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Cover art by Wendy Aguilar, very evocative of D'Israeli's work on Stickleback (2000ad)

I’ve been a fan of indie comics for some time now and it’s always fun discovering new writers and artists in the medium. But the reason why my discovery of Iqbal Ali’s work was all the more special was the fact that he was from a minority community like my self, what’s more, his stories centred around tales of the unexpected and macabre, think of the Twillight Zone, with a smidgen  of Alfred Hitchcock and H.P Lovecraft and you’re right about there.

The first of his books which I read was Seeds. The story is set in Bangladesh, and we open with a terrific few panels showing what looks like a land mass surrounded by the sea. But as we close in a hand reaches in and grabs the ‘land’, after which we realise it’s not land but a body being pulled out of the river.

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The opening panels for 'Seeds'

We see an elderly man called Salim, narrating a story about his childhood. How he and his friend, Ahmed used to come and play in one the caves within the same locality. There is deep sadness in his eyes, it’s as if he is carrying a burden too hard to bear. Could it be related to the cave? And who or what is the fearful apparition which both friends encounter inside said cave? This starts a story where we delve deeper into a troubled man’s psyche, and start to uncover the secrets of the cave, the entity, and importantly, someone close to him.

The last panel is not only chilling in its depiction,  but makes us realise how insignificant we all may be in the bigger scheme of things.

Iqbal’s work is hugely engaging, his language is easy to grasp, and I feel this book would be great for younger readers too. And his artwork is excellent, along with his panel set ups. The cover (by Wendy Aguilar) is eye grabbing, and stylistically, is very evocative of D’Israeli’s work on Stickleback (for 2000ad).

Being a fan of horror and mystery, I really enjoyed this story. It immediately called to mind the work of H.P Lovecraft whose influence can be felt especially towards the end. The feeling of foreboding, and fear of the unexpected is realised not only by Iqbal’s writing, but his artwork too. This book reminded me of the “Terror Tales” and ”Creepy presents” which I  enjoy reading in comics such as 2000ad and Dark Horse, respectively.  In fact, I remember writing on the 2000ad forum once about my desire to see a Terror Tale set in a far off place such as Bangladesh or India, because there is a wealth of stories and folklore which can be mined from such places. So how refreshing is it then, to come across a title such as this one, which is set in such a place?

I wish we can see more stories similar to this in the future!

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Cover art by Iqbal Ali and Dima Blue

Next up is the book Strange Skies. This is a more longer story, coming at a whopping 164 pages. The immediate thought that one conjures up when seeing the cover, is The Twilight Zone, which is no surprise seeing as Iqbal drew inspiration from the show, as well as the films of Alfred Hitchcock.

The story centres around a plane full of people, passengers and crew alike, who wake up under strange circumstances to find that the plane is on an different trajectory, approaching what looks like a storm, albeit with strange cloud formations. Naturally everyone concerned is worried by the events which are unfolding before their eyes. What is going on? What is happening outside the plane? Who is this strange ‘Marshall’ guy? What has become of the pilots? And most importantly,  where have all the people’s shoes disappeared to?

These are just some of the things troubling the people on board. Our protagonist is a stewardess, Catherine, who wakes up unconscious, unable to recall what has transpired. We meet the Air Marshall, who is at first suspected for being the cause behind the hysteria sweeping the plane. And then we meet Catherine ‘ s colleague and partner, Carl, who we take an immediate dislike to. The characterisation is very good indeed, wherein we get a feeling of who each person is and their weakness,  and fears. There’s a lot of paranoia especially from the crew,  murmurs of terrorist attacks are heard. And the Air Marshall conceals a secret which he is too scared to reveal. And then of course,  we have the nature of the weird events unfolding outside. I will not spoil it, but let me just say, the final reveal is simply mind blowing! 

There is a superb depiction by Iqbal of someone or something (I will not say which!) That immediately evoked a panel from Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s ‘From Hell’, where we see Sir William Gull looking up at the skies as a colossus figure looms down at him. Upon talking with Iqbal about these particular panels, I was pleasantly surprised to find that he had drawn inspiration from Moore’s book! The story also reminded me of an episode of Doctor Who; “Midnight”, where David Tennant’s Doctor is trapped inside a space craft with passengers and crew on an alien world, while a dangerous entity waiting outside, trying to get in. The paranoia fuelled by their fear is terrifying, and I felt the same with this story here as well.

