Monday, 30 September 2013

Vaccination by Phillip Tomasso Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Phillip Tomasso

Published By Severed Press

Genre
Horror, Action

Synopsis

What if the H1N1 vaccination wasn’t just a preventative measure against swine flu? It seemed like the flu came out of nowhere and yet, in no time at all the government manufactured a vaccination.

Were lab workers diligent, or could the virus itself have been man-made?

Chase McKinney works as a dispatcher at 9-1-1. Taking emergency calls, it becomes immediately obvious that the entire city is infected with the walking dead. His first goal is to reach and save his two children.

Could the walls built by the U.S.A. to keep out illegal aliens, and the fact the Mexican government could not afford to vaccinate their citizens against the flu, make the southern border the only plausible destination for safety?


Review

Just recently I've felt quite burnt out on zombie novels.  Don't get me wrong, I love the zombie genre but after reading a couple of really bad novels from the genre I was feeling really burnt out.

However, that massively changed when I read this one by Phillip Tomasso.

While the idea of a vaccination or a virus spreading and turning people in to zombies isn't a new idea in the slightest, the strength of Tomasso's writing raises this novel head and shoulders above some of the cliched novels in the genre.  His blunt and well paced style really made the scenes stay in your mind long after you had finished that particular section of the book.

The characters are likeable to such a degree that when they are in danger you are rooting for them to get to safety.  There were a few moments in the book where I had gotten so behind the characters lives that I was on the edge of my seat wanting to know what was going to  happen to them.

I loved the idea of the story being told for some of it in the P.O.V. of a 911 operator was a sublime choice because it gave the story a human side and really hooked you in.  Especially the scenes where the character felt so hopeless and overwhelmed by the calls coming in and knowing that there was next to nothing that could be done to help other than place the call to the people who could help the most.

One of the main strengths of the writing was, by far, the pacing is the absolute backbone of the book.  Tomasso really seems to know when to slow it up a bit and when to crank up the tension.  In fact, his style reminded of another author named Joseph Souza in that Souza is another author that is able to chose the right time to change up the pacing. 

All in all this is definitely a book worth picking up.  There are likeable characters, a great ending and some very taut thrill filled moments that really raise this head and shoulders above a lot of the other zombie novels out there.

Story 8/10
Characters 8/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 24/30


Baggage (2013) Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Rob Dimension
Directed By Jeremiah Kipp

A You've Been Robbed Films, Action Media Productions Film

Genre
Horror, Short

Cast

Rob Dimension as Benjamin
Ilaria Malvezzi as Julia
Jerry Janda as Boss
Amber Marchese as Office Worker 1
Kim Dimension as Office Worker 2

Synopsis

Benjamin is normal. He does his best to fit in with society. He goes to work, loves his significant other and has hopes and dreams just like you.

You will follow Benjamin for one day of his life, but will you still believe that Benjamin is normal after his world is revealed?

Review

As a fan of the short movie 'No Clowning Around', I knew that when I started to watch this short that it would have a lot to live up to.

I can honestly say that not only did this live up to the standards set by the superb 'No Clowning Around' but it also surpassed it.

With short movies, especially one that's only about 15 minutes long, they tend  to feel rushed and you end up feeling like you have missed something vital.  That's not the case here.  In fact, they do the complete opposite and take their time.  The short run time is used very well and you can really get in to the story of this man who is slowly sinking in to madness, if he wasn't there already.

One of the main strengths of the movie was the massively strong performance by Rob Dimension.  He portrays the part in  such a way that it unsettles the viewer.  This is effective because the subtle performance makes the person watching the movie see and feel the things that the character does.  In fact, you can see a bit of yourself in the character and that's why it unsettles you throughout the movie itself.

Being shot in black and white also gives an old fashioned, Alfred Hitchcock feel to proceedings.  They use the settings and the filming style to full success here.  You don't see big budget movies with as effective an atmosphere as you see here.

If you have seen and liked 'No Clowning Around' then you are in for a big treat here.  It's being shown at quite a few movie festivals so if you get a chance to see it then I urge you to.  It really is that good.

Movie 8/10

Baggage (2013) on IMDb

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Vitriol the Hunter Graphic Novel Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Billy Martin and Brent Allen
Art By Billy Martin, John Wycough and Jeremy Treece
Cover By Billy Martin, John Wycough and Jeremy Treece

Published By IDW Publishing

Genre
Horror, Action, Science Fiction

Synopsis

They own the night... they yearn for the day! In this gothic sci-fi adventure, Billy Martin (guitarist of Good Charlotte) and Brent Allen bring a new grisly horror to life!

As Basilika City’s last great hope, Vitriol stands as the only force that can stop Lord Barthus and his heinous vampire regime from overtaking the city!

Review

Apparently 'Vitriol the Hunter' was meant to come out in 2010 but has only just landed in stores as a graphic novel after a run as a comic book series.  To be honest, that should have been my first warning about the quality of the release.

Billy Martin, yes the guitarist from Good Charlotte, has co-written and done the art for this gothic, science fiction story that in all honesty, feels like bad fan fiction more than anything else.

The main problems that I had with the writing were that for one, the writing was massively repetitive.  It just seemed like they kept using the same dialogue and lines over and over.  It was almost as if I kept reading the same page over and over.  Another thing I hated was the sheer unoriginal nature of the story.  It was almost as if they'd watched a ton of 'teen' vampire movies and read a ton of young adult vampire stories and dumped all of the bits they liked and made it in to a graphic novel.

When the story attempts to be deep and intellectual it just comes across as a cringe worthy and that's the polite way to put it.  The fact that the characters had next to no personality and the little boxes explaining what was happening in the panels.  That just shows how poor the writing and the art is for this tale.

The art just seemed really out of place.  It's the sort of art that you would see in a graphic novel for a young teen comedy not in a graphic novel that is attempting to be dark and mysterious.

In all honesty, there was so much wrong with this title that it was a battle just to get to the end of the story.  There were many moments where I actually groaned out loud at some of the poor writing and in all honesty, it's not one that I'd be in any rush to go back to this title anytime soon.

Story 4/10
Art 4/10
Overall 8/20

'Vitriol the Hunter' is available to buy from November 5th 2013

Once Upon A Time: Behind the Magic Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Paul Terry, Tara Bennett, Jayne Nelson, Chad Ross and Bryan Cairns

Published By Titan Books

Genre
Television Tie-In

Synopsis

'Once Upon a Time' is one of the most original and exciting shows on television, combining fairy tale magic with real world drama and appealing to audiences of all ages around the world.

In this official companion to the hit show, you can go behind the magic, discovering everything that goes in to the making of the enchanting series.

The show's stars, Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow White / Mary Margaret Blanchard), Jennifer Morrison (Emma Swan), Lana Parrilla (the Evil Queen / Regina Mills), Robert Carlyle (Rumpelstiltskin / Mr. Gold), Josh Dallas (Prince Charming / David Nolan), Jared Gilmore (Henry Mills), Emillie de Ravin (Belle), Colin O'Donoghue (Captain Hook), and Meghan Ory (Red Riding Hood / Ruby), talk about portraying characters who are both classic and new.

Plus the show's producers, writers and behind-the-scenes wizards share their secrets about creating the magical episodes you see on screen, including production art and sketches.

Magic is coming!

Review

I have to admit that while I wasn't all that familiar with the actual 'Once Upon a Time' series itself, I'd caught a couple of episodes here and there.  After being offered the chance to review this companion book to the  series, I figured that I would catch up by watching some on Netflix and discovered, much to my delight, that I've been missing out on a really good series.

After reading this behind the scenes book, I was struck at how much the people involved in the series really love what they are creating.  It really does come across as a labor of love for the cast and crew.

In fact, that's where this book really shines.  The cast and crew seem so proud of the show that that they really have gone 'all out' with this book.  No stone is left unturned and you get an absolute plethora of information, facts and much more yet it's done in such a way that you don't feel overloaded with information or feel over your head with the facts and figures.

