Saturday, 28 June 2014

Rescuing Strays – Grant Morrison’s Action Comics Vol Three

by Jack Meldrum

Volume Three: At The End of Days


I need a minute. Let me just compose myself.

Volume Three of Morrison's Action Comics run is a transcendent and almost flawless piece of comics. And I love it. It makes the previous two volumes better by virtue of their leading into it. It feels like a magic spell, some sort of occult incantation designed to transform the mind and reshape the soul.

It being Morrison, it might be just that.

End of Days opens on one of the best single issues I've ever read  - a story about a boy and his dog, and ghosts, and Halloween. It features the wickedly cool Dr. Xa-Du, a Kryptonian scientist with the ethical integrity of wet string, who makes himself real outside the Phantom Zone with pure willpower. He's another living idea, of course, just like so many of the foes we meet in Action. The story itself is a tear-jerkingly sweet little tale, a critical interlude in the mind-bending space opera we're stepping into. Xa-Du is poached by the Little Man for his Anti-Superman Army and Krypto joins the Superman cast and I cried and cried when the little dog gets carried to the sun by his loving master.

It just amps up from there. In the mind of the five-dimensional Ms. Nyxly, we see Superman save astronauts on Mars and we meet the Little Man for real, as the legitimately terrifying, 5D satanic monster Vyndyktvx. The Little Man really is the devil.

After that, it's nothing but flawless, pitch-perfect comics. Soaring, sweeping emotion. Meta-fictional madness. A tight, dense, mythical story where Superman, in the end, fights his own extradimensional doppelganger, Superdoom – himself just another tool of the cackling Vyndyktvx. We meet our Mxzptlk, a charmingly corny old bloke, and we see everything Morrison put into play in the past two volumes collide in a cross-time war against the sun-god.

Vyndyktvx is one of Morrison's finest creations, a master plotter without a conscience, hamstrung by his own addiction to complexity. He appears, in fleeting, as a heinous tentacled beast, and more often as a many-faced, multi-armed thing. He's truly incredible. Employed as the power behind every plot in the run, Vyndyktvx crosses time and space to stack the deck against his self-declared nemesis, and Morrison and his cabal of artists make him... unfathomable.

Constantly, this last volume reminds us of what Morrison has said since issue one: that Superman has power as an idea, a concept, a myth. In the end, the very end, that's all that matters – the vast, cross-time madness of Vyndyktvx's scheme, a scheme we met as far back as that first page, that we first saw in those crazy encounters with the Legion of Superheroes, collapses with nothing more than one word (not that I'm telling you what it is), because we believed in Superman. He stops doomsday, banishes the devil.

Grant Morrison is one of the best comics writers who ever lived. He's not the best, but he's my favourite, and this run manifests his everything. This is a story about stories, one where the sanctity of ideals is what wins the day. One where dimensions bend at the whims of a monster but where it's us, in ourselves, inspired by one man, who can change everything.

It's a wild, deranged, hyper-intelligent drug trip of a story, a life-changing exploration of everything Superman was and is. It dives deep into the power of the written and spoken word, the unbreakable power of the human soul, the potency of belief and faith. It's everything I ever wanted in a comic. Everything I ever wanted from Superman. And I want you all to read it. To join in, to be there at the end of days, to add your name to the moment where we banish the devil, together with a boy and his dog.

Jack Meldrum has no words. Murdlem Kcaj believes in Superman.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Cheltenham Drink & Draw - June 2014: And the winner is...

by Rae

This month saw the first ever Cheltenham Drink & Draw! On the night, we had so many amazing pictures being drawn that we held a little competition. Anyone who wanted to was invited to lend us their images to be posted online and voted on. The time to vote has now run out, and it's time to announce the image which achieved the most votes!

Here's the winning entry:

Congratulations to the winner, Michelle Harvey! Michelle wins a set of three great comics selected by Ben. You can check out more of her work on her Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter feeds, plus she has shiny items for sale on her Redbubble page.

