One Mad Dog

John Constantine Hellblazer Volume 03: The Fear Machine (Jamie Delano, Richard Piers Rayner, Mark Buckinham, Mike Hoffman. Alfredo Alcala)

Collects Hellblazer #14–22

  • Script  :  Jamie Delano
  • Art : Richard Piers Rayner, Mark Buckinham, Mike Hoffman. Alfredo Alcala

The 9 part collection has a nice shiny cover but it is Printed on dull comic paper stock which is a bit disappointing for a $20 book.

Running from a report in the Sun newspaper, Constantine finds himself with a new-age pagan group that have apparent psychic abilities. Unfortunately the group become prey to a defense contractor and a young girl Constantine has befriended gets kidnapped and he tries to get her back.  This is a very wordy story that is similar to those old detective movies where the hero gives a lengthy internal monologue at every opportunity. The book doesn’t really have much action going on at the start and Constantine doesn’t  seem to be remarkable at all.  I can only imagine what the purchasers of book 14 must have thought at the time. The story is steeped with hippy and masonic style cultures and references and requires some concentration to keep up with the plot.

The art is acceptable but nothing special and suffers a bit from the cheap comic book coloring and paper. There are no standout artists in this collection but no stinkers either.  Some of the frame layouts can be very confusing.  Most sections you read on each page, left to right and top to bottom  whereas others you have to read left to right across two pages. It was not always obvious that this was how you were supposed to read it.

The story isn’t bad but I found the finish a bit unrewarding and convoluted. The badies never really get their comeuppance in a satisfying manner. The standout thing for me for this collection is just how unremarkable Constantine is. Three collections in so far and Hellblazer doesn’t seem to be a great series so far. 6/10 (ISBN- 978-1401235192)


Indiana Jones Omnibus Volume 1 (Hal Barwood, Noah Falstein, Dan Barry, Dan Spiegle, Lee Mars, Leo Durafiona)

Small sized volume with pretty good paper that is perfect as a travelling companion.

This collection includes:

  1. “Indiana Jones and the fate of Atlantis”: Script – Hal Barwood and Noah Falstein. Art – Dan Barry.
  2. “Thunder in the Orient” : Script – Dan Barry. Art – Dan Barry and Dan Spiegle.
  3. “Indiana Jones and the arms of gold”. Script – Lee Marrs. Art- Leo Duranona.

The stories capture the spirit of the movies but perhaps without the same level of humor.  Although there is plenty of action, the plots explore some quite complex mythological themes and you really have to pay attention to not get lost.   I am a big fan of the movies so I enjoyed this read.

“Indiana Jones and the fate of Atlantis”.  A pretty good story arc with just the right amount of mystery and intrigue. Set in the myth of Atlantis with some Nazis thrown in for good measure. The art work is serviceable but nothing special.

“Thunder in the Orient”.  Based on Budah this is another pretty good story but the art is nothing special.  The plot kept me hooked from start to finish and the concepts were interesting. Definitely has the feel of one of the movies.

“Indiana Jones and the arms of gold”. Another good story that keeps the readers attention but I think this one finished a little quick.  I enjoyed the story but felt they could have done a better job with the ending.  Like the other two stories in this book the artwork was OK but nothing to write home about.

A good read that I believe will appeal to fans of the movies. 6/10 (ISBN- 978-1-59307-884-4)


Indiana Jones Omnibus Volume 2 (Pat McGreal, Dave Rawson, Ken Hooper, Joe Pinney, Hal Barwood, Bill Stoneham, Aric Wilmunder, Leo Duranfiona, Elaine Lee, Will Simpson, Dan Spiegel, Karl Kesel & Paul Guinan.)

This book collects four stories:

  1. Indiana Jones and the Golden Fleece. Script : Pat McGreal & Dave Rawson. Art: Ken Hooper
  2. Shrine of the Sea Devil: Script/Art : Gary Gianni
  3. Indiana Jones and the iron Phoenix: Script: Joe Pinney, Hal Barwood, Bill Stoneham & Aric Wilmunder. Art: Leo Duranona
  4. Indiana Jones and the Spear of Destiny. Script: Elaine Lee. Art : Will Simpson & Dan Spiegel
  5. Indian Jones and the Sargasso Pirates. Script: Karl Kesel. Art: Karl Kessel & Paul Guinan.

