Boys’ Own Action! – Warlord #383 – Review

Warlord 383 - coverI was born in 1970 and I loved the Second World War. In 2018, the UK has largely shaken off its obsession with World War 2, arguably the last ‘good’ war in which the country has taken part, but it’s fair to say that my childhood was dominated by a conflict that left the UK without its Empire, in horrendous levels of debt to the US, in need of national re-building and yet somehow one whose result could reasonably be seen as a ‘victory’. Perhaps because of that strange dichotomy between patriotic satisfaction at a job well done and the real geopolitical and economic consequences of that endeavour, UK pop culture was positively saturated with World War 2. Airfix models of planes, tanks and soldiers; TV shows like Dad’s Army, Colditz and Secret Army (and latterly its far more successful parody ‘Allo, ‘Allo); the novels of Alastair MacLean and Sven Hassel; Biggles; comics like Commando and Battle Picture Library: as a boy growing up in the 70s, it was impossible to escape the war. And that’s not including the personal reminiscences of my grandparents (my dad’s father, not fit enough to fight on the frontlines, nevertheless helped man an AA battery on the North West coast of England that one night downed a Junkers 88 bomber on its way to bomb Liverpool) or the various documentaries about the war which regularly appeared on our black and white (and eventually colour) TV screens.

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The Wild Storm: Michael Cray #9 – Review

Michael Cray 9Michael Cray is playing a dangerous game. Pretending to give his allegiance to the Wild Storm universe’s mad Diana Prince, while secretly working with a psychotic John Constantine to foil her plan to bring back the old Greek gods so that Constantine will help him deal with the sentient tumour in his head, which is a course of action that places him directly at odds with his boss Christine Trelane, Cray’s got not only a game within a game to consider but also an opponent embedded within his own mind. To say that he’s got his work cut out is an understatement. The fact that the stakes include not only Cray’s personal well-being but the fate of the entire world only makes the game that more intriguing. Throw in the enigmatic Dr Shahi and Cray’s erstwhile ‘team’ and there’s enough going on here to make your head spin. It’s a good job that writer Bryan Hill knows what he’s doing, then, isn’t it?

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Fairchild – The Wild Storm #14 Review

The Wild Storm (2017-) 014-000Well, that’s a shame. This is issue 14 of the Wild Storm imprint’s flagship title, not 13 as indicated by the numbering on the cover*. A small mistake, you might think, but, when this comic manages to produce something approaching perfection most issues, not an insignificant one: a fly in this comic’s sweet-smelling ointment; a little fox to spoil an otherwise luxuriant and abundant vine. Still, that is a nice cover. The image of this version of Fairchild (Gen13) lifting a jeep one-handed above her head is a typically Davis-Huntian (Davis-Hunt-esque?) study in feminine power and understated menace. Last issue saw the Wild Storm universe expand in intriguing and unexpected ways. Can we expect more of the same this time round? Let’s find out…

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Gotham By Daylight – The Unexpected #4 Review

The Unexpected 4 coverIt’s that time of the month again. I’d like to say that the arrival of The Unexpected is… unexpected. But it isn’t. I’d also like to say that my unanticipated enthusiasm for the title that started with issue 1 and quickly faded with the subsequent two issues has been magically rekindled and that issue 4 is exciting, intriguing and, perhaps most important of all, coherent. But it isn’t. So, in an attempt to provide something genuinely unexpected for those hardy readers who have stuck with the series up to now, I’m going to present this review as an inner (now outer, I suppose) dialogue between the naïve somewhat innocent me who kind of likes Orlando and can see what he’s trying to do and the cynical more analytical me who thinks that it’s no good having grand ideas if you can’t execute them properly and that Orlando’s hackery is a stain on the collective good name of DC Comics (not that, at this point in their history, it’s otherwise exactly spotless). If nothing else, it should at least provide an interesting insight into the tortured divided soul of this long-time comic book fan and sometime reviewer.

Here we go…

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The Ruff and Reddy Show #4 – Review

The Ruff and Reddy Show 4Another month, another issue of The Ruff and Reddy Show, a comic book whose very existence continues to baffle and bemuse me. Last issue saw the titular pair do the dirty on their agent, Pamela, and take up the offer of industry veteran Aldo “Crafty” Schrafft. Will this issue be as predictable as it is beautiful (Mac Rey’s art continues to be the one shining point of the series)? There’s only one way to find out, doncha know? And here it is…

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Blood and Magic – The Wild Storm: Michael Cray #8 Review

Michael Cray 8 coverThis title’s ongoing plunge into a world of dark, twisted versions of the DC Universe’s most iconic characters continues and, unlike some of the earlier installments of this 12-issue series, last month’s issue ended with me wanting more – and as soon as possible! Well, a month is a long time to wait, but issue 8 is finally here with not one but two DC heroes turned bad guys to deal with. How will Cray manage to handle both John Constantine and Diana Prince? There’s only one way to find out!

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Monstrous – The Unexpected #3 Review

The Unexpected 3 coverI liked the first issue of this New Age of Heroes title, but the moment Steve Orlando has to start explaining things is the moment nonsense begins to swarm like flies on a dog turd and so it proved last issue which, shorn of original artist Ryan Sook’s vibrant visuals, was nowhere near as entertaining. Orlando’s penchant for throwing in obscure continuity references into his stories is quickly becoming legendary in these parts. Will Orlando manage to restrain this instinct and tell a coherent story? You know the drill…

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Wonderful! – The Wild Storm: Michael Cray #7 – Review

Michael Cray 7 - coverIt’s Michael Cray time! A combination of work stress and having to read Hanna-Barbera comics for a while has, quite honestly, made me more than a little desperate for this book. Which is kind of ironic, because a couple of months ago I’d more or less given up on it. What a difference a single issue can make! Bryan Hill’s decision last time to bring to the foreground the mystery of our titular hero’s tumour did enough to hook me back into this series that had been threatening to sink under the weight of a story structure that was formulaic and predictable. Now, though, with the introduction of the Wild Storm universe’s John Constantine and a sense of things spinning out of Cray’s (and Christine Trelane’s) control, all bets are off. Who knows what might happen this issue? There is, as they say, only one way to find out…

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