Thank you to everyone who participated, we had an amazing collection of artwork to show off. If you submitted your piece to us, you may now come and collect it, either from Proud Lion or at the next Drink & Draw.

Oh yes, the next Drink & Draw! Have you all seen that the theme for Tuesday, July 1st, is Lego? Click here to read more about it! See you next week at Boston Tea Party!

Rae is contemplating buying more Lego...

Thursday, 26 June 2014

New Beginnings - Outcast #1

by Matt Puddy

Riding high on the renowned comic and the subsequent smash hit TV show, The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman is releasing a new comic this week. This is in addition to the currently running Invincible and Thief of Thieves (and forgotten gems like Super Dinosaur and Haunt), making Outcast yet another string to his very diverse bow.

This first issue is a scene setter, laying groundwork for the series, but most importantly it introduces us to Kyle. Now a complete shell of a man trying to live on the outskirts of the real world, Kyle is trying to escape from his own past which has been plastered with tragedy at his own hands, fighting demonic possession of first his mother and then his wife. The only problem is that he doesn’t really know what he is running from and the ideas he has of what it could be he doesn’t believe... at first.

Dragged back into civilisation against his will by his sister-in-law leads to a chance encounter with the Reverend who “helped” with his mother. This time, Kyle’s assistance is requested with a young boy who is apparently possessed. Firm in the belief that it was Kyle himself who was critical in the exorcism of his mother, the Reverend pleads with him to help and eventually he caves in, partially through morbid curiosity but mostly driven to help. To understand.

What Kyle finds though confirms his fears; there is something inside young Joshua, something dark and evil. Worse still it recognises Kyle. The demon and its brethren have been looking for someone like him. An outcast. Releasing the boy from the demon's grip using his own blood – which burns on contact – only creates more answers that need to be found on top of the already growing pile of questions. 

What is Kyle? Why is he like this? And what is the force that is pursuing him to the detriment of those around him? Issue #2 and onwards will find all of this out.

In the open letter that forms the afterword to this first issue, Kirkman explains that this comic is going to be one of exploration into the accounts and possibilities of possession, albeit without too much of a religious angle on it and this issue has certainly opened the door for that.

For the series he has teamed up with Paul Azaceta, who has a wide artistic CV covering Marvel, Boom! Studios and Dark Horses comics to name a couple of big publishers. He has quite a heavy style, but uses shapes and shadows to create a sinister backdrop to the whole story. Elizabeth Breitweiser's colouring can at times be almost a little too heavy though, as you have to really pay attention to a couple of frames to take it all and not miss any points – one of which I feel will become quite important in issues to come.

This is a new comic taking an old concept and adding a new twist. What I did also like was that there is already a feeling of longevity to it. It’s a series that almost feels like it has gravitas from the first issue. A worthwhile one to follow if you want to step away from the realms of superheroes and into something sinister. One that is almost possible in a village near you...

Matt Puddy walks off into the mist humming Tubular Bells.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

New Beginnings - The Wicked and The Divine #1

by Matt Puddy

On a reasonably regular occurrence the old adage of 'never judge a book by its cover' certainly comes into its own. For me, this week's review is one of those weeks.

The Wicked and The Divine gives absolutely nothing away with its cover. A female figure staring straight ahead with an almost Warhol-esque colouring to it. So far I’m drawing a blank on what it could be.

From the cover I can take some solace in that I know it’s a collaboration between Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. I’ve really liked Gillen’s work on Iron Man and how he built it up, so there’s promise there. Equally McKelvie’s artwork is akin to the styles I prefer to see, so all looking positive.

So what’s it all about? Opening at the close of 1923, a shadowy gathering of individuals and skulls are preparing to part ways. For one of them the road continues, but for everyone else their fate is sealed in a large explosion. Resuming at the dawn of 2014 we are given a hint at what this could all be about with the name dropping of another Shinto godess, Amaterasu, and shortly after Luci(fer). This is all about gods and goddesses walking amongst us.

