Posts Tagged ‘comic’

A warning that this review will contain spoilers to both this and to Batman vs Superman!

So…Justice League! A film many have waited so many years do. A film with such a legacy in terms of the comics and characters that many wondered if it could ever get made. Well it did get made and it split critics in two. One side said it was terrible, while the other actually quite liked it. Where do I sit? Well read on to find out.

Following on shortly after the climax of BVS (batman vs superman) Justice League starts with Bruce Wayne tracking down the people he saw in the ‘secret’ computer file in the hopes of recruiting them to his super team. For those who havnt seen BvS he is looking for Arthur Curry aka. Aquaman, Barry Allen aka. Flash and Victor Stone aka. Cyborg. He kinda already has Diana on his team and superman,well we all know what happened to superman… He died.

If the death of superman wasn’t enough, the big threat Bruce was warned of in BvS is on his way to destroy everything in the villain called Steppenwolf (not to be confused with the rock band of the same name). Everyone must unite to defeat this threat and save the Earth.

Before the film was made many people, myself included, thought the main villain was going to be Darkseid (a god of extreme power) instead of his uncle Steppenwolf, but I guess this way if they made a sequel Darksid would have reason to hate the League. Although an odd choice it does work and he is a cool bad guy that has enough power for the League to have issues. He has the problem a lot of villains have in superhero films in that we are meant to understand everything about him and his power in the space of one film. Most of this is summed up in a single montage sequence that explains the last time all races came together to stop him. It’s done in an ok fashion but I would say it was hsdled as well as it could be been.

The same issue flows through to some of our hero’s. If the viewer had never heard of Cyborg, you get very little backstory to him or really his motivations. He is used more here as a plot device not a strong superhero. To a lesser extent we get the same with Aquaman and Flash. Flash in the film is reduced to an immature joke making fool (Thank you Mr Whedon) while Aquaman is essentially a heavy metal surfer. The latter works pretty well, the former does not.

The big problem is the terrible comedic relief courtesy of the once great director Joss Whedon. He feels the need to lighten the brilliant dark tone of BvS with some awful direction and writing (to be fair it’s what he was hired for but he could be done a better job) He also felt these to put in pointless yet film damaging scenes such as the awful phone footage of superman at the start which plays no purpose other then showing the audience superman was a good guy (as next time we see him he’s trying to kill stuff.) If only the studios would have gone with Snyder’s original much darker vision. We could have had something truly special. But instead we have half a dark DC movie and half a Joss Whedon mess. For those who believe it the other way round fair enough, but I genuinely believe whedon last great thing was Serenity (which was a massive step up from Firefly). It’s just sad. I guess if it was an entirely Joss Whedon film we would at least have a consistent film. As it stands it’s a mess. Albeit a mess I for the most part did enjoy.

The film also feels far too short to everything that’s crammed in. I would have preferred a 3 hour long film that fully fledged everything out. The pacing again comes from the 2 different directors and it’s easy to see who filmed what. Any piece that flows with a piece of music seamlessly is the work of Snyder. Any piece that’s layered heavily with Danny Elfman’s (albeit great) score is Whedon. It doesn’t really gel at any point and it really hurts the film because if it.

Acting-wise everyone does their part pretty well. You can see some are hindered by script issues but they try their best. Lots have faulted Affleck’s performance but I quite like his take on an older more tired batman. It’s definitely a step up from the 2nd two Christian Bale performances. I love Jason Momoa’s heavy metal inspired, surfer dude Aquaman. Gone are the days if the Aquaman who merely talks to fish like a Dr Dolittle of the sea.

As a film it is really fun and does move from set piece to set piece at a rapid rate. It’s a shame it’s not more like BvS as that truly nailed being a mature grown up comic book movie, whereas this is more akin to the lighter fluff marvel pumps out regularly each year. There is a rather silly bit (sillier then the rest) featuring a robot spider vehicle. That part wasn’t so good. For the most part the other set pieces are pretty great if a little staged at times. When the league are all battling together it gives hints of a much grander and better film.

One day We may see the ‘proper’ cut of the film Zack Snyder set out to make. Until then we have to make do with the flawed yet highly enjoyable mess. It may not be the film fans wanted but it’s the film we got.

