Monday, December 28, 2009

The end..........

This site is being mothballed, and probably getting dumped in the next couple of months. Basically anything that was done on here was covered on the main site anyway - so therefore, if you were one of the few who followed this blog, I would like to refer you to the main blog already mentioned;

http://www.thoseweleftbehind.co.uk/

Thank you and goodnight. Over and out.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Top 10 comic Titles 2009: Number 7 - Captain Britain & MI13 (Marvel)



We lost a few good titles this year due to 'poor' sales - but I believe that none were more keenly felt than the loss of Captain Britain & MI13. One of the best (in fact, probably the best) thing to come out of the 2008 Marvel crossover 'Secret Invasion', the story went from strength to strength, with 'Vampire State' being a highlight of the early part of this year, and ultimately a triumphant swansong for the title.



The plot is stunning, thrilling, high concept brliiance - Dracula, named as the 'Greatest General of his Generation' by Captain Britain & MI13 writer Paul Cornell in an interview with Newsarama, and his Vampire army (with aid from Dr Doom) leave their Moon sanctuary to invade Great Britain, with an armada of Space Galleons.

Let me repeat that because I enjoy writing to so much - Dracula and his Vampire Army (with help from Doctor Doom) plot to invade Britain from their Moon base in space Galleons.

I don't know if I need to persuade you, but if you have not been touched by this comics brilliance then the trades (3 volumes) are available - Secret Invasion, Hell Comes To Brimingham & Vampire State.



Cornell's ability as a writer is all too evident - he effortlessly integrates marginal / forgotten / out of fashion Heroes with some of his own memorable characters. The title was a real ensemble piece, with Captain Britain, Pete Wisdom, Blade, Black Knight and Faiza Hussain all having the space to develop and flourish. This was never done at the expense of gripping action produced with a flourish.

Without the right artist, I feel that this title would have been a noble failure (good writing needs the right artist). Luckily, Leonard Kirk was up to the task, delivering some superbly cinematic visions and creating an atmosphere of dread and disaster when called for. He also drew a great Dracula.

A crying shame this could not have gone on, but what we do have is 15 issues (and an annual), 3 trades and a lot of quality. There was not a bad arc, and as 2009 was just concerned with 'Vampire State', it easily hits the top 10 of the year.

Gone, but not forgotten.


Reviews of some of the 'Vampire State' issues can be seen here and here and here

Review - The Walking Dead #68 (Image, 2009)



Warning - Spoilers!!

A fine way to end the 'on time in '09' initiative. Kirkman, Adlard, Rathburn & Wooton have all collaborated to bring 12 issues on the promised solicitation date, and the quality has always been high (sometimes more so), with Adlard especially excelling himself over the year. This issue is a lead in to the new storyline that will see Rick and the others begin a new start in a 'safe' community in Washington DC. Their first encounter with one of the community, a guy called Aaron, is tense even though Aaron is at all times relaxed, trusting and keen to get them on board. Not surprisingly, following Woodbury and the recent encounters with the 'Hunters' and Eugene's revelations, Rick, Andrea & Abraham are much less trusting. However, common sense prevails and by the end of the issue we have a consensus among the group that this community idea could give a purpose to their lives. Doubts about the trustworthiness of Aaron, and his partner Eric, remain, however.

This issue gave a few more characters a chance to step up to the centre of a few panels - Michonne, for instance, talked a lot of sense and even got to wield her Katana. Glenn was in the thick of the action, and showed his natural trust in people. Andrea had a brief scene with Rick that made sense but the pay-off felt a bit scripted ("I'd follow you people straight into hell" just seemed a bit awkward and melodramatic...)

We get some zombies! Quite a few of them, and we get to see who can handle themselves when the undead lurch out. Michonne, Carl, Glenn, Rick, Abraham, Andrea, Carl and (is this a hint?) Aaron all show themselves to be more than able. Morgan however, really needs some practice.

We get a very real sense that the likes of Rick, Andrea and Abraham are like coiled springs, just waiting for one false move from Aaron and Eric. We are being shown that the community they will soon join is going to have to handle a bunch of desperate people who are suspicious of everyone and willing to main and kill to protect themselves. This should be very interesting indeed....