Taking the form of teenagers, we meet several deities from different cultures all interacting with human society. They’re very restrained though and miracles are kept to a minimum, but because of this there has bred a large degree of scepticism. It’s only the pivotal moment of the scene that changes this and sets up what I believe to be a central moment for the series. When two snipers try to kill the occupants of the room they are in, Lucifer - with the snap of her fingers - makes their heads explode.

This leads to a court case that  creates a surreal situation. The court is asked to find Luci guilty, but with no weapon and only the snap of her fingers presumed as the cause, what could really be done? It’s only when the judge's head somehow also spreads itself all over the courtroom that things go awry for a multitude of reasons. The obvious one is that Luci says she didn’t do it, but it does point an exceedingly large amount of guilt on her. The bigger question is if it wasn’t her, then who did it? There is dissent amongst the godly ranks.

I want to say that this is a completely original idea, but regardless of how impressed with the story I was, I always had a nagging memory of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods in my head which has a similar 'they walk among us' theme. That said this is still a great idea - although we are not alone they aren’t omnipotent and fall foul of human emotions, as well as the restrictions inherent in possessing a human body, for though they are immortal, they are not invincible. They are also fallible giving a different side to them as well. Even the personalities of the individual gods, born from their respective mythologies, come through to add to their appearance and demeanour, which I liked.

The artwork plays a large part in expressing these characters. This isn’t a cluttered or heavy comic to read, thanks to McKelvie’s strong, clean pencils. I did have to chuckle when Sakhmet, a highly animalistic and sexual god from Egyptian mythology, looked a lot like Rihanna...

Matt Wilsons' colouring is light meaning although it has a simplistic look to it the comic is actually full of information for the reader to absorb.

On the whole I found this a very interesting little comic to add to the Image stable and one I would be interested to see where it goes and how it develops as it runs the risk of slipping into precarious territory. I feel there is a lot more to see and have develop and if Gillen’s current run is anything to go by there will be good things to come.

Matt Puddy is a rock and roll legend in these parts.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Rescuing Strays – Grant Morrison’s Action Comics Vol Two

by Jack Meldrum

Volume Two: Bulletproof

Having spent Volume One redefining the myth of Superman, Morrison then proceeds to reinvent the myth of Clark Kent. On top of that, he recreates a long-forgotten character and starts to stack the cards for his grand finale.

Bulletproof is probably the weaker of the three volumes. As second acts so often are, there's a bit of a sense of wheel-spinning – even when the final instalment reveals just how much this one mattered, there's still an odd, wandering feel in places. But it is still very good, especially in the places where it escapes the three-part Forgotten Superman story and focuses on what are, essentially, massive metatextual middle-fingers to DC corporate/heartwarming and ingenious dissections of what Superman is.

In the opening salvo of these surreal trips into Morrison’s meta-myth, we meet Calvin Ellis, President of America in Earth-23. This charming, charismatic man of colour (and blatant Barack Obama parallel) is also the Superman of Earth-23, and his story is a brief interlude in the narrative of these volumes as much as it is a high point in the themes. Ellis fights a paranoid, drug-addled Lex Luthor and then encounters a musical meta-machine that summons the awesome Superdoom, a monstrous Superman dreamed up in a universe where Clark Kent, Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane created a Tulpa-device to teach children.

It is very hard to talk about Superdoom without becoming a little sketchy – Morrison's work is dense and florid – but he's a Superman perverted by malignant businessmen, a tool of a fascistic society created by the still-present, still-enigmatic Little Man and employed to hunt down dissidents. He's been modified incessantly by a committee to be as marketable and effective as possible. He's a murderous psychopath, hopping from universe to universe in these bizarre cross-dimensional cubes that, somehow, every Lex Luthor dreams up.

He's the most effective parody/satire/commentary on DC's approach to Superman in particular that it's a miracle they let the run continue.

