Wednesday, 27 March 2013

REVISED Easter 2013 Opening Times and Monthly Mondays

UPDATE: Diamond UK inform me that next week's comic will be arrive on the Thursday due to the two Bank Holidays.

As such, we will be now be closed on Tuesday and operate reduced hours on Wednesday. We will be open until 6:30pm on Thursday for you to get your new releases!

Things return to normal the following week.

With Easter nearly upon us, here's our opening times for the Bank Holiday.

Please note that due to Easter Monday, Monthly Mondays for April will move to Monday 8th April. The same will happen in May due to the May Bank Holiday; Monthly Mondays in May will move to Monday 13th May. Apologies for any inconvenience.

Things will then return to the first Monday of the month as per usual.

Have a Happy Easter! Don't forget TableTop Day is this Saturday, sandwiched neatly between Good Friday and Easter!

The Watcher - Doctor Who: The Bells Of Saint John, A Prequel

Doctor Who returns for the second half of season seven this coming Easter Saturday, on BBC One and BBC One HD at 6:15pm.

Here's the online prequel! Enjoy!

Ben Fardon has his head in the clouds with Bioshock Infinite

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Big Game Hunting - Game versus Comic: Borderlands

There are a handful of comics that only exist thanks to the great success of the games that inspired them. But just how good are these comics when compared to their digital counterparts? This week we look at the four-part comic series Borderlands: Origins, written by Mike Neumann.

What's the comic about?
Fans of the Borderlands games will no doubt be able to vividly remember the opening scene of the first game: four adventurers on a bus in what seems like the middle of nowhere. The four issues of this comic series show how each of those adventurers got there. It is the story of how Roland, Lilith, Mordecai, and Brick were eventually led to the bus that would take them to Fyrestone.

When does the comic take place in relation to game events?
Short answer, it varies. Roland's story takes place about seven hundred “cycles” before the events of the first Borderlands game. The issues for Lilith and Brick both begin with them getting on the bus, and tell the whole of their stories as flashbacks, with Lilith's going all the way to her childhood. Mordecai's story doesn't really give a time frame, and the last we see of him is when he gets hold of a business card advertising for vault hunters.

How true are the characters?
For the most part, it is as if the characters just jumped out of the game and into the pages. Particularly in Lilith and Mordecai's stories, you get the same vibe and attitudes you see on screen. But the comics also do a brilliant job of showing different sides of these characters. Roland in particular shows a great shift in character from the beginning of his story to the end.

What about continuity?
The nice thing about having very little by way of character backstory in the games is that their origins can be written almost freely. Even in Borderlands 2, where some smaller pieces of history between the four characters are let slip, there are enough gaps that their personal stories don't conflict with what's been established in the games. I've not been able to find any errors in the continuity of the storyline.

Sadly Mad Moxxi doesn't get her own comic in this series, but she did grace one of the variant covers...

What does the comic do that the game doesn't, or can't?
The comics essentially do what the first Borderlands game never did: tell their stories. The game is all about completing missions and achieving that final goal of getting to the Vault, whereas the comics show how the characters were brought to that path. The only failing here is that in some places, particularly in Brick's issue, the comic falls into the pattern of showing multiple pages of combat. While some fight scenes are to be expected in this genre, it feels like the comic is being padded to make up for a lack of story. The comic would be better if it spent a little more time on the characters than their combat skills.

Can I read this without playing the game?
Sure! The comics go a long way to giving the audience something to get attached to in each character, and also give a quick look at what you can expect from the game. You don't need to know anything about the Borderlands storyline to dive right in, but having played either – or both – of the games won't make the stories any less interesting.

Want to give this comic a go? You can download the first issue free form Comxiology! You can also pop into Proud Lion where you can grab all four issues or pre-order the graphic novel collection (released in May).

Rae is getting all geared up for a day of gaming this weekend!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Big Game Hunting - TableTop Day 2013: The Rundown

With our very own TableTop Day event less than a week away, now seems like a good time to give you all a quick rundown of the games we'll be playing. If any of them appeal to you, please send an email to sign up for a game slot on Saturday, 30 March!

The raffle prizes!

Every sign up nets you a free entry into the TableTop Day raffle, with prizes including £20 of Proud Lion gift vouchers and a copy of Zombie Dice! For information about signing up and available game slots, please click here.

First up is Small World, a light-hearted fantasy board game where the game world is simply too small for you all to hold territories peacefully. Players use a multitude of powerful races to conquer as many lands as they can and defend them from their fellow conquerers. However, no single race is strong enough to hold those lands forever. Eventually, your race must fall into decline - enabling you to take on a new race and once again begin conquering the world.

