One Mad Dog

[The Walking Dead Volume 3: Safety Behind Bars] – (Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard)
September 30, 2010, 7:03 am
Filed under: 8 Stars, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn, Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead

In book 3 of the Walking Dead our half starved survivors find an abandoned prison full of zombies and look upon it as an ideal home. Unfortunately the prison has some regular survivors already living there and things quickly start to go pear shaped. “Safety Behind Bars” has the same great story telling and tension as the first two volumes. It nicely develops the breakdown of civilization and the loss of humanity of the characters. It is best not to get too attached to a character in “Walking Dead” as Kirkman seems to kill half of them off in every book and a few major players bite the dust in this one. Adlard’s art is good although in my opinion it is not as good as Moore’s art in the first volume. If you like the first two volumes you should  like this one.  [ISBN-13: 978-1582408057 ].8/10

[The Walking Dead Volume 2: Miles Behind Us] – (Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard)
September 29, 2010, 7:41 am
Filed under: 8 Stars, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn, Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead

The second volume in the Walking Dead series has a change of artist, although the original artist Terry Moore still does the cover.  Charlie Adlard has done a good job of capturing the look of the characters but doesn’t have the same level of detail as Moore’s work and as such the art is a little less impressive.  The story carries on from the bombshell ending of the first volume and sees our heroes set off to find somewhere new to live. On their travels they encounter new survivors, all who have some strange sort of back story, and of course Zombies. We also have the big bombshell of a pregnancy for one of the survivors.

Just like the first book, characters don’t seem to live very long in “The walking Dead” and in “Miles Behind Us” several key characters get rather surprisingly killed off.    The book continues to paint a great picture of the mental torture and tension experienced in a realistically portrayed zombie apocalypse. It finishes on another great cliffhanger to make you want to read the next volume. [ISBN-13: 978-1582407753]. 8/10

[The Walking Dead Volume 1: Days Gone Bye] – (Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore)
September 28, 2010, 10:18 pm
Filed under: 9 stars, Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead, Tony Moore

The Walking Dead is Robert Kirkman’s remarkable tale of a Zombie apocalypse seen through the eyes of small town sheriff Rick Grimes.  This first T.P.B explains Rick’s back story and introduces him to a small band of survivors that include his wife and kid.  This book does an excellent job of portraying the despair and break down of humanity. The secret to the books power is that it puts regular people into the roll of heroes, a position they are neither ready for or particularly good at.

Tony Moore’s gray scale artwork is excellent and portrays the desolation really well.  The art is realistic rather that the usual over the top Zombie fare. The pacing and action is spot on and it leaves you hungry for more. This book was the start of a phenomena and is a must read for all comic and zombie fans. [ISBN-13: 978-1582403588]. 9/10

[Dicks] – (Garth Ennis, John McCrea)
September 28, 2010, 7:55 pm
Filed under: 5 stars, Garth Ennis, John McCrea

People who have read the UK comic “VIZ” should feel right at home with “Dicks”. It features the same profanity, nudity, gore, questionable subject matter and simplistic comic style B/W artwork. It does have its funny moments and the main story isnt half bad but I think Garth tries too hard to be shocking and gross.

Dicks is set in Northern Ireland and is supposed to be the story of a couple of dead beat Private Investigators.  All the characters feature strong accents that might confuse some readers and bewilder others. Fortunately Avatar included a dictionary in the back to help people understand what they are saying.  The artwork is quite grotesque and we can be thankful that it isnt in full color. It portrays many body parts and functions that are better left up to the imagination and acts of extreme violence and depravity. It is definitely not a book to read in a public place.

There is something in this TPB to offend everybody and it most certainly isn’t for kids. There were certain sections where I laughed out loud and others where I thought “I cant believe they just put that in print”. It is Definitely not one of Garth’s best peices of work but it isnt actually a bad read. If you liked early VIZ comics and you have a sick and twisted sense of humor you might well like this.  [ISBN-1-59291-004-1]. 5/10

[Star Wars Omnibus : Boba Fett] – (John Wagner, Ian Gibson, John Nadeau, Cam Kennedy, Carlos Meglia, Ron Marz, Adrriano Melo, Thomas Andrews, Francisco Ruiz Velasco, Carlos Ezquerra, Andy mangels, John Ostrander)
September 23, 2010, 7:57 pm
Filed under: 7 stars, Cam Kennedy, Carlos Ezquerra, Ian Gibson, John Nadeau, John Wagner, Star Wars

