One Mad Dog


[The Killer Volume 2 – H/C] – (Matz, Luc Jacamon)
April 8, 2012, 8:35 pm
Filed under: 8 Stars, Luc Jacamon, Matz, The Killer

The second volume of “The Killer” carries on directly from where the plot left off in the first. The story is not quite as dark and in this collection the killer affords himself the luxury of a few friends.  The result is a bit more of a straightforward crime drama that neatly ties up all the loose ends and open questions. I enjoyed the second volume as much as the first and found the flashbacks to be less jarring. I cant help feeling that opening himself up to a few friends (especially a Columbian drug dealer) is not going to work out good in the future.

The artwork carries on the high standards set in the first and remain just as unique. Some of the lettering is a bit sloppy and it makes me wonder if it was proof read before publication.

If you enjoyed the first volume you should enjoy this one. It is a little more main stream and accessible and as such lacks a bit of the punch the first one had but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. ISBN-13: 978-1932386561. 8/10.

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[The Killer Volume 1 – H/C] – (Matz, Luc Jacamon)
April 7, 2012, 10:29 pm
Filed under: 8 Stars, Luc Jacamon, Matz, The Killer

The Killer is an English translation of a best selling French graphic Novel, Le Tueur. It is a story of a first rate French hit man that is suffering from a bit of a breakdown. After a botched hit, his world starts to unravel and the predator becomes the prey. The book is just like those gritty and moody French “noire” films, with brooding inner monologues and stark contrasting flashbacks. The story is told through the eyes of “The Killer” and does a wonderful job of establishing his  raison d’etre.

Matz has done a stellar job of creating a crime noire (Hard boiled) style movie through the medium of the comic book page. The development of the main character is excellent,  especially how his life begins to fall apart.  In some ways it reminds me of “The Professional” in the way that the carefully crafted  role of an assassin begins to fall apart after a series of events. The Killer has a lot of flashbacks, some of which hurt the story pace a little and others that seem to serve little more purpose than a political soapbox.  The flashbacks are used to flesh out the character of the Killer and regardless of how they can take you out of the flow of the story they are an absolutely essential ingredient in why this book works so well. I am also pleased to report that there is not a hint of awkwardness of translation which is a really good thing.

Jacamon’s art is cartoony but fits the story like a glove.  His choice of colors and panel layouts really helps to give a sense movement and drama to the action.  I cant say his work reminds me of another artist but it somehow feels French to me. His choice of colours and washes help to guide the reader through the numerous flashbacks and I found the whole thing pleasing to the eye. It wouldn’t be French noire without violence and nudity and Jacamon does a great job of portraying both.

The Killer volume 1 is a great book for fans of dark, violent crime thrillers and the artwork is very distinctive. There are no extras whatsoever in the hardcover. ISBN-13: 978-1932386448. 8/10



[Jonah Hex – Bullets Dont Lie] – (Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Paulo Siqueira, Jordi Bernet, Darwin Cooke, Mark Sparacio, J.H. Williams III, Rafa Garres)

“Bullets Dont Lie” is the 6th Jonah Hex TPB  and it collects Jonah Hex #31-#36. The book contains:

  • #31 “The Red Mask” with art by Paulo Siqueira.
  • #32 “The Matador” with art by Jordi Bernet.
  • #33 “The Hunting Trip” with art by Darwin Cooke.
  • #34 “Outrunning Shadows” with art by Mark Sparacio.
  • #35 “A Crude Offer” with art by J.H. Williams III
  • #36 “Seven Graves Six Feet Deep” with art by Rafa Garres.
This is another solid collection and worth shelf space in any Jonah Hex collection.  I really enjoyed the first 4 stories and 5th was also pretty good  but  the 6th (seven Graves Six Feet Deep)  where Hex’s confederate uniform is explained  didn’t really capture my imagination.  It suffered from “Rafa Garres” artwork and panel layout which is very nice to look at but really hard work to follow and a contrived plot that seemed to have the authors battling with political correctness. It really didn’t work for me.
“Red mask” and “The matador” were both classic Jonah Hex style stories with great art and an easy to follow pulp western sytle.  “The Hunting Trip” at first seemed out of character with the normal Hex stuff as it was set in the frozen north complete with Darwin Cookes unique art style.  This story was really something a bit different but no less enjoyable for it.  Mark Sparacio’s artwork in “Outrunning Shadows” was a huge contrast to Darwin’s and it verged almost on the photo realistic. This  was  another story that puts Hex out of his usual environment and it worked well.  I was uncomfortable with some of J.H. Williams panel layouts in “A Crude Offer” and it prevented me from truly engaging with the story. It was also a story that was a little light on Dialogue. This was by no means a bad Jonah Hex story but not one of my favorites.
If you like the first 5 Jonah Hex TPB’s there is no reason why you should enjoy this one. ISBN-13: 978-1401221577. 8/10


[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



[Fallen Angel Omnibus Volume 1] – (Peter David, J.K. Woodward, Christian Donaldson, Joe Corroney, Billy Gucci and Dennis Calero)

Fallen Angel omnibus 1 collects issues #1 to 14 of the IDW run of fallen Angel. It contains:

  • #1 to #14, Artist – J.K. Woodward.
  • #15 to #16, Artist – Christian Donaldson.
  • #17 Artist, Joe Corroney and Billy Gucci,
  • #18 to #19, Artist – J.K. Woodward.
  • #20, Artist – Dennis Calero.
  • #21, Artist – J.K. Woodward.

This Omnibus marks the move from DC to IDW and I am pleased to report that the quality of storytelling lost nothing in the move.  This omnibus is an engrossing read, just like the first, and the story is both intricate and fast flowing at the same time.  It explores some interesting religious and moral concepts in a way that leaves you wanting to read “just one more issue” before putting it down.

