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Craft Smart: Knitting
Craft Smart: Knitting
by Adel Kay
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Craft projects for kids – and grown-ups too, 27 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Craft Smart: Knitting (Paperback)
This 32-page book is an ideal guide to craft knitting projects for children (or adults with twitchy fingers). There are twelve chapters showing you how to make a selection of items of varying complexity – each one full of colourful and easy-to-follow illustrations. The instructions are simply explained – though some practice might be advised before you begin, as knitting and stitching are required. There are introductory chapters explaining the knitting techniques you will need, and how to do the basic stitching involved.

The Contents are –
P04: Materials and Techniques
P08: Flower Purse
P10: Phone Case
P12: Corsage Brooch
P14: Sugar Plum Cushion
P16: Beaded Scarf
P18: Bear Hat
P20: Egg Cosy
P22: Mug Warmer
P24: Mini Handbag
P26: Hand Warmers
P28: Headband
P30: Squishy Penguin
P32: Index


AQUAMAN #28 - New 52
AQUAMAN #28 - New 52
by Paul Pelletier
Edition: Comic

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent chapter in the ongoing story, 27 Feb. 2015
This review is from: AQUAMAN #28 - New 52 (Comic)
The story that runs through issues #26-31 of the New 52 Aquaman is collected, along with Annual #2 and Swamp Thing #32, as Aquaman Volume 5 HC (The New 52). This is another excellent volume of one of DC Comics most entertaining titles. Unlike some of the bigger-name characters, whose stories are diluted across several titles, a ‘minor’ character like Aquaman is able to maintain the strong sub-plots that bind serial comic stories together, and is not caught up in several big crossover stories at the same time. Here the relatively small Aquaman family is able to get on with big adventure stories in the wider world, while also maintaining the ongoing problems with dissident Atlanteans and the pressures of being an autocratic ruler - for, as many people will be unaware of, being an autocrat doesn’t mean everyone obeys your every word unconditionally; it just means that there is no democratic way of removing you from power, so your opponents must make their opposition known to you by implementing your instructions slowly or badly, and by plotting against you…

Anyway, in this volume we have several big stories, bound together by the ongoing tensions among the ruling elite of Atlantis, and outright rebellion among the masses, as Mera discovers when she is subjected to an assassination attempt. Aquaman meanwhile has to face an Atlantean Godzilla, which in turn reveals the existence of a new secret undersea bas housing mad scientists and aggressive surface people, before a rogue archaeologist borrows his trident to ‘prove’ that ancient Atlantis is secretly hidden away somewhere. He manages to open a portal to a dimension housing the monsters of Greek mythology, who were trapped there by one of Arthur’s ancestors. They are now free to prey on mankind again, as is Hercules, who was trapped with them by said ancestor during the battle with the monsters. He is not a happy man, nor particularly rational after all that time… This leads in to a team-up with Wonder Woman to hunt down the escapees, and finally into a team-up of sorts with the Swamp Thing, whose fight with the Seeder over in his own title has had an effect on the flora of the undersea world, leading to a showdown with Aquaman.

These are all entertaining stories, scripted by the latest new guy, Jeff Parker - who was responsible for one of my favourite titles of recent years - the Thunderbolts, over at Marvel. That team was made up of minor characters, so Jeff was able to do pretty much whatever he wanted with them without anyone in authority interfering, and that is just the sort of thing that he will be able to do with Aquaman; for, as I said above, he is not a big gun, tied into all sorts of excess baggage. The artwork is also spectacular on this series - a holdover from the earlier volumes when Geoff Johns was on the book, so lets hope no-one spots it and steals Paul Pelletier for one of the big-guns’ titles.


