One Mad Dog

[Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet HC Vol 01: Sins of the Father] – (Kevin Smith, Jonathon Lau)
October 26, 2010, 7:05 pm
Filed under: 7 stars, John Cassaday, Jonathon Lau, Kevin Smith

Green Hornet “Sins Of the Father” is based on an unused movie script penned by Kevin Smith for Miramax.  It tells the story of the Original Green Hornet and Kato and how after going into retirement the Green Hornet mantle is begrudgingly taken over by his son to avenge his father. It is an entertaining action romp with lots of fighting  and chase scenes and I enjoyed it. I don’t think it is as edgy as Kevin Smiths’s stint on Daredevil but I have a feeling future novels will throw in some surprises.  The artwork is great and the coloring a real pleasure to look at . This book was my introduction to the Green Hornet so I had no pre-conceived ideas of what to expect but I will definitely be checking out the next novel.  Special mention must go to the amazing Alex Ross covers in the bonus section.[ISBN-13: 978-1606901427]. 7/10

[Billy The Kid’s Old Timey Oddities] – (Eric Powell, Kyle Hotz)
October 26, 2010, 6:16 pm
Filed under: 8 Stars, Eric Powell, Kyle Hotz

Billy The Kid’s Old Timey Oddities starts with Billy the Kid on a train ride after  having faked his own death. Unfortunately for him he is tracked down by Fineas Sproule who not only has more than his fair share of hands but also has a job for Billy.  After much persusation Billy ends up joining  “Broules biological curiositities and wild west extravaganza” on their Quest for the Golems Heart.  Things go from bad to worse for Billy when they discover that the treasure is being held by non other that Dr Frankenstein, who seems to have taken on a hobby that would put Herbert West (the re-animator) to shame.

The story is part western, part steam punk and a huge helping of HP Lovecraft style horror. It is oozing  with twisted backdrops and grotesque characters. The story has all the hallmarks that make Erics other work, the Goon, so enjoyable to read. Billy the kid is twisted and disturbed but it also has some really funny moments and a satisfying climax. The abused childhood back story for Billy is also really well done. 

  Kyle Hotz artwork is excellent throughout the book and its insane cartoon style  suits the story perfectly.  It is definitely worth taking the time to soak in each busy frame as there are lots of things going on. Eric Powells full page artwork that are included in this TPB are absolutely stunning.  [ISBN-13: 978-1593074487]. 8/10

[Rogue Trooper: Tales of Nu-Earth Vol. 1] – (Gerry Finley Day, Dave Gibbons, Colin Wilson, Eric Bradbury, Cam Kennedy, Brett Ewins, Mike Dorey, Alan Moore)

Rogue Trooper is a classic 2000 AD comic strip that was created by Gerry Finley-Day and Dave Gibbons. It follows the adventures of Rogue, a G.I. (or Genetic Infantryman) and his search for the traitor that ochestrated the massacre of his entire unit. What makes Rogue unique is that he has been genetically modified to be able to survive the poisons of new earth and that he carries the personality of 3 of his fallen comrades around with him in the form of biochips implanted into his helmet, Backpack and gun.

Rogue trooper is one of the classic series from 2000AD and ranks amongst my favorite strips. Considering it was originally published in the eighties it still feels fresh today.  Most of the stories are pretty short with a satisfying start and end within only a few pages (designed for weekly comics) but there is an overlying story arc throughout all of them. Reading the stories in collected form really helps to hammer home the ongoing plot which I wasn’t as aware of when I originally read the weekly comic episodes. Rogue Trooper is a bit more serious than other 2000AD stories of the day.

In this volume the following issues are collected (all written by Gerry Finley Day).