This Omnibus collects the following:

  • “Boba Fett : Enemy of the Empire” with story by John Wagner and art by Ian Gibson and John Nadeau.  The artwork and writing in this story is excellent especially if you are a fan of 200oAD.  Some people may find Gibsons art to be a bit cartoonish but I really like it. 
  • “Underworld: The Yavin Vassilika” with story by Mike Kennedy and art by Carlos Meglia. A pretty good story with a whole host of familiar Star Wars  characters and nicely colored cartoony art.
  • “Empire #7:  Sacrifice”  with story by John Wagner and art by Cam Kennedy. A good short  story with good artwork too.
  • “Empire #28: Wreckage” with story by Ron Marz and art by Adriano Melo. A not bad  short story with pretty good artwork. Most of the story is very light on dialogue but the ending is well written.
  • “Boba Fett :  Overkill” with story by Thomas Andrews.  This is a well written and enjoyable story. The artwork is good but quite simplistic with almost Anime cartoon styled characters and backdrops.  This does tend to detract from the story a bit.
  • ” Boba Fett : Salvage” with story by John Wagner and art by Carlos Ezquerra. A good single shot story with excellent art by Carlos Ezquerra and great coloring by Cary Porter.
  • “Boba Fett : Twin Engines of Destruction” with story by Andy Mangels and art by John Nadeau. A pretty good story about a Bobba Fett Impersonator with average artwork that didnt really capture me.  
  • “Boba Fett : Death, Lies and Tradedgy” with story by John Wagner and art by Cam Kennedy. Another good Hutt based story but with horrible looking art. The art itself isnt that bad but the coloring is really nasty. It looks like a photocopy of a cheap newspaper strip. Definitely looks out of place in this book.
  • “Boba Fett : Agent of Doom” with story by John Ostrander and art by Kam Kennedy.  A good short story about Boba Fett trying to regain some respect with good artwork.

Although I am not a huge Star Wars fan I am a big fan of John Wagners writing and Ian Gibson’s and Carlos Ezquerra’s art work so I purchased this omnibus for their work. I wasnt dissapointed by any of their contributions and the rest of the book was good too. This Omnibus has a wide variety of artistic and writing styles but works well as a whole and it is a light and fun read. The only fly in the ointment for me was the presentation of “Death, Lies and Tradgedy” which really didnt match the quality of the rest of the book. [ISBN-13: 978-1595824189 ] 7/10

[Daredevil Vol 4. Hardcover] – (Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev)
September 21, 2010, 7:25 am
Filed under: 8 Stars, Alex Maleev, Brian Michael Bendis, Daredevil

This Hardcover collects “Daredevil: King of Hell’s Kitchen” (Daredevil #56 to 60), ” Daredevil: The Widow” (Daredevil #61- 65) and 1971’s daredevil (V0l. 1) #81 in a well presented glossy hardback.

“Daredevil: King of Hell’s Kitchen” is a dark and grim book set where Daredevil has taken over as the Kingpin of Hells Kitchen and his superhero friends are deserting him.  He is set upon by the Yakuza who are making a bid for Hells Kitchen and all hell breaks loose. Murdocks emotional meltdown continues to spiral out of control in this dramatic tale but he begins to fight back until he is hit by another emotional gut punch.  Another great story by Bendis but let down for me by Maleev’s style of artwork.

” Daredevil: The Widow” returns Daredevil into some sort of super hero normality and in this story he is once again fighting alongside ex girlfriend and super Spy, the Black Widow.  This is much more like your regular Superhero book and has a whole suite of superhero guest stars including Spiderman, Nick Fury and the Avengers. In this book Daredevil is matched against the disfigured “Jigsaw” and the black Widow is fighting for her life and freedom. Daredevil still rides a roller coaster of emotional turmoil in the arc but there is a lot more action. This is an excellent story by Bendis and it is less claustrophobic and more uplifting than his previous stuff. Unfortunately Maleev’s artwork did nothing for me  again.