Iqbal’s black and white artwork is very clear, and uncluttered.  His style here reminds me of one of my favourite artists, Steve Yeowell  (whose work on Red Seas still remains my favourite). The grayscaling  is also done to great effect, especially in the latter half and the final reveal.  J.M Ken Niro‘s work on ‘I Kill Giants’ also came to my mind when I saw Iqbal’s terrific work.

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Iqbal's black and white artwork recalls the work of Steve Yeowell

If I did have any criticisms, it would be few and far between. The story seemed to centre more around the crew members and Air Marshall. And although we do have a passenger who plays a part, I felt we could’ve maybe had more from their points of view. But it is understandable to limit the characters in a stand alone book or mini series. And the only weak character in the story I found, was Carl, who seemed unlikeable from the start. There was a point where we get the feeling that he may have more knowledge about the events than we are lead to believe, but we do not follow up on that. But like I said, these are just minor quibbles.

On the whole, Strange Skies is a terrific page turner. The set up is excellent and the pay off is well worth the ride!

I can’t wait to see what Iqbal has in store for us next!

Seeds and Strange Skies are both  available to download from comixology (click on the title)

Or alternatively, direct from Iqbal’s Amazon page.

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Cover by the legendary Brian Bolland

And so we reach another milestone as the Meg hits 350, and to cap it off we have an eye grabbing cover by the legendary Brian Bolland. I was sharing the cover with my boy and he was definitely intrigued when I told him which character was who (he knew who Judge Dredd was naturally!). I have no doubt that this is another iconic additon to Bolland’s famous works, and the A3 poster was very welcome indeed, showing the piece in all it’s undisturbed splendour.

First off we have a new Judge Dredd story: Dead Zone (Part 1) by John Wagner and Henry Flint. Special things always tend to happen when those two names come together, and this was definitely the case here in this terrific opener. We have Dredd investigating the death of Mr. McPhee, an accountant at the Chaos Memorial Comittee. Dredd is not too keen on the whole memorial venture, which is basically another money making gimmick. But the city needs the income that it generates because of the financial repercussions of the Chaos Bug disaster. We also follow two cursed earth residents as they seek to make a better life for themselves in the big Meg, but they are set upon by a ruthless group of scum drudgery.  This is the thing I love about Wagner’s writing, when he highlights the plight of normal citizens trying to get on with their lives, but have all these hard obstacles thust before them.

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Life is cheap in the Cursed Earth

The last page is very disturbing as it shows the depths that human kind will plunge to for greed. Henry Flint’s artwork is simply outstanding, I love the colour work and the details in each of the panels from the Chaos Memorial itself to the bleak, cluttered places surrounding it, and of couse the residents who inhabit both places.

Next up we have a new strip: Lawless – Welcome to Badrock (Part 1) by Dan Abnett and Phil Winslade. I was pleasantly surprised with this opener, why? Because it was so damn enjoyable! I’m a sucker for westerns and I really loved the set up here. We are on 43 Rega, a planet “on the ass end of nowhere”, only notable for the fact that Mega City forces stopped the alien Zhind invasion here. A group of townsfolk await the arrival of Colonial Marshall Lawson. Dan Abnett’s introduction to the various characters is done in a really fun manner! Soon after Lawson makes herself at home by going to the local saloon for a drink. Pretty soon trouble is on its way, and then, an encounter with someone who may or may not be insane.

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Welcome to Badrock

Phil Windlade’s b&w artwork is simply outstanding. I spent a good amount time just ogling his panels, studying the details and wonderful line work. His street and saloon scenes are especially a treat as it evokes a feeling of being on a set, with a futurustic western taking place. On this evidence I must say I’m already looking forward to the next instalment.
The Man from the Ministry (Part 3) by Gordon Rennie and Kev Hopgod follows next. I haven’t been overly wowed by this strip unfortunately. However, this episode was much better, with a strong ending which throws up an element of danger. Kev Hopgood’s art is good, but not Night Zero good. There’s far less depth or detail to his art, something which I loved on his work on Night Zero and Beyond Zero.

