One Mad Dog


One Mad Dog (And His Master) : Introduction
January 1, 2010, 10:05 am
Filed under: Introduction

Welcome to my Graphic novels and collected editions mini review blog. Please use the Category links in the left column to navigate to your favorite author, artist or series or just browse through my mini reviews.  You can also click on the star rating to see which books I have particularly enjoyed.

Background:

in 2005 I started collecting graphic novels when some of my favorite “Starlord” and “2000AD” stories from my childhood became available in a collected form.  Since then it has become something of a passion and my collection seems to grow at an exponential rate.  Whenever I read a new book in my collection this blog is updated with a mini review and a not so scientific score.  I assign a score based upon how much I enjoyed the book and takes into account the story, artwork and presentation. If I think a book is worth less than a 5 I dont bother writing about it. Fortunately I have been a wise purchaser and haven’t had any books that a deem less than a 5 yet (fingers crossed)

2017 Update : Sorry but the site went on hold for a few years due to a medical issue I had which left me unable to read. I am now reading again although not as often as I used to so reviews will not happen as often.

Thanks for visiting.



Complete Battlefields Volume 2 – HC (Garth Ennis, Russ Braun, P.J. Holden, Carlos Ezquerra)
September 10, 2021, 6:47 am
Filed under: 8 Stars, Carlos Ezquerra, Garth Ennis, P.J. Holden, Russ Braun

This hardcover includes all three Ennis Battlefields books from Volume Two of the series in one collected edition with extras.

BATTLEFIELD: MOTHERLAND (by Garth Ennis & Russ Braun) Lieutenant Anna Kharkova is posted to single-seat fighter aircraft and sent straight into action. Hardened and embittered by the loss of her comrades, Anna is only too keen to get her teeth into the enemy- but with Russian and German armies about to collide in the titanic battle of Kursk, her first flight with her new squadron may well be her last. And once the Soviet secret police start sniffing around, death in battle may well be preferable anyway.
Soon horrific losses land Anna with the very last thing she wants: more responsibility, in the shape of eight young replacement pilots to be trained for combat. But with the Battle of Kursk reaching its climax, rookies are nothing but lambs to the slaughter- and even the most experienced pilots find themselves flying on borrowed time.

This story had good but fairly simple art and a great story and was attractively colored by Tony Avina.


BATTLEFIELDS: HAPPY VALLEY (by Garth Ennis & PJ Holden) England, January 1942: young Australian Ken Harding arrives at his first operational squadron, keen to play his part in the aerial attack on Germany as the commander of a bomber crew.
Losses have been high and life expectancy is low, but Ken remains undaunted- until he meets his crew, a foulmouthed, battle-hardened bunch with no time for new boys who can’t stand the pace. Together, they must take the war to the enemy over the most heavily-defended region of the Third Reich- the industrial heartland of the Ruhr, known to the men who face the flak and nightfighters as Happy Valley.

This one had Good art and good story but I think the bad language was a bit overdone,


BATTLEFIELDS: FIRELFY & HIS MAJESTY (by Garth Ennis & Carlos Ezquerra) The Tankies’ Sergeant Stiles returns, recently promoted and angrier than ever! He’s got a new crew and a new tank – a Sherman Firefly with a high-velocity gun capable of taking out even the fearsome German Tiger. Too bad the enemy have a new tank of their own – the mighty King Tiger, with twice the armor and firepower of the original.
As Stiles and his men join the Allied advance into the Nazi homeland, they soon realize that every inch of ground will be bitterly contested by the foe… and that there are worse horrors than Tigers lurking in the gloom of the last German winter.

This one had a great story and my favorite art. This was Classic Carlos Ezquerra work.

The book also contained a long prose section explaining the background of the stories and some fantastic early pencils by the artists.

