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Half Past Danger #5 – Review

6 Aug

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Half Past Danger #5

Written by Stephen Mooney

Art by Stephen Mooney

Colours by Jordie Bellaire

Published by IDW

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This issue is entitled “Ours is but to do and die” and paraphrases the poem ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade,’ which praises the bravery and nobility of soldiers during a war but does not shy away from the consequences noting in its closing paragraph that not all who venture into battle will return. It is as close to a perfect description of the events in this issue as you could find.

The issue starts with a disorientating opening as Flynn, last seen facing down two T-rex’s (rexi?), stirs to find himself and Greta being rescued by Ishi and Noble. This is very surprising considering he was killed in the previous issue! Channelling Monty Python, he dismisses it as but a flesh wound. Although a significant upgrade from dead, Noble is still in pretty bad shape as a result of his confrontation with Toht.

There isn’t much time for our heroes to reacquaint as they find themselves commandeering a German sub as Moss returns, assisting with another of Flynn’s quips “dead Nazis.” The interior of the sub is illuminated with a glorious shade of red, adding to the claustrophobia of the scene. Jordie Bellaire has been an invaluable addition for Mooney as she is one of the few colourists able to understand how important the lighting of a scene is to the feel of a book. She is very much the cinematographer of Half Past Danger. Bellaire seems to be finally getting the mainstream recognition she deserves and this month alone she can be found in DC, Marvel and IDW titles. Most impressively she, along with Declan Shalvey, has jumpstarted a Deadpool series that had become extremely stale.

With his main characters in such close confines, Mooney is able to litter the scenes with his spiky humoured dialogue and wonderfully subtle sight gags. Ishi’s eyes widening when he finds himself forcibly thanked by Noble who also removes Flynn from his Han Soloesqe attempts at communicating with the enemy by launching him out of the panel. The scene also contains a number of blink and you will miss ’em moments of tenderness. Flynn and Nobles reassuring “glad to see you back” smile to each other is a wonderfully executed bromance moment. Also Noble, placing his hand on Elizabeth’s shoulder with Flynn in the background facing away from the couple, is a great contrast to a similar moment earlier in the series where he looked on in jealously and sadness.

The mismatched quartet soon find themselves in a wonderfully tense shootout with a German submarine, each character’s emotions and fears are pitched perfectly throughout the scene. Most memorably in a striking panel showing a close up of Moss’s face, a single bead of sweat betraying the steely focus in her eyes. Having survived the game of torpedo chicken, the group board the German warship determined to stop the deadly cargo reaching its destination. Once boarded, Flynn finds himself frustrated as he starts to lose control of the group as they begin an all out assault on the Germans. Flynn gets his hero moment as he kicks in the door to the ships control room and cooly dispatches a guard before again finding himself face to face with the series big bad, Toht. Toht, who could so easily have been a clich d Nazi bastard, much like his name sake from Indiana Jones we see in most depictions, is instead a very intelligent shrewd operator. He seems to always be in control of the situation no matter how much it seems like he has finally surrendered the upper hand.

When it finally looks like Flynn has gotten his man, Mooney turns the tables in a wonderful triple bluff sequence framing both the panels and the dialogue to appear that at first Noble, then Greta is the groups Judas before finally revealing it is in fact the group’s leader Moss who has turned!!! The timing and execution of this twist was exquisitely handled at various points in the story. Mooney has thrown out red herrings about a traitor within the group, turning the finger of suspicion on Moss, Ishi and with his miraculous return from the grave, I was convinced that Noble was going to be the one not to live up to his name. But no, I should have stuck with Magneto’s motto of “never trust a beautiful woman.” The moment itself is wonderfully drawn, Noble’s face giving a hint of a smirk, veins bursting from his arms, every inch the confident superman as he thinks Moss has given them the upper hand. And then immediately following the reveal looks smaller, his eyes alone convey the sadness of Elizabeth’s betrayal. And with that head spinning moment issue 5 of the series draws its close.

