Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Lion's Share - Jon Lock's Afterlife Inc. Volume 3 Lifeblood Kickstarter

We all know UK comics are having a tougher time than their US compatriots, with The Dandy folding this year and new anthology titles like The Strip Magazine struggling to find a wider audience.

In such times, it is great to see home grown local talent going from strength to strength such as Cheltonian writer Jon Lock's webcomic, Afterlife Inc.

Still on sale in Proud Lion!

Jon released his first graphic novel anthology last year and is poised to launch the second volume at the upcoming Though Bubble convention. Regular readers will remember we spoke to Jon back in October 2011...

Ben Fardon: Jon, your webcomic Afterlife Inc. is a wonderful mix of fantasy, action, humour, corporate intrigue and mythology. What can new readers expect from the chapters of Dying To Tell?

Jon Lock: When corporate con-artist Jack Fortune’s life comes to an abrupt and brutal end, he finds himself in the Empyrean, a bizarre afterlife that has recently been struck by a mysterious Calamity. Never one to miss a business opportunity, Jack reinvents the afterlife as a modern day corporation, stealing fire from the gods to sell back at a profit. Hence Afterlife Inc. “A Company You Can Believe In.”

Jack’s rise to power, and the subsequent challenges facing his company, is a story for the future. With Dying to Tell, however, I wanted to present snapshots of Jack’s new afterlife as seen through the eyes of the deceased souls arriving on its doorstep. Be it sentient computer programs, stars of the silver screen, world leaders or fictional detectives, if they lived, they can die, and that places them firmly in Afterlife Inc.’s domain.

Coming soon!

Never one to rest on his laurels, Jon has just launched a Kickstarter for volume three which eschew the webcomic format in favour of something... bigger.  A 96 page original graphic novel to be precise! In Jon;s own words it will feature "faces both familiar and new, intrigue, action, citywide devastation and (of course) stupid, sexy vampires."

So please, take the time to check out the Kickstarter page and pledge what you can. We still have the first volume of Afterlife Inc. on sale in store too. And you can read more at the website.

Ben Fardon is putting his money where his mouth is. Oh, and doing Movember this year. More on that soon...

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Mega Manga Sale!

All existing manga stock is now half price or better!

Our remaining titles include volumes of Blade Of The Immortal, Bleach, Naruto, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Trigun and Vampire Hunter-D.

This offer does not apply to subsequent new releases or any future customer orders and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Buy One Get One Half Price On All T-Shirts!

Special offer now on! (lowest price t-shirt is half price)
To see the full range, please take a look at our Facebook album. Cheers!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

New Beginnings - Marvel Now Point One

Being completely honest, after last year's Point One I found myself cautiously opening the cover and working my way through the issue even though other people were quite excited about it. Last year’s issue was a mixed bag so is this year going to be the same?

Essentially this issue is following the same format as the last and throughout the issue there is a main thread headed up by the newly minted Agents Nick Fury Jr. and Phil Coulson, as introduced in the recent Battle Scars miniseries that followed Fear Itself. Marvel have completely embraced Samuel L Jackson's movie depiction of Fury, though one wonders why they couldn't have just had the Ultimate universe version return with Peter Parker after his little sojourn there in Spider-Men. Ho hum.

Wrapped around this story are five other tales to tempt you featuring Star- Lord, Nova, Miss America and Kid Loki, Ant-Man and finally Forge. Between them there are some heavy hitting names on both the writing and artistic fronts too.

Nick Spencer’s interwoven tale of Nick Fury ultimately sets up his forthcoming Secret Avengers relaunch, but here the writing is designed to be used a vehicle to flow between the other storylines. Each final panel or frame through the issue almost seamlessly leads into the next chapter, starting with into Brian Michael Bendis’s Star-Lord.

