Thursday, 30 October 2014

City of Lost Souls: Issue 1 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
James McCulloch

Art and Cover By
Janine van Moosel

Published By
MooMac Comics / BlacknBlue Press

Genre
Supernatural, Horror

Synopsis

City of Lost Souls is a dark urban fantasy about a serial killer named Matt that takes his own life only to discover his eternity is his own personal hell surrounded by his victims. Given the chance to redeem himself he is pulled out of his torment and given the chance to find the mythical City of Lost Souls where his victims can finally rest, however, the creatures from the other side are hunting him down and if they catch him it spells disaster for Matt and those he has wronged.

Bad language and violence from the start.

Issue 1 of 8. 

Review

After having this one recommended to me by a fellow writer, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it and sit down to read what I hoped was going to be a chilling and exciting tale of murder and redemption.

But what did I end up getting?

One of the things that struck me first was the fact that City of Lost Souls came across as an angry David Fincher story.  The writing by McCulloch really punches the reader in the gut and keeps on punching all the way through.  I loved how the story came across as cynical, bitter and, in places, incredibly twisted.  The story definitely feels that this was just a warning shot and that there is a lot more to come from the supernatural and violent element of the story.  In fact, it almost felt like it was luring the reader in to a false sense of security by being violent and shocking straight away in order to make you feel like it will settle down later in the series but in all honesty, I am thinking that all of that is going to get ramped up.

The art here by van Moosel is incredibly striking and really makes a fantastic use of the black and white style as well as the shadows and sometimes off kilter angles.  It felt almost like a violent art house film in a way because van Moosel doesn't come across as an artist that will just go for the easy shot or setting.  The way the details are picked out in some scenes and not in others creates an almost other worldly feel to the story and that helped this story really grip me in.

If I was to pick a flaw, and it's a relatively minor one if I'm being completely honest, is the lettering on some of the dialogue.  While I liked the fact that the fonts would change from the real world in to the demonic world, there were some moments where the main characters dialogue felt a little too safe with the font that was used.  However, like I said earlier, that's a minor complaint.

All in all, this is a superb first issue and one that really makes me excited for the second issue.

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

Doctor Who: New Adventures with the Twelfth Doctor Issue 1 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Robbie Morrison

Art By
Dave Taylor
Hi-Fi

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 a thousand years of war on the planet Trenzalore, the Doctor regenerated into a brand-new incarnation!

Clare struggled at first to reconcile the Doctor's new face with that of her closest friend, but the pair are now back in the saddle of cosmic adventure, even if this new Doctor is brusquer and more unpredictable - the kind of Doctor who wishes people would just get out of his way and let him get on with the business of saving them!

Review

After the good first issues of the new series of comic books featuring the Tenth and Eleventh versions of the Doctor, it was pretty inevitable that Titan Comics were going to bring the twelfth and newest Doctor to their pages.

With the television show dividing the fans with Peter Capaldi's portrayal, I was wondering where they would be taking his comic book adventures.  I, for one, have been really liking the fact that Capaldi and the stories in the show have been giving little nods towards his past versions and wasn't really all that sure that they would be able to translate that on to the page itself.

After reading this first issue I have to admit that they have done a superb job of giving the character both the energy and personality that Capaldi has worked so hard to infuse the character with.

The thing that struck me the most about the first issue, and also with this being the first story arc for the Doctor in this series, is just how spot on they have gotten the characters of Clara and The Doctor.  You can read their dialogue in their voices with it even missing a beat, especially with the dialogue given to the Doctor.  I would even go so far as to say that they have gotten the character so spot on that this story wouldn't feel at all out of place on the show itself and feels like it really was written by someone who is not only a fan but respects the characters too.

Another thing that I really liked was the fast pacing of the story as well as the twist at the end with the emergence of something from the Doctor's past.  I won't go too much in to details here but if you are a long term fan of the show then it will definitely interest you.  That said, if you are a newer fan to the show then you will still enjoy this fast story.  You're given just enough time to orientate yourself in to the story and then you're off on the adventure.  You are then lead to see someone that you think is going to be the villain of the story because he's quickly thrust aside for the real 'big bad' that is behind it all.  I loved that twist, maybe more so due to the fact that the original person that you are lead to believe is the cause of the all the trouble just felt a little forced and bland so it was a good way of throwing a red herring to the readers.

Art wise, I would definitely say that this is by far the best of the three series of the Doctor put out by Titan Comics.  Hi-Fi and Dave Taylor do an absolutely gorgeous job of making the characters and the story come to life.  They've really captured the facial expressions of Capaldi and Coleman as their respective characters brilliantly well to such a degree that it almost felt like an animated adventure for the pair.  However, the best parts of the comic were by far, the ending couple of pages that had a real feeling of claustrophobia and dread.

All in all, this one is definitely one for the fans to pick up because it really does feel like a story that would slot right in to the series without being at all out of place.  The characters are spot on, the writing is fast paced and will not only hook in the new fans but will also please the long term fans with the amount of injokes and nods to the history of the character.  There's even a gag about hiding behind the sofa if you get scared!

Definitely my favorite of the three Doctor Who series' put out by Titan Comics.

