Category Archives: Underrated

Underrated: Great Comics Not In Diamond’s Top 100 Sellers For May

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Comics not in Diamonds top 100 sellers for May.


This week we’re going to be looking at a list of comics that are all fantastic, but don’t get the attention that they deserve. Now I’m not even going to pretend to have a definitively exhaustive list of underrated comics here, because we’re hoping  that you decide to check at least one of these series out next time you’re looking for something new either online or at your LCS, and giving you a huge list to check out would be counter productive to that. Instead, you’ll find six(ish) comics that are worth your attention that failed to crack the top 100 in sales. You’ll notice that there’s only one comic from a publisher featured – this was done to try and spread the love around, rather than focus exclusively on one publisher.

Where possible, I’ve also avoided comics that have appeared on the last version of this list, but the only hard stipulation for this week: not one of the comics made it into the top 100 for May’s comic sales, according to Comichron, which is why they’re Underrated.

 

croak 1.jpgCroak #1 (Alterna)
May Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 424 /2,906
Alterna’s range of newsprint comics have been a fantastic addition to my pull list, with the stories on offer crossing numerous different genres and styles, and each one easily being worth the price of admission. Croak is a fantastic little horror tale that’ dripping atmosphere from every panel – if horror isn’t your thing, I’d still recommend you give this a shot. It’s more a thriller/psychological horror style of comic, and one that benefits from the newsprint adding a murky, retro feel to the art. I’m a big fan of the newsprint idea, and thankfully this comic lives up to the promise.

4 Kids Walk Into A Bank #4 (Black Mask)
May Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 263 /6,706
There have been some significant delays surrounding this series, which is a genuine shame because the momentum the series had been gathering seems to have dissipated a little bit, but if you can find the individual issues then this is a series that’s going to take you on quite an unexpectedly brilliant ride.

TMNT #69 (IDW)
May Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 169 /13,726
Ninja Turtles fan? You’ll love this. It’s a brilliant series that has been quietly chugging along for nearly seventy issues for a good reason.

XO2017_003_COVER-B_ROCAFORTX-O Manowar #3 (Valiant)
May Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 152 /16,002
Perhaps my most loved on going series right now, X-O Manowar can be best described as Space Conan. Every issue is a joy to read and experience. Seriously I can’t express just how great a series this has been over the last few issues, and Matt Kindt’s reluctant-soldier story meshes really well with the phenomenal artwork of Tomas Giorello and Diego Rodriguez give an almost effervescent quality to the pages in your hands. Quite simply, this series is one you have to check out.


Unless the comics industry ceases any and all publication look for a future installment of Underrated to cover more comics that aren’t cracking the top 100.

Advertisements

Underrated: Batman ’66

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Batman ’66.


I’m sure you’re aware by now that Adam West passed away last week after a brief battle with leukemia at the age of 88. His death got me thinking about the impact of the show, and the steps it made back in the 60’s that we may over look today in light of the darker direction Batman has taken since. To that extent here are, in my opinion at least, five things about the show that we may overlook – if you think I’ve missed something, you’re right, but I’ll be revisiting this in the future.

