One Mad Dog

[The Last Days of American Crime: Volume 1] – (Rick Remender, Greg Tocchini)
November 25, 2010, 11:50 pm
Filed under: 8 Stars, Alex Maleev, Greg Tocchini, Rick Remender

I bought this book based upon a very intriguing plot line and the excellent Alex Maleev cover.  The basic story premise is that as a final response to terrorism and crime, the U.S. government plans to broadcast a signal making it impossible for anyone to knowingly commit unlawful acts. The book centers around one career criminal’s attempt to commit the perfect crime just before the signal is turned on.  Unfortunately for him just about every low life criminal scum and cop in the city seems to be intent on making his life hell.  Things get very messy.

This is definitely a story for adult readers. It  is full of graphic violence and bad language and it even has some sex scenes and nudity thrown in for good measure.  The plot moves along a a great pace and the story is filled with twists and turns and suprises.  The supporting characters in the book are well developed and  generally pretty unlikeable excuses for human beings.  The misfortunes they inflict upon the main character Graham and his love interest are  jaw dropping  at times.

The artwork in “Last Days” isn’t bad but it’s not really to my taste and as such I was a little disappointed with it.  I never thought I would say this but, the best artwork in this TPB is the covers by Alex Maleev.  I am not a fan of Alex’s artwork at all but his cover work in this book  is excellent and it was one of the highlights for me.

If you like hard core gritty and violent crime dramas then you should really like this book. Although I didn’t fall in love with the art this didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book one jot. The TPB has some nice extras too. [ISBN-13: 978-1935417064]. 8/10

[Conan: Born on the Battlefield : Vol. 0] – (Kurt Busiek, Greg Ruth)
November 23, 2010, 7:47 am
Filed under: 8 Stars, Conan The Barbarian, Greg Ruth, Kurt Busiek

This is an original Conan work, based upon ideas and letters to fans from Ron E Howard,  that Busiek has masterfully crafted into a prequel of the Conan mythology. It feels and reads just like a Howard Conan book which is a great achievement. The book tells the story of  Conan’s early life, from his birth on a Cimmerian battlefield to his coming-of-age as a warrior in the pivotal Battle of Venarium. His youthful adventures have a stark realism to them and Conan is portrayed as a vulnerable boy with the seed of something special rather than some sort of all conquering superhero.

“Born on the Battlefield” works so well because  the settings and supporting characters are lavished with exceptional detail.  Placing the young Conan in such a well crafted world allows his character to develop in a believable but no less impressive way.  The book has a very historical feel to it and the drama is more intense than is the norm for the high fantasy genre. I found it to be a very enjoyable read.

This book has a different, more gritty, artistic style to the work of Cary Nord. It uses a somber color pallette  and has a much darker  feel to it. I prefer a crisper look to my comic book art but Ruth’s work it is appropriate to the story and his style captures movement and action very well. This TPB should appeal to any fans of Dark Horse’s Conan books and I believe it is a good as any I have read. [ISBN-13: 978-1593079819]. 8/10

[Hatter M, Vol. 2: Mad With Wonder] – (Frank Beddor, Liz Cavalier, Sami Makkonen)
November 20, 2010, 10:09 pm
Filed under: 8 Stars, Frank Beddor, Liz Cavalier, Sami Makkonen

Frank Beddor and Liz Cavaliers excellent Hatter M series continues on with a change of artist from Ben Templesmith to Sami Makkonen. Although I don’t particularly like Sami’s drawing style, it is remarkable how he has managed to capture a similar look and feel for this book. It probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to say this but even though I don’t like the pencils and ink, the book is still visually very appealing.

In volume 2, Royal Bodyguard Hatter Madigan’s maniacal quest to find Alyss continues. His search stretches from the dark alleys of London to the grim battlefields of America’s Civil War.  In this book Hatter encounters many unusual folk including magical child healers, prophetic snake handlers, deranged outlaws, mad psychiatrists, inept assassins and passionate southern belles.  The Hatter begins to understand that the red queen is having a distinctly bad influence on the real world through the auspices of her minions and that his quest for Alyss is not going to plan.

Volume 2 continues on with its disturbing treatment of children by the forces of evil and its strangely compelling story line.  Hatter M almost meets his match with the minions of the red queen  ending up losing his hat and knives but he is helped out by the least likely of folk.  “Mad With Wonder ” is Printed on excellent quality paper stock, has tons of extras, is great to look at, has great story and will appeal to anyone who enjoyed the first volume. [ISBN-13: 978-0981873725]. 8/10

[The Complete Ballad of Halo Jones] – (Alan Moore, Ian Gibson)
November 18, 2010, 7:42 am
Filed under: 2000AD, 8 Stars, Alan Moore, Ian Gibson

This TPB collects the three books of the 1984-1986 “2000AD” story line “Halo Jones”  in the original black and white comic format.

In Book One, the readers are introduced to Halo Jones, who lives in a futuristic ring-shaped ghetto called “The Hoop”. The hoop is a huge floating structure that is moored off the East coast of America. The story gives a background to the insane and violent culture and introduces many key characters to the plot.  When Halo discovers a good friend has become part of a cult know as the “Different Drummers” and her best friend Brinna has been murdered she decides to leave Earth for go0d.

Book Two depicts Halo’s life as a stewardess and Dolphin liason  on the ship “Clara Pandy” and her year-long space voyage into the cosmos. Halo discovers who murdered her friend Brinna and is forced to take drastic action. It is also revealed that Halo eventually becomes legendary which is a story that is continued in the third book.

