Sunday, 27 December 2015

Year End Awards: Best Graphic Novel Awards


Article by
Patrick Scattergood

In the second of our year end awards, we're tackling the tough world of the graphic novels that have been coming from the small press / indie world and this year was one of the best by far.  The trouble with that is the simple fact that it was next to impossible to narrow it down to less than six so let's get started.

Honorable Mentions

Midnight Man: Bullet Time (Bad Mother Publisher)
Westernoir: Book Five (Accent UK)
The King in Yellow (Self Made Hero)

Third Place


Fantasmagoria (Self Published)

Both written and illustrated by Stephane Cote, Fantasmagoria is one of the most unique and varied graphic novels that I have read in a very long time.

Taking a story that manages to both excite and to hook you in, Cote manages to tell a story from so many different points of view that you never fully know just what is going to happen until the very last page.

It's the same with the art.  Each side of the story is told using a massively different style of illustration, which should make the tale very disjointed yet Cote manages to keep all the plates spinning not only successfully but with a superb sense of style as well.

If you're looking for a unique title in the sea of graphic novels that have come out this year then this is one  that should already be in your collection.

Runner Up


The Rabbit (Avery Hill)

Written and illustrated by the insanely talented Rachael Smith, The Rabbit is one of those releases that is really hard to explain to people but is also one that you can't even come close to putting down until you've finished each and every page.

Smith is known as someone that not only illustrates absolutely gorgeous looking stories but tells the reader a story that will both amuse but also stay with you long after you have closed the book and it's the same here.

On the surface you have a tale that looks like it would be too weird to be taken seriously but that is not the case here.  Instead, you have a story that is both heartwarming and incredibly touching as well as hilarious.

With each of her releases being even better than the last, I can't wait to see what she is going to come up with next.

Joint Winner: 2015 COASM Best Graphic Novel


The Sculptor (Self Made Hero)


Porcelain: Bone China (Improper Books)

I'm not normally a fan of year end awards that end with a double winner but this year, it was absolutely impossible to choose between these two releases for vastly different reasons entirely.

In The Sculptor by Scott McCloud, we have a rather fantastical but romantic story that both manages to make you smile but also make you weep bucket loads of tears as well.  It's a story that is so full of up's and down's that you're never quite sure what McCloud is going to do to your heart next.

A lot of that is down to his brilliant pacing but also his stark black and white art really puts forward the heartbreak and the longing that runs throughout the story and that is why it's one of my favourite releases of the year by far.

The second winner is a follow up to one of my favourite graphic novels of all time in the shape of Porcelain: Bone China.  

As a sequel to Porcelain, this one not only keeps the extremely high quality of the original graphic novel but also expands not only on the effective characters but also the world  that the pair of Chris Wildgoose and Benjamin Read have created here.  

The story itself is extremely well paced but also makes the reader feel like they're going to take the story one route but then takes you in a completely different direction.  I loved that about the story.  If these two installments in the series are going to be this good then the next one has a hell of a lot to live up to.

Well ladies and gentlemen, that's the best graphic novels for 2015.  Have any of your favorites made the list?

Year End Awards: Best Comic Book Awards


Article By
Patrick Scattergood

Hello readers and welcome to the 2015 COASM Year End Awards.  I didn't get time to do one of these last year so here's this years one.

I figured we would start with the Best Comic Book and Best Graphic Novel awards for this year so without further ado, let's get started!

Best Comic Book

There have been a lot of absolutely brilliant comic books by both the small press companies and the indie creators this year so it has been an absolute battle to try to narrow it down to just these three so here they are folks.

Honorable Mentions

Tales of Westernoir: Issue 1 (Accent UK)
Deathday Presents: Issue 1 (Dammaged Comics)
The Disease: One Shot (Self Published by James Mulholland)
Papercuts and Inkstains: Issues 1 and 2 (Madius Comics)
City of Lost Souls: Issues 1-3 (Moomac Comics / Geeky Kids Comics)

Third Place


Jupiter: Issue 2 (Ink and Booze)


As I said in my review of this superb title, it's always a great surprise to come across a comic book that not only improves with each issue but also manages to keep a unique sense of style and quality in an ever growing indie and small press comic book world. 

