Saturday, 30 May 2015

Just a Sidekick Issues 1 - 5 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written and Illustrated By
Kel Winser

Published By
Beardy Boy Comics

Genre
Various

Synopsis

A comic book series telling the story of a down and out comic book maker who ends up in his own comic style adventure!

Review

In the indie world, there are so many writers and artists vying for attention that you never know where to turn to find something that will hook you in, that will be something a bit different for your money.  Luckily, the indie comic book world is one that is full of talented creative teams that aren't afraid to take risks and try new things.

Just a Sidekick is one of those series that not only goes for something new but does it well and with style.

The series takes a unique run at creating a set of stories that will stand up in a crowded genre but really takes a risky route in to doing that.  Each and every issue is set in a completely different genre yet each issue is part of a long running, connected series.  In the hands of anyone else, such an idea would end up feeling  disjointed, confusing and maybe even feel more like a gimmick instead of a quality series.  That's not the case here at all.

For me, the strongest part of the series is the writing.  To be able to juggle 5 different genres and keep the story not only coherent but exciting too is quite a feat and Winser does so with confidence and style.  It's not all balls to the wall action or witty quips.  There really is an emotional side to the series and that to me raises it above a lot of the other comics that I have read lately.  With each genre that pops up, the characters take it in their stride yet there are sometimes some brilliant quips about the genres themselves that will bring a knowing smile to the readers face.

With such strong writing, there would have to be some cracking art to go with it and these comics have that in spades.  The subtle art really works well alongside the stories themselves and bring the characters to life.  The strongest part of the art is by far the fact that it's not clinical and safe like the art that seems so prevalent in recent comic books.  Instead the art sometimes takes a frantic turn and it works.  It really makes the action on the pages pop and keep your eyes glued to each and every page.

All in all, this is a series that is both unique and exciting.  Each issue dealing with a different genre yet maintaining a constant story is a risky but ultimately successful move.  Just a Sidekick is a series that is not only well worth getting but also take the time to check out Winser's other work here too.

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


Adventure Time: Candy Capers Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Ananth Panagariya
Yuko Ota

Art By
Ian McGinty
Maarta Laiho
Evan Dahm
Tessa Stone

Lettering By
Hannah Nance Partlow

Cover By
Jillian Crab

Published By
Titan Comics

Genre
Comedy, Mystery

Synopsis

Finn and Jake are missing?!

It's a dark day in Ooo, but fear not, Candy Kingdom - Peppermint Butler and Cinnamon Bun will...protect...you?

Desperate times call for desperate measures and Princess Bubblegum has no choice but to turn to the gummiest of gumshoes.  Peppermint Butler is on the case, and will Cinnamon Bun's complete lack of keen detective skills, they just might have a chance at navigating Ooo's shadowy underbelly and locating everyone's favourite heroes...

Written by ace detectives Ananth Panagariya and Yuko Ota (Johnny Wander) and illustrated by superstar sleuth Ian McGinty (Hello Kitty), featuring never-before-seen extras, including an inside look at creating Adventure Time: Candy Capers.

Review

As a fan of the iconic television show Adventure Time, I've been really impressed with some of the comic books from Boom Studio's that have been coming out recently.  They've really captured the feeling and the almost anarchy like sense of fun that the series have,

Here, the Candy Capers collection from Titan Books have taken a fun mystery tale and told it from the perspectives of some of the other characters in the world created by Pendleton Ward.  The majority of the tale is told from the p.o.v of Peppermint Butler and Cinnamon Bun but we also get appearances from characters such as Lumpy Space Princess, Marceline and more as they set out to discover just what has happened to the missing Finn and Jake.

The art used in the collection from the likes of Ian McGinty, Tessa Stone and Evan Dahm is bright, colourful and vibrant to the point where it almost feels like an animated show itself.  In fact, the art really captures the things that make the series so much fun and enjoyable to watch.  The action that unfolds on the page really does have such a sense of energy that you can't take your eyes off the page.  A lot of the fun of the art is the sheer amount of detail that has been put on to each page.