Although the transition isn’t announced the change in artwork to Steve McNiven makes it very clear indeed. With far more definition and detail and a much more homely palate to it, the story takes us back to the beginnings of Star-Lord from before he even knew who, or what he is. It's an action-filled story which has a large number of attributes which will later come into play such as the discovery of an alien gun and the large spaceship encroaching the house. It's all a teaser for this creative team's upcoming relaunch of Guardians Of The Galaxy. It's almost enough, but it was only through looking up the character that more and more of it made sense. Perhaps a little too subtle for me on this occasion but this could be a very interesting title.

In contrast to the linking between the first two stories, Nova comes crashing in with a short called “Diamondhead”. Now this was the story that completely failed for me. In last year's Point One, Nova was the harbinger for Pheonix which sparked off the AvX arc we have recently been reading. This year it lives or dies on it's own merits. With Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness on board I thought all would be good, but the story had no depth to it at all. I would consider the story teenage at best - ready made for the pre-teen market. There are elements of Ben 10 from the names, bold lined artwork and to a degree the dialogue too. Although I wouldn’t say it would put me off the upcoming new Nova title completely, it hasn’t really sparked my enthusiasm for it, and makes me think of TV's the Super Hero Squad rather than the much loved DnA run with Richard Rider.

After a very quick interlude with more of Fury's interrogation of a man from the future, we are led almost by the nose to a parallel world with Miss America being courted by Loki into the Young Avengers.

Written by Keiron Gillen this is quite a fun little tongue-in-cheek tale. This is to be expected from the God of Mischief so it’s quite fitting. It is also a tale of possibly the worst interview or headhunting application in history with a very young Loki trying to tempt Miss America to join his new team. It works as both a teaser and a trailer to the new Young Avengers comics from the Phonogram creators, and the final page flyer gives you clues to the rest of Loki’s team as well. In typical Loki fashion you can’t trust the reasoning behind him but you hope it’s for the better good. Pencilled by Jamie McKelvie and Mike Norton it is very easy on the eye. There is detail where needed but nothing extra to confuse or distract, making for a fun and relaxed read.

Matt Fraction is up next with an Ant-Man teaser for his upcoming FF comic. We are given a very brief history and waypoints of Ant-Man and his personal struggles of recent years. This intense sorrow is counterbalanced with a light hearted tale of super hero vandalism. Now in the past I have really liked Fraction’s work on Iron Man but something about this didn’t grab me. Although this was an introduction for me and gave me food for thought on the motivation of our hero, it almost wasn’t enough of a teaser. The character didn’t resonate with me.

I also had an issue with the artwork which I found very basic and dated. The husband and wife combination of Michael and Laura Allred have given us the panels for the story and you can see how they’ve worked a lot in indie comics as the influence really comes through. This will work fantastically well in some places but I didn’t think it fit here. X-Statik fans should probably give this a go, but I'll be wary.

After another Fury interlude we come on to what I would say is the best story in the whole book, focusing on Forge. Written by Dennis Hopeless this is a tale of a madman quite literally rebuilding himself from the inside out. With slightly schizophrenic tendencies and a little craziness thrown in there is a certain quirky appeal to it, without the wisecracks of someone like Deadpool.

We see Forge moving through a changing landscape which turns out to be the environment being mirrored in his mind as he fixes his own brain. Once he is set on the straight and narrow the voices don’t seem to stop until we realise another protagonist has enter the frame. Having helped Forge fix himself, Cable is now looking for help in return to restore his frail limbs. With Hope having healed him at the end of X-Sanction, Cable is free of the techno-organic virus that plagued him from childhood, but the once infected arm is now withered and useless. This precursor to Cable & The X Force really works and the forthcoming comic looks stunning based on the cover for issue #1 alone. I am hoping that Gabriel Hernandez Walta stays as the artist on the issues as - although it’s not as clean as other artists - it has a resounding feeling to it that is “right” for the story.

The issues finishes with the culmination of the Nick Fury storyline where it is revealed that our mysterious stranger from the future isn’t all that he seems. Intrigue is further created by the uttering of a subliminal codeword and a body-swapping assassin, ultimately leading to Maria Hill telling Fury and Coulson that it is time to look into the Avengers Initiative.

