Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Solicitation for The Boys #37 (2009)

It's another origin story (in the best tradition of Ennis trashing the tropes of Superhero fiction....)



THE BOYS #37

Rating: MATURE
Covers: Darick Robertson
Writer: Garth Ennis
Penciller/Inker: Darick Robertson
Colorist: Tony Avi?a
Genre: SUPERHERO
Awards: N/A
Publication Date: DECEMBER, 2009
Format: Comic Book
Rights: WW
Age range: 16+
UPC: 725130132031


High in the French Pyrenees lies the little mountain village of Franglais, as quiet and peaceful a place as you could imagine... until her favorite son comes home. The Frenchman's origin is finally revealed, in a pulse-bounding tale of seething passion, vile betrayal and classic Gallic melancholy. Who is Black Pierre? Why is the lovely Marie not there to welcome her beloved Frenchie home? And how can one croissant change everything? Find out in The Boys 37!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Review - Judge Dredd Complete Case Files 01 (Rebellion Books, 2006)



As you may well know, Rebellion (the owners of 2000AD) have been putting out a series of books showing, sequentially, all of Judge Dredds tales in 2000AD, from his debut in prog 2. I have recently had my interest reawakened in 2000AD, with the likes of Cradlegrave, and as a result, have wanted to revisit my youth and rediscover the Dredd tales of my youth, and continue it on from where I left off, which around 1989. I plan to do a review on each 'Case File' - I have 4 up to now - as and when they get read by me. This is my impression of the Complete Case Files 01.

This initial title clearly shows the difficulty the creators and all the creatives had in finding a voice, tone and style for Dredd. Within 5 years you have epic tales that are (justifiably) well remembered - tales like 'The Apocalypse War', and sooner than that you have other Dredd classics like 'The Judge Child Quest'. Within a year or so of his debut, Dredd is taking vaccines across the irradiated wastelands of 'The Cursed Earth' on a desperate mercy mission. But unitl then, you have the early stuff.

Let me burst the bubble - early Dredd is not that good.



With some of the most laborious plotting (The Robot Wars - the proto Dredd 'epic' is just a one issue story streeeeetched over 6 issues, and boy does it feel like it) and lashings of poetic justice / ironic endings (Criminals on the verge of killing Dredd getting smited by a Sword wielded by a Statue representing Justice etc.... The endings tend to be telegraphed a mile off, and that makes the whole thing feel very corny in parts - because it is very corny in parts. Also, Maria (the astoundingly generic Italian Mama) the Housekeeper, and Walter the (bloody) Wobot are pointless and painful at times (and there are even some 'Bonus' Walter strips crafted by Brian Bolland towards the back of this book, not that they are really worth the time or effort).

However, aside from some of the stories, and the dialogue being very much of its time, you get some exquisite and exciting art from some brilliant artists - Bolland, Ezquerra, McMahon. For example, on this page, you get the antique dialogue ("Your money mister - and no jive!") and the astounding visions of what a Mega City over 100 years in the future would look like;



There is enough in this volume to keep you amused - there are some good tales here, of Death Races, Deadly Game Shows, Morris Minor Thieves (you see? The Seventies produced Dredd and its all over these early strips) and (probably) the best story in the strip - the 'Return of Rico'. And as I stated before, the art is stunning throughout. The book as a whole is well thought out, with some of Dredds covers from early 2000AD at the back of the book as a bonus, and Dredds prototype adventure from 'issue zero', 'Bank Raid', where his methods are brutal - literally a Judge, jury and Executioner.

How can I sum this all up? Case Files 01 is great at conveying a City seeped in madness, despair and forever teetering on Chaos - and only the Judges are able to keep a lid on it. Dredd comes across as a bit of a dick in these early issues, trying to be more a traditional comic book hero, but with an arrogance and swagger that just makes him unlikeable. This aspect of his character is something that is, thankfully, dispensed with as time goes by. The problems with these strips in this first compilation are all teething problems, and they do not go away with Case Files 02 or 03 wither, but they are more obvious here. Sometimes it was a chore getting through this (Elvis the Killer Car is awful) but other times it was interesting, and occasionally it was fun. If you ever got the American reprints of early Dredd;



you will understand.