Dredd: Uprise (Part 1) ends the strips. This is the new sequel to Underbelly by Athur Wyatt, but this time with Paul Davidson on art duty in place of Henry Flint. And I feel Davidson has done a pretty good job here. For starters, we have Dredd with a proper movie chin, and Chris Blythe’s colour work is excellent. One criticism I had with Davidson’s art in his past work was the way he drew the character’s lips, it looked a little contorted and well…silly. But there’s none of that here, in fact, I love his character design especially the rookie and the senior Judge accompanying her. I also thought the reference to Domhnall Gleeson via ‘Gleeson intersection’ was a nice touch. The story concerns ‘Uprise’; a group that wants to bring power back to the people, away from the rich folks who live in isolated comfort higher up in the blocks. It’s certainly a strong opener and I can’t wait for the next part.

Features

There are three Interrogations on show, pick of the bunch has to be the Trevor Hairsine piece by Matt Badham. There’s some interesting insight into Hairsine’s artistic process and the various projects he has worked on. Kev Hopgood’s interrogation was also insightful (again by Matt Badham), and Leah Moore and John Reppion end the features with a look into their husband and wife partnership on comics and other projects, and juggling work with bringing up three kids. We also get some word on their upcoming work in the Prog;  Black Shuck, which I’m really looking forward to.

Floppy

Burke & Hurr by Simon Spencer & Dean Ormston. I’ve only started to read this and it’s not too bad on early impressions. Dean Ormston’s stylised artwork is really enjoyable, bringing a sort of ‘Jack the Ripper-esque’ East End vibe to it, or the muddy backstreet alleyways we see in Disney’s Pinocchio, it’s dark and macabre, but with added comedy. It’s fascinating to think that a place like this exists somewhere on the Cursed Earth, which is in total contrast to the big Meg.

The Megazine has been on fine form these past few months and so it continues here in this special celebratory issue with a host of new line ups which have grabbed my attention and given my thrill circuits a thorough work over. Top Thrill would have to go to Deadzone, which evokes a feeling of awe (via Flint’s artwork) and despair (via Wagner’s excellent storytelling) in equal measure.

Meg 351 cannot come soon enough for me.

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Cover by INJ Culbard

What a spectacular prog this was! Not only were all the thrills absolutely top notch, but even the paper quality seemed better! Whether this will become an on going thing remains to be seen, but it was fitting for the gorgeous artwork which was on display this prog.

Let’s begin with the cover: Brass Sun is back, and a lovely cover art by INJ Culbard to get things going. The colour composition is eye catching with all our familiar characters on show; Wren sporting a shorter haircut and Septimus a longer one, and a mysterious masked figure in the background. It carries a feeling of mystery and intrigue which makes you want to get stuck into the story as soon as possible.

Judge Dredd: The Heart is a lonely Klegg Hunter (Part 1): We have a new story to kick off proceedings and what fun it is too! Sensitive Klegg is back, as we find him trying his best to assimilate himself into a society which fears his kind. He’s a gentle soul our Klegg, and he wants nothing more than to be accepted, passing his time reading books (as he has a fascination with human literature). But everywhere he goes the people flee… or are busy trying to recruit him for TV shows where he is ridiculed. It reminded me a little of Richard Starkings’ brilliant Elephantmen series, where we see these animal hybrids also trying to adapt in a society which fears or misunderstands them. There’s a light hearted tone which Rob Williams brings to the story, and it’s potrayed brilliantly by Chris Weston and his wonderful artwork. Everything from the people and the MC1 environment is rendered with superb detail and colourwork. It reminded me of the daylight noir we see in Carnales & Guarnido’s superb anthropomorphic series; Blacksad.

