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Knight Watchman: The Golden Age (The Big Bang Comics Collection)
Knight Watchman: The Golden Age (The Big Bang Comics Collection)
by Chris Ecker
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.93

5.0 out of 5 stars Comics' Gold indeed!, 2 Jun 2014
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I am almost ashamed to say that I missed the whole “Big Bang” comic’s universe in the 1990’s.

My excuse is that I had enough trouble navigating and avoiding all the terrible comics, multiple first issues and variant covers with “gimmicks” that it passed me by.

Thanks to Bill Cunningham and Pulp 2.0. Press I am catching up – and what a ride it is.

“Knight Watchman” – The Golden age might at first glance appear to be a copy, a pastiche, a parody perhaps?

None of the above, this is a superb homage, a love letter, a paen to the work of some of Comics’ greatest auteurs – guys such as Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson, Dick Sprang, Will Eisner , Shelly Moldoff, Jack Burnley et al.

Such is the exuberance of the work presented here by (mainly) Chris Ecker and Gary Carlson that the Knight Watchman stories can be enjoyed in themselves but Chris and Gary never forget to leave the reader unappreciative of the works of some of Comics’ founding fathers and the work that came before.

A real pleasure.

Of course this is a Pulp 2.0 Book so the fun doesn’t stop at the stories there are some superb articles by the creators and a delightful “faux” comics history section that would be worth the price of admission alone complete with photos and Knight Watchman “covers” down the years.

Fantastic.

Finally a word about Pulp 2.0 Press: Their books are beautifully designed and produced – this one has a superb textured cover for example – they always have extra content over and above the stories and are set at a price where the big publishers should be ashamed of themselves frankly.

Head honcho Bill Cunningham is so spot on with his choices of under-appreciated material to re-present (they are WAY more than reprints) that I can almost order them sight unseen and I would recommend any of their titles.

Just keep going Bill.

And thanks Chris and Gary for such great work. I may be 20 years late in catching on but as they say;

“Class is permanent”.


KaZar by Mark Waid & Andy Kubert - Volume 1
KaZar by Mark Waid & Andy Kubert - Volume 1
by Mark Waid
Edition: Paperback
Price: 14.12

5.0 out of 5 stars Marvel Jungle Action!, 26 Sep 2013
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The mid 1990's were as far as I can remember, pretty dark days for Comics - I mean "Onslaught " anyone?

Thankfully the more enlightened at Marvel have seen fit to reprint this under-appreciated gem from Mark Waid and (mostly) Andy Kubert (ably assisted by Jesse Delperdang on inking duties).

I recall there was some discussion at the time as to what even fan favourite Waid could bring to Ka-Zar's legacy.

No need to worry however as this run is up there with the best of the characters' sagas and (at least in my opinion) a memorable title in the vast sea of comics' mediocrity (or worse) that existed in 1997 when the series debuted.

Writer Waid fully embraces Ka-Zar's legacy. That is he lives in the Savage Land, his best pal is Zabu the Sabre Tooth Tiger, he's married to Shanna the She Devil with whom he has a son, Matthew. His brother is the nasty Parnival Plunder etc etc. OK so far?

Then the creators get off and running. It seems Ka-Zar harbors a hidden desire for elements of the civilised world i.e. Nikes, CD's, Nintendo Game Boys (remember this is pre- Apple world domination! Difficult to envisage isn't it?). This causes problems initially with the missus and ultimately threatens his family life meaning he has to leave for the urban jungles of New York.

Yes I know the character always seems to end up here but this time it's Ka-Zar who is being manipulated at the villains behest (and wait until you see who the ultimate villain is!).

Wonderful. Mark Waid delights in playing up the culture clash not just between the Savage Land and New York but equally between Ka-Zar and Shanna.

There are some lovely touches here; Jungle Child Minder Zira's stylised dialogue, Ka-Zar "savaging it up" at a New York fundraiser, the bemused Hotel Manager plus many many more.

Andy Kubert brilliantly applies his art style to the story. He revels in the different landscapes and environments and picks out some beautiful character traits in the artwork ; Ka-Zar is a crouching feral menace mirroring the presence of Zabu. Shanna on the other hand moves with a assured lithe grace. May seem obvious but few have picked up on this before.

The Volume concludes with a taster for what is to come in Volume 2 which comes just as highly recommended as (unlikely as it may seem) you get to see Ka-Zar and family take on some of Marvel's Cosmic villains in a terra-formed New York City ie NOT TO BE MISSED!