Unsurprisingly, all of this is done in the pursuit of wealth. Every territory you successfully claim earns you coins, even if your race has gone into decline. The player with the most coins at the end of the game wins. This game comes with a number of expansions, all of which will be available to play with this weekend. Click here to see the full review for this game, or visit the Small World website.

Next we have Fluxx, a card game that has the simplest rules in the world - right up until you change them. You start with the basic rule: draw a card, then play a card. Cards that you can play include Keepers (help you to win), Creepers (keep you from winning most of the time), Actions (let you do cool stuff), Goals (determine how you win the game), and New Rules (change the rules of how you play). The game ends when any of the players have the cards shown on the current Goal card, which of course can change as easily as the rules!

The best part of Fluxx is that in comes in so many varieties. There's a version for pirates, zombies, Wizard of Oz, science fiction, Monty Python, and more besides. Each has completely unique cards, and some of them introduce new card types to make gameplay even more fun. For the full review of this game, look here. You can also find out more on the Fluxx homepage.

Around midday we'll be having a go at Level 7 [Escape]. This is a cooperative board game in which players are trapped in an alien facility, and are struggling to get out alive. Your captive character must explore the facility, one random tile at a time, in order to complete objectives. You'll be faced with guards, clones, and events which will affect various aspects of your character, such as their health and their fear level. You'll also manage to get new items and skills to help your character survive the facility.

This is a game which includes several different scenarios, making sure every play through is unique. Each scenario even has three difficulty levels, allowing you to choose how much of a challenge you want to go up against. If you want to see more about Level 7 [Escape], check out the website here.

Later in the afternoon, we'll be having a good old game of Munchkin. This is a dungeon crawling card game that pulls jokes from just about every role playing game there is. Game play involves kicking open doors, fighting monsters, and looting treasures. You can even ask your friends playing with you to help fight those monsters, and share your treasures with them. But you may discover your friends are later helping the monsters and stealing your stuff instead in a desperate attempt to keep you from winning the game!

Like Fluxx, there are a number of different themed versions of this game. Unlike Fluxx, different Munchkin games can be combined to make your game experience more unique. Some examples are Star Munchkin (which will be available this Saturday!), Super Munchkin, Munchkin Cthulhu, and Munchkin Zombies, but there are plenty more to choose from. Small booster packs are also released fairly regularly, creating additional cards which can be added to your existing Munchkin decks. If you want to see the full review, you can find it here. You can also wander over to the Munchkin website for more details.

And finally, the newest game on our TableTop Day event, is Goblins, Inc. You play as a goblin in a factory, where the boss goblin is about to retire. He's offering up his job to the goblin who makes the best giant-mechanical-robot-of-doom - and by best, he really means whichever robot happens to survive the longest. This is a game that you play in teams, but don't count on your teammate to help you out for long, since you change sides halfway through the game!

This is a game that has a lot of elements that will feel familiar to Galaxy Trucker players. You first concentrate on building a robot with various tiles, then have a combat round where the robots are slowly torn apart by the other side. Whichever robot makes it to the end of the round with the most points (and generally, with more of their robot intact) wins the round. After two or three rounds, the goblin - sorry, player - with the most points wins. Also, while this game is designed for four players, there are adapted rules for playing with only two or three people. To find out more about this game, you can take a look here.

See a favourite game in our list? Or maybe a game that you've not played before, but would like to try? Sign up for a slot ASAP. See you Saturday!

Rae is doing her best to keep warm and bake ALL the cookies!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

New Beginnings - Judge Dredd Year One #1

IDW is a publisher that has a somewhat naughty pleasure for me. It’s not your mainstream Marvel or DC comics, and very often they have titles that everyone knows of, but not necessarily thinks about,  like Transformers. They also have a great range of publications that are constantly finding me something new to experience. This week I have one of those exact moments with Judge Dredd Year One.

Now my exposure to Judge Dredd is limited to the Stallone film and recent reboot, although I am aware of the previous 2000AD comics that I used to see on newsagents shelves as a kid. This does mean that I can take a fairly neutral view on this issue.

The story is brought to us by Matt Smith (not that one!), 2000AD's current Editor-in-Chief, and revolves around Joe Dredd's early days. Things are not quite what he expected, as there are strange psychic abilities manifesting in the juveniles around him.

