So I had a busy, shitty day yesterday and needed to unwind in the pub with some comics before heading home. This is the fruits of that labour, so forgive me if they seem a bit…slapdash.

Young Liars #15 (David Lapham)
Vertigo Comics

Well, despite the dispiriting news that it’s headed for cancellation, it’s always a good day when an issue of Young Liars comes out. Not much to say that hasn’t been said, but suffice to say there’s still nothing out there like it. It’s a comic where (SPOILER) the main character can get shot dead and it still doesn’t mean the end of them. The best thing about YL is that the cliffhangers really are cliffhangers – I genuinely have no idea what’s coming up in the next issue, and to my increasingly jaded palette it’s a real treat. The series is building to a conclusion  with momentum and issue #15, whilst perhaps less strikingly unique than previous ones, still has a breakneck unpredictability about it.  It’s pure adrenaline fuelled storytelling from someone with a masterful control of pace and atmosphere. I fucking love it, so do most cool people, but there’s just not damn near enough of us out there apparently.

Jack Staff #20 (Paul Grist)
Image Comics

Although I absolutely adore Paul Grist’s work, the last few issues of Jack Staff have left me slightly underwhelmed. I don’t want to piss and moan about a comic put together with such love and skill, but they’ve just started to blur into one another. The episodic narratives can seem somewhat disjointed, and the overall plot can seem like it’s not really moving forward. Happily, this issue seemed significantly more punchy and coherent, and the stitching together of six separate narratives worked a treat. Grist is a master draughtsman, and his pages are laid out with absolute skill and clarity. I’m particularly enjoying the ongoing development of  Zipper Nolan, and the nod to the Demon Headmaster was fun. Up yours X-Men! My only wish is that it was retaining it’s once-monthly schedule, but JS is a labour of love from a great British creator, so I’d rather have it infrequently than not at all.

(Beast takes small break to get another pint and some dry-roasted peanuts. Pauses to listen to local barfly talking bollocks)

Umbrella Academy: Dallas #6 (Gerard Way 7 Gabriel Ba)
Dark Horse Comics

The second mini draws to a close, riffing on the well-trodden territory of the JFK assassination. Having just waded through Dom DeLillo’s joyless Libra, I’m a bit burned out by it all, but at least the Umbrella Academy has a man with a goldfish bowl for a head in it. This series has struck me with it’s bloodiness – I can’t remember the first being as violent as this, and the torture and sadism of the early issues was genuinely shocking, enhanced perhaps by Ba’s loose cartoony artwork. That said it’s still a fun and original comic put together with considerable flair. There is the sneaking suspicion that beneath the surface there’s not a whole lot going on, but it’s all done with such glee and enthusiasm it doesn’t impact too negatively on the finished product. Way’s a remarkably accomplished comic writer considering he spends most of his time making godawful music, and Ba’s artwork is simply excellent. It looks lovely in full colour, and his expressive fluid style is particularly well suited to the gonzo material. The last issue’s Vietnam diversion was the best thing about this mini, but all in all I’m pretty much sold on the comic as a whole.

Lockjaw & The Pet Avengers #1 (Chris Elipopoulous & Ig Guara)
Marvel Comics

I fucking love super animals. Along with Fin Fang Four last week, this is all the Marvel Comics I need. I know everyone loves Brubaker’s Captain America, but it just doesn’t have enough tiny frogs waving hammers and bellowing cod-Shakespearian dialogue for me.

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