One Mad Dog


[Tom Strong Book 2] – (Alan Moore, Alan Weiss, Chris Sprouse, Paul Chadwick, Gary Gianni, Al Gordon)
August 29, 2010, 7:01 pm
Filed under: 7 stars, Alan Weiss, Chris Sprouse, Gary Gianni, Paul Chadwick, Tom Strong

This second collected edition of Alan Moore’s Tom Strong stories is a compendium of short tales most of them drawn by Chris Sprouse and inked by  Al Gordon. My favorite art in the whole collection is penciled by Alan Weiss and it is stunning.  Contained in this Volume are:

  • “Riders of the Lost Mesa” with fantastic artwork by Alan Weiss.
  • “The Old Skool” with artwork by Chris Sprouse.
  • “Sparks” with artwork by Chris Sprouse.
  • “Terror Temple of Tayasal” with artwork by Paul Chadwick.
  • “Volcano Dreams”  with artwork by Chris Sprouse.
  • “Flip Atti Tude”  with artwork by Chris Sprouse.
  • “Phantom Auto Gyro” with Victorian style artwork by Gary Gianni.
  • “Funnyland” with artwork by Chris Sprouse.
  • “Too Many Teslas” with artwork by Chris Sprouse.
  • “Strange Reunion” with artwork by Chris Sprouse.
  • “Terror on Terra obscura”  with artwork by Chris Sprouse.
  • “The Tower at Times End” with artwork by Chris Sprouse, Kylr Baker, Russ Heath and Pete Poplaski.
  • “Space Family Strong” with unusual Hanna Barbera style artwork  by Chris Sprouse.
  • “The Lands of Hearts Desire”  with artwork by Chris Sprouse.

Book 2  has a very high standard of artwork with a very 50’s feel in both art and writing.  The stories them self are pretty good on the whole but they never seemed to capture me as much as the first collected edition.  Tom Strong seems to lack any sort of vulnerability which means the stories often lack tension. It can also get a little complicated at times with the stories jumping around through time and dimensions.  The book does have a thread running through it featuring arch villain “Saveen” but it is not as good as the first volume where we had Nazi enemies and a secret love  child.  [ISBN-13: 978-1563898808]. 7/10



[Sherlock Holmes, Vol. 1: The Trial of Sherlock Holmes] – (Leah Moore, John Reppion, Aaron Campbell, Arthur Conan Doyle)
August 28, 2010, 2:04 pm
Filed under: 8 Stars, John Cassaday, Leah Moore

The “Trials of Sherlock Holmes” collects the 5 part story arc about a case that leaves Holmes in jail fighting to prove his innocence.

This book reads exactly like watching a classic b/w Sherlock Holmes TV show (that is a good thing). Moore and Reppion have captured the essence of Sherlock Holmes really well and the story is intelligently crafted to keep the reader constantly trying to figure out how Holmes will solve the case. The artwork suits the story well but I didn’t like the thick inking on peoples faces. It does do a great job of capturing the look and feel of period London. The book also features some great cover art by John Cassaday.

This TPB  is a  great addition to  the Sherlock library and a very enjoyable read. If you like the classic incarnations of Sherlock Holmes (i.e. Ron Howard)  you should like this book also. I cant wait for the next volume. [ISBN-13: 978-1606900598]. 8/10



[FVZA: The Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency (Volume 1)] – (David Hine, Roy Allan Martinez, Wayne Nichols)
August 26, 2010, 10:36 pm
Filed under: 9 stars, Clint Langley, David Hine, Roy Allan Martinez, Wayne Nichols

FVZA(Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency)  is set in a alternative reality where Zombies and Vampires are real.  The FVZA are a goverment agency tasked with the erradication of Vampires and Zombies. In the 1950’s they finally achieve this and the organization is disbanded.  Back to the present day, the Vampires are breaking out of hiding and the Zombie virus is back so the goverment brings back the FVZA to prevent an apocalpse.

I was really impressed by this books treatment of Vampires and its attention to detail. It has a very real feel to it and the story really grabs you right up to its climatic ending.  The artwork is gorgeous and helps to hammer home the stories shocking twists and turns. I thought this genre was totally played out but this book felt fresh and old school both at the same time. The characters are particularly well developed and believable. The extras are also really good with concept art, an interview with David Hine and some great covers from Clint Langley. Recommended and great value for money. [ISBN-13: 978-1935417057]. 9/10



[Legends: The Enchanted (Hardcover) – (Nick Percival)
August 24, 2010, 11:05 pm
Filed under: 7 stars, Nick Percival

This book is an alternate Brothers Grimm fairy story set in a malevolent fantasy world inhabited by all manner of monsters and patrolled by heroes such as Jack in the beanstalk and little red riding hood. The heroes (or enchanted as they are known in this book) are part steam punk , part barbarian and nothing like their classic counterparts.  The enchanted have protective charms which allow them to fight the grotesque horrors of the land without fear of dying.  Unfortunately for them an evil witch has found a way to break the charms and all hell breaks loose.