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I’ve always been massively interested in the character of ‘Lady Death’. She has a great dark backstory and some awesome character design, which rivals some of the very best on the market. As such I was really interested in reading her humble beginnings again and what better way than reading ‘Lady Death: The Reckoning (revised)’ which contains the first 3 issue series from 1994 as well as the ½ issue and a few other extras.
So what’s it all about?
Lady death concerns the life of Hope who after sacrificing her soul to Lucifer has become Lady Death who is literally the queen of the dead. The tale collected here shows her origin and transformation from a simple noble girl to one of the most powerful forces to ever take on the devil. The story, while quite simple is gripping and powerfully told. It is almost narrated by the lead character as she replays her painful memories of her past life on Earth.
As an origin tale it has everything we could hope for. It gives us a good backstory on who the main character is, how she got where she is now and how she can eventually find salvation. There is a deeper story contained within this short story then in a lot of long running series I’ve read. The writer and creator Brian Pulido absolutely nails it when it comes to a carefully crafted story with a well-crafted lead character.
The art by the late Steven Hughes is as fantastic as the story. The characters pop from the pages, with each image perfectly leading into the next. Each character, especially Lady Death/Hope is designed stunningly and each feels individual and brilliantly crafted. As I previously mentioned, the reason I first got into reading Lady Death was because I loved the medieval design of the whole comic, which made everything feel different enough to stand out from the usual superhero comics, which the market is always saturated with. The covers for the individual issues are just as amazing as the inside artwork and could easily be paintings on gallery walls. It’s one of those series that buying the individual issues is quite a nice idea just because the covers are so unbelievably good.
If I were to have one minor gripe with the book it would have to be that some of the pages full of action can be slightly confusing in their layout. It’s by no means bad, but it does mean that occasionally I had to reread passages as I seemed to be reading out of order. This confusion only really happened a few times throughout the story, with the most noticeable parts being during the epic final battle in the third issue.
The book also contains the 12 page ‘1/2’ issue of Lady Death which is quite a nice little tale that is a brief preview of the character. As with the main story Pulido has crafted some amazingly descriptive narration to tell the short tale. It’s a stunning preview and just highlights why Lady Death has been going strong for over 20 years.
As a final bonus the final extra in the graphic novel is the first ‘swimsuit’ issue. That’s right a swimsuit issue! It is essentially a series of covers and splash pages by different artists showing the character in various different poses in varying designs of swimsuit. Those new to the world of ‘chaos comics’ may think this a little weird, but if you go with it does feature some truly great artwork.
So as you may have guessed I really loved rereading the humble beginnings of Lady Death and feel like this is a great way of experiencing the start of the character. It’s a deep brooding story that features almost no humour and is dark and gripping. The setting, the dialogue and the art are all spot on. For those who want to see perfection in indie comics, Lady Death is the perfect example. Pulido has created a magnificent world with some truly amazing characters that inhabit it. With over 20 years of stories following ion from these 3 issues, there’s not a better time to start experiencing the brilliance that is ‘Lady Death’.