As a Point One issue this is definitely a bit of a rollercoaster but I have to say it has certainly got my interest on some of the titles and it's a real improvement over last year's fare.

Matt Puddy is finally gearing up to go SNIKT!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Halloween ComicFest 2012

No tricks this Halloween, instead we have a treat for you! It's like a miniature version of Free Comic Book Day as we bring you a selection of free comics to celebrate the spooky season.

Here's the six titles we'll have on offer:

It's ADVENTURE TIME! Join Finn the Human, Jake the Dog, and Princess Bubblegum for all-new adventures through The Land of Ooo. The top-rated Cartoon Network show now has its own comic book! With the show exploding in the ratings, garnering rave online reviews, major cosplay at the San Diego Comic-Con, and huge displays dominating the New York Comic Con, it's clear fandom is obsessed and 2012 is the Year of Adventure Time! Don't miss out on this new phenomenon!

Celebrate Halloween with two thrilling tales featuring everyone's favorite Wall-Crawler and the Earth's Mightiest Heroes! It can't get any better than free Spider-Man and Avengers comics, so don't forget to stop into your local comic shop and pick up a copy!

Created by six year--old Malachai Nicolle and illustrated by his older brother, the cartoonist Ethan Nicolle,. Whether he's fighting gun-toting dinosaurs, or teaming up with Ninja Moon Warriors the adventures of Axe Cop and his incomparable team of crime fighters will delight and perplex even the most stoic of readers. This ashcan features the origin story of Axe Cop and the Halloween special 'The Night Monster.'

Just in time for Halloween, it's a FREE all-ages flip-book comic reprinting classic BATMAN and SCOOBY-DOO tales!
In his side of the comic, The Dark Knight meets Gotham City's new vigilante, the Cavalier, and battles the evil of Ra's Al Ghul in stories from BATMAN ADVENTURES #1 and #4.
And in the other side, the Mystery Inc. Gang tries to get to the bottom of "The Costume Caper," in a story from SCOOBY-DOO, WHERE ARE YOU? #2.

First time in print! A long-dead gangster is terrorizing Times Square, wreaking horrific havoc on a building that once housed a spirited speakeasy. But the place is now a toy store, and when the ghostly gangster starts shooting ectoplasmic bullets at terrified patrons, the Ghosbusters - Egon, Ray, Peter, and Winston - are called in to nab the speakeasy spook! Written by Brian Lynch (Angel, Spike, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and illustrated Marcelo Mueller (Lady Death, Aliens), Ghostbusters: Time Scare! serves as a hauntingly hilarious gateway into IDW's smash-hit line of Ghostbusters comics!

Trick or... Turtles?! Presenting an all-new free edition of the IDW Publishing debut of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Featuring a cast of familiar characters - Master Splinter, April O'Neill, Casey Jones, and more - and true to the spirit of the original comics created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are bigger and badder than ever, and here's where it started!

These comics will be available on Saturday 27th October.

Any customer spending £5 or more in store on that day will be able to choose one free comic from the six titles above.

Supplies are very, very limited, so we won't have the vast wealth of freebies we have on Free Comic Book Day I'm afraid. To avoid disappointment, get down early on Halloween! It is new comic day as well, so it shouldn't be hardship!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Christmas Opening Times 2012

Here's our Christmas opening times for this year. As you can see we will have a late night opening on the last Thursday before Christmas, as well as opening on the last Sunday and Monday (Christmas Eve) before Christmas.

We'll be closed for Christmas Day itself, but we'll re-open on Boxing Day with some huge new comics including, but not limited to (subject to change):

Justice League #15 (part one of the Throne of Atlantis crossover)
Aquaman #15 (part two of the Throne of Atlantis crossover - all Reservation Service customers with Justice League on their pull list will automatically get Aquaman #15 unless they opt out by the end of November)
Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #4

Amazing Spider-Man #700 (the last EVER issue of Amazing Spider-Man and rumoured to be the death of Doctor Octopus!)
Avenging Spider-Man #15.1 (coinciding with the end of Amazing Spider-Man, a look back at the greatest conflict in comics history: Spidey vs. Doc Ock!)