The following series of stories involves a three-part story with three distinct ideas. We see Clark Kent die, replaced by 'Johnny Clark', as our protagonist wrestles with the reality of being a living ideal. We meet Captain Comet, or Adam, the 'Forgotten Superman' who enlisted with an alien army to fight... something. Something ominous. And we have further development of the Anti-Superman Army, the nefarious team run by the Little Man. This story is a little too ponderous, and and perhaps a little too fast – nothing quite hits the mark in the story itself. But it's still so bursting with smart, potent ideas that it deserves reading.

Much better are the 'backup' stories. We have more exploration of Superman-as-concept and myth, more consequences to his presence. And there's the wonderful The Boy Who Stole Superman's Cape, from DC's Zero Month, which features all of the themes in the volume explored in perfect harmony with a sweet, charming little tale.

And at the very end, we meet Ms. Nyxly – Clark's landlady – properly. Which means we meet Nyxlygsptlnz, Princess of the Fifth Dimension... and the whole story kicks into high gear.

Jack Meldrum was President on Earth-10, once. He quit when he found how the hours worked out.

Monday, 16 June 2014

New Beginnings - Batman ’66 meets the Green Hornet #1

by Matt Puddy

Kevin Smith is known for a variety of things - indie film making, being Silent Bob, comic book writing, podcasting and general geekery to name few. One of his partners-in-crime from the SModcast is Ralph Garman and together they have taken us back to the past for this review title.

Batman ’66 meets the Green Hornet is exactly how it sounds. Set in the era of Adam West and Burt Ward, the story opens in a typical scene from the TV series. A mundane moment for the Dynamic Duo sees them relaxing and Dick getting ready for a date with the daughter of the Mayor. Things are going well until the special telephone in the study rings.

As with many of the old TV episodes the premise of the Sixties' Batman series was quite simple. A gentle opening followed by an almost random piece of information or situation leading to some kind of conveniently linked escapade over several episodes. Much in the same way, this first part of a six issue series uses the same mechanics. In this instance the scene setter is the fact that a valuable – and yet undisclosed – artefact is being shipped out of Gotham and is believed to be the target of the criminal element. 

So off our valiant Caped Crusader goes sporting the non-disguise of Bruce Wayne to accompany the transit on the Gotham Express. In an unusual twist, the Boy Wonder is given the evening off and allowed to go on his date, but later this becomes an apparent ruse to be used when things go awry, to allow Batman to officially enter the scene complete with hammed up third party self references to continue the pretence of dual identities. 

Whilst aboard the train Bruce meets Signore Bollo – the overseer of the artefact  - and then finally Britt Reid and his man servant, a duo who suffer a similar fate to Wayne and Grayson in that they both have secret identities – The Green Hornet and Kato.

Green Hornet and Batman have crossed paths in the past, coincidentally over the villain in the shadows here too, and the camaraderie/competitive nature of their relationship comes out. A fledgling argument between them both is stopped when the train comes to a halt all due to a strange super adhesive on the tracks. On reboarding the train the villain and his cronies are revealed – General Gumm.

No Sixties Batman episode would be complete without the obligatory cliffhanger which this issue delivers with aplomb, seeing not only the Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder, but also the Green Hornet and Kato, all glued to the train roof with a low tunnel not far away. 

Ty Templeton provides the artwork for the issue and has a strange job to do. On one hand there is a change to put his own style on the issue, but on the other it is deliberately drawn to showcase Adam West et al accurately – which he does. Fans of the old TV series will easily recognise all the regulars from the show complete even with trademark looks and glances. He’s done a great job of that in fact.

This is an issue, and series, that fans of the original series will love. It has all of the components that made up the original stories and flow of episodes all the way down to hammy acting and – at times – cringeworthy dialogue. It doesn’t try to be a new take on Batman or expose him to a new threat or different angle. The depiction of Green Hornet is nothing new either and even their personas from the original show are also represented well. For a standalone story arc it’s not for my liking or to my tastes, as I used to get frustrated with the spoonfed nature of the show, however for what this comic is trying to be, an homage to the show and it’s values, it does a great job. 