Jupiter, written by Drew Askew, is one of those titles and if the first two issues are anything to go by, it's just going to get better and better.  In fact it's one of those titles that on paper shouldn't work or at the very least, would end up being a bit of a car crash style series but this tale of a Mexican wrestler turning in to a masked detective ends up being one that grips and amuses in equal measure.

Definitely one to check out.


Runner Up


Stephenson's Robot: Issue 1 (Accent UK)

I'm always a little bit hesitant to review titles that have more than one story in them.  That's because of the simple fact that they are nearly always hit and miss.

However, with the great track record that Accent UK has with their titles, I still managed to go in to this one with some very high expectations and they were more than met by the team here.  All three stories that appeared in this issue were such high quality that Stephenson's Robot: Issue 1 is one of those sorts of titles that you can come back to time and time again but notice something new each time,

I loved how they took a story involving the creation of a robot that may or may not be able to be able to end a war but tell it from three different sides and from three different voices is brilliantly risky but works so well here and that's why it ended up on a very well deserved runner up spot in this years list.

2015 COASM Best Comic Winner


Merrick: The Sensational Elephantman: Issue Three

The Merrick series put out by Tom Ward and Luke Parker has been making a hell of a lot of waves in the indie world and rightfully so,  Taking the famous personality of the real life Elephantman himself, as told in the 1980 movie starring John Hurt, and then placing him in an also Hellboy like world has been a brilliantly exciting and successful one.

You would think that a title that has clear influences from Mike Mignola and others would suffer from a lack of originality but that's far from the case here.  In fact, there are a great many interesting ideas in the series that I look forward to seeing more of.

The Kickstarter campaigns for the various issues just seem to get more and more successful with each one and this one was no different.  A lot of that is down to the simple fact that this is by far, the best issue of the series thus far and one that is well deserving of the winners spot on this list so go and check out the series and see just what the fuss is all about,  Believe me, it's well worth it.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Blood Blokes: Issue 5 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written and Illustrated By
Adam Cadwell

Pin Up's By
Dilraj Mann
Simone Massoni

Cover By
Adam Cadwell

Back Cover By
Danny Zabbal

Published By
Self Published

Genre
Comedy, Horror

Synopsis

In this penultimate issue hapless new vamp Vince drops in on his human ex-girlfriend Jane while his undead housemates search the student indie night clubs of Manchester looking for him.

Review

When I first picked up the first couple of issues of Blood Blokes by Adam Cadwell, I have to admit that I wasn't at all sure what to expect from it.  After reading through the first four issues, I was blown away at how quickly the characters grew and turned in to a cast that I wanted to read more of.

In this issue, we're dealing with the aftermath of Vince realising that his life will never be the same again and he implodes for what of a better word and tries to run away from it all.  Here in issue five, we see the character of Vince really do some great character growth and it's great to see him in a slightly different light.

If you were a fan of the darkly comedic moments in the first four issues then you are in luck here.  Not only does Cadwell keep the humour firing on all cylinders, there are some great little nods to other movies and television shows in there too so it was fun to see those as well.

Art wise, the stark black and white nature of the art style here really works to the advantages of the panel work.  There are some great angles used and the way Cadwell uses the shadows to give the pages depth as well as a sense of dread while maintaining the comedy is fantastic.  A lot of that is down to the interplay between the characters and their facial expressions too.  Sometimes Cadwell goes for the sharp dialogue and other times he just goes for a facial expression and that really gives this issue the best pacing of the series by far.

There are some great guest pin up's here that really work next to Cadwell's art despite being completely different styles.  I've always loved it when a comic book has a sample of another artist's work because it gives the reader a chance to see new work that they may not have otherwise seen and I, for one, will definitely be checking out their work as well.