Verdict - a slow burner, an ensemble piece, a primer for the upcoming DC arc....it is all good, despite the mawkish moment between Andrea & Rick. A fantastic year for this title, with a lot more to come. For this issue, I give Walking Dead 8.75 out of 10.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Top 10 comic Titles 2009: Number 8 - 2000AD (Rebellion)

I came back to 2000AD in the Summer of this year, 20 years since I last picked up a copy. What attracted me was a cover;



it just got under my skin. 2000AD is a very British comic regardless of where the strips are set (space, future earth etc). The fact that they were embracing this Britishness by setting a story on a sink estate really got me interested. And Cradlegrave (the cover story that got its hooks in me) lived up to its promise.

For the first 2 issues you would not see anything fantastical or horrific, other than the horror that can be other peoples lives, as Cradlegrave is set in the Ravenglade Estate (nicknamed "Cradlegrave" after the ‘ravenglade’ sign loses a few of the letters and an enterprising soul renames the estate).



It is set somewhere in Lancashire. It follows the story of teenage Shane Holt, who has recently been released from Thorn Hill young offenders institution. What you get is a well paced drama of a young man coming to terms with life outside of the offenders institution and trying to stay on the right side of the law, avoiding falling into old habits, and negotiating that while keeping on the good side of best mate Callum. The detail that goes into all this is superb (and the devil is in the details) – like Shanes mom, whose idea of a celebration of his homecoming consists of a few ‘tins’ of lager and a night in front of the television.

As the series progressed at a slow burn, the intensity was suffocating, and John Smith (the writer) kept enough back while giving enough away to keep me hooked. Although it was over fairly quickly (12 issues - progs 1633 to 1644) it was quality, with superb detail provided by the brilliant art of Edmund Bagwell.

Elsewhere, the thrills were abundant;



Pat Mills' Zombie Hunter 'Defoe' in his third outing in the dank and diseased Queen of the Zombies (progs 1640-1649)



Shakara (progs 1650 to 1661). A mind bending tale of revenge with fantastical aliens - set in space!




Kingdom
in "Call of the Wild" (prog 1650 to 1661) tells the thrilling and darkly humorous future Earth adventures of genitically engineered Dog Soldier Gene the Hackman. Words cannot do it justice, as the writing and art are sublime. A real treat.




Strontium Dog 'The Mork Whisperer' - Wagner & Ezquerra & Johnny Alpha & lots of other Strontium Dogs (but minus Wulf). There is not a lot more to say than the combination of Wagner & Ezquerra is the fundamental key to this series success. While they are producing the tales of Johnny Alpha, success is guaranteed.

Finally, Judge Dredd in one of his customary 'epics'. 'Tour of Duty' (prog 1650 onwards), while still ongoing, is already one of the all-time greatest epics. This follows on from "Backlash" in which senior, hard line judges wage a campaign to elect a new chief judge who will repeal the new (& controversial) pro-mutant laws. Their chosen candidate is Judge Dan Francisco, who in "Backlash" survives an assassination attempt by mutants. Despite the fact that Dredd discovers that the assassination was engineered by anti-mutant activists in order to increase support for their own agenda, Francisco goes on to defeat the Chief Judge, Hershey, by a landslide.

Following on from "Backlash", "Under New Management" shows Francisco's first day in office as the new chief judge. He quickly marks his mark, as he replaces the entire Council of Five, prohibits all mutant immigration, and instigates a policy of deporting all mutants already in Mega City One to 4 new build townships in the Cursed Earth. Deputy Chief Judge Sinfield assigns Dredd to oversee this operation, with Beeny as his assistant. It is this story that acts as a lead in to "Tour of Duty," which started in the next issue.



