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Monday, October 24, 2016

Tales from Orbit Vol 2. Kim Roberts (Editor) WP Comics (2016)

A very engaging and enjoyable science fiction anthology, very diverse stories that sit harmoniously together as a  deeply satisfying collection.
The Switch, Alexander Altman (Writer), Cheuk Po (Art), Kane Gallagher (Colours), Christian Docolomansky (Letters). This is a great fun story that proves no matter how far in the future you go, stupidity will still trip you up. Alexander Altman has written a very nice crime/science fiction mash up, it catches the requirements of both genres without hesitation. Cheuk Po's art manages the same balance with great details that support both story aspects. Kane Gallagher clearly knows what the colours of the science fiction future are and uses then with care to give the story a strong sense of place and depth. Christian Docolomansky letters are easy and natural, the spare sound effects are used very effectively.
Good Son, Victor Franzo (Writer), Patrick Caetano (Art) is a short, direct shot to the heart. A man comes home to die. The set up is as bare and simple as possible and has the room for a multitude of emotions and thoughts. Patrick Caetano's stylised art is pitch perfect for the detail and spirit of the story. Getting something this delicate and short right is an amazing achievement.
Victorious Haze: One for the Road. Michael Gordon (Writer), Estanislao Marugo, Frenando Maiaru (Art and Letters), is a superb western science fiction mash up. A stranger comes into a dusty town and stirs things up. The stranger is a lot stranger than he appears, not half as strange as who he is chasing. A classic western set up is finished off with a lovely science fiction twist.  Estanislao Marugo and  Frenando Maiaru art and colours capture the spirit and detail of Michael Gordon's smart story.
Contact. Julio Paz y Vadala (Writer), Cesar Eduardo (Art), Chris Allen (Colours). Julio Paz y Vadala has the skill and confidence to pull of this story, he uses the inevitability really nicely. The art by Cesar Eduardo matches and contrasts the narrative split very well, it catches the focus on the countdown to the conclusion. Chris Allen uses the clours to sharply and subtly differentiate so thaty both parts match and collide exactly as they should.
Lost Boys. Mateo Garcia (Writer), Jeferson Sanzinski (Art) is full bore hard science fiction that compresses a lot of story into s short space. Beginning with a genre classic of a final message from a stranded space craft, the story twists and turns before arriving at a genuinely unexpected and very satisfying conclusion. Mateo Garcia mixes up a great deal in the story and has the disipline to make it all work and deliver a very strong pay off. Jeferson Sanzinski's black and white art is a match for the story, the panels are used to control the pace and flow, the action is brutal and has real weight and impact. The sound efects are used with skill to support the tension and underline the action. Smart, sharp science fiction.
Across the Void. Marta Tanrikulu (Writer), Kevin Enhart (Illustrator), Delfine Siobhan Kanashii (Colours), E.T. Dollman (Letters), is thoughtful, gripping and happily unexpected. An unexpected end to a huge journey creates questions that can only have hard answers. Matching the sweep of space opera with closely confined drama Marta Tanrikulu has followed a different and very engaging path.Kevin Enhart manages the difficult task of making the context reald and detailed and giving the cast the life and expression they have to have. Delfine Siobhan Kanashii,s restrained and slightly subdued colours frame the emotional framework of the story carefully and bring out the nuances of the story and the art. The lettering by  E.T. Dollman is easy and natural, fitting in with deep  unobtrusive  skill.
Tales from Orbit 2 is a substantial serving of first rate, imaginative  and thoughtful science fiction, just a pleasure to read and linger over.
Chief Wizard Note: This is a review copy very kindly sent by Kim Roberts, if you wish to purchase a copy of Tales from Orbit 2, you should what more could you want to increase you joy in living than great science fiction comics?, you can get it it from here  http://www.wpcomicsltd.com/comics

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The World Hates Jimmy. D.C. Johnson (Writer & Penciller), Chris Allen (Inks,Colours & Letters), Dustin Evans (Special Feature Panels). WP Comics (2016)