By the end the group is now fractured. Moss has revealed her true colours and with just one issue to go, this series could really go anywhere. Noble is near death, their commander has betrayed them and the hero is a hostage. This issue definitely felt like Mooney’s ‘Empire Strikes Back’ moment as he shatters the core group of characters to their core. Flynn has already lost one squad and is now in the midst of losing another. Will this be the tipping point that finally knocks Flynn over the edge or will it be as the poem says “Storm’d at with shot and shell, While horse and hero fell, They that had fought so well, Came thro’ the jaws of Death, Back from the mouth of Hell.”

The series has been an unashamed joy to read. It doesn’t try to be a none more dark story that seems to be the default for many titles. Half Past Danger is pure fun and excitement, packed with great action and interesting characters. It’s the film ‘Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ should have been. Despite being, or perhaps because of being a first time writer, Mooney brings a swagger, confidence and humour to his creation that is missing from a lot of the big two’s larger titles. As excited as I am for the series to reach its conclusion I am quite sad at the thoughts of one of the freshest and most exciting title in years come to a close. This is the first issue that Mooney had completed after the initial release of the title so it is interesting to see the evolution of both his artwork and dialogue. He seems to be placing more trust in his reader’s ability to pick up plot turns and character traits through subtle imagery in his drawing as opposed to dialogue heavy exposition which, was most prevalent in Issue Two. As a result of this the pacing of the story is beat perfect, flowing at a fast moving, exciting pace. Mooney has laid down a huge marker with Half Past Danger and one gets the feeling he won’t be short of offers when the series ends. He has firmly established himself as a unique and exciting voice, not just in Irish comics but in the US as well were Half Past Danger is also selling well. I hope the bright lights of bigger titles don’t darken his storytelling ability. But if Half Past Danger has thought us one thing, it’s never count out an Irishman.

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March Book One Review

22 Jul

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There was a moment reading March Book One where I caught myself between pages and thought about the dramatic tension in the story and how it juxtaposed with the smallness of what was happening: black students sitting at a lunch counter in a cafe. It’s unthinkable today to imagine this act would make such a statement on a national level and it’s because of people like John Lewis and the many civil rights campaigners like him that progressed American society in the 1950s and 60s away from the backwards thinking that enforced the reprehensible laws of segregation towards a more enlightened culture where a white person and a black person eating on the same counter doesn’t even register as significant.

March Book One is the first in a trilogy of graphic novel adaptations of Congressman John Lewis’ memoirs from his childhood growing up in the American South with all its injustice and prejudice against black people, to, as a student, becoming an activist in the growing civil rights movement spearheaded by Dr Martin Luther King. Lewis would become a central proponent in organising the famous sit-in protests where groups of black students (and a few white people) would go to cafes and restaurants that refused to serve “coloured people” and simply sit in silent, peaceful protest at the unfair policy for hours at a time.

Like many people, I studied the civil rights movement in high school history and was aware of the sit-in protests but what March does is show how they were created and co-ordinated from the perspective of Lewis, who was there, in a way that I’m sure many people who are familiar with these events on a surface level, weren’t aware of. The training these students – and the fact that so many were students is remarkable – put themselves through where they took turns pretending to be oppressors, abusing one another physically and verbally, to prepare themselves for the real thing, which would unfortunately be much more punishing, is eye-opening.

March Book One Lewis Aydin Powell 2013

It’s one thing to read about the sit-in protests third-hand but it’s something else to read about in comic book form, to actually see how the protests started and played out. It sounds like a mundane recitation of history but writers John Lewis and Andrew Aydin wring so much drama and energy from the source material that it – and I know it’s a clich but its true – brings history to life and gives these events, that happened half a century ago, an unexpected sense of urgency.

John Lewis is one of the few remaining civil rights icons still alive who knew so many of the legends who have passed into history – Dr King, Rosa Parks – that we’re lucky to have him around to share his story with us today. March proves how well suited it is to the comics medium and co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell do a tremendous job of adapting it – Powell especially uses his enormous talents to do justice to the story, paradoxically drawing beautiful art to depict some truly ugly attitudes Lewis and his fellow activists had to endure.

