Sunday, 27 December 2015

Year End Awards: Best Graphic Novel Awards


Article by
Patrick Scattergood

In the second of our year end awards, we're tackling the tough world of the graphic novels that have been coming from the small press / indie world and this year was one of the best by far.  The trouble with that is the simple fact that it was next to impossible to narrow it down to less than six so let's get started.

Honorable Mentions

Midnight Man: Bullet Time (Bad Mother Publisher)
Westernoir: Book Five (Accent UK)
The King in Yellow (Self Made Hero)

Third Place


Fantasmagoria (Self Published)

Both written and illustrated by Stephane Cote, Fantasmagoria is one of the most unique and varied graphic novels that I have read in a very long time.

Taking a story that manages to both excite and to hook you in, Cote manages to tell a story from so many different points of view that you never fully know just what is going to happen until the very last page.

It's the same with the art.  Each side of the story is told using a massively different style of illustration, which should make the tale very disjointed yet Cote manages to keep all the plates spinning not only successfully but with a superb sense of style as well.

If you're looking for a unique title in the sea of graphic novels that have come out this year then this is one  that should already be in your collection.

Runner Up


The Rabbit (Avery Hill)

Written and illustrated by the insanely talented Rachael Smith, The Rabbit is one of those releases that is really hard to explain to people but is also one that you can't even come close to putting down until you've finished each and every page.

Smith is known as someone that not only illustrates absolutely gorgeous looking stories but tells the reader a story that will both amuse but also stay with you long after you have closed the book and it's the same here.

On the surface you have a tale that looks like it would be too weird to be taken seriously but that is not the case here.  Instead, you have a story that is both heartwarming and incredibly touching as well as hilarious.

With each of her releases being even better than the last, I can't wait to see what she is going to come up with next.

Joint Winner: 2015 COASM Best Graphic Novel


The Sculptor (Self Made Hero)


Porcelain: Bone China (Improper Books)

I'm not normally a fan of year end awards that end with a double winner but this year, it was absolutely impossible to choose between these two releases for vastly different reasons entirely.

In The Sculptor by Scott McCloud, we have a rather fantastical but romantic story that both manages to make you smile but also make you weep bucket loads of tears as well.  It's a story that is so full of up's and down's that you're never quite sure what McCloud is going to do to your heart next.

A lot of that is down to his brilliant pacing but also his stark black and white art really puts forward the heartbreak and the longing that runs throughout the story and that is why it's one of my favourite releases of the year by far.

The second winner is a follow up to one of my favourite graphic novels of all time in the shape of Porcelain: Bone China.  

As a sequel to Porcelain, this one not only keeps the extremely high quality of the original graphic novel but also expands not only on the effective characters but also the world  that the pair of Chris Wildgoose and Benjamin Read have created here.  

The story itself is extremely well paced but also makes the reader feel like they're going to take the story one route but then takes you in a completely different direction.  I loved that about the story.  If these two installments in the series are going to be this good then the next one has a hell of a lot to live up to.

Well ladies and gentlemen, that's the best graphic novels for 2015.  Have any of your favorites made the list?

Year End Awards: Best Comic Book Awards


Article By
Patrick Scattergood

Hello readers and welcome to the 2015 COASM Year End Awards.  I didn't get time to do one of these last year so here's this years one.

I figured we would start with the Best Comic Book and Best Graphic Novel awards for this year so without further ado, let's get started!

Best Comic Book

There have been a lot of absolutely brilliant comic books by both the small press companies and the indie creators this year so it has been an absolute battle to try to narrow it down to just these three so here they are folks.

Honorable Mentions

Tales of Westernoir: Issue 1 (Accent UK)
Deathday Presents: Issue 1 (Dammaged Comics)
The Disease: One Shot (Self Published by James Mulholland)
Papercuts and Inkstains: Issues 1 and 2 (Madius Comics)
City of Lost Souls: Issues 1-3 (Moomac Comics / Geeky Kids Comics)

Third Place


Jupiter: Issue 2 (Ink and Booze)


As I said in my review of this superb title, it's always a great surprise to come across a comic book that not only improves with each issue but also manages to keep a unique sense of style and quality in an ever growing indie and small press comic book world. 

Jupiter, written by Drew Askew, is one of those titles and if the first two issues are anything to go by, it's just going to get better and better.  In fact it's one of those titles that on paper shouldn't work or at the very least, would end up being a bit of a car crash style series but this tale of a Mexican wrestler turning in to a masked detective ends up being one that grips and amuses in equal measure.

Definitely one to check out.


Runner Up


Stephenson's Robot: Issue 1 (Accent UK)

I'm always a little bit hesitant to review titles that have more than one story in them.  That's because of the simple fact that they are nearly always hit and miss.

However, with the great track record that Accent UK has with their titles, I still managed to go in to this one with some very high expectations and they were more than met by the team here.  All three stories that appeared in this issue were such high quality that Stephenson's Robot: Issue 1 is one of those sorts of titles that you can come back to time and time again but notice something new each time,

I loved how they took a story involving the creation of a robot that may or may not be able to be able to end a war but tell it from three different sides and from three different voices is brilliantly risky but works so well here and that's why it ended up on a very well deserved runner up spot in this years list.

