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Squirr-El (London, England)
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[ Nemo: The Roses of Berlin Moore, Alan, Sir ( Author ) ] { Hardcover } 2014
[ Nemo: The Roses of Berlin Moore, Alan, Sir ( Author ) ] { Hardcover } 2014
by Alan, Sir Moore
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another exercise in name-dropping, 20 April 2015
The thought-criminal Alan Moore once more allies himself with the enemies of the Country that nurtured him in another exercise in name-dropping featuring Captain Nemo’s daughter. This time it is 1941 in the universe of fictitious characters, and Germany is at war with someone or other, the Germany of Adolph Hynkel, who, allied with the robot from Lang’s Metropolis and Doctor Caligari, is going about his nefarious business. Nemo’s 15-year-old daughter has apparently been captured along with her husband (the 15-year-old’s that is, not Nemo’s), Robur, and Nemo and husband Jack set out for Berlin to rescue them. They are helped along the way by Doctor Mabuse, and meet Ayesha, She-who-must-be-obeyed, who is one of Hynkel’s allies, and a mortal enemy of Nemo. There is much spectacular stage-dressing, as Lang’s Metropolis is the new Berlin (or the old Berlin is now Metropolis), and there is much speaking in German, and a little French, without the aid of editorial translation. That’s about it.

The artwork is spectacular, but the plot is quite thin. If you like these little books of Mr Moore, then you will find this one to your taste. I enjoyed it more than the previous volume Nemo: Heart of Ice, as there was actually a plot, and not just a fit of pique. Half the dialogue being foreign was a mild annoyance, but probably not as annoying as if I understood it.

A minor quibble – down our way, the river that runs through Berlin is the Spree, a tributary of the Havel, and not the Elbe, as in Nemo’s universe.


Nemo: River of Ghosts (Nemo Trilogy 3)
Nemo: River of Ghosts (Nemo Trilogy 3)
by Alan Moore
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Into the Heart of Darkness, 20 April 2015
This is the latest episode in the story of the Nemo dynasty, which brings the adventures of Captain Nemo II to a close. The previous episodes have been light on plot, motivation, character and stuff; though this one is not quite as shallow in those areas. This is also a sequel of sorts to the previous episode, as we are now hunting for Ayesha (She-who-must-be-obeyed), who we are pursuing up the Amazon into the heart of darkness (cue Wagner soundtrack), where we will find a secret Nazi base, where secretive Nazis are busy with their secret cloning and roboting experiments. It is now 1975, and Captain Nemo II is aged, with a young grandson running around the island and stowing away on submarines and stuff. Captain Grandmother Nemo, being quite old, has recruited a handyman to help out on the mission, one Hugo Hercules, a short-lived character from the Platinum Age of American comics, who was a strong-man, akin to an old and venerable British comic character, who is merged with him, and whose fondness for Sacred Cow Pies causes friction with some of the Sikh and Hindu crewmembers.

Anyway, the voyage upriver brings some spectacular sights, such as the sunken cities of Mu, and the last spawning ground of the Creatures from the Black Lagoon. There is also an aerial excursion to Maple White Land. These last two items will actually tie in to events later in the story, surprisingly enough, as normally we just get a catalogue of names and places in these stories, but in this one there is a bit of structure showing.

The final destination of the mission reveals a secret Nazi base, as I mentioned above, and we get to see a few classic Nazi mad-scientist operations in play, before the finale, along with cross-references to earlier stories.

This is a very good ending to the series, and has much more of the feel of a proper story to it than the earlier volumes. Maybe the volumes need to be read as chapters rather than stand-alone stories to better appreciate them; or perhaps not. Anyway, if you have read the previous volumes, prepare to be pleasantly surprised; and if you haven’t, prepare to be a bit confused.

There is a little afterwordy sort of thing, set in 1987, with the unveiling of a statue to the captain Grandmother, as her grandson comes of age, and we see the surviving cast members preparing for the next generation of stories.


[ Garth Ennis Complete Battlefields Volume 3 Hc Ennis, Garth ( Author ) ] { Hardcover } 2014
[ Garth Ennis Complete Battlefields Volume 3 Hc Ennis, Garth ( Author ) ] { Hardcover } 2014
by Garth Ennis
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb collection of war stories, 20 April 2015
This volume collects the third set of Dynamite Comics’ Battlefields mini-series by Garth Ennis. These are superb and often unusual stories, showing the real horrors of war that our parents and grandparents endured. This time, the stories, featuring recurring characters from previous stories in the series, take place during the Korean War and the Cold War.

