Thursday, 31 July 2014

The Three Belles in We'll Meet Again Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Matt Wingett

Published By
Life is Amazing

Genre
Mystery

Synopsis

As the vintage singing trio, The Three Belles, perform their 1940's show at The Guildhall, Portsmouth, more than just memories of a bygone era are awoken.

A mysterious stranger appears to one of the Belles, with a proposal of love...and a promise of death.

Determined to find out the stranger's secret, The Belles must race to uncover a story of mystery and undying love, before time runs out for one of them.

Mixing vintage times and the modern day in a powerful tale of betrayal and supernatural romance, this is the first in a series of adventures starring The Three Belles.

Look out for their next adventure, coming soon!

Review

I have to admit that I picked this title up on a whim after visiting the city of Portsmouth on holiday as it sounded interesting.

With the amount of hype and fascination surrounding the emergence of vintage as the next big thing fashion wise, I put off reading this one as I felt like it would just be a title that jumped on the bandwagon but a couple of days ago, I picked it back up and gave it a read.

The main characters here are based on a real life singing group and because of that, their characters come across as realistic and true to life.  That helps give the story an emotional edge so when one of the members is in danger, you really want them to succeed in saving her.

Story wise, there were a couple of moments where I felt the writing gave the characters a couple of moments where they succeeded too easily and that there wasn't any risk and that's a bit of a shame because the rest of the story was very well written.  That's most true with the descriptions of their surroundings.  You really do feel like you are there with them and that is fantastic considering the history surrounding Portsmouth.  

The story felt like a labor of love for Matt Wingett and that shows here in the passionate writing.  There were some really haunting moments of tragedy and love during the story and it full on gripped me right through to the very end.  Also, one of the things that struck me was the simple fact that the pacing was spot on for this story.  While the writing felt quick at times, there was plenty of time for the characters to breathe and come to life.  It's the same with the city too, Wingett really uses it as an additional character and that gives the story such a vivid feel to it that you can't help but be sucked in to it.

All in all, this is a great and quick read.  The writing really captures the feel that makes vintage so popular but to dismiss it as merely that would be a shame because it really is an interesting and involving story.

If you want to grab a book that is well paced, has an emotional slant and a great air of mystery then it's definitely well worth grabbing a copy.

Story 7.5/10
Characters 8.5/10
Cover 7/10
Recommended 7/10
Overall 30/40

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Blood Blokes Issue 3 and 4 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Adam Cadwell

Art By
Adam Cadwell

Guest Artists
Issue 3
Josceline Fenton
Sammy Borras
Priscilla Tramontano

Issue 4
Warwick Johnson-Cadwell
Andy Bloor
James Lawrence

Cover By
Adam Cadwell
Tula Lotav (Back Cover - Issue 3)
Paul Duffield (Back Cover - Issue 4)

Published By
Great Beast Comics

Genre
Horror, Comedy

Synopsis

In this third issue, Vince awakens in the vampire house with more than a few questions. When he discovers the hard way that going home isn't an option he finds the life of a vampire to be alarmingly familiar, yet Vince still longs for a certain someone.

Featuring illustrations by Tula Lotay, Priscilla Tramontano, Josceline Fenton and Sammy Borras.

In the fourth issue, Douglas teaches Vince how to hunt for blood from high above the drunken crowds of Oxford Road, while Tamara meets a very inquisitive gentleman among the goths and rockers in Jilly's Rockworld.

With a back cover by Paul Duffield (The Firelight Isle) and back up illustrations by Warwick Johnson-Cadwell (Tank Girl), Andy Bloor and James Lawrence.


Review

After the superb first two issues of Blood Blokes I can honestly say that I was wondering just what would make the story go from being very good to brilliant.  Well, these two issues definitely go a long way in to doing that.

Issue 3 starts exactly where the second one left off with Vince waking up in a house with a whole bucket load of questions for his new vampire friends.  The story does a great job here of showing Vince's fear and confusion without it turning in to melodrama or over the top silliness.

The way the vampires try to show Vince the ropes only for him to set in to motion the events for issue four is very well written by Cadwell.  The characters here really do stand out a lot from the current crop of the vampire genre and I have to admit that I really like the fact that they don't fall in to the normal cliches.  Instead they come across as real people that you may have met when out partying in the goth and alternative clubs but they just happen to be the vampires.

That is followed up superbly well in issue four when Vince teams up with Douglas in order to learn just how to hunt for blood and other lessons.  Running alongside this part of the story is one of a new man turning up and trying to discover more about the group.  It's left quite open ended and really left me wanting to see more, to read more about both the group themselves and this new arrival.

As well as these two great issues, we're also treated to some absolutely brilliant guest art by a whole variety of artists ranging from AccentUK's Andy Bloor to Paul Duffield and beyond.  This was a great touch for the fans of the series and if this is going to be an ongoing thing for this title then I honestly can't wait to see who is going to jump on board next.

All in all, this is definitely a vampire series that is well worth picking up.  I mean come on guys.  It's Great Beast Comics.  You know it's a quality title when it has their seal of approval on it.

Issue Three
Story 8/10
Art 7.5/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 31.5/40

Issue Four
Story 8.5/10
Art 8/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 8.5/10
Overall 33/40

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Wooden Heart Graphic Novel Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
David McCluskey

Art and Cover By
Leosaysays

Published By
Dammaged Comics

Genre
Horror, Supernatural Thriller

Synopsis

When a traveling carnivals arrival in 1800's New York coincides with disappearances of the townsfolk, the carnival folk are quickly blamed.