Initially told in a third person style (which isn’t given by Dredd), the introduction of Mega-City One is more about showing how things the future are different and yet still very much the same. Children get bullied, babies play with no apparent understanding of the world around them and gangs try to rule the streets. But then things have begun to change. Sudden outbreaks of what can only be described as phenomena start appearing - telekinesis, levitation, mind control - and there are many more eluded to.

Skipping forward four days we see Dredd on patrol. Ending up in pursuit of two criminals, the subsequent chase brings him to witness such an event where a small child tears a man limb from limb.

Posed with the problem of what to do Dredd approaches the Psi-Division to get some guidance. This is a whole new world for the old fashioned cop. What this does mean is that when Dredd is back on the street, things have definitely changed in what he comes to expect and how he intends to to handle it all.

From the outset the cover is fantastic and looks glorious. With art from Greg Staples I felt this so-called standard cover was anything but. I definitely preferred it to the subscription and alternative covers, though it's worth noting the subscription cover comes from Dredd's co-creator, Carlos Ezquerra.

The artwork inside is a little different though. The fine work and details that we saw outside does appear to have been all used up and now we have a less defined depiction of the story. The interior artist is Simon Coleby, an artist I haven’t knowingly seen before but is a veteran of Judge Dredd and has received some fantastic words of praise from his editors.

What I did like were the little touches. Even though the inside cover has the contributor listings there is still a box on the second page which ties in perfectly with the story simply labelled “Citation:Y1N1” which has the main contributors listed as droids. It’s a tricky call for me as it’s not a style that I usually like - and part of me probably still doesn’t - but I really enjoyed the story and the artwork became a little secondary.

Not knowing any of the lore and history behind Dredd meant that I had no preconceived ideas about it at all. The story felt good and easy to read and the casual reader can easily pick it up. This is an iconic figure being given a new beginning for anyone to jump on board with relative ease.

Matt Puddy. Three countries. Two weeks. And one serious race to run.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Big Game Hunting - Game versus Comic: Diablo

There are a handful of comics that only exist thanks to the great success of the games that inspired them. But just how good are these comics when compared to their digital counterparts? This week we look at Diablo, a five part comic series based on Diablo III, written by Aaron Williams.

What's the comic about?
The story focuses on a young man named Jacob, who has been entrusted with the Sword of Justice by Tyrael himself. He must use the sword to overcome a plague of rage that is corrupting and destroying his people. He must also come to terms with his own actions, which have turned the very people he strives to save against him, and given him the unforgiving title “Kinslayer”.

When does the comic take place in relation to game events?
The events in this story take place some twenty years after the end of Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. This puts it just before the beginning of Diablo III, creating a bridge between the two games.

How true are the characters?
Most characters that seem familiar are little more than allusions to the types of characters in the various Diablo games. There is only one immediately recognisable character here, and that's Tyrael. Sadly, he doesn't appear for very long. He pretty much breezes in with his mission, and disappears once he's finished. Most of his references are via other characters talking about him. These never deviate from what we've come to know as his standard: stalwart defender of humanity and justice.

What about continuity?
One possible break in continuity I could find was the betrayal of the barbarians, who have turned from protectors to attackers. Their raids on the neighbouring villages are claimed to have started even before the destruction of Mount Arreat, something which is never seen in Diablo II. However, this is neatly – perhaps too neatly – explained later on, so it can be taken as less of an inconsistency and more of a situation we simply were not aware of. Retroactive continuity is not limited to superhero comics it seems.

The only other issue is the fact that this Rage Plague the comic is based on is clearly important enough for Tyrael to step in – yet this plague is, as far as I can tell, not mentioned in Diablo III at any point. This may be considered a bit of a nitpicky point, but as the game and the comic were in development simultaneously, it would have been nice to see some mention of it made somewhere.

What does the comic do that the game doesn't, or can't?
The comic has one considerable benefit over the game: it isn't limited to cutscenes to give the characters any emotion. The cutscenes in Diablo III are visually very impressive, but are few and far between, and a considerable number of scenes are done in the perspective of the gameplay - top-down, isometric, and at a distance. These scenes fail to bring any emotional impact, as you are essentially reading text on a relatively unchanging screen. The comic is able to get right into the characters' faces, showing every emotion and allowing the writing to work with the artwork rather than carry it.

Can I read this without playing the game?
Well, you could, but I would recommend against it. At the very least, you should be familiar with the events of Diablo and Diablo II (including the expansion, Lord of Destruction). This is largely due to the presence of a massive info dump in the first few pages of the first issue. People who already know the story will be able to skim through it, but if you don't know where it's coming from, it may feel like too much to take in.