Matt Puddy wil be back again soon, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Rescuing Strays – Grant Morrison’s Action Comics Vol One

by Jack Meldrum

A little while back, the final volume of Grant Morrison’s Action Comics dropped. I bought it, instantly. I'd had it pre-ordered for months. I'd read every issue digitally at least a dozen times each. I'd cried during it more than I did even for All-Star.

Grant Morrison’s Action Comics run is my favourite thing in comics, ever, so far. I think it's wonderful. And magical. Mythical. Mind-bending, transcendent wizardry.

And now that you can have it all, I'm going to try to sell you on it.

Volume One: The Men of Steel

Morrison’s run doesn't begin with a hackneyed origin story. It doesn't even have his previous take, that glorious one-page, four-panel recap from All-Star Superman. It begins with police storming the mansion of new character Glen Glenmorgan, ready to stop... Superman? Superman clad in jeans and a t-shirt, grinning like a kid.

From the word go, Morrison steeps the story in Superman history. But not in a slavish or detrimental manner. Morrison takes the germ of that first Action Comics issue, way back in '38, and reinvents it. Here's a rougher, leaner, cruder Superman, a Superman who throws abusive husbands into the river and jumps of rooftops to shake information from oozing, corrupt businessmen. He's just a kid, but one helluva kid – a kid with all the morals and decency Superman has always had. You can see, in this dangerous, intelligent, wild young boy, the makings of that shining paragon.

And Morrison just goes on shooting. We have Lex Luthor as a slimy soda-chugging brain-for-hire, playing every party against each other with his 'Gemini' alias. We have the recurring figure of the Little Man, a bizarre dwarf who seems to be playing parties we can't even see. We get Brainiac, Metallo, the Legion of Superheroes, and it's all completely wild. Huge, comics-perfect action ensues. Morrison and Rags Morales slam Krypton-sized metaphors into single panels, like when Superman is KO'd by a speeding bullet-train. Or when he stands, god-sized before a shrunken Metropolis, and they hold their candles to him. Or when the Legion of Superheroes – involved in a curious time-travel plot that is the secret story behind this run – extract Kryptonite from the Anti-Superman Army, in their fortress in Superman's brain.

There's a profound rejection of anything 'easy' here. Nobody is a writ-large archetype or a cutout. Glenmorgan, wicked as he may be, is also a man of faith, led astray by the devil in the form of the Little Man (who, we'll learn, is very much a Faustian figure). And so on. And so forth. But always coming out in this first volume is how powerful Superman is as not just a mere superhuman, but as a beacon of hope, and an ideal made manifest. He fights super-metaphors in his super-foes.

And as the run goes on, we'll learn just how crucial those super-metaphors are. Because Morrison’s run, at the core, is not about Superman as a character – even though he handles him very, very well. It's about Superman as an idea. And about how powerful those ideas are.

Jack Meldrum knew how powerful Superman was as an idea, but he didn't know why kids love Cinnamon Toast Crunch

Cheltenham Drink & Draw - July 2014

by Rae

Earlier this month on a quiet Tuesday night, we and several like-minded folks found ourselves sitting in Boston Tea Party with a drink in one hand and a pencil or a Sharpie in the other. We were surrounded by papers with sketches, paintings, and drawings, made by both artists and the artistically challenged (like myself). We called this night Cheltenham Drink & Draw, and it was a fantastic gathering of people who just wanted to sit down in good company and draw.

On the evening, we decided to host a little competition. Everyone at the event was invited to submit their designs to the contest. All the entries are now available to view on Cheltenham Drink & Draw album on the Proud Lion Facebook page. Feel free to "Like" any image you think deserves to win. The image with the most "Likes" by Monday June 23rd will be the winner!