Daredevil #65 (40th Anniversary Special) is a real treat featuring as it does Brian Michael Bendis excellent story telling and a whole host of guests characters (including the Punisher) . The artists for this special are Michael Golden, Greg Horn, P. Craig Russell, Phil Hester, Chris Bachalo, Jae Lee, David Finch, Frank Quitely and Alex Maleev. Both the artwork and story are really good.

I also enjoyed reading the 70’s bonus issue although the style of writing and the art have dated qiute badly.

Despite my reservations about Alex Maleev’s artwork I still highly recommend this book if you can find a copy. [ISBN-13: 978-0785113423]. 8/10

[The Complete Battlefields Vol 1.(HC)] – (Garth Ennis, Russ Braun, Peter Snejbjerg, Carlos Ezquerra)
September 17, 2010, 9:41 pm
Filed under: 8 Stars, Carlos Ezquerra, Garth Ennis, John Cassaday, Peter Snejbjerg, Russ Braun

This hardcover collects “Night Witches” , “Dear Billy” and “The Tankies” from Garth Ennis’s new war story series “Battlefields”.

“Night Witches” is a story set in World War II on the Russian front. It is the story of women bomber pilots flying night missions for the Russian’s in outdated planes. It is also the story from the point of view of the German Infantry that the Night Witches are trying to bomb.  Garth Ennis is on top form in this story and the way he entwines the stories of both the hunter and the hunted  is excellent. Garth doesn’t pull any punches in “Night Witches” and the stark brutality of both sides is shocking and yet believable in the context of a brutal battlefront.  The consequences of being caught by the enemy are shocking and add a great deal of bite to the narrative. This is amongst some of  Ennis’s best writing and it is backed up great art work by Russ Braun and some pretty good John Cassaday covers.

“Dear Billy” is unusual for a graphic novel in that it is written in the form of a letter to a lover by a woman involved in the Pacific conflict. As a result of this, it is quite text heavy and took me  a few pages to adapt to the style. Peter Snejbjerg’s  art work in Dear Billy is pretty simplistic but it does work well with this type of story telling.  Garth has managed to pull off yet another gut wrenching tale of the brutality of war and this story really packs a punch.  He manages to achieve a impressive sense of realism in his WW II writing and it just goes to show that he doesn’t need tons of gore and profanity to capture the reader. I didn’t enjoy this as quite as much as Night Witches but it is still a great thought provoking story.

“Tankies”  is a story set in the aftermath of the D-Day landings, featuring the Allied tank Crews and their desperate battle against superior German tanks. Out of the stories included in this collection this is by far the most light hearted but it still amply hammer home the absolute horror of being in a tank on a Battlefield. It is probably the weakest story of the three but is blessed with the best artwork. Carlos Ezquerra’s art is absolutely gorgeous, intricately detailed and colored to perfection.  I think one thing that spoils “Tankies” is Garth’s attempt at portraying a Geordie character. It just comes across as a bit silly and must confuse the heck out of non UK readers. Tankies is an enjoyable read with first class art.

“Battlefields” also has some great extras including an article explaining the facts behind the fiction and some artist pencils and character designs. [ISBN-13: 978-1606900796].  8/10

[Chew Volume 2: International Flavor] – (John Layman, Rob Guillory)
September 13, 2010, 6:15 am
Filed under: 9 stars, Chew, John Layman, Rob Guillory

“International Flavor” Collects CHEW #6-10 and continues on from the dramatic ending of the first volume with our hero Agent Chu on a remote exotic island (Inspired by LOST) looking for a fruit that tastes just like chicken.  This book is a good as the first one and expands upon the crazy characters and plots from “Tasters Choice” whilst introducing a whole new selection of social misfits.  There are hints of cannibalism, vampirism and just about any other ism you can think of in “International Flavor”. The story is compelling and funny just like the first book. Once I started reading I just had to keep on going right through to the end.

Rob Guillory continues to impress me with his artistic talents and I am really looking forward to seeing his art in the next issue.  This is the freshest series to hit comics since “the Goon” .  [ISBN-13: 978-1607062608]. 9/10

[Chew Volume 1: Taster’s Choice] – (John Layman, Rob Guillory)
September 12, 2010, 10:59 pm
Filed under: 9 stars, Chew, John Layman, Rob Guillory

“Tasters Choice” Collects CHEW issues #1-5.   CHEW is a really good comic book with a great story, witty dialog  and excellent cartoon style artwork.   CHEW is set in an alternative future where a supposed outbreak of bird flu wiped out thousands of people and now chicken and other birds are illegal.  Chicken is the new vice and there is a huge business selling the stuff on the black market.