  • Adam West’s deadpan delivery.
    I could list so many brilliant one liners that came from Adam West, or I could send you to this page, but two of my favourites are:
    “I wish we could help you, citizen, but we’re just a couple of ordinary crime-fighters going about our mundane business.”
    “Robin: “Where’d you get a live fish, Batman?”
    Batman: “The true crime-fighter always carries everything he needs in his utility belt, Robin.”
    Out of context, I find them even funnier.
  • Pow! Bop! Biff! batman-and-robin-opening-credit2
    The on-screen sound effects were fantastic when we first saw them, and they’ve rightly earned their place in pop culture today. So what are they doing here? It’s the secondary function they served that impressed me the most; by appearing on the screen just before a hit connected, it allowed the actors to be a little safer when fighting each other as they didn’t run the risk of getting a fist to the face. Plus it was one of the best opening credits in any TV show (I still think that it holds up)
  • The show’s influence on the comics.
    I don’t mean the obvious way the tone of the comics changed as a result of the series influence (granted some may not think that was a good thing), but rather the way that the show cemented certain characters as Batman’s core rogues gallery at a time when they weren’t as prevalent in the comics. The Riddler appeared on the television show for the first time in a decade’s absence from the comics, as did Catwoman and Mr. Freeze. Geekscape has an interesting article if you’d like to read more on this.1966+Adam+West+Car.jpg
  • The Batmobile
    Seriously, look at this thing. This is still a fantastic car to this day (you’d drive it. You know you would), but it kick started fandom’s love of having an awesome Batmobile. Do you remember what the Batmobile looked like before the TV show? No. Because it wasn’t that cool.
  • Bill Finger’s last Batman story
    Batman co-creator Bill Finger co-wrote the two part episode “The Clock King’s Crazy Crimes / The Clock King Gets Crowned” for the second season of the show, which aired October 12–13, 1966. It was the last time he wrote a story featuring his creation.
  • The cast
    Would the show have worked without Adam West? Maybe. But when you look at the way he carried himself on the show, his delivery and his physique (he had said numerous times that he didn’t need rubber molding, that was “all Adam West”) then you couldn’t have asked for a better man to have a lasting cultural impact as the Batman. In the past 60 years, no other actor has been viewed in such a synonymous way with the role of the caped crusader (the cynical ones will be saying “well that’s because he didn’t do much else!” And to those I show a swift middle finger. West is a legend). But Adam West wasn’t the only star of the show; I don’t remember a character played by a bad actor on the show. Yes, some of  them may have hammed it up a little, but that’s what the show demanded of them and holy cow did they deliver.

I could go on about this show for days, but this article is due out in half an hour, and I should probably make sure it’s not late.

Underrated: Superhero Comics (That Aren’t A Marvel Or DC Comic)

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Superhero Comics (That aren’t a Marvel or DC comic).




This week I wanted to talk about some fantastic superhero comics from publishers that aren’t either Marvel or DC so that you can, if you so choose, branch out a little for your spandex fix. There will be some series here that have ended, and some that are still ongoing. A few things before we start; firstly, the only rule for these characters to be included here are that they’re not from Marvel or DC. Secondly, because I’ve got eclectic taste these comics may not be for everybody, so be prepared for some potentially foolish claims. Thirdly, this isn’t a complete, or inclusive, list and it is completely subjective.

invincibleShall we get started, in no particular order?

Invincible (Image) Created by Robert Kirkman (the same man responsible for The Walking Dead) and artist Cory Walker, Invincible is good. It’s very good. The titular hero Invincible is an extraterrestrial teenager with super strength and the ability to fly, born of an alien father and a human mother. Invincible is an incredibly brutal comic that takes the Superman mythos and adds a dash of Spider-Man and a whole lot of awesome. Absolutely worth checking out.

Irredeemable & Incorruptible.jpgIrredeemable/Incorruptible (BOOM)  Written by Mark Waid, Irredeemable asks the question: what if Superman snapped? It’s a grim, dark tale that explains how thankful we should be that Clark Kent is as well adjusted as he is. Conversely Incorruptible follows the worlds’ greatest supervillain as he he realizes that somebody has to be a hero. But he has no moral compass, and so for him doing the right thing means doing exactly the opposite of what he did. Both are fantastic series that have been collected in trade paper backs, and you should read them alternately if you do pick them up to get the most from the story.