The winning prize is a pre-selected pack of recent awesome comics! The winning piece will also be displayed in Proud Lion until the next Cheltenham Drink & Draw. To vote for your favourite(s), go to the album on the Facebook page! (Please note that due to data protection, all names, email addresses, and signatures have been removed from the scanned versions of these images.)

Now, back to the subject of the next Drink & Draw! We are happy to say that this will definitely become a monthly event! On the first Tuesday of every month, you'll find us all piling into Boston Tea Party in Cheltenham from 6:30pm. Each month will have a different theme. Because The Lego Movie will have its DVD/Blu-ray release in July, the theme for Tuesday July 1st is Lego!

You may be wondering how exactly one is meant to draw Lego. Maybe these could provide some inspiration?

Of course, we don't expect you all to restrict yourself to comic book styles! Feel free to use the theme to inspire you to draw anything you like. In fact, why don't you bring some Lego bricks with you to bolster your creativity? It would be pretty cool to see some still-life images based on models built on the night. We'll make sure to bring a few bits and pieces of our own, as well as anything we can find to draw up some fresh ideas! (No pun intended. Really.)

Rae is looking forward to showing off her (lack of) artistic skills again.

Friday, 13 June 2014

New Beginnings - Trees #1

by Matt Puddy

In Ellis we trust is a phrase Ben and I have often said in store in reverent tones, but this time I’m not so sure. (I was! I bloody loved this first issue! BF

Collaborating with Jason Howard, Ellis has brought us Trees, a new science fiction comic set shortly in the future. 

The opening is full of mystery. Strangely huge tall structures land on Earth and then stand silent watching over the world. Dubbed “trees” for their trunk-like appearance, they have faded into everyday life after ten years of doing nothing.

Over this time humanity has tried to investigate and attack the trees but gained nothing. It is only the occasional dumping of waste from the trees, an act which is terrifying and destructive to all and everything surrounding the tree, that shows that there is something occurring within. Mankind cannot see what that is though, but the trees see all. The only problem is that whereas man has learnt that they are not alone in the galaxy, that same being doesn’t seem to even recognise us as intelligent or alive.

So what is this all about then? The rest of the comic introduces a variety of seemingly distant individuals, who I would guess all play different integral parts in the story to come later.

We have the young, cocky and power hungry mayoral candidate who sees this all as a potential situation to take advantage of. There's the young artist entering the city of Shu and being exposed to a whole new world of experiences, and a pair of researchers isolated in the cold wastes of North Spitzbergen – one of which has found a strange new flower in the snow. Fitting them all into this first issue has meant the story is spread thinly across them all, and only works as an introduction but not much else. All we are presented with by the end is a strange slightly futuristic society with an almost forgotten threat waiting in plain sight.

As a result I’m really not sure about this one. When I came to the end of this first issue, I honestly expected there to be more story. Instead it abruptly ended with a statement proclaiming more about things being the normal status, possibly a system message from the trees themselves. With the exception of some bizarre sights, normal has certainly been achieved. My only hope is that this "normal" is going to get dramatically and/or drastically blown apart.

As I mentioned earlier Jason Howard (who is known for working on Image titles with people such as Robert Kirkman) takes to the pencils. Firstly the cover image I thought was cracking. A strong depiction of the duality of a situation, with a cityscape backed with a crimson sky all underpinned by the roots of a tree that twist together and around to depict a skull. Foreshadowing at its finest as well then perhaps? Once inside the comic the artwork changes to a more subtle style. There is a wide range of characters and interactions as well as some realistic but with some great futuristic ideas such as the robot hounds the police are using. It keeps one foot in the present day, with the other reaches ahead without edging too far outside the realms of reality. A nice touch I felt. The frames are very easy to read and people shown, pivotal or not, display a wide range of emotions and faces. There is more passed over about the living and lifestyle in the artwork than the written plot, which is interesting and proof of the strength of comics as a narrative medium. The crowning piece for me though was the image used almost at the end of the comic to promote issue #2, which combines a hinted at aspect of the trees with an almost silhouette of an unknown male.