Garth Ennis' Battlefields Volume 7: The Green Fields Beyond TP (Battlefields (Dynamite))
This is a ‘typical’ Garth Ennis story, with lots of graphic violence and language, though not out of place in this story set in the Korean War, which is seen from the viewpoint of some British tank crewmembers, who get separated from their unit and find themselves in the middle of the still remembered last stand of the Gloucester Regiment. Mr Ennis has mastered the depiction of the regional accents of the British soldiers to a ‘T’. Although a true story in general, the two central characters are tied in to previous stories in this series, one Sergeant Stiles, a veteran of British tanks in Second World War, and his new gunner, Trooper Robinson, younger brother of one of Stiles’ crewmembers in the Normandy campaign. This really is a superior war comic, showing the horrors the soldiers went through, as well as the camaraderie and humour that kept them going. I cannot praise this enough.

Garth Ennis' Battlefields Volume 8: The Fall And Rise Of Anna Kharkova TP (Battlefields (Dynamite))
This is an interesting return to the story of the ‘Night Witches’ from Battlefields: Night Witches: 1 (Battlefields (Dynamite)). This time we follow Anna Kharkova from her capture by the Germans towards the end of the Second World War, through the Stalinist trials for ‘traitors’ who allowed themselves to be captured, her rescue from them by (the now promoted) Major ‘Mouse’; their adventures in the Koran war, when Anna’s insubordination gets them sent to Siberia, and finally her last flight in a stolen super-MIG 21 in the 1960s. It is an interesting look at the fate of Soviet war-heroes who cross the political officers (NKVD/KGP etc.) who appear to have unlimited power, but only to influence the fate of individuals for the worse. For all the Western liberal posturing about the freedom of the individual, the vast majority of the world’s population have never experienced it, and never will. The ending is another bit of ‘romantic’ posturing, as the only real option in these circumstances is suicide or treason, and this is likely to be, despite the avoidance of the question, is likely to be the former.. I gave the original edition 4-stars, because Mr Ennis is such a good writer, and, despite the ending, it is still a very interesting story.

This really is a superior war comic, showing the horrors the soldiers went through, as well as the camaraderie and humour that kept them going. I cannot praise it enough.


[ Red Sonja, Volume 1: Queen of the Plagues Simone, Gail ( Author ) ] { Paperback } 2014
[ Red Sonja, Volume 1: Queen of the Plagues Simone, Gail ( Author ) ] { Paperback } 2014
by Gail Simone
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Drinking Song of Red Sonja, 20 April 2015
The story running through issues #1-6 of Dynamite Comics’ latest Red Sonja series is collected as Red Sonja Volume 1: Queen of the Plagues. It is a good ‘swords and sorcery’ story, telling the origin of Red Sonja against the background of a relatively epic adventure, with good artwork and scripting, but it did nothing for me. I felt little for the characters, some of whom were well developed, and some of whom, despite being well-illustrated and scripted, were, for want of a better term, ‘stock’ characters for a barbarian story. It is probably a very ‘authentic’ story in terms of showing the world described by Robert E. Howard, and fans of the character and her world will probably want to give it a higher star rating than I did, but it did nothing for me. DC Comics’ Demon Knights was a much more interesting ‘sword and sorcery’ title, for example; and the adventures of Dejah Thoris in this publishers Edgar Rice Burroughs franchise can at least be laughed at for its exploitativeness; but this story is just dull but worthy.


[ The Twilight Zone Volume 1 Straczynski, J. Michael ( Author ) ] { Paperback } 2014
[ The Twilight Zone Volume 1 Straczynski, J. Michael ( Author ) ] { Paperback } 2014
by J. Michael Straczynski
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent thriller/mystery story, 20 April 2015
The first four issues of Dynamite Entertainment’s new Twilight Zone comic-book are collected as The Twilight Zone Volume 1. This is an excellently illustrated and scripted story. I put the art first in that sentence because this is a ’real world’ mystery story, so there are no costumed characters, monsters, robots or the like to distract you - the artwork has to make the world look real in order for the story to work properly; there is no room for sketchy backgrounds or poor draughtsmanship here.

There is a main story running through the four issues, with (at least) two other minor sub-plots visible, one of which will reveal itself on the last page as being the next-volume’s main story; though I suspect that the main characters from this volume are sticking around (apart from the dead one).

