One Mad Dog

[Witchblade Compendium, Vol. 1 Hardcover] – (Brian Haberlin, David Wohl, Michael Turner, Christina Z., Mat Broome, Brian Ching, Clarence Lansang, Dave Finch, Dan Fraga, Randy Green, Keu Cha, Kevin Wiggins, Louis Small Jr., Billy Tan, Steve Nelson, Rick Veitch, Paul Jenkins, Michael Zulli, Francis Manapul)
Compendium 1 collects Witchblade #1 to #50. This is a monster of a book and it is pretty difficult to physically read at times due to its weight. It also forces you to hold the book sideways to read the double splash pages which is a challenge. The paper is good Quality and glossy as is the norm for these Top Cow behemoths. The book can be quite text heavy (with thought bubbles) at times and I found some of the stories to have slightly confusing plots but it didnt really get in the way of the action.
The art is good and really jumps off the page in vibrant colour. It is ladened with scantily clad women with ridiculously voluptuous figures especially on the cover art that precedes each chapter. I suppose many people just buy this series for the art but its just an added bonus for me.
When I began reading it I thought it wasnt as good as “the darkness” and the crossover story lines where the darkness appeared were some of my favorite. Around Issue 20 or so it started to find its way better and the story became a lot more engaging. The main first arc winds up in Issue 39.
I really enjoyed the “Pez Dispenser” story arc that ran through to issue 46. Probably my favourite in the book. Issue 47 had a change of artist to Michael Zulli that really didnt fit in well with the rest of the series. #48 through 50 started an exciting new story arc.
One of my main criticisms of these omnibus editions in that they should really be inclusive of the story line (the Darkness Omnibus has the same problem). There are times when the story jumps to crossover issues which often makes it difficult to follow the plot. A good read.  [ISBN-13: 978-1582407982]. 7/10

[Elephantmen Volume 1: Wounded Animals] – (Richard Starkings, Moritat)
May 29, 2010, 4:18 am
Filed under: 6 Stars, Elephantmen, Moritat, Richard Starkins

I was really attracted to the concept of this novel where in the future some evil corporation has spliced human and animal genes to make super soldiers.  The main story artwork is a bit muddy, simplistic and Dark but it does the Job. The Cover artwork inside the book however, is really good and was what I was expecting for the whole collected edition. I found the story to be a bit disjointed but interesting enough to keep you reading. The low for me was the “Howard Stern”  Shock Croc story which I think was pretty much filler. I have read lots of negative comments about the Captain Stoneheart “Pirate” story but I actually thought it was OK.  The stories are often introduced by some sort of quotation that vary from some really interesting Science and political stuff to the overly long biblical quotes.  The book is printed on really good quality paper stock and is good value at $16.99. [ISBN-13: 978-1582409344]. 6/10

[Crossed Volume 1 Hardcover] – (Garth Ennis, Jacen Burrows)
May 26, 2010, 11:44 pm
Filed under: 8 Stars, Crossed, Garth Ennis, Jacen Burrows

Garth Ennis takes on the survival horror genre and brings artist Jacen Burrows along for the ride.  Garth Ennis is my favorite comic book author and Jacen Burrows is probably my favorite artist, so I had high hopes for this deluxe hardcover collecting “Crossed” issues1 to 10. This book definitely isn’t for the squeamish or the easily offended. It has violence and gore off the scale and portrays acts of intense human depravity. Its probably Ennis’s most shocking work which is really saying something for him (Just look at the punisher or Wormwood for instance). I do wonder if he might have gone a little too far in this book to shock his readers and might suffer a backlash as a result.

Jacen Burrow’s artwork is absolutely fantastic and even if you didn’t like the story it is an absolute joy to behold. The artwork and colors jump of the page and the “Crossed” are very inventively crafted to repulse. The poster panels, Splash pages and covers are truly top rate. Fortunately I think the story is pretty good  and although it follows the familiar formula of “bunch of people running from Zombies and trying to survive” it has a nice little twist in that the “Crossed” seem to have some sort of evil intelligence behind them.