Fast forward to recent day and a homicide detective is investigating a series of murders that spike a feeling of deja vu inside of him but are the two things linked?

Review

After reading the two Interesting Tymes collections put out by Dammaged Comics, I was very eager to get my hands on their next release, this time a full on gore fest wrapped up inside a detective story.

One of the first things to strike me about this one was  the massive difference in the art to McCluskey's other stories.  Instead of the Beano style artwork of Interesting Tymes we have quite a bright and colorful style that at first seems rather at odds with the dark and gritty story.  After a second read, I noticed it seemed to create a bit of an uneasy feeling and that actually fits in well with the writing itself.

The story of two points in time maybe having a supernatural link is an interesting one and McCluskey not only takes that idea but he runs with it too.  As the crimes mount up and the murders appear to becoming stranger and stranger with no end in sight, the writing makes it look as if the detective is falling in to the trap in impending madness.  I really liked the idea behind that and it made the character a lot more interesting than it might have been in another writers hands.

I was wondering whether or not the fact that the story takes place in two different historical periods would make it a little disjointed but that's not the case.  Instead, the two halves work quite well together and the parallels between the two work really well.

The only negative for me is that the art sometimes doesn't match the impact of the story itself.  The art isn't bad by any stretch of the imagination, in fact I really liked the sometimes off kilter approach to it.  I just would have liked a little bit more of a grittier style to the story for the art but that's just a personal preference really not a criticism.

All in all, the subtle pacing and then flashes of gore really ram home the supernatural element of the story and the off kilter style of the art does, for the most part, really give the story an uneasy feeling.  Definitely one to take a look at.

Story 8/10
Art 7/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 31/40

Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Meek Promo Art For You Lovely People!


Well guys, girls, animals and minerals,

With the heat beating down on us here in good ol' England, we can safely say that it is Summer!  As much as I love the winter part of the year, summer always seems to fill me with energy and that leads me in to getting a load of writing down.

I'm currently writing a series with the superbly talented artist named Carlos Moreno, yes the same incredibly talented guy that is working on the Freak Show story as well, and it's named The Meek.

As regular readers to this site will have noticed, it has zombies in.  A truck load of zombies but write it off as just another zombie series at your peril.  With so many twists and turns planned, issue one has shaped up to look absolutely great thanks to the utterly brilliant art that has been jumping in to my inbox.

I am proud to be able to reveal to you, not one but TWO pieces of art connected to the series itself.

Firstly, here's our main character named Edward.  Hero?  Villain?  You'll find out soon enough.


For all you Summer fans out there enjoying the hot weather, don't think we've forgotten you.  Far from it.  Here's a little something to quench your thirst.


With luck, we'll be revealing issue one live at the Nottingham Comic Convention in October so keep your eyes peeled!

All art and story copyright of Dark Pond Creations and Patrick Scattergood and Carlos Moreno.

Come visit the Dark Pond Creations Facebook Page for more info and maybe, if you're all good little zombies, more art and story samples!

Dark Pond Creations

Doctor Who: New Adventures With the Eleventh Doctor Issue 1 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Al Ewing
Rob Williams

Art By
Simon Fraser
Gary Caldwell

Lettering By
Richard Starkings
Comicraft's Jimmy Betancourt

Cover By
Alice X. Zhang

Published By
Titan Comics

Genre
Science Fiction, Adventure, Television Tie In

Synopsis

After rebooting the universe with a second Big Band, the Doctor has seen his new friends Amy and Rory married, and given them a honeymoon to remember.

Leaving them to settle into their newlywed life, the Doctor is traveling the cosmos alone, checking for anomalies in Reality 2.0 - a mission that is about to change his life forever!

Review

With Titan Comics scoring a massive coup by getting the rights to publishing new and exciting comic book stories featuring the tenth and eleventh incarnations of the Doctor, there has been a lot of hype and expectation amongst fans of the long running show.

As a fan of both the classic eras and the revamped ones, I must admit that on first viewing that I wasn't all that big a fan of Matt Smith.  With more viewings of his episodes, thanks to my sons growing obsession with the show itself, he has really started to grow on me.

So with that in mind, I went in to this issue wondering how they would bring his sometimes manic and sometimes thoughtful energy to life on the page.  Well, with two names like Al Ewing and Rob Williams involved, I should have known that I was going to be in for a very impressive ride.

The thing that struck me was the simple fact of just how different to the David Tennant comic book this one is.  It's a great thing that they can make the two comic books so different to one another because the portrayals in the show did the same thing.  Yet here this one takes a completely opposite approach to the story.

In the tenth Doctor comic book, they took a slow yet deliberate ride in to the adventure, ending on a fast paced note.  Here we spend a couple of very emotional pages, which I will admit brought a tear to my eye, to introduce the character of Alice.  They made these emotional and heartfelt pages grey and washed out, which really brought the heart of the character to the forefront before bursting in to color with the arrival of a rather colorful alien.  And no, I don't mean The Doctor.

That's when the story breaks itself in to two so to speak.  We have the adventure side of things well and truly covered by the fact that The Doctor and Alice team up to try to find out what the alien wants and to try to find out if it's dangerous or not.  While that part of the story is very well done, it's the relationship between Alice and The Doctor that is the backbone of this issue and it shows.  There's a scene in which the Doctor visits her at home to see if she's alright because, in his words, "You seemed sad" and it's so beautifully written that you find yourself completely and utterly caring about Alice even more and feeling like she has always been a companion.