Rae is glad Race Week is over.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

The Lion's Share - The Latest Movie Craze: OD Cinema!

Two dimensional entertainment can often seem so... flat. Comics not withstanding, obviously. In recent years, Hollywood has once again returned to the gimmick of 3D film presentation in an attempt to wow audiences with a little extra spectacle, and of course woo a little extra cash out of their wallets at the same time.

Of course, for many of us this is a shallow and unrewarding experience; we can see through the facade to the simple money-making exercise this is. At points, the action on screen combines with 3D effects to undermine the persistence of vision. It can completely disrupt our ability to enjoy the movie. In short, the human eye can't keep up.

Thankfully, Cheltenham’s Parabola Arts Centre is set to host a completely different experience - one that should redress the balance. Movie lovers can join theatre and radio lovers at the first ever 0D Cinema event.

Mark Chatterley
“Cinemas are going full out to create the most realistic experience. 3D, 48 frames per second, ultra-high def, Imax and digital multi-point surround sound are all phrases we are used to hearing,” said Mark Chatterley, writer and director of the show.

Mark is clearly a man who is tired of technical trickery trumping creativity. “None of this can come close to the realism created by our imaginations,” he added.

In Ear Entertainment has created an evening of entertainment that will leave the audience breathless at the sheer realism of the 0D experience.

As you enter the theatre you will be given 0D glasses, specially constructed to allow you to maximise your imagination. Two short 'movies' will then be acted out live on stage while fill in the scenery, costumes and special effects in your own mind.

Verity Smith
Verity Smith, Producer for 0D Cinema, said: ‘Think of it like seeing a live radio play being recorded it’s just, you can’t see anything so your imagination can run riot.”

The evenings movies are both loosely science fiction based, meaning this will be a good ol’ fashioned ‘Science Fiction Double Feature’.

Tickets cost £10 (£8 for concessions/£5 for under 12s) and can be booked online by going to or by phoning 01242 707338.

There's a Facebook event for the evening that can be found here. The whole evening is being recorded and will be available after the event to purchase from the In Ear Entertainment website.

Ben Fardon thinks an evening of science fiction theatre is just what we all need after the nonsense of Race Week. 

Thursday, 14 March 2013

New Beginnings - Wolverine #1

British writer Paul Cornell (known for DC titles such as Demon Knights and Saucer Country, episodes of fan favourite TV show Doctor Who and various books including the acclaimed London Falling) is now the writer for Marvel stalwart, Wolverine. Combining his efforts with Alan Davis on the artwork, we have a new series in what can sometimes feel like an ocean of Wolverine titles.

The story opens with Logan in an unnatural situation where his clothes are partially gone, his ribs showing and there's nothing but bone on his right hand. And yet throughout it all, he is still trying to reassure a frightened boy. Even in a exceedingly dark moment, he still acts like the superhero he tells the boy he is. Logan is caught in the middle of what appears to be a hostage situation, but with the number of hostages rapidly decreasing there is obviously something more going on.

To his luck, Wolverine's mutant ability to rapidly heal from virtually anything means that when blasted again with an energy weapon, his “murderer” thinks he is gone for good. Seemingly no longer a threat, this gives him the opportunity to rescue his attacker's son and end the siege.

It’s only after this that the real threat becomes apparent. The boy remember that his Dad changed when he came into possession of the weapon, yet no one sees the same change in the boy until it’s too late. Fleeing the scene - and in the process hitting Wolvie with a car - the boy escapes. Wolverine’s natural instinct is to protect everyone he can and so the hunt begins...

I found the writing of this issue really strong. It would be very easy to have just let the story tell itself, but Cornell has taken great effort to differentiate the characteristics and language between the father and son. The difference in them both does make you think about things, without spelling it out. Who is controlling them? How? Where did the weapon come from? There are plenty more that spring to mind as well. Somehow I don’t think that this is going to be quite the hunt that Logan expected and we'll have three more issues to find out some answers.

As I mentioned at the beginning Alan Davis provides the artwork. There is no denying that the characters convey their feelings well, even when they are meant to be emotionless and clinical. This is also something that emphasises the point of change in the little boy, further supporting the story. However, I find the style a little too retro for my particular taste. It is also a style that concentrates predominantly on the forefront of the story, often leaving a lack of background to the images with only the wide angles being given more information that just the immediate. It still works well with the writing and the raw feel to the art also fits in with the whole Wolverine persona so the package completes itself.