The story appears to be about an investment banker who has embezzled billions and is about to be caught before he can set up his employer as a fall guy, and make his getaway with the loot. He is an unpleasant person, as we are shown through a series of scenes in which his behaviour is allowed to speak for itself. However, he has been approached by a company that offers him an escape route. In exchange for him stolen money, they will provide him with a new identity and changing his appearance, and provide him with enough money to keep him comfortable (and out of prison). After enjoying his freedom for a few weeks, he discovers that this mysterious company have replaced him with a double, who has confessed to his crimes, but in such a way as to make himself a good guy for being the first banker to take responsibility for his actions, and trying to mitigate the effects of his behaviour. Even his boss and partner are taken in by this ‘new man’. The old banker is now enraged by jealousy at his success, and decides that he wants his old life back…

The company doing the body exchanges remains a mystery during this storyline, but the lives of the two main protagonists are fully explored, both before and after the exchange, as well as their interactions with other cast members. This really is a superbly scripted story, inhabited by real people, whose characters are what drives the events that we are seeing, and not the requirements of the plot.

There are two minor plot strands visible, one involving the banker’s boss, the head of the company, whose son was mysteriously murdered many years ago, an who is employing a private detective to investigate. Our banker has become a surrogate son to this man, which has allowed him the freedom to carry out his depredations. The second strand involves the waitress who serves out banker his breakfast every morning as he goes in to work. Both these ‘minor’ figures cross our main characters’ paths during the story, and we can see that there is something going on, and, being comic-book readers, we can make a pretty good guess as to where those strands are going to lead; even though this first story is, apart from some pretty advanced surgical techniques and computer fraud, set in the ‘real’ world.

This is simply an excellent story, with superb supporting artwork.


[ Dejah Thoris and the Green Men of Mars Volume 3: Red Trigger Rahner, Mark ( Author ) ] { Paperback } 2014
[ Dejah Thoris and the Green Men of Mars Volume 3: Red Trigger Rahner, Mark ( Author ) ] { Paperback } 2014
by Mark Rahner
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Dirty Half-Dozen, 20 April 2015
The story running through issues #9-12 of Dynamite Entertainment’s new comic book series ‘Dejah Thoris & the Green Men of Mars” is collected as Dejah Thoris and the Green Men of Mars Volume 3: Red Trigger. This is the final volume of this series, and to celebrate the fact, Dynamite have given us a dull story and insipid and uninspired artwork, more so than usual for this series. Even the usual salacious poses are missing. Normally I give these Dejah Thoris stories three-stars, but this one was so uninteresting that I am downgrading it to two. The writer is probably trying to do a good story, but I didn’t ‘get’ Dejah’s motivation for her behaviour in this story - it does seem a bit out of character compared to her usual stories from Dynamite, though possibly not from this series, but I had lost interest in thinking about this story after the opening few pages. The characters of the Green Men are also completely wrong for Edgar Rice Burroughs’ picture of Green Martians - though coming from a nineteenth century American background, he portrayed them as the ‘Red Indians’ that he would have been familiar with from his contemporary culture - brutal savages. Dynamite’s stories have moved them up to the status of comic-book ‘Barbarian’ - which is just as unreal. Green Men sitting around drinking in bars? Really - show some imagination, and don’t just copy Hollywood films’ false history.

The writer is also let down by the artwork (as is the artist); it is the usual computer-generated art with all the drawbacks of an artist working to a deadline (or low pay) - bland or non-existent backgrounds. Traditional comic-book artists could get away with that by simply not having any background, and just showing the gigures in dynamic action; it doesn’t work so well with people sitting around drinking.

Anyway; this story opens with Dejah recklessly riding her hover-cycle along a mountain track - despite this being Mars where there are no roads. Then we see a mysterious cloaked figure visiting some Green Martians, who I think are meant to be characters from previous issues, who are sitting around drinking themselves stupid because they have nothing to do, their previous schemes having been brought to naught by Dejah Thoris. They are recruited by the mysterious hooded figure, whose identity you should have guessed by now - and if you haven’t, then you probably will enjoy the rest of this story, so ignore my comments above. They set off to join a Warhoon caravan, which is setting off to visit a giant ancient weapon that has been discovered by a Green Martian prospector. (Can I just have another rant about unimaginative writers who think setting stories in the Old West and calling it Mars? Can I?) The mission for our Green Martian crew and their mouthy Red Martian slave is to destroy the weapon before it can be used against Helium. I’m sure you can think of a number of questions based on that short summary - but the writer didn’t.

This really is a disappointing story, even compared to previous volumes. And did I mention the lack of salacious poses? They are kept for the ‘Risque’ cover gallery at the back, and even they are suffering from bland art.