All in all, not only did I enjoy this one more than the tenth Doctor adventure, which surprised me, I think this is actually one of the most heartfelt and well written introductions of a companion that I have read or seen in a long time.  Bring on issue two!

Story 8/10
Art 8.5/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 8.5/10
Overall 33/40

The Lego Movie DVD Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Dan Hageman
Kevin Hageman
Phil Lord
Christopher Miller

Directed By
Phil Lord
Christopher Miller

A Warner Brothers, Vertigo Entertainment, Lin Pictures Film

Genre
Animated, Comedy, Adventure, Family

Cast

Will Arnett as Batman / Bruce Wayne
Elizabeth Banks as Wyldstyle / Lucy
Alison Brie as Unikitty
Will Ferrell as Lord Business / President Business / The Man Upstairs
Jonah Hill as The Green Lantern
Morgan Freeman as Vitruvius
Liam Neeson as Good Cop / Bad Cop / Pa Cop
Chris Pratt as Emmett Brickowski
Cobie Smulders as Wonder Woman
Channing Tatum as Superman

Year Released
2014

Certificate
U

Synopsis

The LEGO Movie is the first-ever, full-length theatrical LEGO adventure. Directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller ("Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs," "21 Jump Street") the original 3D computer-animated story follows Emmet, an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average LEGO minifigure who is mistakenly identified as The Special, the most extraordinary person and the key to saving the world. 

He is drafted into a fellowship of strangers on an epic quest to stop an evil tyrant, a journey for which Emmet is hopelessly and hilariously under-prepared. 

Special Features
  • Everything is Awesome Sing-a-long
  • Fan Made Films: Top Secret Submissions

Review

I have to admit that when I saw that The Lego Movie was going to be made, I thought one thing.  It was going to be little more than a feature length advert for the long running bricks and little else.  Then I watched it.
I was very wrong indeed.

What we ended up getting was a fun, sweet and exciting family movie that will not only keep the little ones attentions during the long summer holidays and beyond but also has a very sweet, kind heart and an important message for the viewers without it feeling like they were either making it overly simple or preaching.

This film manages to fit in so many pop culture references in to it's running time that it would be nigh on impossible to sit here and list them all, especially considering they are so varied.  There is also such a variety of jokes and references that there are ones that will have the little ones howling with laughter but also their parents as well.

The story itself really struck a chord with me.  One one hand you have the 'master builders' that can and will look at the bricks and make whatever their heart and imagination desires.  Then you have a character like Lord Business, who wants everything strictly built to the instructions.  That's a very good parable for life in that you will always have the creative people but then you'll have the people that want to tell you what to do and how to do it.  This part of the story is told in such a way that when the ending strikes, it will really touch your heart.

One of the things that I did really like about the movie itself is the way it all comes together.  No pun intended.  While the narrative isn't exactly ground breaking in it's originality, the way the creative team put it all together makes it seem all completely fresh and new.  It really is the sort of movie that everybody can put in to their DVD player and enjoy.

I would have liked to have seem a couple more special features included on the DVD version but what we have here is quite fun, especially the fan made submissions.  Some of them really blew my mind as to how well they were made.

All in all, I must admit that I couldn't have been more wrong about this movie.  What I thought would be little more than a soul less advert was actually a movie with a kind heart and the type of humor and references that everyone regardless of age could enjoy.

Hell, it's worth getting for hearing Batman sing!

Movie 8/10
Picture 9/10
Sound 9/10
Special Features 6/10
Overall 34/40




Saturday, 26 July 2014

Doctor Who: New Adventures With the Tenth Doctor Issue 1 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Nick Abadzis

Art By
Elena Casagrande
Michele Pasta
Arianna Florean
Claudia SG
Fabiola Ienne
Valentina Cuomo
Azzurra Florean

Special Thanks To
Paolo Villanelli
Luca Lamberti

Lettering By
Richard Starkings
Comicraft's Jimmy Betancourt

Cover By
Alice X. Zhang

Published By
Titan Comics

Genre
Science Fiction, Adventure, Television Tie In

Synopsis

It can be wonderful to explore all of time and space at the Doctor's side, but the universe can also be a dark and dangerous place - as the Doctor's most recent companion, Donna Noble, found to her cost.

Forced to leave her behind, the Doctor has since been wandering alone.

But no matter how far he travels, or how long, something always brings him back to Earth...

Review

With David Tennant being my favorite of the recent incarnations of the legendary character of The Doctor, I was massively excited when it was announced that Titan Comics would be doing an ongoing series of comic books featuring his famous portrayal.

So many questions came to mind.  Where would they take the character?  Where in his timeline would the stories happen?  Would they do the portrayal justice?

After reading it, I did something I haven't done for a long time.  I went back to the beginning and read it a second time.

A chunk of the first issue is taken up with introducing Gabriella, a young lady that feels crushed by her family wanting her to do what they want her to instead of following her dreams.  As if by magic, or in this case nightmare considering the storyline, The Doctor appears in her life and everything changes.

The story itself really flows quickly yet has time to give the new characters time to grow so that they are important to the reader.  I was worried that they would maybe be over shadowed by the reappearance of the Tennant era Doctor but I am eager to see where they are going to take the character of Gabriella and see how well she is going to interact with the Doctor himself.

One of the strengths that this one has in spades is that they managed to combine the art and writing in order to really nail the character of the Doctor and his high energy on to the page.  With the art being by Elena Casagrande, you would expect it to be really well drawn and it is, which works really well with the pacing of the story itself.  You are treated to some really great moments from the characters and the art really pushes that forward.

Talking of art, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the absolutely stunning cover work by Alice X. Zhang.  The cover really is incredibly eye catching.

