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