COWLTPB001_webC.O.W.L. (Image) I’ve raved about C.O.W.L. loudly before. And whilst the series has ended (for now), it’s still work check out. Set during the 1960’s in Chicago, C.O.W.L. a creator owned comic published by Image and written by Kyle Higgins weaves a complex story that follows the Chicago Organized Workers League, and is set against some fantastic art work. Without giving anything away, this is a comic that focuses as much on the political intrigue of superheroing for hire as it does the superheroes themselves. Higgins explores some really interesting questions here, chief of which is “what if superheroes are unionized?” This series was cancelled long before its time

XO2017_001_COVER-A_LAROSAX-O Manowar (Valiant) The current series is the second volume in Valiant’s X-O Manowar saga (that’s a fancy way of saying that it’s the second volume with a new number one issue and the last series concluded at #50). Whether you start with the first volume, or the second, you’re in for a treat – and yes, you can read the second independently of the first.  The lead character of the series is a time displaced Visigoth named Aric of Dacia (or of Earth in Vol. 2) who has somehow come into possession of a (very interesting looking) alien armour. It’s an awesome series, and one well worth checking out. The second, and currently ongoing series, is the highlight of my pull-list every month.

TheFox_01-0The Fox (Dark Circle Comics) When a superhero desperately wants to stop running around in spandex, to retire to a quiet life with his family, do you have any idea how difficult that is when he seems to attract freaks like a magnet? Written by Mark Waid,  the second volume, Fox Hunt, came to a cataclysmic conclusion. There is a trade paper back collecting the first series entitled The Fox: Freak Magnet, but you don’t need to read it to appreciate the second series. I miss this series so much.


That’s all for this week, folks. I could keep this list going quite a bit longer, but I’ll save that for another time.

Have a great week!

Underrated: Indie Publishers

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Indie Publishers.


I’m defining Indie Publishers as having less than two percent market share from the month of April according to Diamond, and obviously doesn’t take into account any digital sales. If you didn’t click the link, that precludes Boom, IDW, Dark Horse, and Image from the list (Marvel and DC, obviously, go without saying). The list will be in alphabetical order so my biases toward certain publishers aren’t as evident in the ordering of the list.

croak1Alterna Comics
I’ve been raving about Alterna’s Bring Back Newsprint movement on twitter for the last week or so after I finally got around to reading their newsprint offerings fairly recently (the fourth, not mentioned here, is Lillith Dark, a charmingly innocent tale about a young girl with an active imagination) after I picked them up based solely on the price point – at $1.50 I figured I really couldn’t go wrong. The newsprint comics may have turned me on to Alterna, but after a little research I signed up for their news letter and received an email with 30 free comics included that’s not a typo – your get thirty free digital comics upon signing up for their email newsletter (this was true as of 6/1/2017; it may be different depending on when you read this), and you really can’t argue with that.
Titles To Check Out: Any of the Newsprint comics (Croak and Adam Wreck were my standouts from the first batch).

Oni Press
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t give Oni Press the credit they deserve. Whenever I do pick up an Oni title, I frequently find myself wondering why I don’t read more of them.
Titles To Check Out: Redline, Scott Pilgrim & The Sixth Gun

Self Made Hero
A British publisher that specializes in graphic novels, what I have been able to get my hands on from Self Made Hero has without exception been utterly captivating. If you like to branch away from superheroes, then this is a company that you need to check out, and your best bet would be your favourite online retailer.
Titles To Check Out: Fun & Return Of The Honey Buzzard.

vile1Study Group Comics
Home of Tyler Landry’s stream of consciousness style of story telling, this is a gold mine of inventive storytellers, writers and artists that produce some truly exciting and exhilirating work. Landry’s Vile has produced two of my favourite horror stories in comic form, and his sparse use of colour on the black paper is incredibly well suited to the genre. It’s exciting stuff, and you’ve probably not read it. You need to fix that.
Titles To Check Out: Vile & Titan

Valiant Comics
Valiant are, hands down, the publisher that gets me most excited about superhero comics – especially ones set in a shared universe. I don’t love everything Valiant have published, but on the whole I tend to enjoy their stuff so much more than anything from Marvel or DC.
Titles To Check Out: X-O Manowar, Faith, and Divinity


There we have it folks. An incomplete list taking a look at some underrated indie publishers. I’ll see you next week!

