The Brown Wedge
1978: The Shooting Star
It’s the spider I remember. In The Shooting Star, boy reporter Tintin is investigating an apocalyptic threat, a star on a collision course with our world. He visits an observatory, hoping they can tell him what’s going on. They can: the world is doomed. He is led to the telescope and through it he sees a colossal spider, clinging to the star.
The beast is only on the telescope lens. And the world is not doomed. But I was entranced. By that, by the panic in the streets, by the race to reach a new island formed in the wake of the star’s passing, and by the grotesque exploding mushrooms our hero finds there. Tintin is the first comic I can remember reading, and The Shooting Star is my first memory of Tintin. In many ways, I wish it was almost any of his other adventures.
This is an origin story. Thirty years ago, give or take a day, I went to my local newsagent and I bought a new comic. The next day I asked the newsagent, Mr.Mann, he of the back room full of protein supplements and ‘marital advice’ partworks, to reserve it for me every fortnight. Two months later he was putting aside a second comic, 2000AD. Six months later I found a source for imported US Marvel comics, and I started ordering those. And so it grows.
The origin story is no different from any other comics fan’s. It begins when something radioactive bites you. Bought in a corner shop (but it could have been glimpsed in an attic, snipped up on Tumblr, passed on by an older sister, found in a doctor’s waiting room) – it sinks its teeth in. You’re changed. You borrow, and read, and buy. With great power comes financial irresponsibility. You walk away sometimes, you come back other times. And thirty years later, here you are.
Thermae Romae I (Yen Press)
Surely the greatest time travel/bathhouse design manga ever written, Mari Yamakazi’s charming Thermae Romae has the pace and pleasures of a culture-clash sitcom: each episode, down-on-his-luck bath architect Lucius Modestus is confronted with a bathing-related problem in 2nd century AD Rome, finds himself whisked away to modern Japan, and returns home full of inspiration. Along the way he invents the Roman Empire’s first reptile house, water slide and loyalty marketing scheme.
More comics reviews originally from goodreads.com
The 1990s saw a rash of metafictional superhero comics by British writers – Grant Morrison’s Flex Mentallo and Animal Man, Alan Moore’s Promethea, and Moore’s original run on the Rob Liefeld character Supreme. Supreme: Blue Rose is Warren Ellis’ late contribution to the genre – the constant revisions and reboots of the modern superhero given a typically Ellis-ian science-fiction gloss. Themes from Ellis’ short-lived newuniversal project bubble up here too. For all the familiar – even mildly nostalgic – postmodernist and hard science trimmings, this is in places a very contemporary comic: protagonist Diana Dane is a former journalist turned freelancer, constantly having to ask herself what it means to live your best life in a disrupted, unstable world, even before those terms acquire more sinister meanings.
ASSASSINATION CLASSROOM, Vol.1 (Viz Media)
This first volume unfussily sets up the hit manga’s premise – an octopus being has destroyed the moon, then become a teacher of a remedial High School class: his pupils have a year to kill him before he destroys the Earth too. He’s teaching them to do it. There’s high concept, and then there’s Assassination Classroom. Mangaka Yuusei Matsui, sensibly enough, introduces the idea quickly and with a straight face, before getting down to showing us how the manga will actually work. It turns out Assassination Classroom is an affable, low-key kind of a comic. Koro Sensei – our tentacular antagonist – is a pretty likeable fellow, but then so are the kids trying to kill him. The introduction of Karma, a particularly devious student, ups the stakes, and tilts the volume towards being a psychological duel a la Death Note… but then he turns out to be a nice chap too. The problem, bizarrely, is that this manga about murder, teen emotion and the destruction of the Earth feels oddly low-stakes so far. It’s crisply done, though, and Matsui is obviously growing into his ideas, so worth a look to see how things develop. (3.5 stars)
Marvel Comics’ famed innovation in the 1960s was introducing characters who were “human” with “relatable flaws” as opposed to the super-icons of rivals DC. These relatable flaws gave each Marvel character a core storytelling drive which has sustained them for decades. In the spirit of Mark’s in-depth analysis of the Marvel Cinematic Universe cast, here is a look at the central premises of Marvel’s silver age heroes, which together span the entire range of human experience.
Spider-Man: Everyone thinks I’m a dick.
The Hulk: I turn into a total dick.
Fantastic Four: My colleagues are such dicks.
X-Men: People say we were born dicks.
Iron Man: I am a dick, but I try not to be.
Thor: My old man is a dick (and as for my brother…)
Doctor Strange: I can’t do this dick job.
Captain America: Am I a dick?
The Avengers: Let’s be dicks together.
Daredevil: I can’t see dick.
Nick Fury: I can’t trust any of you dicks.
Silver Surfer: What is this thing called “dick”?
We promised we wouldn’t write about the Freaky Trigger #1 comic of 2014 any more, but luckily a MUCH MORE AUTHENTIC AND REAL comic has come along for us to write about instead, thanks to this interview falling through a dimensional gateway from the evil alternate world of Earth-3. Caution – contains implied spoilers for The Wicked And The Divine #5-#7.
Few comics in recent years have attracted quite as much attention and praise as THE SOULFUL AND THE ARCANE, the groundbreaking Gods as classic rock fantasy by writer Kieran Giggin and artist Jimmy McLP. Only seven issues in, it’s already built up a strong following and – like its protagonists – looks set for an immovable place in the canon.
We caught up with Giggin and McLP after the Q Awards, to talk about THE SOULFUL AND THE ARCANE: the series so far, the gods, and how it’s been received.
Breaker breaker, Trigger Digger buddies! You got the Big A, Ace Garp, the tucker trucker so tumshy they had to croak him twice, comin’ in atcha with the top ten of the Freaky Trigger comics poll, no bluberoni! You voked your votes and now you can eyeball the results, so crack your eggs and let’s bang in them goomballs and hammer down with the best comics of 2014! Ten-ten, good buddies!
Nice to have you with us, Ace, give our regards to Feek the Freak. And as you probably gathered, it’s the comics poll Top Ten.
“Wotcher, HUMES! Sewer robot RO-JAWS here, taking time out from cleaning THARG’S CLUDGEY to bring you the second part of the 2014 Freaky Trigger comics poll. And MANKEY MOSES, it’s taken some bringing! Those nurks at Freaky Trigger have tried to cram FIFTEEN of 2014′s best comics into ONE post. Like HAMMER-STEIN says when stepping out of the ROBO-LAV after a hard night on the oil — GIVE IT SPACE TO BREATHE! They’re round the bend – THE U-BEND! The last time I saw anything this full, I was -”
That’s, ah, all we have time for from Ro-Jaws, but he’s right – we’re into the list proper of the 2014 poll, your Top 25 comics of the year. And here they are –
Inside the Arctic Base, the men from the website peered nervously out as SHAKO paced the snow. The giant bear showed no signs of tiring. But what could it want? All they had were the Freaky Trigger Comics Poll Results. What use could a polar bear have for a rundown of the top comics of 2014? Outside, Shako waited. Like all polar bears, Shako could be… patient when it came to his prey. This was just like the fishing hole, where he waited for a seal. His instincts told him the humans would soon be exhausted… ready to… PLAY WITH SHAKO. Shako could smell the meat of analysis and vote totals. Very soon now, it would be his.
Ahem. Yes, thankyou Shako, and thankyou those readers who voted in the first annual FT Comics Poll for the best titles of 2014. We’ll get into your Top 25 comics of the year in other posts, but here, first of all, are the titles that ranked (i.e. got more than 1 vote) but placed outside the final 25.