One Mad Dog

[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

[Kick Ass – H/C] – (Mark Millar, John Romita Jr)
January 20, 2012, 10:23 pm
Filed under: 9 stars, John Romita Jr, Mark Millar

This title collects “Kick-Ass” issues #1-8 and is the story of a very unlikely teenager trying to be a superhero and of a very unusual father/daughter team hellbent on making the local crime bosses life a misery. “Kick Ass” is also a rare beast in that it actually formed the basis for a really good comic book movie.

“Kick Ass” grabbed me from the first page and never let go till the very violent finale. I think the reason it made such a good movie is that it reads like a really good teen movie.  The shocks keep coming page after page from the new and inventive depictions of violence to the seriously disturbed relationship between Big Daddy and his eleven year old killing machine daughter, Hit  Girl,  who slices off body parts and spurts out obscenities like there is no tomorrow.  The book is written in a very witty and irreverent style and has spot on pacing. Despite the very violent content it is more amusing than offensive. Just like the over the top violence in movies like “Kill Bill” or “Machette”  the gore makes you laugh rather than recoil.

John Romita Jnr’s artwork is absolutely spot on and couldn’t fit the stories quirky, violent and amusing story style any better. Although the artwork has a teen comic book look to it (perhaps slightly manga), the content itself is extremely violent and gory. I really enjoyed the art and it makes me want to check out more of his work.

If you like the movie then you should enjoy this book as much if not more. A great fun read but not for the squeamish or easily offended. ISBN-13: 978-0785134350 . 9/10

[Turf – H/C] – (Jonathon Ross, Tommy Lee Edwards)
January 16, 2012, 8:59 am
Filed under: 8 Stars, Jonathon Ross, Tommy Lee Edwards

Turf is the first graphic novel by eccentric UK media star Jonathon Ross. Ross has been a comic geek for years so this book isn’t simply some celebrity slapping their name on a book but rather a really inventive and enjoyable story. “Turf” is set in prohibition New York in 1929 where the rival gangs are in a vicious turf war with a bunch of vampires.  Throw in an alien for good measure and you have a story that crosses many genres but works really well.

“Turf”  has a very old school look to it both in the panel layout and in the artwork.  It is also unusual compared to many modern comic books in that it has quite a lot of text on each page.  You certainly get a good long read for your money and letterer John Workman definitely earned his money on this one.  Ross has managed to achieve some excellent character development and portrays the dredges of society in a satisfying way.  The character of O’ Leary is a particularly loathsome example of this.

I really enjoyed “Turf” and although I had my doubts about the alien element working in a 1920’s New York setting it actually  fit in really well.  Story wise this book is one of the best books I have read in a long time and would earn itself a place in my list of 10’s but unfortunately I was not quite as impressed with the art.

Tommy Lee Edwards art is good, captures the feel of prohibition New York and it fits the story perfectly but the style isn’t quite to my liking. It is a little too simplistic and scratchy for my tastes but this does not get in the way of following the action and may appeal more to other readers.  The book has an extensive gallery/cover section in the back and in this section Edwards work really does shine. I feel the style incorporated in the main story was a decision made to allow the art to be completed in a timely manner. Unfortunately the art drags this book down to an 8 for me.

The Hardcover version of “Turf” is a fantastic read with deluxe glossy paper and some great extras. Even if you do not like Jonathon Ross the media star this book is highly recommended as a first rate  graphic novel. ISBN-13: 978-1607064008. 8/10.