2015 COASM Best Comic Winner


Merrick: The Sensational Elephantman: Issue Three

The Merrick series put out by Tom Ward and Luke Parker has been making a hell of a lot of waves in the indie world and rightfully so,  Taking the famous personality of the real life Elephantman himself, as told in the 1980 movie starring John Hurt, and then placing him in an also Hellboy like world has been a brilliantly exciting and successful one.

You would think that a title that has clear influences from Mike Mignola and others would suffer from a lack of originality but that's far from the case here.  In fact, there are a great many interesting ideas in the series that I look forward to seeing more of.

The Kickstarter campaigns for the various issues just seem to get more and more successful with each one and this one was no different.  A lot of that is down to the simple fact that this is by far, the best issue of the series thus far and one that is well deserving of the winners spot on this list so go and check out the series and see just what the fuss is all about,  Believe me, it's well worth it.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Blood Blokes: Issue 5 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written and Illustrated By
Adam Cadwell

Pin Up's By
Dilraj Mann
Simone Massoni

Cover By
Adam Cadwell

Back Cover By
Danny Zabbal

Published By
Self Published

Genre
Comedy, Horror

Synopsis

In this penultimate issue hapless new vamp Vince drops in on his human ex-girlfriend Jane while his undead housemates search the student indie night clubs of Manchester looking for him.

Review

When I first picked up the first couple of issues of Blood Blokes by Adam Cadwell, I have to admit that I wasn't at all sure what to expect from it.  After reading through the first four issues, I was blown away at how quickly the characters grew and turned in to a cast that I wanted to read more of.

In this issue, we're dealing with the aftermath of Vince realising that his life will never be the same again and he implodes for what of a better word and tries to run away from it all.  Here in issue five, we see the character of Vince really do some great character growth and it's great to see him in a slightly different light.

If you were a fan of the darkly comedic moments in the first four issues then you are in luck here.  Not only does Cadwell keep the humour firing on all cylinders, there are some great little nods to other movies and television shows in there too so it was fun to see those as well.

Art wise, the stark black and white nature of the art style here really works to the advantages of the panel work.  There are some great angles used and the way Cadwell uses the shadows to give the pages depth as well as a sense of dread while maintaining the comedy is fantastic.  A lot of that is down to the interplay between the characters and their facial expressions too.  Sometimes Cadwell goes for the sharp dialogue and other times he just goes for a facial expression and that really gives this issue the best pacing of the series by far.

There are some great guest pin up's here that really work next to Cadwell's art despite being completely different styles.  I've always loved it when a comic book has a sample of another artist's work because it gives the reader a chance to see new work that they may not have otherwise seen and I, for one, will definitely be checking out their work as well.

All in all, this is a great issue and one that was well worth waiting for.  Let's hope that issue six finishes off the series with a bang,

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

Blood Blokes: Issue 5 as well as the other issues, are available from Adam Cadwell's Store

Ant-Man Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Edgar Wright
Joe Cornish
Adam McKay
Paul Rudd

Based on Characters Created By
Stan Lee
Jack Kirby
Larry Lieber

Directed By
Peyton Reed

A Marvel Studios Film

Genre
Superhero, Action, Adventure

Cast
Paul Rudd as Scott Lang / Ant-Man
Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym
Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne
Corey Stoll as Darren Cross / Yellowjacket
Bobby Cannavale as Paxton
Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson / Falcon
Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter
Michael Pena as Luis

Year Released
2015

Certificate
12

Synopsis

Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, cat burglar Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

Review

I have to admit that despite reading a lot of different Avengers comic books, I was never that big a fan of the character of Ant-Man.  I could never place my finger on why but the stories involving Pym and his alter ego's just never hooked me in as much as the other members.  So with that in mind, I didn't really pay that much attention to the announcement that a movie was going to coming out helmed by the character.

Well, I finally got around to seeing it today and I have to admit that I actually found myself  really enjoying it to the point that I wanted to pick up some of the comics with him in to take another look at his back story.

The first thing that struck me was the simple fact that while this movie was exciting and had some absolutely fantastic action scenes in, there was a real sense of wonder and fun that ran through the entire run time of the movie itself.  The idea of a person having made many mistakes in their life and then wanting to wanting to redeem himself isn't a new one, not even in the Marvel movies themselves, but you can't help but find yourself rooting for the Lang character played by Rudd.

A lot of that is down to the brilliantly paced writing and editing here.  Each time sometime goes wrong for the character, you can't help but feel sorry for him.  Rudd's performance is the cause of a lot of that and he really does bring the character of Scott Lang to life in such an impressive way that I can't wait to see what he will do with the character next.

Talking of the characters, I was quite surprised with the choice of Michael Douglas as Hank Pym but he really gives the character a sense of cynicism and hope at the same time.  The chemistry between Douglas and Rudd gives the characters of Pym and Lang a father/son style relationship and that really adds another layer to them.  It's the same with Evangeline Lilly as Hope, although I wish they could have done a little bit more with the character.

All in all, this is a great addition to the Marvel movie universe.  It's not the best movie in the collection but there's a great sense of fun, adventure and wonder that runs alongside some brilliant performances and that makes this a movie that comic book fans should definitely take a chance on and see.  I know I did and it's made me want to check out some of the other stories involving Ant-Man again to see if my opinion of the character in written form as changed at all.

