Thursday, 30 January 2014

New Beginnings - Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #1

by Matt Puddy

Joss Whedon has a good amount to answer for, especially in some fans' eyes, both good and bad. One of those points would be the TV series Firefly and the subsequent film Serenity. Many people loved them both, and Fox's decision to cancel the series meant that the void has been filled by the aforementioned film, alongside various novels and comics set within their 'Verse, cementing the cult status that it has achieved.

Continuing the canon from Firefly and Serenity, Dark Horse brings us a new Serenity comic series with Leaves on the Wind. Also “keeping it in the family,” the series is written by Zack Whedon, one of Joss’s younger brothers (his other younger brother Jed is currently working on Marvel's Agents Of SHIELD), while Joss himself is acting as an executive producer. It's been over three years since The Shepherd's Tale, the last Serenity comic from Dark Horse (not counting the Free Comic Book Day 2012 short story, both of which were also written by Zack Whedon) and it's fair to say the anticipation is high. This is the first story set after the events of the film, aside from the Float Out one-shot.

Having not read any of those other comics or novels though, my exposure is purely through the series and the film. Despite this I felt comfortable straight away as things picked up less than a year after Serenity ended. The story opens with a fierce televised political debate over the existence of the planet called Miranda whose millions of inhabitants were allegedly either murdered or turned into the cannibalistic psychopath Reavers. The public face of things is in dispute over what is really going on. From a military point of view though things are far more clear and sadly too close to the truth for their own liking which makes Malcolm Reynolds a very wanted man. The trouble is no one knows where he is or how to find him, and he intends on keeping it like that. It’s only aboard Firefly - where we learn of the absence of Jayne and continue to feel the loss of the late Wash and Shepherd Book - that we see all of the crew, including a heavily pregnant Zoe (apparently first introduced in the Float Out one-shot). The pregnancy is coming to term, and some complications on baby Emma’s arrival into the world mean that Firefly’s crew are no longer afforded the luxury of obscurity and have to come back into the light, which also means the firing line.

We do also get a glimpse of Jayne as well, who true to form has a price which is met when the newly formed and slowly growing Resistance enlist his services to find Mal. For once though it’s not to kill him or hunt him, but because they believe he will be their salvation.

The team of Zack Whedon and artist Georges Jeanty have produced a story and comic that is very easy on the eye, and easily fits in with everything I already knew. Jeanty is no stranger to Joss Whedon characters having pencilled most of Buffy Season Eight. The depictions of characters, with some minor exceptions, are identifiable and the dialogue even sounded like the actors in my head, complete with Malcolm’s drawl. In total it felt right - a good story and a great follow up to the film. As I said I had no clue about what happened in the other arcs prior to this, but that wasn’t needed either. It does require the reader to at least be familiar with the TV series and the film, but that's hardly a stretch for most discerning comic readers!

I would hope that fans of Serenity will love this comic; it’s a great continuation of Whedon’s world but I also know how critical they can be. Thankfully most Browncoats seem to be overwhelmingly supportive! For me it was a great read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Matt Puddy is contemplating fleeing for his life from crazed zombies in Cardiff.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

New Beginnings - Deadly Class #1

by Matt Puddy

Fresh from Image we have a new book written by Rick Remender. Now for some, Remender’s name immediately conjures thoughts of Fear Agent. For others he is strongly associated with various recent Marvel titles, which may not have been universally well-received, but I’ve liked a number of his previous titles - especially his run on Uncanny X-Force. For those who have recently seen him on the flying-off-the-shelf Black Science (also on Image), then there should be a similar feeling of eager anticipation for this title.

Deadly Class feels like something that could really take off and develop into something more but in the first issue we see the beginnings set back in the Eighties. As a debut issue the best way I could describe it would be the prelude before the film credits. The reader is invited into the world of 14 year old Marcus. A product of the system, now living on the streets. Every day is a depressing struggle, but even through it all he can feel someone watching him and keeping an eye on how and what he is doing. However, a fracas with a homeless man, a sting operation and a bloody chase through a festival lead him to where he was fated to be. He meets the head of the motley crew that saved him, who makes him an audacious and almost unbelievable offer. To study at Kings Dominion School of the Deadly Arts with the potential of becoming one of the worlds finest assassins.

The story itself has been given a little twist and the building up of the back story straightaway on gets the reader invested early. It’s not without similarities to other stories too. There were elements, I felt, of Luc Besson’s Nikita or the more eastern Gantz, which both take individuals from a benign existence and - through one route or another - places them in a position where they are to become killers, willingly or not. Where this differs is that I think the training, stealth and deadly efficiency will be combined with the trials and tribulations of being a teenager in school, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the typical issues that are normally associated with adolescence are also incorporated into it. I hope it doesn’t linger too much on such matters as it unfolds though, as it will risk detract from the main story. The reasoning as to why there is this school hidden away - and more importantly what it is for - remains a mystery after this first issue and has a lot of potential.