Story 8.5/10
Art 9/10
Cover 9/10
Recommended 8.5/10
Overall 35/40

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The Shotgun Arcana Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
R.S. Belcher

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Western, Supernatural, Adventure

Synopsis

1870. A haven for the blessed and the damned, including a fallen angel, a mad scientist, a pirate queen, and a deputy who is kin to coyotes, Golgotha has come through many nightmarish trials, but now an army of thirty-two outlaws, lunatics, serial killers, and cannibals are converging on the town, drawn by a grisly relic that dates back to the Donner Party…and the dawn of humanity.

Sheriff Jon Highfather and his deputies already have their hands full dealing with train robbers, a mysterious series of brutal murders, and the usual outbreaks of weirdness. But with thirty-two of the most vicious killers on Earth riding into Golgotha in just a few day’s time, the town and its people will be tested as never before—and some of them will never be the same.

Review

With such an impressive debut book like The Six Tarot, I was a little worried that Belcher may become seen as a one trick pony so to speak so when this book came through my letterbox courtesy of those lovely folks at Titan Books, I ended up wondering just where the author would be able to take the characters.

Well, after reading this one there is one thing that is certain.  Belcher is most definitely not a one trick pony.

The best way to describe The Shotgun Arcana is that it's the sort of book that would come from a bit of a thryst between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Deadwood behind the bar of a run down old saloon.

Equal parts horrifying, adventurous and exciting, this second novel in the Six Gun Tarot series is definitely one that not only continues the series with style but also expands on it in such a way that you can't take your eyes off of the page.  Belcher's near lyrical style just flows off the page with sometimes subtle and sometimes fast pacing but never fails to hook you in.  You really feel like you are involved in the story and that the action is unfolding in front of you.

The characters themselves are well rounded, although there were a couple that I wanted to know a bit more about, but the thing that impressed me the most is that you just didn't know who was safe and who was doomed.  There were so many scenes where I really didn't know if the characters I was rooting for would even get to the end of the page let alone the end of the novel itself.

I think that the biggest strength of this novel is the way that Belcher manages to mix the fantastical, religious, horrifying and action packed moments without the novel becoming too messy or disjointed.  If the rest of the series is going to be half as good as the first two novels then this is going to be a series that will be well worth keeping an eye on and adding to your book shelf.

Story 8.5/10
Characters 8.5/10
Cover 9/10
Recommended 8.5/10
Overall 34.5/40

Grimm: The Killing Time Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Tim Waggoner

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Action, Supernatural, Thriller, Television Tie-In

Synopsis

A mysterious creature stalks the streets of Portland, looking for a new identity. With one touch it can dissolve its victim, assuming their appearance, personality, and memories. When Portland homicide detectives Nick Burkhardt and Hank Griffin are called in to track down a missing person, Nick comes face to face with the changeling, but its powers have an unexpected effect on the Grimm, unleashing a deadly Wesen plague and untold chaos.

A brand-new original novel set in the Grimm universe.

Review


As far as the series goes, I like Grimm but kind of wish that the writers would go a little bit more in to detailing just what the powers of being a Grimm entail and more.  They hinted at that a little in the first two novels from Titan Books.

The first was a good book but not without its flaws.  The second was much better and really nailed the characters in a much better way.  I was wondering where the third novel, this time by Tim Waggoner, would fit in.

As a fan of the show, I kind of took it for granted that while this would be more or less a stand alone story yet without of a nod to the series for the long term fans out there.  That's pretty much what we have gotten here and for the most part, it's a very well written story.

The one thing that bugged me a little was that the author seemed to need to describe each characters body type in minute detail.  It came across as both a little bit like someone looking over pictures of the cast obsessively and as a bit of filler.

Other than that, we have a really good story here.  The idea of a sick Wesen being completely out of control and needing to not only be stopped but for the side effects of the sickness to be countered is a good one and is explored well.  Another thing that is explored well is the just what it exactly means to not only be a Grimm but a Wesen as well.  I loved that about the novel because it really added another layer to the characters and their motivations.

All in all, this is definitely one for the fans but newcomers to the show will find something to like in this tie-in novel.

Story 7.5/10
Characters 8.5/10
Cover 7/10
Recommended 7.5/10
Overall 30.5/40

Monday, 27 October 2014

Porcelain: A Gothic Fairy Tale Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Benjamin Read

Art By
Chris Wildgoose
Andre May
Alexa Rosa

Lettering By
Jim Campbell

Cover By
Chris Wildgoose
Andre May

Published By
Improper Books

Genre
Fantasy, Supernatural, Drama

Synopsis

Set within a world that's a magical echo of our own, Porcelain is the story of Child, an urchin, who leaves behind the cold streets of a snowy city when she climbs the high wall into the porcelain maker's garden.

Review

When my wife picked this one up from the recent Nottingham Comic Convention, I must admit that while I was intrigued by the storyline itself, I didn't feel the pull to read it straight away.  After hearing my other half tell me a few times just how good this title was, I figured I would give it a read.

The idea was to take a glance at it and then maybe read it later.  That said, as soon as I started reading it, I just couldn't put it down.  In fact, I didn't want to.  The story hooked me in from the very first page and didn't let go.