As an Indian Jones fan I think this book should have some appeal as the feel of the books leans quite heavily on the movies but it can be slightly hard work. I found several of the stories pretty hard to follow. The artwork is OK but at times I found it difficult to pick Indy out in some of the stories and sometimes it was hard to figure out what was supposed to be happening .  I found the iron Phoenix to be particularly confusing and a hard read. I was also  not impressed by the implausible ending to the “Shrine of the Sea Devil” (it was just a little too far fetched for me).  The saving grace for me was the final story (Sargasso Pirates) which I really enjoyed.  It had a good pace and the story kept you wanting to read more and the artwork was pleasing to the eye too. The spear of destiny was also a good read and well drawn.  ISBN-13: 978-1593079536. 6/10

[Planetary: Volume 1] – (Warren Ellis, John Cassaday)
June 17, 2012, 7:11 pm
Filed under: 6 Stars, John Cassaday, Warren Ellis

Planetary is the story of a secret organization funded by a mysterious benefactor with a remit to discover the world’s secret history. The team consists of three super humans  including “Jakita Wagner” (strong, fast and full of attitude), “The Drummer” (Super IT guy) and Elijah Snow (Controls temperatures and does a good job of being reluctant  new man on the squad). Volume 1 has 6 short stories where the team investigate strange paranormal and scientific phenomena. A back story thread runs through all six chapters where the Planetary universe and characters are slowly revealed.

  1. Archaeologists of the Impossible
  2. Island
  3. Dead Gunfighters
  4. Strange Harbors
  5. The Good Doctor
  6. It’s A Strange World

Planetary is a complicated book with some pretty deep concepts and story lines. I did not find it to be an easy read and I found the main characters to be pretty superfluous to the intricate plots.  Of all the characters in the book,  I found “The Drummer” to be the most throwaway and annoying.  One of the problems I have with super hero books is that often the invulnerability of the characters leaves them lacking in any kind of humanity and as such it’s pretty difficult to empathize with them.

I liked the premise of the book that existing legends, folklore and secret military history would be investigated and although I found it difficult to spot what stories they were trying to retell (perhaps my lack of superhero universe knowledge) I enjoyed reading them.

John Cassaday’s art was crisp and clean in terms of presentation and this was absolutely essential for such complicated stories.  The art worked well and I was particularly impressed with how it captured the action and established a consistent feel despite the different subject matter in each story.

Planetary should appeal to fans of Superheroes and the X-files and has some good artwork too. Neither the story or the characters hooked my enough to want to read further planetary volumes but I still enjoyed reading this one. [ISBN-13: 978-1563896484]. 6/10

[Fallen Angel Omnibus Volume 2] – (Peter David, J.K. Woodward)
April 6, 2012, 8:15 pm
Filed under: 6 Stars, J.K. Woodward, Peter David

Omnibus 2 collects issues #22-33 of Fallen Angel and brings the main arc to a conclusion.  It also includes the mini-series “Fallen Angel: Reborn”, guest-starring Illyria from Joss Whedon’s “Angel”.

Despite having recently read the first omnibus I found myself a  little confused as to what was going on when I started number 2. This was not helped by the story jumping around a fair bit and the I felt the art was weaker  which made some of the usual characters a little hard to recognize. The first part of the Omnibus was very action filled and In my opinion a bit lacking in the quality of story the first book had.  Character development and story seemed to take a back seat to pure action.  Things improved once the fallen angel was kicked out of Bette Noire and the story leading up to the final confrontation with Maloch was a return back to story quality I have come to expect from this series.

The mini series “Fallen Angel: Reborn” was actually a pretty good read with good art and it managed to follow on relatively seamlessly from what had appeared to be a pretty climatic end in the first major arc.  I am not familiar with Illyria who was the crossover character in this story but she was an interesting enough character to make me consider trying out “Angel”.

Overall I enjoyed Omnibus 2 but was not blown away by it. My problem with Fallen Angel is that most of the characters have very few likeable qualities, especially the fallen angel herself, and this can make it difficult to develop any kind of empathy for the goings on.  I didn’t have this problem to the same extent with the first Omnibus as the story itself had enough hooks to keep me interested. The second omnibus  has a lot of action and not a lot of dialogue so it is a quick read but in my opinion much less satisfying for it.

J.K Woodward uses a somber painted art style which does a great job of portraying movement and capturing atmosphere.  I found it a little difficult to pick out the characters at times and there was the odd panel that had me a little bewildered as to what was supposed to be happening.  Things improved as the book progressed and generally the muddled image occurrences were rare.  Generally speaking this dark soft edged graphic style is not my favorite for telling stories in comic books (better suited for covers and splash pages) but in this case it fitted the occult subject matter well. I do think the impact of the art suffered a little from being reduced in size for the omnibus format.