While not an Earth shattering first issue, it does a superb job of reintroducing one of the most popular portrayals of the long running character but always a superb job of showing us a new companion that will no doubt play a very important role in the Doctor's near future.  Roll on issue two!

Story 7.5/10
Art 8/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 7.5/10
Overall 31/40

Detective Comics (1939 - 2011) Issue 27 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Bill Finger
Brad Meltzer 
Scott Snyder

Art By
Bob Kane
Bryan Hitch
David Baron
Sean Murphy
Matt Hollingsworth

Lettering By
Chris Eliopoulos
Steve Wands

Cover By
Greg Capullo

Published By
DC Comics

Synopsis

In his 75 years, Batman has been the central figure at the forefront of graphic storytelling. From the printed page to the big screen, Bob Kane's creation has never been a more significant fixture in popular culture the world over. 

This BATMAN 75 DAY COMIC 2014, free for a limited time, features the Dark Knight's origin from DETECTIVE COMICS #27 in 1939, as well a retelling of the story by New York Times bestselling novelist Brad Meltzer and illustrator Bryan Hitch and another short story by current BATMAN scribe Scott Snyder and artist Sean Murphy. 

Also included is a sneak peak at the reimagining of Batman's 1939 comic book debut, designed by Chip Kidd with a script by Meltzer. Join us as we celebrate the Dark Knight's 75th anniversary.

Review

As a comic book fan that leans more towards the small press and the indie label side of things, I don't really review a whole load of titles from DC or Marvel but sometimes there's an event that interests me to the point that I will give it a go.

Growing up and even now, I'm a Batman fan.  He's one of the few characters from the 'big two' that I like to keep reading and have stayed with.  There have been some brilliant takes on the now iconic character and there have been some really bad ones but through it all, he's been one of the most significant characters in the comic book world.

With it having him the 75 anniversary of his creation, DC decided to put out a special free comic book to celebrate the longevity of Bruce Wayne's heroic persona.  In the comic we have the original story that introduced the world to the Dark Knight as well as a modern retelling of that classic tale.  We also have a short story set in the future by Scott Snyder and a sneak peek of the reimagining that has been designed by Chip Kidd and written by Brad Meltzer.

For the long term fans, and even some new ones, this one is an absolute treat.  Not only do you get to see the story that started our love affair with the savior of Gotham City but it was also brilliant to see a modern take on it by a writer such as Brad Meltzer and who better to partner him in that undertaking than Bryan Hitch.  Both stories may be the same story on the surface but both are complete polar opposites and that's what I have always liked about the writing side of things.  You can give two people the same story to do and you will nearly always come back with two completely different tales.

The art here is a great collection of the different visions we have had of Batman over the years.  You have Bob Kane, Bryan Hitch and more all give their unique perspectives on him and the issue really does come across as having something for each type of fan.

All in all, especially considering this is free, it's a superb addition to any Batman fans collection and well worth picking up a copy.  The best part for me personally was the simple fact that Bill Finger finally gets a credit for his part in Batman's creation and it's well deserved and about time that happened.

Story 8/10
Art 8/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 32/40

You're Next DVD Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Simon Barrett

Directed By
Adam Wingard

A HanWay Films, Snoot Entertainment Film

Genre
Horror, Comedy

Cast

Sharni Vinson as Erin
Nicholas Tucci as Felix
Wendy Glenn as Zee
AJ Bowen as Crispian
Joe Swanberg as Drake
L.C. Holt as Lamb Mask
Simon Barrett as Tiger Mask
Lane Hughes as Fox Mask
Rob Moran as Paul
Barbara Crampton as Aubrey

Year Released
2013

Certificate
18

Synopsis

A family reunion turns into a bloodbath in this home invasion horror thriller directed by Adam Wingard. After arriving at their idyllic country mansion, Paul and Aubrey Davison (Rob Moran and Barbara Crampton)'s family settle down for some rare quality time together. But just as they begin to relax and unwind, the family find themselves targeted by a group of deranged killers wearing animal masks. 

As the desperate victims face a frenzied battle for survival, a family member's girlfriend, Erin (Sharni Vinson), ably demonstrates that she's more than capable of holding her own. 

Special Features
  • Audio Commentary With Director Adam Wingard, Writer Simon Barrett and Actors Sharni Vinson and Barbara Crampton
  • Audio Commentary With Director Adam Wingard and Writer Simon Barrett
  • No Ordinary Home Invasion: The Making of You're Next

Review

As a big horror fan I have to admit that sometimes when the genre finds a type of horror that hits the mark, they appear to run it in to the ground.  They did that with the found footage genre when The Blair Witch Project hit big and now they're doing that the home invasion genre.  We've had The Strangers and The Purge amongst others thus far and now we have You're Next but where does it stand in a steadily over crowding genre?

Well, I have to admit that I was entertained as hell by this one but it definitely wasn't a perfect movie by any means.

For a home invasion movie, this entry did bring quite a lot to the table by taking a darkly comic approach amidst all the guts and gore that are on display here.

Talking of guts and gore, there are some rather inventive deaths here and they don't shy away from showing them in all their bloody glory.  That said, the action and deaths here do lead in to one of the things that I didn't like about the movie.  Each time there's an action packed scene, Wingard tends to shake and move the camera to such a degree that it can be hard to work out what's happening to who sometimes.