Story wise, each installment really does do a great job of feeling like episodes of the show.  I know I keep mentioning that but the fact that they have nailed such a unique show and made it come to life on the page is one that really pleased me as a fan.  They characters come across exactly how they would on the television and the story itself moves along at a cracking pace with one liners and jokes firing off in all directions.  There are even some fantastic shots at the mystery and detective genres thrown in for good measure that really had me laughing.  It's true that with the amount of jokes coming from the story that there are some that fall a little flat in places but it doesn't take away from the enjoyment at all.

All in all, Candy Capers is the sort of release that, if you are an Adventure Time fan, should already be in your collection.  I have to admit that if you aren't that big a fan of the show itself then this one will probably pass you by.  I, for one, absolutely loved it and had a fantastic time sharing it with my little lad.

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

Friday, 29 May 2015

Kingsman: The Secret Service Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Matthew Vaughn
Jane Goldman

Based on the Comic Book By
Mark Millar
Dave Gibbons

Directed By
Matthew Vaughn

A Twentieth Century Fox Corporation, Marv Films, TSG Entertainment Film

Genre
Action, Comedy

Cast

Colin Firth as Harry Hart, Galahad
Mark Strong as Merlin
Samuel L. Jackson as Valentine
Taron Egerton as Gary 'Eggsy' Unwin
Mark Hamill as Professor Arnold
Sofia Boutella as Gazelle
Michael Caine as Arthur
Jack Davenport as Lancelot
Sophie Cookson as Roxy
Nicholas Banks as Digby

Year Released
2014

Certificate
15

Synopsis

Based upon the acclaimed comic book and directed by Matthew Vaughn, Kingsman: The Secret Service tells the story of a super-secret spy organization that recruits an unrefined but promising street kid into the agency's ultra-competitive training program just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius.

Review

As a fan of movies such as Kick-Ass and Defendor, I've always had a bit of a soft spot for the ultra violent movies that manage to have an almost pitch black sense of humour.  Matthew Vaughn's movies nearly always manage to have that cynical and dark sense of humour running through them so I had high hopes for this movie, especially considering it's based on the comic book series written by the controversial Mark Millar.

Where Kick-Ass took the superhero genre and shook it by it's collar until a unique, funny and strong movie came out.  Kingsman: The Secret Service doesn't do that.  Instead it kicks the movie watchers in the groin with a wry smile and a wink.

The idea of a gentleman spy going on missions and trying to groom a newcomer to the world isn't a new one.  In fact, you could easily fill a whole blog with just that kind of movie.  However, this movie does the story in such a way that it fills completely new.  Not only that, Kingsman is the sort of movie that takes the things that make the James Bond movies so popular and ramps them up to 11 but does so with a sense of style and fun.

A lot of the movie is successful because of the performances of the multi star cast.  You have the likes of Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Firth and even the brilliant Mark Hamill in the cast and their experience and confidence in their roles really shines through.  Jackson's performance as the villain Valentine, really seems to see him absolutely loving hamming it up.  Alongside the classy and subtle performance by Firth, the whole movie really rattles along at a great pace but does so in such a way that you find yourself not only rooting for the characters but also feeling like you are involved in their story.  It was great to see Hamill in the movie too and in a bit of trivia for the readers out there, Hamill plays a professor in this movie but in the comic series, Hamill himself is a celebrity that is one of the first ones kidnapped.

The ultra violent and cuss filled action may not be the sort of movie to please every viewer and there will no doubt be some that are offended by the movie and that is fair enough.  It's definitely not a movie for everyone.  However, I really feel like this is the sort of movie that could become a cult classic and one that will hopefully give the spy action genre a much needed shot in the arm.

Movie 7.5/10


Thursday, 28 May 2015

Harry Potter: Magical Places From the Films Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Jody Revenson

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Movie Tie-In

Synopsis

From Hogwarts Castle to Azkaban and the Ministry of Magic, the unforgettable locations of the Harry Potter film series are in many ways just as beloved as the characters themselves.

Harry Potter: Magical Places From the Films is a captivating look at the imaginative sets that were designed, built, furnished, and digitally enhanced specifically for the blockbuster films.

Detailed profiles of each setting include never-before-seen concept are, behind-the-scenes photographs, film stills, and other filmmaking secrets from the Warner Bros. archive.

A removable map of Diagon Alley, a replica of the original created for the Leaky Cauldron set, and a pamphlet featuring a selection of the paintings of Hogwarts complete this one-of-a-kind follow up to the acclaimed Harry Potter: The Creature Vault.