Wes Craig is the artist for the title and I have to say that his work is not something that I have seen often. He’s worked across Wildstorm and Marvel titles, but not yet had the prestige of being an established regular for either of the Big Two in the recent reboots and relaunches. What I have liked is that there is variety in his work; he shows that his artistic style can change with the emotion of story. Not only when there are different feelings being shown by the main characters - or lack of in some cases - but in sections such as the dream sequence which is clearly not a comfortable situation.

Although it’s not as colourful as some other comics, with individual pages or spreads being set to a specific colour wash, it is a very engaging piece to read. The devil could be in the details though as he has depicted one of the characters with three quarter sleeves and legs full of tattoos, meaning continuity could be an absolute nightmare.

Fans of Remender should pick up this comic (if they haven’t decided to already), and those who aren’t sure should also grab it as it should change minds. As for me, I’ve been trying to curtail my pull list, but I must say is that titles like this simply don’t make the process easy!

Matt Puddy is getting back on the green.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The Watcher - Sherlock, Series 3

by Stefan Harkins
Episode 1 - The Empty Hearse

Finally I return to the keyboard, hot on the heels of one Sherlock Holmes' reappearance on our screens. A welcome rebound for the infamous deerstalker-clad detective.

How did he survive the Reichenbach fall? It’s a question that’s been on all our lips since 2012 and The Empty Hearse doesn’t bury the lead! Right off the bat we are taken back to that fateful day on the roof of St Bart's Hospital and an explanation is given... or is it?

This episode is all about Sherlock’s return and as always our great detective's understanding of the' emotions of other people is wonderfully off - the timing of his return couldn’t have come at a worse moment! We’re meeting Watson’s soon to be fianc√© Mary Morstan, played by Freeman’s real-life partner Amanda Abbington, who perfectly compliments the dynamic of the show and doesn’t feel like a third wheel between Holmes/Watson.

I loved the evolution of forensics officer Anderson into a guilt-ridden conspiracy nut, reflecting all the fans ideas and theories behind the return of Sherlock! 

Once the main plot is underway we hit both action and wit at full speed. Watson and Sherlock’s days are spliced together with humorous effect; the investigation into the underground (or is that Underground?) terrorist plot as well as the usual quick side cases and a motorbike chase with Mary in tow to save a slightly singed Watson! There's also a nice cameo appearance of a very ordinary - dare I say, boring? - couple on the Baker Street sofa who turn out to be the Holmes boy’s parents, portrayed by actors Wanda Ventham and Timothy Carlton aka Mum and Dad Cumberbatch! All of this does mean that the main plot ends up feeling a little left by the wayside, but for me as the series seems to re-establish itself as a show about the titular protagonist and the people who orbit him, rather than the cases themselves.



Episode 2 - The Sign of Three

If you thought the first one was funny... well this one is a laugh a minute! It’s the day of the Watson/Morston wedding and of course Sherlock is best man - what could go wrong?!

It starts with us following Lestrade; he's been  trying to capture a certain band of criminals for years now and when he finally has his moment, guess who calls? Sherlock, in need of some assistance with his speech! Felt it was a lot of setup for that single joke but hey ho, maybe it’s a precursor to a future episode. 

Overall this episode felt a bit frantic and a tad disorientating - what with all the jumping back and forth on the day’s timeline - but overall I loved it, there is mystery, humour and bromance! The stag do was particularly hilarious, with Sherlock and Watson playing the Rizla Guess Who game before trying to investigate a case while rather drunk. Sherlock’s usual visual deductions end up going a bit askew - chair seat leather sleeeeep!

Echoing on what I mentioned about the previous episode, this series so far has shown that it has become a show about a detective and not a detective series.


Episode 3 - His Last Vow

Secrets, betrayal, shock and awe - it’s all in this one! A lot darker than the previous two episodes, but still manages to squeeze in a couple of laughs.

We meet the very Lecter-esque Charles Augustus Magnussen (played brilliantly by Lars Mikkelsen), the one villain who truly turns Sherlock’s stomach. He is a media mogul-type who utilises the power of information to pinpoint the ‘pressure points’ of others in order to blackmail them and stay untouchable. He’s like a Bond villain, but in a subtle way he's a lot more chilling! A definite reflection on modern day fears of surveillance and the abuse of personal data.

Surprises galore for us and Watson, as Holmes has apparently not been seen for months, until he suddenly turns up in a drug den! Apparently he’s been in hiding and he also has a girlfriend! And the icing on the cake - Holmes household at Christmas! An unusual mix of a maths genius mum, a quirky dad and an odd moment of sentiment from his brother Mycroft! Also thrown into the mix is Sherlock’s new drug den buddy William ‘Bill’ Wiggins, a junkie with a knack for deduction. People familiar with the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories should recognise the name as the leader of the Baker Street Irregulars. 

We hear a lot more about Magnussen than we actually see, though what we do see is unnerving - face licking, fireplace urination and continually flicking Watson’s eye.

I don’t want to give too much away but the final confrontation doesn't quite go to plan, there are some great uses of the ‘mind palace’ in order to survive, and not just for Sherlock.

Everything changes but then again everything stays the same. All threads are resolved but we are given a glimpse of something which suggests hope for more to come.

One line in particular I’d like to end on - 

“The problems of your past are your business. The problems of your future are my privilege.” 