Overall a solid book for fans of the genre, 8/10

ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1606902226




Rat Pack – Guns, Guts and Glory: Volume 1 Hardcover – (Gerry Finlay Day, Carlos Ezquerra, Pat Mills, John Wagner, Jim Aldridge, F.A. Philpott, K. Houghton, Colin Page, Mike White, Edward Vanyo, Massimo Belardinolli, W.G. Edge, Ron Carpenter, H.J. Johnson and Terry Magee)

This is a collection of classic strips from the British boys’ comic Battle Picture Weekly. The story is basically an adaptation of the Dirty Dozen series of films and has Major Taggart  attempting to lead a team of four criminals on suicide missions against the Nazis in WWII in order to earn their freedom. These criminals have been given the option to fight as commandos rather than rot in prison. The four criminals are Turk who has super strength and attitude, Weasel who has lockpicking skills, Rogan who is a super athlete and Danger who is an expert with knives.

  • Episode 1 to 4: Writer – Gerry Finley Day. Artist – Carlos Ezquerra
  • Episode 5 and 7 : Writers – Pat Mills and John Wagner.  Artist – Jim Aldridge
  • Episode 6: Writers – Pat Mills and John Wagner.  Artist – F.A. Philpott
  • Episode 8: Writers – Pat Mills and John Wagner.  Artist – The Rogers Agency
  • Episode 9: Writers – Pat Mills and John Wagner.  Artist – K. Houghton
  • Episode 10: Writer – Gerry Finley Day. Artist – Colin Page
  • Episode 11: Writer – Gerry Finley Day. Artist – Mike White
  • Episode 12 and 16: Writer – Gerry Finley Day. Artist – Edward Vanyo
  • Episode 13 and 21: Writer – Gerry Finley Day. Artist – Massimo Belardinolli
  • Episode 14: Writer – W.G. Edge. Artist – Lorente Agency
  • Episode 15: Writer – Ron Carpenter.  Artist – F.A. Philpott
  • Episode 17: Writer – W.G. Edge. Artist – Edward Vanyo
  • Episode 18: Writer – W.G. Edge. Artist – Massimo Belardinolli
  • Episode 19: Writer – Unknown. Artist – H.J. Johnson
  • Episode 20: Writer – Unknown. Artist – Carlos Ezquerra
  • Episode 22: Writer – Terry Magee. Artist – Edward Vanyo

The stories will immediately feel familiar to British comic book readers of the time and are pretty much classic British comic book fare with the hook of each story how the individual talents of each commando is used to beat the Nazis. All the time there is banter and friction between the crew that can be quite amusing. I suppose they havent really aged that well but through nostalgia I enjoyed them.

The first few stories are illustrated by Carlos Ezquerra who is one of my favorite artists but his work here is very simple and sparse and looks like basic comic book fare. This isnt like the work I expect from him. The covers and first few pages are often much better but I suspect that these were colour in the original printing, It is a great shame that they didnt have the colour in this collection. The change to different artists kept the same standard and feel throughout the book and was consistently good. Some artists were more detailed than the others but generally speaking it was just basic British comic book style. People may be expecting better art in a graphic novel but this collection is a symptom of the punishing schedule of a weekly comic. 6/10

ISBN 13: 9781848560352



Strange Girl Omnibus HC – (Rick Remender, Eric Nguyen, Jerome Opena, Harper Jaten, Nick Stakal, Micah Ferritor, Peter Bergting)

Ten years after the Rapture, a beautiful occultist and her pet demon embark on a road trip to the last open gateway to heaven in hopes of befriending God and escaping hell on earth. A bare-knuckle, action-driven series peppered with social commentary and dark humor,

The story centers around all the devout being taken up into heaven and the remainder left on earth to live with the demons of hell. It explores some interesting theological premises and is an entertaining read, Our hero is a sassy young girl who seems a dab hand with a spell book and she is accompanied by her blue demon,

Ilustrated By:

Eric Nguyen – Chapters 1-6 and 8

Jerome Opena – Chapter 7

Harper Jaten – Chapter 9

Nick Stakal – Chapters 10, 12, 14 and 15

Micah Ferritor – Chapter 13

Peter Bergting – Chapter 16, 17 and 18

The art style is quite unique and nicely colored and the panel layout makes it easy to follow. However it isnt great and the work is a bit patchy in places. The pictures of the blue demon are particularly hit and miss. If I was to choose an artist from the book I much prefer Jerome Opena’s art style in chapter 7, Although he doesn’t do do very detailed backgrounds, his characters look good.