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Comic adaptations from films are always a mixed bag as the different forms of storytelling don’t always work with a certain story. ‘The Girl Who Leapt Through Time’ is interesting in the fact that the film it is based on, is in itself based on a 1967 novel of the same name meaning that this is essentially the third iteration of the story. It’s also interesting as it’s one of those instances when a successful Japanese animated film is turned into a manga/comic to allow a wider audience to experience the story (as well as making more money).  The book follows the same basic story, but as usually happens, strips quite a few of the side elements to try an create a more streamlined piece.
The film is one of the most heart-wrenchingly beautiful pieces of fiction that I have had the pleasure of watching many times, leading me to wonder how or if the book would do it justice. I wondered how the raw and powerful emotion would translate to a static medium without the aid of music or audible vocal emotion. Now I’m not saying that books can’t have the same level of power as film, because they can and in some ways can achieve it on a far more intense level. This is usually down to the fact that we have been introduced to the story/ characters through description and clever use of written language. When it comes to comics though, I find emotion translates far worse due to the fact that the description is generally no longer written as we have fallen into the ‘show, don’t tell’ mentality of the more visual medium. It doesn’t mean that a comic can’t achieve the same draw of the heart, it just means that the writers and artists need to work closely and try much harder to try and evoke the same kind of level of power as they have none of the liberties of sound and moving image.
They say that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ and this is a statement that is generally true of stand-alone imagery, but when you have a book made up of hundreds of images it generally becomes much harder to find the statement true. Most of the images, if stripped back, work as a kind of filler, easing the reader into new environments or allowing the reader to see character movement. There is the odd occasion where an image stands out above the rest and lingers in the mind long after you finish the story. This is how you know that they’ve achieved the power.
Throughout ‘The Girl Who Leapt Through Time’ there are around 6 images that truly stand out with such emotional intensity that they hit the heart hard. Even though I knew what to expect of the story and I knew what was going to happen, I still found myself pulled left and right on an unexpected emotional rollercoaster ride. It’s amazing that fiction can manipulate ones emotions in such a real way as to bring about true feelings and here they’ve achieved it. I found myself audibly gasping at numerous points during the story and can even say that I felt a tear welling in the corner of my eye.
For those who have never heard of ‘The Girl Who Leapt Through Time’, It concerns Makoto Konno, a junior in high school who’s life suddenly takes a turn for the peculiar when she comes across a device that allows her to ‘time leap’. This sets about a series of events that will change her past, present and future forever. At its heart it is a coming of age story about acceptance and love but it is told in a truly interesting way.
Time travel is a plot device that is often used in science fiction as an easier way of telling a basic story in a slightly more interesting way. It’s hard to find a story that truly justifies the use of time travel as story telling device, but here is one of those exceptions. Here the time travelling element is more a visual means of explaining how Konno’s mind is working and where she is in her mental state, rather than showing the effects on the much wider world. It does look at some of the external effects of her new found powers, but these are still shown within her tight unit of friends. With all that’s said and done, ‘The Girl Who Leapt Through Time’ is a beautiful coming of age story that is told in a powerful yet very careful way.
I don’t want to explain much more about the story itself as I don’t want to spoil it for any potential readers, but I can say that it is a story with very little in the way of action but lots of emotional drama that’s far deeper then it first seems.  It’s a nice change from the usual comics that I tend to read and has more akin to fiction like the book ‘Norwegian Wood’ by Haruki Murakami then anything superhero related.
The characters in the story may be few, but each has a deep personality that makes them truly individual from one another. There are only four main characters in the story including Makoto Konno. Each of them work at pushing Konno on her path through the story and help her realise what she wants in life. Her friends Kousuke Tsuda and Chiaki Mamiya both show the contrasts of personality with one being more about studying while the other is more about fun. They work as a visual split in Konno’s mind. We also have Konno’s Auntie who acts as the voice of reason and I Konno’s main guide through the story.  The writer has dialled back some of the other side characters in the story which I was a little sad about as they further pushed emotional buttons in the film, but I guess it does mean that the story is far more streamlined with more focus on an end point. What we do have works brilliantly though and if I hadn’t seen the film I wouldn’t have thought I’d have questioned any of these gripes.
The art throughout is truly fantastic and helps the story flow forwards at a natural pace without ever rushing it. Some of the individual panel images contain so much in the way of emotion, that it’s truly quite a remarkable feat. It’s amazing how an image of a completely fictitious character’s eyes can evoke so much and at the same time feel so real. The character design is just as brilliant, even if they are taken straight out of the film. Everyone is individual making the story easy to follow and means that the artwork never gets confusing. In the art department side of things there is very little, if nothing at all to fault.
‘The Girl Who Leapt Through Time’ is a remarkable story on almost every level, from base enjoyment all the way through to being an emotional rollercoaster.  It really is a truly beautiful masterpiece of storytelling. A good story will take you on a journey, one that will make you forget about the real world until you’ve finished reading. This is one of those stories. How can something so entirely fictitious contain the ability to manipulate real emotions? It’s a question that can be applied to so many stories and can be applied to almost any visual or written medium, but it’s one that can never truly be answered. Why one person feels something while another doesn’t will always be one of those special subjective things that makes each one of us individual and ultimately is one of the things that can be linked to what makes us human.
So how does the adaptation hold up to the film and is it a worthwhile read?
I’d say that the manga holds up remarkably well and works well by itself or as a companion piece to the film. It’s a story that really should be experienced in any of its various mediums. Whichever you choose you’re in for a treat. As an emotional rollercoaster I’d say that the film version may work slightly better due to the added emotional pull that sound can have, but to deny the book of any emotion would be to do it a massive injustice. I have not felt like this after reading a comic in a long time and would argue never to the level.
I’d highly recommend the book and/or film to everyone who doesn’t just look for action in their storytelling and actually wants some truly raw feelings coming out of the words the characters say and the movement of the story. It’s a true masterpiece in any medium and a story that deserves to be experienced by everyone.