There are numerous interviews with the many cast and crew members about the writing, the cast, the portrayal of the characters and there are some absolutely brilliant sections about the special effects, the sets and even the props.  I loved the fact that some of the things you may not even have noticed on the first viewing are giving so much thought that the writing about the ideas behind them is incredibly interesting.

The cast have some really familiar faces amongst them for the readers of this site.  For the 'B' movie fans out there you have Lana Parilla, from the movie 'Spiders' and for the 'House' fans out there you have Jennifer Morrison.  You also have the massively under rated Robert Carlyle too and all of them, and more, are interviewed in some very honest and interesting interviews.

All in all, if you are a fan of the show then this is an absolutely essential purchase for you.  In fact, why haven't you got it already?  If you're not or you're not all that familiar with the show this is still worth getting because the sheer volume of interesting information.  The best of these being the behind the scenes moments talking about how they do the special effects on a television show budget and also the parts about the props were detailed but never boring.  Well worth picking up.

Presentation 8/10
Informative 9/10
Recommended 9/10
Overall 26/30

About Time (2013) Cinema Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written and Directed By Richard Curtis

A Working Title Films, Translux Film

Genre
Romantic, Comedy, Drama

Cast

Domhnall Gleeson as Tim
Rachel McAdams as Mary
Bill Nighy as Dad
Lydia Wilson as Kit Kat
Lindsay Duncan as Mum
Richard Cordery as Uncle D
Joshua McGuire as Rory
Tom Hollander as Harry

Certificate 15

Synopsis

At the age of 21, Tim discovers he can travel in time and change what happens and has happened in his own life.

His decision to make his world a better place by getting a girlfriend turns out not to be as easy as you might think.

Review

As a massive Richard Curtis fan, I was massively eager to get to see this.  One of the main selling points for me was not only the interesting story but also the addition of Rachel McAdams, a criminally under rated actress, and the always wonderful Bill Nighy.

After coming home from seeing it at the cinema, I have to admit one thing.  Richard Curtis definitely has another major success on his hands.

Known as the creator of movies such as 'Notting Hill', 'Love Actually' and even 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' as well as many other television shows, 'About Time' had a hell of a reputation to live up to but did it manage it?

Well, in all honesty, yes it did.  In fact, it surpassed some of my hopes for the movie itself.  The idea of someone being able to time travel to fix his mistakes may not be the most original one in the world but they have written it so well that it works superbly.   There are some brilliant questions raised about when you should change something or if something truly needs to happen to make you in the person you have to be.  The way the movie answers some of those questions is both touching and heart wrenching at the same time but never melodramatic.

If you have seen any other movies made by Richard Curtis then you will know to expect well written characters, a heartfelt story and some absolutely hilarious moments of comedy.  That is exactly what you get here but the cast makes the movie a lot more than just the sum of it's parts.

The cast is chock full with superb performances but it really is down to three people that owned the movie for me.  Domhnall Gleeson as Tim was absolutely fantastic.  He had the right mix of being a bit dopy, a bit clumsy and being the smart lead that the movie wanted and that plays off really well against the character of Mary, played by Rachel McAdams.  She gives a joy, almost a childlike innocence, to the character and even gives the movie some of it's funniest moments.

However it's definitely one man who completely made the film for me and that was Bill Nighy as Dad.  His character jumped from hysterically funny to heartbreaking throughout the movie and I couldn't take my eyes off of him whenever he was on the screen.  His relationship with Tim  is wonderfully written and gave the movie it's emotional depth as well as a lot of the funniest moments as well.  That said, he also gives the movie one of it's most beautiful yet heartbreaking moments too.

With the massively intelligent, heartfelt and touching writing that Curtis is known for as well as some truly beautiful scenes and hysterical humor, this movie is definitely one to get out there and see.  Despite the list of movies that Curtis has made being so strong, I would say 'About Time' is up there with his best.

Well worth seeing.

Movie 8/10

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Wrestling With the Devil By Lex Luger With John D. Hollis Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Lex Luger with John D. Hollis
Foreword By Sting

Published By Tyndale House Publishers

Genre
Autobiography, Sport, Wrestling

Synopsis

Lex Luger, wrestling megasensation and three-time world heavyweight champion, ruled the ring for years as “The Total Package.” Whether he was making a dramatic entrance from a helicopter, defeating champ Hulk Hogan, or sculpting a near-perfect physique, Lex was on top of his game.

Yet backstage, he was wrestling with addictions to sex, drugs, and alcohol—things he clung to even when his mistress died suddenly of a drug overdose and Lex went to jail.

There, Lex faced the truth: he was losing the fight for his life. And still awaiting him was his most brutal opponent yet, when the wrestling champ found himself helplessly paralyzed from the neck down.

In Wrestling with the Devil, Lex Luger reveals never-before-told stories from his career, his struggle with personal demons, and how, through unexpected faith, grace, and redemption, he overcame all odds to fight the only battle that really matters.

Review

Yes you have read that right dear readers of mine.  This is the second book with the title 'Wrestling With the Devil' to be reviewed on this site but that's where the problem lies.  The first by Tonya Russo-Hamilton and Tony Russo,  was so well written and would hook the reader in to such an extent that this one has a definite uphill battle to match the quality of that one.

While I will be completely honest and tell you all that this one doesn't match that level, this is still a very good and interesting look at one of the most recognised faces in professional wrestling.

Lex Luger was a huge star in the late 80's and early 90's, having matches with some of the biggest names in wrestling.  Sting, Hulk Hogan and many more all face him in the ring.  In fact, Sting, even wrote the foreword to this book.

One of the strengths of the book is that it is very brutally honest, at times even comfortably so.  No stone is left unturned and he really goes in to detail about his demons.  The way Luger writes about his battle with drink and drugs is well documented and he doesn't try to make any excuses for any of his actions.  Instead he comes across as someone who truly just wants to make amends for all the wrongs that he has both done himself and had done to him.  I found that approach very admirable and felt incredibly sorry for him throughout the book.  It's a heartfelt look at his life and the successes as well as the failures.

While some have complained that his career only makes up a quarter of the book, I have to admit that I think they're kind of missing the point of how he has written it.  It kind of feels a little bit like a eulogy at times because he talks about himself as if the version of him that was fighting drinks and drug addled demons, it's almost as if he feels that is a completely different person.

A lot of the book is about the fact he managed to find religion and that's what he credits still being alive to.  He's wonderfully honest with this side of his life and talks about it without sounding massively preachy.

At times 'Wrestling With the Devil' can come across as a bit of a hard read because of how honest he is but at the same time, it's a fascinating look at someone who succumbed to his demons only to fight his way out the other side.  Well worth picking for the wrestling fans out there.

Presentation 8/10
Informative 7/10
Recommended 7/10
Overall 22/30

Has Anyone Seen My Fanny? By GlockMoose Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By GlockMoose

Published By Two Harbors Press

Genre
Comedy, Crime

Synopsis

In 'Has Anyone Seen My Fanny?' the authors, in the roles of their alter egos Glockneeb and Moose, are the main characters in a zany storyline in which they compete for the limelight writing alternating chapters.

After receiving a letter from his sweetheart Fanny Tushbottom raising concern that she is missing. Glockneeb reluctantly seeks help finding her by reconnecting with his life-long friend Moose who had started his own private investigation agency.

They become partners at the agency and undertake other cases, wreaking havoc on everyone that has the misfortune of coming into contact with them. Glockneeb comes across as a big picture guy, brainy, yet whiny, while Moose is the brawn, clumsy, “act before you think” guy. The story is filled with humorous nonsense dusted with machismo, sexual innuendo and the warmth of a damp washcloth.

Review

I'm going to be honest here with you straight off the bat.  I decided to download and review this for one simple reason.  The title made me laugh hysterically.