The first episodes seem like a homage to the original 'Cursed Earth' epic, with Dredd and a small posse of Judges riding out into the irradiated Badlands, encountering hostility and dispensing Mega City One instant Justice. As the story has unfolded though, it becomes much more than a tale of a journey into the Cursed Earth - it is more like a series of HBO's The Wire sent forward into time. There are numerous storylines (the tensions between the individual Judges, the task of resttlement of Mutants, the politics of Mega City One, an insight into the power the Chief Judge holds, and procedural drama such as Rico and his assessment of a rookie Judge) and they weave around each other effortlessly. This story - "Tour of Duty" - above all other stories this year in 2000AD, has been the most satisfying and the one I look forward to the most. It could be the greatest Dredd story.....time will tell. It, like Strontium Dog, is produced by the powerful Wagner / Ezquerra creative team, and in my opinion, Ezquerra is becoming the definitive Dredd artist with every prog. Top quality thrills.



I have returned to 2000AD and it is in rude health. There is quality in abundance, so much so that you can forgive the odd clunky or boring strip, as there is so much in each issue to absorb you. I am glad to have it on my pull list.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Review - The Boys #37 (DE, 2009)



La Plume De Ma Tante Est Sur La Table

So, now we get the Frenchmans origin. Hughie, perhaps speaking for the ready, wonders why we / he is having another 'origin' story told him straight after Mothers Milk beginnings. To be honest, it all seemed a bit silly, an excuse to dabble in a bit of Gallic nonsense and even at the end of the tale, we are none the wiser if what we have been told is 'true'. There is a bit of an obligatory shag in there (just to remind you you are reading something written by Garth Ennis), some inventive violence / violation and not much of a story - certainly nothing to add to continuity or character development.

Whereas the Mothers Milk origin had a story to tell, this issues 'origin' story felt lightweight, as if Ennis is obliged to get all of the characters back history told, but is heart is not in it. We shall see. Shame that 'The Boys' has to bow out of 2009 with a (Gallic) shrug of indifference. The good times will return, but this diversion was a missed opportunity. Only the last line that Frenchie said has any impact, and its significance may be telling in the coming issues.

Verdict. Average (for The Boys usual high standards). Shame this rounds off a good year for this title. 7 out of 10.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Review - Sweet Tooth #4 (Vertigo, 2009)



A stirring, dramatic fourth installment of this most excellent of comic books. Jepperd and Gus take a detour into a little pocket of Hell, and although there is salvation for some, and punishment for others, it is the ending that absolutely floors you. In 5 panels, Lemire manages to pull back the curtain to reveal something very dark and very sinister and puts the potential direction of this story on its head. It's a question of taking these characters at face value, or trying to understand their motives. For Gus, we have to believe that he is an innocent young boy, seeking protection. For Jepperd, you want to believe that his intentions for protecting Gus and getting him to the Preserve are honest and true. By the end of this issue things may not be as they seem, and what the future holds in store for Gus is anything but clear. As Jepperd points out in a tense stand-off, in a sleazy location far away from safety,

"We're all dead anyway...now or a week from now...don't make no difference to me"
and with that Lemire lets us look into the mindset of Jepperd. Is he a realist, a nihilist, suicidal or homicidal. Or something more mercenary or more sinister? Or is he just capable in a hostile situation? Lemire will reveal the answers to this in time. In the meanwhile, we will no doubt see more effortless quality in further installments of 'Sweet Tooth'. A highlight of 2009, this is a major work in progress, and a delight to read.

Verdict. Peerless, wonderful and absolutely essential. If you are a comic book reader and do not have this on your pull list, then you are missing out on a revelation. It is that good. This issue was near perfect, and so I give it 10 out of 10.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Top 10 comic Titles 2009: Number 9 - Resurrection Volume 2 (Oni Press)



Resurrection was nowhere near my top 10 of the year until last month. When the reboot (and god only knows why it was 'rebooted', the previous volume seemed perfectly able to continue) of this title launched in the summer, it started off well, but quickly lost my interest. There were some redeeming factors - the addition of the 'Burns' (humans who were experimented on by the Aliens aka the 'Bugs') and the 'Road Agents' (human brigands basically, who seem to like attacking with bows and arrows). Most tellingly, this second volume began with Bill Clinton, back during his Presidency, announcing via an emergency broadcast that the Earth was being invaded. This initial scene packed a real punch, giving the story a footing in reality and quickly engaging the reader. For most of the rest of the issue, it was pretty much 'so what?'. Issues 2 & 3 were pretty lame, so bad that I couldn't even be bothered to review them, barely touched when I received them through the post. One sticking factor was the art of Justin Greenwood, which seemed overly stylised (I described it at one point as being 'filtered through that old Dreamcast game 'Jet Set Radio'. I could make no connection with it as a way of telling this story of survival on a devastated Earth.



