Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Hellblazer Annual 2011- Suicide Bridge

John Constantine is called back to his home town of Liverpool by the family of a dying old woman, the woman’s son a friend of Constantine’s disappeared in 1968 and has never been heard of since. Her dying wish is for him to find out what happened to her son a task he reluctantly agrees to, he begins by serching his untouched room were he comes across an old photo of a bridge.

Now this sets up the story very nicely but doesn’t quite fit with the John Constanine I have been reading these last 20 odd years. John is not a complex character he cares only about himself, and will do all he can to make sure number 1 again himself is safe, sound and happy. So a trip to Liverpool to meet the mother of a friend he hasn’t seen since 1968, a mother who admits to never liking him just seems out of character to me.

However after taking on the task he goes about finding his friend in the only way he knows how, which include talking with the dead in Highgate cematry over a cig or two, pulling in a favour from a bent copper to gain acces to the room of another missing child, and threatening a young boy so that he hands over his missing brothers Facebook password.

All in a days work for John Constantine.

As his investigations dig deeper Constantine aided by his 23 year old wife Epiphany (where dose he find the energy), discover that over the years there has been several kids who have simply vanished. All have a conection to the same bridge shown in the photo that Constantine found , with a little more digging they find the bridge was known as Suicide Bridge.  The bridge had been pulled down years ago but it still has a taste for death, and targets unhappy youngsters by connecting with them via a photo of its self. In the old days it connected by post, today’s kids get a text or are poked through facebook, the dangers of technology subplot there I think.

The final confrontation with the ghostly bridge sees our anti hero come face to face with his missing friend Tim, who blames John for the fate that has befallen him. Rejecting any help from his one time best friend, Tim tells Constantine to go to hell as the bridge crumbles around them Tim falls back to limbo Constantine barley escapes with his life.

John returns to the old woman who thinks he is her son Tim, again showing a softer side as he doesn’t correct her and plays the role of her missing boy. His more manipulative side is shown when he helps her over to the other side, a trick he was shown by a Aborigine.

Now this wouldn’t be a Hellblazer story if there wasn’t a twist and its a twist I didnt see coming, we are taken back to 1968 and shown an unhappy John Constantine who has been sent a photo of a bridge through the post. His friend Tim has taken a liking to it so John says he he can have it, three days later Tim disapears never to be seen again.

Did Constantine know what this photo could do, and did he sacrifice his friend to save himself either deliberately or subconsciously, we are not given a definitive answer its left for us to decide as we are told ''even back then it wasnt safe to be a friend of John Constantine''.

 Peter Milligans story captures some of the better elements of a John Constantine story, and I do like his slightly battle weary interpretation of the character. Also having the bridge as the main villain is a unnerving twist on your normal ghost story, giving you a feeling that nothing is safe safe not even a bridge.

Simon Bisley art is not always to everyone’s taste, but coupled with Brian Cipriano's inks it fits the mood and tone of this book perfectly.

The story is a self contained and one I enjoyed immensely, the only down side was the £3.50 price tag a £1 less would have been a fairer price. 

 If you have been reading John Constantine in the Justice Dark books then do yourself a favor and pick up this one or his regular monthly book, you will get an all new perspective into the world he inhabits.

Monday, 27 February 2012

News & Sci-Fi Rumours - Late Feb

The Walking Dead to introduce the Governor

British actor David Morrissey is to play The Governor in series 3 of The Walking Dead, Morrissey has played major roles on UK TV for a number of years. He will be best remembered by Si-fi fans as the man who thought he was the Doctor, in the doctor who Christmas special The Next Doctor.
The Governor is a major villain in The Walking Dead comics and proved so popular that a novel Rise of the Governor was brought out in October of last year.

Star Trek 2 set shots:
Photos for the new Star trek film have been released and although they don't give anything away they have me excited already for the film.


Phantom Menace bringing in the money.

The Phantom Menace which is widely thought to be the worst of the Star wars films has become the first film of the franchise to break the $1 billion box office barrier, it has taken $73 million world wide due to its 3D release. Many questioned the reasoning behind releasing the film in 3d, well you cant argue with the figures. We can now expect to see the rest of the films in 3D at some point, making even more money for Mr. Lucas.

Doctor Who is back

Shooting of the new series of Doctor Who began on the 20th September, it will be Matt Smiths 3rd series and the one where we say good buy to the Ponds Rory & Amy. Guest stars confirmed so far are David Bradley, Rupert Graves and Mark Williams, according to the BBC website we are promised thrills, adventure and surprises as the show moves towards next years 50th anniversary. There will be a new companion, new monsters and the return of some familiar foes as we've never seen them before, all sounds good.