Underrated: Creators Of Yesteryear I

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Creators Of Yesteryear I.



This week I wanted to take a step away from sales numbers, movies, and comics (for the most part), and instead look at some of the creators who had a huge hand in shaping the industry as we know it today. These are names that, hopefully, you already know, but to the average non-comics fan these names may be met with a bit of a shrug or a blank face. The word underrated isn’t a strong enough word for the recognition that these creators should receive from the wider world, but that’s the name of this column… so there we go.

Before I start, one disclaimer: this is in no way shape or form a complete list, hence the Roman numeral at the end of the title. There will be multiple parts to this list in the future in unscheduled installments. Do not expect extensive biographies here, this is just enough to (hopefully) encourage you to do a bit of extra reading yourself.

Shall we get to it?

simon and kirby.jpg

Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby
I bet you weren’t expecting to see this name here, were you? Jack Kirby is one of the more famous names within the comic book industry, and his contributions to the medium we know and love are legendary. His influence can be felt in just about every issue, so why have I included him on this list? Because if you ask the general public who created the X-Men they’d only answer one name, and Jack Kirby deserves to be as revered, if not more so, than Stan Lee. 

Joe Simon
You’ve heard of Captain America, right? Who hasn’t, really. Well as I’m sure you know he’s the product of Simon and Kirby. The team also created the romance comics genre, and contributed killer runs on some of Marvel and DC’s biggest comics during the middle of the last century. Joe Simon’s comics resume may not be as extensive as his frequent collaborator, but Simon is also the founder of SickMad magazine competitor. He also worked

bill finger

One of the rare photos of Bill Finger

extensively in advertising, serving as the art director for Burstein, Phillips and Newman from 1964 to 1967. There’s an excellent coffee table book featuring the work of the Simon Kirby Studio that I can’t recommend highly enough to you.

 Bill Finger
I swear to the gods if you don’t know who this man is, and what he’s done, then I will happily sit down and tell you all about it – but not here. Suffice it to say Bill Finger gave the world almost everything we know about Batman… and only recently received credit for his work in co-creating Batman. There’s a fantastic documentary on Hulu if you’re interested in learning more about this man.

steve ditko.PNG Steve Ditko
So who created Spider-Man? Not just Stan Lee. Steve Ditko is the co-creator of Marvel’s most bankable star, but there’s a good chance your non comics people wouldn’t know that. The artist also created or co-created a good number of other characters for Marvel and DC including Doctor Strange, The Question, the Creeper, and a revamp of Blue Beetle. Ditko has famously refused almost all interview requests since the 60’s, allowing his work to speak for itself. His Wikipedia entry is full of interesting tidbits.

 Jerry Robinson
The co-creator of Robin and the Joker (Bill Finger was the other half of the writer/artist duo), Jerry Robinson, along with Neal Adams, was also instrumental in the fight for creators rights in the 70’s, but his proudest body of work wasn’t in a traditional comic, accoding to an interview with the Daily Telegraph: “I did 32 years of political cartoons, one every day for six days a week. That body of work is the one I’m proudest of. While my time on Batman was important and exciting and notable considering the characters that came out of it, it was really just the start of my life.”jerry robinson.jpg


 

Like I said above, there is no way that this is an inclusive list. This is merely a column that will hopefully get you, dear reader, talking about thee creators to non comics people.

In the meantime, I’ll see you next week.

 

All images were found via Google search and snipped from the image results.

Underrated: Great Comics Not In Diamond’s Top 100 Sellers For April

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Great comics not in Diamonds top 100 sellers for April.