And this is how it all starts - with the tale of a criminal called 'Whitey' (how very Seventies...), with that Iconic figure astride his Lawmaster bike;

Friday, September 25, 2009

Solicitation for The Walking Dead TP #11 ' Fear The Hunters' (2009)



THE WALKING DEAD, VOL. 11 TP
Written by Robert Kirkman, art and cover by Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn.
No one is safe in the aftermath of the most shocking Walking Dead storyline yet. The remaining survivors continue the road to Washington DC, but not everyone will make it out alive. Collecting issues 61-66 of the New York Times best-selling series! Collects The Walking Dead #61-66.
136 pages, black and white, $14.99, in stores on Dec. 23.

The Walking Dead #68 Solicitation (Image, 2009)



THE WALKING DEAD #68
Written by Robert Kirkman, art and cover by Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn.
Another stranger is encountered on the way to Washington. The information this man brings could change everything for the survivors.
32 pages, black and white, $2.99, in stores on Dec. 9.


Looks like the 'Safe Zone' arc may be starting up by the end of the year...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Review - Giant Size Old Man Logan #1 (Marvel, 2009)



Finally - after a year, and numerous delays between each issue, and none longer than the wait for this finale - we get to the conclusion of Old Man Logan. It does not disappoint. The saying goes that 'revenge is a dish best served cold', but to be honest, I prefer my revenge fiction to be played out in the heat of anger and rage, subsuming the grief by spilling the blood of the enemy, smiting the perpetrators. Logan does a lot of this in this oversize edition, as he takes out the dreadful progeny of Bruce Banner in a post-apocalyptic hell where all the Heroes are dead, and the innocent are prey to the hunger and desires of the corrupted. The pages are awash with the slashing fury of Wolverine as the panels are sprayed with blood, like a Lone Wolf and Cub movie transferred to blood soaked print. The influences abound - you can see the debt to the Spaghetti Western, to Mad Max, to Lone Wolf and Cub. The fact is though, that it takes all these influences and makes the story one of the better Wolverine stories, and that is a considerable compliment when you consider the sheer weight of stories about this character that have been produced in the last 25 years. Old Man Logan is fun, furious, bloody and brutal. It's like the best B-Movie revenge thriller that was never made (think Mad Max 2 meets The Exterminator) and I will be getting the Hardcover collection of this when it gets released towards the end of the year. Apart from the disjointed release schedule, Old Man Logan has been a total success as far as I am concerned, and this final issue did justice to the tale as a whole, which was something of a relief, and made for a fearsome few minutes of reading.

Finally, Mark Millar has written a great revenge tale and a re imagining of the Wolverine story, but thanks and tributes have to go to McNiven (pencils), Vines and Morales (inkers) and Hollowell (colours) - your work was splendid, bringing life to this tale with your vision of a fallen America.

Verdict - a great finale, exactly how you would want this tale to end. 8.5 out of 10. For the whole story, it gets a big 9 out of 10.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Carlos Ezquerra Concept art for Judge Dredd

Prior to my review of the first of the Judge Dredd Case Files, I thought it would be nice to look at some of the original concept art, devised by Carlos Ezquerra. He had the whole design nailed, didn't he? That sketch with Dredd on the Lawmaster looks amazing - and it is interesting to note that the helmet that the Judge is wearing is more like a motorbike helmet, with visor. In the second picture, the helmet looks more like another of Ezquerra's character designs - that of Johnny Alpha, Strontium Dog. The final design shown here is the blueprint for Dredd.





Judge Dredd Complete Case Files 01 review to follow in the next few days.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Praising 'Sweet Tooth' (2009)



Hey, guess what? Post Apocalyptic fiction need not be Mad Max or Dawn of the Dead or Walking Dead or even Dead Run! Sometimes it can be a little like The Road, which is more focussed on the intensity of relationships in a world changed forever. I guess The Walking Dead is like that to an extent, but The Road is a book and The Walking Dead is a comic, and they are not comparable on a lot of levels - The Road, as a novel, is an intensely suffocating experience, painful, tragic, harrowing and fearful, with only a chink of light pervading the all encompassing tragedy as the story unfolds. A new comic book is, I think, trying something a little different to the usual 'after the bomb / plague / zombies' histrionics. It is called 'Sweet Tooth', and the first issue is charming and gripping, and plays out like a modern day folk / fairy tale. It reminded me of Pinocchio, with a dash of The Road thrown in (especially the candy bar scene, reminiscent as it was of the Cola scene in Cormac McCarthys book). There is peril, there is sadness and there is hope. There is a boy with Antlers called Sweet Tooth, living in a reserve, told never to stray beyond the boundaries of his environment. The first issue holds many delights and bodes well for future episodes. I don't know how Vertigo do it, but they continue to find and publish quality. This looks it will be up there with Unknown Soldier as the best of the current line up. I urge you to check 'Sweet Tooth' out, especially as the cover price for issue 1 - that is a proper issue 1, not an issue 0 with a reduced page count - is incredibly low and bloody good value. It is on my pull list and so you expect reviews of forthcoming issues.

