One Mad Dog

[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

[Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet HC Vol 01: Sins of the Father] – (Kevin Smith, Jonathon Lau)
October 26, 2010, 7:05 pm
Filed under: 7 stars, John Cassaday, Jonathon Lau, Kevin Smith

Green Hornet “Sins Of the Father” is based on an unused movie script penned by Kevin Smith for Miramax.  It tells the story of the Original Green Hornet and Kato and how after going into retirement the Green Hornet mantle is begrudgingly taken over by his son to avenge his father. It is an entertaining action romp with lots of fighting  and chase scenes and I enjoyed it. I don’t think it is as edgy as Kevin Smiths’s stint on Daredevil but I have a feeling future novels will throw in some surprises.  The artwork is great and the coloring a real pleasure to look at . This book was my introduction to the Green Hornet so I had no pre-conceived ideas of what to expect but I will definitely be checking out the next novel.  Special mention must go to the amazing Alex Ross covers in the bonus section.[ISBN-13: 978-1606901427]. 7/10

[The Complete Battlefields Vol 1.(HC)] – (Garth Ennis, Russ Braun, Peter Snejbjerg, Carlos Ezquerra)
September 17, 2010, 9:41 pm
Filed under: 8 Stars, Carlos Ezquerra, Garth Ennis, John Cassaday, Peter Snejbjerg, Russ Braun

This hardcover collects “Night Witches” , “Dear Billy” and “The Tankies” from Garth Ennis’s new war story series “Battlefields”.

“Night Witches” is a story set in World War II on the Russian front. It is the story of women bomber pilots flying night missions for the Russian’s in outdated planes. It is also the story from the point of view of the German Infantry that the Night Witches are trying to bomb.  Garth Ennis is on top form in this story and the way he entwines the stories of both the hunter and the hunted  is excellent. Garth doesn’t pull any punches in “Night Witches” and the stark brutality of both sides is shocking and yet believable in the context of a brutal battlefront.  The consequences of being caught by the enemy are shocking and add a great deal of bite to the narrative. This is amongst some of  Ennis’s best writing and it is backed up great art work by Russ Braun and some pretty good John Cassaday covers.

“Dear Billy” is unusual for a graphic novel in that it is written in the form of a letter to a lover by a woman involved in the Pacific conflict. As a result of this, it is quite text heavy and took me  a few pages to adapt to the style. Peter Snejbjerg’s  art work in Dear Billy is pretty simplistic but it does work well with this type of story telling.  Garth has managed to pull off yet another gut wrenching tale of the brutality of war and this story really packs a punch.  He manages to achieve a impressive sense of realism in his WW II writing and it just goes to show that he doesn’t need tons of gore and profanity to capture the reader. I didn’t enjoy this as quite as much as Night Witches but it is still a great thought provoking story.

“Tankies”  is a story set in the aftermath of the D-Day landings, featuring the Allied tank Crews and their desperate battle against superior German tanks. Out of the stories included in this collection this is by far the most light hearted but it still amply hammer home the absolute horror of being in a tank on a Battlefield. It is probably the weakest story of the three but is blessed with the best artwork. Carlos Ezquerra’s art is absolutely gorgeous, intricately detailed and colored to perfection.  I think one thing that spoils “Tankies” is Garth’s attempt at portraying a Geordie character. It just comes across as a bit silly and must confuse the heck out of non UK readers. Tankies is an enjoyable read with first class art.

“Battlefields” also has some great extras including an article explaining the facts behind the fiction and some artist pencils and character designs. [ISBN-13: 978-1606900796].  8/10

[Sherlock Holmes, Vol. 1: The Trial of Sherlock Holmes] – (Leah Moore, John Reppion, Aaron Campbell, Arthur Conan Doyle)
August 28, 2010, 2:04 pm
Filed under: 8 Stars, John Cassaday, Leah Moore

The “Trials of Sherlock Holmes” collects the 5 part story arc about a case that leaves Holmes in jail fighting to prove his innocence.