Story wise, this one does actually separate itself from the other movies in the genre by doing two very important things.  The first one is that they actually give the murderers motivation for doing what they are doing to the family and that made a welcome change.  It may not have been the strongest reasoning ever or even the most inventive but at least there was a reason this time.  Another thing that I liked about the movie is that they also provided reasoning for how the survivor of the carnage survives instead of they just being lucky.

The fact that the writer here sidesteps some of the more over used cliches with a skill that really makes me want to check out some of his other movies.  One of the best moments of the movie for me is the simple fact that the murderers aren't put across as unstoppable killing machines.  Instead they are just people killing and are more than prone to making mistakes.  There's even a scene where one of the murderers has to stop to catch their breath.

Special features wise, it's a little bit disappointing that there isn't more here.  You have a rather dry and clinical commentary from the writer and director duo that while interesting from a technical standpoint, won't really be worth an extra use.  You also have a second one with both of them as well as Vinson and Crampton.  That ones a lot more interesting and well worth a listen.  The making of is a stereotypical promo making of but there are some interesting moments that give a good look behind the scenes.

All in all, while this one isn't perfect it is an entertaining and blood filled romp of a movie and I would even say it's one of the better installments in to the genre.

Movie 7.5/10
Picture 8.5/10
Sound 8.5/10
Special Features 6.5/10
Overall 31/40

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Bob Dylan Revisited Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Songs Written By
Bob Dylan

Interpretations By
Thierry Murat
Lorenzo Mattotti
Nicolas Nemiri
Francois Avril
Jean-Claude Gotting
Christopher
Bezian
Dave McKean
Alfred
Raphaelle Le Rio
Mael Le Mae
Henri Meunier
Gradimir Smudja
Benjamin Flao
Jean-Philippe Bramanti
Zep

Cover By
Gradimir Smudja

Published By
W.W. Norton

Genre
Anthology, Song Interpretations

Synopsis

Rendered in striking, explosive graphic form, many of Bob Dylan's most famous songs illustrated as they've never been before.

For the last forty years Bob Dylan has never ceased to be one of the most creative and inspired musicians in the world.

Mesmerized by the power of his lyrics and intrigued by the possibilities of translating his powerful, enigmatic personality in to art, thirteen leading graphic artists banded together to create this unusual testament to the universality and transcendent vision of an American musical genius.

With their vibrant, unexpected colors and dynamic, cinematic imagery, this group has assembled in Bob Dylan Revisited one of the most provocative interpretations of Dylan's music.  These artists capture the tender emotions, the ineffable sadness, and the romantic overtones of Dylan's classic songs, at the same time reflecting the moral and political urgency of his music.

Each artist's style surprisingly complements Dylan's lyrics and offers an irresistible window through which to reconsider one of America's most enigmatic artists.

Review

As a massive Bob Dylan fan, I am completely in love with the lyrics, music and the sheer amount of imagery that each of his songs can invoke.  One of the things I love most about his creations is the simple fact that they can mean so many things to so many people and that is exactly where this book comes in.

With a group of thirteen of the worlds leading graphic artists all taking attempts at taking their favorite Dylan song and creating their own take on it, you would fully expect one of two things.  A hit and miss collection that ends up being at the very least entertaining or a complete and utter mess.  This, however, is neither of those.

I would say that this collection not only takes some of the mans most famous songs and puts their own spin on them but they also do the legendary reputation of both Dylan himself and his songs justice.

Each one is completely different from each other and just like the songs themselves, painfully beautiful in their own rather unique ways.

Obviously Knockin' on Heaven's Door is one of Dylan's most famous and heart breaking songs and here it's given a painfully beautiful yet simple take by the artist Bramanti.  The gorgeous imagery that Bramanti uses really sits side by side with the lyrics in such a way that it brought a tear to my eyes.

Another highpoint for me is the interpretation of Desolation Row by the supremely talented Dave McKean.  His unique art style matches the urgency and important of Dylan's lyrics nigh on perfectly and definitely made what is one of my favorite songs of all time in to one of the best pieces of work in this collection.

I could just sit here and go on and on about how beautiful and massively gripping the work in this collection is but I would rather you just go grab yourselves a copy and read it with your own eyes.  Not only do you have the legendary lyrics of Bob Dylan, probably one of the greatest songwriters that America has ever produced, but you also have some of the worlds best artists all putting their hearts and souls in to making their versions of his stories in to something that will definitely take pride of place on any fans, and even non fans, bookshelves.

Story 9.5/10
Art 10/10
Cover 9/10
Recommended 9.5/10
Overall 38/40

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Blood Red: The Elemental Masters Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Mercedes Lackey

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Fantasy, Adventure

Synopsis

As a young Earth Mage, Rosamund von Schwarzwald was tutored in magic by her adoptive grandmother, a wise and powerful Earth Master.

But when her beloved mentor was brutally murdered by a werewolf, Rosa was taken in by the ancient forest's Hunt Master.  Taught to harness the full power of her gift, Rosa became a skilled huntress, protector of the forest and the scourge of evil - with a deadly speciality in shapeshifters.

When a string of grisly murders takes place in the remote countryside of Transylvania, the local Elemental Masters suspect a dark power is at work and desperately come to Rose for help.

But if she agrees to track down the same creatures that haunt her past, will the hunter become the hunted?

Review

With the Elemental Masters series by Mercedes Lackey dividing her fans in to two camps, I was wondering just where this latest installment would fall.  Some of her fans have absolutely fallen in love with the mixture of fantasy and fairytale worlds and others have decried them as being some of her poorest work in her long career.

I must admit that even as a long term fan, I seem to fall firmly in the middle of the two camps.  I agree that they are nowhere near as good as her early work and that they are a bit hit and miss in places but I have, for the most part, enjoyed them.