An explosion of visual inventiveness and storytelling confidence that delivers charm, absurdity and humour without any apparent effort, hugely engaging and enjoyable. Jimmy, a very happy young boy becomes the object of romantic interest from two girls which leads to a fanatically absurd and horrible day for Jimmy and a extraordinary comic.
Absurdity is very difficult to do successfully, there is a subtle limit that has to be found that allows the ridiculous ideas to flourish and D.C. Johnson has established that limit with wonderful, assured confidence. The storytelling framework is taken from animation with abrupt cuts and jumps, the time compression that panels provide is exploited to the full to give the story a coherence that it needs. Jimmy's adventurous day is told at a full tilt, the narrative moves at amazing speed with the unexpected always waiting to be sprung on the reader and Jimmy. Jimmy solid happy nature is the anchor of the story, he rolls with the punches and changes and gets on with it. This allows the rest of the action to spiral off in whatever direction D.C. Johnson wants, backed by the steely discipline used to ensure that every idea serves a direct dramatic purpose.
The art is perfect for the story, it is cartoony and animated, in both senses, the cast are busting with life and energy. The cast are astoundingly expressive, so full of personality and determination that the pages struggle to contain them. They are matched by the context which shifts and changes as required to follow the rush of ideas and changing circumstances.
Chris Allen's dazzling colours are exactly what is needed, no subtlety is wanted , it would get in the way, the action and the cast want to be amplified to the greatest possible extent to express the ferocious energy and creative force of the writing and the art. The lettering is the quietest part of the comic, it never draws attention away from the action, the sound effects are as dramatic as they should be.
Dustin Evans special panels are fantastic, they give the story a extra dimension that is very welcome.
The World Hates Jimmy is as close to having an animated short between covers as it is likely to get, a brilliant use of the possibilities of comics, absurdly funny and charming.
Chief Wizard Note: This is a review copy very kindly sent by Kim Roberts. To purchase a copy, good comics are a proven method to extend your life by increasing your happiness, you can get it here  http://www.wpcomicsltd.com/comics

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Scavenger No. 2. Kim Roberts (Writer), Megan Huang (Art). Markosia Comics (2016)

An excellent second issue in the science fiction comic where plot lines start to emerge and the cast are given a greater depth and complexity.
Aidan find the massacre at Tin City and decides to go to to the Willow Temple to seek for answers. Caleb returns to the Floating City to a heated reception from his father and sisters. Aidan gets information at the temple and Caleb gets unwelcome news. The story moves  forward with grace and force as both the leads are pulled further into the unfolding events.
Kim Roberts has managed a very difficult balance, the plot has been set in motion and the story possibilities have been opened. This has been done at the same time that the leads are given increased depth and development, they are allowed to be more in action and interaction which gives the story considerably more grip and depth. Caleb is boiling in frustration, his mother is asleep and he cannot access the magic that his siblings use, Aidan goes on a search and is massively gullible. The shades of gray are slipping very satisfactorily into the story and the expected confrontation is considerably more consequential because of them.
Megan Huang's art is a perfect complement to the storytelling, it bring out the nuances with the body language and expressions of the cast. There is a joyous lightness to the art that never softens the impact of anger or violence, it places it firmly in its context.  The new members of the cast are individual and so well established it feels as if they have come into the comic with a history already. The colouring is awesome, it is clearly science fiction colours that give an alien context and cast, the soft palette means that the fairy tale underpinning is always subtly acknowledged. In particular the way the colours are used to enhance the expressiveness of the cast and give solidity to the context is a pleasure. The lettering is quiet, understated and so natural that it reads without effort or notice, the sound effects on the other hand are loud and when needed LOUD.
This comic is a serious pleasure to read, two very talented creators working so harmoniously together is one of the opportunities that comics offer readers.
Chief Wizard Note: This is review copy,very kindly sent by Kim Roberts. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Chronicles of Terror Vol 2. Edited by Kim Roberts. WP Comics (2006)