Now that we're got the fact that I have a rather silly sense of humor out of the way, let's start the review properly.

This book is majorly silly.  Majorly funny and full of 'Carry On' style innuendo's and I loved every single, admittedly immature, minute of it.  Sometimes you just want to switch your brain off and be entertained by something that just makes you laugh and that's exactly what this book does and it does it very well.

The characters wouldn't seem out of place in a bawdier 'Monty Python' or 'Carry On' movie sketch and I mean that in a good way.  It's like the authors have taken a look at the plethora of retro style detective novels that are currently in vogue right now and decided to kick back and have a bit of fun with it.  Some of the things that the main two characters say and do had me in tears of laughter and some of the spoofing of the detective genre in general was absolutely spot on.

Pacing wise, this book can best be described as a quick read but not in a bad way.  At the heart of this fun and bawdy comedy is the talent of two very good writers with a talent for  setting the scene vividly in the readers mind and for creating memorable moments through out the story.

If you discount this book as just a bawdy comedy then that would be a massive shame.  The novel itself is funny, well paced and well worth a read.  Not all the jokes are successful but I would definitely recommend this to anyone that just wants to kick back and read something that's both funny and exciting.

Story 7/10
Characters 7/10
Recommended 7/10
Overall 21/30

Jack Kirby's Galactic Bounty Hunters: Volume 1 Graphic Novel Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Concept By Jack Kirby
Written By Lisa Kirby, Michael Thibodeaux, Steve Robertson and Richard French
Art By Michael Thibodeaux, Karl Kesel, Scott Hanna, Jack Kirby, Mike Royer and Wil Quintana
Lettering By Dave Lanphear
Cover By Jack Kirby, Karl Kesel, Michael Thibodeaux and Wil Quintana

Published By Icon

Genre
Science Fiction, Action, Adventure

Synopsis

An All-New series featuring characters and concepts created by Jack "King" Kirby! Meet the Berkleys, your typical suburban California family.

But when young Garrett Berkley discovers his parents' secret - that the science-fiction stories his father writes aren't fiction at all, but autobiography - he's blasted into a whole new universe of adventure, mystery and danger.

Now, Jack Berkley must put down his pen, reassemble his old team and take up the mantle of being a Galactic Bounty Hunter for one final mission!

Collects Jack Kirby's Galactic Bounty Hunters #1-6.

Review

Jack Kirby was and always will be an absolute legend of the comic book world. Some of his most notable work reads like a who's who gallery of comic book legends. Hulk, X-Men, Captain America, Fantastic Four, Thor, Manhuner, the list just goes on and on.

When his wife sadly passed away, his daughter Lisa found some drawings, story outlines and set about getting these characters and stories brought to life. Obviously not an easy task because nobody can even come close to matching the sheer talent of Jack Kirby but the finished article, while with it's inherent flaws, reads like a pretty good tribute to the man himself.

The writing and the artwork really hark back to the golden age of comics, in which Kirby himself found his fame and fortune. That really lends an old school charm to proceedings but that is also part of it's downfall as well. The writers and artists come across as trying too hard to be too much like Jack Kirby instead of using his ideas and putting their own stamp on it. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery but in this case, it's also the sincerest flaw of this release.

The stories themselves are incredibly fast paced and bring to the old serials with such characters as Flash Gordon trying to save the world. It's just a shame that while all these little nods to the 'old era' are welcome that it also takes away from the originality of this title somewhat.
Another one of the things that I did like may seem like a minor detail but I liked the idea behind it. One of the bounty hunters had 'hung up his boots' so to speak and become a father yet had written about his exploits under the disguise of being a fantasy writer. While not the largest part of the story perhaps, I did like idea behind it as that was definitely one of the things Kirby was best at. Giving a character traits that the reader could relate to while at the same time being fantastical enough to provide a get away from every day life.

For me one of the main things that succeeds is the absolute treasure chest of information that comes after the end of the story itself. There are interviews galore about how the project itself came about, there is a short and concise profile of Jack Kirby himself, original artwork for the book as well as a ton of artwork for forthcoming releases from the Jack Kirby team. An absolute gold mine for fans such as myself.

All in all while this release has a certain old school charm, I would recommend it but not as high as I would any of the other Kirby releases.

However it could prove to be a good starting point for anyone wanting to get in to the comic book world created by Kirby himself.

Story 6/10
Art 6/10
Overall 12/20

Friday, 27 September 2013

An Interview With Ken Kristensen and M.K. Perker, Creators of 'Todd, The Ugliest Kid on Earth'


Ken Kristensen and M.K. Perker popped in to COASM recently to talk about their series 'Todd, The Ugliest Kid on Earth' to Patrick Challis so strap yourselves in to see just how one of the most unique characters in the comics world was created.

PC:  How did the character of Todd come about and what inspired you to write the story?

KK: The story behind the story starts with my meeting MK Perker. His wife, Asli, was the manager of the coffee shop I used to write in. She’s a successful novelist and screenwriter now, so this is going back a few years. At the time I was in film school and I would write in this coffee joint every day. She came up to me and asked what I was working on – I told her about film school and she asked if I needed a storyboard artist for any of my student films. I said, hell and yes! And she arranged for me to have coffee with her husband. And she didn’t tell me anything about his artistic experience, so I assumed he would be some struggling kid. But he shows up with his portfolio and it’s filled with work that he’s had published in the New York Times. Even today he still does illustrations for the Times. So from that point on I’m walking into class with storyboards that look like comic books. I mean, MK would color the storyboards! Amazing. After a few films we realized we wanted to work together in a more permanent capacity, so we started a little company and went out to San Diego Comic Con to meet some publishers. We pitched a series called Promised Murders and that got some attention – it was good enough to get Dark Horse to hire us to do an issue of Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of The Escapist. Which was a huge thrill for us, because we are big Chabon fans and we got to have lunch with him and he was pretty hands on in that he had approval over the script. That was our first comics job together.

So a few months later I’m working for Todd Solondz, the great writer-director. And MK was a big fan of Solondz. So I invite MK to the movie set to meet Todd. And things didn’t go so well. Solondz pissed MK off and the next day MK drew this picture of a kid with a bag on his head and underneath he wrote “Todd, the ugliest kid in America” or something. And I immediately responded to the look of the character but we had no personality for this little bag-headed dude and we had no idea what his story was. That’s when my nephew came along. My 4-year old nephew came to visit me in New York City and he’s the sweetest kid in the world. I put him on my shoulders as we were walking through Times Square and I hear him say, “hey, that man fell over and spilled cranberry juice all over himself.” And I look over and there’s a man lying in the gutter covered in blood. And nearby is an empty bottle of cranberry juice. My nephew just put those two bits of ugliness together in the most beautiful innocent way – right then I knew THAT was that heart of Todd. From there, we just started building the ugly world around this kid.

PC:  Ken, you have a very distinctive writing style, were there any authors that inspired you to be a writer?

KK:  J.M. DeMatteis and Keith Giffen were the guys who really did it for me in comics when I was growing up. I’m so glad they’re doing LarFleeze at DC right now. I love and aspire to DeMatteis’s range – look at his work on Moonshadow and compare it to his run on Justice League International. It was comic books that made me aware that writing was an actual career. My first published words were in a letter column in the back of an issue of Firestorm. I wrote a ton of letters to comics when I was a kid and it thrilled me when they’d write me back or publish my letter. That said, when I decided I wanted to be a writer, and I really started studying writing, I was probably most inspired by Raymond Carver. All the minimalists, but Carver especially. He wrote with such power and confidence – he knew he didn’t have to explain much. He trusted his audience. And later I discovered Neil LaBute and the aforementioned Todd Solondz. Those guys have had a profound impact on me, along with dozens of other writers.
 
PC:  Mr Perker, your style of drawing really brings the story to life.  What made you want to become an artist?