OK, call me a liar, it has to be -

“Did you miss me?!”

Stefan Harkins is still thinking about the beautiful almost-kiss...

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

New Beginnings - Harley Quinn #1

by Matt Puddy

A couple of months ago, DC unveiled a fairly unique zero issue into the world. Featuring none other than the slightly deranged persona that pheonixed out of Dr Harleen Quinzel, Harley Quinn #0 was different in more ways than one. Firstly, instead of having a specific artist the issue was created with a plethora of talent, changing with every page or double spread to highlight her varying looks and style since her creation and inception. In some ways it's also representative of the various identities she has also displayed over time.

The other main difference was that as a character, Harley Quinn did something that very few (if any to my knowledge) DC characters have ever done. She broke the fourth wall by speaking to - and of - those outside of the comic. In true Harley Quinn fashion she didn’t just break it, she smashed it. Whereas the slightly unhinged Deadpool makes occasional wise cracks and comments to those outside of the comic (holding the final issue of Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe to one side that is), Harley holds an open dialogue with the creative teams who are putting effort into making the issue. Name checking them as well as casting references, she works through the book to firstly showcase all of the talent but secondly explain who she was, who she is now, and what she may become. For some readers it will be reminiscent of John Byrne's Sensational She-Hulk. This all culminates in the news that she has been left a building by a former patient, thus opening the door wide for Harley Quinn #1.

I can’t really comment on all of different artists, but as a stand alone issue it works OK but is very choppy, although that seems to very much be the point. It doesn’t really fit with the new ongoing series, but also isn’t that incongruous with it either. If you’re planning to get the series on the whole then this one may be worth picking up to get further insight into the girl behind the make up and the approach taken by the writers behind this and the ongoing series, Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner. Conner also provides the beautiful covers for this new series.

Harley Quinn #1 re-unites the two writers with Chad Hardin, who produced a few pages during the aforementioned zero issue. We find Harley packing up her remaining possessions and heading for Coney Island and her new abode, all on the back of a motorbike with her trusty stuffed beaver strapped to the front.

One of the most endearing features of Harley for me is that if you look at her she is not really an evil person. If anything she is a girl who loves a lot of things, an awful lot. So much so that it’s a little surprising that when looking for deputies at the end of Blackest Night the Star Sapphires didn't conscript her. So when she sees even a tiny injustice on her travels - this one concerning with a small unloved dog - all hell breaks loose. The following ride - complete with new canine companion - is garnished with a biker hitman. It appears that there is a price on Harley’s head set by an unknown bidder (with my guess being a twisted love letter from Mister J himself or the Suicide Squad trying to tie-up a loose end) The scene also gives us another one of Harley’s loves… her trusty mallet.

Upon finding her new home, which she thinks is incredibly fitting, the sheen and shine wears off when she realises that even though it’s a perfect opportunity for her, there are strings attached. Big hefty financial ones, but being a resourceful girl she has interviews quickly lined up. First one features a very vanilla-looking Harley going back into the medical profession, but her real character really shines in the second - a roller derby interview where she gets to let loose.

Harley Quinn #2 is out this week!
At the end of a tough day she gets to relax on her own private roof area where another assassin attempts to kill her off. Things aren’t perfect but they’re good. She has a place to live, a fun, rag-tag group of new friends including a new dog and potentially two jobs. OK, so there is a hit out on her as well but in her eyes is this really a problem?

It’s a really enjoyable story but does it make her a little too domesticated? Last time I read anything which was solely her, it was the terrible one shot for Villains' Month. My major problem is that from this first issue you can’t really see any deeper development on the horizon, except for finding out who wants her dead and why, although it does add a potentially interesting new supporting cast. If anything this is the sort of thing in today’s comics that becomes a minor subplot for most characters as there’s always someone somewhere who wants them dead.

Visually it’s a good looking comic which hits the mark often, but outside of that I am struggling a little to see what it offers. I want to like this comic a lot as it develops a fan favourite character, but I am struggling to really attach to it. I can only hope it gets a lot better in the coming issues.

Matt Puddy was wondering what had happened to this one - anyone would think Ben had a lot on his plate!

Big Game Hunting Live - Small World

by Rae

Next month sees the return of 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 a different game every month. On Saturday 8th February, we'll be playing an old favourite, Small World!

In Small World, your goal is to capture as many territories as possible in a world that is most definitely too small for everyone to get along! Of course, you muse also defend those you already possess from other conquerors. To do this you will need to use one of the many fantasy races, paired with one of several special abilities. Of course, one race alone cannot conquer an entire world, and sooner or later you will have to watch your chosen race fall into decline. Don't worry though – you can always choose a new race and start conquering again!


For a full review of this game, please check it out here. This game was also featured on Wil Wheaton's TableTop.

During the day, there will be two main gaming sessions, from 10:30am until 1pm, and 2pm until 5pm. 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.

We will be playing with the base game, as well as expansions. As an added bonus, we now have the official six-player board! This will be in store on the day, and will be used should we have enough players to do so!

All participants will receive a voucher that entitle them to 10% off Small World and any of its expansions. Please note that expansions are currently only available to order.

