Friday, 31 August 2012

Rocketeer, Cargo of Doom #1

This was my first glimpse into the world of the Rocketter and as I have been dipping my toe into the world of Pulp, I thought why not when I saw this on the shelf of the local comic shop.
Its 1940 and Cliff Secord is the Rocketeer a stunt pilot who working out of an unnamed airfield (well in this book anyway), along with his mechanic friend Peev (short for Peabody) who knows Cliff is the Rockateer. Peev's niece Sally also works at the airfield as a mechanic and she has a big crush on Cliff, a fact she happily tells the Rocketeer not knowing he is Cliff I know it’s complicated. To make matters worse for Cliff (the Rocketeer if I’ve already lost you) he has a long term girlfriend called Betty, who is clearly based on the 50's pin up diva Betty Page so it’s not all bad for him when you think about it.

The story starts off with Sally who is testing a plane with a member of the Civil Aeronautics Agency, who makes it quite clear that he will grant the licence as long as Sally accepts his advances. Not been that kind of girl she pushes him away which causes the plane door to open and a parachute to fall out of the plane, the parachute then becomes entangled in the propeller causing the plane to go into free fall. Yes I know it’s all Saturday morning cinema drama (yes I am that old) but it is enjoyable, after been alerted to the falling plane by Peev Cliff dons his Rocketeer suit which he keeps in his locker(?). Then as the Rocketeer he fly’s to the plane untangles the parachute, and with a little help from Sally's expert handling of the plane save the day (I can hear the kids cheering as he does so).
 Meanwhile a ship is making its way to LA carrying a mystery cargo something deadly, well its deadly enough to literally bite off the hands that were feeding it but to be fair he was told to be cautious. The ship has its fair share of colourful characters theres the dodgy Captain, Duggan the short tempered neanderthal mussel and Guptmann who was subjected to some sort of brain surgery in the past, surgery that has left him not the man he ones was.
Once the ships docks we get to meet a mysterious character who the ships captain refers to as Master, he is also someone who seems to have more than a passing interest in the Rocketeer.

In the mean time Cliff has managed to upset his girlfriend then win her back again, hit the Civil Aeronautics Agency Inspector for grounding him. Not pick up that Sally has the hot’s for him something his girlfriend Betty did, although I think calling her a Jezebel is a bit harsh. Then finish the night by dragging Betty into the bushes for a goodnight kiss, they took it slow in the 40's or so I'm told (I'm defiantly not that old).

So all in all its a packed issue and you certainly get your money’s worth, and the book feels longer than 22 pages.

It was writer Marc Wades name that attracted me to the book and although I enjoyed the story it does feel like it jumps around a bit, at one point I did have to check that there wasn’t a page missing as the story didn’t seem to follow on quite right.
I found the art by Chris Samnee a little cartoonish in tone but it does fit the story well and helps set the feel of the era, however I did feel that the darker scenes set at night or in the hold of the ship came over better than the day time ones.

This book I suspect is not for everyone but if you’re a fan of pulp fiction (not the film) then you will enjoy this book, as I said at the start of this blog I have been getting into the world of pulp over the last few months. If I’m honest it’s not the best thing I have read in that time but it did get me interested in the world of the Rocketeer, and I'm prepared to continue with this book as my curiosity is peeked as to what’s been kept in the hold of the ship. I have my suspicions as the captain mentioned setting sail from Skull but was cut off mid sentence, I'm guessing its the land of Kong Skull Island and they have some sort of prehistoric creature in the hold,I will let you know if I'm right.

Monday, 27 August 2012

DC'c New 52 One Year Review

As the DC 52 book line is now approaching its first year I thought I would take a look (give my opinion), on how the new comics have shaped up over that year, well the ones I'm reading at least.