Movie 7.5/10


Jem and the Holograms: Holiday Special Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Kelly Thompson

Art By
Amy Mebberson
M. Victoria Robado

Lettering By
Shawn Lee

Cover By
Amy Mebberson

Published By
IDW Publishing

Genre
Adventure, Music, Comedy

Synopsis

When Jem and The Holograms and The Misfits draw each other in their shared record label's gift exchange, heads will roll or is the holiday spirit getting to even the bitterest of enemies?

Review

I have to admit that I'm not all that familiar with the Jem and the Holograms comic but thanks to my little lad taking an interest in the television series from the 1980's, we figured we would start giving the issues a bit of a go.

With this one being the holiday special issue, the idea of a one shot story felt like the perfect jumping on point to see if we would like the series as much as the show itself.

The first thing that struck me was the bright, colourful style of art that they have gone for.  It's got a real cartoon style vibe but also harks back a little to the bright and bombastic style of the television show.  The characters look like their television counterparts but also have a nice and up to date vibe to them as well.

Writing wise, the story is actually quite surprising in that while it works so well as a one off, it also works for the fans of the characters too.  There are some really lovely moments where the characters really come in to their own.  This is most present in the scene where all the characters open their secret Santa gifts from one another.  Not a single one has the same response.  In fact, their personalities really shine through in their reactions.  It's a beautifully simple but effective bit of writing and really shows why this comic book series is so popular with the fans.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the relationship between Stormer and Kimber.  Not only did it bridge the divide between the bands but also gave the comic some of the gentle and really lovely moments that showed just how special this time of year can be.

All in all, while this isn't exactly a groundbreaking comic, I really enjoyed this one.  Considering I'm a novice in the world of Jem and the Holograms, I loved the simple stand alone nature of the story but I also loved the fact that you could clearly see that the creative team really like the characters and are bringing their 'a' game to the title.  Definitely one I'll be picking up again to read alongside my little lad. 

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

Monday, 14 December 2015

The Rot Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Mike Gillan

Art and Cover By
Janine Van Moosel

Published By
Self Published

Genre
Horror

Synopsis


The only thing more dangerous than the walking corpses, is the other survivors.

Mike Gillan, author of Untitled, brings you his debut zombie short The Rot.  Illustrated in full colour by Janine Van Moosel (City of Lost Souls)

Review

As you've probably guessed, I am a bit of a zombie comic book fan as both a writer myself and as a reader so when I heard that there was a short coming out that not only featured the flesh eating creatures that we all know and love, but was also illustrated by Janine Van Moosel from City of Lost Souls, I was all in for reading it.

Would the short story hold up with the expectation I held for it?  Most definitely yes.

I wasn't at all familiar with Mike Gillan's work before this but after reading this one, I'll definitely be checking more out as soon as I can get my hands on some.  The thing that really struck me about this story was that Gillan managed to fit a hell of a lot in to such a short reading time.  It's a really quick read but if you take the time to saviour both the art and the writing then there is a hell of a lot here to satisfy even the most ardent of zombie fans.  

There's a nice psychological slant to the story as well as a nice twist at the end too.  The one thing I would have liked to have seen more of would have been a little bit of development for the main female character but at the same time, the fact that you don't know anything about her works in it's favour because of the simple fact that you don't know what kind of a woman she is.

With a name like Van Moosel attached to the art work then you know you are going to get a very dark looking story and that's no different here yet one thing did strike me.  I'm very used to her stark black and white looking art work from the phenomenal City of Lost Souls series but here she's given us a dark, grimy looking art style but in full and rampant colour, gore and all.  I loved the superb use of viscera from the creatures down to the characters in the end of the story but I also loved the brilliantly chosen angles the she went for to show the action on the page.  Superb.

All in all, this short story is a great addition to the zombie genre.  There's a great balance between the fast writing style and the grimy art work that I really would love to see them team up again.

Well worth picking up by backing the Kickstarter campaign for the interesting sounding Untitled that you can back by clicking here!

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

Keep up to date with the Untitled campaign by shuffling over to their Facebook page.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Broken City Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Brian Tucker

Directed By
Allen Hughes

An Emmett / Furla Films, Inferno International, Regency Enterprises, Black Bear Pictures, New Regency, Closest to the Hole Productions, Leverage Communications, Envision Entertainment, 1984 Private Defense Contractors, Knightsbridge Entertainment Movie

Genre
Thriller, Crime

Cast
Mark Wahlberg as Billy Taggart
Russell Crowe as Mayor Hostetler
Catherine Zeta-Jones as Cathleen Hostetler
Jeffrey Wright as Carl Fairbanks
Barry Pepper as Jack Valliant
Alona Tal as Katy Bradshaw
Natalie Martinez as Natalie Barrow
Michael Beach as Tony Jansen
Kyle Chandler as Paul Andrews

Year Released
2013

Certificate
15

Synopsis

In a city rife with injustice, ex-cop Billy Taggart seeks redemption and revenge after being double-crossed and then framed by its most powerful figure: Mayor Nicholas Hostetler.

Review

With a cast list as strong as this one, I have to admit that I had some very high hopes for this political crime thriller.  Russell Crowe has always been adept at handling characters that have a sense of darkness and danger to them so I eagerly stuck this one in to watch.

After watching this one, something struck me about the story itself.  I know that political thrillers always tend to have a story line where there are double crosses and murder, which is where this one takes the movie itself, but this one seems to have lost any sense of originality at all.