A very enjoyable horror anthology that has a very wide range of stories with a slightly subdued  Halloween theme. An anthology is always a challenge in comics, variety is critical and having very different styles work together can be difficult to manage. In The Chronicles of Terror both are made to look easy, there is a great variety and harmony at the same time.
Peppermint, Jackie Justice (Writer), Mohamed Foaud Awad (Art) is very strong version of a classic story idea. At Halloween a couple find unexpected trouble instead of harmless fun. The story is set up very well, within a very short space there is considerable action and the cast are more than just victims in waiting. Mohamed Foaud Awad's black and white art is detailed enough to give a strong context for the action, the cast are expressive and credible, the panels are used very well to control the pace of the story.
The Deep, Jeff Mcclland (Writer), Jason Seabaugh (Penciller) , Rusy Giligan (Inker), Adnan Virk (Letters) Chris Allen, (Colors) is a great story with a wonderfully unexpected and clever story turn. Two skeletons playing card in a sunken submarine is a great set up, what follows plays with the idea with great skill. The colours are a pleasure, they are bright and slightly subdued at the same time, they capture and express the story intent and nuance beautifully. The art is inviting, the skeletons have body language that makes them  come to life for the reader. They have personality if not flesh.
11:27 Josh John St James (Writer), Chunlin Zhao (Art) Nikku Sherman (Letters) is tense and gripping, night horrors have rarely been so nasty. The story have a very strong and tight focus on the struggle that unfolds, there is nothing extra or unnecessary. The art is splendid, it creates the uneasy atmosphere that steadily escalates, fear is contagious and the terror of the child pulls the reader in. The sound effects are spot on, they provide the sound track for the action, and underscore and amplify the situation with precision.
Dead Stream. Haraldo (Writer and Art) appears to have wandered in from a different collection before it brutally shows exactly why it is so at home in this anthology. A man is rescued from a river and in the spirit of no good deed going unpunished, this proves to be a very bad move. The art is compelling, the use of panels to control the pace the story is amazing, the cast are vivid and full of energy, the colours draw out the details of the context perfectly.
Under the Bed. Bryan Hoover (Writer), Ron Joseph (Pencils) , Jake Inseberg (Inker), E.T. Dollman (Letters) is extraordinary. More a punchline than a story the very smart set up and beautiful art lift it up and make it shine.
Well to Hell. Tom Worth (Writer), J.C.Grande (Art), Nikki Sherman (Letters), provides a very entertaining reminder that if you make a deal with Hell the Devil is very much in the detail. The story set up very well, the pay of is spot on. J.C. Grande manages the human and the infernal cast with great confidence,Nikki Sherman uses lettering to great effect to emphasise the differences in the cast.
This is a great anthology, the quality of the stories is uniformly high, all the stories deliver on their Halloween promise.
Chief Wizard Note: This is a review copy very kindly sent by Kim Roberts. To purchase a copy of The Chronicles of Terror Vol 2.,excellent comics are scientifically proven to be good for you, you can get it from   http://www.wpcomicsltd.com/comics

Radiation Burn. James Johnson (Writer and Artist). WP Comics (2016)

An entertaining and engaging collection of science fiction stories that capture the devil-may-care tone and atmosphere of the underground comix decades ago. Without ever being old fashioned or unduly nostalgic James Johnson has captured the moving spirit of the comix and created an engaging and sharply funny set of stories.
Dead Tree introduces Jeddediah and Miclantecuhltu a skeleton shaped, luchador battle robot who are wandering a irradiated wasteland when they are attacked by a mutant, whom they kill. They take the mutant's severed head into the town of Dead Trees to claim the bounty and this do not go well. This is a smart version of a classic western storyline, where a stranger comes into town and upsets the status quo with unpredictable results. The story is full of sly humour and nice set ups, the climax is true to the anarchic spirit of the comix as well as the western stories.
The art is friendly and a pleasure to read, it has a rough quality which fits the story and tone. The cast are all lively and strongly expressive, in particular Jeddediah who is rarely as in control of circumstances as he would like to pretend.
Lil'Mutants is a suitably altered version of a troublesome children comic strip, two young mutants make trouble for neighbors and get into trouble themselves. In all the cases the trouble is entirely in line with the prevailing spirit of the comic. The joke does not quite come off, without the core of whimsy that supported the original stories the framework is not strong enough to support the weight that is put on it here. The framework is slightly at an angle to the content which muffles the impact slightly.
Son of A Demon is the longest and most successful story in the collection, it brings all of the elements together and adds something extra that gives it a strong force. Jeddediah,  Miclantecuhltu and Annabelle, a girl whom they met in Dead Trees, are captured by a predatory insect in the desert when they are rescued by a group who are interested in Miclantecuhltu. Jeddediah leaves group's base and encounters a stranger on a motorbike. Naturally things go downhill from there, they do so in unexpected and engaging ways. The final panel is a sharp break with the lighter tone of the rest of the story and adds considerable force and weight to the story.
The colours bring the story to life, they make the details of the context stand out much more strongly and give the cast an extra depth and vitality.
Fairwell is a nice one page joke that works very well.
Radiation Burn follows its own path very successfully, it has a sharp edge and a tremendous storytelling momentum that work together very well. James Johnson has a strong creative voice and that it is very welcome.
Chief Wizard Note: This is a review copy very kindly sent by Kim Roberts. To purchase a copy of Radiation Burn, which you should to get the pleasure of a sharply original talent, you can get it from http://www.wpcomicsltd.com/comics