Star Trek - Doctor Who cross-over
Linking into the last 2 segments the biggest Si fi shows to come out of the USA and UK respectably are to meet head on in IDW's Assimilation 2 comic (what Manimal & Super Gran I hear you cry), Star Trek the Next Generation will be meeting up with the present Matt Smith Doctor in a 8 issue run. The story will be see the Doctor join forces with Captain Picard and his crew, to combat a deadly alliance  between The Borg and the Cybermen. Given that the BBC can be very protective about their products' it is astounding that this comic has been given the green light. However BBC executive Soumya Sriraman had this to say about the project, "We are excited about this new adventure for The Doctor and the fact that he will be travelling with Captain Jean-Luc Picard and his iconic crew. This is a perfect partnership for not only Doctor Who's incredible fans, but also for the brand."

I have tended to have given these type of cross-over books a wide birth due to cost and quality, but I  will give the first issue a go to see what it is like hopefully I will be surprised.

 Space 1999 to return with a new name

ITV is linking up with HD Films to produce a re-imagining of Gerry Anderson's Space 1999, and as that year is long past the new series will be imaginatively called Space 2099.
The original story followed a group of survivors who were stranded on the moon, after a nuclear explosion had blown it out of earths orbit. The series was broadcast on ITV in the 70's and had a cult following, HDFilms were responsible for the resent remake of V lets hope they have leaned from their mistakes.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Ladies & Gentlemen #1

 This year I have made a conscious decision to try and read more independent and small press comics, with that in mind I had a look at what was on offer at the local comic shop.
What I found was a comic called Ladies & Gentleman not only is it independent but it has been written, drawn and produced by two lads who are local to the area (Leeds).
The comic is set in Victorian London and comes with all the trapping you would expect from that era, dark alleys with fog filled gas lit cobbeled streets. The main players of the book are The Gent, a mask wearing fighter of what seems extraordinary strength a man of few words, to be honest none at all. The Lady a sexy powerful suffragette (is that a contradiction) who has a quick temper and is deadly with a knife, Peppered Moth a gentlemen spy who dresses as a highwayman and is a sharp shot. The most interesting character (for me) is Hex a stage illusionist, who has more than a passing acquaintance with alcohol he also seems to be the most reluctant member of the team. Finally there's Ned an ageing landlord who provides a headquarters under his pub the Cog and Spring, together they go under the name of The Gentry.
The premise of this first issue is that there have been a spate of murders on the streets of London (well there’s a shock), all the victims have been found torn apart with none of the admirable skill that was used by Jack the Ripper, The Lady’s words not mine. As all the victims were well to do gentlemen and not prostitutes Hex is used as bait to flush the killer out, which is odd as he is neither well to do or a gentlemen however without giving too much away all does not go according to plan.
Given that the story is called the Curse of the Were-Hyena and other Horrible Hybrids, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out this is not going to be as easy a mision our heroes think it will be. We are also introduced to Sarah Copperthwaite as she surches for her missing uncle who is a Cryptozoologist at the London museum, as Sarah appears on the inside cover with the rest of  the Gentry its fair to say she will be part of the team at some point. As the issue draws to a close the heroes are faced with what looks like an impossible situation, deep underground within the sewers of London, oh I do love a cliffhanger.
The comic has a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen feel to it, and clearly draws some influence from those books, which is not a bad thing. The artwork is excellent, and artist Jordan Collver captures the feel of a dirty grubby Victorian London perfectly. All the characters are very well drawn even to the point of getting their facial expressions just right, something more high profile artists sometimes fail to do.

The front cover artwork is stunning and was the main reason I picked the book up, as it stood out from the other comics on the shelf. Writer Richard Worth's story grabs you from the first page, and continues to flow seamlessly from panel to panel for the rest of the book.  At no point while reading the book did my interest wane, and I read it twice before putting it down.
I fully intend to read it again after writing this review.
I also did a little research into the comic (I used Google) and found there is a web page and Facebook page, and a 9 minute documentary on In the Gutter showing how the comic was put together. All are worth a look, links to them are below

I recommend this comic to any one and encourage you to seek it out, it can be bought direct from the web page so you don't even have to leave the comfort of your home to get it. I for one will be asking my comic shop to put aside issue 2 when it comes out.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Is the new 52 darker universe a good place

As the hype of the new 52 dies down and comic fans begin to get an understanding of the new DC Universe, one significant change seems to be standing out - this new universe is a lot darker place than the old one used to be.

In the new 52 most heroes are feared there is a level of mistrust from the public to these new would be gods, vampires are in open war with humans, John Constantine is in a main DC book, even the shining light that is the Justice League are not held in the high esteem they were previously held in.

It is a change that has been picked up and discussed on several blogs and podcasts over the last few months, now I don't read all of the book (around 35) but there is definitely a darker tone to what I am reading now to what I was reading previously.
The story's I have read are good, in fact in some books the story's are brilliant, fresh life has been breathed into some under used and failing characters who had become bogged down with years of continuity.

However, I will ask the question, will this darker universe continue, should it continue and is it good for DC or comics as a whole?