Story wise, the pacing and the story itself really does an utterly brilliant job of creating the world and the characters that are going to play such a big part in the proceeding story.  The characters themselves are hard to explain.  You don't really know anything about them other than the bare minimum yet you find yourself completely hooked in to their lives.  The relationship that then grows up between the Porcelain Maker and Child really tugs at the heart, especially as the story goes on.  At first, you are lead to believe that the story is going to take a sinister turn.  Is he going to experiment on her?  Murder her?  That's when you get a big twist and it completely takes you for a huge surprise.  I loved that about the story itself, the way the writing lures you in to the world only to take a 360.

While the story is completely involving, it's the gorgeous art that, for me, really makes this book one that really has to be picked up by anyone with even a passing interest in stories that are set in our world but with a supernatural / paranormal twist.  The art team here really do know when to grab the details that will bring the eyes of the reader to the action.  The almost soft style of art really does create an impact, especially when you hit the shocking ending that brings the story almost full circle in a beautiful yet tragic way.

All in all, I was more surprised by this title than any other indie title that I have read for a very long time.  Not only could I not put it down while I was reading it, I wanted to flip straight back to the beginning and start it again as soon as I had finished.  I can't rate this enough.  There are so many layers to the story and the characters that it will stay with you long after you have finished the story and you can't ask for more than that.

Story 8.5/10
Art 9/10
Cover 9/10
Recommended 9/10
Overall 35.5/40

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Borough of Churches: Issue 1 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Adam Cheal

Art By
Amrit Birdi
Mike Summers

Lettering By
Mindy Lopkins

Cover By
Jimbo Salgado
Jimmy Kerast

Published By
Ellipsium Entertainment

Genre
Horror, Action

Synopsis

Throughout history, the chosen few have joined the ranks of the "Borough of Churches". A Secret order tasked with an ongoing battle to destroy the forces of evil. Charlie Swanson is the latest recruit. Trouble is, she didn't ask to join and doesn't give a damn about the B.O.C or what it fights for... Yet!

Charlie "Chuckles" Swanson was a normal everyday NYC police officer, doing her bit to make the world a better and safer place. That was until a random encounter awakened a dormant gene causing a transformation into a human vampire hybrid.

Discover the secret order of the "Borough of Churches", directly from Charlie who will tell you her story the only way that she can... with humour, horror and a whole lot of blood!

Issue #1

Welcome reader to the first instalment of the series that will have you hooked from the get go. In this setup origin issue, you are introduced to our lead character, Charlie Swanson. She is as quick witted as she is beautiful, just don’t get on her bad side… OK! 

Review

I'm a very big fan of Adam Cheal.  The writer of Terminus at Fenton's Green and Toxic Storm, Cheal has a knack of writing involving stories with pitch perfect pacing and well rounded characters so I went in to this one with very high expectations.

We're introduced to the settings and the characters by a textual part of the release but then via a gruesome series of panels that truly brings your eye straight to the each and every droplet of blood and gore.

With the story itself, Cheal definitely knows how to 'spin a yarn' as the saying goes and it's no different here.  With the skill for the subtle and horrific at show in Terminus at Fenton's Green and Toxic Storm, you just knew that he wouldn't hold back here and he doesn't.

The pacing is whip smart and very well thoughtout alongside the art and colours by Birdi and Summers.  The team really do mesh well and it shows.  One of the things I did notice was that there were a couple of moments where the story seemed a little bit jumbled but when the issue gets going, that's soon sorted.

With the art by Birdi and Summers, there really felt like there was something menacing bubbling just under the surface and that really raised this tale up above the shoulders above the other titles in the genre.  I've always been a fan of Summers' colouring and it's no different here.  The use of colours combined with the shadows and sharp angles really work well with the story itself by Cheal.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the superb lettering by Mindy Lopkins, a letterer that I really think is one of the best in the indie scene right now.  Known for working alongside Cheal, Lopkins' lettering is almost treated as if another character in the story and I've always loved that approach.

All in all, this isn't a perfect first issue but it is a very brave first shot at an ongoing series from the new Ellipsium Entertainment company and if this title is anything to go by then we are definitely going to be in for a few treats.

Story 7.5/10
Art 8.5/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 32/40 

Big Ass Spider! DVD Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Gregory Gieras

Directed By
Mike Mendez

An Epic Pictures Group, Film Entertainment Services, ICE Animations, Snowfort Pictures Film

Genre
Science Fiction, Comedy

Cast

Lin Shaye as Mrs. Jefferson
Ray Wise as Major Braxton Tanner
Greg Grunberg as Alex Mathis
Clare Kramer as Lieutenant Karly Brant
Patrick Bauchau as Lucas
Lombardo Boyar as Jose Ramos
Lloyd Kaufman as Himself (Jogger)

Year Released
2013

Certificate
15

Synopsis

When a giant spider escapes from a military lab in Los Angeles a full scale military strike fails to stop the giant beast. It all comes down to a team of scientists and one clever exterminator are the only thing standing in the way of the total destruction of the city. Will our exterminating hero be able to save the world as well as tough chick turned damsel in distress Karly from the web of the largest spiders every to have roamed the Earth.

Special Features
  • None
Review

Sometimes a movie comes along with an absurd title that not only lives up to it but also proves to be massively entertaining.  Sometimes in a 'so bad it's good' kind of way and other times in a way that you just can't explain.