Amazing Spider-Man #700 will make history. Be here and be a part of it on Boxing Day!

Rachel Rising #13

Crossed Badlands #20

Deathmatch #1 (kill or be killed in the ultimate superhero deathmatch!)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Secret Foot Clan #1 (the origin of the Foot Clan!)

Mara #1

Amazing Spider-Man #700 will make history. Be here and be a part of it on Boxing Day!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Why Should I Read... The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite?

Gerard Way wrote The Umbrella Academy. I open with that simple statement because on a superficial level, when you judge a book by it's cover, that is the most obvious (if superficial) fact about these books.

In case you don't know, Gerard Way is most famous for fronting alternative rock band My Chemical Romance. This is something of a polarising fact, as in my experience the band and their music invoke strong responses, both positive and negative. Personally, I'm not a fan of the band. Obviously, the graphic novel is not musical piece of work, but it is a creation of art nonetheless. The advice here is simple; leave your preconceptions, whatever they may be, at the door - come in and buy these books.

I say this with confidence, even gusto. I have been reading comics for over two decades. To give you an idea of scale; At any given point my pile of graphic novels that are waiting to be read totals over two grand in cost. It's safe to say I've read a lot of graphic novels but I have never read a book that made me feel like this one did.

The cornerstone of any book of this kind is the characters. The reader is introduced to a high number of characters quite quickly, each unique and fascinating. The relationship between them is shown to us through a series of carefully crafted interactions. These really are the work of a master comic book writer, they are subtle but uncomplicated, done with reserved dialogue and imagery. The story itself is interlaced with the relationships so it's revealed in parallel, again with real dexterity and texture. It's this layer upon gossamer layer approach to creating the Umbrella Academy that drew me in until I was completely immersed.

The original artwork for the Umbrella Academy was created by Gerard Way, who's first real creative medium was art. Although none of Way's artwork was used in the novel, artist Gabriel Bá did recreate Way's vision using it. This does mean a greater connection between the writing and artwork than usual. I found this allowed greater and faster access to the world Way has created, which due to its multiple layers and tangible intensity (at the emotionally appropriate moments) can be intimidating. The lining and wash colour bases felt to me that they removed the sharper edges of the book, allowing me to stay invested where I might have otherwise withdrawn.

A prime example of this is the central characters. Do not be mistaken, these are spectacular, weird, edge-of-reason characters. One of the central 'people' in this book is a gorilla in a space suit. It could easily be assumed that this kind of setup is somewhere between surreal and ridiculous. Isolated, either the writing or the artwork would be inaccessible, so far removed is it from the norm. The harsh, yet transparent personality of the character would be repellent in it's own right, and the imagery of a gorilla in a space suit is just bloody silly. Bringing them together however, creates a splendid yet sad representation of the burden of expectation. It creates a troubled yet understandable person striving to balance his own emotional well being against the welfare of others, and the demand he feels within himself to do so. This harmony of ideologies is not something I have ever seen before.

Because of this balance, the Umbrella Academy has a certain serenity to it. The issues are fantastic and incredible (and incredulous), as are the characters, backdrop and subject matter, but more importantly the relationships are accessible and relatable. The dysfunction within the family at the heart of the book gives a tinge of sadness to its core. Higher human achievements as discussed in this volume also only come with sacrifice, and that sense of loss for purpose is ingrained throughout.

Ultimately, I recommend Umbrella Academy because I have never experienced a story as emotionally unique as this one. To truly 'get it' you will need to open your mind to a new experience, accept it as entire piece and reflect on it. This isn't easy; an almost philosophical approach to reading a comic is an usual request to make of a reader. I truly believe it will be worth it, this is a very special read.

You'll probably end up wishing the worst of throat infections on Gerard Way, on the off chance he'll shut up and write more comics.

Chris Boyle is wondering what happened to the third volume of Umbrella Academy, Hotel Oblivion...