The story initially progresses along at a good rate and keeps your interest and the theological stuff isnt too heavy but entertaining. As the book progresses it loses its way and some of the story gets a bit odd and I enjoyed it less. By the last chapter I had become a bit disappointed. Overall it was not a bad read but I think it started off better than it ended . 5/10. ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1607063971



Spawn Volume 2 – (Todd Mcfarlane, Greg Capullo, Mark Silvestri, Grant Morrison, Tom Orzechowski, Andrew Crossberg)

The second collection in the series contains issues 13-33 and expands upon the premise of the Demonic Spawn and accompanying characters and his discovery of his true nature. When I was reading the book I found some parts very disjointed and confusing.  I did further research and found that it was based on several tie in mini series that are required for the plot.  This information is not clearly included in the book which in my mind is a huge omission for a collection. According to articles online it is missing the Angela miniseries, the Blood Feud miniseries, and the Violator miniseries and crossover issues of Youngblood.  This is not a complete list but gives an idea of how much is missing. Really this is disappointing for a collected edition but at least it has all the issues of Spawn which the first book didn’t.

If you enjoyed Volume 1 then this book is more of the same and you should enjoy Vol 2 too. I think this book has greater appeal to die hard spawn fans rather than casual readers.  It is a merging of some conspiracy type stories and shoetree crime drama to strange other dimensions and Hell based bizarreness.  The book also uses its platform to make social comment on social issues. I particularly enjoyed the Houdini character,

This brightly colored TBP is printed on good quality glossy paper and looks great.  The artwork is good and the majority apparently by Todd himself.  Individual stories are not attributed to a particular artist or creator but in the front of the book it does state:

Pencils :

  • Todd Mcfarlane
  • Greg Capullo
  • Mark Silvestri

Story :

  • Todd Mcfarlane
  • Grant Morrison
  • Tom Orzechowski
  • Andrew Crossberg

All the stories have a similar feel and art style so it isn’t glaringly obvious that there are different creators.  I think this is a good thing. I found that the panel layout was a bit too arty at times for arts sake.  The layout can make stories a bit hard work to follow and I am not a big fan of the way it is implemented in all cases.  The stories are solid and at times there is a lot of text accompanying a page.   I am not a huge fan of large amounts of prose in a Graphic novel as I feel it distracts from the pace of the story but it is part of the Spawn style.  It is often a Blade runner style monologue. It does make for a good long read

I particulary enjoyed the story arc starting around issue 21 where his ex wifes new husband is framed by the Mob, Police, FBI etc etc. I also enjoyed the addition of the Houdini character in the previous arc.

Overall a solid follow up to the first collection and an enjoyable but sometimes pretty complex read.

ISBN 1-58240- 610-3 : 7/10



B.P.R.D Plague of Frogs 2 (Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Guy Davies, John Severin, Herb Trimpe, Karl Moline, Peter Snejbjerg, Dave Stewart, Bjarne Hansen)

From the pages of Hellboy collecting

The Dead #1-5 (Story Mike Mignola and John Arcudi. Art Guy Davis)
The Black Flame #1 (retitled War on Frogs: Chapter 1)
War on Frogs #1 (retitled War on Frogs: Chapter 2)
Revival (retitled War on Frogs: Chapter 3)
War on Frogs #2 (retitled War on Frogs: Chapter 4)
War on Frogs #4 (retitled War on Frogs: Chapter 5)
The Black Flame #2–6 (retitled The Black Flame: Chapters 1–5)
War on Frogs #3 (retitled The Black Flame: Epilogue)

B.P.R.D Plague of Frogs 2 collects 3 trade paperbacks The DeadWar on Frogs and The Black Flame. These have been rearranged into a better story based chronological order not as their publication as comics. The hard back book is nicely printed on glossy paper and is glorious full color. The art work is solid throughout and despite the different artists it maintains the Hell Boy Universe feel.