I imagine this book will really polarize people and reading the reviews on Amazon this seems to be the case. Personally I couldn’t put it down once I started reading it and I found it a very entertaining read. It is not a very original idea and it lacks some of Ennis’s usual sick sense of humor but I can recommend it if you are into stuff like “The Walking Dead” or “30 days of Night”. [ISBN-13: 978-1592910915]. 8/10

[War Stories, Vol 2.] – (Garth Ennis, David LLoyd, Cam Kennedy, Carlos Ezquerra, Gary Erskine)
May 26, 2010, 5:19 am
Filed under: 7 stars, Carlos Ezquerra, David Lloyd, Garth Ennis, Gary Erskine, Kam Kennedy
J for Jenny – (David Lloyd) – I am not a huge fan of David LLoyd’s artwork but it seems to fit this story well. This is an excellent war story that explores the horrors of WW2 bombing raids through the eyes of a British Lancaster crew. There is much conflict between the crew and just a bit of insanity. Satisfying read and pretty thought provoking.
The Reivers – (Cam Kennedy) – I am always partial to SAS stories so I enjoyed this desert tale. A good old light hearted yarn with great artwork, witty dialogue and well timed pacing. Cam Kennedy’s art style has a certain 2000AD look to it which isnt suprising. I enjoyed his work on Rogue trooper.
Condors War – (Carlos Ezquerra) – I didnt really enjoy this story at all. It was really just one long politcal rant. Carlos Ezquerra’s art was good though but the story left me cold.
Archangel – (Gary Erskine) – A really good story about a paranoid RAF pilot protecting a convoy from a catapult launched aircraft. Classic Garth Ennis without any of the usual swearing or violence. This is the best story in the book. The artwork is also top rate in this story. Gary Erskine has a huge talent for drawing WW2 air battles.
A great collection with some nice extras explaining the background of the stories. Typical Vertigo cheap paper [ISBN 1-4012-1039-2]. 7/10

[Tales From The Clerks] – (Kevin Smith)
May 25, 2010, 2:57 am
Filed under: 5 stars, Kevin Smith

Collects the contents from the Clerks, Chasing Dogma and Bluntman & Chronic books together with one new story and a 15-page, never before reprinted story. I am a big fan of the Jay and Silent Bob movies and some of the same style of humor comes across here. A good book for Kevin Smith fans but nothing special.  [ISBN-13: 978-0936211787]. 5/10

[War Stories, Vol 1.] – (Garth Ennis, Chris Weston, Gary Erskine, Dave Gibbons, David Lloyd)
May 25, 2010, 2:00 am
Filed under: 7 stars, Chris Weston, Dave Gibbons, David Lloyd, Garth Ennis, Gary Erskine
Johann’s Tiger (Chris Weston) – A gritty story about the commander of a tiger tank and the final chapter of his part in the war. This is a Well written short story with excellent artwork by Chris Weston and a satisfying conclusion. Chris Weston ranks as one of my favorite war artists.
D-Day Dodgers (Gary Erskine) – Based upon a true story whereby a prominent lady figure called the soldiers fighting on the Italian front “D day dodgers”. This story is very much in the style of the classic British Comic Book “Commando” whereby class distinctions and the inneptitude of the generals all take a front row seat in the narrative. Good story and good artwork too.
Screamin Eagles – (Dave Gibbons) – A somewhat strange story with a unusual premise but not a bad read. Artwork is good.
(Nightingale) – (David Lloyd) – A superb story about HMS Nightingale and her crew as they battled to protect convoys during WW2. This tale is fantastically crafted to really portray the horrors of war at sea in to make the reader really care for the plight of the characters. I am not usually a fan of David LLoyd’s artwork but it fits this story perfectly. His dark colours and drab pallet really help to bring home the drama. Best story in the book.
A great collection with some nice extras explaining the background of the stories. Typical Vertigo cheap paper. [ISBN-13: 978-1401203283]. 7/10

[Haunt] – (Robert Kirkman, Todd McFarlane, Ryan Ottley, Greg Capullo)
May 15, 2010, 4:08 pm
Filed under: 7 stars, Greg Capullo, Haunt, Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley, Todd McFarlane

I am a Robert Kirkman fan and a  Todd McFarlane fan so I had to pick this book up. This TPB collects Collects Haunt issues #1-5 and it was only $9.99 (great value). The book has the look and feel of a cross between a top cow TPB like Witchblade or the Darkness and of course spawn.  Tod McFarlane’s artwork looks great printed on nice quality glossy paper stock and really jumps off the page. The rest of the art is nicely done too.