Thursday, 18 October 2012

New Beginnings - Batman #13

Now this blog is called New Beginnings and Batman is a thoroughly established character in the DC universe so this week’s blog is slightly different. This week we are not looking at the new beginning of a hero or saviour, this is the return and rebirth of something far darker, deranged and sinister.

Batman #13 welcomes home the quintessential adversary of the caped crusader, the Joker.

For any fans who read Tony Daniels' Detective Comics #1, you would have seen that The Clown Prince of Crime had his face removed by The Dollmaker before disappearing.

The final page of Detective Comics #1

Now, a year later, he is marking is return in Scott Snyder’s Batman kicking off the new arc, Death Of The Family. This in itself is a little unsurprising as the Joker was pivotal to the A Death In The Family storyline in the late Eighties.

Snyder’s story opens on a dark and stormy, rain-filled night, with Commissioner Gordon trying to assess how the press are going to use the “omens” that seem to be coming up. Ironically this is also when a psychopath walks in out of the rain with a joke.

The ensuing massacre brings Batman to the scene and with an almost hysterical Jim Gordon confirming it was the Joker, meaning that all the old files are opened and the Bat Family put on high alert. Admittedly this is not how Bruce wants it but he also has no choice too.

With Bruce’s attention firmly grabbed the Joker ups the ante by publicly announcing that Mayor Hady will die, but it’s through astute detective work that the real direction of the Joker is deduced and a showdown at the ACE Chemical plant is arranged.

For a man with no real or apparent plan the Joker certainly has thought things through as Snyder opens the world up to Harley Quinn and Alfred bringing them into the fray as well.

Although there is no clear motive, the Joker is most definitely back. Add to that the loaded connotations of the play on words with the main title, well you know something is going to happen. It’s not clear at all whether this is simply splitting the Bat Family up, or if we will see another death, but this is now wide open for the reader.

After a break for issue #12, Greg Capullo returns to provide us with the artwork and the new look Joker. It’s typical to his style and fits in well with Snyder's work. However, there are some cracking extras in the issue.

Take the cover for example. All of the opening issues for this major arc have a gatefold depicting the main character being masked by the Joker’s staple-riddled face. The back cover provides a list of all the crossover issues for you keep track of them.

Even better is the mini story at the back of the issue, which contains “Tease”, the story behind Harley’s interaction with the returning Joker. Without spoiling anything, it is a short but interesting backstory which is beautifully drawn. The final page artistically trumped the rest of the issue for me.

Snyder is one of my favourite writers right now, so not liking this issue would be a hard thing for me.
Although it is the return of possibly the most significant villain in Batman’s world, there isn’t much more given to where this arc is really going so far. Even so this is a great issue and any Batman fan should be so eager to get their hands on it. If it lives up to it's similarly named predecessor then this will be a run to remember.

Matt Puddy is looking forward to seeing how this one pans out...

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Cyber Force #1 - FREE (while stocks last)

Today sees the release of Cyber Force #1, relaunched and reimagined to celebrate Top Cow's 20th Anniversary!

And that's not all. Following a successful Kickstarter project, it will actually be the first five issues of Cyber Force that are free to a good home!

That said, much like Free Comic Book Day comics, these comics cost retailers like Proud Lion a small amount of money, so stocks will be limited and strictly only one per issue per customer. But play your cards right and that's still five free comics over the coming months.

So don't delay, pop and down and grab a copy of issue #1!

Here's the full lowdown on that first issue:


Top Cow celebrates its 20th anniversary with the return of the series that started it all: CYBER FORCE! Top Cow founder MARC SILVESTRI (THE DARKNESS, INCREDIBLE HULK) returns to his first Image series as co-writer, art director and cover artist! Co-writer MATT HAWKINS (THINK TANK, LADY PENDRAGON) and artist KHOI PHAM (MIGHTY AVENGERS, DAREDEVIL) join SILVESTRI to bring you a contemporary re-imagining rooted in cutting edge, real world technology. 