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Chris Weston's artwork is outstanding

I love the four panels at the bottom of page 4 where we see Sensitive Klegg discovering a flower growing from the crack of the pavement, the delight in his eyes as another event unfolds behind him. It’s brilliant storytelling indeed and there’s almost a poetic message there as our Klegg is very much like the flower depicted in the panels; a gentle soul yearning for friendship in a harsh and unforgiving environment. Even Dredd, whom Klegg feels shares a special bond with him (having rescued him in a previous story) seems to ignore him. In his desperation he tries to take drastic measures but is rudely interrupted. This is a brilliant opener and I can’t wait to read more in the next episode.

Brass Sun: Floating Worlds (Part 1): Wren and her companions have been taken captive by the Mercantile Guild lead by Chairman Pei. They are propositioned with a dangerous task to obtain ‘gaseous clay’ which will help Pei’s daughter; a ‘mordant’ (a sort of human machine hybrid, or ‘Borg’). Culbard’s artwork for this opening episode is not only outsanding, but the colour work is really eye catching and lovely to behold. There’s an epic feel to the opening splash pages which grab your attention from the offset. Things are getting more interesting now and Edginton’s script is developing at a nice pace. The world he has created is a fascinating one, one of the reasons why I was taken by it almost immediately when I first read it, and why it’s one of my favourite Thrills of recent years.

Tharg’s 3riller: Voodoo Planet (Part 1): we open on a settlement called Delta 509 Colony, we see a girl clutching a teddy bear as her father consoles her: “there’s nothing here to hurt you” he exclaims. But fast forward eighteen years and we see the the same girl (now a woman of course) fleeing for her life from a group of Voodoo men. It seems het father may have been wrong because the settlement is now run by very bad men indeed. It’s a pleasure to see PJ Holden back again, I really enjoy his art and this looks like being a great 3riller.

Grey Area: Nearer my God to thee (Part 5): Bulliett and his team are aboard the God-Star, a giant vessel which has come to consume earth’s life force, and is behind the mass ‘religious’ hysteria on earth. Of course the God-Star is not God, but an intelligent alien entity. We know Bulliett is part of the reason why it’s here (thanks to his alteration with the slippery alien ambassador Uuveth many moons ago). There’s some lovely stuff here by Dan Abnett, and a shocking ending….or is it really the end? I for one hope not, I’ve become pretty fond of the ETC team.

And Mark Harrison’s artwork is truly outstanding. I hoped that we would see more from him when the last series finished, and thanks to mighty Tharg, we have. And it’s been a pleasure to observe these past few weeks. I’m hoping the next series doesn’t take too long.

A fantastic line up, all of thrills were a pleasure to read. Next prog sees the return of Sinister Dexter, and the 2nd (and final) part of the Judge Dredd story which I really enjoyed.

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Nick Percival's superb cover

Cover – Nick Percival is back again with yet another superb cover. It’s the sort of cover which immediately grabs your attention, especially when you see it displayed on the magazine section. Everything else in comparison, looks rather dull (except for that Glenn Fabry Megazine cover that is!). Percival’s colour work and detail is simply outstanding giving the piece a hallucinatory feel.

Judge Dredd: Traumatown (Part 1) – I was genuinely surprised to see Nick Percival on art duty for this particular story, I had no clues prior (or probably missed them) and so it was a pleasure to see Percival’s work on the interior pages as well as the exterior. We have an intriguing opener as Dredd and Joyce (good to see him back) go on the chase for a perp, only for her to escape. But an odd thing happens when Joyce fails to recollect ever seeing a perp even though she seemed close by. Is it all in Dredd’s mind? Later on he’s inside a sleep-machine and has a very eerie dream, almost like he ‘s wandered into the minds of Cronenberg and Lynch. Is someone screwing around with Dredd’s head? Or is age and years of trauma finally getting to him? It recalls the moments in the recent Titan and The Man Comes Round storyline in the Prog and Meg respectively (both written by Rob Williams), wherein Dredd has hallucinations. It also questions how long Dredd can remain on duty with these episodes becoming more frequent in nature.
Nick Percival’s artwork is simply sublime, and it suits the almost hallucinatory nature of the story. This is an excellent opener by Mike Carroll, whose work I’ve really enjoyed in the past year or two and I can’t wait to see where we’ll be heading next episode.