Issue 1 has been out for a couple of weeks now, but should be available from your local comic shop. Go get!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Review - The Walking Dead #65 (2009)



Just read issue #65. I don't know now. Maybe I was expecting something more - but with 'Fear The Hunters' approaching its climax, what is there to 'fear'? Nothing, it seems.

This is no 'No-one Is Safe' - there is no Governor here. Just a collection of tired, miserable people, driven to do what they need to do. Rick and co take the fight to these wretches, with Rick going in and attempting to 'negotiate', and this allows time for some back story and exposition - the Hunters explaining their motives. All rather drab it is too - it reminded me of the Bill Hicks monologue about Saddam and 'The Republican Guard', who were believed to be (if you believed Hicks) something like 12 foot tall warriors, until the Allied forces got to Baghdad and found normal Iraqis in Uniform. Well, this group of Hunters are even less spectacular. Then, in a neat scene reminiscent of Jensen using the power of his mnd to floor security guards (with a little help from sniper fire) in an early issue of 'The Losers', Rick takes the fight to them Hunters....

I liked the last page. Rick looks feral nowadays, a yin to the yang of Sgt Fords Military style neatness. The last 4 or 5 pages nearly made up for the middle section, which was saggy and made me wonder what the fuss was about with 'The Hunters' all along.

There were some other nice touches - Eugene being useful, Andrea being altogether useful, caring and a crack-shot, and Charlie Adlard drawing the rack and ruin of Suburbia in such a way that the misery seeps out of the page at you. The death of nearly everything - Charlie Adlard can summon up that vista for you in a few panels of black and white art.

Verdict. I still enjoyed this issue by the way, but the Hunters seem such an anti-climax. Still, there is enough here to keep the many fans of the book satisfied, but the whole arc seems destined to be less than what I expected....7.75 out of 10.


The Walking Dead #65 is out now from Image.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

5 page preview of The Walking Dead #65 (2009)



WARNING - SPOILERS!!!

To whet the appetite prior to its release later this week - a 5 page preview of The Walking Dead #65! Here is the link;

http://www.comicmonsters.com/ftopict-12160.html

and here is what I think, based on those few pages......

Eugene gets centre stage for the first time in ages, and proves he has some knowledge, which is great, as Kirkman shows him to be more than a fantasist (regardless of his agenda on getting to Washington DC).

Andrea, showing some real, believable emotion - nice scene.

Rick, showing increasing maturity by not going all guns blazing after the Hunters attack.

We get the rest of (what promises to be) a brilliant installment of The Walking Dead later this week. I CAN NOT WAIT!

The Walking Dead #68 cover...... (2009)



Is this how Rick & co enter the 'safe zone'? Does it all kick off with issue 68? Also, this covers suggests / confirms (as does #67) that Rick, Abe & Eugene survived the Hunters. Rick & Abe looks really grungey in comparison to the clean cut dude, in shadow compared to the light of the new character. Great cover - in fact, one of the best (amongst a pile of great cover art that Adlard has produced), and this issue signals interesting times ahead, and probably a change of pace, as the 'safe zone' promises to be a whole different world for Rick, Abe and the other survivors. Kirkman looks like he is driving this story forward again with vigour.

As an aside, it has been about a year now since Abraham Fords introduction, and it is further evidence of the strength of this series, that Kirkman can wait until over 5 years into the title until he brings on a character that rivals Rick for the starring role in this tale (and that is without taking into account the slow and inexorable rise of Carl as a major player in this drama).

Another aside - with this week seeing issue 66 of The Walking Dead released, Kirkman has kept true to his word so far on 'in time on 09'. Bravo.