Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Gosh! Authority 03/07/08

Hello Planet Gosh, and welcome to what could be described as a compact week. The picture of comics economy, it may appear small from the outside, but it is in fact spattered with niche treats of all descriptions, so let’s get straight to the new arrivals with our pick of the week – Hellboy: The Crooked Man #1!

This three-issue series marks the second collaboration between writer Mike Mignola and artist Richard Corben after 2006’s triumphal Hellboy: Makoma, or, A Tale Told By a Mummy In The New York City Explorers’ Club on August 16, 1993. I used its full title there firstly because I think it’s cool, and secondly because it deserves the word count because it’s some of the best Hellboy ever. Admittedly, it’s just an incidental recasting of an African folktale, but it works so well and Mignola’s artwork meshes with Corben’s so perfectly that the story takes on a significance all its own.

So now we get Crooked Man, with an artist with a well-established capacity for the material, one of the best writers working in comics today, and one of the most fun franchises around in entertainment anywhere. That spells success in my book! What’s more, this series eschews the series’ usual focus on European folklore and shifts the action to the West Virginia countryside. So it’s colonial guilt, the pine-laden slopes of Spruce Knob and Aaron Copland’s finest compositions all the way, as Hellboy helps a man to recover his soul from the devil he sold it to many years before.

Second place goes to another in our series of Journeys to the North American Wildernesses, Jonah Hex #33, the much-anticipated Darwyn Cooke issue. Writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray send the disfigured cowpoke to sunny Canada, facing off against Mounties (confirmed), hockey players and grizzlies (speculated) in his efforts to bring in his latest bounty. Bear in mind that it’s only through the ingenuity of Palmiotti and Gray that we get to see this issue, as Cooke only agreed to provide the artwork on the proviso that the issue take place in his home country, so many thanks to them!

DC also brings us the first in a series spiritually succeeding Jeff Smith’s excellent Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil with Mike Kunkel’s Billy Batson and the Power of Shazam. An animation artist through and through, Kunkel’s creator-owned series, Herobear and the Kid, was energetic, charming and gorgeous, and I have little doubt that this new series will be any less so. However, whether it can match the heights of Fred Van Lente’s Marvel Adventures work in the comics-for-kids stakes remains to be seen. I say we can but hope!

The House of Vertigo has produced House of Mystery #3 this week for our reading delight, and delight it will surely be, with a special appearance by cartoonist Sean Murphy! Bernie Wrightson was originally scheduled to contribute to this issue, but sadly schedule conflicts have prevented this from happening. Still, Murphy does an excellent line in creepy comics, so it should still be well worth the asking price. This series has so far balanced short, guest-artist-driven vignettes with the ongoing plot with a varying degree of success, but either way, it’s a title with a great deal of promise. Whatever the weather, writers Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges keep the characters sympathetic, the house mysterious and the chills pandemic, so pop into the House for a visit sometime.

Marvel’s biggest release of the week is the first issue of Warren Ellis and Simone Bianchi’s run on Astonishing X-Men, tying the classic team back together after the thrilling events of Messiah Complex and Divided We Stand. After Whedon and Cassaday, these boys have some big shoes to fill, but they’re just the kind of big-time boys to fill them. Also, consider the triple-threat that is Amazing Spider-Man #564, split as it is into three points of view, one of which is written by series mastermind Dan Slott! Internals are provided by Paulo Siqueira, making his great big Marvel debut.

The real big-time release, however, the real one-punch knockout coming from the House of Ideas this week, the comic you really NEED, is Patsy Walker: Hellcat #1. No, wait, come back! This is Patsy from the mind of Kathryn Immonen, whose escapades made the first five issues of Marvel Comics Presents truly required reading. Sadly, Kathryn’s husband Stuart Immonen isn’t providing internal artwork for the series, tied up as he is with Ultimate Spider-Man, but he does provide a lovely cover, and artist David LaFuente, last seen in the pages of X-Men: Divided We Stand #2, should prove more than an acceptable substitute. As a bonus: this is yet another in our series of Journeys to the North American Wildernesses, taking place as it does in the deepest recesses of Alaska. Can’t wait? Well me neither, friend.

