Sunday 6 February 2022

Howard Fuller Passed Away

 Sadly Howard Passed Away on 2nd February 2022. For more information please look at his Facebook

Tuesday 1 February 2022

To Sleep In A Sea Of Stars - Christopher Paolini (Tor)

It's been a while since I last blogged and in that time amongst other things I picked up this one mother of an adventure, a nearly 900 page space epic from Christopher Paolin. The author is best known for his Eragon series of children's books the first of which was turned into a film which didn't appeal. To Sleep In A Sea Of Stars is apparently his first attempt at "adult" fiction and if that's so I look forward to more.

As is my way I picked this book up at random just before Christmas but  didn't get around to reading until a couple weeks ago. A novel about the consequences of first contact always appeals as I imagine the result in the real world will be far from straightforward should it ever happens. I'm not a believers in aliens shoving probes up peoples rear ends but in this vast expanse of creation we live in there must be life including intelligent life somewhere out there.

A team of explorers working for a corporation are on a mostly barren world finding little of major interest when some giant crystals are spotted just before their departure. Somewhat aggrieved our main character Kira heads out to investigate whist the others pack their stuff up and prepare for departure. Nearing the formation Kira ends up in a chamber. It's not natural and it's not made by anyone human either.

Only one other alien artefact has ever been discovered the "Great Beacon" as it is dubbed though it's true purpose and it's builders (referred to as "The Vanished") remain a mystery. Is this something to do with them? However she is not alone and a black substance joins with her making me fear this would be some kind of Aliens type story but this is quite different as we shall see.

Kira's actions have attracted the attention of other previously unknown to humanity who appear and are far from friendly. And so a space opera begins as Kira's interactions with the "Jellies" (as they call these newcomers) and the military lead to a war and as the blurb says will she be bring the fall of humanity or be it's saviour.

Saying much more than that would seem to me to be far to much of a spoiler but there's plenty of action, mystery and character development to ensure that the book is a constant page turner. 

Rating: 5 Stars

Monday 17 January 2022

Battling Britons Vol #2 Issue #2 (Fanzine)


The latest issue of Battling Britons Justin Marriot's professionally produced fanzine for those interested in old (and new) British war comics is now available from Amazon's print to order facility. This bumper 134 issue covers a lot of material in a bookshelf friendly format.

In his editorial Justin says that though orders for the first issue of the on-going edition of Battling Britons was lower than the original book there is enough interest to keep this publication going which is good news. Unlike Comics Unlimited the other British comics fanzine this journal is squarely aimed at one genre so would inevitably attract a more limited audience than a fanzine devoted to the wider or full field of comics.

That said I grew up really liking these tales of war and heroism and there are many like me a child of the sixties and those who latched on with Warlord and Battle's take in the seventies. We were after all closer to those who had actually lived and fought through the dark hours of the Second World War. Much of my own family disappeared in concentration camps with my own mother barely escaping from Prague after the German invasion in 1938.

We all had relatives who fought in the various theatres of the war or had friends whose family had done the same. The horror and the miracle of survival was very much more on peoples minds than today. The modern generation has not experienced any such hardship. Not even Covid comes close to what our fore- fathers went through.

As a result these comics appealed and though Commando is still going (and popular in Norway & Finland amongst other places) war stories have subsided. Science fiction (of which I am a fan) is the gebnre that dominates today.

This was a war that defined the world we live in today and as the stories that comics like Victor, Hotspur, War Picture Library and so many others demonstrate this really was a global conflict the outcome of which could have been so different if not for the plucky resistance of this small island, it's people along with the dominions and it's colonies.

Most war stories focus on British heroes though attempts by Marvel to push Sgt Fury were not that successful despite these being good stories drawn by Jack Kirby in their early days and he at least had been on the beaches on D-Day. Some of the later stories saw British writers tackle the war from the German point of view with Hellman.

Of course British comics, especially DC Thomson also published stories about other wars, not just the First World War but also the Napoleonic Wars, the Indian North West Frontier and more. All of these areas are tackled in war fiction and covered by this journal.

Rating: 5 Stars (Highly Recommended)

The original book and both issues of the "on-going" Battling Britons are Available via Amazon

Sunday 16 January 2022

Judge Dredd Megazine #440 (with Hawk the Slayer) (Rebellion)

It seems the postal delays have more or less sorted themselves out as both my subscription copies of the Megazine and the Prog arrived on Saturday as normal. However according to one post I saw on Facebook at least one branch of WHSmith's has put the Meg on it's shelves a week in a advance of it's actual release date. That is it should be on sale on Wednesday 19th.

That aside this is a very special issue. Not only do we get the start of an very interesting Judge Dredd story which features representatives from cities around the world seeking to sanction Mega City One for it's chronal crimes we also get treated to a blast from the past in the form of Hawk the Slayer. More on the latter later.

The other stories in this issue are continued from the last but it's still worth jumping on board as it's not that difficult to "catch up" so to speak and there's the usual articles on of which focuses on the Hawk comic that comes bagged with this issue. I particularly like Death Gap which is getting more frantic, disturbing and sad in just the second chapter.

Lawless continues to deliver as does Diamond Dogs, though Surfer doesn't actually do much for the reader until the end.

Then this month there is the first of a six-issue mini-series of all new material as a "sequel" to the film  Hawk the Slayer in a  32 page comic by Garth Ennis with art from Henry Flint that will be published in US format with different covers for the direct market at a later date which is an interesting publishing move. 

The latter will be presumably be aimed squarely at the US market as I doubt many Meg readers will buy the story twice though some might!