Watching through the scenes, there was a real sense of 'been there, done that' to the movie itself.  That's a real shame because this movie sounded really interesting on paper, especially with the cast itself.  I kept thinking that the scenes almost felt like someone had taken scenes out of different movies and just slipped them in to this one and hoped for the best.

Some of the problem with the story itself is the really strange pacing that plagues the entire film.  One minute, it's a subtle and slow burning thriller but then it's an all out race against time in places.  It made the whole thing seem rather disjointed.

Cast wise, I have to admit that I was really disappointed with the performances here.  Zeta-Jones seemed to struggle with not looking bored during her scenes and yet a lot of the twists revolved around her characters involvement.  It was the same with Wahlberg.  He tried his best with the sometimes inane dialogue but came across as rather disinterested at times.

That said, Crowe gave his part a real sense of menace and was one of the best parts of the movie and it was the same with Jeffrey Wright as well.  I would have loved to have seen a bit more of Wright's character as there really seemed to be a chance for some great character development that just sadly never came.

All in all, this movie was quite a bit disappointment for me.  It had some interesting moments and strong performances from both Crowe and Wright, the movie itself suffered from some very strange pacing and editing as well as a lack of originality so I, for one, would give it a miss and check out the many better thrillers with a political slant out there.

Movie 4/10


Batman / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Issue 1 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
James Tynion IV

Art and Cover By
Freddie E. Williams II

Lettering By
Tom Napolitano

Published By
DC Comics
IDW Publishing

Genre
Action, Adventure, Superhero

Synopsis

DC Comics and IDW team up for the crossover you never saw coming as two of the greatest entertainment icons meet for the first time! 

In Gotham City, a series of deadly raids leads Batman to believe he’s up against a group of highly trained ninjas known as the Foot Clan! 

Somehow, they’ve crossed over to another dimension and are determined to take advantage of the situation while looking to get back home. But they haven’t come alone: Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo are hot on their trail. 

Get ready for excitement as heroes and villains from both worlds clash and team up in an epic battle that threatens the very fabric of reality!

Review

When I saw that DC Comics and IDW Publishing were going to team up and do a cross over mini-series featuring both Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I have to admit that I really wasn't all that sure where they were going to take the characters or the story.  In fact, I was rather hesitant to take a gamble on it because I figured it would just be a rather cheap cash in with two major movies featuring the characters on the way to cinemas next year.

However, I grabbed it out of sheer fascination and to see if it was truly as bad as my mind was making me think it was going to be.

Well, I am glad that I took a chance on it because the two vastly different sets of characters, that I thought would clash terribly on the page, work very well.  In fact, they both feel completely at home in this story to such an extent that I am eager to see where issue two is going to take the story.

Story wise, the flow of the first issue does concentrate a little heavier on the Batman side of things but there is a lot here to whet the appetite of the Turtles fans too, including a scene involving Killer Croc that I am hoping will pan out how I would love it to in a later issue.  There are also some great moments between the Foot Clan itself and Batman that will hopefully lead in to an altercation between Batman and Shredder.  That really would be a fight to be seen.

The tale itself is also an interesting one.  It's true that it seems to be following the well worn path of inventions being stolen in order to put in place a bigger plan but the pacing and the fact that the characters work so well in this easy that make it such an interesting read.  I have no idea if the very good balancing act that this issue has done will continue on in issue two when the interactions between the different characters increase but this issue handles it well.

Art wise, this one manages to both have a very clean look to the panels yet still have the grimy and seedy look that befits the world of Gotham City.  I loved the bulkier, meaner look to Batman and the darker look given to the Turtles as well as the superb use of the settings to make the story come alive yet for me, something just felt a little off but I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was.

All in all, this one is definitely a good start to the mini-series so I'll definitely putting my hard earner pennies down to get issue  two.

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

Monday, 16 November 2015

Fortune 69 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
David Heath

Published By
Self Published

Genre
Thriller

Synopsis

Trigger is once again sitting at home in front of his computer; only this time, he's got a stomach full of powerful anti-depressants and gin. As an outcast that's becoming disillusioned by society's increasing addiction to social media, he decides to end it all. 

He posts his suicide note on Fortune-69.com, his digital playground of choice, but things don't go exactly as planned. When Trigger unexpectedly wakes up the next morning, he quickly learns two things: at some point during the night he unknowingly posted an inspirational message that was deleted by moderators, and that he now has a legion of anonymous followers who want to follow his every command. 

Trying to find a way to cope with his bizarre family history, Trigger finds himself tangled up with a sexually liberated cosplayer who pushes him to his limits and a mysterious hacker, intent on changing the world through digital anarchy.

Review

I mainly know David Heath through his stellar comic book work so when I had the chance to take a look at one of his novels, I jumped at the chance.  I read the book but when it came to actually writing the review for it, I struggled.  I didn't struggle because it's a bad book, far from it.  I struggled because it's a very hard book to explain and get a proper handle on.

The first thing that struck me the most about the novel was the writing style.  It's simple, in a good way, and almost lyrical in places.  That leads the story to flow very well in such a way that you can't put it down.  Another thing that struck me was the fact that while you could see some of Heath's influences, such as Chuck Palahniuk, he puts them forward is his own unique voice.