This week we’re going to be looking at a list of comics that are all fantastic, but don’t get the attention that they deserve. Now I’m not even going to pretend to have a definitively exhaustive list of underrated comics here, because we’re hoping  that you decide to check at least one of these series out next time you’re looking for something new either online or at your LCS, and giving you a huge list to check out would be counter productive to that. Instead, you’ll find six(ish) comics that are worth your attention that failed to crack the top 100 in sales. You’ll notice that there’s only one comic from a publisher featured – this was done to try and spread the love around, rather than focus exclusively on one publisher (although there may be a future Underrated on specific publishers in the future, that’s not the point of this one).

Where possible, I’ve also avoided comics that have appeared on the last version of this list in past editions but that’s also had the adverse effect of shortening this list more than I’d like in the past, so you may see some recurring series month to month, although I’ll try to avoid that as much as possible.

The only hard stipulation for this week: not one of the comics made it into the top 100 for Marchs comic sales, according to Comichron, which is why they’re Underrated.

uncle scrooge 25Uncle Scrooge #25 (IDW)
April Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 296 /4,359

Sometimes you don’t want a comic to be anything more than a pleasant diversion for a few minutes, and that’s exactly what this series is. Yes, it’s a Disney comic, but so what? It’s fun, and sometimes that’s exactly the kind of read you want.
Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur #18 (Marvel)
April Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 214 /7,966

There’s something incredible about this series. Whether you picked it up for the T-Rex in New York aspect, or the fantastic Moon Girl, there is so much here to love about this comic.

Britannia: We Who Are About To Die #1 (Valiant)
April Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 189 /10,218

Almost completely to the contrary of the above we have Valiant’s sequel to Britannia. A brutal story set in Ancient Rome centering around a man who is essentially a Bruce Wayne level detective in a world of superstition and monsters. Ultimately this isn’t going to be for everybody, and will likely end up with a more cult level following, but that’s exactly why it’s on this  list.

Kill Or Be Killed #8 (Image)
April Sales Rank/Comics Sold: #110 /19,616


This barely qualifies for this issue of Underrated, seeing as how it’s only ten places out of the hundred, but it’s a solid series with a much more realistic take on how a vigilante would operate in today’s world (assuming he made a deal with the devil). Fantastically gripping stuff with some truly awesome artwork.


Unless the comics industry ceases any and all publication look for a future installment of Underrated to cover more comics that aren’t cracking the top 100.

Underrated: (Your Favorite Comic) Animated Series

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Animated Series


By the time you’re reading this, I’ll have been out of the country for a few days, and due to a lack of foresight I was unable to get the column finished for today that I wanted to. So instead, I present an older one from the archives of Ramblings Of A Comics Fan as it originally appeared.

I woke up stupidly early this morning, and as I sat on the couch waiting for the kettle to boil ignoring my cats I realized that when I was a kid I would often be up at this time willingly for one reason and one reason only: cartoons.  I’ve always felt that superhero cartoons were somewhat looked down upon when I was younger, and while that may not be the case now, that still means there’s a wealth of animate superhero adventures out there that may not have the same cult following as Batman: The Animated Series.

And yes, I’ll use cartoons and animated series interchangeably.

A few things before we start; firstly, these animated series may not be strictly underrated, but rather they may not be fore front on your mind any more. Secondly, I’ve got eclectic taste so these may not be for everybody so be prepared for some potentially foolish claims. Thirdly, these cartoons are all upwards of five or more years old. Lastly, this isn’t a complete, or inclusive, list and it is completely subjective.

X-Men: The Animated Series
Debuting in the early 90’s, this show has one of the greatest opening theme tunes of any cartoon before or since. Perhaps not solely responsible for my love of comics, and despite it being slightly over shadowed by some more modern cartoons, it remains to this day one of my most fondly remembered cartoon versions of an X-Men comic.

Spider-Man: The Animated Series
Spider-Man, Spider-Man… the theme tune here was my ring tone for years. What’s more impressive is that I had to actually compose it using the Nokia phone’s number pad. That this was also a brilliantly enjoyable TV show that provided numerous hours of enjoyment is a happy after thought. 