[ Carnage: Minimum Carnage Yost, Chris ( Author ) ] { Paperback } 2013
[ Carnage: Minimum Carnage Yost, Chris ( Author ) ] { Paperback } 2013
by Chris Yost
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Carnage in the Microverse, 20 April 2015
This story runs through the one-shot issues “Minimum Carnage Alpha” and “Minimum Carnage Omega”, Venom issues #26 & #27 and Scarlet Spider issues #10-12, all collected as Minimum Carnage. It is a fairly apocalyptic story, at least for the Microverse, where Carnage has fled, aided by some tiny villainous characters from there. Venom and the Scarlet Spider go in to retrieve him, which is just as well, as the latest loony dictator down there has decided to destroy the Microverse – assisted by the fact that Carnage and the other symbiotes are going to cause it to shrivel up and die, taking out universe with it, as the Microverse forms the ‘glue’ that holds all matter together – by cloning the Carnage symbiote. Fortunately, our two heroes meet up with a band of freedom-fighters, some of whom will be familiar to readers of the Micronauts series from the 1980s. There is a lot of shouting, running around and blowing things up, before the crisis is averted, though the action eventually moves itself back to the big world before it is finally wrapped up. This is a big action adventure, with little in the way of character development, due to the nature of team-up epics. If you like the style of story currently seen in the Venom series, than you will likely enjoy this one, as it is in effect a continuation of that story. It is well-scripted and illustrated.


By Kevin Shinick Superior Carnage
By Kevin Shinick Superior Carnage
by Kevin Shinick
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Carnage in New York, 20 April 2015
The five issue “Superior Carnage” mini-series is collected as Superior Carnage. This story sees the Wizard recruiting Carnage to join his latest Frightful Four team, along with Klaw and a Dr Karl Malus to make up the numbers. This is not just another Carnage-on-a-rampage story, though there is sufficient blood-splattered horror for regular Carnage fans, for the opportunity is taken by the writer to connect-up some Marvel Universe loose ends. The Wizard has had his brain damaged by Black Bolt over in the FF, and Cletus Kasady has been lobotomised by the Scarlet Spider. Both these problems are a pivotal part of the plot, as the Wizard is out to perform one last spectacular crime in order to impress and influence his estranged son Bentley-23 before his brain expires. Unfortunately, he is unaware that Cletus is brain-dead, and his plan to take control of the Carnage symbiote goes adrift. However, he has a backup plan just in case. The story moves to its spectacular finale as the Frightful Four threesome attack New York City Hall, where the Superior Spider-Man is lying in wait. Both sides’ plans go adrift, and Carnage gets free, and it takes a team-up of sorts to bring him down. However, this all has some side-effects on the Frightful Four, as we discover at the end, which does not bode well for the future.

This was a well-scripted story, with artwork that carries the story quite well, though with a few confused/confusing scenes that do mar the flow in places. It isn’t just a big horror/action comic story, as there is a good deal of excellent characterisation of the main participants, and even one or two of the minor ones, just to lay a false trail here and there.

THE SPOILER ZONE
For a breakdown of the individual issues collected in this volume, see Superior Carnage.


Superior Carnage (2013 Ltd) # 4 (Ref934629795)
Superior Carnage (2013 Ltd) # 4 (Ref934629795)
by Marvel Comics
Edition: Comic

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Issue #4, 20 April 2015
The five issue “Superior Carnage” mini-series is collected as Superior Carnage. For a review of the full storylines running through the individual issues, follow that link.

Issue #4 sees a battle raging inside New York’s City Hall between the Frightful Four and the Superior Spider-Man. The injured Wizard discovers that it is Otto Octavius inside Spider-Man’s head, before, before the surprised Otto drops him off the roof, leading to Carnage breaking free and turning on his allies, and everyone else, come to that…


Superior Carnage #1 1:25 Marco Checchetto Variant Cover (2013)
Superior Carnage #1 1:25 Marco Checchetto Variant Cover (2013)
by Kevin Schinick
Edition: Comic

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Issue #1, 20 April 2015
The five issue “Superior Carnage” mini-series is collected as Superior Carnage. For a review of the full storylines running through the individual issues, follow that link.

Issue #1 shows us a slice of life in a super-secret super-villain containment facility, where ordinary criminals are being housed alongside the monsters due to budgetary constraints. We are introduced to Carnage, whose host Cletus Kasady has been brain-damaged by the Scarlet Spider in their last encounter. The Carnage symbiote gets free and goes on a rampage, and we discover that there has been a mysterious break-in at the facility by our host (not that sort of host; at least, not yet) for the series, who wants to get control of it…


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