All in all, this is a great issue and one that was well worth waiting for.  Let's hope that issue six finishes off the series with a bang,

Story 8/10
Art 8.5/10
Cover 8.5/10
Recommended 8.5/10
Overall 33.5/40

Blood Blokes: Issue 5 as well as the other issues, are available from Adam Cadwell's Store

Ant-Man Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Edgar Wright
Joe Cornish
Adam McKay
Paul Rudd

Based on Characters Created By
Stan Lee
Jack Kirby
Larry Lieber

Directed By
Peyton Reed

A Marvel Studios Film

Genre
Superhero, Action, Adventure

Cast
Paul Rudd as Scott Lang / Ant-Man
Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym
Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne
Corey Stoll as Darren Cross / Yellowjacket
Bobby Cannavale as Paxton
Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson / Falcon
Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter
Michael Pena as Luis

Year Released
2015

Certificate
12

Synopsis

Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, cat burglar Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

Review

I have to admit that despite reading a lot of different Avengers comic books, I was never that big a fan of the character of Ant-Man.  I could never place my finger on why but the stories involving Pym and his alter ego's just never hooked me in as much as the other members.  So with that in mind, I didn't really pay that much attention to the announcement that a movie was going to coming out helmed by the character.

Well, I finally got around to seeing it today and I have to admit that I actually found myself  really enjoying it to the point that I wanted to pick up some of the comics with him in to take another look at his back story.

The first thing that struck me was the simple fact that while this movie was exciting and had some absolutely fantastic action scenes in, there was a real sense of wonder and fun that ran through the entire run time of the movie itself.  The idea of a person having made many mistakes in their life and then wanting to wanting to redeem himself isn't a new one, not even in the Marvel movies themselves, but you can't help but find yourself rooting for the Lang character played by Rudd.

A lot of that is down to the brilliantly paced writing and editing here.  Each time sometime goes wrong for the character, you can't help but feel sorry for him.  Rudd's performance is the cause of a lot of that and he really does bring the character of Scott Lang to life in such an impressive way that I can't wait to see what he will do with the character next.

Talking of the characters, I was quite surprised with the choice of Michael Douglas as Hank Pym but he really gives the character a sense of cynicism and hope at the same time.  The chemistry between Douglas and Rudd gives the characters of Pym and Lang a father/son style relationship and that really adds another layer to them.  It's the same with Evangeline Lilly as Hope, although I wish they could have done a little bit more with the character.

All in all, this is a great addition to the Marvel movie universe.  It's not the best movie in the collection but there's a great sense of fun, adventure and wonder that runs alongside some brilliant performances and that makes this a movie that comic book fans should definitely take a chance on and see.  I know I did and it's made me want to check out some of the other stories involving Ant-Man again to see if my opinion of the character in written form as changed at all.

Movie 7.5/10


Jem and the Holograms: Holiday Special Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Kelly Thompson

Art By
Amy Mebberson
M. Victoria Robado

Lettering By
Shawn Lee

Cover By
Amy Mebberson

Published By
IDW Publishing

Genre
Adventure, Music, Comedy

Synopsis

When Jem and The Holograms and The Misfits draw each other in their shared record label's gift exchange, heads will roll or is the holiday spirit getting to even the bitterest of enemies?

Review

I have to admit that I'm not all that familiar with the Jem and the Holograms comic but thanks to my little lad taking an interest in the television series from the 1980's, we figured we would start giving the issues a bit of a go.

With this one being the holiday special issue, the idea of a one shot story felt like the perfect jumping on point to see if we would like the series as much as the show itself.

The first thing that struck me was the bright, colourful style of art that they have gone for.  It's got a real cartoon style vibe but also harks back a little to the bright and bombastic style of the television show.  The characters look like their television counterparts but also have a nice and up to date vibe to them as well.

Writing wise, the story is actually quite surprising in that while it works so well as a one off, it also works for the fans of the characters too.  There are some really lovely moments where the characters really come in to their own.  This is most present in the scene where all the characters open their secret Santa gifts from one another.  Not a single one has the same response.  In fact, their personalities really shine through in their reactions.  It's a beautifully simple but effective bit of writing and really shows why this comic book series is so popular with the fans.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the relationship between Stormer and Kimber.  Not only did it bridge the divide between the bands but also gave the comic some of the gentle and really lovely moments that showed just how special this time of year can be.