The story itself is incredibly bleak, although just reading the synopsis should prepare you for that but Heath manages to still infuse a rather dark sense of humour through the entire story.  In fact, those moments sometimes take the form of making you ask yourself if you should be laughing at it.  I liked that approach because it really made the bleak and unforgiving landscape portrayed by Heath one that really did come to live.

Characters wise, I would have liked to have seen a little more more depth in places but the main characters of Trigger and Charity are very well thought out.  They're flawed, broken and sometimes intensely unlikable yet you find yourself caring about them regardless of that.  It's a bit of a strange feeling to spend some of the book hating the characters but then managing to find a form of sympathy for them no matter how small it appears to be.

For me, there were two parts that stuck out a little bit.  There's a scene that is very shocking about halfway through that really sticks in your head.  It felt like a sledgehammer to the gut and I can see why some readers didn't like it and I can see why some readers felt it really ramped up the intense atmosphere of the novel itself.  Personally, I wasn't offended by it's inclusion, it just felt a little bit like it needed a slightly stronger set up for it to truly be effective but with it as it is now, it still works and works very well.

The other part of the book that stuck out for me was the simple fact that the ending felt like it came out of nowhere.  Fortune 69 had done a very good and very effective job at building up the tension to a point where you felt like something huge was going to happen.  Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad ending at all.  It's just that I felt like there should have been a little more to it but the other part of me liked the bleak and dark ending because it really kept in pace with the rest of the story.

All in all, for a debut novel, this shows Heath has a very good head for stories that will stay with you long after the novel has ended as well as stories that have a dark underbelly to them.  If this is a debut novel then wait and see what his others will be like once he has more experience after his pen.

Story 8.5/10
Characters 7.5/10
Cover 7/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 31/40

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Doctor Who: Four Doctors - Issues 1-5 Review


Written By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Paul Cornell

Art By
Neil Edwards
Ivan Nunes

Lettering By
Richard Starkings
Comicraft's Jimmy Betancourt

Covers By
Neil Edwards

Published By
Titan Comics

Genre
Science Fiction, Adventure, Television Tie-In

Synopsis

What shocking past event brings three Doctors together — to combat an unknown foe with three incarnations in its sights?

Review

Recently, Titan Comics have been doing a really good job of having ongoing series of the Tennant era, Capaldi era and Smith era of the long running character of the Doctor as well as a mini-series featuring the criminally underrated Eccleston era as well.  They all managed to keep the things that made those versions of the characters so popular yet managed to put their own spin on them.

That's when Titan Comics announced that there would be a big crossover event featuring four versions of the Doctor, hence the name of the mini series, but who would the fourth version be?

Well, after reading all five parts, the first thing that struck me was the simple fact that the story was more 'the three Doctor's' and not four because the fourth addition to the team was barely in it at all and I felt that was a little bit of a missed opportunity.  I would have loved to see that version butt heads with Capaldi for one as that would have been a battle of wits that would have absolutely flown off of the page.  A shame that it didn't happen really.

Other than that, the story itself is a rather interesting one.  It shows the characters in a different light and does a fantastic job of showing just how much of an emotional toll that it takes on the Doctor as well as the companions themselves.  That was a nice touch in between the various twists and turns that the story threw at the reader.

The art in these five issues is uniformly good for nearly the entire run.  There were a couple of panels where the detailing seemed slightly lacking but it really made the story feel alive and like it wouldn't be out of place in the actual television series itself.

All in all, this was a good crossover event.  I was a little disappointed that the fourth Doctor incarnation was barely used but at the same time, it was used in such a way that it really kicked the story off in an exciting manner.  I don't think that it was up to the normal high standards of the single series that Titan Comics do put out but it's still well worth a read.

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

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Made To Kill Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Adam Christopher

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller

Synopsis

Ray is the perfect detective – tireless, logical, and efficient, with a knack for wry one-liners. He’s also the last robot on Earth – turns out people just don’t like robots, even if they like the idea of them.

As the lone employee of the Electromatic Detective Agency – except for Ada, office gal and supercomputer, the constant voice in Ray’s inner ear – Ray prefers to stay out of sight. So when a familiar-looking woman arrives at the agency wanting to hire Ray to find a missing actor, he’s inclined to tell her to take a hike. But she has the cold, hard gold – and Ray was programmed to make a profit. Plunged into a glittering world of fame, fortune, and secrecy, Ray uncovers a sinister plot that goes much deeper than the silver screen – and this robot is in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

Review

Adam Christopher is fast becoming a writer with a reputation for being incredibly versatile with his writing so when I read that his next release would be an old fashioned detective story but featuring a huge robot then I was very eager to get my hands on it.

After reading it, I can honestly say that this book is yet more proof that he really is as versatile as a lot of his reviews make him out to be.

Story wise, this novel has all the ingredients of being a classic but that's not just hyperbole on my part.  Christopher manages to create a story that wouldn't feel out of place in a Humphrey Bogart movie yet does so while mixing in science fiction, huge robots and more.  Talking of robots, another majorly impressive part of the book is that you end up feeling like Ray is human.  Despite all the scenes that describe the various things that this robotic detective can do, Christopher manages to make him seem completely human and sympathetic at the same time.

It's the same with the other characters too.  There is a long cast list here and each one manages to have their own personalities, lives and even motives for their actions in the story no matter how big or small a part they play.