The star of the book, Tony Chu,  is a detective working for the FDA who have taken over as the most powerful law enforcement agency on the planet. Tony has a special talent. If he eats something he can see the foods complete history and he uses his talent on murder victims to find out who killed them. As if this was not bad enough, Tony is saddled with a boss that hates him so much that  he finds him the most disgusting, gruesome and bizarre corpses to munch on. The icing on the cake for CHEW is the fantastic array of socially deformed or just plain strange supporting  characters.

The main story line and subplots are very clever and this is one of those books that is almost impossible not to read through in one sitting. The whole story is gory but light hearted and amusing  and some bits are plain “laugh out loud” funny.  It’s printed on good quality paper and the art is a joy to behold, So often books that are hyped up as much as this one are a disappointment but this one truly deserves its plaudits. [ISBN-13: 978-1607061595]. 9/10

[Doctor Who Classics Omnibus Vol 1] – (Pat Mills, John Wagner, Dave Gibbons, Steve Moore, Grant Morrison, John Ridgeway, Steve Parkhouse)

This Doctor Who collected edition is set for the most part in the Tom Baker era and it is  written and illustrated by some very big names in British comics.  The writing is witty  and intelligent and the art is of a high standard throughout.  I believe these stories were originally published in B/W and they have been updated in Color for this edition.  Charlie Kirchoff has done a excellent job of coloring  and it looks like they were always supposed to be this way.

I particularly enjoyed the Pat Mills/John Wagner written episodes “City of The Dammed”  and “Dogs of Doom” both of which had a very 2000AD feel to them.  “Dragons Claw”  and “Dreamer of  Death” written by Steve Moore were also great stories. I felt that the one shot stories didn’t really have time to breathe and were not quite as good as the multi part arcs.  Each story followed a familiar formula where the doctor is pitted against seemingly insurmountable odds and by cunning, guile and jelly babies he always seems to save the day (well nearly always). All the stories had a very British Comics feel to them.

This Collected edition Contains:

  • “Doctor Who and the Iron Legion” written by Pat Mills and John Wagner with art by Dave Gibbons.
  • “City Of The Dammed” written by Pat Mills and John Wagner with art by Dave Gibbons.
  • “Timeslip”  with art and story by Paul Neary
  • “Doctor Who and the Time Beast” written by Pat Mills and John Wagner with art by Dave Gibbons.
  • “Doctor Who and the Dogs of Doom” written by Pat Mills and John Wagner with art by Dave Gibbons.
  • “Doctor Who and the Time Witch”  written by Steve Moore with art by Dave Gibbons.
  • “Dragons Claw” written by Steve Moore with art by Dave Gibbons.
  • “The Collector” written by Steve Moore with art by Dave Gibbons.
  • “Dreamer of Death”  written by Steve Moore with art by Dave Gibbons.
  • “Changes*” written by Grant Morrison with art by John Ridgeway.
  • “Culture Shock**” written by Grant Morrison with art by Bryan Hitch.
  • “The World Shapers” written by Grant Morrison with art by John Ridgeway.
  • “The Life Bringer” written by Steve Moore with art by Dave Gibbons.
  • “War of The Worlds”  written by Steve Moore with art by Dave Gibbons.
  • “Spider God” written by Steve Moore with art by Dave Gibbons.
  • “The Deal”  written by Steve Parkhouse with art by Dave Gibbons.
  • “End of The Line”  written by Steve Parkhouse with art by Dave Gibbons.
  • “Free-Fall Warriors” written by Steve Parkhouse with art by Dave Gibbons.

* Colin Baker.
** Sylvester McCoy.

This is a great book for fans of classic era doctor who and British Sci-Fi comics in general. The book is a nice convenient size and is printed on good quality glossy paper stock. If you are a Tom Baker era Doctor Who fan you should enjoy this book. [ISBN-13: 978-1600106224] 7/10.