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This is a review that I should have written a long time ago as this is the book that got me back into reading ‘Marvel’ after many years reading Image, Top Cow and 2000ad publications.  Maybe it was the idea of a strong female character that has flaws and a dark side that appealed to me much. The character of X-23 was slightly reminiscent of the lead females in the Top Cow publications Witchblade and Aphrodite IX which I had been reading at the time. Whatever it was that drew me to the story, I am so happy I gave it a read as none of the magic has diminished over the years.
The story tells the beginnings of the character X-23 and shows how she was raised to be a killing machine, a monster for the government. It’s a far darker story then I was previously used to from Marvel as it touches on some important mental issues while focusing on the darker more sinister side of human nature. The story’s portrayal of some of these issues is far more realistic then the usual superhero fluff, with some of them making the reader truly think and question what’s happening. It’s quite a bleak story with very little in the way of brightness at the end of the 6 issue tunnel. If anything, it gets progressively darker as it progresses to its unforgettably powerful climax.  Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost have created a stunningly well written story that packs so much into the six issues that it’s very hard to fault.  The pacing of the story is carried across with an almost film-like quality to its flow. It balances the deep character driven story with some truly stunning action set pieces in an astonishingly well written way.
The characters are as equally well crafted, each with a purpose driving them forward in the story. This allows for some true emotion to run through the pages that never feels forced or out of place. I’d argue that our lead character of the story isn’t as one would expect X-23. Instead it’s more about Dr Sarah Kinney and her observations and feelings towards her daughter. The story is told from her point of view, from the point of view of a mother watching her daughter being crafted into a monster. The narration feels much like it is directed at X-23 with Kinney explaining the reasons for what’s been done to her and how truly sorry she is.  Seeing the story through Kinney’s eyes adds so much emotion and power to what’s going on, it’s hard not to get caught up into her pain and suffering.
X-23/Laura Kinney is such a brilliant character. This being her first solo series it was made to turn her into a strong relatable individual and in that it succeeds. Prior to this she made her first appearance in the ‘X-men Evolutions’ animated series, with her first comic debut in issue 3 of the series ‘NYX’. She made such an impression in these two small appearances that it was only natural for Marvel to try her out in her own series.  One of the things I truly love about her is how she’s been crafted from a mental stand point. She murders people because she’s told to but she at heart knows it wrong. Since she was born, she has been manipulated into this monstrosity and there is little she can do to escape it. It’s a side of human psychology that isn’t often touched on in this amount of detail in mainstream comics. The people in the labs see her as this monster they can use when at heart she is a troubled teenage girl struggling with real issues and some quite deep depression. She feels so fleshed out and three-dimensional that she could easily be based on a real person.
Before reading this, I had never read a comic where I had felt that almost all of the characters could be real people. If you got away with the claws, X-23 could easily be a person that would perfectly integrate into today’s society and youth culture.
The amount of emotion shown in each comic panel is amazing especially when the emotion is shown through X-23’s eyes. In reality people say that the eyes are the window to the soul and to a certain extent I’d agree. The eyes of a person can tell you so much about how they are really feeling and what they are thinking. This comic achieves this level of power through Billy Tan’s remarkable illustrations. Never have I seen so much power in the eyes of a comic character. This is what helps elevate the character above the usual two-dimensional entities comics are usually filled with.  The art is impeccable with very little that can be faulted. Everything from the page layouts to the character designs is near perfect.
If I had one minor niggle it would be that I’ve never been keen on X-23’s feet claws. I’ve always found them a bit out of place and silly looking. This is just my own personal opinion and I feel like they work to an extent. It’s by no means a major negative to anything to do with the story; I would have just preferred the character to just have the elegant twin claws on each hand.
After rereading this six issue series I am reminded of why it re-kickstarted my true love for Marvel comics. It’s a phenomenal masterpiece of storytelling and is as close to perfection as you can get in both story and art.  For me this is the comic that all others aspire to be like. I would even go as far to say that this is my favourite comic title of all time. It is no surprise that I would recommend this book to everyone who enjoys a good story and an amazingly good time. Check it out, You won’t regret it.
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WOW!
Rarely do I read a book completely blind of what it is about, but this had me intrigued by the title and the stark, striking cover. From the title I guess I expected something along the lines of ‘One flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ but what I got was unexpected.
What I got was a phenomenally deep and complex study of the intricacies of the human condition presented in an amazingly easy to read and follow story.  The writing flows so unbelievably smoothly that it’s easy to forget sometimes that the author ‘Luke Melia’ is exploring some truly deep emotions and some really powerful themes.
I won’t spoil the story for anyone as watching it unravel in front of your eyes is one of the many pleasures of the book. What I will say about the story though is that it is incredibly dark and at times pretty twisted.  It is definitely not a book for younger readers as it does feature violence, nudity, swearing and themes that could prove disturbing to some. But these points don’t hinder the story; they serve to help reveal the darkness that is inside the human mind. The things that a lot of people like to try and ignore and forget are there. Without such darkness the impact of the story may never have felt as fulfilling and as great as it did. Never did I feel that anything was particularly out of place or un-justified.
As a piece of fiction I find it pretty hard to fault. It moves at a brisk pace and keeps you reading until the very end. I read it all in one sitting and by the end I felt like I had been on an amazing journey.  Each of the characters are fully fledged out and all have reason for being there. Each has their own issues they are fighting and each helps drive the story forwards through some highly unexpected ground.  Every one of the inmates of the asylum feels different and each works to look at a different part of reason or emotion.
The art is equally as brilliant as each issue/chapter is by a different artist thus helping with the almost dreamlike state that the book creates. I will say that some of the art is stronger than others in my view but at the same time I loved all of it and thought that each reflected the situation that the chapters presented in a perfect way.  Each artist has their own interpretation of the characters while keeping the core of their looks recognisable. This really adds a punch to the book as we get to watch the characters evolve in front of our eyes.
So It’s pretty easy to see that I really enjoyed the book and I’m happy to say that I would easily read it again.
The book stayed with me long after reading and made me think about a lot of things about the human mind and conditions that some individuals go through. It had a power that I rarely experience when reading books, let alone graphic novels. I am still shocked at how amazing the book was and how I had never heard of it before.
All credit to the creative team for doing such an amazing job and a special credit to ‘Luke Melia’ who I believe could easily become the next best thing in comic writing.

