The Last Tournament in Albion (And Also 3/16/16 Comics Reviews)


Before we get to comics reviews, it being the season for big elaborate seeded brackets of things, I'll be running The Last Tournament in Albion, an attempt to summarize a mostly still-unwritten sprawling epic history of British comic books via a series of Twitter polls. Sixty-four classics from the major players in The Last War in Albion (and a few guest stars), broken into four divisions (British Classics, American Superheroes, Literary Comics, and Non-Comics) and seeded into a series of appropriately brutal head-to-head match-ups. You can see the whole bracket right here.

Voting begins tomorrow, March 17th, on my Twitter. Watch for the hashtag #LastTournamentInAlbion. 

On to a light but high quality week.

James Bond 007 #5

This one's odd, feeling very segmented and with awkward transitions between the segments. I strongly suspect Ellis of writing for the trade. This series is also starting to be hobbled by Jason Masters not being up to Ellis's extended silent action sequences. This one has two - a five pager that's entirely silent and an eight-pager with limited dialogue - and they just don't have the crackle that happens when Ellis gives one of those to someone like Declan Shalvey or Gerardo Zaffino. Still, it's a hell of a high bar when the worst comic of the week is an Ellis comic.

International Iron Man #1

Mostly a flashback of the form "Tony Stark and yet another bespoke girlfriend character," but it's Bendis and so that's mostly tolerable, even if he is on autopilot for most of it. But as a first issue this works well, framing the flashback in a very short in media res action sequence that picks up the "Tony Stark's biological parents" thread from Kieron Gillen's run. It's an intriguing way to do things with a secondary Iron Man book. The only weak spot - aside from Bendis's autopilot - is that Alex Maleev's action sequences are muddy and difficult to follow.

Digital code: FCM7CIG4KXBV

Injection #8

This is basically just wall-to-wall the best thing ever. Page upon page that just giddily pushes my specific buttons. The double page splash (and ensuing page of snarky dialogue) is the most obvious, but Viv's several page monologue on Sherlock Holmes, love, and sexuality is also great. As is the turn to AI cults. And the use of narration. Seriously, this issue. Wow. 


Eric Gimlin 4 years, 10 months ago

Sadly, as much as I would like to participate in the bracket, I refuse to actually join twitter. It looks like fun, though. Although I swear you're being deliberately nasty with some of your parings... Having to choose round one between Animal Man and Nextwave, or All-Star Superman and Doom Patrol, when there are so many obviously (to me, at least) lesser works in that division is painful; just to pick the worst example. But that's part of the fun of a bracket, I suppose.

Injection is really an awesome book, isn't it?

No thoughts on Keith Giffen reviving Sugar & Spike as a pair of detectives in an overpriced anthology of books DC decided wouldn't sell on their own? (I know, I'm one of the only people on the planet who still care about Sugar & Spike. But it's one of my all-time favorite comics; to say I have mixed feelings about a revival is putting it mildly. It's just bonkers enough to make me willing to look, at least.)

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Elizabeth Sandifer 4 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, the seeding (and bracket construction) were interesting, if hasty. I'm actually quite pleased with how good the bracket is as a proxy for the War given that it's about ninety minutes' honest work and maybe an hour of brainstorming while I ran errands.

So, the geek explanation I assume you want. ;)

I made the brackets starting with the four divisions, which evolved a bit over the course of my grocery shopping; at one point the British division was going to be really strict and start including Skizz and Zoids and shit, but I decided to loosen the category so that Phonogram and Uber counted. I then tried to come up with a list of four works from each of the major five (with Gillen's berth being Gillen/Other due to his shorter career) for each division. This failed or quickly became an exercise in silliness in several, but those tended to naturally make room for things like Gaiman's necessary dominance in Non-Comics. Then I did a bit of horse-trading at the end; most notably, Watchmen and Sandman swapped categories very late in the game.

Seeding was a balancing of an imaginary critical consensus and a bet on how a popular vote among Last War in Albion readership would go, with an eye towards not letting categories get too lopsided. So Voice of the Fire has a ridiculous three seed mostly because something that wasn't by Neil Gaiman had to be, whereas Promethea got cruelly given a ten seed for basically no reason other than the fact that its category already has Watchmen and From Hell. And then I futzed a bit to make sure that, for instance, Gillen had a shot at getting two works into the second round in the British bracket, but Morrison would have to lose at least one in the American.

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Eric Gimlin 4 years, 10 months ago

I didn't know I wanted the geek explanation until you offered it, but yes I do want it.

10 for Promethea was cruel, putting it up against Global Frequency was also a nasty trick. Ellis in general seems to have picked nasty opponents in the first round in that division.

Did you tweak the American Division slightly? I thought you had Final Crisis facing Swamp Thing earlier...

And, somewhat to my shame, I don't actually know enough of the items in the non-comics division to correctly pick. I think I've only actually encountered 5 of them.

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Elizabeth Sandifer 4 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, I realized that even though Gaiman's second entry in American was going to be a doomed low-seed, it was cruel to make it take on Sandman, so I swapped the 15 and 16 seeds. Which in turn threw up the unsatisfying Swamp Thing/Black Orchid matchup, so I swapped Gaiman's sacrifice pick out for 1602.

I also fiddled British, deciding that Gaiman/McKean collaborations were over-represented, Signal to Noise should go in favor of Bojeffries Saga, which represents a vein of British that was otherwise unexplored in the category.

So the net was a big hit for Gaiman/McKean, though I did credit Coraline to both of them to make up for it.

I also just tinkered non-comics because three Moore spoken word pieces was a bit much, and I could instead set up a possible mouthwatering second round matchup between Pop Magic! and Fossil Angels, the latter being an essay in which Moore viciously insults the former.

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Elizabeth Sandifer 4 years, 10 months ago

And yes, Ellis has it rough in Literary Comics, but equally, it's a very strong category for him - he's got four in there. And it's by miles the most brutal category. Three is the only one in there that's a cheap sacrifice. But The Filth is by miles the strongest 15-seed. I basically evacuated all of Phonogram, Sandman, Uber, and Violent Cases/Mr. Punch from it already.

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Eric Gimlin 4 years, 10 months ago

And I just snagged Gun Machine and Supergods for my e-reader, as they had both been on my "I should get around to these some decade" list. So I should be able to play in that category a little bit better by the 2nd round.

Make no mistake, I'm absolutely behind playing this in my own head even if my refusal to join twitter means I won't actually be affecting the outcome.

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