One Mad Dog

[Fallen Angel Omnibus Vol.0] – (Peter David and David Lopez)
December 16, 2010, 5:16 pm
Filed under: 9 stars, David Lopez, Fallen Angel, Peter David

Volume Zero contains the complete DC Comics run of Fallen Angel, created by Peter David and David Lopez. It collects issues #1-20 of the series that ran from 2003 to when it was cancelled in May 2005 because of low sales. It is a mystery to me why this book achieved low sales but perhaps it was a little too dark and cerebral for DC’s audience.

Fallen Angel is a masterpiece of writing that slowly unveils its plots and mystery’s to the reader. Few things are explained directly and the story of the the main characters is dark and seldom straightforward.  I read a great comment on wiki that said that the characters in Fallen Angel are morally ambiguous and cant think of any better way of describing them. There is no clear cut line between good and evil and Liandra, the Fallen Angel’s  behavior is definitely not angelic.  Although several supporting characters have their backgrounds revealed, the main protagonists such as  the fallen Angel or the City itself  are still to be explained by the end of this run. You can tell that the author had bigger plans for the story than the 20 issues allowed.

Explaining the actual stories themselves in this review would be a travesty as the beauty of reading this book is trying to figure out what will happen next and where the main plot will lead to.  I found this book hard to put down when I started reading it and suffered some late nights as a result.

The art is excellent throughout and the characters are well drawn and not strangely proportioned like certain books I could mention. The backdrop of Bette Noire is impressively dark and believable and the art fits the story perfectly.

Fallen Angel Omnibus Zero is well worth reading thanks to its engrossing storyline and excellent artwork. It is very dark at times but it has some lighter moments such as the reveal about Benny’s true nature. [ISBN-13: 978-1600106743]. 9/10

[Strontium Dog:Search/Destroy Agency Files: Volume 1 ] – (John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra, Brendan McCarthy, Ian Gibson, Alan Grant, Keith Page)

Strontium Dog is a comic book series created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra for the British Sci-Fi comic Starlord back in the late 1970’s. It features the stories of “Johnny Alpha” with his friend “Wulf Sternhammer” and his alien medic “The Gronk” . Strontium Dog is set in a post apocalyptic future where the mutating effects of the radioactive isotope Strontium 90 has caused portions of the population to mutate. The mutated people are treat badly by the normal population and are forced into ghettos where the only job they have open to them is that of Bounty Hunter.  Johnny alpha is one of the best of these bounty hunters (Strontium Dogs) and he uses his mutated eyes, that now emit piercing Alpha rays, to see through solid objects and into mens minds.

Volume 1 Collects: (Stories by John Wagner and art by Carlos Ezquerra unless otherwise stated)

  • “Max Quirxx” (Starlord #1-2, 1978)
  • “Papa Por-ka” (Starlord #3-5, 1978)
  • “No Cure For Kansyr” (Starlord #6-7, 1978)
  • “Planet Of The Dead” (Starlord #8-10, 1978)
  • “Two-Faced Terror!” (Starlord #12-15, 1978)
  • “Demon Maker” #17-19 (with art by Brendan McCarthy (17) and Ian Gibson (18-19), Starlord #17-19, 1978)
  • “The Ultimate Weapon” (in Starlord #21-22, 1978)
  • “The Galaxy Killers” (2000 AD #86-94, 1978)
  • “Journey Into Hell” (2000 AD #104-118, 1979)
  • “Death’s Head” (with co-author Alan Grant, 2000 AD #178-181, 1980)
  • “The Schiklegruber Grab” (with co-author Alan Grant, 2000 AD #182-188, 1980)
  • “Mutie’s Luck” (with co-author Alan Grant, 2000 AD #189, 1980)
  • “The Doc Quince Case” (with co-author Alan Grant, 2000 AD #190-193, 1980–1981)
  • “The Bad Boys Bust” (with co-author Alan Grant, 2000 AD #194-197, 1981)

Bonus Stories:

  • “Strontium Dog : Funfair of Fear” (writer unknown with art by Brendan McCarthy, Starlord Annual 1980)
  • “Strontium Dog” (writer unknown with art by Keith Page, Starlord Annual 1981)
  • “Strontium Dog” (writer unknown with art by Carlos Ezquerra, Starlord Annual 1982)
  • “Strontium Dog” (writer Bill henry with art by Brendan McCarthy,  Starlord Summer special 1978)

I think that Strontium Dog really started to find its feet when it moved to 2000AD where it was allowed to run longer story arcs. My Favorite story in the book is “The Galaxy Killers” and this is a classic example of  John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra hitting top form. Stories such as “Journey into hell” and “The Schiklegruber Grab” are also really good arcs.

The four bonus stories are a bit of a mixed bag and hammer home to me that Strontium Dog really needs a decent length story arc to truly shine. The art is great but looks like it might have originally been in color and it is a shame it is only B/W in this collection.

