Today's comics are nothing like the ones we bought as kids back in the sixties and seventies. More to the point most comics around these days originate from the USA as British comics are virtually extinct, mores the pity. It also has to be pointed out that there are some modern comics are not actually suitable for children. A lot are quite graphically violent and sexual content is at times what you would expect from a 18 cert film (R for US readers).
One of the reasons for this is actually quite simple. Kids don't really read comics these days, its all computer games from what people tell me. There are plenty of comics that would be suitable for children, Superman, Batman, Spider man and the Avengers still get plenty of readers, though nowhere near the numbers that go to see the films of these characters . Shame really.
I still find them fun, but I thought I'd review three of my favourite current titles, two of which get the 18 Cert and the third a 12A.
The Royals (DC/Vertigo)
image Copyright DC comics
The first issue of this little gem was released this week, making it easier for you to pick up a copy at a comic book shop near you.
This is the tale of a world where the Royal Family are seemingly the only ones who have "God-given" superpowers and this issue not only takes deep into action in Berlin 1945, but also quickly flashes back to the self indulgent times being had by the royals during the blitz when the young Prince Henry develops a conscience and leads spitfires into action against the Luftwaffe.
Of course the Prince doesn't need a plane to fly....
The British people have been told a different story up to now, but the rub is the British Royal family are not the only royals with power. And so the scene is set for this six issue mini series by British creators Rob Williams (writer) and Simon Coleby (art).
Uber (Avatar Press)
image copyright Avatar Press
Avatar comics are a small quite brave and controversial publisher whose titles are purely for adults and frankly not for the faint hearted. Irish creator Garth Ennis came up with his take on the Zombie" craze with his Crossed title which is currently published fortnightly rather than the normal monthly frequency of most US comics. Instead of the undead rising, the infection brings out the worst that mankind has hidden in his soul. Graphically so be warned, It will offend some.
The Uber title is another alternative history take on the second world war and sees the Germans develop supermen (and women) of varying power levels (the most powerful being called "battleships") at almost the wars end.
Don't worry though the British secret service has pinched the formula and so just in the nick of time we get our own. Trouble is most people given the serum tend to die rather gruesome deaths and only a handful on all sides survive the process. More of a problem for the democracies than the Nazi's or as it turns out Stalin either whose attitude to life is somewhat different to western sensibilities.
Written by Kieron Gillen, this is a unnerving but worthwhile read. Currently there have been 10 issues of this series but you can catch up in a couple of months with the publication of a trade paperback collection of the first story arc.
Letter 44 (Oni Press)
image copyright Oni Press1
Another title from the small publisher Oni Press, that deserves credit and wider recognition for this mixture of politics and science fiction in the not too distant future.
Former US President Carroll has kept America involved in every possible conflict he can and in the process has developed an army of well equipped veterans. The new President discovers the reason for this on taking office after the election. There's an alien artifact in the asteroid belt and no one knows why its there or what the aliens want.
The story then switches to the crew of The Clarke which is currently heading on a (probably) one way mission to see what is going on out there.
Over the first four issues the "action" has switched between the political shenanigans on earth around President Blade, the CIA and the military to the crew of The Clarke making for an intriguing story that means when this arrives in my "pile" at the comic shop its' the first on my list to read.
And no, still haven't seen an alien but we're getting there......
Where do I buy comics?
There are over a hundred comic shops around the UK and a number of mail order firms you can look up on-line, but for those of you in London I recommend:
30th Century Comics. (Putney)
Go to: http://www.thirtiethcentury.free-online.co.uk/