One Mad Dog

[Kick Ass – H/C] – (Mark Millar, John Romita Jr)
January 20, 2012, 10:23 pm
Filed under: 9 stars, John Romita Jr, Mark Millar

This title collects “Kick-Ass” issues #1-8 and is the story of a very unlikely teenager trying to be a superhero and of a very unusual father/daughter team hellbent on making the local crime bosses life a misery. “Kick Ass” is also a rare beast in that it actually formed the basis for a really good comic book movie.

“Kick Ass” grabbed me from the first page and never let go till the very violent finale. I think the reason it made such a good movie is that it reads like a really good teen movie.  The shocks keep coming page after page from the new and inventive depictions of violence to the seriously disturbed relationship between Big Daddy and his eleven year old killing machine daughter, Hit  Girl,  who slices off body parts and spurts out obscenities like there is no tomorrow.  The book is written in a very witty and irreverent style and has spot on pacing. Despite the very violent content it is more amusing than offensive. Just like the over the top violence in movies like “Kill Bill” or “Machette”  the gore makes you laugh rather than recoil.

John Romita Jnr’s artwork is absolutely spot on and couldn’t fit the stories quirky, violent and amusing story style any better. Although the artwork has a teen comic book look to it (perhaps slightly manga), the content itself is extremely violent and gory. I really enjoyed the art and it makes me want to check out more of his work.

If you like the movie then you should enjoy this book as much if not more. A great fun read but not for the squeamish or easily offended. ISBN-13: 978-0785134350 . 9/10

[Turf – H/C] – (Jonathon Ross, Tommy Lee Edwards)
January 16, 2012, 8:59 am
Filed under: 8 Stars, Jonathon Ross, Tommy Lee Edwards

Turf is the first graphic novel by eccentric UK media star Jonathon Ross. Ross has been a comic geek for years so this book isn’t simply some celebrity slapping their name on a book but rather a really inventive and enjoyable story. “Turf” is set in prohibition New York in 1929 where the rival gangs are in a vicious turf war with a bunch of vampires.  Throw in an alien for good measure and you have a story that crosses many genres but works really well.

“Turf”  has a very old school look to it both in the panel layout and in the artwork.  It is also unusual compared to many modern comic books in that it has quite a lot of text on each page.  You certainly get a good long read for your money and letterer John Workman definitely earned his money on this one.  Ross has managed to achieve some excellent character development and portrays the dredges of society in a satisfying way.  The character of O’ Leary is a particularly loathsome example of this.

I really enjoyed “Turf” and although I had my doubts about the alien element working in a 1920’s New York setting it actually  fit in really well.  Story wise this book is one of the best books I have read in a long time and would earn itself a place in my list of 10’s but unfortunately I was not quite as impressed with the art.

Tommy Lee Edwards art is good, captures the feel of prohibition New York and it fits the story perfectly but the style isn’t quite to my liking. It is a little too simplistic and scratchy for my tastes but this does not get in the way of following the action and may appeal more to other readers.  The book has an extensive gallery/cover section in the back and in this section Edwards work really does shine. I feel the style incorporated in the main story was a decision made to allow the art to be completed in a timely manner. Unfortunately the art drags this book down to an 8 for me.

The Hardcover version of “Turf” is a fantastic read with deluxe glossy paper and some great extras. Even if you do not like Jonathon Ross the media star this book is highly recommended as a first rate  graphic novel. ISBN-13: 978-1607064008. 8/10.

[The Eye of the World: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1 (The Wheel of Time) – H/C] – (Robert Jordan, Chuck Dixon, Chase Conley)
January 11, 2012, 9:00 am
Filed under: 7 stars, Chase Conley, Chuck Dixon

This trade paperback is the first in a series of graphic novel interpretations of the late Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series “The Eye Of The World”. I read the prose novel “The Wheel of Time”, upon which this graphic novel is based, about 15 years ago and really enjoyed it. Reading it in graphic novel format did not bring back any memories at all of the original book and I don’t seem to remember the original being quite so generic in it’s high fantasy plot lines.  Even though the book felt very much like a Lord of The Rings spin-off I still really enjoyed reading it and it felt well paced and encouraged me to not put it down.

For a hardcover this TPB uses pretty cheap quality paper and the first 10 pages of my copy were crinkled. The cover art is a good indication of the art inside but when I first got the book I thought the colors had faded in the sun. This is not the case  and the entire book has a unsatisfactory color pallete  that is reminiscent of a color book that has been left in a shop window too long. My copy was from Amazon and was factory sealed so the color pallete is deliberate.

The art in The Wheel of Time isn’t to my liking  and it seems very low rent to me. Even though it is not impressive It does do a good job of conveying the story.  The art is not helped at all by the colors chosen and the inappropriate cartoony nature of some of character faces at times.  I am not familiar with Chase Conley’s other work but this book definitely does not make me want to check it out.

The book has quite an extensive extras section with character sketches, cover art and biographies and in this section Conley’s work is much more pleasing to the eye.  It is a pity the same level of detail could not be used throughout the book.

“The Wheel of time” is a good story with poor art and no real need to be a fan of the original novel to appreciate it. It should appeal to Lord Of The Rings Fans. ISBN-13: 978-0765324887. 7/10.