In Book Three, Halo reaches rock bottom and is forced to sign up for the military to make a living.  She ends up fighting in the same interstellar war which ran as a back-story in the previous two books.  The war is gruesome Guerrilla style conflict in totally bizarre planetary conditions. This book ties up lots of loose ends and gives a satisfying conclusion to the series.

I must have read Halo Jones when it was originally published as I used to read 2000AD back then but I dont remember a single thing about it.  I have to be honest that I found the story and art in the first chapter of book one to be a little confusing and I was beginning to wonder what all the hype was about.  I have started reading this book two times in the past and each time abandoned it around chapter 3.  This time I persevered and I am glad I did. On the third attempt at reading things finally clicked into place and it turned out to be a great and enjoyable story.  I think the slang used in the book takes a  little getting used to and once you are comfortable with it the story just takes off. This saga is typical of both Alan Moore and 2000AD in that it mixes humor with social and political comment and some hard hitting drama.

I think Ian Gibson’s art in the first book is a little sparse as if it were rushed but he regains his usual form from book two onwards. It is not as good as his work on Robohunter or Star Wars but still a great example of the genre. All three books collected in this edition are good but I think the final one really hits home the hardest. “The Complete Ballad of halo Jones” is a satisfying and rewarding read that draws you in as the story progresses. [ISBN-13: 978-1905437184]. 8/10

[The Chronicles Of Solomon Kane] – (Roy Thomas, Ralph Macchio, Howard Chaykin, Steve Carr, Bret Blevins, Mike Mignola, Jon Bogdanove, John Ridgeway))
November 7, 2010, 10:34 am
Filed under: 7 stars, Bret Blevins, Howard Chaykin, Jon Bogdanove, Mike Mignola, Solomon Kane

This TPB contains all of the original 1970’s and 1980’s Marvel color comic books based upon Robert E. Howard’s puritan hero Solomon Kane. It features the stories “The Mark of Kane” and “Fangs of the Gorilla God”  and the entire Sword of Solomon Kane mini-series.

  • “The Mark of Kane !” written by Roy Thomas with art by Howard Chaykin.
  • “Fangs of the Gorilla God” written by Roy Thomas with art by Howard Chaykin.
  • “Red Shadows” written by Ralph Macchio with art by Steve Carr and Bret Blevins.
  • “And Faith, Undying” written by Ralph Macchio with art by Bret Blevins.
  • “Blades Of  The Brotherhood” written by Ralph Macchio with art by Bret Blevins.
  • “The Prophet !” written by Ralph Macchio with art by Mike Mignola.
  • “Hills Of The Dead” written by Ralph Macchio with art by Jon Bogdanove.
  • “Wings In The Night !”  written by Ralph Macchio with art by John Ridgeway.

The storyline  is a classic Solomon Kane where an innocent is wronged and Solomon pursues the perpetrators to the end of the earth. The first two stories definitely feel a bit dated  and are retold in “Red Shadows” by Ralph Macchio where they felt a bit fresher and benefited from improved art.  I seem to remember Solomon Kane was a good bit more puritan and unwielding in other stories that I have read but this book even had him using the forces of black magic and befriending a witchdoctor.

I didn’t like Howard Chaykin’s art in the first two stories which seemed to suffer from poor inking. The artwork in the rest of the book is pretty good featuring classic comic style art. Mike Mignola’s art was unlike his present style and actually looked very similar to the other artists. I enjoyed this collection and would recommend it to Robert E. Howard fans. [ISBN-13: 978-1595824103]. 7/10

[Star Wars Omnibus: Shadows of the Empire] – (John Wagner, Kilian Plunket, John Nadeau, Timothy Zan, Micheal A. Stackpole, Carlos Ezquerra, Steve Perry, Ron Randall)
November 4, 2010, 10:03 am
Filed under: 8 Stars, Carlos Ezquerra, John Nadeau, John Wagner, Star Wars

There are 3 story arcs contained within this omnibus. “Star Wars: Shadows of The Empire” (#1-#6), “Star Wars: Mara Jade – By the Emperor’s Hand” and “Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire – Evolution” (#1-#5).

  •  Star Wars: Shadows of The Empire was written by John Wagner with art by Kilian Plunket and John Nadeau.
  • Star Wars: Mara Jade – By the Emperor’s Hand was written by Timothy Zan and Micheal A. Stackpole with art by Carlos Ezquerra.
  • Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire – Evolution was written by Steve Perry with art by Ron Randall

The first arc is set in a time between the Empire Strikes back and return of the Jedi and features many familiar characters to fans of those movies. The main story revolves around bounty hunters, the attempts to rescue Han Solo in carbonite, Assasination attempts on Luke and unreast in the Empire. It’s a really good action romp with plenty of subplots, twists and betrayals.

The second arc is the story of an imperial assassin who is known as the Emperors hand. At first I found the “Blade Runner” type narration to be a little off putting but the story really grabs you the further you read. It’s a great action/spy tale with a well paced story line and satisfying conclusion. This was my favorite story in the Omnibus.

The final arc is a sequel to the first and revolves around another assassin but this time a super robot who worked for Dark Sun. Although Luke, Han, etc are featured quite a lot in this story they really feel like peripheral characters and dont add a great deal to the story. Overall though it’s is still a great action tale and  with a very satisfying ending. This was my least favorite story and art in the omnibus but not by much.

I am not a huge Starwars fan but I picked this book up because it had John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra in it. I am glad I did as I enjoyed this TPB tremendously. I thought that all 3 stories were movie worthy and even for someone with limited Starwars knowledge it was easy to follow. The artwork and colors were consistently good throughout and although all the artists had their own individual styles there were no jarring changes of art style or color pallettes. This book has made me want to check out more Starwars Omnibus’s. [ISBN-13: 978-1595824349]. 8/10