The Brown Wedge
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.
That’s basically ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW, so get those votes in. But if you CRAVE details like our chief sponsor SHAKO* craves MEAT then there are more below the cut.
The Mighty Thor, by Walt Simonson
I got into comics in the 80s, a copy of Walt Simonson’s Thor was one of the first Marvel Comics I bought with my own pocket money. (#359, where Thor is ensnared by a LOVE POTION brewed by The Enchantress’ sister) Years later I went back and read foundational 60s greats like the Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four, and the Steve Ditko Spider-Man, but at that time they either weren’t available or just didn’t feel current. Simonson’s Thor was my Kirby.
The other comics that were exciting and praised at that time – Daredevil, Uncanny X-Men, later on things like Watchmen and the post-Watchmen DC stuff – they were all built on interrogating or complicating the last 20-30 years of comics, which was an awesome thing to come in on (yay! punk!) but also made me feel I’d arrived a little late – in time for the downfall of something I’d never really known to begin with.
Avengers NOW! and Marvel in the 2010s
Marvel Comics’ announcement that its new Thor is going to be a woman has attracted plenty of froth and comment – especially since it turned out that this was part of a general refreshment of their core titles under the Avengers NOW! banner brand. Captain America is to be replaced by long-standing partner The Falcon (who happens to be a black guy), and Iron Man is going to become a dick (they may have trouble presenting this as a radical change).
There have been a range of responses. Superhero comics are built on the “illusion of change”, but apparently have the most reliably troll-able audience in media history, so some people are upset at the idea of a status quo change. That it’s a status quo change away from a white guy in two cases – and those two cases are the ones drawing all the heat, nobody is saying “I love Tony Stark! How dare they make him even more of a jerk” – is not coincidental to the level of rage.
- Coronations are dull things
- You read enough Vertigo comics in your youth (or, last week) and you have had sufficient for the next decade of ingénue audience identification figures having a world of wonder shown to them by an unreliable trickster.
- You’re no longer in your late teens, and you’re a little irked at another piece of culture that insists that the secrets of life and the universe are locked in hearts that, looking back, you remember as a little underdone.