Category Archives: Comics

Review: G. I. Zombie: A Star-Spangled War Story by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Scott Hampton (2015)

G. I. Zombie: A Star-Spangled War Story

G. I. Zombie: A Star-Spangled War Story
DC, 2015 (containing material from 2014-2015)
Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Artist: Scott Hampton

Review by N Emmett.

A federal agent named Carmen King tries to infiltrate a domestic terrorist ring. Suspicious of her intentions, its members give her a test of loyalty: she must kill their hostage. She does so willingly, with such brutal methods that even the terrorists are shocked.

Once Carmen is left alone with her victim, the dead agent gets up and calmly sits back as she reattaches his severed hands. Agent Jared Keller, it just so happens, is G. I. Zombie – the perfect man for a suicide mission. Nothing can kill him, because he is already dead.

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Review: Gotham by Midnight Volume 1: We Do Not Sleep by Ray Fawkes and Ben Templesmith (2015)

Gotham by Midnight Volume 1: We Do Not Sleep

Gotham by Midnight Volume 1: We Do Not Sleep
DC, 2015 (containing material from 2014-2015)
Writer: Ray Fawkes
Artist: Ben Templesmith

Review by N Emmett.

Gotham by Midnight Volume 1: We Do Not Sleep is, as its title suggests, a Batman spin-off. Its premise is that, while the run-of-the-mill costumed bad’uns can be dealt with by the Caped Crusader and his fellow vigilantes, Gotham City has an undercurrent of malignant supernatural forces that require more specialised solutions

Enter Precinct 13, an elite team that comprises Jim Corrigan, a cop who can channel the power of the god-like Spectre; Sister Justine, a nun who knows a bit about the occult; Lisa Drake, a detective with strange powers; Szandor Tarr, a forensic specialist; Sergeant Rook, the resident skeptic; and Lieutenant Weaver, who acts as something of an everyman.

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Review: Wally Wood’s EC Stories Artisan Edition (2015)

Wally Wood’s EC Stories Artisan Edition

Wally Wood’s EC Stories Artisan Edition
IDW, 2015 (containing material published previously)
Writers: Various
Artist: Wally Wood

Review by N Emmett.

Anyone looking for reprints of the classic EC comics is spoilt for choice these days. In addition to Dark Horse’s archive editions and Fantagraphics’ artist editions, IDW has given us the Wally Wood’s EC Stories Artisan Edition, a celebration of one of the finest talents to have worked in the American comic book’s golden age.

Here, Wood’s comic pages are presented more or less as they would have looked as he handed them in to his editor: everything from the faint lines on the paper to the generous dabs of correction fluid are visible, making the Artisan Edition a real treat for anyone with an interest in the finer aspects of comic illustration.

The book is very much skewed towards Wood’s science fiction comics, which portray a specifically 1950s concept of the future: a universe of sleek rockets, explorers clad in space-tunics, and the occasional hideous monster. This is a classic comic-book world, one in which men are chiselled and dashing, women are doe-eyed and shapely, and children are fresh-faced and cheerful.

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Review: Rasputin Volume 1: Road to the Winter Palace by Alex Grecian and Riley Rossmo (2015)

Rasputin: Road to the Winter Palace

Rasputin: Road to the Winter Palace
Image, 2015 (containing material from 2014-2015)
Writer: Alex Grecian
Artist: Riley Rossmo

Review by N Emmett.

Ah, Grigori Yefimovitch Rasputin. Alongside Vlad the Impaler, Elizabeth Bathory and Jack the Ripper, he is one of the few historical figures to enter the popular imagination as a horror character comparable to Dracula or Frankenstein – as evidenced by the 1966 Hammer film  Rasputin the Mad Monk. In fact, he is possibly the only such figure to occur in twentieth-century history. There is something enthralling about this dark magician, who held sway over the court of the Romanovs and showed a seemingly superhuman resistance to assassination attempts.

But yet, a look at the facts shows that there is precious little to substantiate this idea. Rasputin’s rotten reputation came about largely because he was a convenient scapegoat for the public’s resentment towards the ruling class. The bizarre story of his death, meanwhile, was likely embellished a good deal by his murderers: Richard Cullen has posited the theory that the five known assassins were covering up for an sixth man, a British spy named Oswald Rayner. This spy, so the theory goes, was ordered to murder Rasputin before the holy man could convince Russia to pull out of World War I.

It is high time that popular fiction gave Grigori Rasputin a re-evaluation. Writer Alex Grecian and artist Riley Rossmo have risen to this task with Rasputin Volume 1: The Road to the Winter Palace, an ambitious attempt retell the Rasputin legend with all of its supernatural intrigue while, at the same time, acknowledging that the man was not as bad as he has been painted.

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Review: Wytches Volume 1 by Scott Snyder and Jock (2015)

Wytches Volume 1

Wytches Volume 1
Image, 2015 (containing material from 2014-2015)
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Jock

Review by N Emmett.

The people who were persecuted for witchcraft throughout history were not witches: they were merely the followers of witches. The true Wytches are a race of supernatural beings that can grant wishes – at the cost of a human life.

Sailor Rooks is a thirteen-year-old girl with a traumatic past: one time she wished that a school bully will go away forever, and the Wytches obliged by spiriting the bully away before her very eyes. Unaware of the full story behind this incident, Sailor’s parents take their daughter to a new school for a fresh start after moving house.

But Sailor is still troubled by the Wytches. Her father Charlie realises that something is very wrong, and takes it upon himself to solve the mystery and save his daughter.