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March Book One is an incredibly moving and inspiring story of a 20th century icon and a unique movement in American history. It’s an important book that’s also an immensely enjoyable and accessible read – March is definitely one of the best books of the year that will have you bolted to your seat reading until the last page as if you were sitting in for change yourself!

March Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell is out now

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Marvel Comics News: All-New Silver Surfer, Iron Patriot Series And MiracleMan Returns!

10 Dec

Silver Surfer

Continuing the Marvel news from New York Comic-Con 2013, Marvel have announced another new series for their All-New Marvel NOW! line-up in 2014, this time featuring the all-star creative team of Superior Spider-Man writer Dan Slott and FF artist Mike Allred: Silver Surfer. Slott talked about the changes he’s brought to the character, notably the addition of a female companion for the cosmic herald:

“When you think of the Silver Surfer, you think of the lone sentinel of the skyways. He’s always very lonely on that board all by himself. And this is a book about a girl onboard … a kindred spirit who’s an Earth girl. And you’re going to find out the universe is more fun when you see it with someone.”

Silversurfer

Also being released next year will be an Iron Patriot series from writer Ales Kot and artist Garry Brown where the Iron Man character James Rhodes will take centre stage away from Tony Stark.

Editor Mark Paniccia said:

“He (Iron Patriot) decides it’s time to defend the home front, and this is about the challenges of doing that. He’s a character that … comes across as sort of an Iron Man duplicate, and I think that Ales has a concept … that’s really going to make him feel like his own guy.”

We previously revealed Ghost Rider was joining the Thunderbolts team next year but it seems he’ll also be getting his own All-New Marvel NOW! series. Ghost Rider by writer Felipe Smith and artist Tradd Moore (of Luther Strode fame) will debut the series in March.

In an interview with Marvel, Smith said about the series:

“Our protagonist is Robbie Reyes, a quiet 18-year-old East Angelino with a short fuse, a passion for electronic music and a nearly unhealthy infatuation with absolutely anything powered by an engine.

His vehicle of choice, the automobile, very clearly sets him apart visually.

In comparison to his vengeance-seeking predecessors, he’s very young and inexperienced in most aspects of life; but as the product of a harsh inner city upbringing, Robbie’s street smarts, overall distrust for most people, and clear contempt for his violent surroundings make him the perfect host for a Spirit of Vengeance.

Once we get to know him, we also realize that he’s a sweet, well-meaning person, something that may not sit well with the Spirit possessing him.”

Ghost Rider

Also announced was a new Elektra series by writer Zeb Wells and artist Mike Del Mundo which Wells describes as Elektra becoming “the Dexter of assassins”. Writer Nathan Edmondson and artist Mitch Gerads are producing a new Punisher series where Frank goes west on the trail of the head of a massive crime organisation, while writer Chris Yost and artist Marcus To will relaunch a New Warriors series, the lineup of which includes Justice, Speedball, Sun Girl, Scarlet Spider and Nova.

Rounding out the announcements was Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, during his annual Cup O’Joe panel, revealing MiracleMan’s return to print in 2014. Writer Neil Gaiman sent in a video to the con, saying “‘MiracleMan’ #25 has been sitting in the darkness, nobody’s seen it…I love the idea that it’s finally going to be seen,” calling it the “big incomplete book of my life”.

Quesada told the excited crowd that Marvel will be printing MiracleMan and Gaiman’s end to the story in January.

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Avengers: Endless Wartime Review

30 Nov

Avengers Endless Wartime Vol 1 1

We all know Marvel rule the superhero box office at the moment – this year Iron Man 3 did really well and Thor 2 looks like it’ll be another hit for the studio, while their TV series, Agents of SHIELD, had a huge number of viewers tuning in when the pilot episode aired recently. And while Marvel are also the biggest comics publisher in the world, the difference between Marvel comics readers and Marvel movie/TV viewers is sizeable to say the least. So how to nab some of the fans of the movies and get them into their printed product, who don’t want to mess around with the monthly single issues? Marvel Original Graphic Novels seem to be the answer – self-contained, book-length stories that are written for this format rather than monthly issues, that don’t require an extensive knowledge of comics continuity and star the familiar movie characters.