However (and I better get onto the good stuff before I give the impression that this title is utterly without merit) things improved drastically. There was a glimmer of hope at the end of issue 3, where a Father has to make a terrible choice. This was a short story, seperate from the main story, but hinted that there was some hope that Resurrection Volume 2 was not going to be an unmitigated disaster. Issue 4 continued the recovery, with a gripping 'Road Agent' attack on a human 'sanctuary' called Red Lion (which sounds like a typical British boozer, which itself can be seen as a sanctuary).

Then issue 5 came along, and Resurrection completely (*ahem*) 'resurrected' itself. The fact that Bill Clinton, who really saved the first issue, was back again, in a central role was a key factor. You may not think that having an ex-President of the United States as a central character in comic book is a good idea. I beg to differ. Clinton has enough real-life charisma that his inclusion is a bonus to the comic, and the fact he is in it places all the characters in an era-defining event. This is the World trying to get back on its feet. A few key survivors are in one place, with one intention - to stay alive and try and bring order to the chaos that the Alien invaders left behind. The other characters are now being fleshed out, and some tough choices, all concerned with survival (both the individual and collective) are having to be made. Tensions are running high, and the threat of the Road Agents is ever present.

This title is now something I look forward to. It took a while to get going, but Resurrection Volume 2 is telling a gripping story (and the art has grown on me) that promises much in the near future. I think this can be a contender for one of the better comics of 2010, providing Guggenheim can deliver the quality shown in issues 4 & 5. I really hope so.



Review of issue 1 here

Review of issue 4 here

Review of issue 5 here

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Top 10 Comic Titles 2009: Number 10 - 'Dead Run' (Boom Studios)



A mini series from Boom that was basically a mash up of Mad Max 2, SpaceHunter, Damnation Alley and those trashy Italian post apocalypse movies of the early 1980s - 'Dead Run' was a blast from start to finish. The plot is as simple and straightforward as those Italian low budget flicks that clearly inspired this series. Nick Masters is a 'courier' - he delivers whatever, wherever in this dangerous new world. He lost a drug consignment that belonged to a 'Mr Big' called Kane and Kane has kidnapped Masters' Sister, and in order to get her back safe, he has to make a 'Dead Run', with a consignment of whatever it is that Kane wants him to courier. Joined by a girl whose Father was a courier who made the 'dead run', they set off into post apocalyptic hell. That is all you need to know. Other than the art is art great and really captures the spirit of post apocalyptic fiction (you know, like customised cars and bad guys in leather, people wearing goggles on their head for no good reason etc).



Oh, and the dialogue is B-Movie cheesy and actually adds to the experience.
I don't know if a trade is coming out for this - but you can probably still collect the singles. If the likes of 'Y The Last Man' and '100 Bullets' are your big budget, intelligently scripted blockbusters, then 'Dead Run' is your low budget straight to DVD production. But sometimes, all you want is a straight to DVD actioner. For those reasons, 'Dead Run' makes it to no.10 in my top 10 titles of the year.

I reviewed the first issue here, and the third issue here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Review - Unknown Soldier #14 (Vertigo, 2009)



Moses, aka The Unknown Soldier, returns his young charge, the liberated child soldier Paul, back to his family. Before he does that, in a stunning opening sequence, he must traverse deadly terrain and avoid hostile Fighter Aircraft to get Paul there. These scenes, played in deafening confusion and the horror of being within the grasp of death, are amazing - with full credit to the art of Pat Masioni, who conveys the sheer terror with maximum impact.