For me there is only one artist for Strontium Dog and that is Carlos Ezquerra. When anyone else tries to draw it I think that it  just doesn’t look right.  Brendan McCarthy actually does a really good job of illustrating strontium dog and his very detailed artwork is a real pleasure to look at but his Johnny Alpha still looks a bit wrong.  The other two artists in this collection are Ian Gibson who does a respectable job and Keith Page whose art I really didn’t like at all. This book suffers from my constant complaint about all these  “Rebellion” collected editions in that it has poor Quality reproductions in places, especially from the early Starlord stuff which may well have been in color. Slightly fuzzy reproductions aside I think Carlos Ezquerra’s art throughout this book is first rate.

I really enjoyed this book and could recommended it to any 2000AD fan wishing to delve back to earlier stuff. It should also appeal to fans of Star Wars stuff like Bobba Fet. Strontium Dog remains as one of my favorite comic book characters of all time.  ISBN-13: 978-1905437153. 9/10

[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 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 5: The Best Defense] – (Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard)
October 2, 2010, 10:56 pm
Filed under: 9 stars, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn, Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead

Book 4 was a bit more of a soap opera than a Zombie action tale but things really hot up in “The Best Defence”.  The sight of a mysterious helicopter crashing a few miles from the prison causes three of the survivors to go investigating.  What they find is a horror beyond imagination and things will never be the same again for those characters. I don’t want to go much further with the  description about what happens as it would really be a spoiler. Back at the prison there were still some wacky relationship happenings but the body count wasn’t as crazy as the first 4 volumes.

Kirkman manages to keep a real sense of tension in this TPB and you are never sure which character is going to go crazy or get killed off next.  Volume 5 is probably my favorite volume so far and my jaw literally dropped at some of the things that happened in it.  Charlie Adlard’s artwork is spot on and I am really beginning to appreciate the way he captures human feelings through their expressions. The book ends on the type of cliff hanger where you just want to rush out and read the next volume to find out what happens next. [ISBN-13: 978-1582406121] . 9/10

[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

[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

[The Best Of Battle] – (Various)

I never read “Battle” when I was a kid and read their rival “Warlord” instead. It looks like I  really missed out on some great stories and this book provides a taste of what I missed.  I enjoyed all the stories in this book and they capture the cream of British war comics admirably. The Black and white artwork is excellent throughout and even the B/W  printed versions of the color strips look good.  The only strip that I had read before was pat Mill’s excellent “Charley’s War”.

My only real criticism is that because they included so many different stories it meant that all you got was a short taster of each.  It was annoying for instance that theyonly included 3 out of 6 episodes of “Hold Hill 109”.  I hope they will produce some “Complete” versions in the future.

Included in this collection:

  • “D-Day Dawson” written by Gerry Finley Day and Ron Carpenter with art by Colin page.
  • “Day of The Eagle” written by Eric Hebden with art by Pat Wright.
  • “The Bootneck Boy” written by Gerry Finley Day and Ian MacDonald with art by Giralt.
  • “Rat Pack” written written by Gerry Finley Day with art by Carlos Ezquerra.
  • “Major Easy” written by Alan Hebden with art by Carlos Ezquerra.
  • “Fighter From the Sky” written by Gerry Finley Day with art by Geoff Campion.
  • “Hold Hill 109″  written by Steve MacManus” with art by Jim Watson.
  • “Darkies Mob”  written by John Wagner with art by Mike Western.
  • “Panzer G-Man” written by Gerry Finley Day with art by Geoff Campion.
  • “Johnny Red” written by Tom Tully with art by Joe Colquhoun.
  • “Joe Two Beans” written by John Wagner and art by Eric Bradbury.
  • “The Sarge” written by Gerry Finley Day with art by Mike Western
  • “The Early Adventures of Hellman of Hammer Force”  written by Gerry Finley Day with art by Mike Western.
  • “Crazy Keller” written by Alan Hebden with art by Eric Bradbury.
  • The General Dies At Dawn” written by Gerry Finley Day with art by John Cooper.
  • “Charley’s war” written by Pat Mills with art by Joe Colquhoun.
  • “Fighting Mann” written by Alan Hebden with art by Cam Kennedy.
  • “Death Squad” written by Mark Andrew with art by Eric Bradbury.

This book is highly recommended as an introduction to the golden era of British war comics. [ISBN-13: 978-1848560253]. 9/10

[FVZA: The Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency (Volume 1)] – (David Hine, Roy Allan Martinez, Wayne Nichols)
August 26, 2010, 10:36 pm
Filed under: 9 stars, Clint Langley, David Hine, Roy Allan Martinez, Wayne Nichols

FVZA(Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency)  is set in a alternative reality where Zombies and Vampires are real.  The FVZA are a goverment agency tasked with the erradication of Vampires and Zombies. In the 1950’s they finally achieve this and the organization is disbanded.  Back to the present day, the Vampires are breaking out of hiding and the Zombie virus is back so the goverment brings back the FVZA to prevent an apocalpse.

I was really impressed by this books treatment of Vampires and its attention to detail. It has a very real feel to it and the story really grabs you right up to its climatic ending.  The artwork is gorgeous and helps to hammer home the stories shocking twists and turns. I thought this genre was totally played out but this book felt fresh and old school both at the same time. The characters are particularly well developed and believable. The extras are also really good with concept art, an interview with David Hine and some great covers from Clint Langley. Recommended and great value for money. [ISBN-13: 978-1935417057]. 9/10