MK: I grew up in a very dangerous neighborhood in Istanbul, surrounded with thugs, thieves and all kinds of criminals and soon-to-be criminals. I was always drawing, reading and into movies and I was the only one who was like that among my friends. I had a huge collection of Russian classics. One of my friends had one leg shorter than the other -- and he was pumping iron all the time because he wanted to be strong and move up in the gang world. And because he had one leg shorter than the other he had problems keeping his balance while he was weight lifting. So one day I gave him my copy of War and Peace to put under his short leg so he could keep his balance.  This was a very naive act on my part, but these tough guys accepted me for who I was. I kept reading books and became a professional comic book artist at the age of 16 and that friend of mine with the short leg is in prison today. Many of my childhood friends either died or went to prison. I later came to realize that the only thing that saved me was the world I was living in -- the fantasy world in my head. I was not in the same world with them. Just like Todd.

PC:  The art work works really well with the writing.  Was it always going to be the two of you working together?

KK: We decided early on – almost ten years ago – that we wanted to work together in a more permanent way. So we started this little company and we’ve managed to make it work. We have an endless amount of stories we want to tell together. And MK can’t possibly draw them all, so we are developing projects with other artists and looking for new artists to bring into the business.

PC:  If you had to describe ‘Todd, The Ugliest Kid on Earth’ to someone in 40 words or less how would you do it?

KK: It’s a politically incorrect absurdist comedy following the adventures of the most dysfunctional family in America. I always say, if you like Shakespeare you’ll like TODD – dumb cops, scientologists, serial killers, Neo Nazis, and Charlie Rose. See, like Shakespeare. Snap.

PC:  How does ‘Todd’ compare to your past work?

MK: From an art style, it’s completely different from Air or Cairo. I try to bring a different style to every book, depending on the needs of the story.

KK: And from a story point of view, it’s different from anything we’ve ever done. But, that said, every project we’ve done has some dark humor. The first thing we ever worked on was a film I wrote about an elementary school in New Jersey who admits a new student who turns out to be the reincarnation of Adolph Hitler. MK was the production designer on that film and it was his job to draw swastikas on the faces of all these ten year old kids.

MK: That was fun.

PC:  Where do you see the character going next?

Ken: Well, if you look at the cover of issue #7 --- which is on the Previews website – you will see Todd meets up with Satan.

MK: Right. I like to say Todd is going south for the winter.

PC:  Danny Trejo is a fan of the ‘Todd’ comics and even has a character based on him.  Do you know of any other famous fans?

KK: Danny has been a big fan, and we’re hoping Todd gets a mention in the new Machete kills movie! We’ll see.

MK: Danny has been wanting to expand his comedy resume, so maybe we’ll get him in the TODD TV show.

KK: As far as other famous fans – I met Grant Morrison at a party this summer and he said he was a fan.

PC:  If either of you could do another character based on a celebrity for the title, who would you choose to include?

KK: Well, with issue #5 you will see a few celebrities because in that issue Todd goes to comic-con.

MK: And Charlie Rose is on the cover -- we have a great time parodying the people we love. 

PC:  What projects have you got coming up next?

KK: We’ve got two projects at Image that will be announced soon. Both in the crime genre. And another graphic novel that we haven’t taken to a publisher yet – it’s going to be our take on the post apocalyptic genre.

MK: And we pitched a couple other animated TV shows recently, so there’s a lot going on right now.

'Todd, The Ugliest Kid on Earth: Volume 1' is available to buy now from all good retailers!

Collateral - Dear John: Volume 1 Issue 3 Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Matt Nichols
Art and Cover By Lee Taylor

Genre
Drama, Psychological

Synopsis

A family is struggling after their father loses his job.  Superhero battles leave the city in ruins.   People are going missing.  Just what is going to happen next?

Review

After the massively strong first two issues, I was honestly wondering how this slow burner of a story was going to keep up the extremely high quality set by those issues.

I need not have worried because this title honestly gets better and better with each issue.  One of the things about the story is that while on the surface you may not think a lot is happening yet this is definitely a series that rewards repeated viewings and giving it your undivided attention.  When you do that, you notice so many different things and so many little nods to what is going to happen next.

With this issue, we get a shocking beginning and then a feeling of dread that continues to run through the issue.  Creating a sense of dread is very much one of Matt Nichols' main strengths and he manages to do that without either being melodramatic or insulting the readers intelligence.  Instead he just lets the action and story flow at a subtle pace that envelopes the reader and gets them emotionally involved in what is happening to the characters at any given moment.  There's always a feeling that something absolutely shocking is about to explode and that when it does, it's going to absolute stay in the readers mind.

All of that would be for nothing if the art didn't match up to the quality of the writing but you have no fear of that here.  Lee Taylor's unique style is both simple and hard hitting at the same time.  When you see his panels, you are instantly drawn to them and to the world that his sharp lines are depicting.  In much the same way as the writing, Taylor is a master at putting little details in that you may not notice the first time around.  I've always loved it when comic book artists do that and Taylor is one of the best at it.  Another thing that I like about the art in this series is the fact that it stays in your mind long after you have closed the comic.  Not a lot of titles can say that but this one has that skill in spades.

In all honesty, you need to pick this title up.  While it may not be to anybody's taste because of the slow and deliberate pacing of the story itself, I think that's what sets it apart from anything else out there.  The story is slowly but surely growing but at a rate that makes the reader feel like they are involved in the characters lives.  Also tell intelligent and subtle writing and art go hand in hand perfectly and really make this a title to get in to big time.

Story 9/10
Art 9/10
Overall 18/20

Fashion Beast Graphic Novel Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Alan Moore, Malcolm McLaren and Andy Johnston
Art and Cover By Facundo Percio
Lettering By Jaymes Reed

Published By Titan Books and Avatar Press

Genre
Drama, Fashion, Fairytale

Synopsis

A lost masterpiece from the creator of 'Watchmen', 'V For Vendetta' and 'From Hell'!

Alan Moore's lost masterpiece comes to life as an incredible comic book series almost three decades later!

The mid-80's were a stunning period of brilliance for Alan Moore, seeing him create true masterpieces including 'Miracleman', 'Watchmen' - and 'Fashion Beast'!  Working with Malcolm McLaren (Sex Pistols), Moore turned his attention to a classic re-telling of a 'Beauty and the Beast' through his unyielding and imaginative vision.

At long last, 'Fashion Beast' is presented in deluxe trade paperback and hardcover collections of the complete ten issue series.

Doll was unfulfilled in her life as a  coat checker of a trendy club.  But when she is fired from the job and auditions to become a 'mannequin' for a reclusive designer, the life of glamour she always imagined is opened before her.

She soon discovers that the house of Celestine is as dysfunctional as the clothing that define the classes of this dystopian world.

Collecting 'Fashion Beast' #1 - 10

Review

Alan Moore.  A name that is massively well known in the comic book and has a legendary reputation as a man who can write classic and memorable characters and stories.

When it was announced that Avatar press had found the lost script for the unmade 'Fashion Beast' movie that was written by Moore himself with the equally as legendary Malcolm McLaren almost 30 years later with an intention of making it in to a comic book series, I was both excited and hesitant in equal measure.

Would the fact that it's adapted by Anthony Johnston be a help or a hindrance to the screenplay written by those two legendary figures?  Well, I have to admit that while I wasn't all that aware of Johnston's work, I was very impressed that even though it was an adaptation of Moore's work and not a Moore comic book per se, he managed to keep Moore's style while at the same time putting his own spin on to it.

It is true that the first issue of the ten had slight pacing issues but that was soon polished and the story ran smoothly working it's way from twist to twist with great aplomb.  I loved how this version of the 'Beauty and the Beast' fable may have been written in the 80's by Moore and McLaren but it seemed  like it could have been from any time period.  The dystopian future that the story depicts is grimy and dark, which is in stark contrast to the bright and gaudy fashion world.