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I knew nothing about this book before reading it other than hearing on the side that it was a good bit of fun. After having a hard time trying to find a copy, I finally stumbled upon a copy of the complete series in a beautiful hardback collection.  From looking at the cover I knew that this was going to be something different and fresh. But covers can mislead and some indie titles out there try too hard to seem like a AAA title that they fall flat. How did this pan out…
I can happily say that the comic is about as indie as you can get in the fact that the characters are a bizarre mishmash of humour and seriousness that works for the most part. The characters are genuinely engaging and the story constantly throws new curve balls which only a story about an experimental regime in which people with multiple-personality disorders use their skills to be assassins and the like.  This is where the title falls in with our main protagonist Duncan who happens to think he is also a ninja, a Viking and a cowboy. It is told in a clever way that means you always know which personality is talking either by using portraits of the character or by putting a little image on the speech bubble like a sword or a gun.  I found this worked really well and helped keep the whole thing running forward at a steady pace.
The book is split into two story arcs and each feels different and great. The first really is an introduction and I guess as close as you can get to an origin tale of each of the ‘Triplets’. It has a few plodding moments but on the whole was fun and constantly engaging. The second story is probably a stronger story in both a fun adventure and writing sense although it also isn’t without the odd stumble.   The hardback ‘deluxe’ edition also contains a short story epilogue which rounds everything off perfectly and really makes you think about the whole saga.  I wasn’t expecting a story like this to be as thought provoking as it turned out to be and I will happily read it again and again.
The art by ‘Riley Rossmo’ is phenomenal. I would go as far to say that it is one of the best looking comics / pieces of art that I have ever seen. It really is unlike most other things and works in a stunning way. The only artist that I could compare the work to is ‘Ashley Wood’ and that would only be for the carful use of colours and heavily scratchy looking artwork. The book isn’t black and white but then again it’s not full colour as one usually sees it. There is a carful use of light and dark that echoes the locations and the characters that inhabit the comic world.  You can literally turn to a random page and you will see something that stands out. It’s truly a beautiful piece of work that never gets stale and never looks anything less than steller.
Although I love this book I do have a couple of issues with it. Firstly sometimes it is hard to figure out which way the panels run; i.e. . Across the pages or the usual sticking to one page. I found I had to guess a couple of times because I just couldn’t work out where the next panel was. I found that when this happened it did take me out of the story. Some of the characters get confusing in terms of who their alter egos are but again it wasn’t too bad. The same can be said for some of the dialogue which at times tries far to hard and just gets confusing.  I commend them for some of the clever statements they are trying to make in the story but sometimes less is definitely more.
With that said I couldn’t get enough of ‘Cowboy Ninja Viking’ and could have happily read more (fighting through the odd confusing moment). This is a phenomenal book and a great piece of fiction that happily now sits up near the top of the best things I’ve ever read.  If you can find a copy and think you’d enjoy something a bit weird, a little funny and surprisingly thought-provoking you’d be hard pressed to find something better then Cowboy Ninja Viking