Aquaman, Tome 4 : Tempête en eau trouble
Aquaman, Tome 4 : Tempête en eau trouble
by Paul Pelletier
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent chapter in the ongoing story, 27 Feb. 2015
The story that runs through issues #26-31 of the New 52 Aquaman is collected, along with Annual #2 and Swamp Thing #32, as Aquaman Volume 5 HC (The New 52). This is another excellent volume of one of DC Comics most entertaining titles. Unlike some of the bigger-name characters, whose stories are diluted across several titles, a ‘minor’ character like Aquaman is able to maintain the strong sub-plots that bind serial comic stories together, and is not caught up in several big crossover stories at the same time. Here the relatively small Aquaman family is able to get on with big adventure stories in the wider world, while also maintaining the ongoing problems with dissident Atlanteans and the pressures of being an autocratic ruler - for, as many people will be unaware of, being an autocrat doesn’t mean everyone obeys your every word unconditionally; it just means that there is no democratic way of removing you from power, so your opponents must make their opposition known to you by implementing your instructions slowly or badly, and by plotting against you…

Anyway, in this volume we have several big stories, bound together by the ongoing tensions among the ruling elite of Atlantis, and outright rebellion among the masses, as Mera discovers when she is subjected to an assassination attempt. Aquaman meanwhile has to face an Atlantean Godzilla, which in turn reveals the existence of a new secret undersea bas housing mad scientists and aggressive surface people, before a rogue archaeologist borrows his trident to ‘prove’ that ancient Atlantis is secretly hidden away somewhere. He manages to open a portal to a dimension housing the monsters of Greek mythology, who were trapped there by one of Arthur’s ancestors. They are now free to prey on mankind again, as is Hercules, who was trapped with them by said ancestor during the battle with the monsters. He is not a happy man, nor particularly rational after all that time… This leads in to a team-up with Wonder Woman to hunt down the escapees, and finally into a team-up of sorts with the Swamp Thing, whose fight with the Seeder over in his own title has had an effect on the flora of the undersea world, leading to a showdown with Aquaman.

These are all entertaining stories, scripted by the latest new guy, Jeff Parker - who was responsible for one of my favourite titles of recent years - the Thunderbolts, over at Marvel. That team was made up of minor characters, so Jeff was able to do pretty much whatever he wanted with them without anyone in authority interfering, and that is just the sort of thing that he will be able to do with Aquaman; for, as I said above, he is not a big gun, tied into all sorts of excess baggage. The artwork is also spectacular on this series - a holdover from the earlier volumes when Geoff Johns was on the book, so lets hope no-one spots it and steals Paul Pelletier for one of the big-guns’ titles.


Batman Arkham Unhinged Volume 4 TP
Batman Arkham Unhinged Volume 4 TP
by Christian Duce
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb Batman story, 27 Feb. 2015
The story running through the online comic Arkham Unhinged Chapters 44-58 is collected as Batman: Arkham Unhinged Volume 4 HC. These were also published in printed format as Arkham City issues #16-20. The 5-part story - “Welcome to the Slough of Despond” - is written by Karen Travis, and illustrated by 5 different artists. This volume, although set in the ‘Arkham City’ universe, a “What If?” story which takes place in the world of the Arkham City videogame, is set before the start of the stories we have seen in earlier volumes of this series. Arkham City has been built, and is in the process of being populated with the loonies from the old Arkham Asylum, but now ‘ordinary’ criminals are being sent there, including non-criminal arrestees, such as protestors and the like, as the mayor of Gotham starts to implement his zero-tolerance policy for crime (and dissent), the platform on which he was elected.

This story is set against the background of political unrest in Gotham, caused by the displacement of the ‘lower classes’ from the section of the city that has been converted into Arkham City. This has led to a massive rise in ‘petty’ crime in other areas of Gotham, due to the population displacement, although there is no costumed crime - Batman has to content himself with muggers and looters and the like; and Catwoman. Bruce Wayne, and a couple of Gotham Councillors, all make a stand against the Mayor’s policies, though for different reasons. There is also a new character, which we will refer to as a villain, for want of a better description - who signs his letters as the “Bookbinder”, and who is fond of quotations from the Pilgrim’s Progress. However, when Batman confronts one of his two prime suspects at the end of the volume, the suspect, without admitting to anything, points out that this villain hasn’t killed anyone himself (technically, the first victim died of stupidity), and has in fact merely revealed the corruption at the heart of Gotham City politics, in the manner of a vigilante, just as Batman does.

This is a strange story, as the alleged villain has done nothing that Batman himself frequently does not do himself, and while the mystery of who he is and why he is doing what he does dominates the story, there is a wide range of sub-plots and character-development themes running through these issues, and you are not exactly sure which of them are supposed to be the main strand. Batman himself does dominate the story, so this is definitely not a non-Batman story, but the various sub-plots are not merely background stories, as they all link together to form a whole. This really is an old-fashioned comic-book serial.

