Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"It's been difficult to arrange assisted living for the undead." The Werewolf of New York review

Batton Lash recently held another Kickstarter project for his long-running series Supernatural Law, this time for a collection entitled the Werewolf of New York. As before, I happily supported the project. However, whereas the last project was to print the sixth volume in his set of Supernatural Law trades (the Monsters Meet on Court Street), this book is considered a stand-alone graphic novel, running only 100 pages (about 60 pages less than the trades) and telling a single story. Unlike the other trades, there's no celebrity introduction - Lash introduces the material himself.

What really sets the Werewolf of New York apart are the production values - full colour from start to finish! The story itself was first published in full-colour in the webcomic version of Supernatural Law thus the printed copy retains the original presentation's strengths. If you've already read the Werewolf of New York online you don't strictly need the book, but if you follow Supernatural Law online, you'll almost certainly want the book anyway.

The story involves one Leon Reed, a victim of lycanthropy who's retained our favourite Counselors of the Macabre Jeff Byrd & Alanna Wolff to defend him over the damages he caused while in his werewolf form. Leon has entered a special rehabilitation program for werewolves so his life appears to be in order - but there's a werewolf advocacy group lurking about who believe Leon's been brainwashed into denying his true self. Is Leon really happier being a werewolf? Also, there's a senile old vampire wandering around in a b-plot (and occasional family plot).

Wolff & Byrd are actually edged out of the book in this one - it's Leon Reed and the werewolf advocates (People for the Rights, Interests and Concerns of Shapeshifters or "PRICS" as secretary Mavis Munro calls them) who carry the bulk of the volume. Like most of Lash's Supernatural Law books the art, plotting and humour is well-balanced, with some clever wordplay ("I'm concerned that our client's dark cloud has a silver lining") and satire of contemporary culture (in this instance, it sends up "gay rehab" therapy using werewolves). There isn't really an opportunity for Lash to show off his talents as an artist-mimick, unfortunately (although there are some creatures who appear to be inspired by Gorillaz).

Lash is already making plans for yet another Kickstarter project to keep Supernatural Law in the public eye. I'll certainly be there to keep supporting it!

Friday, October 11, 2013

My favourite comic book stories, 1959-2009 - a list

Colin Smith has recently begun a list of his favourite comic series' which reminded me of a similar list I'd begun preparing for this blog more than a year ago but never followed through with.

Although Colin is currently listing his favourite comics by creative run/theme/storyarc, this is a list of my favourite comic book stories arranged by year of original publication from 1959-2009. I should caution you - as I am a former writer/coordinator of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, you're going to see an awful lot of Marvel super hero comics. What better way to enter into Thanksgiving weekend than a list of some comic books I'm very thankful for?

And with that...

1959: "The Girl in Superman's Past" (Superman#129) by Bill Finger & wayne Boring.

1960: "Beware! The Rawhide Kid!" (Rawhide Kid#17) by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby.

1961: "Zzutak! The Thing That Shouldn't Exist!" (Strange Tales#88) by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby.

1962: "Spider-Man!" (Amazing Fantasy#15) by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko.

1963: "The Origin of Doctor Strange" (Strange Tales#115) by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko.

1964: "The Sinister Six!" (Amazing Spider-Man Annual#1) by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko.

1965: "Eternity Beckons!" (Strange Tales#135) by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko.

1966: "The Final Chapter!" (Amazing Spider-Man#33) by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko.

1967: "To Become an Immortal!" (Thor#136) by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby.

1968: "Bat Lash!" (Showcase#76) by Sergio Aragones & Nick Cardy.

1969: "And Who Shall Mourn for Him?" (Silver Surfer#5) by Stan Lee & John Buscema.

1970: "The Sword and the Sorcerers" (Chamber of Darkness#4) by Roy Thomas & Barry Windsor-Smith.

1971: "The Impossible Hit" (Golgo 13#1) by Takao Saito.

1972: "The Pact" (New Gods#7) by Jack Kirby.