Slaine: A Simple Killing (Part 10) – Another action packed episode as Slough Gododin and his hordes capture Sinead, while Slaine is side tracked after being cornered by some giants. Simon Davies’ artwork is maybe not as spectacular here as the last episode, but it’s still pretty impressive. I’m really enjoying this particular story and can’t wait to see what happens in the next episode.

Indigo Prime: Perfect Day (Part 4) – I can comfortably say that I have no idea what’s going on in this strip half of the time, other than that it involves alternate dimensions, a nazi with a bucket list, a bloke who looks like a monkey, and monster sex – and boy, does it all look gorgeous. Lee Carter’s artwork is absolutely mesmerising , epecially the two page spread (p. 4 & 5). There’s so much stuff going on in the ‘end of time party’ scene; a mish mash of psychedelic colours and oddities, sorta like a Lewis Carroll wet dream, with a hint of MK mind control perhaps! John Smith’s storytelling is both enertaining as well as interesting, with two Indigo Prime agents escorting a Nazi scientist (who looks like Jonathan Pryce) through his whims as death approaches. I feel I might have to read the first story arc to understand the whole set up better, and seeing as the collection is readily available, I just might do that.

I’d also like to say that Simon Bowland’s lettering is excellent as always. I’m so familiar with his style now that I can tell that it is his handiwork just by looking at it!

Tharg’s 3riller: In Seconds Flat (Part 1) – It’s a pleasure to have Andrew Currie back on art duty again. I really enjoyed his last outing alongside Mike Carroll on ‘Wolves’, I loved how he drew some of the characters to look like famous faces; from Jeremy Paxman to Paulie from The Sopranos! And I feel we might even have a familiar face in this very story too, namely Colin Farrell! If you look on page 4, 4th panel down, it’s basically like a timeline showing Colin ageing from a young man to an old one.

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Colin Farrell through the years!

Eddie Robson’s script is fun, but it’s still too early to tell whether this will be a memorable 3riller as the last one. However, I’m looking forward to seeing how this particular story developes.

Outlier (Part 10) – We come to the final episode of the series and in a way, I’m really glad to see it come to an end (for now at least). Except for maybe a few brief moments where I did derive enjoyment, the story on the whole has failed to grab me like others have done. Karl Richardson’s artwork has not been his best, and frankly I’ve seen far better work from him in the past. It’ll be interesting to see which new story takes its place next week.

So on the whole it’s a very solid prog, with Judge Dredd and Indigo Prime the standout for me. There was a moment a few a weeks back where I wasn’t too excited about the lineup, but now that Outlier, Jaegir and Sinister Dexter are finished, things look to be on the up.

4/5

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Phil Winslade's stunning cover

Cover – stunning work from Phil Winslade! I remember seeing a preview of the cover and thinking to myself that the colour composition wasn’t too thrilling, but upon purchasing my copy and seeing it up close, I can’t help but disagree with my initial thoughts; I think it’s a marvellous piece of work! I love the look of Dredd with his customary grimace and the lighting is perfect. The background is really eye catching giving it a fast paced neon light feel, the painted look adds to the dynamism of the piece. I certainly love it, and even though Dredd’s lawgiver is obscuring the logo, at least the main title is visible.

Judge Dredd: Shooters Night (Part 1): John Wagner is back again with another new story. This time a young shooter goes on a killing spree (no doubt echoing the recent events in America). But for Dredd, there’s something which just doesn’t seem right to him. Is it a case of a disillusioned young man taking out his frustrations by going on a murder spree, or is there more to it?

Well I certainly enjoyed this terrific opener, and a large part of it is due to John McCrea’s excellent artwork. I love his detail and linework, and the look of Old Stoney Face himself. Chris Blythe’s colours complement the artwork perfectly and no where is this demonstrated better than on page 5, the top panel is absolutely superb: snow falling at night, with Dredd looking on as the parents of the deceased seek solace with one another. And the last panel is also a standout, with Dredd’s upper frame seperating two panels. He’s very thorough man our Joe, and it’s demonstrated beautifully here.