Although not a story that visually grabs me, this is still a very strong start and I think that Wolverine fans will enjoy the new solo title. It’s getting back to his instincts without having to be out in the wilds. He's a hero again.

Matt Puddy is aware that many consider Alan Davis to be a comic book legend.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Watcher - Being Human S05E06, "The Last Broadcast"

When we last looked in on Being Human, just over a year ago, the show had undergone a difficult rebirth that saw most of the original cast replaced with new or returning characters. It was an awkward and tricky transition, best summed up by Stefan thusly: "Overall a difficult start to the series, with way too many changes and new characters to fit in, but by the third episode I think you will start to relax and come to like the new dynamic."

In fact, as the fifth and sadly now final season began, I was eagerly looking forward to more bickering from Hal and Tom. New ghost Alex completed the mix, a welcome return for Kate Bracken as Alex having already made three appearances in the previous season. It's been a tight, cohesive run of episodes deftly introducing the key elements and antagonists that lead to the end, without skimping on strong character moments and compelling drama along the way.

So long guys, you'll be greatly missed.

The introduction of the Barry Grand Hotel gave the characters a great new location to inhabit, with stand out moments such as the Employee Of The Month competition and the fate of poor Bobby occurring within it's walls. Not to mention, "the fucking Devil, sweetheart!" Old Nick himself, bound in the body of a madman and left to decay into an eternal pensioner, known simply as Captain Hatch. After four preceding seasons of vampires, werewolves, ghosts and even one occurrence of zombies, it seems fitting that the final villain is Satan.

With our Honolulu Heights heroes assembled and the ultimate evil trundling around the Barry Grand Hotel in a wheelchair, the six episode arc had a mysterious wildcard in the shape of one Mr Rook - first seen in the season four finale - the head of the Men In Grey. Fittingly positioned between the black and white of the other characters, Rook is the face of the modern Briton in this final season. Beset by Tory cutbacks, he's essentially a good man, but a self-serving man. In his desperation he makes increasingly morally dubious decisions - from his use of the clueless underdog turned unstable Type 2 known as Crumb, to the aforementioned Bobby, and finally using the lovely Natasha against his better judgement - culminating in an unwitting deal with the actual Devil.

All of this set the stage for our finale "The Last Broadcast", knowingly named with a wink and a nod by series creator Toby Whithouse. Opening with a delightfully fun musical number from Hal, this almost sold the one slightly clumsy element of this season - the revelation that Hal is akin to Angel from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, battling against his soulless alter ego Angelus. The good Hal/bad Hal dynamic is thankfully slightly more oblique and Damien Molony supplies an understated performance as a discretely more confident and vicious version of the same character. "Your friend is dead, " he calmly explains to Tom. "We wake up in the world the other has created around them."

Despite this new Hal, the Being Human Trinity reunites to stop Hatch - revealed as the source of all their curses - because the Apocalypse is bad for everyone. With the Four Horsemen dispensed with due to "budget cuts" (not even Hell is immune to spending reviews), the showdown occurs in a TV studio as Hatch prepares to whisper in the ear of the country through the emergency broadcast system. Or does it? Suddenly our protagonists are separated and dispatched to individual realities based on their past lives or in Tom's case, his secret hope for the future. These bottle worlds include welcome reappearances of Leo (Hal's former werewolf housemate) and Allison (Tom's geeky werewolf paramour).  It's a testament to the performances and writing behind these two characters that their brief moments in this final episode are so delightful.

The story doesn't end here though, as Whithouse has two more tricks up his sleeve. The Trinity escape Hatch's make-believe fantasies just in time to witness Rook seemingly save the day, complete with a wonderful moment as the human the Devil had been possessing is himself once more after so very long.  The poor madman gets a word or two before being shot in the head and the Devil flees in a manner that seems to be a homage to the demons in Supernatural.

This seemingly anticlimactic ending shifts the focus back onto Hal versus Tom and Alex, with a heartbreaking exchange that name-checks all of the preceding main cast and gets right to the heart of the truth behind the series' title.