Rae has got Super Mario on the brain.

Friday, 17 January 2014

New Beginnings - Night of the Living Deadpool #1

by Matt Puddy


Hot on the heels of his Deadpool "Killology", Cullen Bunn returns to the Merc With A Mouth with a loving homage to most of the mainstream zombie movie ideals. Entitled Night of the Living Deadpool, the cover points directly at George Romero, whilst inside there are nods and winks to the current king of the block, The Walking Dead.

This is the first part of a four part series where ol' Wade Wilson finds himself in quite the predicament. After being rudely awoken by screams after overeating in Chimichanga’s, Deadpool is left in a small dilemma. Having been in a food coma for the past few days, the world has simply passed him by. However in that time - here come the first shades of The Walking Dead or of course 28 Days Later - the world has descended into a post apocalyptic zombie filled zone.

Now for the normal person this may be a shocking revelation but in true Deadpool style he can’t believe it and thinks it’s all some sort of prank. It’s only when he starts to move through the city that he comes face to face with the recently deceased that it all finally hits home. It takes an attacking horde and a pickup truck with a mounted machine gun to round it all up, adding the punctuating note that Deadpool may actually be the last remaining superhero in the world.


There are some interesting changes to the genre norms that I noticed that Bunn has made. For instance the zombies have a semblance of cognition and even talk a little, begging for him to finish it. 

Ramon Rasanas has given us the artwork and I really like it. It has two really strong aspects that grabbed me. Firstly it has great line work with a lot of detail in pretty much everything. Secondly the art style has more than a cheeky wink to The Walking Dead. The zombies are arguably reminiscent of Tony Moore's in the early days of the Image zombie comic, while the monochrome presentation is reminiscent of Cliff Rathburn's grayscales and tones throughout the same series. It is further enhanced by the colouring - or rather lack of - using only red for Deadpool himself, other than a few full-colour flashback sections.

This is another good example of how Deadpool is best used - parody and comedy. He was created for that exact reason after all. I can understand why this will probably work best as a limited series, but at the same time I’m a little sad that it won't last a little longer. Deadpool fans will most likely lap it up and with the ongoing popularity of the zombie genre there could also be a few zombie fans who pick it up as well.

Matt Puddy is hungry for BRAAAAAINS!

Delayed Marvel comics

Hi folks, we've just had an update from Diamond UK to warn us that a few issues will be frustratingly a week late in the UK.

Dear Retailer,

Due to an unfortunate shipping delay from the printer the following titles will be x1 week late from Diamond UK, these titles will now have an official UK on sale date of Wednesday 29th January 2014  

Diamond Comic Distributors.

  • ALL NEW X-MEN #22.NOW
  • AVENGERS WORLD #2
  • AVENGERS #25
  • BLACK WIDOW #2
  • CABLE AND X-FORCE #19
  • CAPTAIN AMERICA #15
  • CATACLYSM ULTIMATE X-MEN #3 (OF 3)
  • INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK #18.INH
  • IRON MAN #20.INH
  • SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN TEAM UP #9
  • WOLVERINE AND X-MEN #40

Out of our control I'm afraid folks. I share your frustration. 


Thursday, 16 January 2014

Free Comic Book Day 2014 - vote for the line up!

Free Comic Book Day 2014 is hurtling towards us at speed! On Saturday 3rd May 2014, we'll be throwing open the doors once more with a host of amazing free comics for you to come and enjoy.


This year though, we're doing things a little differently. Last year we tried to have our biggest Free Comic Book Day ever, and whilst it was a lot of fun, it was very expensive. The free comics aren't actually free. The writers, artists, inkers, colourists, editors and everyone else involved in the comic industry all work for free to bring you some amazing comics for this special annual event, but ultimately costs like the ink, paper and the transport costs are all coming from other, supporting industries and they still expect to get paid! Understandable really. So the free comics have a small price tag attached to them - last year it was an average of 23.5 pence per comic. You might think that's nothing, but when you considered we ordered almost 2000 "free" comics last year, you being to see our bill soon adds up!

Now Free Comic Book Day has always been kind to Proud Lion and I'm delighted to say that most people don't just come and grab some free comics, they browse the shelves, make purchases and support our little store on that day too. It's often one of our biggest days of the year, easily rivalling the Christmas season. But sadly last year our biggest Free Comic Book Day ever was not proportionately reflected in the sales. And so I've had to take the tough decision to make this year's Free Comic Book Day a little more modest.

This doesn't mean we're skimping out though! We'll still be ordered huge quantities of the biggest titles!  But of the 57 titles available this year, only 20 will make the cut. I've selected ten core titles that we'll definitely be offering no matter what! These are as follows:  DC The New 52 Future's End Spec Ed, Guardians Of Galaxy, 2000 AD Special, Atomic Robo & Friends, Kaboom Summer Blast, Mouse Guard Labyrinth Rust HC, Sonic The Hedgehog Mega Man Flipbook #1, Street Fighter #0, Teen Titans Go #1 Spec Ed and Transformers Vs GI Joe.

The other ten will be selected by you! Click here to head to Survey Monkey and take the survey!

