Monday, 27 March 2017

The Legion of Regrettable Super Villains by Jon Morris

It is a fact of life that every Superhero needs a Supervillain, or preferably a whole host of them, in order to keep them in the business of, well, being a Superhero. It is no good being a mild mannered reporter, reclusive millionaire etc by day and Guardian of Justice by night if you don't have a Machiavellian schemer to pit your wits against. Unfortunately, for every Joker, Lex Luthor, Magneto and Green Goblin in the history of Comic Books there is also the lesser known Supervillain, a Captain Black Bunny, a Doctor Cesspool...the list goes on.

These other, lesser known Supervillains may have gone forever unnoticed and forgotten if it weren't for Job Morris and the folks at Quirk. What they have produced here is a glorious tribute to the lesser known criminal geniuses and hero-botherers from 1938 to the modern era. The book is split into 3 sections, The Golden Age, The Silver Age and The Modern Age and each gives, on average 2 pages to each of the selected Supervillains, one page of text and one example of comic strip or a comic cover. You get a brief history of the character, where and when they appeared, who they were pitted against*.

It is easy to see why these failed to become household names as most are laughable, fairly incompetent or just plain rubbish but this book does them a service by celebrating their general rubbishness.

As always with Quirk this is a beautifully put together volume and something all fans of the genre should look at. It is more of a 'dipping into' book than a straight read but you may well find yourself reading just one more page as you lose yourself in the inept machinations of The League of Regrettable Supervillains.

Very entertaining reference book and well deserving of 5/5 stars.

*Such Superheroes as 'Power Nelson, The Future-Man', ' The Wizard and Roy the Super-Boy' and 'Granny Gumshoe' - I know, I've never heard of most of these either but I'm guessing they could be found in the companion volume to this, The League of Regrettable Superheroes (Quirk 2015, same author).

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Nigel: My family and other dogs - pre review thoughts

It is not often that I read biographies and even rarer that I read ones that heavily feature animals. The last was probably Marley and Me, and that absolutely wrecked me.

With 'Nigel' though, I feel I am on fairly safe ground. I know he's had injury problems by I also know he has recovered so I know this will have a happy ending. How do I know this? For those who don't know him, Nigel is the star of Gardeners' World* (BBC2 Friday's) where he is ably assisted by his friend and owner Monty Don. That 1/2 an hour on a Friday evening is pure tv gold, watching Nigel poddle along in the background as MD advises viewers on all things gardeny. And that's what drew me to this book. Seeing the way Nigel and MD interact together you know that here is a devoted pair. I'm already a few chapters in and already the mutual love between man and man's best friend is obvious.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to enjoy this (and hopefully the tears will be few and far between).

*although we rarely refer to it as Gardeners' World, it's usually "Nigel's on at 8"

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

C21st Gods by David Tallerman

If I'm being honest I don't usually bother with comics and graphic novels just because they go by so fast. This one has the name of David Tallerman on the cover so I decided to give it a go - and I am glad I did.

While investigating a series of gruesome murders discovers links to The Old Ones. Things are bad now and they aren't going to get better any time soon.

As you would expect from this kind of story a lot is owed to H P Lovecraft, the father of the Cthulhu Mythos so if you know HPL you know what to expect here. This is dark and gruesome stuff and Anthony Summey's art does a really good job of bringing the story to graphic life on the page.

The only complaint I have is that, as I said earlier, it is over too soon and I want the next volume NOW! (So I guess that's a good thing really).

Certainly worth a look as, for something so short it got me hooked straight away.

4.5/5*

Friday, 10 March 2017

The Hammer and The Goat by Peter Newman

This short story is set during the timeline of Peter Newman's debut novel ' The Vagrant' so before you read this you really ought to read that. The story works as a backstory to one of the novel's characters, The Hammer Who Walks, with The Goat...well, The Goat is just being The Goat really. If you've read The Vagrant you'll know what to expect I guess.

