One Mad Dog

[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


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

[Robo-Hunter – The Droid Files Vol.2] – (John Wagner, Alan Grant, Ian Gibson, Peter Hogan, Rian Hughes, John Smith, Chris Weston, Simon Jacob)

The first collected edition of Robo-Hunter included some of my favorite comic strips of all time. The ones included in this second volume were all new to me and seem to be a bit of a mixed bag. This book contains 6 arcs most of them written by Alan Grant and John Wagner. The stuff that wasn’t written and illustrated by them is not up to the same standard as book 1.

“Football Crazy” first appeared in 2000 AD progs 283 to 288. Not a great story this one unless you are a mad football fan.  I found the whole thing to be a bit predictable and pointless. Great artwork by Ian Gibson though.

“Play It Again Sam” first appeared in 2000 AD progs 292 to 307. The story is actually pretty good and Ian Gibson’s artwork is first rate but I found it incredibly annoying to read. It is set up like a rock opera where the dialogue is all sung. I am sure this is a pretty novel concept but it really didn’t work for me.

“The Slaying of Slade” first appeared in 2000 AD progs 312 to 330.  When reading this as part of a collected edition the first thing that strikes you about this story arc is that the level of detail in Ian Gibson’s art has been toned right down. It must have been a cost cutting exercise but it is still really good. This story is classic Robo-Hunter and is right up there with the likes of “Day of The Droids” or “Verdus”.

“Sam’s Last Case”  first appeared in 2000 AD progs 331 to 334. Its a short story but a funny one,  as Hoagy and Carlos attempt to get fat old Sam to come out of retirement. As always, Great art by Ian Gibson.

“Farewell My Billions” first appeared in 2000 AD progs 435 to 443. This story is a satisfying conclusion to the Alan Grant and John Wagner written and Ian Gibson illustrated Robohunter saga.  This is a very well written story with all the classic Robo-Hunter elements. Great art by Ian Gibson.

“Winnegan’s Wake” first appeared in 2000 AD progs 852-854 although it looks like it comes from the Beano.  Horrible child like artwork, virtually illegible lettering and poor dialog.  This is a very poor story indeed and Rian Hughes artwork is definitely not to my liking. I would hate to think this was someones introduction to robohunter.

“Metrobolis” first appeared in 2000 AD progs 904-911 and features the childlike artwork of Rian Hughes. The art is better than in “Winnegan’s Wake” but it is still very sub par and still would look more at home in the Beano or Dandy. At least in this story they have a decent letterer.  Peter Hogan actually puts together an interesting story this time but the dialog and interaction between Hoagy, Carlos and Sam is not a patch on Wagner and Grant’s work.

There are also some one shot stories in the collection that are not bad. “War Of The Noses” by Peter Hogan and illustrated by Rian Hughes, “Something For the Weekend”  by John Smith and Illustrated by Chris Weston, “Slade Runner” by Peter Hogan and illustrated by Rian Hughes and “Fax and Deductions” by Peter Hogan and illustrated by Simon Jacob. Weston and Jacobs artwork take Robo-Hunter in an altogether more modern comic style and look like they were originally in full color. The black and white reproduction here doesn’t really do them justice.

Three arc’s in this book would deserve  9/10 but the overall score of this book is dragged down by the other stuff especially the strips illustrated by  Rian Huges.  [ISBN 978-1-906735-43-2]. 7/10

[Robo-Hunter: The Droid Files Vol. 1] – (John Wagner, Alan Grant, Ian Gibson, Jose Luis Ferrer)
August 5, 2010, 10:18 am
Filed under: 2000AD, 9 stars, Alan Grant, Ian Gibson, John Wagner, Jose Luis Ferrer, Robo-Hunter

Robo-Hunter is my favorite comic character of all time. This collected edition was a real treat for me as it includes story arcs that I have never read before. The first story arc “Verdus” is fantastic and has all the great hallmarks of the series. I cant believe I have never read this . The second story is One of my all time favorites in the shape of “Day of the Droids” . The final stories are based in “Brit City” and include “The Beast of Black Heart Manor”, “The Filby Case” and “The Killing Of Kid” and they are really good. I wish they would do a deluxe version in color but even in its original black and white Ian Gibson’s artwork is a real treat.

“Verdus”  was originally published in 2000 AD progs 76 to 82 & 100 t0 112 with artwork by Ian Gibson and Jose Luis Ferrer and script by John Wagner . it seems 2000 AD were unhappy with Ferrer’s artwork and got Ian Gibson to redraw some of it and retouch other bits. There is an interesting explanation here on Gibson’s website.

“Day of the Droids” was originally published in 2000 AD progs 152 to 174 with artwork by Ian Gibson and script by John Wagner.

“The Beast of Black Heart Manor” was originally published in 2000 AD progs 259 to 265 with artwork by Ian Gibson and script by Alan Grant.

“The Filby Case” was originally published in 2000 AD progs 266 to 272 with artwork by Ian Gibson and script by Alan Grant.

“The Killing Of Kid” was originally published in 2000 AD progs 275 to 281 with artwork by Ian Gibson and script by Alan Grant.

This collected Edition is a  great example of  2000 AD at its finest.   [ISBN-13: 978-1906735210] . 9/10

[The Stainless Steel Rat] – (Harry Harrison, Kelvin Gosnell, Carlos Ezquerra)
August 1, 2010, 10:40 am
Filed under: 2000AD, 9 stars, Carlos Ezquerra, Kelvin Gosnell

The Stainless Steel rat graphic novel is a collection of the 2000AD comic strips that were based on the books by Harry Harrison. “The Stainless Steel Rat” (2000 AD #140-151, 1979–1980), “The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World” (2000 AD #166-177, 1980) and “The Stainless Steel Rat for President” (2000 AD #393-404, 1984–1985). I first read these stories over 30 years ago and I was pleasantly surprised just how well they had stood the test of time. Kelvin Gosnell did an amazing  job of putting these stories into graphic format and the scripts are witty and extremely well written. Special mention must also go to Carlos Ezquerra’s artwork which is absolutely spot on and does a wonderful job of imagining a superthief (James Bolivar DiGriz) in a very futuristic and at times bizarre universe. This is yet another classic SCI-FI series from the golden age of 2000AD with fantastic writing and great art. They have also done a great job of reproducing the 30 year old comics without all the problems that the “Robusters” collection had.  [ ISBN-13: 978-1906735517] 9/10