Haunt is based on two brothers that just don’t get along, one  is a less-than-perfect priest, the other is a government agent.   When the agent brother is killed he comes back to haunt  his brother to avenge his killing and protect his wife. The possession takes the form of a creature  pretty much like the Witchblade but with hints of spawn. The first collected edition does a good job of setting the plot and establishing the heroes and villains. The main plot is about a strange scientist trying to develop super soldiers, his missing notebook and the struggle to own that missing book. It flows nicely and has plenty of action although at times I had to turn back pages as the plot jumped around a bit and I though I had skipped a page. A good read.  [ISBN-13: 978-1607061540]. 7/10

[Adventures in the Rifle Brigade] – (Garth Ennis, Carlos Ezquerra)
May 15, 2010, 5:36 am
Filed under: 8 Stars, Carlos Ezquerra, Garth Ennis

In the introduction to this book it states that it plays homage to the great British war comics of the past. In reality it is a great send up of those stiff upper lip British style war stories where the boys from Blighty fight the filthy Bosch. It is over the top in many ways with a bunch of characters that are beyond belief but very funny.  I particularily enjoyed the section near the beginning where the rifle brigade were introduced. Carlos Ezquerra’s artwork is great and some of the splash pictures are amazing (I especially like Brian Bolland covers). If you enjoyed “Black Adder Goes forth” , “Jeeves and Wooster” or “Dads Army” then this book will probably appeal to you. Just be warned that is is a little more R rated than any of those TV programs. My only real gripe about “Adventures” is that I find the fact that several of the characters say nothing but their catchphrase wears a bit thin after a while.  Both stories in this collected edition are good and the second story about Hitlers missing love spud is particularly funny. Shame there seems to be no plans for any more. [ISBN-13: 978-1401203535]. 8/10

[Enemy Ace: War in Heaven] – (Garth Ennis, Chris Weston, Christian Alamy, Russ Heath)
May 14, 2010, 5:36 am
Filed under: 8 Stars, Chris Weston, Christian Alamy, Garth Ennis, Russ Heath

Garth Ennis really has a gift for bringing old war stories back to life. This book is based upon the legendary World War I German fighter pilot Hans von Hammer, a.k.a. the Enemy Ace, brought back out of retirement to fight in World war II. “War in Heaven” collects the two part mini series and has the flying ace battling it out in the skies and battling with his conscience  as he grows to resent Hitlers war machine.

Chris Weston’s art work in the first half of the book   is absolutely fantastic. Each frame is meticulously detailed and  manages to capture the essence of war in the skies in an almost cinematic manner.  Russ Heath’s artwork in the second book is very good but it  just lacks  Chris Weston’s magic and this coupled with a change to jet aircrafts hurts the books continuity a little. Great Book [ISBN-13: 978-1563899829]. 8/10.

[The Boys : Vol 4 : We Gotta Go Now] – (Garth Ennis, Darick Robertson)
May 11, 2010, 5:29 am
Filed under: 7 stars, Darick Robertson, Garth Ennis, The Boys

Volume 4 of the Boys has the story of the super hero “G” teams and the Boys attempts to deal with them.  Hughie ends up going under cover with the most unbelievably depraved teen G team with nasty consequences. Just like the rest of the series it is filled with profanity, nudity, disgusting acts and outrageous violence. It has a few laughs but is generally a little more serious than the previous 3 novels.  “We Gotta Go Now” is a little slow at times but it has some great character development and builds up to a really good ending. Darick Robertsons art is really good and some of the extras drawn by guest artists are really well drawn too.  Volume 4 isn’t quite as good as the previous 3 Volumes  but it is still a great read  and if you enjoyed the first 3 you will enjoy this one. [ISBN-13: 978-1606900352]. 7/10