1973: "Fear is the Name of the Game!" (Tomb of Dracula#15) by Marv Wolfman & Gene Colan.

1974: "Night of the Blood Stalker!" (Tomb of Dracula#25) by Marv Wolfman & Gene Colan.

1975: "Memories on a Mourning's Night!" (Tomb of Dracula#30) by Marv Wolfman & Gene Colan.

1976: "Cat"/"Fight Without Pity" (Master of Kung Fu#38-39) by Doug Moench & Paul Gulacy.

1977: "Astronauts" (Eternals#13) by Jack Kirby.

1978: "Nightimes" (Master of Kung Fu#71) by Doug Moench & Mike Zeck.

1979: "Batwings Over Transylvania!" (Tomb of Dracula#69) by Marv Wolfman & Gene Colan.

1980: "Cap for President!" (Captain America#250) by Roger Stern & John Byrne.

1981: "The Last Jedi!" (Star Wars#49) by Mike W. Barr & Walter Simonson.

1982: "To Have Loved... and Lost!" (Doctor Strange#55) by Roger Stern & Michael Golden. This is also my all-time favourite comic book story.

1983: "The Last Farewell!" (Avengers#230) by Roger Stern & Al Milgrom.

1984: "The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man" (Amazing Spider-Man#248) by Roger Stern & Ron Frenz.

1985: "Like a Bat Out of Hell!" (Thor#362) by Walter Simonson.

1986: "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" (Superman#423/Action Comics#583) by Alan Moore & Curt Swan.

1987: "The Price of Victory" (Avengers#277) by Roger Stern & John Buscema.

1988: "Surrender" (Captain America#345) by Mark Gruenwald & Kieron Dwyer.

1989: "Final Round" (Suicide Squad#22) by John Ostrander & Luke McDonnell.

1990: "The Brains of the Outfit" (Deathlok#1) by Dwayne McDuffie & Jackson Guice (more about it here).

1991: "Circles" (Usagi Yojimbo#28-31) by Stan Sakai.

1992: "Final Fate" (Spectre#12) by John Ostrander & Tom Mandrake.

1993: "Palestine" (Palestine#1-9) by Joe Sacco.

1994: "Monsters" (Marvels#2) by Kurt Busiek & Alex Ross.

1995: "The Scoop" (Kurt Busiek's Astro City#2) by Kurt Busiek & Brent Anderson.

1996: "The Nearness of You" (Kurt Busiek's Astro City#0.5) by Kurt Busiek & Brent Anderson.

1997: "My Father's Son" (Kurt Busiek's Astro City#9) by Kurt Busiek & Brent Anderson.

1998: "Final Rites" (Spectre#62) by John Ostrander & Tom Mandrake.

1999: "It's a Barbarian Bunny - Busty Broad Bonanza in my Brainpan - and I'm the Only One Invited!" (Deadpool#27) by Joe Kelly & Walter McDaniel.

2000: "Blaze of Glory" (Blaze of Glory#1-4) by John Ostrander & Leonardo Manco.

2001: "Showdown" (Usagi Yojimbo#46-47) by Stan Sakai.

2002: "The Last Titan" (Incredible Hulk: the End#1) by Peter David & Dale Keown.

2003: The Interman by Jeff Parker.

2004: "Story" (Aquaman#14) by John Ostrander & Tom Grummett.

2005: "I, Librarian" (Rex Libris#1) by James Turner.

2006: "A Dog and His Boy" (Dark Horse Book of Monsters) by Evan Dorkin & Jill Thompson.

2007: "Curse of the Replacement Superman" (All Star Superman#9) by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely.

2008: "A Cock & Bull Story" (Rex Libris#10) by James Turner.

2009: "Why Atomic Robo Hates Dr. Dinosaur" (Atomic Robo/Drone/We Kill Monsters Free Comic Book Day) by Brian Clevinger & Scott Wegener.

If this list causes you to wonder whether Roger Stern & John Ostrander are two of my pet favourites - wonder no longer, they are.