Art wise, Facundo Percio, does an absolutely amazing job of bringing the story to life.  The way Percio balances both the grittier outside world and the brash fashion world is masterful to say the least.  I especially liked the use of contrasts that run throughout the story itself.  There are scenes of absolute beauty and then shockingly dark scenes yet not once does the art feel disjointed or at odds with each other.

I have to admit that with a CV that has titles like 'Watchmen', 'V For Vendetta' and 'From Hell', this title was always going to have trouble living up to the reputation that come with titles such as those and let's be honest, it doesn't live up to those.  But is it a bad adaptation?  Far from it.  It's one of the most unique, touching and shocking titles that I have read in a very long time.  Not only does it manage to have Moore's trademark voice running through proceedings, Johnston manages to put his own spin on the title as well.

If you're a fan of Alan Moore or Malcolm McLaren then this really should be in your collection.  It's utterly brilliant, despite the slight pacing problems in the first issue, and gripping.  It's also worth picking up for some beautiful art work by Facundo Percio.

Story 8/10
Art 8/10
Overall 16/20

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Exposed Issue 2 Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Victor Wright
Art By Nino Cajayon and Thonie Wilson
Lettering By Brant Fowler
Cover By Iain Bell

Published By Geeky Kid Comics

Genre
Horror, War

Synopsis

Sgt Jackson and his men stumble on a secret Nazi experimental facility, headed by Hans Shultz the crazed German scientist testing on humans, for none other than Himmler.

The brave men plan to kidnap the German leader and end the war by means of negotiation.   But instead go into battle with the new Super Soldiers just as the Devil Children emerge from within the darkness of the caves.

Review

After the first issue of 'Exposed' I was really eager to see just where Victor Wright was going to the story next.

Well, I have to admit that it went in to a direction that I wasn't expecting and has left me itching to get my hands on issue 3 just to see what on Earth is going to be revealed next.

After a brutal attack in issue one, the group of soldiers is being thinned out at an alarming rate.  Add that on to the fact that what little luck they do have is about to run out, then the group is starting to look pretty damn well screwed royally.

The writing by Wright does a fantastic job of creating a sense of urgency for the group.  In fact, this issue really does come across as a ticking time bomb for the characters as if they truly are running out of time.  Add to that storyline, a side story about what a soldier finds when he goes home to his brothers house and you really do get to see another side of one of the characters.  The pace then picks back up and hurtles like a runaway train up to the shocking ending that leaves you wondering just what decision is going to be made.

Art wise, the feeling of claustrophobia and urgency is superbly drawn by Nino Cajayon, who uses dark and shadows so effectively that you find yourself wanting to see what is around the corner for yourself.  I especially liked the scenes between the demonic children and the super soldiers is a cinematic series of panels that absolutely revels in it's fill of violence and gore without feeling over the top or gratuitous.

All in all, this was even better than the superb first issue but that leads to one problem.  How on Earth is issue 3 going to match this one?

Story 8/10
Art 8/10
Overall 16/20

'Exposed Issue 2' is available to from October 5th from here!

Inseparable (2011) DVD Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Mandarin With English Subtitles

Written and Directed By Dayyan Eng

Fantawild Presents A Colordance Pictures, Trigger Street Productions Film

Genre
Comedy, Drama

Cast

Kevin Spacey as Chuck
Daniel Wu as Li
Beibi Gong as Pang
Ni Yan as Ms. Yang
Peter Stormare as Richard

Certificate 15

Synopsis

After a series of tragic life events, Li (Daniel Wu) is burnt out. His beautiful but increasingly moody wife is never home, the unpaid bills are piling up and his work is pressuring him to lie at a public hearing. With seemingly no options left he decides to end it all. But he can't even do that right.

Enter Chuck (Kevin Spacey), Li's wise-talking American neighbour who takes Li under his wing and encourages him to stand up for himself and the exploited people around him. Together they hit the streets as superhero's much to the bewilderment of those around them. After initial success it becomes clear that Chuck is not really who he says he is and Li may be in serious trouble.

Special Features
  • Trailer

Review

Despite being one of the Wall Street Journal's top ten Asian movies to watch in 2011 and having the powerhouse name of Kevin Spacey involved, this movie isn't very well known at all and that is an absolute shame.

For a movie that tackles many difficult subjects while managing to be heartfelt and funny without being depressing and draining, more people really should be able to get their hands on it.

It's true that it's not the most original movie in the world with some of the action maybe seeming familiar to anybody that has seen movies such as 'Defendor' or 'Griff the Invisible' but it's the writing and the cast that make this a movie that is a definite must watch in my opinion.

Firstly, the writing can be taken on many different levels.  On one hand you have a story that a man starts to descend in to madness and wants to become a superhero.  On the other hand you have a story about how the modernisation of China is slowly causing some of the older traditions and beliefs to fall by the wayside as if they're now not needed.  You also have a movie that deals with the sensitive subject of depression, suicide and grief.  Yet as well as all of these things, you also have a movie with a fantastically playful side that shows how friends and loved ones can pull you through anything that life decides to throw at you.

All of these brilliantly written things would mean nothing if you didn't have a cast that could pull off multi-layered performances to match the writing but luckily we have exactly that here.

We have a beautiful and sometimes heartbreaking performance from Daniel Wu.  The way he portrays someone that is majorly struggling with grief and heartbreak who then starts to descend in to mental problems is wonderfully done.  When he meets the character of Chuck, he ramps up the energy and really plays that side of his personality well without making the portrayal disjointed.

Talking of Chuck, he's played in a brilliantly manic way by Kevin  Spacey.  The way he chews the scenery one moment but is then calm the next is a great and realistic version of how easily a persons mood can change when heavily depressed.

Sadly, there are next to no special features on the disc other than a trailer.  That's a real shame because I would have loved to have seen some 'making of' featurettes or even some interviews about the movie but I suppose not every DVD can be packed full of things like that.

All in all, while a quite unknown movie, this definitely deserves to be seen by more people.  It's funny, exciting, heartbreaking and very memorable at the same time.  Well worth picking up just for the two performances by Kevin Spacey and Daniel Wu.

Sadly the lack of special features brings the score down quite a lot but ignore that.  This is a movie that really is worth digging out and watching.

Movie 8/10
Picture 9/10
Sound 8/10
Special Features 2/10
Overall 27/40

Inseparable (2011) on IMDb

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Doctor Who: Day of the Daleks DVD Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Louis Marks
Directed By Paul Bernard

Genre
Science Fiction, Adventure

Cast

Jon Pertwee as The Doctor
Katy Manning as Jo Grant
Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
Wilfred Carter as Sir Reginald Styles
Oliver Gilbert as Dalek Voice
Peter Messaline as Dalek Voice

Certificate PG

Synopsis

On Earth in the 22nd century, Daleks have enslaved the planet and humans live in fear of their masters. Meanwhile, back in the 20th century, a peace conference is urgently needed to prevent World War Three.

When reports reach UNIT of a ghost at Auderly House - the site for the conference - the Doctor and Jo decide to investigate.

Danger is waiting for them there, including a trip two hundred years into the future without the TARDIS...

Special Features
  • Commentary By Actors Anna Barry and Jimmy Winston, Producer Barry Letts, Script Editor Terrance Dicks and Vision Mixer Mike Catherwood
  • 'Blasting the Past' - Cast and Crew Look Back on the Making of This Story
  • A View From the Gallery
  • 'Nationwide' - A School Receives A Special Delivery
  • 'Blue Peter' - Peter Purves Meets Three Daleks
  • Photo Gallery
  • Radio Times Billings
  • Coming Soon Trailers
  • 'Day of the Daleks: Special Edition' - A New Version With Specially Shot Sequences, Brand New Effects and New Dalek Voices, Exclusive to This DVD
  • The Making of 'Day of the Daleks: Special Edition'
  • The UNIT Family - Part Two
  • Now and Then
  • The UNIT Dating Conundrum
  • The Cheating Memory
  • Teaser Trailer

Review

Everybody remembers their first Doctor.  Well, mine was Jon Pertwee.  I was introduced to the character that would become a favourite for many years by my father after he brought home two Doctor Who VHS tapes.  One was 'Spearhead From Space' starring Jon Pertwee and the other was 'Terror of the Zygons' starring Tom Baker.