Lackey's superb world creating skills are definitely on show here and the world that she has moulded in to the fairytale image with darker tangents has more than gripped me as a reader.  The rest of the series tend to sometimes feel like it needs a bit of trimming and editing and that's the case here to a lesser degree.  There were a couple of moments that I personally would have exercised in order to give it a bit of a smoother flow but it doesn't impede the story too much.

Aside from that slight problem, I really think that this can be classed as one of the better installments in this series by far.  The fact that she has taken on the story of Little Red Riding Hood and made the character feel like one her of own is really a sign of how good Lackey can be when she brings her 'a' game to her stories.

I did really like that Rosa was a strong willed character and it was nice to see such a well written female character.  The only problem with the character that I had was the simple fact that she would sometimes go on these long moments of rambling that seemed to sometimes go nowhere and sometimes would give us a major plot point.  There never seemed to be a consistent reason for moments and that hurt the character a little bit but when the story really started to pick up steam, that was near enough forgotten when we really got to see her in her element.  Sorry, couldn't resist it.

All in all, this is definitely not one of her best books by a large margin but that said, it's really not as bad as some of her other fans have made it out to be.  Take it as it is, an interesting take on the Little Red Riding Hood story with a bit of a grimmer take.  OK, I'll stop with the puns now.

Story 7.5/10
Character 7.5/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 7/10
Overall 30/40

India Black and the Gentleman Thief Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Carol K. Carr

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Historical, Thriller

Synopsis

India Black’s double life operating a high-class brothel and running high-stakes espionage for Her Majesty’s government can take its toll. But there’s no rest for the weary—particularly when an international conspiracy comes knocking…

India Black is one of Victorian London’s most respected madams—not a bloody postmistress. So when Colonel Francis Mayhew forwards a seemingly innocuous shipping bill to her address, she’s puzzled. And when three thugs bust down her door, steal the envelope, and rough up both her and fellow agent French…well, that’s enough to make India Black see red.

The veteran spies soon discover that Mayhew has been butchered in his own bedroom. An impromptu investigation leads them to London’s docks, where India makes a startling discovery she can’t bear to tell the rakish French—she has a history with their chief suspect, the gentleman thief who once stole her heart…

Review

The first two India Black novels by Carol K. Carr were well paced and very exciting tales featuring a Victorian madam and a hell of a lot of twists and turns.  In fact, I would say that they are a pair of books that improve with each reading.

When Titan Books very kindly gave me the chance to review the third in the series, I must admit that I full on jumped at the chance to get my crime loving little hands on it.  However, would it be as good as the second book in the series, which is the best of them thus far.

Well, the answer to that my friends is no.  It's even better.

The twists and turns in this one come thick and fast, which is definitely where one of Carr's main strengths is.  She has an ability to drop a bombshell about Black's most recent case or about one of the characters involved at just the right time to get a massive reaction from the reader.

With the second book in the series having a cliffhanger of sorts that left me eager to find out more, I couldn't honestly see how Carr would get this one to match up to that but not only does it match up, it surpasses it in style.  We now know who Black is, who her mother is and I must admit that I can seriously not wait to see where that is taken in the next book.

With danger, intrigue, revelations, a former lover turning up and Black on her best cynical yet intelligent behavior, this book really does grip the reader tight and doesn't let go.  Also with an ending that more than sets up a fantastic, rollicking adventure for India Black, I am very excited to see just where Carr is going to send her brilliantly written Victorian madam.

Story  8.5/10
Characters 8.5/10
Cover 7.5/10
Recommended 8.5/10
Overall 33/40

Monday, 21 July 2014

Andromeda's Choice Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
William C. Dietz

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Science Fiction, Military, Action

Synopsis

Andromeda McKee rebuilt her life in the violent embrace of the Legion of the Damned in the days when cyborgs were first being introduced. Now she must choose between her conscience and her desire for vengeance...

In a different world, Lady Catherine “Cat” Carletto would never have left her pampered life behind. But when Princess Ophelia became Empress Ophelia in a coup that claimed the lives of the princess’s brother and all who supported him, including the Carletto family, Cat had to hide—or die.

She became Legionnaire Andromeda McKee, and now she’s a battle-scarred veteran who knows how to kill.

Summoned to Earth to receive the Imperial Order of Merit from the empress herself, Andromeda learns that she isn’t the sole surviving Carletto—her uncle Rex is not only still alive but also the leader of a resistance group determined to overthrow Ophelia.

Caught up in a web of intrigue, Andromeda realizes that the moment is coming when her revenge will be at hand. But will she be able to act, or will she be betrayed by those she has come to trust?

Review

Andromeda's Choice is the second book in the Legion of the Damned prequel series and what a blood thirsty entry it is.

Some of the characters that we know from the first entry fall like flies during this installment and each one comes across as shocking because they really do seem to happen when you least expect them.  Normally in the science fiction genre, the deaths can sometimes be telegraphed but that's not the case here.  Dietz really does know how to give the reader a punch to the gut with his writing and that is most definitely evident here.

The thing that struck me the most was the change in pacing when compared to the previous installment. Dietz has quickened the pace here yet it doesn't feel rushed in the slightest, instead having a cinematic and exciting feel.  The story here really does come across as something that you could see up on a giant cinema screen.  That's both thanks to the pacing but also to the utterly superb action sequences.

I have to admit that this one is definitely a lot more action based than before but don't let you think that the characters have been sacrificed to make that happen.  That would be a real shame to count them out because not only do we have some returning characters, we also see some new ones that you just know are going to play an integral part in Andromeda's story.