Well, with this film, you know exactly what you are going to get and you will love every single second of it.

When you see a title like Big Ass Spider! you know that you are not going to get an Oscar winning movie along the lines of Schindler's List or a Saving Private Ryan but that doesn't mean that this isn't worth a watch.  In fact, I watched this movie because of the title and I am glad I did.

The thing that struck me about the movie is that it knew exactly what it was and what it was going to end up being like and that's exactly what it went for.  With self referencing nods, some great cameo appearances and some one liners that had me howling with laughter, Big Ass Spider! just came across as a complete 'switch your brain off' and relax kind of movie.  It didn't take itself at all seriously, the characters would mock themselves and the stuff going on around them and would even mock the absurd nature of the action.  I have always been a fan of that kind of movie and this one does all of that but with a knowing and endearing charm.

A lot of that comes down to the cast.  With some of the dialogue that they are given, they just look like they are having the absolute time of their lives making the movie.  I love the fact that Lin Shaye and Ray Wise were reunited in this movie.  Despite not having any scenes together, it was great to see them in a movie like this again after the brilliant Dead End that they were in together.  Shaye always has a knack of stealing every scene she is in no matter how big or small the part is and it's not different here.  Wise always manages to add a bit of cynical class and sarcasm wherever he goes and once again, he does that here with a knowing wink at the camera.

The best part of the movie for me was definitely Greg Grunberg and Lombardo Boyar.  The relationship between their characters and the way they reacted to the action around them had me in tears of laughter on so many times that I lost count.  I even had to pause the movie a couple of times because I was laughing so much at their antics.

Is this a movie that is going to set the movie world on fire?  No.  Is this a very fun movie that will entertain you and have you laughing until your sides hurt?  Yes, most definitely yes.

Big Ass Spider! is a movie that will most certainly develop a cult following and it will be well deserved.

Movie 8/10
Picture 7.5/10
Sound 7.5/10
Special Features N/A
Overall 23/30


Saturday, 25 October 2014

Doctor Who: New Adventures With the Eleventh Doctor Issue 3 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Rob Williams

Art By
Simon Fraser
Gary Caldwell

Lettering By
Richard Starkings
Comicraft's Jimmy Betancourt

Cover By
Verity Glass

Published By
Titan Comics

Genre
Science Fiction, Adventure, Television Tie-In

Synopsis

Alice Obiefune was at her lowest ebb when the Doctor crashed in to her life - now she's traveling through the universe at his side!

Their first stop?  The planet of Rokhandi, a verdant paradise before SERVEYOUinc (and their pet protoplasmic mind-controller) turned it into a creepy theme park.

After defeating the protoplasm with an overload of data, the Doctor and Alice are off traveling again!

Review

After the superb first issue and then the second issue, I have to admit that the Titan Comics stories involving the Matt Smith era Doctor have been really hooking me in and making me want to see more of his adventures.

Here, in the third issue, we have Rob Williams in charge of the writing.  I have to admit that I'm not as knowing of his work but here, he gives the story a wonderful creepy feel.

With the return of SERVEYOUinc, the story takes a personal slant for The Doctor and has left me eager to get to the bottom of just where they are going to take the reveals from this issue next.  One of the things that I have also noticed about these new adventures is just how well the character of Alice works alongside the Doctor.  It's great to see a multi-layered character that can more than hold up her end of the bargain in the adventures.

The story itself, like I said earlier, has a wonderfully creepy atmosphere to it.  I have to admit that the story didn't grip me as much as the earlier issues but with some of the things revealed here, you just know that they are going to come in to play in a big way in future issues.  You can see the character of Alice and the Doctor really growing together on the page and that's the most evident in their relationship together.  At times, it sometimes comes across as a bit of a brother and sister relationship in that they will bicker with one another but will jump to eachother's aid when the chips are down.

Art wise, Fraser and Caldwell, carry on the momentum set by the first two issues.  In fact, I would even go so far as to say that this story and it's air of creepiness really seem to be right up their alley.  Their use of shadows and darkness really made the feeling of dread and even a bit of a ghostly feel too.

I'm eager to see just where this creative team are going to take the Doctor next, especially with some of the things that we see in this issue.  I'm also intrigued with the growth of the relationship between the Doctor and Alice too so roll on issue four!

Story 7.5/10
Art 8.5/10
Cover 7.5/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 31.5/40

The Few: Issue One Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
David McCluskey

Art By
Nicholas O'Gorman

Lettering By
Micah Myers

Co-Developed By
Jay Bou

Cover By
Nicholas O'Gorman

Published By
Dammaged Comics

Genre
Horror

Synopsis

The outbreak was fast and far reaching. Within days what was left of the world was torn to pieces. The infected were everywhere, and they were hungry.

They had overrun the military and the civilian population, no-one knew how to stop them.

Small bands of survivors joined together to bring some strength in numbers. From those small groups rose...

THE FEW

Review

If you are a regular visitor to this site, you will know that I am no stranger to the zombie genre.  Hell, I even have my own zombie stories out at the moment.  That's why when David McCluskey offered me the change to take a look at his take on the popular genre, I jumped at the chance to take a look.