Monday, October 10, 2016

Thirteen Shadows. Devin Theobold (Writer), Joseba Morales (Art) WP Comics (2016)

A very engaging and enjoyable superhero story that solves the problems of story set up and super-heroics with flair and very smart story telling. The impact that superhero Chelsea Shadows has on the city is dramatic and credible. The fallout from that impact is much less predictable and is superbly presented by Devin Theobold. There is a sequence where Chelsea Shadows is introduced via an action sequence that is thoughtful and very sharp and the villain makes his first public move.
Any first issue has a difficult task to accomplish, introduce the cast and the story with sufficient information and momentum to capture the reader for the ongoing story. A superhero story has an additional difficulty as the superhero has to be introduced, they demonstrate what makes them super and most critically they are given a genuine problem to solve that will test them and their powers.
Thirteen Shadows delivers on all counts  in a genuinely surprising way that also manages to resolve one of the perennial problems of superhero comics, how to balance a credible human context with a superhero. From the opening panel Devin Theobold shows how to do it with masterful ease, the story flows strongly from the opening and gains depth and force as it goes. Chelsea Shadows is given an opportunity to demonstrate her powers and prove that she is serious and smart. More importantly the villain is given a believable motive, enough brains and angry willpower to actually be a problem to Chelsea Shadows.
Joseba Morales's art is as low key and slightly dark as the story, it brings out the nuances and atmosphere of the story naturally and effectively.  The panels are used to control the flow of the story really well and to frame the action. The cast are individual and expressive, the action is powerful and to the point. The colour are as dark as they need to be, this is very from the sunny uplands of super heroics while never becoming needlessly grim and gritty. The story context is used brilliantly and the art captures the developing consequences for the cast.
The lettering is subtle and natural, it never distracts fron the art or the story, the sound effects are used to emphasise the action, they never distract from it.
This is a seriously good superhero comic, a very smart direction that opens great story possibilities.
Chief Wizard Note: This is a review copy very kindly sent by Kim Roberts, to purchase a copy of Thirteen Shadows, you should to see just how good superhero stories can be, you can get it here  http://www.wpcomicsltd.com/comics

Friday, October 7, 2016

Cluck. Dustin Schmidt (Writer), Gabe Ostley (Art). WP Comics (2016

Very entertaining short comic with smart set up and astounding art. Detective Cluckowski is a police office for whom the rules are an optional extra, partnered with a inexperience officer who is replacing Cluckowski's deceased partner, they have a dramatic start to their partnership.
For anyone with a passing knowledge of television police dramas this is the basic story set up and Dustin Schmidt uses it without any twists or upgrades. This is a really smart approach, the short ongoing comic has to establish everything very fast and taking a familiar framework is an effective way to do so. The story has been set up, everyone introduced and the possible backstory hinted at, where it goes from here is wide open. The set up allows Dustin Schmidt total freedom to move in any direction he chooses. The more significant reason this is such a smart choice is that the art is so dominant that any writing that demands attention would be elbowed out anyway. Far better to write in a way that supports the art and allows it shine as brightly as it needs.
Gabe Ostley's art is an explosion of colour, form and energy that takes a short story and fills it so much the comic feels like a much longer read. Detective Cluckowski has a chicken head on a human body and a rampaging bad attitude that just steams off the page. He is every rouge police office cliche turned to 11 and still utterly and uniquely himself. The rest of the cast are still in his giant shadow, they have not got the chance to make an impression yet.
The fantastic colouring is so loud and dramatic that it could easily drown out the story,instead it amplifies the energy of the art and gives the story huge momentum.
The lettering is smart, Cluck has different speech bubbles to the rest of the cast, everything is pushing him as different, the whole story and cast just treat him as normal. This gives the story a great lift and opens possibilities that I look forward to seeing.
Cluck takes a standard story idea and gives it an unexpected makeover, the balance between the writing and the dominant art is pitched perfectly. This is a great set up, there are really strong and intriguing possibilities ahead.
Chief Wizard Note: This is a review copy very kindly sent by Kim Roberts. If you would like to purchase a copy of Cluck, you should give yourself the pleasure that a really smart comic brings, you can do so from  http://www.wpcomicsltd.com/comics