This book reads exactly like watching a classic b/w Sherlock Holmes TV show (that is a good thing). Moore and Reppion have captured the essence of Sherlock Holmes really well and the story is intelligently crafted to keep the reader constantly trying to figure out how Holmes will solve the case. The artwork suits the story well but I didn’t like the thick inking on peoples faces. It does do a great job of capturing the look and feel of period London. The book also features some great cover art by John Cassaday.

This TPB  is a  great addition to  the Sherlock library and a very enjoyable read. If you like the classic incarnations of Sherlock Holmes (i.e. Ron Howard)  you should like this book also. I cant wait for the next volume. [ISBN-13: 978-1606900598]. 8/10

[Solomon Kane: Castle of the Devil v. 1] – (Scott Allie, Mario Guevara, Mike Mignola, Dave Stewart, John Cassaday)

This story is set in the haunted Black Forest of Germany and is an adaption of  Robert E. Howard’s  fragment “The Castle of the Devil”.  Solomon Kane is like the anti Conan, a devout puritan man wielding gods punishment on evil doers in a dour way.  This story revolves around a devilish baron and his evil secret that lies hidden in the ruined monastery beneath his castle.  Castle of the devil is a good story with plenty of supernatural goings on and gory killings. Even though Mike Mignola only drew the cover, the book does have a hint of his style of story telling and a great sense of atmosphere.  The artwork is good and fits the story well although Kane at times does have a certain Marilyn Manson look to him and things can get a bit muddy in places.

The excellent extras include character sketches and some top rate covers by Joe Kubert and John Cassaday. [ISBN-13: 978-1595822826]. 8/10

[The Lone Ranger Volume 2 : Lines Not Crossed] – (Brett Matthews, Sergio Cariello, Paul Pope, John Cassaday)
July 18, 2010, 7:15 pm
Filed under: 6 Stars, Brett Matthews, John Cassaday, Lone Ranger, Paul Pope, Sergio Cariello

“Lines Not Crossed” continues the story of the Lone Ranger and Tonto from where book 1 left off, collecting issues 6 to 11.  The main threads of this TPB are the fall and rise of the Lone Rangers arch enemy Cavendish and further exploration of the Rangers no kill policy. The Lone Rangers unique brand of justice seems out of step with the western setting and he takes on almost a Batman like persona at times (he even has a cave hideout).  It gets him in trouble in this book when he rescues a Mexican fugitive who is perhaps undeserving of  the rangers brand of justice.  The art is excellent again and the Wolf Sequence from Paul Pope is worth particular mention even if the story that went with it was a little strange.  Not as satisfying as the first TPB in relation to the story but the artwork is as good if not better than the first.  [ISBN-13: 978-1933305660]. 6/10

[The Lone Ranger Vol 1 : Now and Forever] – (Brett Matthews, Sergio Cariello, John Cassaday)
July 18, 2010, 5:17 pm
Filed under: 7 stars, Brett Matthews, John Cassaday, Lone Ranger, Sergio Cariello

I have never been a big fan of the “Lone Ranger”, my only real experience of the character was the campy TV series I watched as a kid.  I decided to give this TPB a try as I was impressed by Dynamite’s other Western efforts and I wasnt dissapointed. Book 1 collects the first 6 issues of the series where the origins of The Lone Ranger, his sidekick Tonto and his horse Silver are explained.  There is nothing campy about this book and the transformation of  boy John into the Lone ranger is brought about by an extremely violent series of events. The pacing of the book is very good and it builds to a great climax through a series of flashbacks and well fleshed out villains.

The artwork fits the story perfectly and it looks really good on the nice glossy paper. The full page spreads deserve a special mention as they are pleasure to behold.   The extras in the TPB include some great character development pencils and story boards.  It has a similar look and feel to Dynamite’s other westerns but in common with these I don’t think it is good value at $19.99 for 160 pages.  A  good read though. [ISBN-13: 978-1933305400]. 7/10