The story itself really hits home well thanks to the good use of pacing.  The slightly slower than expected start lures you in to a false sense of security before the 'stuff' really hits the fan and the undead come crashing in to the characters lives.  That said, there is still time to hint at the tragedy that a couple of the characters have had to deal with in their past.  I, personally, would love to see more of them in the coming issues as their story really gives the tale a personal and emotional slant.

With the pacing here, when the zombies do burst on to the scene, you're bombarded with so many scenes of carnage and death that you, as the reader, are barely given enough time to take it all in.  I loved that about this issue because it gave the story a sense of urgency and dread.  You really do feel like none of the characters are safe and that survival isn't even remotely guarnteed for any of them.

I must admit that the art took a couple of pages to grow on me.  I was expecting a dark, gritty art from the story but it starts off quite bright and airy.  That did throw me a little but when the story starts to steer in to the blood and guts part of the story, the art starts to get darker and darker.  I liked the descent in to what looked like an animated horror movie in places.

All in all, this is a very well written and thought out first issue and one that really makes me want to jump straight in to the rest of the series.  Yet another good title from Dammaged Comics, who are definitely turning in to one of British indie publishers to keep an eye on.

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

Thursday, 23 October 2014

The Motherless Oven Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Rob Davis

Art and Cover By
 

Published By
Self Made Hero

Genre
Drama

Synopsis

The weather clock said knife o'clock.

So I chained Dad up in the shed.

In Scarper Lee's world, parents don't make children - children make parents.

Scarper's father is his pride and joy, a wind-powered brass construction with a billowing sail.  His mother is a Bakelite hairdryer.

In this world, it rains knives and household appliances have souls.  There are no birthdays - only deathdays.  Scarper knows he has just three weeks to live.  As his deathday approaches, he is forced from his routine and strikes out into the unknown - where friendships are tested and authority challenged.

This unsettling and fiercely original coming-of-age story from Rob Davis (The Complete Don Quixote) traces a journey through a bizarre, distorted teenage landscape; a world not so different from our own.

Review

When you read the synopsis of this graphic novel from Self Made Hero, one thing will happen for certain.  You will wonder what on Earth the book is about.  I did the same thing myself.

That may put some people off but don't let it.

What we have here is an utterly original take on the story of a young boy trying to find his way in the world.  It's a story that has been told countless times over the years in novels, television shows, movies and comics but after reading this one, it's definitely not been told like this.

With the superb Complete Don Quixote under his belt, Rob Davis is a name that I am very familiar of and would even class myself as a massive fan.  I thought Davis' adaptation of the classic Quixote tale was brilliantly done and is still one of my favorite releases from Self Made Hero.  I would even go so far as to admit that I wasn't even sure that this would come close to matching it.  I was very wrong.  Not only does this one match it, it leaves it in the dust.

In a world that isn't too different from our own yet at the same time, it's not a world that you would be at all similar to ours.  That style, alongside the story that deals with some heavy duty themes, really makes this tale one that will grip you but will also stay with you long after you have closed the cover.

However, one of the things that stayed with me the most was the simple fact that while there are some rather strange things going on around Scarper, you can't help but get sucked in to his world and want to know where he will take his life next.

The art really pushes the feeling of loneliness and confusion in a sometimes heart breakingly beautiful way.  You can see that there is a darker theme running through the story thanks to the little details in the art and that's one of the main selling points for this graphic novel.

I'll admit that this story won't be for everybody.  I'll even admit that there will be some that may even hate this one but I'm not one of those people.  To me, this is a beautiful and haunting story that not only gripped me but is one of the most unique things that I have read this year and believe me, I have read a lot of books and graphic novels.

Definitely one of Self made Hero's best releases this year and when you see the sheer quality of their other books, you'll realise just how good this one is.

Story 8.5/10
Art 8.5/10
Cover 8.5/10
Recommended 9/10
Overall 34.5/40

The Killing: The Complete Seasons 1-3 DVD Pre-Release Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Based On
'Forbrydelsen' 

Created By
Soren Sveistrup

Genre
Thriller, Crime

Cast

Mireille Enos as Sarah Linden
Joel Kinnaman as Stephen Holder
Billy Campbell as Darren Richmond
Liam James as Jack Linden
Michelle Forbes as Mitch Larsen
Brent Sexton as Stan Larsen
Kristin Lehman as Gwen Eaton
Eric Ladin as Jamie Wright
Jamie Anne Allman as Terry Marek

Certificate
15

Synopsis

A police investigation, the saga of a grieving family, and a Seattle mayoral campaign all interlock after the body of 17-year-old Rosie Larsen is found in the trunk of a submerged car.

Review

As a massive fan of the Danish original, I shouldn't have really been all that surprised when they announced that they would remake it for the American television channels but I didn't have high hopes at all for it.  I mean, think back a few years when remaking foreign language television shows and movies was all the rage.  Most of them were largely forgettable at best and awful at worse so where would this one fit in?

Well, I'm going to be completely and utterly honest here.  I absolutely loved it.

Does it match up to the original?  Yes, for the most part it does and there are even a couple of episodes where it exceeds that too.  A little bit of the almost Gothic atmosphere is lost with the change of setting but the cast more than make up for that with some absolutely stellar performances.