The first of these is Avengers: Endless Wartime which blends in all of the characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe – Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow – as well as Wolverine, who’s currently the movie property of Fox, and the new Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers, who has yet to feature in any screen adaptation. The setting is the fictional European country of Slorenia where two soldiers shoot down what appears to be a dragon wearing a tech suit(!). This news prompts a memory from Captain America’s time in World War 2 where he led a covert mission to another fictional location, the Norwegian island of Skrekklandet, to fight Nazi scientists developing tech that could turn the course of the war. After another flashback sequence, this time with Thor, we see where the dragons came from and guess at how the dragons and the tech fused, re-emerging, this time under the control of SHIELD no less.

As it’s supposed to be, the book is easily accessible for people not au fait with the current comics Marvel Universe, and the characterisations of Cap, Thor, Iron Man, are in sync with the movies: Cap is the man out of time, uncomfortable in the future and more alive in the past than the present, while Tony Stark is a roguish figure reconciling his past as an arms dealer and even has the reactor in his chest which he doesn’t have in other comics (and of course not in the movies either now). The story stands by itself with any high concepts like Yggdrasil the World Tree explained in full, and even follows a similar pattern to the Avengers movie where the characters have scenes where they sit around bantering with one another with Whedon-esque dialogue and Hulk appears in the big finale to do his thing.

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Warren Ellis brings some interesting ideas to the book about modern warfare and drone attacks, as well as including some distinctly Ellis story elements like archaeology, artefacts from the past affecting the present (best seen in other books like Planetary and Ultimate Galactus, both of which I recommend), and his usual sarcastic quips. The problem is that these ideas are delivered through some painfully dull exposition scenes that you have to wade through, which is unusual for Ellis who usually excels at electric character dialogue. And while the plot does contain ideas, it feels constrained by its done-in-one format, having to cram in all of the info into this one book and comes off quite convoluted.

Mike McKone’s art isn’t bad but I wasn’t too impressed with it. The book is done in the usual traditional, flat wide panel approach with little style or inspiration to the presentation and the characters seem to possess a single bland expression most of the time. The designs for the dragons with tech suits are particularly bad as they’re barely distinguishable as dragons and look more like amorphous purple things covered with what look like light bulb buttons. There’s also no sense of perspective when looking at the giant dragon at the end which looks like an ordinary dragon on close up in the panel.

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The best art, and the best scene, in the book is in Cap’s WW2 flashback where he takes out a German plane attacking them, leaping from his plane with his shield and a piece of rope, blasting a hole in the windshield and throwing in a belt of grenades before swinging back to his plane – it’s an awesomely cinematic sequence. That said, while the book contains a number of action sequences, as you’d expect, this one is perhaps the only successful scene that captures any energy and excitement. Even the scene at the end when Hulk shows up is barely interesting – I don’t chalk that up to McKone entirely, but is indicative of the book as a whole being rather uninspired and uninteresting.

Maybe non-regular comics readers or first-time comics readers will find this book to be enjoyable but as someone who reads the monthly comics and has been reading Marvel comics and Warren Ellis comics for years, I found Avengers: Endless Wartime to be a very dull and disappointing read from a writer who usually produces far superior work than what’s on offer here.

Published by Marvel Comics, Avengers: Endless Wartime by Warren Ellis and Mike McKone is out now

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The Doctor Who Figurine Collection – Issue 1 Review

30 Oct

Doctor Who Review 1

Eaglemoss is back with a new figurine collection. After the success of The Classic Marvel Figurine Collection they are now hitting us up with a whole series dedicated to Doctor Who. At the moment we can expect to find 80 classic and contemporary Doctors’/Allies/Companions and Villains found throughout the 50 years of the shows history.

Each figurine is detailed, scaled at 1:21 and made out of a hand-painted metallic resin. The magazine explains how the character has evolved and gets an inside look behind classic moments. Within is the moment the figurine is set upon, a look back at 50 years of Doctor Who starting from the very beginning and an in-depth profile of essential elements of the Doctor Who universe (or for the nerdy among us, Whoniverse).

Part one is in the form of the eleventh Doctor Matt Smith.