The book has religious references but only in a pretty vague way and so it shouldn’t offend most people. The portrayal of God as a little girl with a tennis racket and bad attitude might upset some however. It is worth a read if you are into this kind of supernatural book and it doesn’t demand as much of your time as many omnibuses do.  [ISBN-13: 978-1600108471]. 6/10

[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

[Solomon Kane Volume 2: Death’s Black Riders] – (Scott Allie, Mario Guevara, Darick Robertson. Guy Davis)

“Death’s Black Riders” collects #1 to #4 of Dark Horses “Solomon Kane: Death’s Black Riders” series and the “All The Damned Souls At Sea” short story.  It is set in the Black Forest, just like the previous Dark Horse Volume (Castle of the Devil), and features the writing of Scott Allie and art of Mario Guevara.

“Deaths Black Riders” has more of a Conan or even a BPRD/ Hellboy feel to it than Solomon Kane. It is basically one long monster bash from beginning to end and lacks the more considered brooding approach that Solomon Kane normally has. From the moment the book begins the dialogue is confusing and hard to follow and the cluttered and muddy art makes it difficult to figure out just who is talking.  It was quite a way into the book before I actually realized which character was Solomon Kane. The story also suffers from poor pacing and some of the fight scenes and dialogues run on too long.  I quite enjoyed some of the interactions with the priest but the demons were a little too H.P. Lovecraft for my tastes.

Mario Guevara’s artwork was not as good as in the first volume and I found it quite difficult to follow at times.  I liked Guy Davis’s artwork in the short story better but I still struggled a little to follow what was going on once the boat started breaking up. If I hadn’t read the notes in the back of the book I would not have guessed that the boat turned into some kind of sea serpent. Even Guy Davis’s art seemed to be a bit off par. I enjoyed the Mike Mignola TPB cover and Darick Robertson’s excellent single edition covers in the special features.

Death’s Black Riders isn’t a bad book but it suffers from not being a particularly good Solomon Kane adaptation with art that in my opinion is a little substandard. It has some great special features and is still worth a read if you liked the first volume. ISBN-10: 1595825908. 6/10

[Hack/Slash Omnibus, Vol.1] – (Tim Seeley, Stefano Caselli, Federica Manfredi, Aadi Salman, Dave Crosland, Skottie Young, Sean Dove, Mike Norton, Mark Englert, Nate Bellegarde, Andy Kuhn,Joe Largent, Josh Medors, Mike O’Sullivan, Matt Merhoff)

Hack/Slash is a book based on slasher movies where Cassie Hack and her giant assistant Vlad go round destroying slashers. The book is written by Tim Seeley and features many different artists which means that there is a huge variety in styles between the stories. Omnibus 1 contains the following stories:

  • “Euthanized” with art by Stefano Caselli.
  • “Girls gone Wild” with art by Federica Manfredi.
  • “Comic Book Carnage” with art by Federica Manfredi.
  • “Hack/Slash Evil Ernie” with art by Aadi Salman.
  • “Land of Lost Toys”  with art by Dave Crosland.
  • “Slice Hard” with art by Tim Seeley, Mark Englert, Nate Bellegarde, Andy Kuhn and Joe Largent .
  • “Slashing Through the Snow” a poem with art by Mike O’Sullivan.
  • “Hack/Slash vs Chucky” with art by Matt Merhoff.
Hack/Slash Trailers:
  • “Blood and Nuts”  with art by Skottie Young.
  • “Renegade Knife: Itai!” with art by Sean Dove.
  • “Tub Club” with art by Tim Seeley.
  • “Orbituary” with art by Mike Norton.
  • “Dead Celebrities” with art by Stefano Caselli.
  • “Once Bitten” with art by Josh Medors.

I bought this book based on good reviews rather than the content.  I grew out of slasher movies after the first Chucky and Nightmare on Elm Steet. The only recent ones I have watched was the Jeepers Creepers series and that was quite a while ago. I think this is why the book didn’t really  impress me very much.  Its not a bad book by any means and the main characters are likable but ultimately it is not a series I would buy any more books in.