Further details on the comics on offer can be found here.

This survey will close at the end of this month, so you have just over two weeks to get involved!

Don't fret if the title you like the look of doesn't make the cut, we will also be offering a chance for customers to request specific comics not included in the final selection. More details on that to come once the selection is finalised.

So click through and get voting!

Ben Fardon is eagerly awaiting another gorgeous free hardback from Archaia!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

New Beginnings - All-New Marvel Now Point One

It's almost becoming traditional to start the year with a review of a Marvel Point One issue. The big question each year is what is it going to be all about? Followed by musing on whether they will make good on these initial short stores. There are still some unresolved ideas from last year's Point One after all.

This year's issue is a sneak peek at the following:

  • Loki: Agent of Asgard (Ewing and Garbett)
  • Ms Marvel (Wilson and Alphona)
  • Silver Surfer (Slott and Allred)
  • All New Invaders (Robinson and Pugh)
  • Black Widow (Edmonson and Noto)
  • Avengers World (Hickman and Spencer)

Following a similar vein to last year, all of the different titles follow a thread headed up by a main character who this time around is a slightly older Loki. This may catch some people off guard to begin with as he has aged since his rebirth in Journey into Mystery (circa Fear Itself) as a relative child. Now we have early twenties Loki following recent events in Young Avengers.

Loki is chasing down a number of mystical keys which are spread across the universe. When all are possessed, they will open a secret casket containing an incredibly powerful weapon – Gram, the sword of Sigurd – which in his normal egotistical way is only fitting for him as an Agent of Asgard. What he will do with it in the series we don’t know but will be interesting to see.

Moving through the comic chronologically we have another restart of Silver Surfer from Dan Slott. As mini stories go it’s a standalone to give a basic introduction to Norrin Radd and Dawn as they visit a planet in time for a celestial event. What is meant to be a treat is somewhat tainted by the Surfer's presence as all perceive him as the Herald for Galactus rather than someone taking a trip to see things. There is a lot of levity in the story and some jokes – occasionally a bit hammy – to keep things moving along. The artwork though didn’t really hit it with me as Michael Allred’s work isn’t my particular taste (but I know Ben is delighted to see Allred on a book that he feels finally fits the artist's style).

The All-New Invaders is pure set up for the series. After seeing the Red Skull lose yet another key – a point which I think is more used as a reminder that he now has the late Professor X’s brain more than a main story point – the Kree Empire becomes the narrator. Highlighting the need for power and as such chasing the “God’s Whisper,” Tanulth the Pursuer is set upon Namor, Bucky and Jim Hammond, the original android Human Torch.

Each of these three hold a key element to the God Whisper which has kept them youthful, enabling James Robinson to put the team back together. It’s also made the three of them targets for the Kree Empire. There is nothing much given here as to where this can really go, but for the time being we know who's involved and that it has great visuals.

Predator is all about the now more prominent Natasha Romanov with Black Widow getting a solo title. Beginning as an introspective piece, very much like the recent Origin II, we see Black Widow in a frozen wasteland facing the end of her life. Looking at who she is and where she has been - whilst tied into her current predicament - explores more about her than the recent films have managed to do. There is no doubt about it - she’s cold, calculated and deadly. My concern is that this could be a fairly basic premise of her having contracts to complete and how she goes about it. Hopefully not. Artistically though this is a lovely looking piece - I'm hoping that Phil Noto remains on it and we see more of his work in the future too.

Veering away from the idea of Loki and ultimate mischievous power, we are shown a new Ms Marvel. Now this is a brand new character and this is echoed by characters in the comic when people in the street also question which one she is. As well as establishing this character Marvel are trying to cross more boundaries here. Kamala Kahn, a young Pakistani Muslim with all the usual problems of a girl her age. Very reminiscent of a young Peter Parker, I feel.

Again visually this is a lovely looking comic and I liked Adrian Alphona’s work. Along with almost educational depiction of traditional Pakistani attire, it’s a good all round read. Potentially aimed at a slightly younger market as well, it could certainly capture a new reader grouping.

Finally an amalgamation of two stories opens us up to the precursor to Avengers World (also released this week). On one hand we have what is intended to be a covert operation with Sunspot and Cannonball. AIM have retroactively engineered a serum from Bruce Banner which can temporarily transform you into a Hulk. Dangerous stuff in the wrong hands really, hence the operation. Things don’t necessarily go to plan though. The other side of things is a negotiation between Maria Hill and Captain America, where an awkward alliance between S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers is forged. Two teams working together adding force when Maria needs it with all the intel and secrets opened up when Cap asks. An interesting combination for the future and something previous Directors of S.H.I.E.L.D. have strived for on a number of occasions. Although not a groundbreaking story it does hold up for something very good indeed. How far it goes is yet to be seen though.

From this Point One issue I have to say that Avengers World is the title that has piqued my interest the most closely followed by Loki: Agent of Asgard. That said the remaining do seem to be quite strong, despite my misgivings regarding Allred's artwork. There was a little overshadowing of it all though, with teasers for the Watcher's chalk outline and blood stains building anticipation for the Original Sin event later this year, but that is in itself a good bit of marketing. Which titles will survive or fall remains to be seen.

