawn crossovers with the fledgling Image universe and even fellow metal helmet wearer, Marvel‘s Iron Man, thanks to an appearance in a video game as a result of Valiant’s sale to Acclaim Entertainment. Despite fervent fan support it was very much a product of it’s time and so faded into the mists along with a raft of other 90s superheros, that is until 2012 when X-O, along with the entire cast of other Valiant classics, such as Archer & Armstrong and Bloodshot, were resurrected under the new Valiant Entertainment banner with a new rebooted origin. Under the guidance of Robert Venditti (creator of The Surrogates for Top Shelf) and artist Cary Nord, the world of Alric the Visigoth has been recreated and revitalised for a new 21st century audience and with it they have created one of the best pure superhero books on the newsstand.