The Batman books: All the Bat books have been on top form over the last year, and if I'm honest there is not one of them that I am thinking of dropping as they all bring something different to the table.
Batman by Scott Snyder been the pick of the bat books his yearlong Court of Owls story line that eventually spin off into the other books, was always good but sometimes could only be described as sheer brilliance.
Batman and Robin ran comes a close second to Batman due to its telling of the relationship between Damien and Bruce, the issue where Damien takes on and takes down a Talon is the stand out issue in this run.
Detective has been solid but I do have one complaint in that you don’t see Batman do too much detecting in this book, it’s a small point but if you’re called Detective Comics detecting should feature in there somewhere.
Dark Knight has been excellent with it all out action story lines, if you just want to see Batman in action then this is the perfect book for you.
Knightwing is another solid Bat book; although I was disappointed when Dick was dropped as Batman I do enjoy reading him as Knightwing.
I don't read the other Bat related books, I know it’s a sin not to read Batgirl but for budgetary reasons I don’t buy it. However, in my defence I am getting the trade.

Green Lantern books: Like Batman the Lantern universe was unscathed in the reboot so it was business as normal.
Green lantern is still the stand out book and having Sinestro as a Green Lantern has refreshed the whole dynamic of his and Hal’s relationship.
New Guardians is the surprise hit for me is as all the characters blend brilliantly together and this is one of the best interpretation of Larfleeze I have seen since his introduction.
Green Lantern Corps is also firing on all cylinders’ and is essential reading if you want to see the build to the up and coming Third Army story line, I would call this a killer book but with John Stewart as one of the main characters it may not be safe to do so.
However I do have to ask where is Soranik Natu, from been one of the main characters before the reboot she hasn't been seen since apart from the cover of GLC #1.

This brings us to Red Lanterns which has been a disappointment as the book never really got going, once the Third Army cross over is finished this book will be heading for the chop.

Aquaman: This book is the best of John’s books at the moment, even outshining Green Lantern which is saying something.

Green Arrow: Started off well but has dipped in recent months, needs to pick up as the fun has gone out of this book.

Swamp Thing: Top class another great book from Snyder, can the man do no wrong.

Action Comics: This is the only Superman book I am buying at present, I’m loving the story on his early life, but find the constant changing of costume annoying small complaint but it erks me.

Justice League: This is the flagship book of DC it has one of the top writers in DC on it in Geoff John’s, and features the so called top tier of DC characters my question then why is it so bad? Wonderwoman comes over as a total sword welding nut job, Green Lantern is a total arse and nothing like he is in his own book. Batman and Superman don't have any command or presence of authority, and Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg just seem to be there for window dressing.
This is another of the books that I am thinking of dropping going into the second year, which is disappointing and hard for me as I’m a Justice League junky, James Robinson anyone?

Justice League International: Loved this book I say loved as its been cancelled and for the life of me I don’t know why, so please tell me DC why, why, why, why.

Justice League Dark: Apart from the resent I Vampire cross over this has been a solid book, yes I know it’s a watered down version of John Constantine and Zattana’s costume is a little disappointing. On the plus side story lines (I Vampire apart) have been good and it great to see DC taking a chance on a book like this. I was a big fan of Shadow Pact and was disappointed when DC cancelled it, so I jumped on this book when it came out as it as the same feel as that book.

I Vampire: I love horror story's and vampire ones are my favourite so this book ticks all the right boxes for me, the artwork is gorgeous and there hasn't been a cover I haven't drooled over one of my top books.

Legion: I had not read Legion before but I had heard good things about it and the reboot seemed a good point to jump on, it was one of the best team books of the last year.

Legion Lost: Not as good as Legion but still a strong book, and well worth checking out.

All Star Western: Jonah Hex was good before the reboot and its still good after it, the the story lines have been excellent and long may Palmiotti and Grey continue writing these books. The back up story's have also been excellent with Nighthawk and Cinnamon story been the pick of the bunch, although the Dr Terrence Thirteen story in the issues 11 and 12 comes a close second.
DC Comics Presents: I had high hopes for this book, as it was my understanding that it would feature characters who would not normally appear in a monthly book. Story's that could be told which we normally would not see, so why in the opening 7 issues did we get a Dead Man story. He had just spent the last 12 months appearing in Brightest Day, however the book did improve with the story featuring The Challenges of the Unknown. Along with the excellent Vandal Savage story, the book did enough to get another year.

Animal Man: Started off well but has dropped off a little over the past few months, I understand the Swamp Thing connection but there is only so much ROT story line a person can take.