Carin Taylor, codenamed Velocity, has escaped from the CDI-controlled Millennium City and is desperately trying to find the one man she believes can help her prevent the end of the world. When she runs a group of other CDI escapees, will they help her... or turn their backs? 

Not content in pushing the envelope just in terms of story and art, Top Cow will be the first major US comic publisher to launch one of their biggest properties with top tier creators concurrently for both the traditional print market and exploding worldwide digital market for FREE. That's right: Thanks to the support of fans through Kickstarter and participating comic shops, you can get the first FIVE issues of CYBER FORCE at no cost. 

Reservation Service customers, if you want one but can't make it down today, drop me a line ASAP and I'll pop one in your folder.

Stay tuned folks, this isn't the only free comic in October! Halloween ComicFest is coming, watch this space for more details on how Proud Lion is participating...

Ben Fardon is so glad that Walking Dead season three is here!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

NUS card holders and British Armed Forces personnel - 10% discount in store!

Following the success of our Cheltenham Literature Festival discount promotion, I can now announce a permanent 10% discount for all NUS card holders and British Armed Forces personnel!

Please show your NUS card or ID card in store at the start of your transaction to claim your discount.

The offer excludes back issue comics and carrier bags, and cannot be used with any other promotion or reduction, including (but not limited to) 50p comics, comic packs, sale items and price matched items.

This is something I've always wanted to offer and as we approach our fifth Christmas of trading I'm delighted that I finally can!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

New Beginnings - Uncanny Avengers #1 (MARVEL NOW)

Marvel has certainly had a big event this year by pitting the X-Men off against the Avengers following an Omega level threat to the existence of everything.

For those who followed and read it Avengers Vs X-Men was certainly a game changer as it blurred the boundaries between what is good and essentially right. Both teams of heroes fought for what they felt was the greater and better ideal. The decision to stop or help Hope Summers and the Pheonix Force.
Now, in the ashes of the story, with Professor X dead and Cyclops held prisoner for the role he played in the whole mess, Rick Remender takes the reins to lead a new era in.

From the out I think it’s fair to say that Remender has headed straight into shock territory. Opening with a lobotomy performed by a mysterious surgeon on an unknown subject, a T+ is earned straight away. What I have liked is that instead of continuing in this vein there is then developed a sense of emotional turmoil through various characters as well as an almost political feeling to it as well with an act of terrorism. A prisoner who we have spent years seeing develop into mutantkind's strongest leader (Scott Summers) and the wake of the man who’s dream started it all.

Interwoven with this we have Captain America developing a new team of Avengers who he hopes will be spearheaded by Havok, Scott's brother Alex.

This is very much an issue set to establish a great many points. Firstly it revisits the mutant/human landscape and the old idea that mutantkind is growing and evolving whilst still feared is most definitely there. The frayed relationships and responsibility of those involved in AvX is also delved into with Rogue confronting the Scarlet Witch, although this in itself produces questions as we see them both as teammates on the cover. It is also the opening foray for Alex Summers to step up and become the leader of this team.

The architecture of the issue is really strong and gives incredibly firm grounding for the reader to build from right the way up to the entry of a rival team who are essentially the “bad guys” keeping your attention focussed on the story so much that I have to admit the stunning final page caught me by complete surprise. Surprised but very impressed as we are presented with an archetypal evil complete with xenophobic intentions.

On the whole the writing is good but, for the first time in ages, I actually cringed when Thor commented on going for a latte.

John Cassaday is the artist for the issue and he has certainly tried to leave his mark as well. There are creative flares shown when he is defining how to imprison Cyclops and also a clean respectful feel to when all are mourning but the thing that struck me most is that characters we all know well have been “tweaked”. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I can see exactly who is portrayed but something just doesn’t feel right. It’s almost a little too polished in the faces without the fine detail and yet at other times, like when Earthquake releases his attack, the detail is present. I found things a little confusing on the eyes.

As an issue to open it is a great start. However, it builds on a huge event and if you haven’t read it then you will be left asking questions.