Outlier (Part 6): I’m really losing interest in this strip. I’ll be glad to see the back of it when it finishes. None of the characters are appealing to me not even the Hurde-Human hybrid or Private Investigator Carcer. For a moment there was a feeling that both characters might be one and the same, but that was disproved as fanciful thinking a couple of episodes back.

Slaine: A Simple Killing (Part 6): I feel I may have been a bit too harsh on my assessment of Simon Davies’ art in my last review, because those slash pages are really quite something, not to mention the look of those creepy mermaids;  they’re certainly not your typical mermaids. I love it when creators give you an interpretation of something well known – differently. Guillermo Del Toro did it Pan’s Labyrinth, his fairies were definitely not Tinkerbell, they looked more grounded , as were the Vampire’s in 30 Days of Night. There was nothing romantic about them;  forget the Crucifix and garlic, these were viscious predators of the night, with their unnatural looks and unquenchable thirst for blood . And Davies’ mermaids are just as scary looking here. If Mermaid’s existed, I know which version I would find more fascinating.

One thing I’ve noticed with Pat Mills’ work in the prog the last couple of years, is that I don’t immediately take to it, it takes me a few episodes and then I get reeled in by his storytelling. By the end, enjoying his work as was the case for Savage (Rise like Lions) and ABC Warriors (Return to Earth). And the same is being proved with this very strip. Great stuff.

Sinister Dexter: Gun Shy (Part 6): Well we finally come to the end of this run of Sin Dex and I’m a little relieved to be honest. There were moments when it was kinda fun, epecially the excellent opening episode, but there were too many instances where I felt I had seen this before. I really enjoyed Smudge’s b&w artwork though, but  I wish Dan Abnett would stop twatting about with Sin Dex and start writing some stuff of real interest. How about some more……Kingdom! It’s been a while since we last saw Gary the Oldman and his post apocalyptic exploits in the Prog, and I would love to see him back again.

Jaegir: Strigoi (Part 6): Thank f*** this is over…eh, hold your horses! Back in June? Oh balls :'(

On the whole it’s been quite a poor prog, with Judge Dredd and Slaine being the exception. I’m really looking forward to the start of Indigo Prime next prog as I’ve heard some good word about it. I mean, It can’t get any worse can it?

Note: A big thanks to Richard over at ECBT2000AD for posting my review which can be viewed here.

I was so awed by this splash page by artist extraordinaire, Ulises Farinas in the recent issue of Judge Dredd Mega City Two #4 (published by IDW), I was compelled to share it on here:

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Farinas' spectacular splash page

It’s simply aweinspiring stuff!

The level of detail in Farinas’ work is truly astonishing, his style has been compared to that of Geoff Darrow (Hardboiled) and it’s not difficult to see why. One of the things I love about his artwork is the various pop culture references and humourous messages you can spot if you pay attention to the artwork. And this spread is definitely full of some chuckle inducing images.

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Mark Millar sex and crime novels!

Here’s a close up the splash page in question, you can see a reference to Mark Millar (Millar Sex Crime Novels!) and an advert for the Family Famine Centre (Don’t Eat Your Kids!).

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Hands Solo Massage and other peculiarities!

Here we have a Hands Solo Massage service, and other funny goings on.

Ryan Hill also deserves huge credit for his eye popping colourwork, it’s a perfect match for the art.

Douglas Wolk’s script is also really fun, with one moment in particular that had me laughing out loud. This was quite possibly my favourite single issue comic of the month alongside Garth Ennis’ Caliban. Judge Dredd’s visit to Mega City Two has been a memorable one and one which I’ll miss when the series comes to its conclusion next month.

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Prog 1878 cover by Simon Coleby and Len O'Grady

A good cover from Simon Coleby and Len O’Grady, unforunately, not my cup of tea – pretty much like the strip itself.