This book does nothing to further the reader’s empathy for the main character. The fallen angel is still a completely unlikeable person but this doesn’t seem to get in the way of an enjoyable yarn. The main premise of this collection is the addition of her son as the new magistrate of Bette Noire and the ripples that that event causes.

At first the change from David Lopez to J.K. Woodward was a bit of a disappointment to me as I am not a big fan of the soft focused painted art style but after a few issues I quickly warmed to it and it no longer was an issue.  J.K. Woodward’s art really does do an excellent job of capturing movement and atmosphere and this fit the story very well.  It also became a lot more hardlined and traditional as the series progressed (just compare the art from issue 1 to issue 18). Woodward’s art really grew on me and I have  to say I ended up liking it a lot.

The change of artist to Christian Donaldson’s for issues 15 and 16 is quite a dramatic jump. Donaldson adopted a far more traditional comic book style and used a color pallete that would not look out of place in a BPRD novel.  I enjoyed his artwork and thought his interpretation of Fallen Angel was a good one.

There was another significant change in style for the two part issue 16 which was illustrated by Joe Corroney and Billy Gucci.  The detailed hard outlined approach of these two artists was also a stark contrast to Woodward’s style but the result was very good and they captured the main characters well. I am not sure which artist penciled which story part but if I had to choose a favorite it would be the work in 17a.

The only disappointing artwork in the whole book was in issue 20 by Denis Calero who’s brash pop culture style did not appeal to a great deal. It reminded me a bit of some of the gritty work you find in books such as “John Constantine but it felt a little out of place in this omnibus.

Some great cover gallery work in the back where J.K. Woodward’s work really shines. If you like the first omnibus then this one should appeal to you too. The story isn’t quite as good as Volume zero and the art is quite as appealing to me so this one gets an 8 rather than a 9.  ISBN-13: 978-1600103827. 8/10



[Asterix Omnibus Volume 2] – (Rene Goscinny, Albert Uderzo)
February 20, 2012, 5:57 pm
Filed under: 8 Stars, Albert Uderzo, Asterix, Rene Goscinny

Asterix Omnibus 2: Includes Asterix the Gladiator #4, Asterix and the Banquet #5 and  Asterix and Cleopatra #6 in one  large format glossy papered volume.  “Asterix the Gladiator” is the story of the Romans capturing Cacofonix to feed him to the lions as a special treat for Julius Caesar. Asterix and Obolix join the Roman Gladiator school to rescue him and teach the Romans a lesson. “Asterix and the Banquet” follows Asterix and Obelix’s travels round the entire country of France to gather local specialties in order to make a massive banquet and to win a bet with the Romans who are surrounding their village. “Asterix and Cleopatra”  follows Asterix and Obelix’s to Egypt where they assist one of Getafix’s old friends in building a huge palace for Cleopatra. This book also sees the introduction of another regular character in the shape of a dog called Dogamatix.

All three books are light hearted with plenty of jokes at the expense of Asterix’s enemies. Unlike the first volume where it took a while to get used to the style of writing  this volume immediately flowed nicely and the translation was seamless.  The stories were witty and perfectly paced and the jokes at the expense of the Romans are as funny as ever.  I think with these three volumes the series really found its rhythm and it would be hard to pick a favorite amongst them.

The artwork and coloring is excellent and of a consistent high standard.  There are  tons of things going on in the backgrounds of the panels and the book is a joy to look at.  The presentation is also really good in the oversized format and the colors are vibrant.

This is a another great collection that should appeal to both kids and adults alike. It certainly doesn’t feel childish in any way and the sense of humor makes it a light read.  If you enjoyed the first omnibus you should enjoy this one too. ISBN-13: 978-1444004243. 8/10



[Commando: D-Day Fight or Die! The 12 Best Commando D-Day Comic Books Ever!] – (George Low, Various)
February 5, 2012, 4:20 pm
Filed under: 8 Stars, Commando, Various

“D-Day Fight or Die”  is another great collection of Commando war stories featuring a D-Day theme. Just like the other books published by Carlton it features 12 black and white stories all reprinted at 25% larger than their original size. This collection includes:

  • Ambush at Dawn
  • The Strongpoint
  • Normandy Drop
  • Wrong Time, Wrong Place
  • Big Joe
  • Blood of Heroes
  • D-Day Drop
  • Operation Bulldog
  • Wolf Pack
  • Man of Iron
  • Big Guy
  • The Footsloggers
The book uses the familiar two frames per page style with a generous amount of text. Unlike many modern comic books, Commando give you plenty of story to read but both the writers and the artist remain anonymous which is a great shame as many of them deserve some recognition for their work.  The stories follow the tried and tested Commando formula of an underdog (usually from the lower classes) fighting his way through seemingly insurmountable odds to eventually become the hero.  The writers concentrate on personal interactions rather than an over glorified action movie style script which gives the tales great depth. The weapons and battlefields are historically accurate and all of them are nicely portrayed by the artists to give a great sense of setting.
Commando is not for everyone though, the stories are very heavily British biased and they are written in a style that apes the values and dialogues of the period. If you are a fan of British War comics you should really enjoy “D-Day Fight or Die!” but if not, or if you are German, then this book might not be for you.
There is one sour point in this collection and that is that Carlton included the story “Man of Iron” that was previously included in the “Commando: Dirty Dozen” collection. Of all the hundreds of stories they have to choose from it is inexcusable to double up after so few collected volumes (shame on you Carlton!).

“D-Day Fight or Die!” is another solid collection and worthy of any Commando collectors library. [ISBN-13: 978-1847322838.]. 8/10