Once arrived safely, the elder of the village does not want Paul welcomed back, despite pleas from the boys extended family stating that these 'lost children', these abandoned, brutalised victims of circumstance - these child soldiers - are ' a tribe of their own now'. It is only when Moses, in a stunning single panel, confronts the elder, burning wih indignation and desperation, that Pauls fate is decided.

That fate is the that Paul must break an egg, a symbolic breaking away from his past, a reassurance to the cmmunity that he evil of death and destruction that the child was witness to does not infect them. For Moses, his fate is more unclear. Paul wants his rescuer to stay with him, and the elder offers hope in the ritual of 'mato oput', the blood of the lamb mixed with the bitter root, to celebrate the passing of hate a ceremony of forgiveness and peacemaking.

The elder, the lawi rwodi, sees the blood of many upon moses, and the 'mato oput' is the only ceremony that will cleanse the 'Unknown Soldier', and exorcise the ghosts of these dead. Once it is done, Moses seems to undertake redemption, symbolised beautifully as a barren tree laden with skulls giving way to the tree, free of their grim cargo, the skulls disapearing like blossom into the air.

Paul urges his protector to stay and help his people during the dry season - this coming season 'is not good', and Paul, who knows the value of having this resourceful man around, sees the Unknown Soldier as a great asset in troubled times ahead. Is this a further invitation for Moses to change his life? Away from the killing and destruction, it will be interesting to see how he adapts to this challenge.

As a bridge into the upcoming 'dry season' arc, it is a powerful reminder of why this series works so well. It is not just about the terrible conflicts in Africa, but also the power of man to change, sometimes for the better. A message of hope here, as well as an insight into a peoples culture and rituals.

Verdict. Another vital issue in a vital series. A consistent highlight of 2009, and one that promises much as we head into 2010. I must admit this issue took me a couple of reads to actually get the full implication of what is happening, but when it hits home, these themes of redemption and forgiveness, the pay off is beautiful. 8.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Review - Die Hard Year One #3 (Boom! Studios, 2009)



Like all good stories, some elements need to be teased out as the reader goes along with the plot. With this issue of Die Hard Year One, some of the pieces start fitting together until, by the time we get to the final pages, the picture is looking more and more complete - and it is not a pretty scenario for John McClane and Rosie Haskell (the girl who, in issue 2, was in the worst place at that the worst time).

McClane tends to make a habit of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, as the movies have more than demonstrated. In this issue, just by doing his job, he finds himself in a deadly scenario with a frightened young girl to try and protect. The plotting builds this up nicely, and the finale, with McClane striking back against a team of crooked cop hijackers, is claustrophobic and tense. And pretty exciting too...

One slight negative is the rendering of Haskell - she constantly seems to have her mouth agape, for no particular good reason, and seems more of a 'dizzy blonde' than she really needs to. Sure, she is a 'damsel in distress', but the rather vacant expressions she pulls is a bit of a distraction - and slightly comedic (surely not the intention). Some nice retro fashion depicted in the art though - and those hairstyles (all flicks and bangs) are great.

Verdict. Another strong episode. Not a lot more to say than that. I will give it an 8 out of 10 happily.

Die Hard Year One #3 is out today (25th November) from Boom!

Boom! Studios kindly provided a digital copy of this issue for review.

Friday, November 20, 2009

5 Page Preview - Die Hard Year One #3 (Boom! Studios, 2009)

DIE HARD: YEAR ONE #3
Written by Howard Chaykin
Drawn by Stephen Thompson
24pgs, FC, SRP: $3.99
COVER A: Dave Johnson
COVER B: Jock
Diamond Code: AUG090718


John McClane didn’t think patrolling New York City’s Bicentennial celebration would be easy…but he didn’t bank on an eco-terrorist plot! Is the na├»ve young blonde McClane met the key to unraveling it all? Does that make her a target? Find out in this issue!