The Batman
Okay, so nothing will ever compare the Batman: The Animated Series, but this short lived cartoon was pretty enjoyable. A young Batman finding his way in Gotham City gave this show a very Batman Begins like feel without the gritty realism; it was a fun look into the Caped Crusader’s early years.

Defenders Of The Earth
The first time I was ever exposed to the Phantom was with this cartoon (get your mind out of the gutter), and he’s been one of my favourites ever since. This may not hold up as well now as some of the others from that era, but I’ll always remember it fondly.


There we have it – a mere handful of underrated animated comic book adaptations that I was thinking of over my morning cup of tea. There are undoutedly more cartoons influenced by comics that are worth watching, so there’s a good chance there will be a second (or third) part to this list eventually when I’m not reminiscing over bygone years.

In the mean time, Underrated will return to highlight more comic book related stuff  that either gets ignored despite it’s high quality, or maybe isn’t quite as bad as we tend to think it is.

Until next time!

Underrated: Reprint Comics

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Reprint Comics.


Today, almost twenty years ago to the day I purchased my first comic from a newsagents in a smallish town in Devon, England. It was a transformative moment for me, and ignited what has turned out to be a lifelong love of sequential art that has expanded over the years from that first comic to numerous different characters, publishers, genres and styles. Over the years I came to understand that comic books, graphic novels and their ilk could be so much more than the spandex clad entertainment that I took it to be at first – even those earlier stories that I read as a youngling will sometimes  have an additional layer to them.

But I’m getting ahead of myself and veering into a different direction.

the_incredible_hulk_and_wolverine_vol_1_1

Not many of us can afford Incredible Hulk #181… but this is a good compromise.

The comic that I picked up twenty years ago was Wolverine Unleashed #8, and if you’ve been reading some of the Retro Reviews I’ve been doing lately then that name may be familiar to you. If you haven’t been, then essentially Wolverine Unleashed was a British reprint comic that would collect three original issues, or an issue sized chunk of a graphic novel, every month. wolverine Unleashed #8 collected  Wolverine Vol. II #43, Wolverine Vol. I #4 (the original miniseries) and the second part to Wolverine: Bloodlust which was a great introduction for young me into Wolverine comics because it exposed me to three different stories at once. As an aside, I realize now that two of those stories were the finales in the reprinted form ( Bloodlust had been divided into two parts, and Wolverine Vol. I was a four part miniseries) but this fact clearly never bothered me at the time. Without this reprint comic being in the newsagents I had wandered into then it’s debatable whether being exposed to comics at a later date would have ignited the same level of interest in me.

And that’s why I wanted to talk about reprint comics today.

When I talk about reprint comics, I’m not talking about graphic novels or trade paperback collections, but comics that reprint a single issue. They’re not as prevalent as they once were, especially not in North America, but when I was a lad until I discovered my first comic shop all I was able to lay my hands on were reprint comics.

Essential_X-Men_Vol_1_27.jpgYes, I know that reprint comics don’t always have the collectability of the original comic, but there are some that have can hold a bit of value, granted these are few and far between (and usually about fifty years old), but that’s not why you pick up a reprint comic, really, is it? If you’re picking up a reprint comic it’s because you just want to read the stories, or you don’t know it’s a reprint an you think you’re getting a deal (but that’s neither here nor there), and the price of said reprint is far more accessible to you than the individual comics – maybe even the reprint itself is easier to find than the original. That was certainly the case for me, some twenty odd years ago, and for many others in the UK at the time because it just wasn’t as easy to find the originals as it was the Marvel UK reprint magazines (the aforementioned Wolverine Unleashed, Spectacular Spider-Man, Essential X-Men and Marvel Heroes are just four that come to mind off the top of my head), and so they’ll always have a soft spot in my heart.

So why are they Underrated?

Because so many of us just plain don’t give them the credit the deserve as the gateway into the larger comics world.