This is an excellently-written story, and although there is a different artist for each chapter, the style and quality of the artwork is consistently good.

THE SPOILER ZONE (1)
The story is not resolved in the last issue, so I am assuming there will be a sequel volume. The overall Arkham City storyline is of course resolved in the previous volumes and the video game, but the Bookbinder mystery continues.

THE SPOILER ZONE (2)
For a detailed description of the individual issues collected in this volume, see Batman: Arkham Unhinged Volume 4 HC.


[(Batman 3 Stories in 1: Volume-1)] [ By (author) Robert Greenberger, By (author) Eric Fein, By (author) Michael Dahl ] [June, 2014]
[(Batman 3 Stories in 1: Volume-1)] [ By (author) Robert Greenberger, By (author) Eric Fein, By (author) Michael Dahl ] [June, 2014]
by Robert Greenberger
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent adventure stories for younger readers, 27 Feb. 2015
These are excellent adventure stories for younger readers who are interested in the exploits of Batman and his supporting cast of characters. The style of the artwork illustrating the text story is heavily influenced by the animated TV / DVD series of DC Comics’ superheroes, and so is likely to be familiar to readers. Each story contains five chapters and is 40+ pages, and each also includes 10 full-page illustrations. They are well-written with a clear storyline and well-described action and problem solving situations.

THE SPOILER ZONE

THE MAN BEHIND THE MASK
Batman arrives at the scene of an armoured-car robbery, and pursues the two robbers down an alley. As he confronts them, he recognises one as being Joe Chill, the man who murdered his parents twenty years before. Chill throws a smoke bomb, and flees with the stolen cash, leaving his partner behind after shooting him in the smoke. As Batman pursues Chill he realises that they are in the same alley where his parents were murdered, and as the pursuit progresses, we see the in his memory the events that led to Bruce Wayne becoming the Batman.

CATWOMAN’S HALOWEEN HEIST
Barbara (Batgirl) Gordon is invited to a Halloween fancy-dress party at a school-friend’s house, but she is already booked to go on patrol with Tim (Robin) Drake, so she has to take him along to the party with her, both in their crime-fighting costumes. The host of the party has got a valuable jewelled statue of a cat on display, which goes missing during the evening, along with one of the partygoers in a Catwoman costume. Meanwhile, Batman is called to Arkham Asylum, where he discovers that Catwoman has once more escaped… Can Barbara and Tim track down the Catwoman and retrieve the cat statue without revealing their identities…?

ARCTIC ATTACK
Using the Batcave computers to help with his homework, Tim Drake is looking at data on the Arctic Ocean when Batman notices that temperatures are rising too fast. The computers quickly track the source of the heat, and soon Batman and Robin are en route to Greenland to search for the hidden base of the likely candidate for the cause of this unfolding catastrophe – Ra’s al Ghul. Armed with Arctic equipment, can the Dynamic Duo find his base and reverse the catastrophic heating in time..?

FURTHER READING
The ‘original’ Batman comic books are reprinted in both colour and black-and white (and suitable for home colouring-in). They are no less suitable for younger readers than these more modern stories aimed at the same age group as the originals were.
Colour version –
The Batman Chronicles, Volume One
Black & white version –
Batman (Showcase Presents)


Clone Volume 1 TP by Schulner, David (2013) Paperback
Clone Volume 1 TP by Schulner, David (2013) Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars “I am NOT a clone.” “That’s what they all say.”, 27 Feb. 2015
The story running through issues #1-5 of Image Comics’ new series ‘Clone’ is collected as Clone Volume 1 TP. I have given this volume five stars because it is an excellent season opener, with very good scripting, artwork and an extremely fast-paced story with a beginning, middle and end (in the right order), which while explaining as much as needed to be explained, also leaves a lot for us to discover, and several avenues for subsequent volumes to develop. They deliver just enough to make you want more, but not because they didn’t tell you something, but because it is interesting enough that you want to keep reading.