[Alan Moore’s Neonomicon] – (Alan Moore, Jacen Burrows)
January 9, 2012, 8:34 am
Filed under: 6 Stars, Alan Moore, Jacen Burrows

This book contains two stories from Alan Moore that are both based on the horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. The two stories follow on from each other so they work well as a single collected edition. The first story “The Courtyard” was previously released as a TPB and I reviewed it here.  The second book, “Neonomicon”, picks up a few years after the events of “The Courtyard” with Two FBI agents (Brears and Lamper) looking into another string of murders that are remarkably similar to the ones in the first book.

“Neonomicon” is definitely an adult only book as it contains copious amounts of nudity, sex, rape and violence. There is one section of the book that is a bit over the top in this department and I started to wonder if it was just there for shock value.  I think horror works best when the worst and most sordid details are hinted at  but left to the imagination of reader to fill in the details.  The story itself is pretty good although it seems that you have to have a sound grounding in the works of Lovecraft to understand a fair chunk of what is going on. The book also suffers from being overly complicated at times and I got the impression that Moore was going out of his way to try to confuse the reader.

“Neonomicon” started off strong  with the two FBI agents investigating the murders but as it became more occult and complicated my interest fell off.  Its not a bad book but it can be hard work and requires a lot of concentration from the reader. All this serves to hurt it’s entertainment value.

“Neonomicon” adopted a more traditional comic book layout rather than the more unusual style that was found in the “Courtyard”.  I am a normally a big fan of Jacen Burrows art but in this book it really didn’t look all that special. The gallery art section at the back of the book was special however and some of the splash pages were really good.

This really is a horrifc book and not in a fun way.  It left me with a bad taste in my mouth and is definitely not one of Moore’s best works. ISBN-13: 978-1592911301. 6/10

[The Saga Of Solomon Kane] – (Roy Thomas, Ralph Reese, Alan Weiss, Doug Moench, Steve Gan, Mike Zeck, Howard Chaykin, Don Glut, Alan Kupperberg, Sonny Trinidad, Virgillo Redondo, D Nebres, Dino Castrillo, David Wenzel, Marillitz, Duffy Vohland, Bill Wray, Robert E. Howard, Jo Duffy, Danny Bulandi, Steve Carr, John Arcudi, Al Williamson, Alan Rowlands, Colin MacNeil)

This collection Includes:

  • “Skulls in the Stars” written by “Roy Thomas”  with art by “Ralph Reese”.
  • “Castle of the Undead” written by “Roy Thomas” with art by “Alan Weiss”.
  • “The Hills of the Dead” written by “Roy Thomas” with art by “Alan Weiss”.
  • “Into the Silent City” written by “Roy Thomas” with art by “Alan Weiss”.
  • “The Right Hand of Doom” by “Doug Moench” with art by “Steve Gan”
  • “The Silver Beast Beyond Tinkertown” by “Doug Moench” with art by “Mike Zeck”
  • “Rattle of Bones” written by “Roy Thomas” with art by “Howard Chaykin”
  • “The Castle Of The Devil” written by “Don Glut” with art by “Alan Kupperberg” and “Sonny Trinidad”
  • “Solomon Kanes Homecoming” written by “Roy Thomas” with art by”Virgillo Redondo” and ” D Nebres”
  • “The Dragon At Castle Frankenstein” written by “Don Glut” with art by “Sonny Trinidad”
  • “The Cold Hands Of Death”  written by “Don Glut” with art by “Steve Gan” and “Dino Castrillo”
  • “Retribution In Blood” written by “Don Glut” with art by “David Wenzel”  and “Marillitz”
  • “Blades of The Brotherhood” written by “Don Glut” with art by “David Wenzel” and “Duffy Vohland”
  • “Moon of Skulls” written by  “Don Glut” with art by “David Wenzel” and “Bill Wray”.
  • “The Return of Sir Richard Greenville  written by “Roy Thomas”  with art by “David Wenzel”.
  • “Wings In The Night” written by “Don Glut” with art by “David Wenzel”.
  • “The One Black Stain” written by “Robert E. Howard” with art by “David Wenzel”.
  • “Red Seas” written by “Jo Duffy” with art by “Danny Bulandi”.
  • “Solomon Kane’s Homecoming” written by “Robert E. Howard” with art by “Steve Carr”.
  • “Shattered Innocence” written by “John Arcudi” with art by “Steve Carr” and “Al Williamson”.
  • “Satan’s Sanctuary” written by “Alan Rowlands” with art by “Steve Carr” and “Al Williamson”.
  • “Deaths Dark Riders” written by “Roy Thomas” with art by “Colin MacNeil”.
It also includes some articles and prose stuff. It has good quality paper which is unusual for these phone book collections and this really helps the black and white art standout.

I enjoyed this collection and it blessed by some really good black and white art. There are a huge variety of stories and styles but they are all readable.  I particularly enjoyed the artwork of Alan Weiss and Ralph Reese and the story telling of Roy Thomas.  My least favorite stories had David Wenzel as the author and I found them harder work to read. My least favorite artists were “Howard Cheykin” and  “Colin MacNeil” but Colin’s art was still good and improved as the story progressed.

I am not a fan of prose in Graphic novels so I didn’t read all these sections  but they may appeal to some people.   This book represent a great taste of Solomon Kane with over twenty stories. ISBN-13: 978-1595823175. 7/10