Remender has always been a strong writer so I can see him taking this and developing it well. Where it goes though, especially in the light of the final page, is an open and interesting discussion just waiting to happen.

Matt Puddy thinks Scott Summers lost it because he finally saw red.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Why Should I Read... Chronicles of Wormwood

From a very early age, I was sent to Sunday School. I learned about Christianity, God, Jesus and the Bible. I learned about genesis and revelations and everything in between. I can't remember a point where I ever believed any of it, but I enjoyed the stories. The stories were great.

Skip ahead a few years, and instead of the writings of a bunch of dusty, desert dwelling gents making up random stuff to control the masses, I'm reading the scriptures of Garth Ennis. Instead of King James, the publisher is Avatar Press... And the stories? They got upgraded.

Ennis is probably best known for Preacher, his sprawling epic centred around the Reverend Jesse Custer and his battles with God. (See "Why Should I Read... Preacher?") Chronicles of Wormwood is another take on the Christian mythology, a little more modern, with an extra juicy dollop of grown-up humour. For me, that's the first thing that grabbed me about these books. Ultimately, faith and all of it's trappings are a serious business for those that have them. If you aren't a person of faith, then the tales that others believe in can seem ridiculous. Ennis takes this premise and turns it neatly on it's head, by asking a simple question; how ridiculous would it be if this crap were real?

The answers he gives are varied and numerous. There are jokes steeped in the beautiful irony of existential life, and there are knob gags. Ennis has always worked with juxtapositions for emphasis and Chronicles of Wormwood is no exception. The story shifts from the justification of humanity as discussed by the Devil and the AntiChrist, to the relatively workaday arguments about popular television production. Oh, and there are knob gags. There are meanderings from the end of a relationship, to the end of the world. Did I mention the knob gags? There are a frankly spectacular array of knob gags.

Bringing life to phallic fun is artist Jacen Burrows. Burrows draws with a distinct if not unique style, well suited to Ennis. The two have worked together regularly since 2002, when Burrows became a house artist at Avatar Press. This extensive working partnership allows Burrows to reflect the guttural nature of Ennis's writing. When the intensity of the book increases, Burrows matches it wonderfully, creating images which are visceral, both figuratively and literally.

The most alluring thing I found in Chronicles of Wormwood was the humanisation of the AntiChrist. As the central character, the story obviously revolves around him, but almost in a double helix. As with the other juxtapositions of the book, there are two areas of Wormwood's life at constant conflict. There is his desire to step away from the ultimate responsibility laid out for him by his father; Wormwood should be the instigator of the end of the world. He believes that humanity should be left to their own devices, so views Armageddon with apathy at best. This leads to conflict with his father but this is portrayed in a a very human way, as any son would struggle to live up to the expectations of an overbearing parent.

In his more regular life, Wormwood struggles again, as his very human character frailties threaten to tear his life apart. He makes terrible choices, and regularly hurts those he cares about. As the reader, it's possible to be left wondering whether this is simply the failings of a young man, or if his parentage is creeping in. The book then appears to mimic you, as Wormwood wonderfully begins to do the same.
Chronicles of Wormwood is a very fun, but insightful look at the end of the world. It's funny because it's not true... Or is it?

Chris Boyle is glad that you get a free pass on jokes about Star Wars nerds.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Cheltenham Literature Festival 2012 ticket holders - 10% discount on comics and graphic novels in store!

From today until Sunday 14th October, Cheltenham once again hosts the wonderful Literature Festival. Among this year's guests are genre favourites Jenny Agutter, Iain Banks, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Eccleston, Mark Haddon, Stephen Mangan, Ben Miller, David Mitchell, Philip Pullman, J. K. Rowling, John Simm and David Walliams!

It looks set to be a great event celebrating the written word and the inspiration that can be drawn from both fiction and non-fiction. Comics are literature too and for the duration of the offer I'm pleased to be able to offer all customers a 10% discount on any purchased comics, graphic novels, or RPG books on the presentation of a valid Cheltenham Literature Festival 2012 ticket or ticket stub!

