Sunday, 28 April 2019

Comic: Conan the Barbarian #4

Published by: Marvel
Written by: Jason Aaron
Art by: Gerardo Zaffino

Issue four of the re-booted Conan the Barbarian is a strange beast (pun intended). The writing continues to be handled very nicely by Aaron, but art duties have been handed over to Zaffino for this issue. A departure from the previous three issues, which were, I think, great looking comics. 1-3 began a series of unrelated stories within the framing device of the Crimson Witch stalking our Hero in order to gain revenge and resurrect her Master.

Issue 4 drops any reference to the Crimson Witch, but does not suffer. The story is still fine, showing an older Conan, suffering from a mysterious ailment following his rise to become the King of Aquilonia. In a desperate attempt to avoid the monotony of court life, Conan decides to get back into the action, and eventually finds himself playing the part of a masked vigilante (a very slight nod to The Punisher in my opinion).

Gerardo Zaffino brings a more grittier art style, which on a few panels looks a bit off. The overall effect thought is pleasing and I wouldn't be unhappy if Zaffino took over a few stories here and there. He certainly knows how to draw the king of the jungle.

This new range also includes a novella, Black Starlight by John C. Hocking. I'm not sure how long it will be, but I have to say it is a great idea to include this. I won't be reading these till all the parts have been published, and will likely review them here when I do. Does anyone else think this is a good idea?

So, a strange issue. Good story, decent art, lots of blood and gore as I would hope. But no link to the overall plot arc. Hopefully it won't turn off the readers?

Comic: Black Hammer '45 #1

Published by: Dark Horse
Written by: Jeff Lemire, Ray Fawkes
Art by: Matt Kindt, Sharlene Kindt

I am a big fan of Jeff Lemire's Black Hammer series. The original series was a breath of fresh air for me last year. So it was with high expectations that I subscribed to this new series set in the Golden Age of World War II.

Mr Lemire is sharing writing credits with Ray Fawkes here. So I'm not sure how that will pan out. Presumably Jeff has provided an outline of the plot arch to be followed. I do not have any issue with this approach, but not convinced other readers will?

This first issue introduces us to the main cast; sets the background for the story and provides a modicum of history for a couple of characters. The plot device employed here is the reminiscences of a character named, Hammer Hawthorne. He is preparing to celebrate an undefined anniversary and travels to collect his colleague, Li. During this event we get to revisit their WWII escapades as members of the Black Hammer Squadron, a group of elite fighter pilots who do battle with extraordinary enemies within the Axis. We are also introduced to a bad-ass villain in the shape of the Nazi uber-pilot The Ghost Hunter, who has racked up an amazing number of kills and has had previous run-ins with the Back Hammer Squadron. We are also given a glimpse of Red Tide a group of Soviet Mechanical giant robots. There are some good moments here, nothing too spectacular, but enough to keep you reading.

I have to mention the art by Matt and Sharlene Kindt. It is very different from normal 'comic-book' fare. I can only describe it as scratchy ink, with elegant water colours. It's not something I've seen before, and takes a while to get used to. The characters heads appear too big in some panels, but otherwise it does not detract from the story telling. I'm not sure if it will grow on me or not, but I'm wiling to give it a go. I suppose this is based more upon the fact this is a Black Hammer comic, and should fit within the lore of other related lines.

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Comic: Assassin Nation #1

Published by: Image - Skybound
Written by: Kyle Starks
Art by: Erica Henderson

The opening issue of Assassin Nation has a splash page showcasing a gallery of the top twenty assassins in the fictional world this story is set in. With names like "Wistful Stan", "Rumble Deathpatch" and "Fuck Tarkington", you know immediately what you are going to get with this Crime/Thriller/Comedy mash-up. Not all of these professional killers will make it to the end of the first instalment.

The writing by Kyle Stark is crisp and witty; the art by Erica Henderson is bold and detailed without detracting from the action that inevitably occurs. It's right up your street, if like me, you admire Michael Avon Oeming and his great work on Powers and United States versus Murder Inc. I think it has the same vibe. Anyone agree?

The plot revolves around the anxiety of a top crime-boss, formerly a number one hitman himself (known as "Chekov's Gun") following a number of attempts on his life. He gathers together the aforementioned top echelon of assassins in order to discover who has put a price on his head. You get to meet the major players as they banter with each other and score points in bragging rights. Needless to say things do not go as planned and you will enjoy the mayhem that follows.

If you are a fan of fast-paced crime, interspersed with witty banter, gun play and gore - this will be a good choice to pick up. I for one am looking forward to the second issue.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

"The more you reason the less you create." - Raymond Chandler

So here is me not reasoning any longer and creating something....

Welcome to my blog. My aim is to provide reviews about the types of books and graphic novels that I most enjoy reading; mostly consisting of Fantasy and Science Fiction. However, I enjoy a wide range of genres in comic form, so expect things like Detective Fiction, Super Heroes/Teams, Weird tales and Crime to make regular appearances as well.