There’s no doubting that there are a lot of Jaegir fans out there, especially those who are familiar with the world of Rogue Trooper. Sadly I’ve yet to read it myself (although this should be rectified soon). But even then, I didn’t find myself getting excited by the strip. There were a number of reasons why, for e.g, the script: I found some of the terminologies a bit mystifying from the start not to mention somewhat confusing. You might say it’s my fault for not reading the series beforehand, but then, I doubt a lot of the new readers that jumped on board in Prog 1874 had read it beforehand either. Another qualm I had with the strip is the art:  Simon Coleby is a hugely talented individual but I just do not like his rough style here. It calls to mind the work of Ben Willsher who’s art I’m not too fond of either. I thought Coleby’s art on IDW’s Judge Dredd: Year One was terrific, but sadly, the same cannot be said here. In this episode, the opening was rather good with Atalia having a flashback to her childhood days, hunting a bear with her father. But after that, it held no interest for me.

Sinister Dexter: Gun Shy (Part 5) was okay. But a part of me wishes that we could just hurry on to the end. This series started off great, but soon descended into the usual funting stuff. And there’s been a mismatch of covers in my view; Alex Ronald’s terrific cover for Prog 1866 should’ve been on this one!

Slaine: A Simple Killing (Part 5) is coming along nicely. I’m enjoying Pat Mills’ storytelling more than the actual art; I’m not too big a fan of Simon Davies’ art I’m sorry to say. The panel set up and design is pretty impressive, but I just do not like his depiction of Slaine nor his jagged style. I also feel there’s very little development each week as most of the episodes are composed of splash pages and not enough meat. 

And I was just about to give up on Outlier altogether, but this episode (Part 5) did manage to reel me in for a bit. A large part of that was down to the alien Hurde and the gruesome experiments they are cocucting on the occupants of the Outlier (yes, I’m probably a bloodthirsty Terran!). We also see the birth of Caul as a human-Hurde hybrid, you could say he got the lucky end of the probe stick from those pesky aliens. A large part of the reason why I was not enjoying Outlier up till now was the same reason why I wasn’t enjoying Jaegir: the art. I am a big fan of Karl Richardson, but his artwork here is simply not as exciting as previous work, it seems to be lacking something, probably extra line work or detail. I also don’t find most of the characters all that appealing either.

So the prog looks very poor so far, well it would be were it not for Judge Dredd: Mega City Confidential (Part 4). For the past 4 weeks, the Prog’s main thrill has been the stand out for me. It’s John Wagner back again, doing what he does best and writing another excellent story filled with secrets… and shadows via Colin MacNeil’s masterful artwork. Make no mistake, when the pair collaborate on a story together, you can expect nothing less than a solid piece of work. The past Judge Dredd stories have been good, with Rob Williams in particular providing some great stories via Titan and The Man Comes Round, but Mega City Confidential has been a treat of the special variety for me.

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Riots break out on the streets of Mega City 1

In this final episode, the sinister nature of Sector 7’s secrets are laid bare as Max Blixen goes on air to reveal all. The revelation is shocking, but it’s not totally unexpected because of the way MC1 is governed with the fascistic law of the Judges. I feel John Wagner also provides commentary on where our own society is heading, it’s a scary future but one which is slowly becoming all too real. It reminded me of Wagner’s own ‘Democracy’ storyline, with people losing their lives over the persuit of freedom of speech. I love the last panel showing what becomes of the characters such as Erika Easterhouse and Max Blixen.

Quote of the week (Slaine): “Every time monsters are killed, more of them emerge from Tory Island. The misery’s never going to end”

Slaine is right, the misery will not end until the blasted Tories are sent packing from this great Isle of ours!

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One of the panels from The Amok Bros.

It’s always a pleasure to discover talented names in the field of comics, and James Kersey is one such name. Thanks to the power of social media, I quite literally stumbled upon his work.

He has his own webcomic called Oversimplified which, in his words, involves stories about robots and aliens. He has started a new story called The Amok Bros., centred around two robots who are off on a journey of discovery after eradicating an army of doppelgangers! His first page (which can be viewed here) called to mind the brilliant short stories in Heavy Metal Magazine and 2000ad, namely Future Shocks and Sci-fi Thrillers. His artwork is excellent, with lovely colour composition which suits the humourous tone. I love the depiction of the robots in particular with shirts and ties, rendering them like a couple of average Joe’s mulling over every day life!