The Figurine

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The first figurine in this collection is based on Matt Smith’s take on The Doctor in the episode ‘The Pandorica Opens’. The stance is based on the scene where The Doctor is standing on the central monument in the middle of Stone Henge giving an award winning speech to many of his enemies orbiting above him.

First of all the detailing on the clothing is superb. His jacket, shirt, trousers, braces and of course his bow tie are perfectly represented. Particularly the buttons on his shirt and the buckles for the braces are so excellently executed, considering they are really a minute detail. The hair has the typical Matt Smith flop and although some of the flesh coloured paint has slightly overlapped into it, it’s still a great representation.

Unfortunately the face isn’t the best. Although you of course recognise the character right away, on close inspection the face doesn’t match up to Matt/The Doctor himself. Of course I understand that capturing the face on a figurine this size can’t be easy. And obviously with each figurine you may get a better or worse take on the character with each one being hand-painted.

All in all for the first edition of this collection, The Eleventh Doctor is a solid effort. I’d give this figurine 3.5/5

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Interview: Dan Boultwood – Creator Of It Came!

10 Sep

Dan Boultwood’s It Came! #1 was released on Wednesday and tells the story of a giant robot from space appearing in a country town in 1950s England. Told from the perspective of our two heroes, Dr Boy Brett and his lady friend Doris, the comic is a funny, wonderfully drawn, and hugely entertaining comic that pays loving homage to cheaply produced sci-fi movies of this era, among other things. Dan spoke to me about his latest series and other topics, including his obsession with b-movies.

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Noel Thorne: First of all, I loved this comic – congratulations on creating such a brilliant, clever and funny comic. What made you want to do a comedy about space robots coming to Earth framed as a 1950s b-movie?

Dan Boultwood: Hello Noel, I’m glad you enjoyed issue one I hope the rest lives up to expectations!

I’ve always loved B-movies, they’re my favourite genre of film so I had a look about to see if anyone was doing any B-movie related shenanigans and found that it was a sorely overlooked area. I suppose it’s that thing of write what you know, the thing being that I also love the old Ealing comedies so combining the two was a natural progression and also the fact that whenever I’ve tried to write anything it’s always been a comedy, I tried serious once but I had a headache within 4 minutes so decided against it. I think it was the Ealing influence that made me veer towards setting it in England in the 50s as I love the era so much that even my car is from that decade, in fact it’s my car that they drive around in for the whole book! As for the robot, who doesn’t like robots?! Actually originally it was going to be some sort of mind controlling brain alien but then it was too much like Quatermass and I didn’t want it to be a parody of just one thing in particular so a robot seemed like a nice classic antagonist.

NT: It Came! is your first writer/artist project and it turned out really well. The script was really funny and the art is fantastic – what’s your process, do you write the script first, do you storyboard it in draft and then work on the dialogue later?

DB: Thank you for saying so, it’s a bit nerve racking when all the onus is on me if it’s rubbish! It’s been a bit of a learning curve where the writing is concerned, I started out trying to write a script but I found the jokes staled really quickly upon several re-reads to the point I didn’t find any of it funny so I had to change tack a bit. I start off by listing each page number then writing out roughly what’s happening on each to get the flow working for each issue then I write out in a notebook a loose script that’ll just say things like ‘Panel One: Boy says something contentious, Doris looks perturbed’. After that I thumbnail it out and it usually changes a hell of a lot at this point anyway as I think of better stuff to put in and make notes next to the roughs. Most of the dialogue I think up when I’m lettering as I wanted the jokes to be more off the cuff and spontaneous. I’m sure all this would give my editor Steve at Titan a heart attack if he knew how I really put an issue together…. o… erm…

NT: Do you prefer being both the writer and the artist or you do you prefer collaborating on comics?

DB: I still like working in collaboratively as there’s the opportunity to work on different stories that I wouldn’t think of, the serious stuff being one of them and I did do so for many years up until this point. Saying that I am massively enjoying working on my own stories for the first time and it’s really nice that so far it seems to be going down well, I’m loving the freedom to chop and change things at the last minute and developing a fluid way of putting it all together is very satisfying, if knackering.