However, my favourite part of the book is quite simply the fact that it never stops being surprising.  The novel starts off as a simple missing persons case for Ray and stays so for a chunk of the book.  You start to feel settled in that, this is what the story is going to be but then it takes off in a massively different and surprising direction.  I loved that twist and, for me, it made the book a must have in my collection.

All in all, this is an utterly brilliant, well paced book with so many surprises and twists that I wouldn't be surprised if you would have to read it multiple times to catch them all.  The story doesn't get stuck in the idea of a robot detective, instead making the character seem more human than a lot of the others involved.  A definite must have.

Story 9/10
Characters 8/10
Cover 10/10
Recommended 9/10
Overall 36/40

The Dead Assassin (The Paranormal Casebooks of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Vaughn Entwistle

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Supernatural, Mystery, Thriller

Synopsis

1895. Victorian England trembles on the verge of anarchy. Handbills plastered across London scream for revolution and insurrection. Terrorist bombs are detonating around the Capitol and every foreigner is suspected of being a bomb-throwing Anarchist lurking beneath a cape. Even Palace officials whisper warnings of a coup-de-tat.

Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle is summoned from a peaceful dinner in the palm-room of the Tivoli restaurant to the scene of a gruesome crime that has baffled and outraged Scotland Yard's best. A senior member of Her Majesty's government has been murdered—assassinated—in the most brutal and savage fashion. The body of his attacker lies several streets away—riddled with pistol bullets that inexplicably failed to stop him from carrying out his lethal mission. More perplexing, one of the attending detectives recognizes the dead assassin as Charlie Higginbotham, a local Cockney pickpocket and petty thief. However, Higginbotham is not just an improbable suspect, but an impossible suspect, for the young detective collared Charlie for the murder of his wife and watched him take the drop two weeks previously, hanged at Newgate Prison.

Conan Doyle calls in his friend Oscar Wilde for assistance and soon the two authors find themselves swept up in an investigation so bizarre it defies conventional wisdom and puts the lives of their loved ones, the Nation, and even the Monarch herself in dire peril.

The murders continue, committed by a shadowy cadre of seemingly unstoppable assassins. As the sinister plot unravels, an implausible theory becomes the only possible solution: someone is reanimating the corpses of executed criminals and sending them shambling through the London fog ... programmed for murder.

Review

When I reviewed the first book in this series, The Revenant of Thraxton Hall, I was taken with the pacing, the twists and turns and the casting of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his friend Oscar Wilde in the Sherlock Holmes style characters while they attempted to solve a supernatural mystery.  It was a great first installment and that mean that I was very eager to get to read this one.

The first thing that I noticed about this second installment is that it is a lot darker than the first novel and that gives us an absolutely absorbing story that has some truly shocking moments.

The story itself is extremely well paced.  Because of that, the characters move quickly during the mystery itself but Entwistle has written this is such a way that there are some very well written moments where the characters grow as the novel goes on.  Oscar Wilde, at times, can come across as a rather reluctant partner in the detective team up but there are other times that he seems quite over excited about helping.  I loved that his personality was so well written and written in such a fun way that he leaped off of the page.

I also liked the retelling of the relationship between Doyle and his second wife.  He did come across as a bit of dick during a couple of moments here but that was a good thing in a way because he didn't come across as perfect and that's a good way of writing a character.  I've always hated the types of books where the main character is purer than driven snow.  Here, that isn't the case.  He makes bad choices, he makes mistakes and I loved that.

All in all, this is a truly interesting and sometimes shocking second installment of the series and I can't wait for the next one.

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

Thursday, 29 October 2015

The Osiris Ritual: A Newbury and Hobbes Investigation Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
George Mann

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Mystery, Thriller, Supernatural

Synopsis

Death stalks London and the newspapers proclaim that a mummy’s curse has been unleashed. Sir Maurice Newbury, gentleman investigator for the crown, is drawn into a web of occult intrigue as he attempts to solve the murders. And he soon finds himself on the trail of a rogue agent – a man who died to be reborn as a living weapon.

Meanwhile, Newbury’s able assistant, Miss Veronica Hobbes, has her own mystery to unravel. Young women are going missing from a magician’s theatre show. But what appears to be a straightforward investigation puts Miss Hobbes in mortal danger.

Can Newbury save his assistant, solve the riddle of the mummy’s curse, capture the deadly man-machine and stop the terrifying Osiris Ritual from reaching its infernal culmination?

Review

As a massive fan of George Mann's work, I'm more than aware of his steampunk detective series.  In fact, I absolutely love the installments of the series that I have read thus far and always await new novels in the series.

With Titan Books re-releasing the series from the very beginning, I felt that it was a great time to revisit the characters and their adventures.  With the first novel, there were some moments that felt a little bit heavy due to the need to introduce all the main characters but here, with that out of the way, The Osiris Ritual is a much more streamlined affair and the book that actually introduced me to Mann's almost lyrical writing.

One of the things that I have always liked about The Osiris Ritual is the simple fact that everything, including the story, really seems to have been ramped up by Mann.  There are lots more twists and turns, the villains seemed more vile and evil and there were some absolutely fantastic bits of character development too.

With this mystery combining a sense of the supernatural and some almost Sherlock Holmes style mental mathematics, the story moves along at a really fast pace but with Mann leaving enough space for the characters to grow and develop, this second novel in the series really shows Mann firing on all cylinders story telling wise.