I like Warren Ellis’s work so I want to like this comic but on this occasion, based only on this issue I’m struggling. I’ve come to expect more and I hope there is more to come. Maybe issue #2 will win me over.

Matt Puddy still urges you to give Trees a go and make your own mind up!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

STOP PRESS! Titan Comics new Doctor Who comics will now be available in the UK!

by Ben Fardon

I just received an email from Diamond UK with one welcome news!

Diamond UK and Titan Comics are pleased to announce that the brand new Doctor Who comics from Titan Comics are now available in the UK!

Previously listed in Previews as N/A UK, the first issues of the two ongoing series featuring the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors are set to arrive in stores on 23rd July!

This means that I can start taking orders for the new Doctor Who comics right now! There are two titles to start with, one featuring the Tenth Doctor as played by David Tennant, from Nick Abadzis, Robbie Morrison and Elena Casagrande. The other will feature the Eleventh Doctor as played by Matt Smith, from Al Ewing, Rob Williams and Fraser Simon. A later series will feature Peter Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor once the new series has debuted on TV.

Doctor Who 10th #1

Writer: Abadzis, Nick
Artist: Casagrande, Elena
Cover Artist: Zhang, Alice X

The Tenth Doctor is back, in an all-new ongoing series! New companion, new foes, unforgettable new horizons! Allons-y! The Eisner Award-winning Nick Abadzis and fan favorite Elena Casagrande take control of the TARDIS for the first five-issue arc with the tenth Doctor, portrayed by David Tennant! Gabriella Gonzalez is stuck in a dead-end job in her family's New York laundrette, dreaming of college and bigger, better, and brighter things. So when a strange man with an even stranger big blue box barges into her life on the eve of the Day of the Dead celebrations, talking about an infestation of psychic aliens, she seizes her chance for adventure with both hands. After Donna's tragic exit, the Doctor thought he was done with companions. But Gabby Gonzalez is going to prove him wrong - if she survives the night!

Doctor Who 11th #1

Writer: Ewing, Al
Artist: Fraser, Simon
Cover Artist: Zhang, Alice X

The Eleventh Doctor returns in an all-new ongoing series, with a time-twisting leap into the unknown! Geronimo! Alice Obiefune has just lost her mother when the Doctor explodes into her life. But what does a grieving young woman have to do with the career of a 70s musician, an amnesiac alien time traveler, and a terrifying cosmic threat? In the wake of the second Big Bang, discover what the Doctor gets up to when Amy and Rory aren't around! Plus, every issue includes a 'Titans' strip and a brand-new humor strip.

To order, please email me at ASAP! Always pre-order to avoid disappointment!

Ben Fardon is delighted by this news! Fantastic

New Beginnings - MPH #1

by Matt Puddy

Mark Millar has been a busy bunny and we have yet another title from him this week – MPH. Now the thing I like about Millar on most of his Millarworld titles is that they go against the normal conventions of comic lore and do their own thing. A refreshing off-piste perspective. True to form MPH is another example of both of these components.

Opening in 1986, an unknown individual is seen speeding across several states seemingly out of control. As a reader we know this is Mr Springfield, the world's first and only superhuman making a terrible debut in the world. He is very quickly bagged, tagged and shipped off by the officials leaving a large number of questions including a big one about what the empty pill bottle was for.

Springing forward into 2014 Detroit and we meet some motivated young gang members, one of whom has some big ideas and is using the morally corrupt jobs to finance much bigger and better plans for his future. Unfortunately for him the man who is giving him jobs is far more devious and opportunistic, setting him up for a very big fall and 15 years in prison when caught by the authorities.