NT: How did you get started in comics?

DB: I started in about 2000 where I worked for a company called Com.X doing concept design work and their in house comics, the first comic I drew there was called N-Jinn and I think about 4 people probably saw it but I was incredibly proud of it. From there I worked for varying small press publishers and moved into Flash animation for online games and dvd releases for a few years until I shifted back in to comics in 2007/8 where I worked with the writer Tony Lee on numerous book adaptions and such for Hachette Children’s books and other publishers until ending up with where I am today, professional cynic and bon vivant.

NT: What’re your influences and who inspires you?

DB: I have to admit I don’t really have any influences, I stopped reading comics when I was about 20 as every time I read something my art would suddenly be so heavily influenced by what I’d just seen that I became really concerned with being the poor man’s somebody. So I just stopped and let how I draw develop naturally, though I should probably start again as my lack of industry knowledge is just a bit embarrassing now even if I have perfected the blank stare of false acknowledgment.

NT: The comic is framed as a b-movie and the endpapers show an IMDB-like look at the actors playing the characters – will the series go into the actors’ lives, behind the scenes of the movie, or will the focus remain on the b-movie story?

DB: The main focus is on the story in the books but I really wanted it to be a fully immersed world and play the whole movie aspect as straight as possible, so there is a slight running theme going on behind the scenes but that doesn’t affect the story of the film, wow that just sounds confusing. Saying that though this was planned as a series of different B-movie genre films so each one would have the same actors in them but playing different parts so in the future the back story would start to subtly affect the on screen interactions between the characters.

NT: There’s an intermission in the middle of the comic where we get some great ads, one of which is a poster for a forthcoming film. Is “My Reptilian Bride” a possible spinoff to this series?

DB: Not originally but I’m starting to be really tempted to do it as one! There are more posters coming up the next three issues though that point towards possible other movies from the studio.

NT: The presentation of the comic as well as the endpapers show an obvious love of cinema – is working in film an ambition of yours?

DB: I wouldn’t say no to a job in film but the reason I love working in comics so much is that it’s limitless in it’s scope for story telling. It’s not constrained by special effects budgets, if you can imagine it then it’s there on paper and there’s something really satisfying about that. I did use the old black and white cinema technique in the colouring of the book where shirts are coloured blue so they show up as white when it’s converted to saturated grey tones. Come to think of it I’m probably only able to work in 60 year old cinematic techniques so if I wanted to work in film I’d have to quantum leap back to the 50s anyway.

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NT: What else do you learn at space university besides space is rather large?

DB: You also learn how to keep a pipe well stacked and lit at all times for consummate sciencing!

NT: Dr Brett is very much a product of his time – or at least a stereotypical version of a man of his time, playfully socking women while talking down to them – but I still want him to get his just desserts from Doris. Is that something we’re going to see in later issues?

DB: All I can say on that one is keep reading and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed…

NT: There’s clearly a lot of love for old-timey 50s movies – what’re your recommendations for fun sci-fi b-movies?

DB: How long have you got there’s loads! I’ll do my top 5: The Land Unknown which has possibly the ropiest man in a suit T-Rex of all time, Robot Monster which is right up there with Plan 9 From Outer Space as the worst movie of all time, 20 Million Miles to Earth which is good for the Harryhausen action and appalling Italian accents. Attack of the Crab Monsters because these poor buggers are not only being attacked by giant crabs and the disembodied electrified spirit of an evil scientist they’re also on a radioactive island which is sinking. Earth VS The Flying Saucers which is more a series than film but the beginning of It Came! where they’re in the car is an homage to this one. I could go on for hours to be honest!

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NT: It Came! gets the 21st century Hollywood remake treatment – who is your dream cast as Dr Brett, Doris and the Robot?

DB: Hmm this is tricky as most of favourite actors are six feet under and probably quite ripe by now. I have to admit I’d like to see Colin Firth give Dr. Brett a go as he definitely has a plummy enough voice though really David Niven all the way! Possibly some Emily Blunt action for Doris, the ages are all about right I think. For the robot it has to be Vin Diesel as The Iron Giant is one of my favourite films so I know he gives good space robot.