All in all, this is, in my opinion, the best of the Newbury and Hobbes series by far and really shows a series that is full of twists, turns and surprises.  Well worth picking up.

Story 9/10
Characters 8.5/10
Cover 10/10
Recommended 9/10
Overall 36.5/40

Monday, 19 October 2015

Batman: The Cult - Books 1-4 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Jim Starlin

Art By
Berni Wrightson
Bill Wray

Lettering By
John Costanza

Covers By
Berni Wrightson

Published By
DC Comics

Genre
Superhero, Thriller

Synopsis

Deacon Blackfire, a charismatic shaman with roots as old as Gotham City itself, has amassed the city's homeless into an army, one he seemingly uses to fight crime. But Blackfire has a hidden agenda!


Review

When I was given the four book mini-series called The Cult, I wasn't all that sure what kind of story this would end up being.  I've read some of Starlin's other work so I knew it would take a psychological look at the story but, and I'm being honest here, I'd never heard of this series despite being a huge Batman fan.

Story wise, I was right in thinking this would be a psychological story.  The way Starlin's writing takes not only a look at the mental damage the actions of Blackfire have on Batman but also a look at what the story does to the inhabitants of Gotham City itself.  I loved that approach to the story because of the simple fact that I was positively hooked from the very first book right up to the very last word.

There are some absolutely brilliant twists and turns in the story.  In fact, there were moments where I actually believed that there was no chance that Batman could pull through this and he definitely hasn't unscathed.  The repercussions of this story would go on to be felt in his other stories for a long time.

I didn't really know all that much about Blackfire as a character but after seeing him here, I'm definitely going to take a look to see if there are others involving him,

Art wise, if you are familiar with the comics of the late 80's and early 90's then you know what to expect.  With this one, the art does take the sometimes gaudy colours and angles used by the art team and uses them to incredibly effective results.  That's most true in the scenes where Batman is battling against his descend in to insanity.  I couldn't take my eyes off of the panels and each little detail there ended up being so important that you could read those pages over and over again yet still find new little bits that you had missed before.

All in all, this is an absolutely fantastic story and one that deserves to be a lot better known than it currently is.  I would even go so far as to say that not only is it one of the most under appreciated issue in Batman's long comic book career but it's also one of my personal favourites.

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

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Driving Heat Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
'Richard Castle'

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Crime, Thriller, Television Tie In

Synopsis

Richard Castle, New York Times mega-bestselling mystery writer and star of ABC's hit primetime show Castle is back. 

In the seventh novel of his popular Nikki Heat series, the NYPD's top homicide detective has been promoted to captain just in time to face a thrilling case with a very personal twist. Captain Heat's fiance, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Jameson Rook, is deep in an investigation. 

Professionally for Heat, Rook's meddling in the case compromises her new job. Privately, it becomes an early test of their engagement when Rook becomes a distraction at best, and an obstacle at worst, as their parallel lives not only cross, but collide.

Review

As a big fan of the television series Castle that stars Nathan Fillion, I was absolutely amazed when Titan Books started to release the novels that were talked about on the show.  However, one thing struck me.  Would they be able to live up to the fantastic television series?

Simply put, yes.  Yes they do.

The stories here really do zing along at a cracking pace and that's one of their greatest strengths.  The fast pacing really makes the novels quite similar to the television series and their character counterparts.  The one thing I really liked the most was that quite simply, you really can see their 'real world' versions in these novel characters.  It honestly does read as if the character of Richard Castle has really based them on the people that he works with.

One of the things that has struck me the most about the 'Heat' series of books is that they work very well as stand alone stories but they also have a brilliant theme running through them all that ties them together in a very well crafted way.

Story wise, this installment is definitely one of the best of the bunch.  The easy going nature of the writing really works in it's favor because when you do get hit with the twists and turns, they come across as incredibly effective.  It's the same with the character work as well in that there are some great moments where you see some superb character development.

All in all, if you are a fan of Castle then this is most definitely a book that will stoke the flames of your fandom for that television show.  However, even if you're not a fan of the show, this is a superb crime thriller of a novel and one that is well worth picking up.

Story 8.5/10
Characters 8.5/10
Cover 6.5/10
Recommended 8.5/10
Overall 32/40

Jupiter: Issue 2 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written and Illustrated By
Drew Askew

Published By
Ink and Booze

Genre
Action, Adventure, Comedy

Synopsis

Here it is folks, the long awaited issue #2 of everybody's favourite ex wrestler turned 1940's LA detective, Jupiter is back.


When last we saw him Jupiter confronted the missing girl in his case only to find she had an army of mindless ghouls at her side, find out how he gets out of this predicament in this latest installment!

Review

As a massive fan of the first issue of Jupiter, by Drew Askew, I was eagerly waiting for the next issue.  I loved the blend of horror, action, comedy and all the references that Drew managed to sneak in to the first part of the story.  In fact, I even said that is was instantly quotable so I was hoping for more of the same with this installment.


Not only do we get that in spades with this installment but the story seems to really have ramped up the pace so that you wouldn't want to put it down until you have read each and every page.  The story reveals more of the machinations behind the case that Jupiter is working on as well as introducing a couple of new characters too.  That's handled very well in the writing to such a degree that you come away feeling like the pieces are all just settling in to the puzzle.

