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Mr Jonathan D Smith

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Hear the Roar! The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to the Hit 1980s Series Thundercats
Hear the Roar! The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to the Hit 1980s Series Thundercats
by David Crichton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly a definitive guide to this great TV show, 25 Jan 2013
This is a truly indispensible, thoroughly-researched guide to everything Thundercats (the original show). 500 pages covering everything from the writers, animators, voice cast, episodes, merchandise, music...and so much more. It's the only one of its kid for this show, and to be honest, I don't think it needs anymore. This one has it all!

The author has done a great job in researching every facet of production and history, and certainly makes you appreciate the effort and devotion of those involved in bringing Thundercats to the world.

No matter how big a fan you already are of Thundercats, trust me...you WILL learn something you never knew!


Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye Volume 1 (Transformers (Idw))
Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye Volume 1 (Transformers (Idw))
by James Roberts
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for any Transformers - or comics - fan!, 1 Aug 2012
Whilst I disagree with the other reviewer (really!? Only two of us so far commenting on this great book - shameful!) about the quality of Mike Costa's run on Transformers, anyone would certainly struggle to define it as classic or universally crowd-pleasing. Even for those of us who found parts of it entertaining, the reality was there was a lot wrong with it too.

Happily, most of those problems have been fixed with the two new Transformers ongoing comic series for 2012 - "Robots In Disguise" by John Barber and "More Than Meets The Eye" by James Roberts. Roberts has risen from fandom, and his passion for the material is refreshing, but at the same time never crosses the line to geeky-fan-fiction. The work veers from dramatic to hilariously funny, and perhaps one niggle is that Roberts doesn't always make the transition as well as he could - but overriding this is the fact he has done an amazing job with characterisation, structure (there are no pacing issues here; each issue is wonderfully compressed and action-packed without feeling the story has been rushed) and plottin. All of which comes together to make reading this collection is a joy.

And not just for Transformers fans...I'd seriously recommend this to general comics readers as well. But won't you be put off by missing years' worth of continuity? Well, no, not really - Roberts does an excellent job of feeding you all you need to know without bashing you over the head with continuity references. If you want to read everything that's happened to date, go! enjoy! - but if you don't, you can enjoy this TPB just as easily.

Down-point (besides the already-mentioned struggle Roberts sometimes has at balancing the "witty one-liners" and humour at times): The collection IS slight, even with the extra material. Still, the four issues we get here fit in more story than most modern comics do in eight.

One word of warning for those that matter about such things - MTMTE focuses on many "lesser known" characters from Transformers lore, so you don't get much of Optimus Prime, Bumblebee etc here. There are plenty of familiar faces - Hot Rod, Ultra Magnus, Ratchet - but one of Roberts' main talents is to bring life to characters who previously had little characterisation beyond "here's a new toy! Buy him!".

All in all, this is a 5* collection and a must-have.


Transformers Classics Volume 3
Transformers Classics Volume 3
by Don Perlin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.14

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another great compilation, though the quality of stories takes a dip, 12 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Volume 3 of IDW's wonderful Transformers Classics series (that reprints the original Marvel US Transformers stories of the 1980s) collects issues #26-38 which feature some major upheavals for both the Autobots and Decepticons. Following Optimus Prime's death in the previous volume, the Autobots are leaderless, with Ratchet taking Prime's death particularly hard. But they don't have much respite for selecting a new leader before new enemies - the human Mechanic and the Decepticon giant Trypticon - come a-calling.

The appointment of Dinobot Grimlock as new Autobot leader sends us into a rash of stories focused on the 'deserters' Blaster and Goldbug, umhappy at their new leader's tyrannical approach. Many old-time readers will remember this point of the comic book as the start of a general decline in Bob Budiansky's storytelling abilities. And it's true - compared to the first twenty or so issues, the series has dropped a notch in quality. However, these stories are still wonderful. The plot moves thick and fast - unlike modern comics, where storylines are decompressed in order to fill X number of comics (regardless of whether the story actually deserves such a length) these stories zip along at a cracking pace; because of the deluge of new toys being released at the time that required promotion in the comic, Bob does his best at focusing on a particular set of characters before moving on to the next. It's clear this sudden shift to more characters is starting to weary him, but he battles on valiantly and does his best.

It's really here that Autobot Blaster gets his definitive characterisation - a world away from the cliche music-loving "rock dude" of the cartoon series. If you remember these stories from way back when, you'll love them all over again; if you haven't read these before, get ready for some truly wacky Transformers stories. Carwash of Doom anyone?


Batman  Detective Comics - Faces of Death (Vol. 1) (The New 52)
Batman Detective Comics - Faces of Death (Vol. 1) (The New 52)
by Tony Daniel
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Not as bad as many claim, 3 July 2012
It's very trendy right now amongst Batman fans to knock Tony Daniels' skills as a writer. And it's true, he won't be nominated for any dialogue awards anytime soon - nor will his stories go down in the annals of comic book history. However, what they are is rather fun. And - no doubt this exposes me as "not a proper comic book fan" - 'fun' is really why I read these things anyway.
The "Dollmaker" arc is good, with some creepy moments and a villain that seems rather refreshing. The Penguin three-parter (wherein the Penguin doesn't appear much) is less engaging, but still readable. It's not a sprawling, thought-provoking epic, but sometimes I just want a Batman story with a beginning-middle-end where he's either in detective mode, or hero-kicking-butt, and we see both sides of the Dark Knight here.
£9 is a good price for a seven-issue collection, and I say give this a chance!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 6, 2012 8:25 AM BST


Her Last Scream (Carson Ryder, Book 8)
Her Last Scream (Carson Ryder, Book 8)
Price: £3.85

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Carson Ryder book so far!, 12 Jan 2012
This is the third J.A Kerley book I've now read (first on Kindle, coincidentally). The previous two were decent, but "Her Last Scream" is excellent. Real edge of the seat stuff. I won't talk too much about the storyline itself as I don't want to give anything away, but the pacing is perfect, and - unless you're Sherlock Holmes himself - you're unlikely to guess what's really going on (and who's responsible!). The fact that the Kindle edition is currently a bargain 99p just sweetens the deal, but this novel is a terrific read regardless!