Matt Puddy is looking forward to next week's Deadpool parody of Kirkman's finest zombies...

Monday, 6 January 2014

Carrier bags and charity - Cancer Research UK

Hi folks,

Last week marked not only the end of the current financial quarter (and the calendar year) but also the end of the latest period of collecting money for charity from our sales of carrier bags.

Over the course of the past quarter, I managed to source our carrier bags from our existing supplier, but at a lower price point. The point of charging for carrier bags was simply to cover our costs and encourage our customers to reuse/recycle the carrier bags they use; it was never about trying to turn a profit, hence once we've covered the VAT and the cost price, the rest builds up to make our quarterly charitable contribution. Since the cost price is now lower, our charitable contribution will be proportionately higher, which is great news! 

This is our eleventh full quarter and together we raised £23.23!

Last time I donated to comic writer Steve Niles and his family who had a personal disaster in the wake of freak flooding in Texas and the horrid discovery that their insurance wouldn't cover them.

This time, I'm making a donation to Cancer Research UK on behalf of a friend, Joe Kelly, who has opted to forgo any birthday presents from friends this year, instead asking them to make a small donation to the charity instead. I've already made a personal donation and now it's my great privilege to add a little extra to that pot. An accomplished musician (and member of the wonderful band Welcome Back Delta), some of you will remember Joe played an acoustic solo set at Free Comic Book Day here back in 2012.

The next carrier bag donation will be in early April. If you have a charity you'd like Proud Lion to support, please email me at shop@proudlion.co.uk.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

New Beginnings - Legenderry #1

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! Welcome to Legenderry. More specifically, come delve into The Big City, a modern marvel of steam-powered society. But beware! As with every city there are darker corners that some of the less salubrious and morally flexible residents will visit or reside, places such as The Scarlet Club. 

Issue #1 of Dynamite’s new steampunk adventure is set right here, and focuses on their licensed characters brought together into a new shared world. These aren't the original characters transplanted into another universe, instead we find Green Hornet, Vampirella, Red Sonja, the Bionic Man and The Phantom all re-imagined within a glorious steampunk setting.

Bill Willingham’s story centres on the events of one evening as a way to introduce us to this world. It’s refined, overflowing with money and luxuries, but behind all the entrapments there is also a hint of debauchery slyly threaded throughout. What goes on behind these doors clearly stays there, or are at least not spoken about. Its clientele are anonymous and prefer to stay that way, so when a band of identically-dressed, weapon-wielding assassins burst in whilst in pursuit of Magna Spadarossa, it causes quite a commotion. Magna has gotten herself into a little bit of trouble by searching for answers over the disappearance of her older sister Sonja. Questions that are obviously unwelcome.

Upon their arrival the would-be killers are torn limb from limb by an enraged Vampirella who takes umbrage against their rude injection into her private world, which although personally satisfying does open the potential of revealing her secret to the police, I mean how can the heavily-armed staff at the club allegedly take down all the attackers without a single bullet hole?


Whilst the story has plenty of action I found it a little slow to build and get started. It spent a good amount of time introducing the world and the characters. It’s a weird dichotomy as on one hand I wasn’t overwhelmed by the story and it’s development in this issue, but in the longer term you can see so much more potential. The crossover factor of the different characters is an intriguing one too but the playing field is levelled by setting it all with a steampunk backdrop rather than pandering to any one character's existing environment.

The artwork is a similar affair for me too. Initially there was a feeling of elation when I saw the Joe Benitez cover. Benitez being the author artist on another steampunk title, Lady Mechanika (which is honestly continuing… hopefully… I’ve heard) which is great. Inside Sergio Davila takes over and adds the touch of refinement I spoke of earlier. The detail is elegant, but lacking the mechanical look I associate with this genre, making it more a hint of said style rather than forcing it upon the reader. If anything it reminds me more of Mad Moxie from the Borderlands games or certain interpretations of Harley Quinn.

For a first issue I felt it focussed heavily on one character as part of the story development meaning that the second issue is likely to be a similar affair looking at the Green Hornet and Kato. The direction this takes us in looks to be fairly obvious to begin with but the positives are that this would be an easy thread to follow for new readers looking to try something new from a slightly alternative publisher. It may come across as a little confusing if they enjoyed the characters and then had to follow them back to their real worlds, but it’s still a good way for Dynamite to get new readers.

Will it set the world on fire? I’m not sure but equally I don’t think that this will disappoint. Willingham has a huge following of fans from his work on Fables, and I'm certain fans of that will not be disappointed if they decide to give this seven-issue miniseries a try.

Matt Puddy was bracing himself for another argument as to the definition of the steampunk genre

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Proud Lion January 2014 Sale Now On!


1/3 OFF MANY
GRAPHIC NOVELS!

GREAT REDUCTIONS ON
SELECTED ACTION FIGURES,
BOARD GAMES AND MORE!

The Proud Lion January Sale is now on folks! We have at least a third of a huge selection of graphic novels, and some great reductions on selected action figures, merchandise, statues and board games!