Story wise, like I said earlier, the quick pace really helps the story, especially in the humour department.  There are some absolutely hilarious moments and a lot of the pages are jam packed with so many references that you could easily turn it in to a drinking game yet it manages to juggle all of those without over staying it's welcome.

Art wise, if you have seen any of Drew's superb work before, you know exactly what to expect here.  The off kilter angles and the designs of the characters in this series remind me a little of a slightly softer version of the designs that wouldn't be out of place in a Tim Burton movie.  There really is an almost whimsical feel to the art and that, coupled with the humour, gives this a rather unique feel and personality all of it's own.

All in all, this is a brilliant continuation of the series and I, for one, can't wait for the next issue so roll on issue 3!

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

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Assassin's Creed: Issue 1 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Anthony Del Col
Conor McCreery

Art and Cover By
Neil Edwards
Ivan Nunes

Lettering By
Richard Starkings
Comicraft's Jimmy Betancourt

Published By
Titan Comics

Genre
Action, Adventure

Synopsis

It begins...

There are shadowy forces at work in our world.

Forces who have battled for dominance since the dawn of human history.

One seeks stability through order and control.  The other, progress through liberty and free will.

They are rumors.  They are real.

They are about to enter the life of Charlotte de la Cruz...

Review

As a massive fan of the Assassin's Creed series of games, I was quite eager to see what those folks at Titan Comics were going to do with their spin off comic book series.  Would they stay true to the feel of the game or would they go their own route entirely?

Well, with this being the first issue, they appear to have ended up with a mixture of the two.

There's a fair bit of action and adventure in this installment and that really gets this series off with a bang.  It's also a bit of a weakness for the issue too,  The simple fact is that the while the issue is action packed and will thrill the fans of the series, I felt like it was a little light on characters.  You have them all introduced here but it's done rather quickly and there really wasn't all that much to get them to distinguish them from one another.

That said, the fast pacing also works in its favour too because of the simple fact that there is so much firing on at the same time that you can't wait to see what is going to pop out next.  I loved that feeling, which almost felt like an action movie at times, because of that the story moves along in such a way that your eyes are drawn to each section on the page.

With the writing giving the story that feeling, the art needed to be fast and furious as well and that is definitely the case here.  Personally, I would have liked the art to have a little grimier feel to it but that said, the clean art here does a good job of bringing the story alive.  I would even go so far as to say that the art reminds me of the style that you see in the Marvel and DC comics that are coming out recently.

All in all, this is a very good first installment in to this series and I'm sure that fans of the game series will definitely like this one.  I know I did.

Story 7/10
Art 7.5/10
Cover 7.5/10
Recommended 7.5/10
Overall 29.5/40

Friday, 25 September 2015

Rio Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Carlos Saldanha
Earl Richey Jones
Todd Jones
Don Rhymer
Joshua Sternin
Jennifer Ventimilla
Sam Harper

Directed By
Carlos Saldanha

A Twentieth Century Fox Animation, Blue Sky Studios Film

Genre
Animation, Comedy, Adventure

Cast
Leslie Mann as Linda (Voice)
Jesse Eisenberg as Blu (Voice)
Wanda Sykes as Chloe (Voice)
Jane Lynch as Alice (Voice)
Jamie Foxx as Nico (Voice)
Will.i,am as Pedro (Voice)
Anne Hathaway as Jewel (Voice)
Jermaine Clement as Nigel (Voice)

Year Released
2011

Certificate
U

Synopsis

When Blu, a domesticated macaw from small-town Minnesota, meets the fiercely independent Jewel, he takes off on an adventure to Rio de Janeiro with the bird of his dreams.

Review

I have to admit that I have always had a bit of a soft spot for movies with talking and singing animals in ever since I was a child and now that I have a little one of my own, it's fabulous to see him taking such joy from those kinds of movies too.

He was recently bought Rio as a gift and I'd heard some very good things about the movie so we stuck it straight on to see if it would live up to those great reviews.

The first thing that struck me about Rio was the simple fact that it looked absolutely stunning in every frame.  The animation is clear, colourful and crisp and that really brings the vivid life of Rio and of the carnival season to live in a big and incredibly fun way.

It's the same with the characters themselves.  Their animation is a delight to watch.  The facial expressions, their movement, everything just looked gorgeous.

The story itself, while not exactly breaking new ground in the originality stakes, does come across as quite sweet yet exciting and fun.  That and the stunning looks of the movie really kept my little lad hooked to the entire movie and he loved rooting for the various characters.

My one problem with the movie is that while it was stunning to look at, the movie didn't have a whole load of character development to it and that led them to feeling a little bit stereotypical and a bit stale,  That's a shame because the rest of the movie itself is fun and feels so alive.

That said, this movie really does have a great cast, especially with Eisenberg as Blu.  He really did sound like he was having a lot of fun with the dialogue and really did put his own spin on the character but I just wish the writing had have given him a little more to work with.  It was the same with Hathaway as Jewel, she did a good job of making her the companion of Blu and the two voices worked really well together.  Personally, for me, the highlight was definitely Clement as the evil Nigel.  His performance had me in hysterics more than once.

All in all, this movie does suffer a little bit from being style over substance but with that said, it was still very entertaining, gorgeous to look at and kept my little lad entertained so you can't ask for more than that with an animated movie really.

Movie 7/10