It’s a big week from the alternative publishers too, headed up by the first week of availability of our signed, bookplated edition of Nick Abadzis’ Laika. If you’ve never read the book, this is the perfect opportunity to pick it up. It’s the tale of Earth’s first space traveller, a cute, curly-tailed Russian dog. Around Laika’s story, Abadzis skilfully interweaves fact and fiction

Norwegian comics wizard Jason in the latest of his translated works, Pocket Full Of Rain. This volume contains some of the anthropomorphism enthusiast’s earliest works from throughout the nineties, including some stories without animal-faced people at all! Truly chilling. It’s the work of a cartoonist evidently at the start of his career, but still shot through with the quiet poignancy and infectious black humour that make Jason’s later work so enjoyable. If you’ve never picked up a Jason book before, try one of his longer-form graphic novels like The Left Bank Gang or I Killed Adolf Hitler. You’ll be hooked straight away.

Also off the beaten comics path is Osamu Tezuka’s Dororo Volume 2, a comic I recommend without qualification. It might have occurred to the casual observer, on the evidence of previous editions of this column, that I’m not the most voracious reader of manga. However, I’ve always got time for just about anything by Tezuka, the grandfather of Japanese comics. This series in particular is one of the finest in his tradition of wildly enjoyable pulp that leans firmly in the direction of the exceptionally mental. The plot? Well, here we go: wandering Samurai Hyakkimaru was born without 48 of his body parts, and only through defeating the 48 demons who took them can he reclaim them as his own. We’ve got plenty of copies of Volume 1, so you’ve got no excuse whatsoever not to hop onboard the crazy manga train immediately.

Not only that, but we’ve also just acquired copies of two very beautiful self-published efforts. The first is Tozo the Public Servant, a one-shot comic collecting David O’Connell’s beautiful ligne claire science fiction in a delightfully European vein. Sure, you could just visit the website and read the archives for free at, but then you wouldn’t be supporting the crazy British indie comics scene with your hard-earned cash, would you? Second is The Sea, a thus-far-two-part story by Will Kirkby drawn in a delightfully Scott Morsey style, telling a sprawling tale of fantastical adventure shenanigans. Stick them on your buy pile, why don’t you.

The news this week starts off on a sad note, with the death of Aspen founder Michael Turner as a result of complications from his ongoing treatment for bone cancer at the age of just 37. As a publisher, Turner helped jump-start the careers of many a foundling comics artist and as an artist himself, his fans are legion. His work ethic during his years of illness was unparalleled and the phenomenal outpouring of condolences from other figures in the industry speaks for itself. Aspen is encouraging fans to donate in Turner’s name to either The American Cancer Society or the Make a Wish Foundation.

Image Editor-In-Chief and Savage Dragon creator Erik Larsen is stepping down from the former to concentrate more on the latter, leaving Image in the hands of long-time Image second-in-command Eric Stephenson. Larsen commented that after years of establishing new franchises, titles and creators, he feels that he’s not as needed in the captain’s seat as he once was. Here’s hoping Stephenson keeps Image on track!

And now for our ever-lovin’ blue-eyed competition spot. To celebrate the coming together of today’s leading three Spidey writers in this week’s Amazing #564, we’re giving away one of the wall-crawler’s classic escapades in the Death of the Stacys Premiere Hardcover. If you want to relive one of the most chilling and heart-rending moments in comics, all you need to do is tell us...

Who is this?

The first person to comment with the correct answer wins a copy of the book. If you can't sign into a personal account, you can comment anonymously, but please remember to include your name in the message! Please note that the judge’s decision is final and that it is the responsibility of prize-winners to arrange collection of the prize within a period of 14 days, after which any non-collected prizes will be offered to the runner-up.

- Tom


John Soanes said...

Is it Bryce Dallas Howard, who played Gwen Stacy in the third Spidey film?


Sach said...

That does indeed look like Bryce Dallas Howard. Although if you squint really hard, it could look like Kate Nash (but it's not her :) )

Anonymous said...

Yep, it's Bryce Dallas Howard

Bruce Marsh

Gosh! said...

Well done to John who wins the book this week! And we at Gosh agree with Sach, there is a Kate Nash resemblance in that picture.