My favorite stories were “Girls Gone Wild”, “Slice hard” and “Hack/Slash vs Chucky” and all three of these were fun reads. The only story I didn’t really enjoy was “Hack/Slash Evil Ernie” where the art, layout and lettering all got in the way of the story for me.

The art in Omnibus 1 is a bit of a mixed bag but I enjoyed the artwork of Stefano Caselli, Federica Manfredi, Skottie Young, Mike Norton and Matt Merhof.  The only artists work that really wasn’t to my taste was  Aadi Salman that I didn’t like at all. The artwork in “Land of Lost Toys” was also a bit inconsistent but overall pleasing to the eye. “Slice Hard” was an unusual story in that there were very obvious artist changed between pages . It was almost as if the story switched from HD to SD at times.  I don’t know which artist did which page but I liked some more than others and i am not a fan of mixing artists in a story.

Hack/Slash Omnibus, Vol.1 has a huge selection of covers, pinup art and other extras that are well worth a look.  Overall the book is a good buy if you are a fan of “Slasher” Movies but even non fans of the genre should find something to enjoy. ISBN-13: 978-1607062738. 6/10

[52, Vol 2] – (Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid, Keith Giffen)
July 27, 2011, 11:36 pm
Filed under: 52, 6 Stars, Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Keith Giffen, Mark Waid

When I first started reading volume 1 of DC’s “52” I was in a state of confusion. All the characters and names thrown at me were bewildering.  The more I read the more things started to fall into place and the more I began to enjoy the book. By the end of the first volume I couldn’t wait to start book 2. The strange thing is that in volume 2 I am just as bewildered by the characters and and I still find the stories and subplots a bit confusing.  I have to disclose that I do not read superhero books as a rule so I doubt that I am the target audience for book like this.

Just like Volume 1 the special bonus material after each chapter featuring creator comments and breakdown sketches was the highlight of the book for me. These sections really helped me to make some sense of what was going on.

The artwork is pretty good and consistent throughout which is a surprise considering the number of different artists. The art breakdowns of Keith Geffen seem to be the reason behind this consistency. The coloring makes the stories really standout and it fits the over the top superhero universe perfectly.

Artists (pencils):

  • Week 14 : Dale Eaglesham
  • Week 15 : Shawn Moll
  • Week 16 : Joe Bennet
  • Week 17 : Chris Batista
  • Week 18 : Eddy Barrows
  • Week 19 : Patrick Olliffe
  • Week 20 : Chris Batista
  • Week 21 : Joe Bennet
  • Week 22 : Eddy Barrows
  • Week 23 : Drew Jonson
  • Week 24 : Phil Jimenez
  • Week 25 : Joe Bennet, Dale Eaglesham, Phil Jimenez, Patrick Olliffe
  • Week 26 :  Patrick Olliffe

It is hard to recommend this book to non DC universe fans as the widely dispersed story requires some prior knowledge of the bewildering multitude of characters thrown at the reader. I must say that I still found it to be an enjoyable read despite not knowing what was going on for most of the book and having little empathy for the characters. ISBN-13: 978-1401213640. 6/10.

[Alan Moore’s The Courtyard (Color Edition)] – (Alan Moore, Jacen Burrows)
May 11, 2011, 6:52 pm
Filed under: 6 Stars, Alan Moore, Jacen Burrows

This TPB is really just an over sized comic with a fancy cover and it weighs in at only 52 pages .  It is the story of an undercover FBI guy trying to find a connection between a gruesome set of murders where no connection seems to exist.  It is set in a very run down inner city and Aldo Sax  (the FBI guy) lives in the worst part of it. The book opens with him trying to have a shave only to find that someone has defecated  all over the sink.

The story is told in an unusual two vertical panels per page layout and I really enjoyed it up until the point where Aldo sampled the drug. From then onwards it became a confusing homage to Lovecraft with barely pronounceable words and obscure and abstract concepts.   The story totally lost me at this point and for me it spoiled what was actually a pretty good ending.

Jacen Burrow’s art was fantastic throughout this book especially in the later half with his illustrations of the demonic hallucinations.    It seems that it wouldn’t be a Jacen illustrated book without depictions of extreme violence and this book is no exception.

Its hard for me to recommend this book as the story will probably only really appeal to Lovecraft junkies and devout Alan Moore fans. For me it was just a bit too mystic and arty for its own good in the story department but the art itself was first rate. This special collected edition featured an introduction by Garth Ennis (of whom I am a huge fan) that was probably the worst book introduction I have ever read.  ISBN-13: 978-1592910601. 6/10