Obviously, I went for 'Spearhead...' and that's why Pertwee has always been a favourite of mine.  It's the same with Tom Baker.  The two of them have always been the two I have found most  interesting and long lasting.

So it was with great excitement that I put this DVD in and sat down to watch it.  Would Perwee's first battle with the Daleks be as exciting as his other  adventures or would it fall flat?

Well I have to admit that despite a few technical problems here and there, this is definitely one of the best of the Pertwee era.  The pacing fluctuates between fast and action packed and a slow deliberate pace that allows for character development.

There were a couple of moments where the politics seem a little hokey but there are moments where they seem eerily up to date.  I especially liked how they manage to juggle nods to the past battles with the Daleks but also hinted at the battles to come in the future.

One of the problems with this one, while minor flaws, manage to be a little noticeable.  The voices for the Daleks just seem wrong,  In fact, the voices seem more on the silly side than on the menacing side.  Also there are only three of them as well so the director seems to like trying various camera angles to make them seem more imposing.  Some of them work really well and others seem a little bit like the camera man has one leg shorter than the other.

Other than that, the story is absolutely superb.  The Daleks did seem a little shoe horned in to the story but at the same time, it was great to see Pertwee's version of the Doctor take them on.  The pace in the final episode of the serial, really brings a frantic worry to the story and that really ramps up the excitement for us 'old timers' of the Doctor Who community.

Special features wise, we are positively spoiled for choice, especially with the inclusion of the special edition of the story.  With new special effects, better Dalek voices and much more, the fact that you can watch either version depending on your mood is a fantastic treat for fans.  Add in all the other goodies that are here too and you have a goldmine for the fans.

All in all, while not without it's flaws, this is definitely one of the classic Pertwee stories that defined his time as The Doctor and really help to show just why his incarnation of the character is one of the most loved of them all.

Story 8/10
Picture 7/10
Sound 8/10
Special Features 10/10
Overall 33/40

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Superior Spider-Man: My Own Worst Enemy Graphic Novel Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Dan Slott
Art By Ryan Stegman and Guiseppe Camuncoli
Lettering By Joe Caramagna and Clayton Cowles
Cover By Ryan Stegman and Mike Deodato Jr.

Genre
Superhero, Action

Synopsis

Peter Parker spent a lifetime living up to the responsibilities his powers foisted upon him, but his story finally ended dramatically in the historic Amazing Spider-Man #700. 

NOW!...The new Amazing Spider-Man has arrived, and he is better in every single way. Smarter, stronger...Superior. And he'll prove it, both to himself and the world, when he faces down the all-new Sinister Six! 

But is this all-new Spider-Man in cahoots with J. Jonah Jameson? And has Carlie Cooper figured out the Superior Spider-Man's secret identify? Plus: Spider-Man and Mary Jane...reunited?! 

All this and the return of the villainous Vulture! It's an all-new era of web-slinging excitement, and it all starts NOW!  

COLLECTING: Superior Spider-Man 1-5.

Review

With both DC having a major revamp under the banner 'The New 52' and Marvel doing the same under the 'Marvel Now' banner, there have been some major changes to some of the most famous superheroes in the comic book world.

That's when Dan Slott did the unthinkable.  An act that had fans in absolute uproar.  He killed Peter Parker!  Not only that but he then put Doctor Octopus's mind in to ol' Spidey's body!

That move got one of two reactions from the fans.  Some thought that it was a remarkably brave move and carried on reading the title.  Others, well others went the opposite way.  They deserted the title, they sent death threats, wrote letters of protest and much more.

Now that the dust has settled on those events, does the title warrant people coming back and having a look at one of the shocking story lines in recent memory?

Well, yes and no.  When this title first started, I have to admit that while I was hooked in to seeing just where Slott was going to take the character next, something felt like it was missing.  That said, this title is definitely one that rewards the long term reader.

The issues collected here are the ones that laid the groundwork for the future issues that are now firing on all cylinders and as such, have a couple of hiccups here and there.  For the most part this is a brave and compelling title.  When I first read about the whole switching minds thing, I didn't think it would work because it sound like a really hokey idea on paper.  Yet Slott's writing does make it an exciting and very different story.

It's not entirely successful however for a couple of minor reasons.  One, the art changes halfway through this collection.  For the first couple of issues, it's quite a dark, angular art style that really works for the darker moments in the story but then it suddenly changes in to a more cartoon style and that's kind of a shame.  If it had have stuck to the darker style, I think the story would have felt a lot grittier and hard hitting.

Talking of the art, there are some absolutely brilliant panels in this collection.  Some of the later ones do struggle a little because the darker dialogue seems at odds with the cartoon style of the art.  That said however, the story is still quite successful.

Despite the protestations from the die hard fans that Slott ruined Spider-Man, which I honestly don't think he has, 'Superior Spider-Man' takes the character in a completely new direction.  It's true that it's not 100% successful but it's definitely a title that will grow on you if you give it a chance to.

Story 7/10
Art 7/10
Overall 14/20

Monday, 23 September 2013

Anno Dracula: Johnny Alucard By Kim Newman Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Kim Newman

Published By Titan Books

Genre
Horror, Thriller

Synopsis

This brand new novel in the 'Anno Dracula' series, 'Johnny Alucard' takes the story to the United States and Andy Warhol's New York and Orson Welles' Hollywood.  It's 1976 and vampire reporter Kate Reed is on the set of Francis Ford Coppola's 'Dracula'.

She helps a young vampire boy, Ion Popescu, who then leaves Transylvania for America.  In the States, Popescu becomes Johnny Pop and attaches himself to Andy Warhol, inventing a new drug which confers vampire powers on it's users...

Review

As a Kim Newman fan that was a little disappointed with the quite hit and miss nature of the third entry in this series, 'Dracula Cha Cha Cha',, I was a bit hesitant to get too excited about this, the fourth entry.

While it was a vast improvement on that one, I still couldn't help but feel like I was missing something.  I've now read all four books in the 'Anno Dracula' series and yet I still felt like I'd missed an important bit of information.

The alternative history of the world that the 'Anno Dracula' series has given us, is extremely cleverly done and that's thanks to the intelligent writing by Newman yet, like I said before, something just feels like it is missing.  That's a real shame because I really enjoyed this book for the most part.

There were some absolutely inspired moments during the story.  I must admit, I loved the idea of one of the characters meeting with Andy Warhol and seeing what would happen in this alternative timeline.  Also the idea of a drug that confers the power of a vampire on to the users and then the aftermath of taking such a drug was well handled.  It's true that it was a little heavy handed in places but I thought that it was one of the strongest parts of the story itself.

As for the rest of the book, I really enjoyed it.  Part of the fun of reading a Kim Newman book is trying to find all the references and pop culture nods that he peppers throughout the novel.  I have always liked how some of them are really out in the open and others, you have to know what you are looking for.

There is also an incredibly touching moment in the book featuring an aged yet unnamed Philip Marlowe that works superbly well and even though it's little more than a guest appearance, it underpins the rest of the story.

If you are an 'Anno Dracula' or Kim Newman fan then whatever score I give this book is going to be moot because you will no doubt have gotten this entry in to the series already.  However, if you're not and you are looking for something a little different to try out then you could do a hell of a lot worse than this.  It's a big improvement on the previous book and is jam packed full of great references and cameo appearances as well as a hell of a lot more.

