Monday, February 25, 2008

The Gosh! Authority 21/02/08

Welcome, Gosh patrons, to a week that has the rare honour of being noteworthy as ‘Talbottastic’. More on that later.

First the highlights from DC! Well, ‘highlight’ singular, as it’s another thin week from the distinguished competition. However, it’s a punchy highlight with a punchy Jordi Bernet cover! See, that would work if you were looking at the cover of the comic I’m talking about, because it’s a picture of the Spirit punching a man’s face. And now I’ve blown the reveal that the comic I’m talking about is, in fact, The Spirit #14. I’ve been going on for a couple of weeks about the upcoming creative team, but that’s largely through genuine excitement.

Darwyn Cooke did such great work with his run on The Spirit that I was sure the follow-up creators, whoever they may be, would be a disappointment. However, DC’s choice of Groo creators Mark Evanier and Sergio Aragonés was genuinely out of left field, and made me raise an eyebrow in an intrigued fashion. Aragonés has really been showing a penchant for pulpy fun with his work on Bat Lash, so throw in art by former Eisner protégé Mike Ploog, and you’ve got a title worth a look!

Marvel’s Most-Likely-Missed title of the week is Immortal Iron Fist Presents Orson Randall and the Green Mist Of Death, a title that’s not only fun to say, but that also increases a column’s word count dramatically when used more than once. Immortal Iron Fist Presents Orson Randall and the Green Mist Of Death is another bit of fun pulp featuring the golden age’s very own Iron Fist, divided up into four distinct acts with four distinct artistic teams working on them. The first is pencilled by Nick Dragotta and inked and coloured by the Allreds, with later acts taken on by artists such as Russ Heath, Lewis LaRosa and Mitch Breitweiser. So pick up a copy today and see for yourself!

We’re now very near to talking about this week’s aforementioned Talbottasmagoria, but first I’d like to tell you about this week’s single most exciting arrival, which is the first new printing in over ten years of Steve Purcell’s hilarious Sam and Max: Surfin’ The Highway. If you’re now wondering ‘who are Sam and Max?’, this means you’ve missed out on 20-odd years of top-drawer comic books, video games and TV cartoons. Purcell (now working as an inter-department creative type at Pixar, fact fans) over the years has developed a gorgeous comic book style, perfectly communicating his anarchic and somewhat deranged sense of humour. And who are Sam and Max? Why, they’re the Freelance Police – an anthropomorphic team-up tearing a hole straight through crime like a scissoring scooter through succotash on a sweltering-hot Sunday. Pick it up now before it goes back out of print for another ten years!

And now at last to the matter of Bryan Talbot. Since Alice in Sunderland, people have cried out for more Talbot comic action, and have been devastated to find very little available. However, all that changes with two brand new slices of Talbot action in this week’s delivery – first a brand new original graphic novel called Cherubs: Paradise Lost, with art by the eternally inventive and undersung cartoonist Mark Stafford. It’s a funny romp dealing with the first ever murder in heaven – the suspected cherubim are booted straight out of paradise and have to deal with modern life on the tough streets of New York. Secondly, another long-overdue new printing, that being Heart of Empire: The Legacy Of Luther Arkwright from Dark Horse. This is a collection of the second original Luther Arkwright story, set in the same alternate present, where a fascist British Empire reigns supreme. But from his sickbed, the ageing Pope is determined to bring Britain under Roman control…

Two bits of news this week, and in fact two blasts from the past: firstly: remember VHS, that archaic video tape medium? Cheap players chewing up your copy of Robocop? Well, Richard Sandling does, and does so with near-fanatical affection in his much-acclaimed show VHS 2: Planet of the Tapes. Sandling’s a garrulous bear of a stand-up comic, wearing his geekdom on his sleeve and covering topics from his utter love for comic books to his hatred for movie remakes and DVD. Having seen this show last year, I can tell you it’s deeply chuckleworthy and therapeutic viewing for any comic fan. He’s doing another run of the show for a limited three-night run at The Old Coffee House, 49 Beak St. in Soho from the 27th-29th February starting at 8pm with a different support act each night. Tickets are only £5 on the door, so take my advice – you won’t see a better or geekier stand-up this year!

Secondly, there’s the return of a much-loved old creative team-up – that of Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka. Writing together for the first time since their celebrated run on Gotham Central, the two will this time be tackling Brubaker’s Daredevil, starting in issue #107 for the plot arc entitled Other People’s Problems.

That’s your lot – happy reading!
- Tom