Review

The Harry Potter movies and books are very popular in  my house with both myself and my wife as well as my little son so when I was offered the chance to review this book, I have to admit that I jumped at the chance to do so.

With such a massive wealth of information to choose from, I was a little worried that this book would be quite cluttered and too busy but Jody Revenson has done a truly brilliant job of creating a book that really does fit the brief of having something for everyone.

The first thing that struck me was just how gorgeous this book looks.  From the stunning cover right through to the layout of the book itself, it really is more than just a tie-in book for the fans of the movies.  It's a book that you can pick up again and again, noticing new bits here and there each time you open its pages.  Some of the concept art is utterly amazing, and if I'm honest, wouldn't look out of place on a gallery wall.  Thanks to the concept art, you really can see the evolution of the settings in such a way that it is like watching the movies come to life as you read.

Despite having so many gorgeous photographs, paintings and much more, the book would have fallen flat if the writer didn't have a style that would match up to the book itself.  Here, that isn't a problem at all.  Jody Revenson has done a brilliant job of writing a book that will not only hook the fans of the books and movies in but also people that may not be all that familiar with them too.  Her easy going and fluid like writing style really does make this not only an informative read but an enjoyable one as well.  There were times where the book actually felt like it was written by a fan, a labour of love so to speak, and I mean that in the highest possible terms.

As well as the behind-the-scenes stuff, there are some great surprises for the fans.  I won't list them all here, as that would take away some of the fun of finding them, but my personal favourite has definitely got to be the 'paintings of Hogwarts' selection.

All in all, if you are a Harry Potter fan, or even just someone with the slightest of passing interest, this is an absolutely essential book to add to your, no doubt, already overloaded shelves.  Just be prepared to keep coming back to it time and time again to find new little surprises.

Presentation 9/10
Informative 10/10
Recommended 10/10
Overall 29/30

Thursday, 21 May 2015

The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Abbie Bernstein

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Movie Tie-In, Art

Synopsis

The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road is the official companion to the highly anticipated post-apocalyptic movie from Oscar-winning filmmaker George Miller, starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. 

This gorgeous art book is packed with behind-the-scenes photos, concept art, prop and set design, along with many extraordinary examples of the unique aesthetic and creative vision of this historic franchise. 

From beginning to end, this book details the making of the film complete with story boards and character portraits, and comes with a wonderful introduction from the visionary director himself, George Miller.

Review

Titan Books have gotten a great reputation over the years for producing some great art books linked to some famous movies and television shows recently.  There have been some truly beautiful books with concept art for movies as varied as Elysium and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 and loads more.

Here, Titan Books takes a look at the recent movie release of Mad Max: Fury Road that has literally taken the cinema by storm.  With the movie getting rave reviews across the board, a tie-in book was going to have to be absolutely brilliant in order to match that but have Titan Books managed to hit that mark?

Simply put, they've not only hit the mark but left it in their wake as well.

The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road is a book that doesn't leave a single stone alone.  Each and every aspect of the movie making process has been explored here in minute detail.  The great thing about this approach is that it would need a very good writer to make such a book able to be read with out getting bogged down in the details.  Here, Abbie Bernstein is that such writer.  Her passion for the movie really shines through and her almost lyrical writing style just flows off of the page.

My favourite part of the book is by far the concept art.  I've always been a bit of a sucker for a good book about concept art and this one has it in spades.  The stories behind the art and behind why certain bits were used and not used were very well thought out and well written.  In fact, it really gave an insight in to the creative teams mind as to why certain things worked on paper and not in real life.

The addition of an introduction by the director, George Miller, was a good touch too.  You really get the feeling of pride that Miller has for the movie itself and that's also something that is put forward in Bernstein's writing too, so the combination was very successful for me.

All in all, this is an absolutely brilliant book and, if I'm completely honest, one of the best tie-in books that has come from Titan Books.  Definitely one to pick up and read over and over again.