Story 8/10
Characters 7/10
Recommended 7/10
Overall 22/30

Sunday, 22 September 2013

WesterNoir Book 2 Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Dave West
Art By Gary Crutchley
Cover By Gary Crutchley and Matt Soffe

Published By Accent UK

Genre
Western, Supernatural, Action

Synopsis

Josiah Black.  A man with a mysterious past now working for a very secretive man.  Something not quite right is going on in the world and Black is determined to find out what is, no matter where in the world it takes him.

Surrounded by swampland, Black may have met his match in the shape of the 'gators that roam the swamp but these aren't just any ol' 'gators.

Review

After the absolutely superb first book by West and Crutchley, book two had a very high standard to live up to.

Not only did they match the quality of the first one, I think they even managed to better themselves with this one.  Set in a dark and dank swamp, Josiah Black has to get to the bottom of a mystery surrounding missing women, hushed secrets about the woman living there and rumors of 'gators decimating anyone that gets in their way.

The story once again moves at a cracking pace and really hooks the reader in to the story.  That's in part to the superb team of West and Crutchley.  The writing and art fit together like a well made jigsaw to such an extent that I couldn't imagine anyone else doing this title.  It's a bit like Bendis and Oeming and their 'Powers' comics.

Atmosphere wise, the writing really gives the reader a sense of dread throughout the story but it's most evident during the scenes in the swamp where Black is literally fighting for his life against the malformed 'gators.  That's where the superb artwork really comes to life the most as well.  The stark artwork by Crutchley really brings the scenes to life and gives it a classic Universal horror movie feel while still feeling utterly original.

The character of Josiah Black is a very interesting one and we get a little bit more of a glimpse in to his psyche.  I like the way that we, as readers, are being fed little bits of information about the character a little bit at a time so that our imaginations can feel in any blanks.  That style of writing credits the reader with having a good sense of intelligence instead of feeling like they have to over explain everything.  I also like the way that sometimes, there aren't clear cut reasons or excuses as to why things happen or how to take care of them.  I also like the way Black comes across as a mix of Jonah Hex and Clint Eastwood but still is his own character.

This title just gets better and better so I personally can't wait to get my beady little eyes on book three to see where they are going to take the character next.  Definitely one to pick up for fans of well written and exciting stories with a supernatural tint but worth taking a look at for the superb yet stark art used to get the atmosphere to creep under the skin of the reader.

Story 8.5/10
Art 9/10
Overall 17.5/20

You can buy the WesterNoir books from here!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Powers Bureau Issue 7 Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Brian Michael Bendis
Art and Cover By Michael Avon Oeming

Published By Icon

Genre
Superhero, Crime

Synopsis

After the shocking events of issue 6, Pilgrim and Walker are summoned to the bloody scene of a brutal murder.  The suspect has been caught at the scene.  Or has he?

Review

I have to admit that I was quite disappointed with issue 6 that marked the end of the first story line for the 'Powers Bureau' comic book.  It started off with a bang but then petered out towards the end so I was looking forward to seeing if they could regain the lost momentum.

Well, this was most definitely a massive improvement on the last issue.  It's a one shot story with issue 8 starting the new storyline but it works well.  It brought back memories of the original 'Powers' and the reasons why I feel in love with the title in the first place.

The story itself is interesting, well paced and has some great twists throughout.  The reasoning behind the murders at the end of the story is an interesting one and really raises some good ethical questions of when something is wrong and when something is acceptable.  That's down to Bendis' writing that seems to be back on track after the miss step of the last issue. 

As always, the art by Michael Avon Oeming, is top notch.  The murder scenes in particular are very well done with a brutal, dark and grimy honesty.  It comes across like an 80's horror movie but in a very good way because that really keeps the action moving.  Oeming has always had a knack for being able to create a great mood for whatever title he's working on and that's what he has shown here.

With not only an interesting story with some great questions of morality being asked but also with a massively heartbreaking ending, this is a vast improvement on the 6th and quite disappointing issue.  Well worth picking up so see 'Powers Bureau' back on track.

Story 8/10
Art 8.5/10
Overall 16.5/20

Flimsy's Guide To Modern Living Launch Party


Written By Patrick Challis

Readers of this site will be very aware of the superb comics 'The Way We Write' and 'I Am Fire' written and illustrated by the super talented Rachael Smith so it will come as no surprise to any of you that I was very eager to get my butt over to the launch party of another comic release by her, this time being 'Flimsy's Guide To Modern Living'.

Rachael Smith and Her Mum Talking To 'Flimsy' Fans

When I first got to the venue, the intimate nature of it really brought home how amiable and personable Rachael Smith is with her fans.  Throughout the night she could be found talking to her fans about her work and pretty much anything else.

Neil Warner Compering the Evening

This wasn't just any bog standard launch however.  There was an absolute plethora of entertainment on show ranging from sketch comedy from Sad Little Flyer that had me in stitches to some great compere work by  the Geordie comedian Neil Warner.  There was also a set Lindsey Warnes Carroll, whose set involved a blow up Nick Clegg, a puppet theatre and '50 Shades of Grey' told in the form of dance with action figures.  With also music from Weikie and a performance by Richard Peel, there really was something for everyone.

Sad Little Flyer

 As a launch for the comic, this was hugely successful one.  Rachael Smith was swamped by her fans and rightfully so because she is an insanely talented lady.

Lindsey Warnes Carroll

 Well, go on.  What are you waiting for?

Lego Star Wars: The Padawan Menace DVD Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Michael Price
Directed By David Scott

A Lucasfilm, Lego and Animal Magic Film

Genre
Animated, Family, Science Fiction

Cast

Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Nika Futterman as Asajj Ventress, Jempa, Shaak Ti
Phil LaMarr as Darth Vader, Bail Organa, Jar Jar Binks, Republic Guard
Tom Kane as Yoda, Narrator, Senator Yaun, Pitchman
Katie Leigh as Han Solo, Mari Amithest, Ashla

Certificate U

Synopsis

Star Wars and the LEGO Group join forces for this all-new animated adventure.

A routine Jedi Academy field trip is turned into a rip-roaring comic adventure in LEGO Star Wars: The Padawan Menace.

Tour guide Master Yoda leads a group of rambunctious Jedi younglings through Senate chambers when he senses a disturbance in the Force. Summoned to help save the Republic, he discovers that one of the younglings, Ian, has secretly boarded his ship... and young Ian has a taste for adventure!

Meanwhile, C-3PO and R2-D2 are put in charge of the boisterous group and find themselves in over their heads. As the evil Sith prepare to wreak havoc, it's up to Yoda and the Droids to ensure that their young charges aren't torn to bits.

Special Features
  • 'The Search For R2-D2'
  • 'Star Wars in Two Minutes (Part 1)
  • 'Star Wars in Two Minutes (Part 2)
  • 'Bombad Bounty'
  • 'The Clone Wars' Animated Comics

Review

When my son was given this as a gift and we sat down to watch it, I have to admit that I wasn't really expecting all that much from it.  I suppose I was a bit jaded from the whole 'Episodes 1-3' debacle.

Well, all I can say is, strap yourself in and prepare to laugh yourself absolutely silly.

While there are a lot of continuity errors in relation to the original movies, that is besides the point.  It's not really meant to be watched in relationship to those movies.  In fact, it plays as a homage or tribute to the original movies with loads of jokes that the diehard fans will absolutely howl with laughter at.  Don't worry if you aren't a 'Star Wars' fan however.  There are so many jokes firing out that there is a bit of humor for absolutely everyone from nods to the those movies to classic movie and television shows and much more.  My favourite joke of the movie by far was the fact that Darth Vader kept straying in to the shot and George Lucas would come out and tell him off before leading him away.

The animation looks absolutely superb.  It's crystal clear and massively true to the spirit of 'Lego', if 'Lego' has a spirit that is, and the characters look fantastic, especially that of the 'Lego' George Lucas.