 

 

Underrated: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: X-Men Origins: Wolverine.



This week on Underrated, I wanted to take a look at one of the most reviled movies in the X-Men Franchise, not because I’m going to convince you it’s secretly a great movie that has been unfairly shat on for nearly ten years, but because I want to highlight some of the things that it actually did right. Do they out weight the bad to redeem the movie? Personally, I think so. Although X-Men Origins: Wolverine will never be thought of as a shining example of the character in cinema, and nor should it be, it isn’t the catastrophic mess that we remember it being.

Before you start raging at me (and you’re more than welcome to do so on twitter @karcossa) ask yourself when was the last time you saw this movie? I watched it on the 21st of March this year with the intention of tearing it to pieces in an article, but I actually kind of enjoyed it, so I wrote this instead [note, this article was written on March 23rd, so the movie was quite fresh in my mind]. So before you fire up those angry fingers, give the movie a quick watch and remember I’m not claiming it’s great, just that it isn’t bad.

  • The Opening Sequence
    Honestly, you give me a movie with Wolverine and Sabretooth fighting their way through history based on this opening credit montage and I will throw my money at you. This is a prime example of a movie blowing it’s load too early, if you’ll pardon the expression. We get one of the best opening sequences in the franchise before one of the worst movies. No wonder it got flattened by fans.
  • Liev Schreiber And Hugh Jackman
    Say what you want about the script, plot choices, and pointless cameos, but I will not hear a bad word said about either Schreiber or Jackman’s performances in this movie. It remains a great tragedy that we only got one movie with Liev Schreiber playing Sabretooth opposite Hugh Jackman, and that it was this one. Having watched the movie recently, the two men are almost able to save the movie with their acting chops alone – without them it wouldn’t be worth watching past the title sequence.
  • Most Action Sequences
    Strangely enough, the action sequences in the movie are actually pretty good; Logan and Creed fighting in the bar is awesome, and even the final battle is pretty entertaining (despite the character mutilation of Deadpool). The only downside to the sequence where Team X attacks a compound is that the individual use of the soldier’s abilities makes little sense as a tactical strike, but as a showcase of the individual powers at play it’s pretty good. As is the helicopter fight – right up until the cliched walking away from the explosion end point.
  • The One Liners
    X-Men Origins: Wolverine isn’t a comedy, but there’s quite a few one liners that will at the very least elicit a chuckle from you. Plus, you can also laugh at the so-bad-it’s-good moments.
  • Wolverine Uses All His Powers
    Funnily enough, one of the things this movie gets right is how many other abilities Logan has. At different points in the movie you see him use his enhanced senses of smell, vision and hearing to locate Creed, Zero and Kayla. You don’t see him using his other powers as often as you do his healing and claws (for obvious reasons, I’m sure).

Yes, the movie has its problems, especially with how it fits (or used to fit depending on who you’re talking to) into the X-Men movie franchise, or how it treats certain characters, but if you look at it as a standalone movie that just happens to feature Wolverine… it’s actually not that bad; truth be told, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, and that’s why it’s the subject of this week’s Underrated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Underrated: Great Comics Not In Diamond’s Top 100 Sellers For March

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Great comics not in Diamonds top 100 sellers for March


This week we’re going to be looking at a list of comics that are all fantastic, but don’t get the attention that they deserve. Now I’m not even going to pretend to have a definitively exhaustive list of underrated comics here, because we’re hoping  that you decide to check at least one of these series out next time you’re looking for something new either online or at your LCS, and giving you a huge list to check out would be counter productive to that. Instead, you’ll find six(ish) comics that are worth your attention that failed to crack the top 100 in sales. You’ll notice that there’s only one comic from a publisher featured – this was done to try and spread the love around, rather than focus exclusively on one publisher (although there may be a future Underrated on specific publishers in the future, that’s not the point of this one).