Please note this offer doesn't include back issue comics and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer or reduction, such as the 50p comics box.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

New Beginnings - Daredevil: End of Days #1

There’s a certain irony to writing a piece for New Beginnings which has the end of the main character within the first few pages, but this is exactly what this new eight part miniseries is about.

The series - a writing collaboration between Brian Bendis and David Mack - has been on the cards for a while now and was originally due to be out last year. Now we finally get to see the fruits of their labour.

Marvel have had other titles which have depicted the potential end of different heroes throughout the universe but Bendis has gone on record saying that this is going to be a little different and bigger.

The story opens in the middle of an arduous and brutal fight with Daredevil not handling things well at all. Amongst the awestruck and voyeuristic public standing by watching, the fatal beating occurs for all of the media to see. Many would think that at this moment the story would wind back an amount of time to see the preceding events - a trail that lead to the end - but this is not the tack that is taken. For those who read the issue and have a keen eye, you will realise that the narration is in the third person and in a reportage style, which leads us to our real storymaster, Ben Urich.

Struggling to come to terms with what has happened to his friend, in a print media news room that is closing and dying itself, Ben can’t bring himself to write the column that Jonah is demanding. He knows Hell’s Kitchen and exactly what the locals will say and do, until he meets one resident who opens his eyes to the mystery behind his last word.

The development of the issue then follows Matt Murdock’s rise through the Kitchen as he becomes Daredevil and then through Bendis and Alex Maleev's celebrated storyarc as DD eventually names himself the Kingpin of Hell’s Kitchen. Of course, this rise lead to the death of the previous Kingpin, Wilson Fisk.

So what becomes of the man who has lost the yin to his yang?

As Urich walks off into the rain through the dark night, a horned figure watches over him leaving even more questions.

Although this isn’t the style Bendis has been using on titles like the Avengers (which I'm used to), it has worked really well and gives a fantastically strong opening. The T+ rating is justified and there is an adult air to the whole thing.

The artwork, by Klaus Janson and Bill Sienkiewicz, is a tricky one for me. Whilst I really appreciate the tone it establishes and continues throughout the whole issue, it’s not a style I like. Janson is known well for his inking - and whilst his pencil work is also recognised throughout both Marvel and DC catalogues - in this instance I found it a little too heavy and dark, though so may argue that this story demands it.

Daredevil has certainly been a favourite of mine but it can really depend on the writer and artwork as to whether I would follow a particular arc or run on the comic. That said, even with my lack of fondness for the artwork this is still a really good opening to a relatively short running series.

It’s also done in a way that if you wanted to pick up the comic with minimal backstory knowledge you really could. For fans I would definitely say that this is one to follow and for those who are interested I would tell you to give it a read too.

Matt Puddy was frustrated that Wolverine Max was delayed.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Retraction - Vibe review

On Saturday 29th September, we published a article entitled “Digital Canvas - Two To Review: Paranatural vs. Vibe.”

In that story, a paragraph was published with reference to the webcomic Vibe. It has since come to our attention that this caused offence. This was not our intention in any way and we apologise for any offence that may have been caused.

Carrier bags and charity - The Cystic Fibrosis Trust

Hi folks,

Last night marked not only the end of the current financial quarter and the end of the latest period of collecting money for charity from our sales of carrier bags.

This is our sixth full quarter and together we raised £8.87!

Last time I supported one of our suppliers - Frank Hanford from Esdevium Games Ltd - who was raising money for The Toy Trust which raises money for disadvantaged children.

This time, I've supported one of our customers - Matthew Dodwell - who ran the Bristol Half Marathon  yesterday to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, in honour of a close friend's young daughter who is a sufferer. If you'd like to make a donation of your own, their sponsorship page can be found here. More information about The Cystic Fibrosis Trust can be found on their website.

The next carrier bag donation will be in New Year. If you have a charity you'd like Proud Lion to support, please email me at