Great comics - go on spoil yourself.


The Adventures of Gravedigger
The Adventures of Gravedigger
Price: 2.02

5.0 out of 5 stars Pulp Adventure and Excitement in spades!, 9 April 2013
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One of these days I will finish up a Barry Reese book and think; "OK but it really didn't do it for me".

Today however is not one of those days, and I cannot imagine one anytime soon frankly.

Barry is fast becoming one of my favourite authors of New Pulp or indeed any genre and I admit to eagerly looking forward to his latest work, which brings me to "The Adventures of Gravedigger Vol 1".

Once more this is part of the Sovereign City project but I prefer to think of it as the "Barry-Verse". It has a better "ring" to it.

Thus you get appearances from some other Reese alumni such as (my main man) The Rook together with Lazarus Gray and Assistance Unlimited. These cameos are in no way superficial however. They form part of the main story and drive the book forward in an ever engaging manner.

"Gravedigger" hits the ground running ( or at least digs her way out! ) and fills the reader in on anything he or she needs to know on the way without ever slowing the story pacing.

Along the way you will find out some about very illuminating Sovereign City mythology introducing deadly new adversaries to the scene.

Like Barry's other books it is two fisted adventure with just the right dose of supernatural thrill and once again Barry's plotting and pacing throws up some unexpected surprises and story twists. For example Charity Grace ( Gravedigger) is related to Samantha Grace of Assistance Unlimited but just how she is related threw me a curve.

The supporting characters are equally strong - always a feature of Barry's books and I will be forever grateful for a section called "The Strange Horror of Hendry Hall".

I mean the title alone is good enough to make me part with cash but chuck in elements of "The Cat and the Canary" AND "Sleepy Hollow"...

Well you try and resist huh?

Exciting and recommended.

More volumes required please Barry.

Quickly.


Doc Savage: Skull Island (The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage Book 6)
Doc Savage: Skull Island (The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage Book 6)
Price: 3.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pulp Titans Team -Up!!, 3 April 2013
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A Will Murray Doc Savage novel based on an unused Lester Dent story idea is not to be missed.

But a Will Murray original Doc Savage novel is therefore ABSOLUTELY not to be missed on the evidence of this offering.

Will orchestrates a genuine "event novel " paring off Doc Savage with King Kong, more particularly the Kong of the 1933 movie as opposed to Peter Jackson's remake. Surely the original movie is the ultimate Pulp film adventure anyway?

A prologue starts with the aftermath of Kong's death and Doc's involvement, which is a surprise in itself, therein leading to a re telling of events immediately following the end of the first World War.

The real delight here is that not only do you get the combination of Doc, Kong and the mysterious Skull Island of the title but also along for the ride are Doc's father and indeed, his grandfather! (with hints of other family members which will hopefully form the basis of more original tales - hint, hint Will!).

The author takes the opportunity to tell a rollicking Pulp Adventure which will keep you turning the pages on its own but also to flesh out some of Doc's backstory. It is almost impossible to resist a smile picking out the various foreshadowing of events, characters and gadgets to come.

More importantly at the conclusion of the story you will have a new and far more complete insight into Doc's character, his motivations and even his demons.

Some of the prose is genuinely touching in a way that no Doc Savage story has ever been before.

A genuine masterpiece and a worthy and indeed, landmark novel in the Doc Savage canon.

Don't miss it!!


Marvel Masterworks: Ka-Zar - Volume 1
Marvel Masterworks: Ka-Zar - Volume 1
by Stan Lee
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 40.20

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ka-Zar Master Ka-Lass, 30 Jan 2013
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OK so "Ka Zar" is a "Tarzan" clone.

We all realise that. But he lives in the "Savage Land" which is inhabited by all manner of creatures including dinosaurs and has "Zabu" a Saber Toothed tiger for a sidekick.

Well, what's not to like? Always had a soft spot for the character.

Created for the Pulps in the 1930's he was resurrected in the early 1960's with insane energy by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the original "X-Men". Part of that creative frenzy which launched Marvel Comics and left an indelible impression on our popular culture which increases exponentially to this day.

This Masterworks Volume is a very welcome edition as it starts to pick up on titles which made an impact on me as a youngster. In this case mainly "Astonishing Tales" a double header title which initially offered solo tales of Ka Zar and Doctor Doom before Ka Zar took pole position.

The tome begins however with a fairly forgettable tale from the "Marvel Super Heroes" title which places our hero's Family estate in Derbyshire and shows us that Ka Zar was an early Hunt Saboteur!