Where possible, I’ve also avoided comics that have appeared on the last version of this list in past editions but that’s also had the adverse effect of shortening this list more than I’d like in the past, so you may see some recurring series month to month, although I’ll try to avoid that as much as possible.

The only hard stipulation for this week: not one of the comics made it into the top 100 for Marchs comic sales, according to Comichron., which is why they’re Underrated.

 

voracius feeding time 4Voracious: Feeding Time #4 (Action Lab)
March Sales Rank/Comics Sold: Not listed/Unknown
It should come as no surprise to you that I am a fan of Markisan Naso and Jason Muhr’s creation,Voracious, and it’s sequel Voracious: Feeding Time. The writer and artist/letterer and joined by colourist Andrei Tabucaru, and the trio have produced one of the most consistently excellent comics on the racks. With a story that is on the surface built to be a comedy – that of a time travelling dinosaur hunting chef – but packs more of an emotional punch than you’d expect in such a comic. A truly compelling series that reinvigorated my love for comics, if you want to get caught up the first trade of Voracious is available now, and the second volume will be coming in May, although you could also go hunting for back issues. This is easily one of my favourite comics from any publisher right now, and it is a criminally underread series. There’s a reason I push this on as many people as I do, both online and offline, and that’s because it’s fucking amazing.

Ninjak #25 (Valiant)
March Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 275 /5,763

Even though there are several elements of the character that I love (namely the fusion of James Bond and Batman), I’ll admit that up until recently I wasn’t a huge fan of Ninjak’s solo book; it had it’s moments, but the comic never pulled itself out of being a good comic into the truly great levels until the 23rd issue (for me, anyway – there are those who have long felt it was great). As of this writing the 26th issue has also been published, which is the final issue in the current run, so you may be wondering what I’m thinking by pointing you toward this series now, and I’ll tell you: tradepaper backs.

redline-1Redline #1 (Onipress)
March Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 220 /8,040

The series that blends space travel (more specifically living on a colony on Mars) with a hardboiled detective story that’s so much more nuanced then I can adequately convey in a shot blurb. Redline may seem crass and bloody, and it is, but beyond that is where you’ll find one of the most interesting and well written stories from Onipress I’ve ever read. If you have even a passing interest in life on another planet, or a sci-fi detective story then pick this up.

The Flintstones #9 (DC)
March Sales Rank/Comics Sold: #208 /9,213

You would be forgiven for thinking that this would be a pretty, but shallow, series about an old 60’s cartoon based purely on the name and covers of the nine issues we’ve seen from DC, and you’d be about half right. The Flintstones is a pretty comic about characters who debuted in the 60’s, but it’s far from being a shallow comic. This is a series that will make you think about the disposable lifestyle we currently enjoy, and how others suffer for that – it is, in short, one of the most well written comics out there that’s hidden behind a facade that too many people ignore.

grasskings_001_a_mainGrass Kings #1 (Boom!)
February Sales Rank/Comics Sold: #168 /13,515


I’ll usually give anything Matt Kindt does at least a couple of issues before I either add it to my pull list or stop reading all together, but the first issue of this series about, for lack of a better phrase, an independent kingdom set within rural America piqued my interest pretty quickly. There’s a sense of something off lurking just beneath the surface in the Grass Kingdom, and the way that  Kindt is drip feeding us information makes for a compelling read.

God Country #3 (Image)
February Sales Rank/Comics Sold: #156 /15,321


I’m writing this after having just finished reviewing the most recent issue, but through the magic of the internet and Graphic Policy’s schedule, you’ll read this a couple hours before the review goes live. I’ll go into detail as to why I love the series in that review so I don’t want to spoil too much, but suffice it to say that I’m going to need to get the trade because I don’t want to wear my floppies out from reading them over and over again.


Unless the comics industry ceases any and all publication look for a future installment of Underrated to cover more comics that aren’t cracking the top 100.

« Older Entries