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Daredevil is one of those heroes that pretty much passed me by as I was growing up. He didn’t have the immediate draw of heroes like Spiderman and Wolverine – not much seemed to happen, and the stories didn’t feature as much in the way of sheer spectacle as the other comics around. I didn’t exactly avoid reading his comics, I just didn’t go out of my way to read them – I guess the appeal of a blind superhero whose main power is to see was just kinda lost on me.
Then, in 2003, the Daredevil movie was released, and I started to think he might not be quite as boring as I first thought. After watching and enjoying the film, I decided to pick up the book Daredevil: Guardian Devil, by Kevin Smith. The story felt familiar, but much darker than the likes of Spiderman and X-Men. I absolutely loved it.
The years passed, and I decided it was time to revisit the character and see what was happening. By that point Brian Michael Bendis had already started his classic Daredevil run, and it was fantastic. Everything worked, from the characters, to the art, to the story. The series that brought Marvel comics into the real world, and still one of the most realistic of their franchises, for me it was almost faultless, and called to mind the darker human conflicts that echo throughout comics like Batman.  It also helped that some of the art was by David Mack, one of the finest artists in comics, whose work is so beautifully haunting it lingers in the mind.
I was sad to see the end of Bendis’ run, even though Daredevil was being left in the capable hands of Ed Brubaker and later, Mark Waid. Although still consistently good, nothing ever quite matched the perfection that Bendis brought to the title, and I hoped he would come back. These hopes were answered in 2012.
Daredevil: End of Days is an eight part mini-series written by Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack. With art by Daredevil veteran Klaus Jansen, and ink by Bill Sienkiewicz, it’s the perfect combination of everything that’s made Daredevil great over the years.
So, let’s get the major spoiler-filled elephant out of the room right now. On page four of issue one, Daredevil is killed. Yep that’s right. Set in the near future, this book focuses on reporter Ben Ulrich’s (one of Daredevil’s true friends) investigation and report on who Daredevil was and why he was killed. It sets up the story fantastically well, and is incredibly brutal. In Ulrich, Bendis and Mack have created the perfect guide to lead us on a fascinating journey into the dark, gritty world these characters inhabit, and into the soul of ‘the man without fear’
Throughout the story we see cameos from countless other Marvel heroes, who all seem far more grounded then in their own books. The characterisation throughout is stunning, and ranks up there with the best of the best in fiction. This is especially evident in the fact that we find out far more about the depths of Daredevil’s character and mind then we’ve ever previously seen, despite the fact that he isn’t really in this book much in person. In a way, you could even compare the series to the phenomenal cinematic masterpiece that is Orsen Welles’ Citizen Kane, with both featuring a mystery set up by the dying protagonist, which leads the other characters on their journey through the world.
Such an amazing story deserves great art to back it up, and here you can’t fault it.  Each panel could be a painting in a gallery. It feels so fresh in its haunting beauty, yet so familiar. That said, the art may be an acquired taste, being much grittier in palette and a lot more scratchy in pen style than the everyday bright, bold Marvel art comic fans may be used to.
As you can probably tell, Daredevil: End of Days is my favourite Marvel comic, and I expect it will be for some time. It has a gripping story, great characters and faultless art, and it’s a 100% must-read for any fan of Daredevil. I’d even go as far to say it’s a must-read for anyone who likes a thinking-man’s story that isn’t all about action and massive set-pieces. For me, it’s the perfect end to the best interpretation of Daredevil there has ever been.

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Created by Federico Bertolucci  and Frederic Brremaud, the series ‘Love’ aims to tell emotional tales with no dialogue or narration. Instead they aim to convey the story and its raw emotional power through some carefully crafted artwork and a very simple (yet highly relatable) idea.

Each of the stories are standalone and do not require the reader to have read the previous book in the series ‘Der Tiger’. This one if you do not understand German is ‘The Fox’ and follows the journey of a fox during an extreme environmental event. To explain any more of the story would take away some of the power that the story has, so I will leave it there in terms of description. What I will say is that the book progresses at a fast rate and is constantly gripping. It may not be the longest of books, but I’d argue that it is of perfect length. Any longer and the story would have dragged a little. Any shorter and the stories development would be sacrificed.

Without text it is even more of a necessity than usual that the artwork is great. Luckily we are in luck as this is easily one of the most beautiful books I’ve read (if you can consider following pictures as reading that is). It could easily be looked at as an art book as each panel pops with stunning detail. The character designs are realistic and their faces convey true emotion without drawing the reader out with them talking to one another. The main character ‘the fox’ it beautifully realised and makes for the perfect guide through this story. With the book being as it is, the story never gets bogged down with un-necessary side characters or events happening in different places. This allows the artwork to shine even more as we are never wondering where we are or what’s happening.

I guess it’s time to address the elephant in the room. Yes this book is in German (although an English translation should be hitting stores later this year) but it doesn’t really matter. The only text is a little section at the start and the title. The fact that the rest of the story is entirely visual allows for it to be universally understood.  It really is one of those cases where less is definitely more. The creators know exactly what they are doing and have realised that they are working in a very visual medium. They are accepting the whole ‘show don’t tell’ ideology that accompanies a lot of art and for this they should be truly commended.

This is truly unlike almost every other graphic novel I have ever read. There are other ‘textless’ stories that I have had the joy to experience but most take a slightly more jovial tone. Here we have a deceptively deep story that is lined with powerful emotion. The fact that the story is set around a fox does not affect the power in the slightest, it anything it enhances it.