Looking back at the pre-flashpoint universe there were dark books most of them however resided in the world of Vertigo, the tone of Batman had become darker after the Dark Knight books but mostly the rest still had a brighter feel to them. Superman, JSA,Robin, Power Girl and the Titan books to name a few,were all comics that were not only a fun reads, they seemed for me to be beacons of hope within the DCU.

Who could ever forget (if you read it) Power Girl issue 7 Lust in Space which featured the character Vartox, who could only be described as a throwback to the 70's adult film star, a good book that was fun to read but I'm not sure it would fit in this new DCU.

The present Aquaman comic  has an element of that fun read brought about by the in jokes about him been a rubbish hero,
(he isn't by the way) but there was still a sinister and dark side to the story line.

For what it is worth I will add my thoughts to the debate and say I like this darker universe, do I miss the lighter story's hell yes. However, I believe we are getting more consistently good books than we were before because of this change, there is a reality and a more joined up feel to the new DCU than there was before.

If super powered people did suddenly appear in the world who among us wouldn't regard them with suspicion, the media would be full of questions ''what do they want, whats their agenda, are we safe''. These are all things that would fuel paranoia within the public, police and armed forces, all things we are seeing played out in the new universe DC are creating. It is something Marvel has always done well with their books, as heroes are treated with suspicion and even hate by the public and media. There was also more character cross-overs within Marvel comics, as they often appear in other comics for the odd issue making the Marvel world feel like one big interconnected universe.
We are starting to get that same feel to the DCU now as characters interact with each other more outside their own comics, and remember we are only 6 months in so it can only improve.

So I will answer my own questions :
Will this darker universe continue - I do hope so
Should it continue - Hell yes
And is it good for DC or comics as a whole - Yes i belive it is.

You may disagree and that is your right to do so its what make debate on comics such fun, let me know if you agree or disagree Im not saying im right its just my opinion.


Sunday, 12 February 2012

Comic and Film News

An extended trailer for the up coming Avengers film aired during last week-ends Super Bowel, the trailer has me really excited to see this film and the Hulk look awesome. The month of May cannot come fast enough, click the link to see the trailer on You Tube

Also released last week was the trailer for the new Spider-Man film, to be honest this one wasn't high on my must see films, however this trailer has changed that view. See what you think, as always click the link for the You Tube Trailer.

DC Comics have announced they are to produce sequels to Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons critically acclaimed graphic novel Watchmen, the sequels will be under the banner
Before Watchmen and will cover around 40 issues in total.
Reaction by Watchmen and comic fans to the news has been mixed, and ranges from outright condemnation to positive approval , only time and sales will tell if its a good move by DC but personally I'm looking forward to the books and intend to buy at least the fist issues to see how they read.

The full list of all the titles writers and artists is listed below courtesy of DC The Source Blog


  • RORSCHACH (4 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: Lee Bermejo
  • MINUTEMEN (6 issues) – Writer/Artist: Darwyn Cooke
  • COMEDIAN (6 issues) – Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: J.G. Jones
  • DR. MANHATTAN (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artist: Adam Hughes
  • NITE OWL (4 issues) – Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artists: Andy and Joe Kubert
  • OZYMANDIAS (6 issues) – Writer: Len Wein. Artist: Jae Lee
  • SILK SPECTRE (4 issues) – Writer: Darwyn Cooke. Artist: Amanda Conner
In each issue there will be a back-up story called Curse of The Crimson Corsair, written by Len Wein with art by John Higgins. There will also be a Before Watchmen Epilogue book by various artists and a Crimson Corsair story by Len Wein & John Higgins.

                                              SMALLVILLE SEASON 11

If you are a fan of Smallville and don't know what to do with your life now that the final season is over, when we all finally got to see Clark in costume fighting the good fight. Well to be honest we sort of saw a computer generate Superman figure in a distance shot, and a glimpse of the big S as Clark pulled his shirt apart on the Daily Planet roof top, so we didn't see it really if were honest. However don't despair as DC have announced a Smallville Season 11 comic book that will pick up where the last episode left off, we are promised that fan favourites will be included along with new allies and enemies. The first issue will be published digitally on April 13th, and will be written by show scribe Bryan Q. Miller with new digital chapters released weekly in digital format. A print issue will be available from May 16th which will include an episode guide for the TV series.
Given the success Dark Horse has had with the continuation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in comic form, I think this is a clever move by DC and I hope the book does well.
For more detailed information on the Smallville book click the link to the DC Source webite:

                                                     Power Girl is back
First look at the new Power Girl costume as she teams up with Huntress in Worlds Finest, its a bit of a change in costume for Power Girl and there will be some disappointed Power Girl fans out there when they see it. Having said that the new look is probably more functional then the previous one, and as my dear wife said when she saw my Power Girl statue ''what type of self respecting hero would dress like that''
Try as I might I didn't have an answer, but for all those nostalgic for the old costume.