Frankly I don't think I've seen this film though have heard of it. I've posted the trailer for the original 1980 movie below. The comic is good enough but then this is Garth Ennis we are talking about. As for ever watching the film. I'll leave that to your discretion dear reader....

Rating: 5 Stars

Also out this week:

Wednesday 12 January 2022

King Conan '#1 (Marvel Comics)


Since Marvel picked up up the Conan licence once again they have been publishing a number of series featuring everyone's favourite barbarian. Besides the actual Conan the Barbarian monthly Marvel also tried reviving the Savage Sword title but not in the glorious black & white that ran for well over 200 issues back in the day but as a more "mature" full colour comic. It didn't work out.

Additionally they put Conan into the 21st Century in a comic I've so-far avoided The Savage Avengers. For some reason the line-up which included one of these bloody Spider-Man symbiotes just did not appeal. Conan has been in modern times before including at least one shared adventure with"spin-off" character Red Sonja who remains with Dynamite where she's getting somewhat over-used and abused in the same way.

When I saw King Conan being solicited I thought I'd give it a go but so far have only obtained the first over-sized issue. Unlike Conan's other comics of which I have a large quantity I never got around to reading Marvel's original series and had only picked two or three copies over the last couple of years or so. Oddly enough King Conan includes it's "legacy number" of #56 which matters not to me but a lot of collectors seem to appreciate this additional numbering.

Standard stuff with a little twist even if the appearance of Thoth-Amon again is a tad overused as the villain. Set on an Island far from what passes for the civilised world even in Hyperborean times it's a brutal and bloody battle that takes place over the majority of the pages between these two men.

The magician has a plan and it relies on the blood of a King. However there's a problem for old Thoth and another for Conan that neither anticipated.......

Overall a worthy read. I can't decide whether to pick up this title monthly or wait for the trade.

Rating: 4 Stars (Comes with the usual range of multiple covers)



Monday 10 January 2022

Comics: The Year Ahead


Last year was a bumper year for British comics even though as I wrote in the end of year review that it was disappointing to see Panini drop two of it's three Marvel titles. However the new year shows there's a lot afoot in the world of the British comics scene (imports aside).

Rebellion are continuing their expansion of old British reprints of which one or two have caught my attention including the fourth volume of The Trigan Empire, arguably the best British comics series alongside Dan Dare though sadly without the same public profile.


The other reprints which really caught my attention were The Spider (February) which reprints for the first time the Super Picture Library stories that I never got around to buying as a kid,  House of Dolmann from the pages of the Valiant (April) The Best of Cat Girl from Sally in the sixties (August) and volume Two of The Steel Claw one of the best strips from Valiant!

Rebellion have previously announced the return of Monster Fun in April but are now to also publish a New Battle/Action Special in the form of a 96 page graphic novel with all stories written by Gartgh Ennis which frankly will certainly be on my wish list for the coming year!

No doubt other specials will be forthcoming from Rebellion. There's one on the way from Shift in late January!

As for this blog last year saw more posts and a few more readers though I'm already slipping back this year due to the fact my comic collecting and reading habits have changed radically. I have no less than nine graphic novels including one British comics collection sitting waiting to be read plus two Annuals and a  a Science fiction novel of some 900 odd pages that I meant to read over Christmas but didn't.

There's even come audio adventures to listen to and review including for the first time some old ones as I though I review old comics why not audios?

I have a couple of US editions on order but will likely purchase most in the form of collected editions as & when I can afford to. Watch this space! Conan the Barbarian, Justice League Incarnate and Wonder Woman are very much on my "radar"!

Posts may be a little erratic if I stick to trades & collected editions so I will pick up a back issue or two to try and keep the flow going. I'll also cover 2000AD & the Judge Dredd Megazine as appropriate since I'm a subscriber. Plus I may well do a couple of themed weeks as these proved successful last year.

Please hit the "subscribe" button or just check in occasionally to check out the wonderful world of comics ....and some other stuff!

Happy collecting!

Sunday 9 January 2022

The Amazing Spider-Man #11/Marvel Universe: X-Men #10 plus Morbius The Living Vampire (Panini)


The Amazing Spider-Man is the only one of three Panini  Marvel titles that is set to continue in the New Year, a shame as these brought me back to the world of Marvel comics, The latest issue introduces me to charcters I have little knowledge of (Spider-Man 2099 & Teresa Parker) in a story that brings together many elements of Marvel's shared universe.

Doctor Doom is at the centre of this new adventure along with other rogue elements including the Hitman as the future Spidey arrives to save the future which is under threat from a quite obvious development around Peter Parker and his associates.

How this all ties up remains to be seen as Teresa comes and goes without much of as thank you. Not sure where she came from and will have to explore her "origin" at some stage. I always thought Peter was a lone orphan. I'm also quite interested in Spidey 2099. I've only read one partial story in a British reprint so he's all new to me!

Given the popularity of the new Spider-Man movie I'm sure this will help solidify the comics sales (at least I hope so) as sadly I also just finished reading the last Marvel Universe: X-Men which even started to show the New Mutants in an interesting light. Sadly some of them are for the foreseeable future lost in space.

The oversized final issue is good value reprinting four New Mutants and two X-Force US editions which also tie up and show the Beast isn't perfect.  I really do hope Panini find another way of bringing the X-Men back to British news agents.  It's been a great ride for me and I've read a whole pile of Marvel trades as a result of these series.

Still at least we are going to get a "bookazine" every month. Panini's latest release ties in with yet another forthcoming MCU film. Released on 13th Jan!