One Mad Dog

[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

[Scars] – (Warren Ellis, Jacen Burrows)
May 14, 2011, 1:35 pm
Filed under: 8 Stars, Jacen Burrows, Warren Ellis

This is a book that reminds me of chilling British Crime dramas like “Cracker” or “Wire in the Blood”. It is a gritty and dirty in a way that most comics stay well clear of.  It is the story of a detective (John Cain) who is very close to breaking point after his wife and unborn child had been gunned down and killed. He is tipped over the edge when he is called to a an incident where he finds the remains of a little girl that has been chopped up and put into 3 cardboard boxes.  Cain makes a promise to the dead child’s parents  that he will find the killer using any means necessary and bring him/her to justice.

This is a really enjoyable and at the same time disturbing book. Ellis paints the picture of a central character that really has nothing left to lose and it makes for a good read. The subject matter is pretty horrific especially as it is dealt with in a realistic way.  It never ceases to amaze me what one human being will do to another and this is a book that really makes you take a step back and think about humanity.

Although the artwork in Scars is just greyscale, Jacen Burrows has managed to do an excellent job of illustrating such a desperate and gruesome tale.  I am a big fan of his artwork and his work in scars is no exception.

The subject matter may be a little too much for some people but if you liked the UK version of the TV series Cracker you should enjoy this. The artwork is also excellent. ISBN-13: 978-1592910519. 8/10

[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

[Dark Blue] – (Warren Ellis, Jacen Burrows)
May 10, 2011, 10:49 am
Filed under: 7 stars, Jacen Burrows, Warren Ellis

“Dark Blue”  is a pretty thin B/W trade paper  back weighing in at only 72 pages. It is the story of a violent and disturbed cop, Frank Christchurch, who appears to be borderline insane. His partner is convinced that he’s mentally ill, his fellow officers are into all types of illegal activities and  his commanding officer is addicted to drugs.  Frank is in pursuit a serial killer that only he seems interested in catching.  His mental decline leads to violent and psychotic outbursts spiced up with vivid hallucinations and to cap it all off, the world seems to be falling apart around him. 

“Dark Blue”  is a great short story with nice twists and turns and it is also very violent in nature. It features the artwork of one of my favorite artists (Jacen Burrows) although in this book his drawings are not as detailed as in his later work. Considering the use of simple B/W drawings with limited shading, Jacen still manages to portray some pretty gruesome images that wouldn’t be out of place in a something like Crossed. I don’t think it ranks amongst his best work but it does the job well.  I am not very familiar with Warren Ellis’s work although he had input to one of my all time favorite TPB’s “Hotwire – Requiem For The Dead”. Some elements of “Dark Blue” remind me of Hotwire. His explanation at the end of the book of where he got inspiration for this story is fascinating.

 It is a short read but worth picking up if you like your comic book action gritty and full of blood and gore. ISBN-13: 978-0970678430. 7/10

[Crossed Volume 1 Hardcover] – (Garth Ennis, Jacen Burrows)
May 26, 2010, 11:44 pm
Filed under: 8 Stars, Crossed, Garth Ennis, Jacen Burrows

Garth Ennis takes on the survival horror genre and brings artist Jacen Burrows along for the ride.  Garth Ennis is my favorite comic book author and Jacen Burrows is probably my favorite artist, so I had high hopes for this deluxe hardcover collecting “Crossed” issues1 to 10. This book definitely isn’t for the squeamish or the easily offended. It has violence and gore off the scale and portrays acts of intense human depravity. Its probably Ennis’s most shocking work which is really saying something for him (Just look at the punisher or Wormwood for instance). I do wonder if he might have gone a little too far in this book to shock his readers and might suffer a backlash as a result.

Jacen Burrow’s artwork is absolutely fantastic and even if you didn’t like the story it is an absolute joy to behold. The artwork and colors jump of the page and the “Crossed” are very inventively crafted to repulse. The poster panels, Splash pages and covers are truly top rate. Fortunately I think the story is pretty good  and although it follows the familiar formula of “bunch of people running from Zombies and trying to survive” it has a nice little twist in that the “Crossed” seem to have some sort of evil intelligence behind them.

I imagine this book will really polarize people and reading the reviews on Amazon this seems to be the case. Personally I couldn’t put it down once I started reading it and I found it a very entertaining read. It is not a very original idea and it lacks some of Ennis’s usual sick sense of humor but I can recommend it if you are into stuff like “The Walking Dead” or “30 days of Night”. [ISBN-13: 978-1592910915]. 8/10

[303] – (Garth Ennis, Jacen Burrows)
April 7, 2010, 3:25 am
Filed under: 10 Stars, Garth Ennis, Jacen Burrows
“Deep in the mountains of Afghanistan, a dozen Russian Special Forces soldiers race their British opponents for a secret neither of them can imagine. The Russian leader, a war weary Colonel who knows no other life but conflict, carries old ghosts that refuse to let him be, but the battle that awaits him deep in this ancient land will change his life forever, and send him on a violent journey no sane man would contemplate. The ultimate soldier meets his destiny, in 303!”
This is one of Garth Ennis’s best novels. I found this a very enjoyable read and in my opinion the artwork is simply fantastic. The story is well written and thought provoking and the art style fits it perfectly. The book is a little short but it makes up for it with a really good ending. Not as light hearted as much of Ennis’s work but none the worse for this. Definitely one of my top 10 Graphic Novels. (ISBN-13: 978-1592910373). 10/10

[Chronicles Of Wormwood] – (Garth Ennis, Jacen Burrows)
April 5, 2010, 1:30 am
Filed under: 9 stars, Chronicles of Wormwood, Garth Ennis, Jacen Burrows

One of my all time favorite graphic novels is “303” which was written by “Garth Ennis” and illustrated by “Jacen Burrows”. How could I not buy “Chronicles of Wormwood” when the same pair were back together. I am glad to say I was not disappointed, the artwork in Chronicles is fantastic and the story is amongst Ennis’s best work. Ennis likes poking fun at religion (the Catholic Faith in particular) in several of his books but this one is probably the most extreme. It makes “The Preacher” look a bit tame and not only includes, offensive drawings, strong language and nudity but it also has blasphemous story line to seal the deal. I loved it. There is something about the laid back story telling style that keeps the whole thing light and amusing (Laugh out loud at times) rather than offensive. I am not sure what the Vatican would make of the scene with the Oz pope having a threesome with three naked nuns.

The story is based around the apocalypse and features all the parties you would expect but not as you expect to see them. The Devil is pretty much true to form and both God and his only son are a bit strange to say the least but what really makes this story special is the Wormwood himself. His unwillingness to participate in the end of mankind is the special key to why this book was such a good read. Jacen Burrows has a unique clean way of drawing that I really appreciate. I am getting to be a really big fan of his work. [ISBN-13: 978-1592910410]. 9/10