Thursday, November 19, 2009

Solicitation for The Walking Dead #70 (Image, 2010)




THE WALKING DEAD #70
story ROBERT KIRKMAN
art & cover CHARLIE ADLARD & CLIFF RATHBURN
FEBRUARY 10
32 PAGES / BW
$2.99
Behind these walls everyone has their place; everyone has their job. There is no danger, there are no threats... everyone has hope. Will it last?
RETAILER WARNING: MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR ALL AGES

Review - Victorian Undead #1 (Wildstorm, 2009)


Ian Edginton, the man behind the likes of the excellent Stickleback and The Red Seas for 2000AD, lends his voice to the burgeoning zombie / history mash-up with his self explanatory 'Victorian Undead' - with Sherlock Holmes & Watson at the heart of the matter.

What's it like? Well, if you have a passing interest in Steampunk or Zombies then this is going to be right up your street, though nothing in it is going to convert you if you are a fan of neither (and maybe you need to be a fan of both to really get it). I liked it - the art gave us a feel for the Victorian era but with maybe a little to polish - I did not feel the grime and dirt at all. The rendering of the zombies was a bit perfunctory, but maybe you just get a bit desensitised to zombies in comics if you read a lot of these sorts of titles. I do read a lot of these genre titles.

Edginton has an ear for the mode of speech of the time (not that I am any authority on the subject) - it felt authentic enough. The plot was easy enough to follow and built up nicely to a simmer - with the promise of more intrigue in issue #2. Is it worth your time? As i said previously, if you like zombies or steampunk then I recommend it. I will be around for issue 2 for sure.

Verdict - The title 'Victorian Undead' sums it up in the way the best high concept ideas do - and this title is a high concept idea that works. A good debut, with the promise of good things to come. One to watch. 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Review - Nola #1 (Boom! Studios, 2009)



A real mystery, this one. The solicitation for Nola #1 gives more away than the actual comic itself. For instance, the solicitation states that

"After cheating death, Nola Thomas wakes up alone in a deserted New Orleans hospital. Bruised, broken, and badly burned, she emerges from the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina with one thing on her mind...revenge"


Well, you get some of this information drip fed throughout this first issue, with the use of cuts between the present and recent past, but Nola does not wake up in a hospital. The first pages begin with a showdown between a masked woman and 2 police officers in what might appear to be a post-apocalyptic scenario. We later learn that this is New Orleans, post-Hurricane Katrina, and the post-apocalyptic mood to the piece is justified. This stand-off between Police and the solitary woman is continued later on in, ending in a way that is both shocking and unexpected, but before that we have some backstory on Nola Thomas and her life in New Orleans.

It is her life prior to Katrina that gives this story depth and warmth to the otherwise brutal and sparse beginning and ending of Nola #1. We know that Nola has a close relationship with her Mother (and her Mother has the best line - something about wheelchairs and geriatric shenanigans that was delivered with sly wit and made me chuckle). Nola is having an affair with a married man, and that relationship seems destined for heartache - but actually turns into something darker and is the catalyst for Nola's shocking transformation.

To say more about the plot would ruin a great debut issue - it has some great elements that make me want to read the next installment, the art delivers appropriately and the dialogue is smart and believable. I like it. I think it has the makings of a great series. One to watch....

Verdict. Intriguing, highly readable and one that you may find putting on your pull list if you give it a chance. I recommend it. 8 out of 10.

Nola #1 is out tomorrow (18th November) from Boom!

Boom! Studios kindly provided a digital copy of this issue for review.

Solicitation for Unknown Soldier #17 (Vertigo, 2010)



UNKNOWN SOLDIER # 17
On Sale February 24 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • MATURE READERS
Written by Joshua Dysart • Art by Alberto Ponticelli • Cover by Dave Johnson
The world is becoming as hot as the barrel of a spent gun, and Moses feels it most of all. Now he’s making a mad play, falsely aligning himself with everyone in hopes of figuring out who killed the camp doctor before one of his new “friends” puts a bullet in his back.