The story is an easy read but it feels quite a straight “Run and Gun” type of tale. I felt it didnt really have intricate back story plots or hooks to really keep my interest up. It really didnt seem to grab me the way the first volume did. Abe Sapien is quite melancholy in this volume. There is the shock of one of the main characters being killed by one of the new protagonists. The book has some nice additional content and sketches to make it worth reading.

Definitely not a bad book but nothing outstanding. It Seems to get really good reviews on Amazon so not sure why it didn’t hit it off with me (6/10) ISBN 978-1=59582-672-3



THE DYLAN DOG CASE FILES (Tizanio Sclavi)
July 10, 2020, 6:22 pm
Filed under: 6 Stars, Tizanio Sclavi

“An ex-cop who now battles against evil as a “nightmare investigator,” Dylan Dog is unlike any private eye you’ve ever met. If creatures from beyond the unknown are after you, and if you can hire him, he just might save your life.”

This TPB collects 7 Horror Mystery Stories:

  • Dawn of the Living Dead
  • Johnny Freak
  • Memories From the Invisible world
  • The Return of the Monster
  • Morgana
  • After Midnight
  • Zed

This book is a translation of an Italian horror series and the translation is very good and the Jokes, Dialog and songs translate well.  This book is based upon mystery occult stories and they are all an intriguing read.  It balances nicely the bizarre and the confusing to keep the reader hooked.  It is pretty violent and has some nudity. The main character is pretty well developed and likeable but his “Groucho Marx” sidekick is just plain annoying (probably deliberately so).  I don’t think any of the stories particularly stood out and they were all good. If I was to pick a favorite it would be “Zed”  which was a bizarre story of alternate realities.  Special mention must go to “After Midnight”  which was surreal.

I presume the volumes are drawn by different artists but they are not specifically identified. The style is however quite consistent and the Quality pretty uniform. The art work is standard realistic  black and white comic book fare.  Its nothing special but it fits the story well. Cover art by Mike Mignola

This was an enjoyable read and well worth investigating if you can find it. 6/10

ISBN-10:1-59582-206-2



Strontium Dog – The Early Cases (John Wagner, Alan Grant, Carlos Ezquerra)
July 9, 2020, 9:05 pm
Filed under: 2000AD, 8 Stars, Alan Grant, Carlos Ezquerra, John Wagner, Strontium Dog
  • The Galaxy Killers (Wagner, Ezquerra)

Epic space story with SD fighting a universe domination race.

  • Journey Into Hell (Wagner, Ezquerra)

Long story where our heroes dimension warp into a hell like world .

  • Deaths Head (Wagner, Ezquerra)

SD up against an alien adversary Blanko in a short but intense chase.

  • The Schicklgrubber Grab (Wagner, Ezquerra)

SD time warps to kidnap Hitler with other SD trying to get in on the action.

The book itself has a fantastic full color Cover Art. The contents are  in Black and White to represent the original comic content.  Printed on good quality paper.