Legends has some absolutely gorgeous artwork (especially in the Bonus features) and adopts a kind of photo realistic dark fantasy and at times almost sci-fi style.  The main characters are very well drawn but it is the monsters that really standout. The troll, the hag and Humpty Dumpty in particular are absolutely grotesque. The backdrops are also incredibly detailed and imaginative with a very dark and sinister palette. Percival’s artwork reminds me a lot of  Clint Langley’s work in Slaine and suffers from some of the same issues. Often the amazing artwork gets in the way of telling a good story and it can be hard to follow.  I personally find that this type of art style may look amazing but it isn’t the best media to tell a story in a comic book and often the pictures dont seem to match the speech bubbles.

Despite the rave reviews this book seems to be getting I found that the plot suffered from too many characters being introduced to the point of almost overwhelming the reader. I also found the book to be a little disjointed  and at times the action was a little hard to follow. Legends is was a good read but one that required some effort from the reader to get the most out of it.  [ISBN-13: 978-1935417071]. 7/10



[“Commando”: True Brit: The Toughest 12 “Commando” Books Ever] – (George Low)
August 23, 2010, 9:26 pm
Filed under: 8 Stars, Commando, George Low, Various

This is the second collected “Commando” war comics edition in the glorious 25% bigger B/W format.  Just like the first collection  its sticks to the unusual two frames per page format and looks really good.  It is a pity that the artists are not acknowledged anywhere as there is some real talent within these pages. The stories are a great read and often concentrate more on the conflicts between the characters than the battles themselves.  The style of writing in this book is very British and I am not sure how it would be received outside of the UK.  I really enjoyed this book and if  you enjoyed the first book you will enjoy this one too.  This one definitely has more of a special forces flavor. [ISBN-13: 978-1844421213].  8/10



[HOTWIRE: Requiem for the Dead Volume 1] – (Steve Pugh, Warren Ellis)
August 16, 2010, 7:26 am
Filed under: 10 Stars, Steve Pugh, Warren Ellis

Requiem for the dead is set in what appears to be a London of the future where the electromagnetic fog from the mass of wireless devices has started to trap souls on earth.  The ghosts, or “Blue Lights” as they are called, are generally non aggressive and kept in their place by electromagnetic towers. Some of the “Blue Lights” manage to become a serious nuisance and this is where our hero, detective exorcist,  “Alice Hotwire” is called in.  Normally sending the souls over to the other side is a straightforward job but some extremely violent “Blue Lights” are causing havoc and are not so easy to get rid of. This escalation of  ghost activity and a huge civil riot means that Alice really has her work cut out for her on this case.

The original story concept came from Warrren Ellis but this book is artist Steve Pugh’s baby and he both wrote and illustrated it. “Requiem for the dead”  grabs you from the first page and it keeps hold right up until the satisfying climax. The story is well paced and  Alice Hotwire’s dialog is witty, well crafted and at times laugh out loud funny.

Hotwire has an almost photo realistic, painted art style with a vibrant palette  and crisp clarity. Often “painted” comic book art is muddy and overly stylized making it difficult to follow the action but this book isn’t like that at all. The human faces are extremely realistic and the backgrounds are a  wonderfully imagined sci-fi  backdrop.  I have heard Radical say before that the artwork within their books matches the cover art but this is the first book of theirs where I truly think they have achieved this. The extras in the book are also really good including interviews, backgrounds, sketches, unpublished strips and a cover art gallery.