"Are we wasting our time doing all this, trying to be human? The definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Is that what we're doing?" Tom

"I'm not part of this little project now, which gives me a... clarity I didn't have before. Annie, George, Mitchell, Nina, the two of you, what none of you realised - none of us realised - is the desire to be human is the end, not the beginning. To want it is to have it. You're not wasting your time Tom, you've already won. Adieu." Hal

It would have been a good coda despite the anticlimax, but that's not really the end. The other shoe drops as Rook knocks at the door and reveals that Satan hasn't left, he's merely moved to a new host. Seizing the opportunity, the trio perform the ritual and bind the Devil into Rook, who uses his last moments of clarity to stake himself and end it all. The resulting shockwave rids Hal, Tom and Alex of their curses, apparently making them human again, with a chance of a happily ever after. Only the presence of an origami werewolf amongst the mementos of all the main cast characters on the mantlepiece suggests that something else has happened. It's a wonderful ending that recalls those gut-wrenching final moments of Twin Peaks, Sapphire & Steel, Inception and of course Blade Runner. It will leave fans debating for years to come and as such is a masterful stroke of letting the audience have their cake but perhaps making them to afraid to actually eat it.

I have to add that I really felt these last two years of Being Human succeeded where Misfits last season failed. Both shows came along at the right time, after the relaunched Doctor Who, when commissioning editors were open to genre dramas with a quintessentially British edge. Both shows were faced with adversity when successful cast members decide to leave for new opportunities. Both shows have sought to continue their fundamental premise with new characters in place. And both shows had the ignominy of writing out memorable main characters off camera, as we lost Nina and Kelly between seasons. Misfits had already faced this once and triumphed with the introduction of Rudy. But lightning didn't strike twice as the latest season served up some fairly bland and mostly unlikeable new characters with shitty powers.

One great character, two mildly interesting with potential and two that are just dull to the point of being offensive!

In fact perhaps a second storm would have been ideal. As seemingly daft as it first was, the cheeky way that Being Human 1955 gave us another set of similar supernatural housemates was a fun way to bulldoze past the loss of Mitchell, George and Nina. With his own friends also departing, Hal was left with little choice but to stay, and so our triumvirate was whole again. The use of Tom from a previous season gave the audience a welcoming familiar face, and it was trick that was repeated with the introduction of Alex in season four, before promoting her to main cast when Annie left. If only Misfits could have done the same, bringing in a mix of the former guests and the new characters, we might have been given a more enjoyable season than that last one!

And so it is that Being Human joins a very exclusive list of shows that never jumped the shark, though granted it did threaten to on one occasion. It's a world I'm going to miss greatly. I can't wait to see where Damien Molony appears next, because his performance as Hal was perfectly understated and ever more powerful because if it. Toby Whithouse returns to our screens soon with a Cold War spy drama series, The Game, and from the strength of Being Human, I'd be keen to see him step into Steven Moffat's shoes should the Grand Moff decide to leave Doctor Who.

In fact, wouldn't Damien Molony make an excellent Timelord?

Ben Fardon is aware that TW also wrote "The Vampires of Venice." No one's perfect.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Big Game Hunting - TableTop Day 2013 Line-up!

We're pleased to announce we now have a line-up for TableTop Day!

Each game has a number of slots for people to sign up for, unless otherwise noted.

Slots are first come first served, so sign up quickly! 

To claim a game slot, you must send an email to with your name and what game(s) you want to play. You can claim slots for a maximum of two games.

Don't worry if you don't know how to play, we'll teach you!

The game schedule is:

10:30-11:30: Small World (5 slots)

11:45-12:45: Fluxx (6 slots)

1:00-2:00: Level 7 [Escape] (4 slots)

2:15-3:15: Munchkin (6 slots)

3:30-4:30: Goblins, Inc. (4 slots)

All day: Zombie Dice (free play)

Don't forget that every slot you play, you get a free entry into the Proud Lion TableTop Day raffle

If you want more entries, or haven't signed up for a game, you can also purchase extra raffle tickets for £1 each. All profit from the raffle will be donated to local charity, Winston's Wish.

The prizes for the raffle are:

Grand prize: £20 of Proud Lion gift vouchers
Second prize: your own copy of Zombie Dice
Runner up prize (x6): Munchkin booster pack expansion

Don't forget to join the Facebook event for all the news on TableTop Day. That's it for now, see you on the 30th of March!

Rae is working on a special homebrew edition of Fluxx.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

The Mane Event - Age Of Ultron #1

Event fatigue. It's a term I hear banded about more and more. Comic readers moaning that they are sick of the annual crossover events from the Big Two and claiming that they need a rest.

Personally I'm in two minds on this matter. On the one hand, it's big business for everyone in the comic trade - including myself as a retailer. An exciting event will often pull lapsed readers back in and may even entice the odd new reader into the fold. It creates a surge in sales, which inevitable tells the publishers that they need to do more of these events. It creates a boost in revenue for small shops like mine, which is invaluable during these tough times. So in many ways, I feel that big comic crossover events are a good thing and fans need to stop whining and accept that comic books aren't free, most people involved still need to make money!