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

Arrow: Season 2 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Created By
Greg Berlanti
Marc Guggenheim
Andrew Kreisberg

Based on the Characters Created By
DC Comics

Genre
Crime, Action, Superhero

Cast

Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen / The Arrow
Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance
David Ramsey as John Diggle
Manu Bennett as Slade Wilson / Deathstroke
Willa Holland as Thea Queen
Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak
Susanna Thompson as Moira Queen
John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn
Colton Haynes as Roy Harper
Caity Lotz as Sara Lance
Celina Jade as Shado
Paul Blackthorne as Quentin Lance
Colin Salmon as Walter Steele

Certificate
15

Synopsis

After being shipwrecked and stranded on an island for five years millionaire playboy Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) returns home to Starling City. 

It is clear that his experiences on the island have changed him and disguised as a hooded figure known as Arrow he uses the new skills he has developed to fight crime including the corruption taking place within his deceased father's company.

Review

After watching the first season of Arrow, I was struck with just how creative and successful a job the show makers did of bringing the famous but sometimes overlooked character to life.

A lot of this was down to the fast paced writing, combined with the flashbacks fleshing out the story and the performers giving the characters their own lives and personalities, but for me, the main selling point of the entire series was the superb performance by Stephen Amell.  Before the show started, I wasn't at all familiar with his past performances but he has quickly become one of my favourite actors to watch.

The second season picks up from the ending of the first season with the city in absolute destruction.  The feeling of anger and resentment towards the Queen family is very well played here and Amell does a superb job of balancing the characters feelings towards what has happened with his need to 'clean up' the city of the criminals that are taking over.

One of the things that I liked the most about this series is that it managed to juggle many different plates and keep them spinning in such a way that there are many different stories running alongside each other without it feeling cluttered or confusing.

The main story is that of the threat of the return of someone from Queen's past wanting revenge for what has happened on the island that Queen himself escaped from.  It's a well written and slow burning tale of loss and the need for a man's revenge alongside his growing insanity.  Manu Bennett plays the part very well and the chemistry between himself and Amell really make their scenes pop off of the screen.

With the appearance of some new characters, that will definitely bring about some very big changes in Queen's life, some tragic and some exciting.  I loved the feel that nobody in the series was safe and I also loved the surprise appearances by some characters from the long running comic book series and it's history.

That said, the one thing that bothered me was the simple fact that there were a couple of moments where the characters seemed to act a little bit out of character and then it wouldn't be mentioned again.  Maybe those moments will be alluded too in the third series perhaps.

Also a couple of the episodes seemed to not live up to their protential as well.  That was a real shame because with such strong characters, the episodes that fell a little short ended up feeling a little bit like a wasted opportunity.  That said, we do get a couple of nice surprise appearances as well so keep an eye out for some very popular characters in a blink and you'll miss it cameo.

All in all, this was a very good second season.  I have to admit that the first felt a little bit more cohesive to me but here, the characters continued their growth and we got to see some very well acted moments between the characters themselves that has gotten me very excited to see just what we'll get in season three, especially after the nice twist in the ending that showed us a little bit more of Queen's past.

Show 7/10

Saturday, 9 May 2015

The Dark Pond Creations Roster


Patrick Scattergood
Co-Owner



Writer

The Mansion - Appears in Flesh Tones: Issue 1
Real Horror - Appears in Flesh Tones: Issue 1
The Meek - Ongoing Series
Sleep - Appears in Flesh Tones: Issue 2 (Coming Soon)
Always Follow Your Heart - Appears in Flesh Tones: Issue 2 (Coming Soon)
The Black Dog in the Night - Appears in Flesh Tones: Issue 2 (Coming Soon)
The Tunnel - Appears in...TBC
The Ballad of Cassandra - Coming Soon

Artist

Sleep - Appears in Flesh Tones: Issue 2 (Comic Soon)

***

Carlos Moreno
Co-Owner



Creator

The Meek - Ongoing Series

Artist

The Meek - Ongoing Series
The Ballad of Cassandra - Coming Soon

 ***

 Dan Charnley



Artist

Real Horror - Appears in Flesh Tones: Issue 1

 ***

Lee Taylor



Artist

The Mansion - Appears in Flesh Tones: Issue 1

 ***

Stephane Cote



Artist

Always Follow Your Heart - Appears in Flesh Tones: Issue 2 (Coming Soon)

 ***

Holly Bott

Artist

The Black Dog in the Night - Appears in Flesh Tones: Issue 2 (Coming Soon)
The Tunnel - Appears in...TBC

***

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