This is an incredible first effort from Steve Pugh where he has managed to produce a complex but easy to read story with amazing art and a very cute hero that isnt ridiculously proportioned. It is printed on good paper stock too and is really good value for the page count.  [ISBN-13: 978-0980233537]. 10/10



[Shrapnel: Aristeia Rising Volume 1] – (M. Zachary Sherman, Mark Long, Nick Sagan, Bagus Hutomo)
August 14, 2010, 11:26 pm
Filed under: 5 stars, Bagus Hutomo, M. Zachary Sherman, Mark Long, Nick Sagan

Shrapnel is set on the planet Venus in the year 2250.  The Solar Alliance of planets have decided they wish to take over Venus and figure out the planets militia will be no match for their space marines. They didn’t count on one of the Marines ex top commanders who is hiding out on the planet taking control of the army and fighting back.  This book was a huge disappointment for me.  The idea for the story sounded good and the cover art was very eye catching but the execution left me cold. The artwork inside is very dark and very muddy. It is almost impossible to figure out what is happening in the lengthy battle scenes and the speech bubbles don’t help much. The artwork in this book gave me a headache. The art looks pretty but surely the point of a graphic novel is to tell the story in both words and pictures and for me it really didn’t work at all.  The story itself was average. [ISBN-13: 978-1935417019]. 5/10



[City of Dust : A Philip Khrome Story] – (Steve Niles, Brandon Chng, Zid, Garrie Gastonny, Clint Langley,Lucio Parillo)
August 13, 2010, 7:04 am
Filed under: 8 Stars, Brandon Chng, Clint Langley, Lucio Parillo, Steve Niles, Zid

Collects Issues #1 to 5. “City of Dust” is set in the future where the government have outlawed any form of fiction, religion or mythology. They have done this because they believe such things lead to war and conflict. The hero of the book “Philip Khrome” inadvertently had his father arrested when he was a small boy by revealing to a schoolmate a short fable his father had told him. Khrome is now a homicide detective employing the latest hi-tec technology to solve crimes but he is suddenly faced with data his equipment can’t handle and it seems monsters are once again stalking the earth.

The setting for this book is very much like blade runner and the art is soft focussed , dark and almost photorealistic at times. I normally prefer graphic novel art to be brighter and less muddy but there is no denying that this book looks gorgeous or that the style fits the story well. I like Steve Niles style of writing and this book is no exception. City of Dust is a mix of horror, sci-fi and crime genres and does all of them well. This TPB also has absolutely stunning cover art by the likes Clint Langley, Frederick Rambaud, Zid, Lucio Parillo, Patrick Reily, Michal Ivan, Arthur Suydan, Alex Ruiz, J.P Targete and  Nick Percival. [ISBN-13: 978-0980233551]. 8/10

Note:

It might just have been my copy but I was disappointed that the spine started falling apart  when I was reading it. I am extremely careful when reading books not to over stress the spine as I like to keep my copies in mint condition and this  hasn’t happened to me in over 100 books .



[Solomon Kane: Castle of the Devil v. 1] – (Scott Allie, Mario Guevara, Mike Mignola, Dave Stewart, John Cassaday)

This story is set in the haunted Black Forest of Germany and is an adaption of  Robert E. Howard’s  fragment “The Castle of the Devil”.  Solomon Kane is like the anti Conan, a devout puritan man wielding gods punishment on evil doers in a dour way.  This story revolves around a devilish baron and his evil secret that lies hidden in the ruined monastery beneath his castle.  Castle of the devil is a good story with plenty of supernatural goings on and gory killings. Even though Mike Mignola only drew the cover, the book does have a hint of his style of story telling and a great sense of atmosphere.  The artwork is good and fits the story well although Kane at times does have a certain Marilyn Manson look to him and things can get a bit muddy in places.

The excellent extras include character sketches and some top rate covers by Joe Kubert and John Cassaday. [ISBN-13: 978-1595822826]. 8/10



[Top Ten: The Forty-Niners] – (Alan Moore, Gene Ha)
August 10, 2010, 5:11 pm
Filed under: 8 Stars, Alan Moore, Gene Ha, Top 10

“The Forty-Niners” is a prequel to Alan Moore’s “Top Ten” series and it sets the plot for the creation of Neopolis and its special police force. Neopolis is a post WW2  futuristic city where all the super heroes, freaks and societies misfits are being housed.  It is a melting pot of humanity plagued by Nazi scientists and mafia like Vampires.  Moore does an excellent job here of developing the characters and exploring social issues whilst still driving the story forward with exciting plots and subplots. 

 Moore’s writing is complemented by Gene Ha’s excellent artwork which is almost photo realistic at times. I admire the way Gene has captured an 1940’s feel to the backdrops and characters yet still made it futuristic in a sort of “Flash Gordon” style. The other thing that makes Gene Ha’s artwork so special is his attention to detail. There is always something going on in the background and he is one of the few artists that I study the frames just to see what sort of witty “easter egg” you may find. It is a bit like where’s waldo on every page. This book is an excellent introduction to the “Top Ten” graphic novels. [ISBN-13: 978-1401205737]. 8/10