THE SPOILER ZONE
The US Government many years ago carried out a cloning experiment. Now the clones, who were scattered across the world have discovered themselves on ‘social media’, and the Government has set up a task force to kill them off, using a clone as their assassin. The clones have apparently organised a resistance movement to rescue themselves, though several seem to be experiencing an existential crisis. We follow one of the clones, whose wife is pregnant and carrying a baby who is showing signs of accelerated growth. There is a ‘split’ in the corridors of power over the continuance of the termination programme, which plays out in the background as we follow the clones in their attempt to rescue the kidnapped and expectant wife.

This is a fast-paced action/adventure/political-conspiracy thriller, which is excellently scripted and illustrated. There isn’t really much else to say.

THE MORE DETAILED SPOILER ZONE
For a detailed breakdown of the individual issues collected in this volume, see Clone Volume 1 TP.


Clone Volume 2 TP (Paperback) - Common
Clone Volume 2 TP (Paperback) - Common
by by Juan Jose Ryp
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Send in the clones, 27 Feb. 2015
The story running through issues #6-10 of Image Comics’ new series ‘Clone’ is collected as Clone Volume 2 TP. I gave the first volume of this series five stars because it was an excellent season opener, with very good scripting, artwork and an extremely fast-paced story with a beginning, middle and end (in the right order), which while explaining as much as needed to be explained, also left a lot for us to discover, and several avenues for subsequent volumes to develop. They delivered just enough to make you want more, but not because they didn’t tell you something, but because it was interesting enough that you wanted to keep reading.

This volume does exactly the same. I have only given it four stars not because of any flaws, but simply because it is ‘just’ the next volume. The story continues in the same high gear as the previous volume, with big action sequences, plot twists and turns, and an ending to this particular chapter, though not to the overall storyline. Everything you could ask for in an action/adventure comic, which is superbly illustrated and scripted.

The Big comics companies could learn something from the Independents at the moment. They seem to be flailing around with giant event stories threatening the universe one or twice a year, and incessantly launching and cancelling short-run titles, or swapping creative teams around from volume to volume. The Independents seem to be producing high-quality ‘low-key’ series: ones with stories that have TV show budgets, that is, they could easily be converted to TV shows with the same story and follow the action depicted in artwork without Hollywood budgets; and they are quite often produced by creators who have worked for the Big Guys. See, for example, this title, Velvet Volume 1 TP, Lazarus Volume 1 TP, Resident Alien Volume 1: Welcome to Earth!, or The Twilight Zone Volume 1. It might just be that these titles don’t sell as well as the Big Guys require, but at least they keep producing quality stories that - I hope - will consistently sell enough to keep going.

Anyway, on to the story: this volume sees Luke - now revealed to be the baseline human version - hunting for his wife and daughter, currently in the hands of the baddies (or the US Government, as they are known in this comic). The baddies unleash Clone Beta, an advanced and younger version of Luke who is programmed to be a killer with the determination of a Terminator, and who finds the clone’s base. The baddies also order the death of the Vice-President’s daughter, which the clones have to try and prevent, and Luke begins to show signs of the degenerative disease that started the cloning experiment in the first place. A second strand of the story follows Luke’s wife Amelia and baby Eva who are prisoners in the bad guy’s laboratory-base. There is a minor third strand involving Clone Gamma, and all the strands eventually come together in the closing episode, as we get ready for the next volume.

As I said above, this is a superbly illustrated and scripted action-adventure comic book.


By Aaron Ginsburg Clone Volume 3 TP
By Aaron Ginsburg Clone Volume 3 TP
by Aaron Ginsburg
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Revenge of the Clones, 27 Feb. 2015
The story running through issues #11-15 of Image Comics’ new series ‘Clone’ is collected as Clone Volume 3 TP. The previous two volumes of this series had very good scripting, artwork and an extremely fast-paced story with a beginning, middle and end (in the right order), which while explaining as much as needed to be explained, also left a lot for us to discover, and several avenues for subsequent volumes to develop. They delivered just enough to make you want more, but not because they didn’t tell you something, but because it was interesting enough that you wanted to keep reading.