One of the things that I did notice was that the series had a lot of storylines all running alongside each other and managed to keep them all going with it getting so tangled that it would become over the top.  The different stories all had links and connections to the main story of the murder yet seemed strangely separate as well.  I loved that all these different parts of the jigsaw all went together so nicely yet there were moments where you really were not sure where the writers were going to take the characters next.  That feeling of uncertain destinies for the characters made the series gripping and unmissable.  This set really is one of those 'just one more episode' sets that come along once in a blue moon.

However, the main thing that I like most about the series is that unlike a lot of the other police shows out there, not all the bad guys are caught and punished.  The police don't win all the time.  In fact, they screw up a lot too and let the criminals slip between their fingers.  The realistic nature of life being messy and having no easy resolutions is put forward in a dark, gritty and sometimes disturbing way here but in such a way that it will stay with you long after the end credits.

When you have watched this set, I urge you to jump on to Netflix and see the fourth and final season to wrap this story up.  If the fourth season is half as good as the ones in this set, then we will be in for a very exciting ride indeed.

Show 8.5/10

The Killing: Series 1-3 is released on DVD and Blu-Ray on October 27th 2014

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Ransom Riggs

Published By
Quirk

Genre
Fantasy, Adventure, Paranormal

Synopsis

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

Review

After getting this novel for my birthday from one of my friends, I read the back cover and really wasn't all that sure what to expect from this one.  It's the debut book of Ransom Riggs but you wouldn't really know it from reading this one.

On paper, the story idea itself sounds like it would be a bit of a clash of styles combining a fantastical story that has paranormal moments with the idea of using vintage photographs but in Riggs' hands, it comes across as positively gripping and is one of the first books of this genre that I've not been able to put down.

The story itself really moves along at a really clever pace.  The faster moments really gel with the slower parts of the book without feeling at all disjointed.  The best parts of the book are the parts set in 'the past' because as well as being exciting, there's a real emotional depth that raises the story up to the level where you honestly can't put the book down.  You want to know what is going to happen to the characters, you want to know more of their past, you want to feel like you are involved in their lives and Rigg's gives you all of that and more.

One of the things that grabbed me the most was simply the utterly brilliant use of the vintage photographs that were dotted throughout the book.  They were placed perfectly in the book to get the best possible reaction from the reader and not only did they do that, they made me want to try to look in to some of the history of the photo's themselves.

I have to admit that while I liked the 'Quirk Classics' that Quirk have put out in recent years but this book shows that they are a company that should be added to your bookshelves for a lot more reasons than that.  In fact, I would honestly say that this book is the best that they have released.

Definitely worth grabbing and reading straight away.

Story 9/10
Characters 8.5/10
Cover 8.5/10
Recommended 9/10
Overall 35/40

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Indie Spotlight: Martin Parkes


Article By
Patrick Scattergood

For the first in a fortnightly series of indie spotlights, I have decided to choose an up and coming man in the world of the indie comic book scene so sit back, kick your shoes off and hopefully enjoy the first indie spotlight.


Name: Martin Parkes
Occupation: Artist

Martin started out as a carpenter for twenty years but then, as is nearly always the case, life intervened.  One accident, a broken ankle, multiple heel fractures and 8 months in rehab later, he turned to art as a way of gaining a new handle on life.

As a life long comic book, Martin Parkes knew exactly where he wanted to be and that was in the comic book world itself and who can blame him?


That's when his art came to my attention thanks to also incredibly talented Dan Barnes, who will no doubt also feature in a future indie spotlight feature.  He was courting Parkes to join him over at Dead Bride Comics, which will definitely be a great fit.

Parkes is a freelance artist whose specialty is definitely of the dark / macabre style but he is just as talented at jumping in to the superhero genre and much more.  Someone who can straddle different styles while keeping their own unique style is a rarity in the indie scene but Parkes can do that and then some.


One of the things that has impressed me the most while researching his art for his article is that Parkes isn't a man to just sit back on his laurels and be content with creating the same thing.  In fact, he's even studying at an evening painting class to that string to his bow as well!

All in all, Martin Parkes is definitely a man to keep an eye on whether it's him working solo, part of the Dead Bride Comics team or anywhere else he rests his hat.


Check out his Facebook Page: - Manic Art here!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Tabatha Review



Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Neil Gibson

Art By
Caspar Wijngaard
Anja Poland

Lettering By
Jim Campbell

Cover By
Caspar Wijngaard

Published By
T Pub

Genre
Horror, Comedy

Synopsis

Luke works as a mailman in Los Angeles and moonlights as a thief - the empty houses on his postal route are rich, easy pickings for him and his friends.

Everything goes to plan until one house turns out to be not quite so empty.  The situation escalates rapidly and the happy go lucky thieves are left battling for their lives.

And all because of Tabatha.

Review

As visitors to this site know, I am a big fan of my horror.  Doesn't matter if it's movies, comic books, novels, I love to get my hands on new horror.

After visiting the Nottingham Comic Convention recently, I picked up the much lauded Tabatha graphic novel written by Neil Gibson and published by T Pub but was there anyway that it could possibly live up to the hype surrounding it?

The answer is a resounding yes.

The story itself reads a little bit like one of those 80's horror comedies that would combine blood, pop culture references and twists to great effect.  Tabatha manages to do that all while retaining its own rather unique voice.

