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Alternate Cover - 15th November 2006

Alternate Cover

It's another of those famous high-quality, low-yield weeks here because I've got two of my favourite comics out, DMZ (starting its second year with issue #13) and Phonogram (reaching the halfway point with issue #3) and Wisdom, the new Marvel Max title by sometime Dr. Who scribe, Paul Cornell. And, just to buck the quality trend, one other comic that I'm almost too embarassed to admit buying, because I knew months ago it was going to be rubbish.

DMZ #13

DMZ #13

Publisher DC (Vertigo) • Writer Brian Wood • Artist Ricardo Burchielli

After last month's tease, Wood brings us straight to the scene of the crime, as it were, with Matty going undercover at Ground Zero. Having broken out of his contract with Liberty News, he's now operating freelance in the city, and investigating the reconstruction company Trustwell, as well as the actions of a suicide bomber who attacked Ground Zero.

Politically speaking, this story more than any other is coming straight off the newspapers like no other part of DMZ. Much like Wood's first work, Channel Zero, it's very much born out of the current situation regarding Iraq and the no-bid contracts handed out to companies there. It's timeless enough to stand alone, but it's going to be a constant reminder of things well into the future.

Artistically, the book's as strong as it's ever been. While the guest art on the previous issues has been great, Burchielli's return is more than welcome. Whenever DMZ ends, it should catapault him into the big leagues, because he's got a style unlike almost anyone else working in mainstream comics today. I've repeatedly said that DMZ has no status quo, and once again that's proving true. What you do get, almost every issue, is a new twist in the plot and yet one more piece of the DMZ world being shown to you. This is the start of a new arc, entitled "Public Works" and the start of the second year of the book. This is the best time for like another 4 months to start buying, so I fully encourage you to do so.

Phonogram #3

Phonogram #3

Publisher Image • Writer Kieron Gillen • Artist Jamie McKelvie

The only bad thing about this comic was that it came out so long after the last one. Okay, that did allow for the reprints with the highly excellent minor cover variations which let me identify myself as a TRUE fan of the comic (by having the originals rather than the reprint versions) and keeps the elitist indie spirit alive.

Much like DMZ, each issue of Phonogram is adding more to the mythos of the world that's been created for these characters, though in the case of Phonogram it's far more careful about keeping the threads secret and letting you connect them yourself as it goes. It's a masterpiece that keeps you guessing, yet surprises you at each turn - the ongoing question of what's happening to Kohl's memories, for instance, has always been in the background but starts to gain more focus in this issue.

Of particular interest to me in this issue is the amount of stuff relating to Manic Street Preachers fandom, not least because I had my own spell in that particular cult. The opening scene especially, where Kohl goes to meet a girl who used to be a Manics fan and discovers that she's become "normal" brought a smirk to my face, as did the closing scene where Kohl decks himself in full culture slut garb and throws his pride at the mercy of his mission.

The fact that the writing and art in Phonogram are both brilliant is reason enough for you to be buying this, but it can't be overlooked that if you're remotely interested in, or even vaguely remember britpop, then you'll get so much more out of it than almost anything else you'll read in comics.


Wisdom #1

Wisdom #1

Publisher MAX (Marvel) • Writer Paul Cornell • Artist Trevor Hairsine

I felt like covering this as part of NTS' unofficial remit to willingly stick it's finger into pretty much ever Dr. Who-related pie. I never expected a point where the Dr. Who and X-Men fanbases would so legitimately cross over, but, well, here we are.

Wisdom is a mature readers title (from Marvel's adult imprint, MAX) which usually means it's going to have some pretty gratuitous nudity in it at some point. Marvel have, in fairness, been trying to restrict the use of the brand to characters and stories that it fits, and if it fits any hero in the X-Verse (who's not Wolverine) then it's Pete Wisdom.

Not that this issue contains a particularly Wisom-esque version of him. If you're desperately in love with any version of the character, be it the Ellis or (god forbid) the Claremont/Tieri New Excalibur version, then prepare to be slightly disappointed. This Wisdom is only superficially the same as either of those. He's close enough to be believable, though, and anyone reading this is likely to agree that the quality of the writing excuses any character misstep.

The dialogue is what makes the book (and I'll avoid quoting it to encourage you to go buy it) but there are some hilariously surreal yet deadpan moments that made me laugh like no other X-Men comic has in years. The plot, such that we know about it yet, involves Wisdom's team beating the shit out of some invading fairies. That's worth cover price alone.


Flick Through Reviews

Civil War: Young Avengers & Runaways #4 (of 4) - Wells/Caselli
While I can't imagine anyone in their right mind is still reading this if they're not a serious fan of the Runaways and Young Avengers already (and believe me, I truly wanted to be) it seems like some Civil War obsessing chumps like me will be hanging on. So, therefore, in a complete change of policy I would encourage you to buy this final issue. Don't let it be the sole gap in your Civil War collection. Sure, it's about as relevant to the war as the X-Men Civil War miniseries was, and it basically entirely occurs between 2 panels somewhere around the start of Civil War, AND it brings "back" Marvel Boy, but you'd feel pretty dumb if you admitte buying issues 1-3 just because they had "Civil War" on the front and then dropped 4 just because it was unreadably confusing, wouldn't you? I won't tell if you won't.

About this entry


Yeah, the delay on PG was unavoidable, unfortunately. I had to stop for a few weeks to work on stuff that could earn me money to eat, and then there was a further delay at the distributors. Glad you're enjoying it though, and 4 should be more or less on time.

By Jamie McKelvie
November 16, 2006 @ 4:09 pm

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I thought #3 was the best so far, actually. Some fantastic lines, the art continues to be absolutely spot on, and things really started to come together and make sense.

I look forward to a Blur issue at some point down the line (and indeed to the coloured cover to #4)!

By Seb
November 16, 2006 @ 5:27 pm

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I had to stop for a few weeks to work on stuff that could earn me money to eat,

Christ. Well, that's a substantially better reason for any delay than "for art this good on a monthly book, you will simply have to wait" *cough*Quitely*cough*Hitch*cough* Like Seb says above, I'm already jonesing for issue #4, and #5, and #6, and any potential sequels ;-) In fact, I'd quite like to see what Kohl makes of, say, Keane or the Kaiser Chiefs...

By James H
November 16, 2006 @ 5:43 pm

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Working for Image is both a curse and a blessing. On the one hand, there's no money upfront, so poverty ensues. On the other hand, they don't interfere with the creation of the comic at all, so we have free reign to say what we want to say. And I don't think any other publisher would touch it.

By Jamie McKelvie
November 16, 2006 @ 7:12 pm

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