All in all, while this isn't exactly a groundbreaking comic, I really enjoyed this one.  Considering I'm a novice in the world of Jem and the Holograms, I loved the simple stand alone nature of the story but I also loved the fact that you could clearly see that the creative team really like the characters and are bringing their 'a' game to the title.  Definitely one I'll be picking up again to read alongside my little lad. 

Story 7.5/10
Art 8.5/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 32/40

Monday, 14 December 2015

The Rot Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Mike Gillan

Art and Cover By
Janine Van Moosel

Published By
Self Published

Genre
Horror

Synopsis


The only thing more dangerous than the walking corpses, is the other survivors.

Mike Gillan, author of Untitled, brings you his debut zombie short The Rot.  Illustrated in full colour by Janine Van Moosel (City of Lost Souls)

Review

As you've probably guessed, I am a bit of a zombie comic book fan as both a writer myself and as a reader so when I heard that there was a short coming out that not only featured the flesh eating creatures that we all know and love, but was also illustrated by Janine Van Moosel from City of Lost Souls, I was all in for reading it.

Would the short story hold up with the expectation I held for it?  Most definitely yes.

I wasn't at all familiar with Mike Gillan's work before this but after reading this one, I'll definitely be checking more out as soon as I can get my hands on some.  The thing that really struck me about this story was that Gillan managed to fit a hell of a lot in to such a short reading time.  It's a really quick read but if you take the time to saviour both the art and the writing then there is a hell of a lot here to satisfy even the most ardent of zombie fans.  

There's a nice psychological slant to the story as well as a nice twist at the end too.  The one thing I would have liked to have seen more of would have been a little bit of development for the main female character but at the same time, the fact that you don't know anything about her works in it's favour because of the simple fact that you don't know what kind of a woman she is.

With a name like Van Moosel attached to the art work then you know you are going to get a very dark looking story and that's no different here yet one thing did strike me.  I'm very used to her stark black and white looking art work from the phenomenal City of Lost Souls series but here she's given us a dark, grimy looking art style but in full and rampant colour, gore and all.  I loved the superb use of viscera from the creatures down to the characters in the end of the story but I also loved the brilliantly chosen angles the she went for to show the action on the page.  Superb.

All in all, this short story is a great addition to the zombie genre.  There's a great balance between the fast writing style and the grimy art work that I really would love to see them team up again.

Well worth picking up by backing the Kickstarter campaign for the interesting sounding Untitled that you can back by clicking here!

Story 7.5/10
Art 8.5/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 32/40

Keep up to date with the Untitled campaign by shuffling over to their Facebook page.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Broken City Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Brian Tucker

Directed By
Allen Hughes

An Emmett / Furla Films, Inferno International, Regency Enterprises, Black Bear Pictures, New Regency, Closest to the Hole Productions, Leverage Communications, Envision Entertainment, 1984 Private Defense Contractors, Knightsbridge Entertainment Movie

Genre
Thriller, Crime

Cast
Mark Wahlberg as Billy Taggart
Russell Crowe as Mayor Hostetler
Catherine Zeta-Jones as Cathleen Hostetler
Jeffrey Wright as Carl Fairbanks
Barry Pepper as Jack Valliant
Alona Tal as Katy Bradshaw
Natalie Martinez as Natalie Barrow
Michael Beach as Tony Jansen
Kyle Chandler as Paul Andrews

Year Released
2013

Certificate
15

Synopsis

In a city rife with injustice, ex-cop Billy Taggart seeks redemption and revenge after being double-crossed and then framed by its most powerful figure: Mayor Nicholas Hostetler.

Review

With a cast list as strong as this one, I have to admit that I had some very high hopes for this political crime thriller.  Russell Crowe has always been adept at handling characters that have a sense of darkness and danger to them so I eagerly stuck this one in to watch.