Presenting himself as the model inmate, young Mr Rodriguez does his best to reduce his time. All is going well until he finds out the real reason as to why he was incarcerated, just so his former boss could get his girlfriend. Descending further than before he finally turns to Cedric, the prison’s chemical supplier, who tempts him into trying a new drug he received. Once again MPH as resurfaced. Sending him into a seizure while his body adjusts, things then change dramatically. Speeding up to the point that the world flashes by, to slowing down to see individual flickers of fluorescent bulbs. Things are about to change dramatically for this young man, but what will he do with it? Also, what will happen with Mr Springfield who is revealed to have been underground, literally, for the last 30 years?

My frustration with the writing is that although I like Millar, I found it a bit of a something and nothing. Don’t get me wrong I like his work but this issue fell short of what I expected after I had read the preceding blurb. Promised issue #1 of five in a series where a young gang use MPH for their own personal gains, this issue was barely an origin story. I felt I wanted more and considering there are only four more issues left to come, I am wondering what can actually be squeezed into such a short run. This is not out of the normal for Millar though as we have seen the short run, tightly packed format from him time and time again in titles like Supercrooks, Superior and Nemesis, and they were all great.

Duncan Fegredo is the artist with Millar for the comic and is quite well observed outside of the big two. There is Hellboy of course, but there's also notable works on 2000AD or various Star Wars titles. He’s also worked with Millar before projects like this and has a cover art list longer than my arms! It’s a style which I have come to associate quite a lot with Millarworld titles as well if honest. There are tonnes of details in all of the frames, although occasionally continuity in the faces slip a little, but without making them feel too clean or fresh. It’s hard to explain but there is a carefully planned and executed artistic roughness in some cases and it works well to provide a good human feel to it with realistic people and situations shown. I liked his work in this instance, I just wanted him to have something more to work with.

As a story – a speedster on the wrong tracks – it comes across OK. You feel for the main character and can back him, even his break out, but we haven’t hit the main bulk of the story. I reckon Millar will pull it around quickly but will it be too, much too fast (pun intended) as he tries to finish in so few issues? We will see. 

Matt Puddy is no stranger to running.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Big Game Hunting Live - Cockroach Poker, Fluxx, Loonacy and Rat-A-Tat Cat

by Rae

It's time for Big Game Hunting Live! This is a monthly gaming event that takes place on the second Saturday of every month. Players will get a chance to learn and play featured games all day long. This month we're featuring several small card games. These are games that are easy to learn, quick to play, and a lot of fun!

Cockroach Poker has very little to do with poker. In fact, the only real similarity is in bluffing your way through it! Instead of your standard queens and aces, you'll find yourself passing around cards featuring stink bugs, scorpions, rats, spiders, and all other manner of creepy crawlies. Try not to end up with too many in front of you – catch four of the same critter and the game is up!

Rat-A-Tat Cat has players scrambling for the lowest score by swapping their rat cards for cat cards. It's a bit tricky, considering you don't know what your own cards are until you've decided to swap them! Try to remember your opponents' scores, and be the first to call out “rat a tat cat”!

Fluxx is an ever-changing card game where the only rule is to follow the cards – which, naturally, are constantly changing all the rules, from the numbers of card you can hold to how you win the game! Hang on to your Keepers to achieve the current Goal before someone changes it again!

Loonacy is a brilliantly simple game where the only thing you need to do is match up the pictures on the cards. Of course, since there are no turns, you also have to be the quickest to get rid of all the cards in your hand!

During the day, there will be two main gaming sessions, from 10:30am until 1:30pm, and 2:00pm until 5pm. All of the above games will be available to try. Whether you're a seasoned player or need to brush up on the rules, drop in and have a game with us! If you've never played before and would like to give it a try, feel free to pop in, and we'll show you the ropes.

See you Saturday 14th June!

All participants will receive a voucher that entitles them to 10% off any small card game featured on the day. If an item is not in stock, we may be able to order it for you on request.

Rae can't wait to get her hands on the new Egyptian-themed card game coming out this week!