However, the flipside of this is I am also a comic fan. I love comics. I'm not just in this business for the money; trust me I could make a lot more money for a lot less hassle working in an office somewhere, Like most comickers - be it creators or retailers - I'm in it because I'm passionate about the unique alignment of story and artwork! Comics are a diverse creative medium that covers more than just the superhero genre, so when a crossover event from Marvel or DC swamps my shelves in tie-in issues, drown out other exciting new prospects from other genres. It eventually becomes frustrating to me as well - no matter how exciting said event seemed at the start.

Marvel's biggest ever event was Secret Invasion, spanning an eight issue miniseries and over a hundred additional tie-in comics. In recent years, they have calmed down a bit, but both Fear Itself and Avengers Vs X-Men had over fifty tie-ins as well.

Thankfully, this year Marvel appear to have decided to do two, much smaller events. The second one will be Infinity by Jonathan Hickman and will debut on Free Comic Book Day. This brings us back to the current one, Age Of Ultron by Bendis. First teased in his Heroic Age run on Avengers, it was my understanding that this story was originally meant to be an arc of that title. Instead it has since grown into a separate miniseries, which was a bit of a concern. Mercifully, the publishing schedule is a gratifyingly tight affair though, ten issues in four months plus an epilogue and only a handful of tie-ins. And I mean only a handful - eight in total. To my mind, it shows Marvel may be beginning to understand that event fatigue isn't just fanboys whining! Here's hoping.

The danger of this first issue is that it could have felt like a rehash of House Of M, except with robots. We're in a seemingly alternate timeline - it's certainly different from the Marvel Now setting - where Ultron has conquered the Earth and humans survive in the ruins. Rather than starting in the normal continuity and then pushing us into the new status quo as House Of M did, here Bendis thrusts us straight into this milieu with a massive sprawling domed city sat atop the ruins of Manhattan. The tattered remnants of humanity scrabble for survival. It's all very Terminator-esque but also slightly reminiscent of Annihilation Conquest.

In the midst of this, we find Hawkeye launching a one-man rescue mission to extract a captured Spider-Man from a gang lead by Hammerhead and the Owl. It's very telling that none of these individuals are particularly powerful in the grand scheme of things. The villains seek to turn Spidey over to Ultron in exchange for some free passes. No one is living well here, the Age of Ultron is not a safe environment by any stretch of the imagination.

This fact is reiterated when the fleeing heroes make it to a crashed and ruined Helicarrier in Central Park, the refuge of some other surviving heroes - mostly Avengers. They're basically sat on their hands, doing nothing. Even Tony Stark is hamstrung and armour-less, fearful of using technology in this world ruled by a dangerous machine. The final page reveals a beaten and demoralised Steve Rogers, curled up and seemingly broken. The others hold onto the hope that he is working on a plan, though it's very clear Hawkeye is the only Avenger currently taking any action and is losing faith in Cap.

It's a compelling first issue and further evidence that Bendis is back on form, especially when considered alongside his work on two Marvel Now X-Men titles and Guardians Of The Galaxy. The artwork from Bryan Hitch is the same superstar work we saw on two volumes of Ultimates - with epic scope and beautiful details when it counts. Every normal issue #1 comes with a chromium wrap cover at no extra cost as well - this comic should practically leap of the shelf into your hands!

One final note on the big crossover events. If you hate them, by all means don't buy them. But please, don't stop there. Promote the comics you do like do your friends and indeed on the internet. Money talks and by encouraging others to buy the comics that you prefer, you stand a chance of helping our industry breakout of the reliance on big superhero summer events. You have the power to affect change, never forget that.

Ben Fardon needs more hours in the day.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Revised Opening Times for the Cheltenham Festival Race Week 2013

It's almost that time again. Cheltenham goes crazy as racegoers descend upon our little town. It makes getting from A to B a bit of a nightmare for local residents, so with that in mind here's my revised hours for Race Week.


Batman & Robin retitled (contains spoilers for Batman Incorporated #8)


In light of SPOILER, BATMAN AND ROBIN #19 and 20 will arrive in stores with adjusted titles.

•    BATMAN AND ROBIN #19 (FEB130150) will arrive in stores with the title BATMAN AND RED ROBIN.  This issue is on FOC on March 18 and is scheduled to arrive in stores on April 10.