Note : Alan Grant is credited on the cover but on none of the stories

Summary : Classic Strontium Dog Tales with excellent Ezquerra artwork. Solid 8/10

 

 

 

[ISBN 1-4012-83-4]



Requiem Vampire Knight . Tome 4: The Convent of the Blood Sisters & The Queen of Dead Souls (Pat Mills, Olivier Ledroit)
February 14, 2018, 7:11 pm
Filed under: 8 Stars, Olivier Ledroit, Pat Mills, Requiem Vampire Knight

Tome 4 collects

  • The Convent of the Blood Sisters
  • The Queen of Dead Souls

Another solid offering set in Mills adult vampire world that carries on the story of Heinrich and his plight in the nether world. Quite a violent an gritty book with lots of nudity and extreme violence.  The art work is again excellent although its complexity and layout sometimes makes some sections hard to follow. Although the story was well written I found you had to concentrate quite hard to keep up with what was going on.

If you enjoyed the previous 3 volumes I think you will enjoy this one.

8/10  (112 pages, November 2010, ISBN 1-84653-438-0)



Requiem Vampire Knight. Tome 3: Dragon Blitz & Hellfire Club (Pat Mills, Olivier Ledroit )
February 11, 2018, 4:52 pm
Filed under: 8 Stars, Olivier Ledroit, Pat Mills, Requiem Vampire Knight

Book 3 collects two stories, Dragon Blitz and Hellfire.  These continue on from the earlier books which are reviewed on this site and there is no need to regurgitate all the back story here.  As the previous books this is a very solid tale with excellent art and great coloring.  The story is quite graphic in places and definitely more suited for mature readers.

Dragon Blitz picks up at the cliffhanger of the last series where Heinrich and Rebecca are making their escape through the dragon attack.  There is also a bit of a back story on one of the Protaganists Otto who is involved in a big dogfight with the pair at the beginning of the book. Other highlights of this story include the pirates hijacking of the Black opium train and the meeting of a new character in the shape of a vampire dragon hunter. I enjoyed this tale as much as the previous two books.

Hellfire club starts with a back story regarding the Crusaders who later become vampires fighting with the Russians. It mainly is based around the fight between Lindos and Dracula but has a subplot where Rebecca gets taken by the  Police to the sisters of blood. blood and Heinrich prepares to get her back. An enjoyable read and visual treat.

ISBN-13: 978-1846534577.  8/10.



Requiem Vampire Knight. Tome 2: Dracula & The Vampires Ball (Pat Mills, Olivier Ledroit)
February 7, 2018, 5:43 pm
Filed under: Olivier Ledroit, Pat Mills, Requiem Vampire Knight

This volumes resumes the story  of Heinrich Augsburg, an ex Nazi soldier doomed to be a vampire warrior in a world of resolute evil. It fills in some of the back story on his love Rebecca who was Jew and as such forbidden fruit for a Nazi . She suffered a horrible death and has been reincarnated as a foe of Dracula and hence Requiem but he still has feelings for her.  She features quite heavily in this tale where they interact in a cliffhanger way at the end. We also find that Requiem himself may be a reincarnation of a disgraced fellow called Thurim. This is a fact he tries to conceal as it would put him in certain conflict with Dracula.

The main story revolves around factions trying to overthrow the Vampires and their master Dracula and includes many epic battles.  There is a tremendous amount going on in the battle scenes and graphic bloodshed. The style of writing is familiar to Pat Mills fans and has some edginess to the subject matter that makes it less suitable for youngsters.

This book stands out for it’s  detailed and gloriously colored artwork. The wonderful drawing is helped no end by  the good quality shiny paper stock. Each page is a veritable feast for the eyes and must have taken ages to draw. I particularly enjoyed the artwork for the steampunk style sky pirates. Sometimes the complexity of the art and number of characters made it a little difficult for me to follow what was going on but it didn’t distract from the pleasurable reading experience.  The artwork is very detailed but not in a surreal rather than realistic way. The extra art at the end of the book is also worthy of note.

Being from the same author, it reminds me in feel of the 2000AD strip Nemesis the Warlock but the full color TPB format here allows even more outrageous art. If you enjoyed the first Novel, Are a Nemesis follower or  a Pat Mills fan you should enjoy this Graphic treat.

8/10. (112 pages, September 2009, ISBN 1-84653-438-0)