  • “Rogue Trooper” with art by Dave Gibbons (2000 AD #228, 1981)
  • “Nu Paree” with art by Dave Gibbons (2000 AD #229, 1981)
  • “Glass Zone” with art by Dave Gibbons (2000 AD #230, 1981)
  • “Clash in Doomsday Valley” with art by Dave Gibbons (2000 AD #231, 1981)
  • “Terror of the Decapitators” (with art by Dave Gibbons (2000 AD #232, 1981)
  • “Raiders” with art by Dave Gibbons (2000 AD #234, 1981)
  • “Scum Sea” with art by Dave Gibbons (2000 AD #235, 1981)
  • “Ascent To Buzzard-Three” with art by Colin Wilson (2000 AD #236-238, 1981)
  • “The Rookies” with art by Dave Gibbons (2000 AD #239-240, 1981)
  • “Blue Moon” with art by Colin Wilson (2000 AD #241, 1981)
  • “Poison” with art by Mike Dorey (2000 AD #242-243)
  • “Fear of the Machine” with art by Colin Wilson (2000 AD #246-248, 1982)
  • “The Dreamweavers” with art by Dave Gibbons (2000 AD #249-250, 1982)
  • “The Buzzard” with art by Colin Wilson (2000 AD #251-253, 1982)
  • “The Petrified Forest” with art by Mike Dorey (2000 AD ##254-257, 1982)
  • “War of Nerves” with art by Colin Wilson (2000 AD #258, 1982)
  • “Bagman Blues” with art by Colin Wilson and Eric Bradbury (2000 AD #260-262, 1982)
  • “The Body Looters” with art by Cam Kennedy (2000 AD #265, 1982)
  • “All Hell on the Dix-I Front” with art by Colin Wilson, Cam Kennedy and Brett Ewins (2000 AD #266-277, 1982)
  • “Assassination Run” with art by Cam Kennedy (2000 AD #278-279)
  • “Hats Off to Helm” with art by Cam Kennedy (2000 AD #280-281)
  • “Marauders” with art by Colin Wilson and Cam Kennedy (2000 AD #282-289)
  • “Fort Neuro” with art by Brett Ewins and Cam Kennedy, (2000 AD #290-310)
  • “Major Magnum”  with art by Brett Ewins (2000 AD #311-315)
  • “Bigfoot” with art by Cam Kennedy (2000 AD #316)
  • “Bio-Wire” with art by Cam Kennedy (2000 AD #317)

Two Specials written by Alan Moore

  • “Pray For War”  with art by Brett Ewins (1983 2000AD Annual)
  • “First of The Few” with art by J Rendondo (1984 2000AD Annual)

There is great B/W art throughout and surprisingly for a long running comic series there is great continuity between the different artists. Out of all the artists I liked Bret Ewins the least and Dave Gibbons the best. At times Ewins art seems a little heavy handed compared to the rest but it did not detract from this excellent collected edition.

My favorite stories in the book are  “All Hell on the Dix-I Front” and “Marauders” and these really are up amongst the cream of classic 2000AD stories. The longest story in the book is “Fort Neuro” which reminds me a lot of the “Robohunter” or “Judge Dredd” style of writing. It has more of a comedic style which at first felt out of place to me but the story got better as it progressed and the end was very satisfying. The two Alan Moore stories are a nice bonus but I prefer Gerry Finley Day’s take on Rogue Trooper.

This book is highly recommended to British SCI FI comic book fans.  [ISBN-13: 978-1906735340]. 8/10

[Hatter M: The Looking Glass Wars Volume 1] – (Frank Beddor, Liz Cavalier, Ben Templesmith)
October 14, 2010, 8:04 am
Filed under: 8 Stars, Ben Templesmith, Frank Beddor, Liz Cavalier

The looking glass Wars is written as if it is a historical book from a fictional organization known as the Hatter M Institute for Paranormal Travel. It is loosely based on the characters and settings from Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland books but Beddor’s version is a much more sinister. It has flipped the story on its head with the hatter (who is is a blade master and ex body guard of the queen) searching for Princess Alyss  in the real world. In this first volume of the geo-graphic parallel adventure trilogy, Hatter finds himself in Paris, France in the year 1859.

The looking glass wars is full of all kinds of strange and evil characters. There are undercurrents of vampires, child abduction and brain washing and all of this superimposed with strange psychic goings on.  It took me a while when reading “30 Days of Night” to get used to Ben Templesmith’s style of art and the same thing applied in “Hatter M”. Ben’s art is unique in its style with an almost a child like simplicity but it is also steeped with a sinister undercurrent.    At times it is too abstract for its own good and it is really difficult to figure out what is going on in the frame. I am normally a fan of a more traditional style of comic art (Jacen Burrows, Carlos Ezquerra etc) but for some reason I get a lot of pleasure from reading stories illustrated by Ben. In this book there is particularly inventive use of color to convey emotions and allegiances.

I enjoyed reading this book and its pages of extras which included  historical documents , letters, pictures and articles to support the story (all fictional of course). It is also nicely presented with good quality glossy paper stock and a satisfying 17th century color palette. Ben Templesmith’s art may not be to everyones taste but the writing of Frank Beddor and Liz Cavalier should win people over in the end. [ISBN-13: 978-0981873701]

[The Walking Dead Volume 12 : Life Among Them] – (Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard)
October 9, 2010, 11:50 pm
Filed under: 8 Stars, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn, Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead takes on a new direction in Volume 12 when our survivors encounter another group who are living in a community that seems too good to be true. One thing Kirkman does really well is develop a sense of mistrust in the reader. Too many times in previous volumes he has lulled the reader into a false sense of security before hitting them with some shocking event.  “Life Among Them” fairly bristles with tension and apprehension for what will happen next.  I kept expecting to find some new horror revealed on every page  but this book ends up being more of a setup issue for what is to come.  Volume 12 has great art and storytelling and the series shows no sign of going stale. [ISBN-13: 978-1607062547]. 8/10