Frankenstein Agent of SHADE: Another book that has dipped a little, and has lost something after the departure of both the character Lady Frankenstein and writer Jeff Lemire.

Demon Knights: Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant, nothing else to say.

Blue Beetle: This has been a solid read all year and the story line wrapped up very nicely in issue 12, and I'm looking forward to the next 12 months.

Earth 2: So far so good, but then again its James Robinson and I'm a big fan of his work.

Worlds Finest: I like the twist on the old Batman / Superman Worlds Finest books, in that now we have Earth 2 Huntress and Powergirl as the two main characters.  Only 3 issues in but its an enjoyable book, I would go as far as to say its a fun book something there is not a lot of in the new darker DCU. 

Books that I have dropped:  Supergirl, Wonderwoman, Catwoman, Voodoo, Hawkman, Firestorm, and Captain Atom. All were dropped due to budget reasons, when they first came out the shop I bought them from was doing a buy 5 get one free deal. Once the deal was over around issue 3 I had to decide what stayed and what went, these were the ones I got less enjoyment from so they went.
So that's it my thoughts on the first year of the new DC 52, and to be honest there have been more ups than downs for me anyway. If I had to pick my biggest surprise and biggest disappointment over the last 12 months. It would be Aquaman as my biggest surprise and Justice League as my biggest disappointment, strange that they both have the same writer.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Avengers, Bond, the Doctor and ESO.

Disney have announced that Joss Whedon will be writing and directing the Avengers 2 film sequel, Joss has won universal acclaim from fans for the first Avengers film. As well as Avengers 2 he will also be writing a TV series, that will be set in the same universe as the Avengers film.
 A spokesman for Disney said
 ''Joss Whedon has signed an exclusive deal with Marvel Studios for film and television through the end of June 2015. As part of that deal, Whedon will write and direct Marvel's 'The Avengers 2' as well as help develop a new live action series for Marvel Television at ABC. He will also contribute creatively to the next phase of Marvel's cinematic universe.''

The next Avengers film is due to be released in 2015, so far Avengers has taken 1.46 billion and with the DVD / Blu Ray release still to come its no surprise Disney wanted to tie Joss into the franchise.

Doctor Who:
The BBC announced on Thursday (9/08/12) that as part of the Doctor Who 50th anniversary celebration, they will be producing a drama that will tell the story of how Doctor Who was first brought to the screen. The drama is been written by long time Doctor Who fan Mark Gattis and will be called An Adventure in Space and Time, Mark has written several scripts for Doctor Who and also appeared as Professor Lazarus in ''The Lazarus Experiment story.

Mark had this to say on the BBC website
"This is the story of how an unlikely set of brilliant people created a true Television original. And how an actor - William Hartnell - stereotyped in hard-man roles became a hero to millions of children. I've wanted to tell this story this for more years than I can remember! To make it happen for 'Doctor Who's 50th birthday is quite simply a dream come true".

Casting and dates for the drama have not been set as of yet.

Still with Doctor Who there is a 50th Anniversary Monopoly set due for release around the end of August, the set will cost around £30 ($46), and as the advert says will feature all your favourite heroes and villains.

Bond is back:

Fresh from his exploits of parachuting the Queen into the Olympic Games opening ceremony, James Bond's is heading off to the big screen. And to wet our appetites a new film poster has been released, the film aptly called Sky Fall (I'm sure the Queen parachuting in was a coincidence) hits the cinema on the 26th October, a new trailer for Sky Fall has also been released.
see link below for Sky Fall and the Queen.

Earth Station One Network:

The Earth Station One Network is getting bigger not content with producing what is becoming an unmissable weekly podcast in ESO which deals with all things geek, and ES Who that deals with all things Doctor Who. They have now branched out and added 2 more podcasts plus an extra weekly show, the extra show will give information, survival guides and general tips for the upcoming Dragon Con, a convention based in the Atlanta area where the guys that run ESO come from. The two new podcasts are  Transmitions from Atlantis which covers Si-fi, fantasy and horror and Doctor Geeks Labarotory  which examines science fiction against science fact, both are very entertaining and worth downloading.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Domino Lady vs The Mummy

The story is one that will be well known to most pre-slasher horror fans, a Mummy with the help of her high Priestess is killing people for their body parts to create the perfect mate. The twist in this Mummy story is that the Mummy is female and the victims are all males, so none of the usual screaming heroine having to be saved by the square jawed hero in this book, which is a refreshing change.