You can find out more about his works via his website: http://oversimplified.net/

I must say that on this evidence, I’ll definitely be coming back for more!

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Facundo Percio's 'Terror' cover for issue 1

Rating: 5/5
Publisher:
Avatar Press
Written By: Garth Ennis
Art By: Facundo Percio

The Caliban, a mining vessel travels through space, traversing through far off planets and galaxies by warp speed. So far its crew have failed to detect any intelligent life, but on a routine mission their ship crashes into an alien ship, or rather, merges with it. The crew are naturally worried by this mysterious ship and the danger it represents, but that may just be the beginning of their troubles…

This new title by Garth Ennis (Preacher, Crossed) and Facundo Percio (Fashion Beast) first came to my attention via Zainab and her awesome comics blog: Comics & Cola, she was kind enough to send me the first issue and I was thoroughly impressed by it.

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The ship herself, Caliban

Ennis doesn’t hide his love of Ridley Scott’s Alien and it was partly due to the release of Prometheus that he was inspired to write the series: “When I finally saw Prometheus I realised they had gone in a totally different direction” states Ennis in a recent interview for Bloody Disguisting, “and given that I had all these ideas kicking about in my idle head, I thought – Why not?”

Indeed, why not? Because in this opening issue Ennis lays the foundation for a series which is  both gripping, not only by his excellent script, which is bleak at times, but Percio’s outstanding artwork which automatically evokes a feeling of claustrophia, dread, and terror. Looking at the design of the alien ship and indeed the ‘Terror’ cover for issue 1, it calls  to mind the works of H.P Lovecraft with tentacled horrors and strange symbols. I also felt Ridley Scott’s Prometheus was more in tune with Lovecraft than anything, for instance, is Prometheus but not a futuristic take on Lovecraft’s At The Mountain of Madness? I certainly felt so.

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Two of the crew members investigate the alien ship

Coming back to the comic, the script and art conjures up a place which is far away from the space of Star Trek or Star Wars: here the Force, or rather God is absent (which might suit Ennis pretty well it must be said!). It also calls to mind Event Horizon, which is perhaps let down by a poor third act but the ideas, and the production designs still remains captivating. And I felt Caliban was a blend of both Alien and (the good parts of) Event Horizon.

Being a huge fan of sci-fi/ horror, Caliban has certainly caught my interest, and going on this first issue I am absolutely enthralled and cannot wait get my hands on the next issue.

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Simon Bisley's 3D cover for issue 2

We have another superb 3D cover by Simon Bisley to kick things off, I cannot praise the innovative use of 3D highly enough, just by swiping the image to your left or right can reveal details in the artwork which you might not have seen at first. Corinthians have done a stellar job indeed and It’s great that digital comics can offer so much nowadays, I’ve seen some pretty cool stuff recently, (i.e falling snow on panels) but this comic just opens up the possibilties of what can be achieved via this format. I still have a lot of love of paper comics, and to be honest, don’t think I’ll ever give up my love of physical TPBs/ hardcovers, but I am so impressed with 13 Coins and its creators.

As for the story, John Pozner the washed up ex-Basketball player gets a visit from Samuel Goodwin, an agent of the ‘Sons of Noah’; who are the ‘Watcher’ angels sent to guard mankind from the ‘Fallen’ angels. Their brief meeting does not go unnoticed however and soon the Anti Terrorist Agency (A.T.A) are on John’s case, not to mention the Fallen themselves. We are also introduced to key characters along the way, such as the corrupt Senator Graham. And it seems the A.T.A also want to use his services to their advantage.

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John is interrogated by the Anti Terrorist Agency

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Bisley's original pencil work for the above panel

Simon Bisley’s artwork is superb again in this issue. He depicts the squalid nature of the city perfectly, and the supernatural slant gives it a feeling of foreboding, with danger seemingly just around the corner.

After the opening two issues I must say I’m hooked, and look foward to issue 3 with fervour.

Don Charisma

because anything is possible with Charisma

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