I like him even more now.

The master class really begins in earnest with the "Astonishing Tales" stories. Firstly you get an urban two parter from Lee and Kirby (with an assist from Roy Thomas) featuring Kraven The Hunter. Fascinating to see how well Jack handles an obvious Ditko design in Kraven.

He does it beautifully by the way.

Then Barry (now Windsor) Smith takes over and fuses fantasy and science fiction within the Savage Land. There is a slight pause allowing the much underrated Herb Trimpe to take over briefly before "Big" John Buscema contributes a tale or two with Stan Lee. These stories were hangovers from the cancelled "Savage Tales " magazine.

Thereafter appear a couple of turns from the then developing Rich Buckler and there is even time for a brief interlude from the fantastic Neal Adams featuring the "Man Thing". Another "Savage Tales" hangover seamlessly integrated into the main story.

The writers represented here include Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway and Mike Friedrich who all turn in commendable and consistently entertaining yarns especially considering the shortened page format of the early issues.

(As an aside, the more I go back and read Stan Lee's scripts the more admiration I have for the man as an author. There is a current trend to dismiss his work I feel. Take a look at his stories with Buscema collected herein. Wonderful).

The collection receives the full "Masterworks" treatment of art and colour restoration ensuring that these stories have never looked better. Marvel and Editor Cory deserve much praise for their efforts e.g. the aforementioned "Savage Tales" Issue 1 story is also collected here in its original B & W format with the more "adult" elements left intact. Buscema's pencils, inks and washes are a joy to behold demonstrating his complete mastery of the medium.

A great tome, highly recommended and I eagerly await the follow ups!


The Desert of Souls (The Chronicle of Sword and Sand 1)
The Desert of Souls (The Chronicle of Sword and Sand 1)
Price: 2.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Sword and Sorcery at its finest!!, 7 Jan 2013
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Do you self a favour and sit back, put yourself in the hands of a master storyteller and enjoy a "proper" Sword and Sorcery adventure full of danger, intrigue, excitement and two of the best fantasy characters that I have had the pleasure to encounter.

In my opinion fantasy and the sword and sorcery genre in particular has moved on of late to effectively Medieval sagas set against a fantasy background thereby losing some of the original appeal that authors such as Robert E Howard and Fritz Leiber offered up.

Depending on your point of view this is no bad thing and some e.g. the excellent Game of Thrones have almost (and justifiably so) transcended the Genre.

Author Howard Andrew Jones offers up a beautifully told traditional style S&S tale echoing the reason why I frequently go back and read such stories by REH et al.

Not to say that in any way this is pastiche or even homage. It is completely original but so many time s whilst reading I felt the pleasure of encountering REH at his absolute finest.

Which is a very high watermark indeed.

Our two protagonists Captain Asim and Dabir are a joy to meet. Their friendship is defined by trust and mutual respect and whilst there is plenty of humour the author never falls back on the pedestrian "wise ass" companion stereotype so typical in fiction currently.

What more is there to say? The Adventure is exciting. The characters are endearing. The setting feels exotic but authentic. The Swords are whirling and the Sorcery is deadly.

Go read it and tell your friends to do the same.

I cant wait to enjoy the follow up!


What Managers Don't Know & Workers Can't Tell Them
What Managers Don't Know & Workers Can't Tell Them
by Mr Darren Smithson
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful, practical AND accessible!, 3 Jan 2013
Let's be honest we have all read this type of tome by the well known "gurus" of management and self improvement. To a degree they mostly relate variations on the same theme - not that they are not useful and always a welcome reminder.

However I do find that the aforementioned books all have a common theme unrelated to the task in hand i.e. they generally descend into a form of self promotion and ego massaging usually involving the words "private jet" and "private island" at some point.

Now author Darren Smithson may have written this book on his private jet en route from his private island to his water front apartment in Monte Carlo BUT it doesn't come across that way.

Instead the reader gets the practical benefit of the Author's experiences, successes and failures, over an extensive career. Then Darren explores the various lessons learnt and pitfalls to avoid.

The management techniques and personal improvement skills (and how to apply them) spin out of the Author's experiences in an organic manner so that the narrative never feels forced thus carrying the reader along effortlessly .

In addition the book is written with a clear sense of humour so that the reader recalls what is written by association. This coupled with the aforementioned lack of self promotion made the text far more relevant and memorable - simply put - I recalled what I had read far more clearly.