As well as being action packed, there are some well timed twists and turns through out the story as well as some great nods as to what may or may not be about to happen in the future.  I loved that Dietz wrote that in such a way that if you are a previous reader then you will be more than rewarded for sticking with the series but if this your first book then you won't be lost at all.

If you a fan of science fiction novels with a great dash of action and military then this one is definitely going to be up your street.  Plus with a name such as William C. Dietz then you know you are going to be in for an exciting ride.

Story 8.5/10
Characters 8.5/10
Cover 7/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 32/40

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Blood Blokes Issue 1 and Issue 2 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Adam Cadwell

Art and Lettering By
Adam Cadwell

Cover
Adam Cadwell
Richard Hughes

Published By
Great Beast Comics

Genre
Horror, Comedy

Synopsis

The first issue introduces Vince, a young University drop-out with no ambition, who has the worst and last day of his life, and things only go downhill from there.

The second issue introduces Mike, Douglas and Arianna, three vampires who spend most of their time arguing about the blood buying rota until Mike witnesses a strange death on New Year's Eve which leads them all into even weirder territory.



Review

When I was given the chance to review the four Blood Blokes issues written by Adam Cadwell, I was quite eager to get to read and review them, especially as they were put out by Great Beast Comics.

Great Beast Comics really know how to put out quality titles so there was a lot of expectation from me as a reader.

I figured I would do the reviews in a series of two issues a time and I'm glad I did.  The first two issues do a fabulous job of introducing some of the characters to us and they have really grabbed my interest.  I have to admit that when I read that the main character was going to be a bit of a slacker, I thought it was going to come across as really cliched yet that didn't happen.  We haven't really been given all that much information about Vince yet but there's enough there to wonder what is going to happen to him next.  It's the same with the trio of vampires that are introduced in issue 2.  I loved their bumbling, almost slapstick comic relief.

The story itself is well paced and offers a distinctly British take on the vampire mythology.  There's a bit of a mix of Hammer Horror but also a little bit of a comedic slant to proceedings.  In places, it felt a bit more of a cynical but funny take on 'Being Human' and I absolutely loved that about it.  For example, there's a couple of scenes in a morgue during issue two that had me absolutely howling with laughter.

Art wise, there's quite a stark, indie look to it and that really adds to the feel of the story.  The art adds to the city scapes and I really liked the facial expressions being used instead of over loading the readers with tons of dialogue.  That's always been a downfall to some indie titles but Cadwell doesn't fall in to that trap at all.  There are pages with no dialogue at all but you are gripped through the story by the art being more than capable of being able to hoist the weight of proceedings on to it's well drawn shoulders.

All in all, this is a great pair of issues that really sets the tone for the coming story.  I, for one, will definitely be getting my fangs stuck in to the next two issues to see where Vince gets thrown next.

Issue One
Story 7.5/10
Art 7.5/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 31/40

Issue Two
Story 8/10
Art 7.5/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 31.5/40

The Wiz DVD Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Joel Schumacher

Based On
'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' by L. Frank Baum
'The Wiz' by William F. Brown

Directed By
Sidney Lumet

A Motown Productions, Universal Pictures Film

Genre
Musical, Adventure, Family

Cast

Diana Ross as Dorothy
Michael Jackson as The Scarecrow
Nipsey Russell as The Tinman
Ted Ross as Lion / Fleetwood Coupe de Ville
Richard Pryor as The Wiz (Herman Smith)
Mabel King as Evillene
Theresa Merritt as Aunt Em
Thelma Carpenter as Miss One
Lena Horne as Glinda the Good

Year Released
1978

Certificate
U

Synopsis

Directed by Sidney Lumet (Serpico) and penned by Joel Schumacher (Batman and Robin), this lavish 1978 adaptation of the Broadway hit The Wiz was the biggest production filmed in New York City up to that point, utilising the newly revamped Astoria Studios and locations around the city.

Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell, and Ted Ross (reprising his Tony-winning role as the Lion) star in this Academy Award-nominated musical for the whole family. The Wiz is probably the grandest take on L. Frank Baum's classic tale The Wizard of Oz.

Special Features
  • We Wiz on Down the Road: Vintage Making of Documentary From 1978
  • Theatrical Trailer

Review

The Wiz started life as a Broadway musical version of L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz. Full of vibrant colors and hummable songs, it was a smash hit.

That's when the decision came to adapt it in to a movie starring some of the most well known comedians and soul/Motown singers of the period.

The cast was absolutely jam packed with legendary singers and actors / actresses such as Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Lena Horne and loads more. This gave the stage songs, and the additional songs overseen by Quincy Jones, a real presence and make them extremely memorable.

The urban and cityscape settings really add a lot to the story itself. Especially on the darker earlier scenes where Dorothy is lost in a playground. It really created a scene of menace and confusion and added a mass of emotions.

The trip to find The Wiz himself, played by Richard Pryor, is well handled and exciting. Some of the enemies they face are very well re-imagined versions of the ones in the original Wizard of Oz. Yes some of them come across as a little hokey but that's the charm of the movie.

The performances range from being very subtle to very over the top but strangely they manage to gel very well together. The highlight for me was Michael Jackson's performance as The Scarecrow. He managed to give the Scarecrow a extremely sympathetic personality and while looking gangly and awkward, still managed to be graceful. Another standout performance for me was Ted Ross who reprised his Tony Award winning stage performance. He just seemed absolutely perfect as the cowardly Lion.