The story starts off with the murder of an ex Olympic gold medal winner turned film star Johnny Wisssman, apart from the killing aspect it’s a nice nod to an actor who played Tarzan in the 30's. It also brought back fond memories of my wasted childhood, as I sat in front of the TV on a Saturday morning watching Tarzan back in the 60's. There are other nods to the golden age of cinema in the names of some of the characters who appear, I picked up a Mr Chandler and Detective Finch there’s bound to be more I haven't picked up on.

Its during one of their murders that the Mummy and the Priestess draw the attention of the Domino Lady, after they kill the Chef in a restaurant where Domino is on a night out as her alter ego (they all have them) Ellen Patrick. Not one to turn her back on a murder Domino along with her police friend Detective "Mad Dog" Vernia, are quickly on the case and following the murder trail unaware that this is no ordinary killer.

Domino and Vernia seem to enjoy clandestine meetings on the beach, and there are some nice moments of dialogue between them. Which as a new reader I enjoyed, as I got to learn that there is history between the two of them. Their meetings are interspersed with scenes of the murders like the killing of Detective Finch, who thinks its his lucky night when he meets the priestess. That is until a bandaged hand puts his face through a car window, and as mentioned earlier a night on the town at Dumonts. Where the rich and famous dine out, and mummy's murder chefs a sort of 1930's Hells Kitchen. 

Domino Lady is more than just a character in stockings, with a dress split to her thigh and a plunging neckline (she is honest). She's a dam good detective and its those detective skills that she uses to track down the mummy, by using a combination of detective work, connections and beating the crap out of someone for information (it’s a bad guy so that’s OK). The story ends with the expected standoff between the hero in this case heroine and the villains, with Domino saving the day and sending the Mummy and her priestess back to the land of the dead. 

The two main characters in the book Domino Lady and Detective Vernia are well defined, and even if you have no history with them it doesn’t take long to work out the sort of characters they are. Vernia is straight out of the old movies of the 30's and 40's a real mans man whatever that means, unshaven, cigarette always in hand he can get away with calling a woman doll and kid without getting a slap across his face (try that in today’s PC world gone mad)
Domino Lady is also from the same mould cigarette in hand unless she is hitting or kicking someone, she is also a lady who knows what her assets are and is not afraid to use both of them to give her the edge she needs. She is the original fem fatal in the mould of Garbo, Lombard, Davis and Crawford, a woman who is not to be messed with unless she wants to be.

Not to be left out Nephthys the high priestess is also sporting a classic 30’s film star look, throw in her princess Leia type costume and you can see how she gets close to her victims (we men are not very bright)

The story is co-written by Nancy Holder & Bobby Nash and is excellently paced out, even as a new reader you quickly work out who every one is and what their relationship is to Domino. I particularly liked the character of Jackie Stones a dodgy art dealer and fence, when asked by Domino ''you know a lot about mummies he replies ''what you don't have hobbies'', it made me laugh but then I have a strange sense of humour.  As its co-written I am unsure as to who wrote which parts of the story, or who came up with certain ideas and to be honest you don’t need to know. All you have to do is read the book and enjoy it, something I have done on more than one occasion now. I judge how good a book is on its re-readability factor, and this one ranks highly in that category.

The book is in black and white but the artwork (Rock Baker) and inks (Jeff Austin) are fabulous, they give the book that 30's film feel to it and if I’m honest I think the book would have been spoilt if it had been done in colour. Having said that the cover by Dan Brereton is a work of art in itself and would not look out of place sat outside a cinema as a film poster, my one small gripe with it is the mummy on the cover doesn't look anything like the one in the book. The mummy on the cover looks as you would expect it too, where the one in the book looks like an extra from a Lady Gaga video, but it does fit in with the tone of the story.

This was my first foray into the world of the Domino Lady, and if I’m truthful I only bought the book as I enjoy the work of Bobby Nash. However given how much I have enjoyed this story and the character of Domino, it won’t be the last time I pick up a book featuring her.