Thursday, 24 November 2011

Spandex #5

It’s another great issue of Martin Eden’s Spandex.  Last issue, with the exception of their leader, Liberty, and their newest member, Neon, the various members of Britain’s first gay super-hero team, Spandex, were defeated by lesbian super-villain team Les Girlz.  This issue, Liberty finds herself taking on dozens of super-villains, with a little help from the original Spandex team, Japanese super-heroes the J-Team, and the O-Men, in a piss-take of bloated super-hero crossover events.  Along the way, we find out Liberty’s origin, and the origin of the Spandex team, in some nicely done flashback scenes, and eventually we get to find out what has happened to the defeated members of Spandex, and who the traitor in the team is (it’s not who you think it is). 

This is part two of a four-part story, so nothing is resolved by the end of the issue.  In fact, the main story doesn’t progress that much from the end of the previous issue, but what does occur is a lot of fun.  Eden has a gift for creating great characters and this issue is packed full of original super-heroes and super-villains.  Some of his characters are parodies of existing characters given a gay twist – the Gulk, James Bend, etc. – but they are usually witty / clever parodies, seemingly informed by genuine affection for the source material (this very modern, occasionally rude, super-hero comic is clearly not the work of someone who hates super-heroes).  I assume that most of these characters were created especially for this issue, but the O-Men were the stars of Eden’s previous super-hero series, which I regret to say I’ve never read, and I was very pleased to read on the final page of this issue that he will be releasing several large O-Men collections in the near future.  If the O-Men was half as good as Spandex is, I will definitely be buying them all!

Spandex is available for £3.20 per issue (including postage and packing) from the Spandex website.  

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Jonah Hex: Tall Tales TPB

Another great Jonah Hex book, this time collecting JH issues 55 to 60, written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti (as usual) and illustrated by Vicente Alc├ízar, Phil Winslade, Jordi Bernet, CP Smith, Giancarlo Caracuzzo and Brian Stelfreeze.  While the previous volume, The Six Gun War, dabbled with an extended storyline, the issues collected in this volume return to the more successful done-in-one (and even done-in-half, as one of the issues collected here contained two stories) format seen in previous volumes.  Best of the bunch is the title story, illustrated by the fantastic Jordi Bernet, in which two kids sneak off one night to watch Jonah hex in action, and discover that he more than lives up to the ‘tall tales’ they have heard about him, but all the other issues are good, too.  Gray and Palmiotti somehow continue to come up with new twists on some otherwise generic Western stories and pepper their scripts with great dialogue.  In the story ‘Tall Tales’, not only does Jonah Hex literally tackle a horse to the ground after he runs out of bullets during a gunfight, but the outlaw who had been riding the horse then says: ‘Well, there it is then, eh?  The wily exploits of a genuine outlaw finally at an end thanks to the acrobatic horse tackling of the world’s ugliest man.’  I would have bought this book for that scene alone!

Spanish artist Jordi Bernet, a Jonah Hex regular, illustrates two stories in this volume and his cartoony European style is perfect for this series – I would be happy if every JH comic was drawn by Bernet – but the work by the other artists contributing to this volume is never less than good.  I really liked the look of the issue drawn by Giancarlo Caracuzzo – like a cross between John Buscema and Tony Moore – but the more realistic art of CP Smith and Brian Stelfreeze was very good, too.

I’ve got no complaints about this book and I’ll definitely be back for the next (final?) volume, ‘Bury Me In Hell’.  This volume has a (Titan Books) cover price of £10.99.  I bought my copy from Amazon, where it is currently £9.89, but as was the case with the previous volume, I paid for it with a gift voucher I got from trading in some of my Nectar points, so it didn’t really cost me anything.