Throughout this review I’ve wondered if the term ‘reading’ is appropriate for how you experience this book. Should it be viewing? This is one of the things I find utterly fascinating with books like this. You can argue that you read a piece of art as you are ultimately ‘reading’ into what the artist wants you to find. But at the same time you are viewing it as there is no text.

Be it reading, viewing or both, this is an amazing book and one that I feel everyone should give a chance. It’s different from so many different angles and for this many may feel hesitant to giving it a shot, but I urge everyone to do so. This is easily one of the most emotionally charged books I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. Give it a try and see what you think.

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First printed in 1978, Misty was yet another creation from the comic great Pat Mills (who also co-created such pivotal comics such as ‘Action’ and ‘2000ad’), which tried to introduce something new and different to the world of ‘girls’ comics.
At the time the world of girls comics consisted of the rather formulaic adolescent tales of publications like ‘Tammy’, ‘Mandy’ and ‘Bunty’. All told pretty much the same stories that had been told for years previous. Most of which were about romance and adolescence (which apparently were the only things that girls wanted to read).  Then along came Mills with the idea of introducing an anthology comic which would treat girls more like adults and which would give them something different, something  edgier to read. That something was horror. Up until this point horror comics like those pumped out by E.C comics during the 1950’s, were aimed primarily at the male end of the reading spectrum. They provided those who read them with thrills and horrors that were both frightening and witty while generally trying to make some kind of moral point. Mills took this idea and just translated it to a more female audience, introducing more stories with females in the lead and providing situations that girls may relate more to.
Misty was born February 4th 1978 and would mark the first and arguably only time that horror comics were released, aimed directly at a female audience.  Each issue was to provide an anthology of horror from a wide variety of writers and artists with each story being standalone from the last.
Like an awful lot of British publications of the time, artwork was mainly commissioned out to artists in Europe, many of whom would never be truly be credited with their work. It’s kind of sad in a way that the art was just taken for granted. It wasn’t like today where most stories name the artists next to the writer. It was very rare to see an artist’s name in anything other than maybe a signature at the bottom of a front cover. As with lots of anthologies, the art does vary from story to story, issue to issue. This has always been evident in all forms of art and here is no exception. What really stood out for me was some of the covers which really did help create the atmosphere of what you could expect inside the pages of each issue.  This is especially true of the annuals which would generally feature beautiful paintings depicting the character of ‘Misty’. (there have been many rumours over the years of who this character was visually based on but to this day no one knows for certain.)
The stories themselves are a mixture of reasonably straight horror and comedic horror, and again highly varying in quality. Although some of the stories may not be great, a fair few were truly great such as ‘the sentinels’ which one could argue delves more into science fiction then horror.   On the whole though each issue felt fresh and different from all the other publications at the time.
Now, for a comic as different as this, it had a pretty good run with over 100 issues and numerous annuals being released before its inevitable cancellation in 1984.  It’s a great shame as although being quite niche, it provided that brightness in the wall of blandness when it comes to girls comics.
I must stress that I didn’t read them when they came out as I wasn’t even born. I am also a Male which may also tell you these stories aren’t limited to that of who it was aimed at.
The company that owns the rights to Misty, ‘Eggmont’ just don’t know what they are holding onto. For a time they also held the rights to 2000ad, which fortunately was sold and is as strong as ever. Misty on the other hand wasn’t as lucky. Many fans and even its creator Pat Mills has tried to get some of the stories re-released or a compilation released but to no avail.
It looks as though Misty is destined to remain one of the great comics that have faded for sight. It marked a great change in girl’s comics and for that it should be commended. It’s just a shame that we may never see this little gem released again as long as ‘Eggmont’ holds the rights.
So this Halloween, take a moment to think about Misty and if you’re lucky enough to still own any of the comics; turn out the light, burn up a candle and savour some of the horror that made Misty great.

 

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This has been one of the hardest reviews I’ve written as I have found it hard to put in word my true feelings towards this film.

I’ve grown up loving spiderman. I love pretty much everything spidey from the comics, to the various animated series, to the sam raimi films (apart from the 3rd one, that one I did not like), to the 70’s live action series. I even love ‘3Dev Adam’, the turkish rendition of spiderman vs captain america. I loved ‘the amazing spiderman’ and looked forward to a bright future directed by Marc Webb with the great Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and the title hero.

So I was really looking forward to the sequel. It promised to be bigger and better then the first as it wouldn’t have to do the origin story again. I was pumped for it. I went to the cinema on day of release and excitedly awaited what was to come….

Let me get this off my chest now ‘the Amazing Spiderman 2’ (herein called asm2 to save me from typing the full title) sucked.

now I know a lot of people like this film but I’m still slightly stumped at why. for me it was one of the worst comic book adaptations I have ever seen, probably the weakest Spiderman film that has ever been made (yes, I’d argue spidey 3 is the better film) and one of my least favourite films I’ve seen in a long time.