With a story such as this involving a serial killer trying to bring a sex doll to life, you know not to take it all too seriously but with some titles, that sort of style can tend to go over the top but here, Gibson manages to juggle the dark humor with the violence but also it was great to try to catch all the pop culture references that they managed to cram in.

One of the main strengths of the collection was the pacing.  You can feel the sense of dread building throughout the different parts of the story.  When it all comes to a head, the pacing ramps up and you can't take your eyes away from the action.

All for that would be for nothing if the art wasn't up to the level of the story itself but with someone as talented as Caspar Wijngaard, you just know that you are in for a treat.  The colorful art here really jumps to life when the 'stuff' really hits the fan near the end of the graphic novel.  With such an eye for detail, the story truly comes to life in Wijngaard's hands.

Tabatha is one of those rare collections that actually not only lives up to the expectations that the hype placed around it but surpasses them, especially with the twist at the end that left me with a knowing smile.  If you like your horror with a dark comedic side but packed with twists, turns and pop culture references then this is definitely a title that you will want to pick up.

Story 8.5/10
Art 8.5/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 8.5/10
Overall 33.5/40

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Walesa: Man of Hope Pre-Release Review


Polish With English Subtitles

Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Janusz Glowacki

Directed By
Andrzej Wajda

An Akson Studio, Canal+ Polska, Telewizja Polska Film

Genre
Biography, Drama

Cast

Robert Wieckiewicz as Lech Walesa, Agent Bolek
Agnieszka Grochowska as Danuta Walesa
Iwona Bielska as Ilona
Zbigniew Zamachowski as Nawislak
Maria Rosaria Omaggio as Oriana Fallaci
Ewa Kolasinska as Pracownica Stoczni
Miroslaw Baka as Klemens Gniech, Dyrektor Stoczni

Year Released
2013 / 2014

Certificate
12

Synopsis

From the legendary Academy Award nominated director Andrzej Wajd- a leader of the unofficial Polish Film School, comes a natural companion to his previous landmark films Man Of Marble and Man of Iron. 

Walesa: Man Of Hope is a depiction of the Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of Poland's Solidarity movement Lech Walesa, focusing on the events in the 1970’s that led to the country’s peaceful revolution. Lech is a well-known figure throughout Europe, as he is credited with sparking the domino collapse of Communism across Eastern Europe. 

Walesa: Man Of Hope has already wowed critics and audiences alike, noted by Toronto Film Festival labelling it a ‘breakout title!’

Review

I love seeing movies about influential and sometimes even infamous people throughout history.  The idea that someone can look and research a person and their life in order to make it in to a book or movie has always interested because of the sheer subjective nature of doing so.  With that in mind, when I was offered a chance to watch and review this one I jumped at the chance especially when I saw just who had directed this offering.

With that in mind, the expectations for this movie were very high.  With a director such as Andrzej Wajda, you go in to a movie with the idea that this is going to be gripping, emotional and touching but does this one hit all the marks?

Well, yes and no.

On the plus side, the performances are utterly mesmerizing.  The star of the movie for me was, by far, Robert Wieckiewicz as Walesa himself.  It's true that some may say that he isn't as charismatic as his real life counterpart but I personally feel that he really gave the part an emotional but strong feel yet staying as faithful as possible to the real life led by Walesa.

Writing and directing wise, they do a good job of telling Walesa's sometimes controversial story but there were a couple of times in the movie that I felt that they glossed over some moments in his life and that's a shame because they seemed to be some of the most interesting parts of the movie.

Having read up on Walesa, the movie does stay quite faithful to his life.  It's true that some of the scenes seemed a bit too dramatized but that's what you get with a movie really.  That said they do a fine job of putting Walesa across as someone that isn't perfect and did make mistakes but then went on to try to redeem himself.

All in all, I'm not sure why but I did feel something was missing from the movie itself but that said, this is still an absolutely gripping, touching and well acted movie and one that is well worth checking out.

Movie 7.5/10




Doctor Who: Shada - The Lost Adventure By Douglas Adams Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Gareth Roberts

Based On
The Doctor Who: Shada screenplay by Douglas Adams

Published By
BBC Books

Genre
Science Fiction, Adventure, Television Tie-In

Synopsis

Inside this book is another book – the strangest, most important and most dangerous book in the entire universe.

The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey is one of the Artefacts, dating from dark days of Rassilon. It wields enormous power, and it must not be allowed to fall into the wrong hands.

Skagra – who believes he should be God and permits himself only two smiles per day – most definitely has the wrong hands.

Beware Skagra. Beware the Sphere. Beware Shada.

Review

Shada is a name that has gone down in history for Doctor Who fans.  Written by the late, great Douglas Adams, the serial went largely unfinished due to a strike at the time of filming and therefore has been released in many different versions to varying degrees of success.  You have the version where the missing scenes are talked about by Tom Baker, a version with Paul McGann's incarnation of the Doctor and even fan versions of the story itself.

Some of them have been well done and others have been, rather politely, depressing due to the fact that you could see that the story would have been an absolute belter of a tale for the Tom Baker version of the long running character.

When it was announced that Gareth Roberts, himself a writer for the new version of Doctor Who, was going to tackle the tale in novel form, I was hesitant to get excited about it.  Yes, he had written some good tales before for the character but how would he take on the Douglas Adams tale without it ending up like someone just trying to copy Adams' unique and near lyrical style.