[The Walking Dead Volume 11: Fear The Hunters] – (Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard)
October 8, 2010, 11:20 pm
Filed under: 9 stars, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn, Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead

Volume 11 sees our survivors stalked by another group with a gruesome secret. It also has some horrific acts of violence carried out by people who you would least expect. Its very difficult to describe this volume in any more detail without giving away spoilers but it is enough to say that this is an absolute cracker of an issue. The sickening acts of violence are off the scale but the top notch art and story telling make this a very satisfying read. Some of the character developments of Ricks son (Carl) are pretty disturbing and I will be interested to see how that develops in the next volume. In “Fear the Hunters” We lose a key player but gain a mysterious new person. It’s funny to see Rick expressing his horror at the body count as this is a horror the readers have had since volume 1. A truly great ongoing series. [ISBN-13: 978-1607061816]. 9/10

[The Walking Dead Volume 10: What We Become] – (Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard)
October 7, 2010, 11:39 pm
Filed under: 8 Stars, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn, Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead

“What We Become” continues the story of the survivors journey up to Washington.  After one of the main characters does something stupid, the relationship between Rick and the leader of the group they joined (Abraham)  becomes very strained. Other members of the group also start drifting into their own particular types of madness which raises the underlying tension even more. On a bit of a side quest Rick,  Carl and Abraham encounter another unbelievably savage group of survivors and Rick has his first ever taste of a herd.  We also meet “Morgan” again but now he seems to have lost all his marbles.

Volume 10 is another book exploring the mental state of the survivors and the first part of the book is pretty strange. The  Zombies only really seem to exist as a Catalyst for the madness but they take center stage when the group encounters the herd.  Kirkman is very imaginative in  the horrific things he dreams up  for people to do to each other and Charlie Adlard puts these horrors into pictures that have a very realistic feel to them. The Walking Dead is a very addictive series and Volume 10 is no exception.  “What We Become” is a great action packed story that should keep any Walking Dead fan happy.  I noticed they shifted to a slightly cheaper paper stock for this Volume but it didnt change the impact of the artwork in a noticeable way.  [ISBN-13: 978-1607060758]. 8/10

[The Walking Dead Volume 9: Here We Remain] – (Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard)
October 6, 2010, 11:54 pm
Filed under: 8 Stars, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn, Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead

After the utter brutality of Volume 8 “Here We Remain” is a welcome change of pace. This volume explores the father son relationship and Rick’s  further descent into madness. There are a few surprises in who they encounter on their travels and a bunch of new characters are introduced to the plot. For the first time in many volumes Kirkman starts to delve a little into the mystery of what caused the Zombie breakout in the first place which Is something I have been looking forward too.  At the end of the book our remaining intrepid heroes begin a new quest in which staying alive isn’t the only focus.  Volume 9 is up to the same great standards as the other volumes and has great art too.  Time to get your breath back before another Kirkman onslaught of the senses I suspect. [ISBN-13: 978-1607060222]. 8/10

[The Walking Dead, Volume 8: Made to Suffer] – (Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard)
October 5, 2010, 10:06 pm
Filed under: 9 stars, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn, Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead

“Made to Suffer” is the the story of the defense of the Prison from the militia of Woodbury. It also fills in the back story of what happened to the crazy governor after Michonne left him for dead.  Volume 8 is definitely more about people than zombies but that in no way makes it any less shocking.  After the relatively sedate volume 7 this is a roller coaster of a ride. Things happen in this book that literally had my jaw hitting the floor. The body count of significant characters is unbelievable.  It is a milestone volume in The Walking Dead and one that leaves me scratching my head as to how on earth Kirkman will follow it up. Although the art was good I thought some 0f it was inked a bit heavily and it was a bit sparse at times. Walking Dead is a series you really MUST read in order. [ISBN-13: 978-1582408835]. 9/10

[The Walking Dead, Volume 7: The Calm Before] – (Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard)
October 4, 2010, 10:23 pm
Filed under: 7 stars, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn, Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead

Volume 7 “The Calm Before” is pretty much summed up by its title. Although there is a bit of action involving a raid on a reserve army base it is pretty much a relationships issue. We lose another main character and another main character loses a limb but other than that this is definitely the ebb before the storm.  The last pages however, hit home like a jack hammer.

Adlard’s artwork is of the same high standard but this book lacks a bit of the tension that has made the others so enjoyable. I know that Kirkman is playing with readers, getting them more attached to the characters and building a false sense of security. You just know he is going to unleash unholy hell in the next volume. [ISBN-13: 978-1582408286]. 7/10