Special Features wise there are some great little bits and pieces here.  You have some extra cartoons, two normal 'Lego Star Wars' ones and the 'Clone Wars' animated comics, all of which are absolutely hilarious and the two part 'Star Wars in Two Minutes.

All in all, if you can pick this one up then I urge you do.  It's an absolute riot of humour for both the kids and some of us bigger kids.  Well worth picking up.

Movie 8/10
Picture 9/10
Sound 9/10
Special Features 7/10
Overall 33/40

Lego Star Wars: The Padawan Menace (TV Movie 2011) on IMDb

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Sons of Anarchy Issue 1 Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Christopher Golden
Art By Damian Couceiro and Steven Downer
Lettering By Ed Dukeshire
Cover By Garry Brown

Published By Boom! Studios

Genre
Drama, Crime

Synopsis

With no one else to turn to, the daughter of an old SAMCRO member comes to Charming looking for help.

The only people standing between Kendra and certain death are the Sons of Anarchy, and, for better or for worse, Sergeant-at-Arms Tig.

Review

As a fan of the 'Sons of Anarchy' television show, I was both excited and dubious about the idea of a comic book adaptation or spin off.  Even though it's by Boom! Studios, I was still a little worried that maybe they wouldn't be able to get the tone of the show or the personalities of the characters as well as the show itself does.

I was a bit more dubious when I saw the Garry Brown cover for the 6 issue series.  For me it just didn't grip me or make me excited to read what was inside.  However, this is definitely a case of not judging a book, or in this case a comic, by it's cover.

What is inside the cover  is the first part of what is shaping up to be a very interesting story with the beloved characters in all their glory.  Tig is most definitely in the foreground for this story by the looks of it and that's fine by me because, as a fan, I think he is one of the most interesting characters out of the whole gang.  There are nods to what has happened in recent episodes of the show but also to characters pasts that we haven't seen yet.  I like that approach.  It both rewards long standing fans of the show but also hooks in the people that haven't seen it.

That's one of the problems of the issue here.  If you're not up to date with the recent happenings of the biker gang from Charming then there are a hell of a lot of spoilers here for you.  Deaths of characters, plot lines and the such.  Also, if you're not a fan of the series, you may also be a little bit lost in places.

The art  here captures the personalities of the characters really well and also gives proceedings a dark, grimy feel.  That really helps to push the story along at a great looking pace.  Teamed with the writing, the art really does do the series justice.  I especially liked the fact that the fight scenes looked exciting and full of action yet didn't look at all cluttered.  However, there were times  that the coloring just seemed a little off and a little too bright, which when compared to the dark and grimy feel of some of the other panels just seemed a bit out of character.

All in all, if you are a fan of the 'Sons of Anarchy' television show then this is definitely going to deserve to be in your collection.  If you're not a fan or you haven't watched the show then you may find yourself a little bit lost in places.

Another quality adaptation by Boom! Studios!

Story 7/10
Art 7/10
Overall 14/20

The Casebook of Newbury and Hobbes By George Mann Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By George Mann

Published By Titan Books

Genre
Mystery, Crime, Steampunk

Synopsis

A brand new collection of short stories.

Join the indomitable detective duo of Sir Maurice Newbury and Miss Veronica Hobbes in the dangerous streets of Victorian London as they battle some of their most challenging cases yet.

From the mysterious to the macabre, the supernatural specialist and his determined assistant face plague revenants, murderous peers, mechanical beasts, tentacled leviathans and reanimated pygmies, working alongside Detective Inspector Charles Bainbridge, Newbury's sometime nemesis 'Lady Arkwell' and the great detective himself, Sherlock Holmes.

Review

As a long time fan of the 'Newbury and Hobbes' adventures written by George Mann, I was very eager to get to read this collection of short stories that feature the detective duo as they take on some of the biggest cases of their careers.

With equal parts classic mystery, steampunk and supernatural, some of the tales here take on the macabre and others wouldn't be out of place in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle collection.  This is especially true of the story 'The Case of the Night Crawler' in which the duo team up with Dr Watson to tackle a case with Holmes in the background pulling the strings like a puppet master but also showing a bit of a competitive attitude towards Newbury.  It's a wonderful piece of writing.  It's the second time I've read it, it was included in 'Encounters of Sherlock Holmes', but I liked it even better the second time.

I loved how each story seemed to take a different perspective of Newbury and Hobbes solving their cases in such a way that it felt like different authors had done each story yet they manage to keep George Mann's superbly unique writing style.  That takes a hell of a lot of talent to pull off but Mann does it with style to spare here.

I could tell you all about the stories here but that would ruin the fun of opening the collection and discovering the stories for yourself.  My favourite of the stories is easily 'What Lies Beneath' with it's wonderfully shocking and macabre twist at the end, although 'The Maharajah's Star' comes an incredibly close second.

As an anthology of stories, this collection works very well indeed.  As an introduction to the duo, it does the same but where it shines is the fact that it also rewards the long time fans with nods to past cases yet does so without alienating the newcomers.

All  in all, this is a truly superb collection of stories featuring two fantastically well written characters that really go from strength to strength thanks to the brilliant writing by George Mann.  I definitely can't wait for the next case!

Story 8.5/10
Characters 9.5/10
Recommended 9/10
Overall 27/30

Monday, 16 September 2013

Spawn: Book of the Dead Graphic Novel Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Story By Steve Niles
Written By David Hines
Art By Ashley Wood and Geirrod Van Dyke
Cover By Ashley Wood

Published By Image Comics

Genre
Horror, Supernatural

Synopsis

At long last, the unholy legend can be told! Secrets revealed! In-depth character backgrounds! Hellishly brilliant character art! From Malebolgia to Sam and Twitch to the Heap, each character in the Spawn comic mythos is beautifully rendered by renowned artist Ashley Wood and mind blowing new comer Geirrod Van Dyke. 

The secret history of the Hellspawn is finally divulged with comprehensive text by Spawn writer David Hine. 

This is it! Spawn: The Book of the Dead is a must-have for collectors and an indispensable guide to those who have always wondered, but were too afraid to ask. 

Abandon hope all ye who purchase this volume. You have been warned.

Review

As a long time fan of 'Spawn', I have waited a long time to get my geeky little hands on a copy of this, the definitive history of the 'Hellspawn' was always something that interested me.

 David Hines is an amazing writer and has written some absolutely amazing stories in his long career in the comic book world.  In fact, Hines' work is the sort of writing that is at home in any type of genre.  That's the mark of a good writer and Hines is a great one.

While the story is by Steve Niles, one of the creators of '30 Days of Night', and written by  David Hines, this graphic novel can also count as an illustrated book as well.  It would just as comfortable in either genre.

The writing for this is very well done.  Hines' writing style has always been a superb fit for the darker side of comics and that's the case here.  His style is the perfect fit for this tome showing the history of the 'Hellspawn' because it flows so well that you can just go from page to page in no time.  The characters really come to life, well as much as the 'Hellspawn' can be alive, and that really raises the quality of this book.  I'm always dubious when a major chapter in the history of the 'Spawn' character comes along not written by his creator, Todd McFarlane, because sometimes the writers just can't get the minor details of the characters right that make them so memorable.  However the team of Niles and Hines have really combined superbly to make this a must for the fans.

Art wise, I thought that this release would maybe struggle because the characters are so distinctive that I really didn't think that there would be any way to improve on them or even have them up to the massively high standard that have been set by previous installments.  That's not the case here at all.  The illustrations in this book are stunningly beautiful.  In fact, I would even go so far as to say that the art here is some of the best I have seen in an incredibly long time.

If you are fan of 'Spawn' then this is an absolutely essential purchase.  If you like intelligent writing then this is an essential purchase.  Most of all, if you a fan of David Hines then I urge you to get this.  It really is that good.

Story 9/10
Art 9/10
Overall 18/20