NT: You go into a country pub – what do you order first?

DB: Two double Hendrick’s gins and ice, no mixer!

NT: What projects are you working on at the moment?

DB: At the moment I’m finishing off It Came but I also do a strip for the weekly children’s anthology The Phoenix, called Haggis and Quail are on the trail. It’s set in the 1930s and is about cryptozoology which has a grandfather and grandson who go around the world looking for strange creatures with their flatulent cat Bodmin the Beast of Bodmin Moor, very high brow stuff of course.

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NT: What comics are you reading at the moment?

DB: Having only just started reading comics again I’ve just finished reading Hellraisers which is the biography of Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole, Richard Harris and Oliver Reed, cracking stuff!

NT: Thanks for your time, old cake!

DB: You’re more than welcome!

It Came! #1 by Dan Boultwood is out now. To find out more about this and other Titan Comics releases, check out http://www.titan-comics.com

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Tomorrowland #1 Review – Paul Jenkins

11 Aug

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Love comics but think there aren’t enough hippy-ish stories about the power of music? Fear not, for Paul Jenkins’ Tomorrowland is here! Dmitri Vegas and Like Mike are DJs and founders of the Tomorrowland music festival held in Belgium but just before this year’s show they’ve both been having weird dreams about volcanoes and weird light. Little do they know that together they are the two most important people in the battle between Creation and Destruction – and both sides have chosen the Tomorrowland music festival as the site of their final battle!

On paper, it must’ve seemed like a good idea – creation vs. destruction, a kind of mainstream-ish comic about abstract concepts about artistry and negativity – but I felt the execution was a bit lacking. Ironically for a comic all about the importance of creation, there’s very little creativity going on in this book, specifically with regards the characters.

Dmitri and Mike are both nondescript twenty-somethings who wear backwards baseball caps, say “bro” far too much and say things like “Bro, I need coffee” in the morning. They are… dull. They feel like background characters except they’re the main characters in this comic! Maybe Jenkins was going for a Bill and Ted pairing but didn’t quite pull it off – they’re neither wacky or charming enough and come off instead as bland.

The forces of Creation and Destruction aren’t much better – if you ask most people who you think should represent Creation, most people would pick famous artists like Shakespeare or Oscar Wilde, both legendary creators of art, and that’s exactly who represent Creation in this comic. For some reason, fantasy figures like centaurs, fairies, and unicorns also represent Creation. For Destruction, most people would pick demonic monsters, just because destruction in itself is a negative thing and what’s more negative than demonic monsters? And that’s exactly who represents the forces of Destruction in this book. They’re just not very imaginative character design choices by either Jenkins or the artists.

The artist collective known as Stellar Labs (Alti Firmansyah and Beny Maulana) illustrate this book and their style fits Jenkins’ story. It’s polished and competent but lacks style and looks like every other comic out there. The character designs, the settings, are all forgettable, though the comic is bright and colourful to match its positive message of creation over destruction. I did wonder at the stage design of Tomorrowland – a dance music festival where the stage is designed to look like a shelf of books? Hmm… nope! Doesn’t resemble what dance festivals the world over look like. And no (intentional) light show at a dance fest?

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First issues are tough to get right, especially ones with high concepts like this comic so I can forgive Jenkins for not fully explaining the setup (why are these monsters against creation – what does creation do to them? what purpose does invading Earth serve to them?). And it’s hard to dislike the message to create rather than destroy – who can’t get behind that? Not I. But I thought that despite this, Tomorrowland is a comic that doesn’t make much of an impression thanks to the rather boring cast. It’s essentially a high concept story with low concept characters.

Fantasy fans might get more out of this than general comics readers, but I this definitely isn’t Jenkins’ best work. It’s somewhere between the awful Wolverine: Origin and the mediocre New 52 Dark Knight series he did with David Finch – Tomorrowland is simply ok, not great.

Tomorrowland #1 by Paul Jenkins and Stellar Labs is out now

The post Tomorrowland #1 Review – Paul Jenkins appeared first on WhatCulture!.

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