After watching this one, something struck me about the story itself.  I know that political thrillers always tend to have a story line where there are double crosses and murder, which is where this one takes the movie itself, but this one seems to have lost any sense of originality at all.

Watching through the scenes, there was a real sense of 'been there, done that' to the movie itself.  That's a real shame because this movie sounded really interesting on paper, especially with the cast itself.  I kept thinking that the scenes almost felt like someone had taken scenes out of different movies and just slipped them in to this one and hoped for the best.

Some of the problem with the story itself is the really strange pacing that plagues the entire film.  One minute, it's a subtle and slow burning thriller but then it's an all out race against time in places.  It made the whole thing seem rather disjointed.

Cast wise, I have to admit that I was really disappointed with the performances here.  Zeta-Jones seemed to struggle with not looking bored during her scenes and yet a lot of the twists revolved around her characters involvement.  It was the same with Wahlberg.  He tried his best with the sometimes inane dialogue but came across as rather disinterested at times.

That said, Crowe gave his part a real sense of menace and was one of the best parts of the movie and it was the same with Jeffrey Wright as well.  I would have loved to have seen a bit more of Wright's character as there really seemed to be a chance for some great character development that just sadly never came.

All in all, this movie was quite a bit disappointment for me.  It had some interesting moments and strong performances from both Crowe and Wright, the movie itself suffered from some very strange pacing and editing as well as a lack of originality so I, for one, would give it a miss and check out the many better thrillers with a political slant out there.

Movie 4/10


Batman / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Issue 1 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
James Tynion IV

Art and Cover By
Freddie E. Williams II

Lettering By
Tom Napolitano

Published By
DC Comics
IDW Publishing

Genre
Action, Adventure, Superhero

Synopsis

DC Comics and IDW team up for the crossover you never saw coming as two of the greatest entertainment icons meet for the first time! 

In Gotham City, a series of deadly raids leads Batman to believe he’s up against a group of highly trained ninjas known as the Foot Clan! 

Somehow, they’ve crossed over to another dimension and are determined to take advantage of the situation while looking to get back home. But they haven’t come alone: Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo are hot on their trail. 

Get ready for excitement as heroes and villains from both worlds clash and team up in an epic battle that threatens the very fabric of reality!

Review

When I saw that DC Comics and IDW Publishing were going to team up and do a cross over mini-series featuring both Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I have to admit that I really wasn't all that sure where they were going to take the characters or the story.  In fact, I was rather hesitant to take a gamble on it because I figured it would just be a rather cheap cash in with two major movies featuring the characters on the way to cinemas next year.

However, I grabbed it out of sheer fascination and to see if it was truly as bad as my mind was making me think it was going to be.

Well, I am glad that I took a chance on it because the two vastly different sets of characters, that I thought would clash terribly on the page, work very well.  In fact, they both feel completely at home in this story to such an extent that I am eager to see where issue two is going to take the story.

Story wise, the flow of the first issue does concentrate a little heavier on the Batman side of things but there is a lot here to whet the appetite of the Turtles fans too, including a scene involving Killer Croc that I am hoping will pan out how I would love it to in a later issue.  There are also some great moments between the Foot Clan itself and Batman that will hopefully lead in to an altercation between Batman and Shredder.  That really would be a fight to be seen.

The tale itself is also an interesting one.  It's true that it seems to be following the well worn path of inventions being stolen in order to put in place a bigger plan but the pacing and the fact that the characters work so well in this easy that make it such an interesting read.  I have no idea if the very good balancing act that this issue has done will continue on in issue two when the interactions between the different characters increase but this issue handles it well.

Art wise, this one manages to both have a very clean look to the panels yet still have the grimy and seedy look that befits the world of Gotham City.  I loved the bulkier, meaner look to Batman and the darker look given to the Turtles as well as the superb use of the settings to make the story come alive yet for me, something just felt a little off but I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was.

All in all, this one is definitely a good start to the mini-series so I'll definitely putting my hard earner pennies down to get issue  two.

Story 7.5/10
Art 7.5/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 31/40