We regret we can't take any reservations for these items, strictly first come, first served. Although you can call and make a card payment over the phone (01242 525636) for any item you want and we will hold it for you.

Here's the full list of what's on offer:


GRAPHIC NOVELS

Product Was Now
ABC WARRIORS THE VOLGAN WAR VOL 02 TP £12.99 £8.50
ABC WARRIORS THE VOLGAN WAR VOL 03 TP £12.99 £8.50
AGE OF REPTILES OMNIBUS VOL 01 TP £19.00 £12.50
ALAN MOORE FASHION BEAST TP £18.99 £12.50
AMORY WARS IN KEEPING SECRETS OF SILENT EARTH 3 VOL 01 TP £11.00 £7.00
ANGEL OMNIBUS VOL 02 TP £19.00 £10.00
ANGEL THE END HC £38.00 £20.00
AUGUST MOON GN £11.00 £7.00
AVENGERS BY BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS VOL 04 TP £15.00 £10.00
BALLAD OF HALO JONES TP £13.99 £9.00
BATTLE POPE VOL 04 WRATH OF GOD TP £7.50 £5.00
BATTLE SCARS TP £13.00 £8.00
BLACK WIDOW DEADLY ORIGIN TP £11.00 £7.00
CALL OF WONDERLAND TP £10.00 £6.50
CAPTAIN MARVEL DEATH OF CAPTAIN MARVEL PREMIERE HC VARIANT £19.00 £10.00
COUNTER X X-FORCE RAGE WAR TP £15.00 £5.00
DAREDEVIL FATHER HC £19.00 £10.00
FEAR ITSELF SECRET AVENGERS TP £15.00 £10.00
FEAR ITSELF THUNDERBOLTS TP £12.00 £8.00
FEAR ITSELF UNCANNY X-FORCE/THE DEEP PREMIERE HC £19.00 £12.00
FEAR ITSELF UNCANNY X-FORCE/THE DEEP TP £15.00 £10.00
FEAR ITSELF UNCANNY X-MEN TP £13.00 £9.00
FEAR ITSELF WOLVERINE NEW MUTANTS TP £15.00 £10.00
GALACTICA 1980 TP £13.00 £8.00
GENERATION X CLASSIC VOL 01 TP £19.00 £10.00
GRIMM FAIRY TALES THE LIBRARY TP £12.00 £5.00
HELLRAISER VOL 04 TP £15.00 £10.00
HOUSE OF MYSTERY VOL 08 DESOLATION TP £11.00 £5.00
HULK ABOMINABLE PREMIERE HC £26.00 £18.00
HULK BOILING POINT PREMIERE HC £26.00 £18.00
I VAMPIRE VOL 01 TAINTED LOVE TP £11.00 £7.00
IZOMBIE VOL 03 SIX FEET UNDER AND RISING TP £11.00 £5.00
LEGION LOST VOL 01 RUN FROM TOMORROW TP £11.00 £7.00
MEDITERRANEA VOL 01 TP £14.00 £5.00
MIGHTY THOR BY MATT FRACTION VOL 01 TP £15.00 £10.00
MOON KNIGHT BY BENDIS AND MALEEV VOL 02 TP £15.00 £10.00
NEVERLAND HOOK TP £10.00 £5.00
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD VOL 03 TP £15.00 £10.00
PHONOGRAM VOL 01 RUE BRITANNIA TP £11.00 £7.00
PHONOGRAM VOL 02 SINGLES CLUB TP £11.00 £7.00
SECRET INVASION CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI 13 TP DM ED £12.00 £8.00
SECRET INVASION FANTASTIC FOUR TP £13.00 £5.00
SECRET INVASION MIGHTY AVENGERS BOOK 1 TP DM ED £11.00 £5.00
SECRET INVASION NEW AVENGERS BOOK 2 TP DM ED £11.00 £5.00
SECRET INVASION WAR MACHINE TP £10.00 £5.00
SHARKNIFE VOL 02 SHARKNIFE ZZ GN £9.00 £5.00
SPAWN ORIGINS VOL 03 TP £11.00 £5.00
SPAWN ORIGINS VOL 04 TP £11.00 £5.00
STAR TREK LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES TP £15.00 £10.00
STAR TREK NERO TP £9.95 £5.00
SUICIDE SQUAD VOL 01 TRIAL BY FIRE TP £15.00 £9.00
SUPERNATURAL THE DOGS OF EDINBURGH TP £11.00 £7.00
TALON VOL 01 SCOURGE OF THE OWLS TP £13.00 £8.00
THE CROW MIDNIGHT LEGENDS VOL 01 DEAD TIME TP £13.50 £9.00
THE X-FILES TP £15.00 £9.00
ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES BY HUMPHRIES VOL 02 TP £13.00 £5.00
ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES BY JONATHAN HICKMAN VOL 01 TP £15.00 £10.00
ULTIMATE COMICS WOLVERINE LEGACIES TP £11.00 £5.00
ULTIMATES 2 VOL 01 GODS AND MONSTERS TP £12.00 £8.00
ULTIMATES 2 VOL 02 GRAND THEFT AMERICA TP £15.00 £10.00
WOLVERINE FIRST CUTS TP £15.00 £10.00
WOLVERINE GOODBYE CHINATOWN TP £13.00 £8.00
X-FILES 30 DAYS OF NIGHT TP £13.50 £8.00
X-MEN PRELUDE TO ONSLAUGHT TP £22.50 £15.00
X-MEN RECKLESS ABANDONMENT TP £15.00 £10.00