Some of the lessons, exercises and techniques may seem familiar. There are only so many of them anyway but they seem more practical and accessible in this book. As an example - for the first time I understood why a team I managed was extremely successful and with the books guidance I believe I can replicate it i.e. it wasn't just a set of happy coincidences.

As the title of the review says "Useful, Practical AND accessible".

Highly recommended.


The Rook Volume 1-Special Edition
The Rook Volume 1-Special Edition
Price: 3.21

5.0 out of 5 stars The Rook takes flight!, 12 Dec 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If I ever meet Barry Reese I am going to have "words" with him.

He is costing me money.

Firstly I get hooked on his character "Lazarus Gray" and his associates at Assistance Unlimited.

It was too easy. I came across the 2 volumes by way of a Kindle search for some other book , tried Vol 1, liked it and subsequently acquired Vol 2.

No problem really. Well, until I realised I liked them so much I purchased the printed copies with all those lovely illustrations. They look great on my bookshelf too.

So then I try "Tales of The Rook". Fantastic. Then Barry brings out "The Rook Volume 1: Special Edition" so I have to Kindle that.

And so on.

Joking aside (but he is costing me money..) "The Rook Volume 1" is another dose of rattlingly good Pulp Adventure from the excellent Mr Reese.

Barry weaves his two fisted prose with just the right dose of supernatural intrigue and threat which I think sets his tales apart from the majority of either the traditional or indeed New Pulp fiction.

It may be easy for the casual browser to pass over The Rook as Barry's cipher for The Shadow as one could mistake Lazarus for Richard Benson ( The Avenger) but really, these characters are so so much more than that. Max Davies is a terrific multi layered hero and as with all Barry's books many of the story and character beats will surprise and delight the reader.

"The Rook" has that almost indefinable "can't put it down" quality and to be frank how many books ( or indeed "Rooks") can you say that about?

Terrific and recommended.


Doc Savage: Death's Dark Domain
Doc Savage: Death's Dark Domain
by Kenneth Robeson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 12.23

5.0 out of 5 stars Doc Vs Vampires?, 23 Nov 2012
Maybe.

In pre WW2 Eastern Europe two small nations are about to go to war over a desolate area of land known as Ultra Stygia - a region haunted by myths and legends from the past involving Vampires, Werewolves and even Cyclops (Cyclopi?).

The conflict is then escalated by the use of "super-weapons" thus forcing Doc Savage and his aides to intervene....And just who is Fiana Drost???

Let the fun begin.

Excellent new adventure by Will Murray in his "Wild Adventures of.." series. As is usual, Will keeps the plot twisting and turning with all the action, heroism and daring escapes a good Doc Savage adventure should contain without ever losing site of the bigger story.

This time however it is the context of Doc Savage in a (seemingly) Gothic Horror tale which elevates this one to my pertsoanl favourite Wild Adventure (to date anyway). The combination is simply irresistable.

The book acts as a quasi sequel to "The Fortress Of Solitude" with the shadow of Doc's greatest opponent in the background.

There is one reveal towards the finale which caused me to elicit a "whoa!" out loud whilst reading on my Kindle. Oh well, it made the other customers in Costa Coffee wake up at 8am! Be warned.


Doc Savage: The Forgotten Realm (The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage Book 5)
Doc Savage: The Forgotten Realm (The Wild Adventures of Doc Savage Book 5)
Price: 3.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Have no fear the Man Of Bronze is here!, 9 Nov 2012
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Welcome re issue of Will Murray's excellent mid 1990's Doc Savage adventure (long out of print)under the newer "Wild Adventures of.." banner.

As with all Will's new Doc offerings he delivers a classic Doc Savage adventure told with enough modern sensibilities to satisfy the modern reader but without ever losing that essential "Pulp" atmosphere of two fisted thrills and excitement. I sometimes find the original pulps a difficult read as an adult but these are a complete pleasure in every sense.

So what do we have here then?

In no particular order; a strange man who speaks latin roams the Scottish moors. Doc Savage is searching for the explorer son of an old acquaintance of his father. Johnny is kidnapped. An evil band of thieves seeks ancient Roman treasures. A lost city hidden by the "Mists of Time". Gladiators. Chariots. Desperate chases across a continent. Sea battles aboard Roman galleons.

And much more.

If you are a Pulp fan then this is worth your time and will doubtless leave you wanting more.

Personally I hope this leads to more re-issues of the 90's series alongside Will's new tales. Great to have these on your Kindle!


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