After reading it, there is one thing that really jumped out at me.  Roberts clearly has a respect and love for both the series and the character himself because he has managed to create one of the best versions of the near mythical tale that I have ever read.

 For both long time and new fans of the series, this novel does something that I found really impressive.  You honestly can't see the 'joins' where Adams ends and Roberts begins but it does that all while keeping Roberts unique style and take on the character.  Apparently he worked from scripts, footage and much more to create this story and it shows.  Shada for the first time, in my opinion, finally feels fully fleshed out and absolutely gripping.  With Baker being one of my favorite versions of the Doctor, Roberts has captured the characters almost hyper and manic style without it coming across as over the top.  That's the first time in a long time that I have read a story based around the Baker era that has gripped me in such a way that I couldn't and wouldn't put it down until I'd reached the very end.

Another thing that I found really hooked me was the dry, almost cynical humor that ran throughout the story.  You could almost picture the characters themselves while reading it.  Even the characters that were created specifically for this novel just feel so at home in the story that they really do come across as characters that would have fitted in to the show with no problem at all.

If you are a newcomer to the classic series or even a long time fan then this is definitely the release of the famous, although some may say infamous, Shada story that you have been waiting for so grab yourself a copy.

Story 8.5/10
Characters 8/10
Cover 7.5/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 32/40

Saturday, 11 October 2014

By Blood Alone Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
William C. Dietz

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Science Fiction, Military, Action

Synopsis

A generation after the second war against the Hudathans, discontent is growing in the Human Empire, and military cutbacks see many former legionnaires out on the streets.

When Bill Booly III, son and grandson of the great war heroes of the same name, refuses to give false testimony in the military court, his punishment is being sent to the most unpopular place in the galaxy: Earth.

But when a group of rogue legionnaires try to overthrow the government, Booly finds Earth the pivotal point of the battle - a battle which can't be resolved by blood alone.

Review

If you are a visitor to this site then you will know I love my science fiction books and especially my William C. Dietz books too so it should come as no surprise that I'm sat here reviewing this one.

The thing that struck me about this further addition in to the Legion of the Damned series is that while it is a very exciting and action packed science fiction story but it also serves as quite a cutting social commentary on how not only the military treats their own members but also how we treat them when they come back after seeing battle.

Dietz has a talent for not only crafting well thought out and exciting science fiction stories but they also have a feeling for them running under the surface of feeling completely realistic.  With this story, it really links in with the world of today where we are always reading in the news that a veteran has been made homeless or in dire trouble and that's part pf the story here.  That could have been a really heavy handed story to include in the Legion of the Damned series but Dietz not only handles it with a gentle and touching hand but it gives the story the spark to really come to life.

Another one of the biggest points for me with this installment is that it not only rewards the long time reader such as myself but it also can serve as a superb jump on point for newcomers to the series without leaving them too far behind.  That's a tricky thing to pull but Dietz pulls it off with aplomb.

The way Dietz juggles the personal touches of the characters, the political intrigue as well as the exciting moments of the coup is one of the things that really raises this one high above some of the other science fiction novels that have been coming out this year.

All in all, this novel is a superb installment in the series but also serves as a well paced and exciting set up for the next novel and I, for one, am eagerly awaiting for the next installment.

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

Soulsnatchers Issue 1 and 2 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written and Art By
Giuseppa Barresi

Published By
Self Published

Genre
Thriller, Action, Supernatural

Synopsis

Have you ever truly wanted to sell your soul in return for your deepest desires?

Meet the Soulsnatchers, a group of former humans turned reapers who run the black market soul trade in the underworld.


Review

After having the pleasure of meeting the superbly talented Giuseppa Barresi at the recent Nottingham Comic Convention, I picked up a copy of each issue of Soulsnatchers and set to reading them them.

I wasn't really sure what to expect other than the fact that I'd had the title recommended to me by a fellow indie comic book fan.  The idea of there being a black market in souls trading in the underworld really interested me and I couldn't wait to get them home to take a look.

One of the things that struck me about the first issue was the simple fact that the art feels safe and subtle yet you can see under the surface that something big is bubbling to get out.  The stark black and white art by Barresi really grabs the eye and the tidy style of the art almost leads you in to a false sense of security to such a degree that when the stuff really does hit the fan, it takes you by surprise.

The story of the first issue doesn't give too much away but gives you just enough to hook you in to reading the second issue and I liked that.  There was a slow, deliberate pace to the first issue that let you sink in to the story, almost as if sinking in to a comfy chair.

So after that, I jumped straight in to the second issue.

I'm not sure what changed between the release of the first and second issues of this series but the art in the second looks a lot sharper yet feels a little bit darker.

The slight change in art really hooks in to the story itself as more of the characters and twists are revealed, leaving the reader to delve deeply in to the story.  I loved the fact that while the change in the two issues was a subtle one, it really grabbed my attention and left me wanting more.

I don't really want to give too much of the story in these two issues away but when the second one ended, I went straight online to see if the third was either out or coming out soon so fingers crossed because I, for one, really want to see just where Barresi is going to take this rather intriguing story and the characters next.

Definitely an indie series well worth checking out.

Issue One

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

Issue Two

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