ACTION FIGURES, STATUES & MERCHANDISE

Product Was Now
AARDMAN BATMAN & ROBIN COMICON SPECIAL AF 2 PACK £40.00 £20.00
BATMAN ARKHAM ASYLUM BATMAN ARMORED PLAY ARTS KAI AF £65.00 £40.00
BATMAN ARKHAM ORIGINS SERIES 1 BLACK MASK AF £23.00 £14.00
BATMAN DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY PLAY ARTS KAI BANE AF £65.00 £35.00
BATMAN DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY PLAY ARTS KAI CATWOMAN AF £65.00 £35.00
DC COMICS SUPER VILLAINS JOKER PATINA MINI STATUE £90.00 £55.00
DC NEW 52 SUPER HEROES VS SUPER VILLAINS 7 PACK AF BOX SET £100.00 £60.00
DRAGON AGE II FLEMETH DRAGON STATUE £45.00 £25.00
GAME OF THRONES DIRE WOLF BOOKENDS £85.00 £40.00
INJUSTICE FLASH VS RAVEN 2 PACK AF £25.00 £10.00
INJUSTICE NIGHTWING VS SUPERMAN 2 PACK AF £25.00 £10.00
INJUSTICE WONDER WOMAN VS SOLOMON GRUNDY 2 PACK AF £25.00 £10.00
KOTOBUKIYA SPIDER-MAN VENOM UNBOUND FINE ART STATUE £190.00 £125.00
MARVEL COMICS IRON MAN MR POTATO HEAD £18.00 £12.50
MARVEL COMICS THOR MR POTATO HEAD £18.00 £12.50
MARVEL COMICS WOLVERINE MR POTATO HEAD £18.00 £12.50
MARVEL SELECT IRON MAN 3 WAR MACHINE AF £23.00 £15.00
MASS EFFECT NORMANDY SR2 CERBERUS SHIP REPLICA £30.00 £20.00
PROMETHEUS SERIES 1 ENGINEER CHAIR SUIT DELUXE AF £17.00 £5.00
PROMETHEUS SERIES 2 DAVID DELUXE AF £17.00 £5.00
PROMETHEUS SERIES 2 DEACON DELUXE AF £17.00 £5.00
WALKING DEAD COMIC SERIES 2 THE GOVERNOR PHILLIP BLAKE AF £16.00 £9.00
WALKING DEAD COMIC SERIES 2 THE GOVERNOR'S
ZOMBIE DAUGHTER PENNY BLAKE AF
£16.00 £9.00
WALKING DEAD TV SERIES 4 ANDREA AF £16.00 £10.00


BOARD GAMES
Product Was Now
ABADDON BOARD GAME £60.00 £40.00
CASTELLAN £30.00 £19.50
DC HEROCLIX BATMAN FAST FORCES SIX PACK £15.00 £10.00
DC HEROCLIX BATMAN STREETS OF GOTHAM FAST FORCES SIX PACK £13.00 £9.00
DC HEROCLIX MAN OF STEEL MOVIE STARTER £20.00 £14.00
DC HEROCLIX TEEN TITANS FAST FORCES SIX PACK £15.00 £10.00
FORTRESS AMERICA £65.00 £42.00
LEVEL 7 [ESCAPE] LOCKDOWN EXPANSION £25.00 £16.50
LORD OF THE RINGS FELLOWSHIP DECK BUILDING GAME £30.00 £10.00
LORD OF THE RINGS NAZGUL HEROCLIX BOARDGAME £65.00 £35.00
MARVEL HEROCLIX AMAZING SPIDER-MAN TABAPP PACK £15.00 £5.00
MARVEL HEROCLIX IRON MAN 3 MOVIE STARTER £20.00 £14.00
MARVEL HEROCLIX SUPER HEROES TABAPP PACK £15.00 £5.00
MARVEL HEROCLIX UNCANNY X-MEN FAST FORCES SIX PACK £13.00 £9.00
MARVEL HEROCLIX WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN TABAPP PACK £15.00 £5.00
OGRE DESIGNER'S EDITION £85.00 £65.00
SEDITION WARS £60.00 £40.00
STAR TREK HEROCLIX TACTICS AWAY TEAM STARTER £15.00 £10.00
STAR TREK HEROCLIX TACTICS SERIES 2 STARTER £20.00 £13.50
STRATEGO SCI-FI £15.00 £10.00
THE HOBBIT HEROCLIX STARTER £30.00 £10.00
TSURO VETERANS OF THE SEAS £10.00 £5.00
WOULD I LIE TO YOU £20.00 £10.00



Don't forget you'll also find great items reduced to clear on our Outlet Store at www.proudlion.co.uk!

Ben Fardon is reinvisioning the whole layout of the store...