•    BATMAN AND ROBIN #20 (MAR130200) will arrive in stores with the title BATMAN AND RED HOOD.  This issue is solicited in the March Previews and is scheduled to arrive in stores on May 8.

Upcoming issues will be listed as follows in solicitations:




Cover to Batman & Robin #18

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Big Game Hunting - International TableTop Day 2013

Saturday 30th March is the first International TableTop Day!

Some of you are already familiar with TableTop, a web series hosted by Wil Wheaton to showcase board and card games. This fantastic series not only shows off many of the great examples of the genre, but also teaches viewers how to play, allowing them to hit the ground running when they play the game themselves.

Now the creative minds behind the show at Geek and Sundry have announced the first ever International TableTop Day! Players all over the world are being encouraged to go to their local game shop and play more games.

Proud Lion is happy to announce that we will be hosting our very own TableTop Day event! All day long, we'll have board and card games running, including Fluxx, Munchkin, and Level 7.

To encourage as many people to participate as we can, Proud Lion will also be holding a raffle! Everyone who signs up for a game slot will get a free entry in the raffle. Further entries can be purchased for £1 each. Any profit made will be donated to local charity, Winston's Wish.

Further details about games being played, available game slots to join in, and raffle prizes will be available soon!

To keep up with all the latest news, please join the Facebook event here.

Rae Gould is getting very excited about a day of gaming!

New Beginnings - Guardians Of The Galaxy #0.1

Way back at the end of October last year I had the chance to review the Marvel Now Point One issue and whilst it was a mixed bag, it did contain a few interesting stories. One of those was Guardians of the Galaxy brought to us by the team of Brian Bendis and Steve McNiven.

I think it's only fair to make it clear that this is a #0.1 issue and feels rather strange. All of the other point one issues were used as jump-on points for new readers from within existing storylines using the established characters. However in this instance, Star-Lord is not someone who already has their own current comic. In fact, despite the Abnett and Lanning cosmic Marvel events and ongoing series from 2006-2011, it's probably fair to say that Star-Lord isn't that well known to the average Marvel reader.

So is a spotlight issue on this man the right way to start?

The story begins 30 years ago when a crashed starship brings a member of the Spartaxian Royal family to Earth. It’s a frantic initial meeting with the woman whose land he crashes on, but in time it obviously turns into something far more. When it’s finally time for J’Son to leave - against his own wishes and desires but instead for duty - it’s clear that he has left a legacy behind. His son.

Moving forward to only 20 years ago, a young Peter Quill is being a typical boy wanting to read comics and not do homework. Not having a father figure for the start of his life has had an effect, but not in all of the stereotypical ways. Despite having a temper and unresolved anger towards his upbringing, he also has a distinctly strong moral compass which gets him in just as much trouble.

It’s at this point that I felt a little let down, as this is where the Marvel Now Point One issue from October steps back in and takes over. If you have read that comic then the next eight pages (almost half the comic) are old news. The upside is that it fits perfectly in for continuity and as a reader you have been given. The remainder of childhood is a little glossed over as the camera takes a step back to reveal that this was essentially narrated by Star-Lord in the present day. Here we meet the new interation of the Guardians Of The Galaxy - Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora and finally Iron Man! So the team has at least one well known and heavy hitting face.

In a self-proclaimed team mission, Star-Lord is out to make sure that the war that is spanning the galaxy does not make it’s way to Earth.

It’s not a bad premise to a story but there isn’t anything else around it. As a reader there is a very loose outline presented to you and then an extra bonus is the addition of Stark (which does kind of fit in with his current storyline but not fully) but as a #0.1 issue it is still very noncommittal.

Steve McNiven's artwork is something I have mentioned before as liking. His art is something that I would happily cast my eyes over every time, as I find his work detailed and refined. This issue is no different in that respect too. Some of the faces may seem a little off, but there is plenty of emotion and feeling conveyed in them all. It was in this respect too that I was glad that Tony Stark was there as I did become a little worried that McNiven could only draw negative images as you can count on one hand the truly happy or smug faces seen inside the pages.

It's obvious Marvel has gone back to basics with these characters, in an attempt to reintroduce them and build a fanbase before the upcoming film. As a first issue though, I wasn’t completely overwhelmed but I think it has set the scene for the proper beginning in issue #1. You have all the personal motivation and back story you need. I will certainly be looking forward to the full launch of this title to get some meat on it’s well rounded bones.

Despite being an international jetset playboy man of mystery, Matt Puddy is not responsible for this latest review being late.

Normal service resumes!

After some Gremlins in the works, standby for a splurge of articles today!