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Review: Locke & Key Master Edition: Volume One by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez (2015)

Locke & Key Master Edition: Volume One

Locke & Key Master Edition: Volume One
IDW, 2015 (containing material from 2008-2009)
Writer: Joe Hill
Artist: Gabriel Rodríguez

Review by N Emmett.

Locke & Key Master Edition: Volume One collects the first two books in the Locke & Key series by writer Joe Hill and artist Gabriel Rodríguez.

The first book, “Welcome to Lovecraft”, begins with the Locke family moving to a New England town named Lovecraft (one of multiple shout-outs to various horror writers to occur in the series) after the household patriarch is murdered. While Mrs. Locke and her teenage children Tyler and Kinsey try to pull their lives back together, the youngest child in the family, Bode, makes a peculiar discovery. Dotted around the house are various magical keys, each with its own properties…

The first key which Bode comes across allows him to have out-of-body experiences. When his family members ignore his stories of whizzing around the house as a ghost, he goes looking for new friends – and finds one, in the shape of a mysterious woman who lives down the well.

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Review: Deadlands Volume One: Dead Man’s Hand by various (2015)

Deadlands Volume One: Dead Man's Hand

Deadlands Volume One: Dead Man’s Hand
IDW/Visionary Comics, 2015 (containing material published previously)
Writers/Artists: Various

Review by N Emmett.

Based on the Deadlands role-playing game, Deadlands Volume One: Dead Man’s Hand contains several short stories by a range of different creators. The tales are set in an alternate-history version of the American West, where sea monsters, zombies and occult powers are an accepted part of day-to-day life.

It is a setting with a lot of genre-mashing potential. Alas, the assembled writers have struggled to make anything of it…

Let us start with “Death was Silent”, by writer Ron Marz. This story features a mute gunman named Hoyt Cooper who communicates by making words magically appear on a blackboard that he wears around his neck. The concept turns out to be completely redundant: as this is a comic, all of the characters communicate though text, and the story never finds any way for Cooper’s condition to be anything more than a gimmick.

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Review: The Dead Rider: Crown of Souls by Kev Ferrara (2015)

The Dead Rider

The Dead Rider: Crown of Souls
Dark Horse, 2015 (some material published previously)
Writer/Artist: Kev Ferrara

Review by N Emmett.

It is 1892, and Nevada is stalked by a frightful vision. The Dead Rider was granted immortality by a witch, only to realise too late the high price of this condition. His body continued to decay even as he lived, and after a period of gunfights, desert journeys and attacks by vultures, the man continued to walk the West as a decomposing husk. Worst of all, the Dead Rider is forced to keep on killing against his wishes…

Many of the old-school Westerns had a fatalistic touch to them. The black-hatted lawbreakers were doomed to be defeated by the white-hatted lawman: that was simply their lot in life. The rigid demands of formula manifested in the storylines almost as divine providence.

The Dead Rider: Crown of Souls by writer-artist Kev Ferrara takes this phenomenon to a new level. When the hero kills a villain, he genuinely cannot stop himself: his curse forces him to shoot people dead, even as he apologises.

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Review: Sex and Horror: The Art of Emanuele Taglietti (2014)

Sex and Horror: The Art of Emanuele Taglietti

Sex and Horror: The Art of Emanuele Taglietti
Korero Press, 2015 (containing material previously published)
Artist: Emanuele Taglietti

Review by N Emmett.

Published By Korero Press, Sex and Horror: The Art of Emanuele Taglietti collects over 120 illustrations from various Italian comics (or fumetti, as they are known) of the seventies and eighties. Unusually for a book on comic art, none of the illustrations are sequential: Emanuele Taglietti made his name as a cover artist.

The style of Taglietti’s paintings is immediately familiar from the world of pulp cover art. They are brash, bold and salacious, conceived to stand out from similarly-lurid competitors on the racks – and making no bones about this fact. They were painted to appeal the taste of a quite specific readership, promising buyers a heady mixture of the erotic, the macabre and the flat-out odd.

The book sheds light on the weird world of seventies fumetti with short synopses of the various comics that Taglietti worked on as a cover artist. We are introduced to Belzeba, an intersex devil who goes up against a kinky interpretation of Torquemada; Sukia Dragomic, a female vampire with a gay sidekick named Gary; and deformed aristocrat Jimmy Wallestein, who battles criminals to avenge the murder of his father.

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Review: 8-Bit Zombie: The Full Byte by Fred Perry, David Hutchison and Zechary Gray (2015)

8-Bit Zombie: The Full Byte

8-Bit Zombie: The Full Byte
Antarctic Press, 2015 (containing material from 2013-4)
Writer: Fred Perry.
Artists: Fred Perry, David Hutchison and Zechary Gray

Review by N Emmett.

Zilla, a video game villain who is tired with his lot, improves his life by hopping to another game in the arcade – and eventually ends up becoming the hero of his very own title. Zombie, another gaming bad guy, follows in Zilla’s footsteps. But this ends in disaster as Zombie spreads a plague to the whole arcade, with countless video game stars turning into flesh-eating ghouls. Can Zilla avoid having the pixels torn from his bones by the ravenous undead hordes?

8-Bit Zombie: The Full Byte (a collected edition containing the original 8-Bit Zombie and its sequels 16-Bit Zombie, 32-Bit Zombie and 64-Bit Zombie) is based around a simple premise: it takes a range of video game characters from Sonic the Hedgehog to Mr. Do and pits them against a zombie apocalypse. Many games are referred to, either directly or via thinly-veiled parody versions, but the comic’s most obvious inspiration is not a video game at all. Anybody who has seen Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph will know exactly where writer Fred Perry got the idea for his story.

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