Solicitation for Sweet Tooth #6 (Vertigo, 2010)



SWEET TOOTH #6
On Sale February 3 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • MATURE READERS
Written by Jeff Lemire • Art and cover by Jeff Lemire
“The new ‘must-read’ book.” – Geoff Johns
“Like a Coen brothers road trip drama... a fantastic post-apocalyptic comic.” – AM New York
“In Captivity” part 1! A new storyline begins for one of the most talked about new series. After the twisted conclusion to the previous issue, take a look back at the first days of the apocalypse and the lengths to which Jeppard is forced to go in order to survive. Plus, discover more details about the disturbing fate of the young hybrid

Monday, November 16, 2009

Review - The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft #4 (Image, 2009)



A rather exquisite mini series comes to an end. The Strange Adventures of HP Lovecraft has been a cut above most comic book titles, with every detail - from the distressed, pulp novel feel of the cover, to the Jung quotes and the the obvious love and knowledge of Lovecraft - meticulous.

In this final part, Howard Lovecraft battles the unthinkable and unknowable horrors, while trying to rescue the (unrequited) love of his life. At the same time, the police are closing in on Lovecraft, while his ill Mother and elderly Aunts (who again put in a brilliant cameo appearance) strive to protect their son and nephew. The art is absolutely stunning, with Tony Salmons lavishing us with several splash pages that give full reign to the horror of Lovecraft-ian imagery. The story, courtesy of Mac Carter, celebrates Lovecraft's journey from weak and fragile, self-loathing failed writer to heroic warrior, battling shocking supernatural horror and emerging as a celebrated, empowered novelist of the unimaginable. The plot rattles along as the art - all muted tones and sombre or rain sodden locations - propels the reader into the dark heart of the madness.

My one criticism is that this final issue has took several months to appear (in fact, the last one was out in July) and that has detracted from the overall impact of the series. However, it will make one amazing trade when it gets collected and published (no doubt in plenty of time for the movie release).

All said, in a year of some fantastic comics (Unknown Soldier, Sweet Tooth, Walking Dead, the final issues of Brubakers Daredevil) this 4 parter is right up there with the very best of 2009. A fantastic, intelligent and artistic triumph.

Verdict. The complete package. It treats the readers with respect and provides, over 4 issues, wonderful art and a thrilling story. I think it has the ability to turn a few people on to the thrilling imagination of Lovecraft and may well inspire readers to check out the source material. Not bad for a comic book.....9 out of 10 for the issue, and 9.75 out of 10 for the series as a whole. This will be a must-have trade when it appears in the book stores.

Friday, November 13, 2009

5 page preview - Swordsmith Assassin #4 (Boom Studios, 2009)

I gave a review of issue 3 of this title - it is here. Issue 4 (the final issue) is out next week (18th November 2009), and here is a solicit and a five page preview, along with the (frankly, rather stunning) cover art;

SWORDSMITH ASSASSIN #4
Written by Andrew Cosby, Michael Alan Nelson
Drawn by Ayhan Hayrula
SC, 24 pgs, FC, (4 of 4), SRP: $3.99
COVER A: Dennis Calero
COVER B: John Nofsinger
Diamond Code: SEP090697



Toshiro Ono has spent his life making the best swords that have ever been forged and selling them to the highest bidder. When his family is killed by a blade of his own making, master swordsmith Toshiro promised to do whatever it took to make sure none of his swords ever kill again. Now that promise comes to the test in this stunning conclusion! Andrew Cosby, creator of EUREKA, and Michael Alan Nelson, creator of HEXED, bring feudal Samurai Japan to life like no other comic has done before.

5 Page Preview - Nola #1 (Boom! Studios, 2009)

This title really caught my eye amongst the releases due next week (18th November 2009). The fact that Chris Gorak, who gave us the tight and tense 'Right At Your Door', makes this one to watch out for. Here is the solicit and a 5 page preview;

NOLA #1
Written by Chris Gorak, Pierluigi Cothran
Drawn by Damian Couceiro
SC, 24 pgs, FC, (1 of 4), SRP: $3.99
COVER A: Erik Jones
COVER B: Chris Brunner
Diamond Code: SEP090694


After cheating death, Nola Thomas wakes up alone in a deserted New Orleans hospital. Bruised, broken, and badly burned, she emerges from the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina with one thing on her mind…revenge. From Chris Gorak, the writer/director of the critically-acclaimed film, Right at Your Door!