What this tale did for me, more than anything else, is remind me what a bloomin' good author Mr Newman is. The Vagrant had a lead character who doesn't speak, The Hammer and The Goat has a lead who mainly speaks in single syllable words but the power of Newman's storytelling is such that the speech (or lack of) makes the characters even more alive and believable.

If you haven't read this author before, you really ought to give him a try... and get ready to meet the coolest, most scene stealingest goat in fantasy fiction

5*

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames


I'll be honest, I've had my eye on this ever since I clapped eyes on the cover a few months ago... and I'm pleased to say it didn't disappoint.

As the story starts we meet our lead hero, Clay 'Slowhand' Cooper, former member of the titular Kings of the Wyld, the most feared and famous mercenary band of their time. That time is in the past though and he is now making his living as part of the Town Guard and spending the evenings with his wife and daughter. Retirement from The Kings is suiting Clay just fine... until the day he comes home to find Gabe, The Kings old gang leader on his doorstep, looking all the worse for wear and wanting to ask a favour.

As it turns out Gabe's daughter has taken up the role of mercenary, set up her own 'band' and ended up in a city under siege at the other end of land. Gabe is going to try and rescue her but he can't do it alone. He wants to reform The Kings of the Wyld for one last mission.*

It's time to get the band back together!

What follows from here is one of the craziest adventures it's been my pleasure to read in a long while. The world here is huge and populated with a vast array of races and creatures. The laughs come quick and often but it is not just a comedy novel, more an adventure with comedic elements.


The 'Kings' themselves (one of whom actually IS a king now) are a good fun bunch to spend time with, so much so that the nearly 500 pages flew past way too quickly. I'll be honest, I didn't want it to end.

How best to describe this book? I'd probably say Dungeons and Dragons meets Spinal Tap - and I guess that tells you all you need to know. The next time The Band reforms I promise you one thing - I'll be in the front row.

An excellent debut and a name to keep an eye out for in the future 5/5 stars

*Let's be honest though, this book is so damned good there's no way this will be the last mission.

Monday, 27 February 2017

The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen by Hope Nicholas - A Review

So, this is what I have been dipping into for the last few weeks. The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen (subtitled 'Awesome Female Characters From Comic Book History') is one of those books that is exactly what the title says it is. What we have here is a decade by decade look at female comic book characters from the 1930's (with the likes of 'Sally the Sleuth' and 'Torchy Brown') right up to the present ('Deathface Ginny', 'Maika Halfwolf') with each decade getting a 'Hero Of The Decade', which gets, understandably, slightly more coverage.

To look at some of these 'comic heroines' you can't help but cringe at how bad some of them seem (Angel O'Day - A martial-arts trained detective who solves crime with her gorilla partner, being a prime example) but there are a lot that would be worth looking up at the next comic fair. There is, especially in the earlier decades a fair number of 'feisty female detectives' and 'heroine nurses' but these soon give way to more superhero types as time moves on.

Each Superwoman entry is accompanied by an illustration or comic panel (although, this being a preview copy, not all are available in my edition) which gives you an idea of the quality of artwork through the decades (and yes, a lot of them seem to be "how many curves can we give our heroine" and aimed as much at the titillation of male readers as anything).

I will admit that I didn't know of a lot of these Superwomen but I guess I can put that down to marketing and me not being 'target audience' I guess. I do. however, feel that this book has given me a better idea of the role of these heroes in the history of comics.

In short then, an interesting and informative look at the role of Superwomen in comic books, a very nicely put together volume and a must for those with an interest in the genre. More a book for dipping into than a cover to cover read but certainly one I am proud to have on my shelf.

4.5/5*

Publication date May 2nd, 2017


Friday, 24 February 2017

Review Copies In The Post Today

 First up was this set of collectable cards that accompany the book (which is quite wonderful and be reviewed on here soon) from Quirk Books.
 Next through the letterbox was 'Hunger Makes The Wolf' from Angry Robot Books (which looks a whole lot of fun 😁)
And then came this pair from Gollancz - Sharp Ends is a collection of shorts from The World of the First Law and The Hatching is horror with spiders - what's not to love 😁

All will be reviewed on here in good time.