This volume is set one year after the previous one, and the US government has branded the clones as terrorists and ramped up public opinion so far that there are now loony militias hunting them down and killing them on sight. Luke Taylor has also been hunting clones, but to gather them together for protection. This volume sees his final hunt, as he is caught y a militia, whose leader was once married to one of his clones. She now wants a child by him to make up for the one that her clone husband failed to provide… Meanwhile, a new set of clones from overseas make themselves known, and offer the US clones sanctuary - but only clones, no normal humans can go with them… and the Government’s forces are closing in on the clone sanctuary, leading to explosive climax for this story.

This is another fast-paced story, with, once again, excellent characterisation, and several new (and disturbing) plot twists. This really is an above-average comic book.


Batman '66 Volume 1 TP: Written by Jeff Parker, 2014 Edition, Publisher: DC Comics [Paperback]
Batman '66 Volume 1 TP: Written by Jeff Parker, 2014 Edition, Publisher: DC Comics [Paperback]
by Jeff Parker
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars “If you can write about the sixties, you weren’t there”, 27 Feb. 2015
The first five issues of DC Comics’ retro Batman ’66 comic are collected as Batman '66 Volume 1 TP. These stories were first published online as the 10-page chapters 1-15 of Batman ’66, so you get thirty pages of story per printed comic.

My local library got a copy of this book a while back, but there were so many current titles that interested me that it had to wait at the bottom of the pile; and I eventually found that I was not disappointed that it was left till last. I read comics in the 1960s, and watched the Batman TV show back then, and I can remember thinking at the time (I have a good memory for comic-related activities) that it was nothing like the Batman comics, and I couldn’t help but think that this comic is a very good impersonation of the TV show, but it’s depiction of the 1960s is slightly off. Not by much, but just enough in the background details to be noticeable.

The stories are OK as far as being pastiches of the TV series’ stories - there are bigger budgets and bigger sets in comic books, as it were - but who exactly wants to read them? Are there that many fans of the 1960s TV show? Jeff Parker is an excellent writer, and has written some of my favourite modern comics’ series, but this is an Elseworlds with little to offer; a bit like the film of the (real) Avengers with Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman, which tried to copy the original series too much, instead of striking out on its own. However, many series struggle in their first volume, and as there are two more volumes written by Jeff Parker listed on Amazon, maybe he will be able to take the series somewhere interesting.

This was readable but that was about it; Robin looked like an angry old man much of the time, and everyone was frequently drawn with gaping mouths, which got a bit tiresome after a while. One interesting point was that in Catwoman’s two appearances, she was drawn as the two separate actresses who played her. Alfred, on the other hand, did not look like the original actor (that I remember), but more like the comic-book character, though with the white hair. However, as I said above, maybe Jeff Parker can move the series on from being a tribute band. I notice that he managed to get the Red Hood into one Joker story…


By Lemire, Jeff [ [ Green Arrow Vol. 4: The Kill Machine (the New 52) (Green Arrow) - Street Smart ] ] Mar-2014[ Paperback ]
By Lemire, Jeff [ [ Green Arrow Vol. 4: The Kill Machine (the New 52) (Green Arrow) - Street Smart ] ] Mar-2014[ Paperback ]
by Jeff Lemire
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The New 52.1, 27 Feb. 2015
The stories running through issues #17-24 of DC Comics’ New 52 Green Arrow series are collected, along with issue #23.1, as Green Arrow Volume 4: The Kill Machine TP (The New 52) (Green Arrow (DC Comics Paperback)). After three volumes of dire storytelling, someone at DC Comics has finally watched the Arrow TV series and realised just what can be done with a comic book series. In comes Count Vertigo, Shado, Richard Dragon, a dodgy father who was knee-deep in something suspicious, even more conspiracies, and mysterious goings-on on that island, whilst still keeping hold on the previous New 52 background – just deepening it and adding more texture, much of it, while inspired by the TV series, recognisably drawn from the Old DC universe. And the artwork is fairly spectacular as well.

This is a superb new beginning for the series, and should really be treated as a new volume 1 – you can safely ignore the first three volumes and just start from here: you won’t miss anything interesting or useful.

I have to add that the ‘lost tribes’ business is pretty silly, on a par with the League of Assassins’ mission as set out in the ‘Batman Begins’ film. But hey, it is only a comic book.

THE SPOILER ZONE
For a detailed breakdown of the individual issues collected here, see Green Arrow Volume 4: The Kill Machine TP (The New 52) (Green Arrow (DC Comics Paperback)).


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