It's true that this one isn't a patch on the Judy Garland version but then again what could be? This movie is still a charming and fantastical movie in it's own right and the songs are infinitely hummable and memorable long after the credits have gone.

Recommended, just don't expect another Judy Garland style Wizard of Oz.

Movie 8/10
Picture 7.5/10
Sound 8/10
Special Features 6.5/10
Overall 30/40


Page Two of The Mansion is Now Live!


Ladies and Gentlemen, animals and minerals,

Page two of the web comic The Mansion that is written by myself and illustrated by the talented Lee Taylor is now up and live to view here!

Being one of the first short story scripts I ever wrote, this story is very dear to my heart.  I've improved ten fold since then but I am still incredibly proud of it.

Hope you enjoy it and by all means let me know what you think of it.

I'm available for interviews and podcasts as well as available for reviews of the whole story.

Contact me at patrickstevenchallis@gmail.com to arrange.

Now as a treat for all you loyal readers, here's a bit of a sneaky peek at what will be happening in next weeks third page, when the stuff really hits the fan!

God is Dead: Volume One Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Jonathan Hickman
Mike Costa

Art By
Di Amorim
Rafael Ortiz
Juanmar
Jacan Burrows
Jonathan Hickman

Lettering By
Kurt Hathaway

Cover By
Jonathan Hickman

Published By
Avatar Press

Genre
Action, Fantasy, Apocalyptic

Synopsis

Jonathan Hickman brings the wrath of the gods to comics with this new saga!

Mankind has argued over the existence of gods since the dawn of time.  In modern eras it's been fashionable to mock religious believers with taunts of scientific testimony and fact.  But when the gods of old begin to reappear on Earth and claim the domain of man for their own, the world is thrown in to a state of utter anarchy.

As the world tumbles towards apocalypse, a group of scientists seek to do the impossible...give birth to the gods of science.

Review

With the amount of controversy and hype surrounding this title, I have to admit that I absolutely jumped at the chance to review it when I was kindly offered a copy.

While I admit that Hickman can sometimes be a little bit hit and miss, like Warren Ellis who writes in a similar style himself, I have enjoyed his comic book work for the most part.

The interesting premise of this one and with his name attached, it felt like a bit of a no brainer for me when I started reading it.  I actually thought that there was no way that this would be anything but brilliant yet for some reason it just didn't grip or excite me nearly as much as I  thought it would.

One of the problems with this title are the characters.  For the most part, they're incredibly shallow and unlikeable.  I can honestly say that after reading the whole of volume one twice, I can't really remember most of the characters and I can't even say that I care which ones ending up living and which ones ended up dying and that's a real shame.  For a story such as this one to soar as high as it should, there needs to be a team of characters that you are emotionally invested in but that's sorely lacking here.  I would be remiss if I didn't mention the two scientist characters that are obviously based on Albert Einstein and a thinly disguised Stephen Hawking.  When these guys turned up, I must admit that I laughed.  I'm pretty sure that wasn't the reaction they were going for.

The story itself has a really interesting idea behind and on paper, it should have been knocked out of the park home run style yet for me, it floundered.  There didn't seem to be a whole load of traction to it.  Maybe that's down to the poor characters or even just the fact that it comes across as a less layered Warren Ellis story but for me, it just didn't gel.

That's not to say that there wasn't any good points because there were some absolutely fantastic moments in this one.  In fact, there were enough high points for me to want to jump in to volume two to see what happens next but the simple fact is, while I want to get the second volume, it just doesn't feel like I have to see what happens next.

The strongest point of this one is by far the art.  The action and the violence flies off the page in a very cinematic way.  There were moments that really felt like I was watching a big budget blockbuster instead of reading a graphic novel.  Some of the gods that come down to Earth in the story look utterly fantastic.

Sadly, this one definitely didn't live up to all the hype and controversy that surrounded it.  While on paper the story sounded like it was going to be memorable and exciting, the execution of this first volume just felt rather thin and poorly executed.  There were some fantastic moments in it but not enough for me to say that it's worth rushing to see what the fuss is all about.

Story 5/10
Art 8/10
Cover 7/10
Recommended 5/10
Overall 25/40

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: The Official Movie Novelization Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Alex Irvine

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Science Fiction, Action, Movie Tie In

Synopsis

A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth’s dominant species.

Review

Titan Books have got a reputation for putting out some good quality novelizations of the blockbusters that we all love going to the cinema to see.

With the sheer amount of hype surrounding the new installment of the Planet of the Apes series, how would the book version fare?

Well, I must say that I really enjoyed this one.  The fast pacing yet subtle moments of character work really do a great job of bringing the movie to life on the page.

I wasn't all that familiar with Irvine's writing but here you can see that while he may have am easygoing style to his writing, there is a great approach to making the story really pop.  That's most true on the action set pieces too.  His style really lends itself well to giving the reader a cinematic feel to it and that is sometimes missing from novelizations.  That said Irvine really does a great job of adding some character work and some great behind the scenes moments that really make the characters a bit more of an emotional slant too.

One of the things I really liked was the fact that the original ending is what we are given here and it's completely different to the one in the movie itself.  I can understand why it was changed for the movie itself, which focuses more on the apes than the humans, but this ending that hints at more conflict to come really works well with the rest of the other additional work in the novelization.

All in all, if you have seen the movie itself, this is definitely one of the better novelizations.  The extra moments, as well as the different ending, really add a new layer to the already great story.  If you haven't seen the movie then this is still worth picking up as the story itself is well written, has great pacing and is well written.

Story 7/10
Characters 8/10
Cover 7/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 30/40