So! why do I hate this film?

I have a feeling that my hatred towards the film may emanate largely from the hype surrounding the movie and the promise of another spiderman film like Marc Webb’s first effort. Where the first film focused more on the actual characters and their relationships, this one focuses more on grand scale battles and lots of dated CGI effects that at times look very much like a video game. this change in focus really brings the film down in my view as Webb’s greatness as director comes in fleshing out the characters and allowing them to move throughout the film seemingly in a realistic fashion, while keeping them likeable and engaging. what we get in asm2 is;

  • a grumpy Emma Stone
  • a mopey Andrew Garfield
  • a crazy Dane DeHaan
  • and a WTF Jamie Fox
  • plus a pointless Paul Giamatti

It’s sad really as there is promise n the script but it is just so wasted and all of the chacrters minus maybe Gwen and Aunt May are not really that likable.

Peter parker spends the entire film moping about like a little sad puppy wanting to get it’s  own way. I just makes the character downright unlikeable. He literally spends a chunk of the movie stalking her like some crazed obsesive killer. He doesn’t seem to find anything wrong with following her wherever she goes and to be fair she doesn’t seem to have much of an issue about it when he reveals he know’s what she’s been up to. She seems to kind of like the fact that she now has an obsessive stalker who’s probably crying under his mask, allowing the tears to cool his warm face due to his constant being in the suit.

When not in the suit he constantly looks like he is about to break down and cry. if anything it reminds me of that scene in ‘Social Network’ where Garfield turns up on the door in the pouring rain and just looks really really upset. the difference between them though is that ‘Social network’ was a truly great film. You just want to punch him in the face rather then comfort him because in this film he is just such a wimp.

Where the first film used a lot of green-screen to produce a realistic Spidey swinging high above the city streets, asm2 uses a ridiculous amount a dodgy CGI that looks so unbelievably fake, it’s just feels like an early Playstation 2 game. I will say a few of the effects are pretty nifty such as Electro pulsing around in blue lightning to dub-step, but these sequences are few and far between. Visually this film feels like a massive step backward and i’d argue visually is the most ‘fake’ of all of the spiderman films.  It’s really disappointing considering how far visual effects have come along in recent years that a film of this calibre looks as bad as this does. I put it partly down to the fact that they are pushing the whole ‘3D’ experience nowadays as they have a tendency to brighten a lot of the foreground characters to make them stand out from the background.  But not all films do this. Just look at something like ‘Pacific Rim’ which for me visually is one of the best uses of 3D i’ve seen. they keep the colours mute and desaturated and don’t try to go over the top and force the 3D in our faces.

what about the acting i hear you say….

well I’ve stated that Garfield isn’t very good in it, which for me is really disappointing as i think he usually is a great actor. In this he just seems to be going through the motions of a depressed teenager (or however old he’s meant to be in this film).

Paul Giamatti, who again is an amazing actor is truly wasted here and is simply in it as a way of introducing another character for asm3. (the trailers make it feel like Rhino is in this film as a proper villain. he’s in it for around 5 minutes and just feels out of place).

Then we have the main villain in Jamie Fox. To be fair he isn’t too bad and plays the geek part quite well. He never really gets to shine though as the script and pacing are so incredibly poor, he can only act to small amount of his potential.

finally we have Emma Stone and Dane DeHaan. DeHaan is surprisingly good in this and i did like his transformation into a literal monster. it would have been nice to have a bit more of him but as it is we have around 20 minutes of his acting talents.  Emma Stone is what holds this film together (albeit very loosely) She is fantastic as always and it’s a shame that the script never allows her to reach her true potential.

I’ve mentioned a fair few things I disliked about the film, but was there actually anything i liked?

Well yes. firstly it’s Spiderman and no matter how much i hate the film i just can’t truly dismiss it because I love the character so much. Secondly the music for the film is very good and there is some great musical cues used for Electro especially the previously mentioned scene with him darting around to dub step music. Then we have Emma Stone and Dane Dehann.

That’s about it. I truly hated everything else about it and think that it is easily the worst spiderman production ever created (I even prefer the 70’s TV series and even the animated Spiderman unlimited) and one of the worst films i have ever seen. poor script, awful pacing, poor direction, underwhelming acting, awful CGI . Need I say more?

I wouldn’t recommend this film to anyone (which I never thought I’d be saying as i was so looking forward to this film). I cannot figure out why people seem to like this film as much as they do. I know everything is subjective but it doesn’t stop me being confused.

I find it hard writing about this film without getting angry so I will stop here.  I rate it     2/10