Temple of The White Ape God. James Johnson (Writer & Art) WP Comics (2016)

A great, short sword and sorcery story that delivers all the genre requirement with energy and wit. A warrior and a warlock come to the Temple of the White Ape God to get an artifact and more importantly the payment for doing so. A quick battle with some apes sets the scene nicely before they move into the temple. The events in the temple are both everything they should be and nicely surprising. There is also a perfectly set up joke that joyously plays with genre tropes.
Writing sword & sorcery well is a very difficult task, like any genre it appears to be easy as it follows a widely understood set of rules and is so inherently absurd and theatrical that it should be simple to do. It is simple to do it badly, there is a very delicate balance within the genre that has to be handled with the care that James Johnson lavishes on this story. James Johnson may be gently mocking the genre, he is doing so from the inside out, the story is strong enough in its own right to carry the extra baggage without any strain.
The art is very friendly, James Johnson has not used a realistic style to create a convincing context for incredible actions, everything is slightly cartoony. This plays well with the light tone of the story, the action is fast but never brutal. It is easy to imagine the comic as an animated cartoon. The cast are well defined, the warlock has a bald head and a chin beard, the warrior is broad shouldered with an animal skin kilt. A beautiful and half naked female prisoner and a female winged monkey complete the cast and hit all the right notes.
The colours are as bright and vivid as required, this is a story that does not need subtlety, it needs amplification and that is delivered with care and detail by the colouring.
The sound effects are loud and support the action.
This is a smart, short comic that delivers the story with force and thoughtful force.
Chief Wizard Note: This is a review copy very kindly sent by Kim Roberts. to purchase a copy of Temple of The White Ape God, good comics are a leading indicator of improved happiness and joy in living, it is available from  http://www.wpcomicsltd.com/comics

Candleman. Don Smith (writer), Kurt Belcher (Art), Chris Allen (Colours & Letters). WP Comics (2016)

Very engaging and gripping short horror comic. A man stranded in a deserted motel finds that local legend has more presence than he imagined.
Horror can benefit strongly from the compression that comes with a short form comic, the set up and pay off have to be established quickly and effectively, which is a considerable challenge for a writer. Don Smith makes it look easy with this story, the pacing is perfect, the situation is established with precise economy and the the follow through is grippingly nasty.
Kurt Belchers art is a pleasure to read, the Candleman himself is very striking and the develops strongly as the action proceeds. The impact of the action on the Candleman is captured vividly and used very thoughtfully. He moves from being a simple bogeyman to becoming something much more terrifying and the art carries the burden of showing the transition without missing a beat. The panel layouts control the pace of the story very well, they create the room for the story to have the length it needs to e effective within a short comic format.
Colouring is a key aspect to any horror comic, the colours are a subtle emotional key for the reader, they bring out the aspects that the writer and artist way to emphasise. Chris Allen's colours drive the story vividly, they use light and shadow to great effect, in particular they give depth and weight to the art and words. The Candleman is a suitable grotesque figure, the colours add to his credibility and in one panel that is concerned with eyes, the colours make every horrible detail stand out.
The letters are quiet and natural, they flow with the story and never distract from it. The different speech patterns are clear. The sound effects are loud, horrible and exactly what the story needs to leap off the page at the reader.
A very satisfying short comic from talented creators who make the best use of the format.
Chief Wizard Note: This is a review copy very kindly sent by Kim Roberts. To purchase a copy of Candleman, you should to treat yourself to a really well crafted comic, you can purchase it  from http://www.wpcomicsltd.com/comics