Transformers Vol. 4: Heart of Darkness (Transformers (Idw))
Transformers Vol. 4: Heart of Darkness (Transformers (Idw))
by Ulises Farinas
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.89

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The most disappointing IDW-produced Transformers series yet...and it had competition!, 22 Nov 2011
Amongst comic and Transformers fans, it's fair to say that IDW (who have held the comics licence to the franchise for the last six years) have received a decidedly mixed reception. Some stories (such as "Last Stand of the Wreckers") are almost universally praised; others such as "All Hail Megatron" seem to engender the Marmite-esque "love it/hate it" kind of reaction.

IDW itself seems to keep changing its mind as to what it really wants to do with the "Generation 1" continuity. We've now had two "soft reboots" (2008 and 2009) with a third imminent. Over the last couple of years we've had an ongoing series, supported by several mini-series. "Heart of Darkness", collected here as Vol 4, is one of them.

And it's terrible.

I am a huge Transformers comic fan, and am willing to forgive a lot. But the artwork, though stylised, is atrocious; the storyline - such as it is - is padded out and, given the maverick character it focuses on, should have been far more entertaining. The fact that it is contradicted by other issues of the Ongoing series only add to its woes.

It's a wretched tale that I'd only recommend to completists. To casual buyers who just want a decent TF story to indulge in, there are far more better choices.


Star Trek: Classic Movies Omnibus
Star Trek: Classic Movies Omnibus
by Klaus Janson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.12

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful collection of classic comics!, 17 Oct 2011
This omnibus edition collects the various comic adaptations of all six of the "Classic" Trek movies, spanning publishers Marvel, DC and IDW. The reproduction of a few pages looks less than amazing, but never unreadable.

I'm one of those consumers that goes for content rather than presentation in any case, and the adaptations here are wonderfully nostalgic, most dating from a time when the comic adaptation of a movie (or the novelisation) was really your only chance to "relive" the screen action until the movie eventually found its way on to TV (often 3 or 4 years after its cinema run). Don't expect a blow-by-blow account of the movies (approx 64 pages per movie just doesn't allow it) but do expect a fun, comic-book ride into all these adventures; includes some interesting alternate scenes/dialogue for the extra-nerdy fan.

Recommended!


The Basement: serial killer thriller with a breathtaking twist
The Basement: serial killer thriller with a breathtaking twist

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short, but gripping - and yes, the ending is terrific, 23 Sep 2011
My first Kindle ebook purchase - and a worthwhile one. A shorter, novella-type story, but gripping from the word go. I love the two different first-person narratives that drive the book and the question it inevitably raises as to who is the identity of the kidnapper. A small cast of characters makes this really work. I found the "writer" narrative particularly intriguing.

Reviews here are very divided on the ending. Good? Bad? Terrible? Fitting? I humbly suggest that a lot of the people who didn't like it are the kind who read a thriller like this and want/need that last scene where detectives sitting around sipping coffee saying "so, that's how it all happened: A did this to B, then C did that, and finally we were left at D. All wrapped up, perfectly, tune in next week folks!".

Well, this ending isn't for those people. It's short, sharp and brutal - I also suggest that some people don't like it because they JUST DIDN'T SEE IT COMING, yet when you reread, it's clear that the author has not misled or inaccuratly portrayed something. Our minds just "assume" and fill in blanks to parts of the narrative which are later cleverly subverted.

This is a dark piece; it isn't a "feel good" tale. But it IS a terrific read.


Transformers, Vol. 2: New Order
Transformers, Vol. 2: New Order
by William Johnson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.64

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The ongoing saga builds momentum for a stirling finish!, 18 Oct 2003
This collection (from issues 7-12 of Marvel's 1980s Transformers comics) continues from where book one, "Beginnings", left off. Autobot leader Optimus Prime is a prisoner, most of the Autobots have been deactivated, and new Decepticon leader Shockwave has some nasty plans in store when he plots to use the Creation Matrix to make more Transformers! Add into all this the Dinobots, Constructicons, Jetfire, Ratchet playing hero and Megatron's attempts to usurp Shockwave, and you have a story literally bursting with ideas. Perhaps too many ideas... an awful lot is crammed into these pages, and the stories do feel a little rushed at times as the writer tries his best to keep up with the toyline and introduce yet another new character. However, the sheer sense of fun, excitement and "coolness" of these comics (Dreamwave take note) outweighs any substantial criticisms. Heartily recommended.


The Transformers Armada Vol. 1
The Transformers Armada Vol. 1
by Chris Sarracini
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars The best Transformers series since G1!, 18 Oct 2003
Transformers: Armada has done what all the other series produced since 1990 could not - provide a decent toyline, a so-so cartoon (not my favourite, but better than the lamentable Beast Wars or RiD) and what's more, a great ongoing comic book series! This book collects issues 1-5 of the US Armada comics and sets the scene for the action to come: The planet Cybertron, Autobot and Decepticon war - and the new Minicon robots, who are capable of augmenting a Transformer's power tenfold. The artwork is fantastic across these issues, and the story - though by necessity full of character and scene building - is rather engrossing as well. The revelation that Armada is set in a parallel universe to G1 (the two series meet in a later issue!) helps an old fan like me accept these newbies even more. This is a great book for both diehard fans (well, those willing to look beyond mere nostalgia anyway) and new ones alike.


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