Thursday 28 July 2022

Doctor Who - Empire of the Wolf - Titan Comics


This week's comic book takes us to one of my favourite subjects - Doctor Who. It's now 50 years since I first remember watching and I was hooked/addicted from that moment on. I devoured anything DW related - TV show, videos, DVDs, books (ah, all those target adaptations) and yes DW monthly magazine and the comic strips therein. And I enjoyed them all.

But as for comic strips - well, it's been a while.

This story has the eighth doctor teaming up with Rose Tyler (a face from his future) and the eleventh with an alternative Rose who is now The Bad Wolf Empress. This could have been confusing but the story (Jody Hauser) art (Roberta Ingranata) and colouring (Warnia K. Shadewa) kept everything clear. 

The characterisations of 8 and 11 were well done and believable - no shouty reliance on catchphrases here - and it was nice to see the 'human doctor' and Rose in their alternate universe and see how they had been getting on since we last saw them.

And yes, there is an old enemy that is thankfully not Daleks or Cybermen to add to the mix.

All round a highly enjoyable multi doctor tale 4.5/5*

Thanks to Will O'Mullane and Titan Comics for inviting me to review Empire of the Wolf and providing a review copy. All opinions, though, are my own and not influenced by either.

Friday 22 July 2022

The Last Blade Priest W P Wiles



Inar is Master Builder for the Kingdom of Mishig-Tenh. Life is hard after the Kingdom lost the war against the League of Free Cities. Doubly so since his father betrayed the King and paid the ultimate price. And now the King’s terrifying chancellor and torturer in chief has arrived and instructed Inar to go and work for the League. And to spy for him. And any builder knows you don’t put yourself between a rock and a hard place.
Far away Anton, Blade Priest for Craithe, the God Mountain, is about to be caught up in a vicious internal war that will tear his religion apart. Chosen from infancy to conduct human sacrifice, he is secretly relieved that the practice has been abruptly stopped. But an ancient enemy has returned, an occult conspiracy is unfolding, and he will struggle to keep his hands clean in a world engulfed by bloodshed.
In a series of constantly surprising twists and turns that take the reader through a vividly imagined and original world full of familiar tensions and surprising perspectives on old tropes, Inar and Anton find that others in their story may have more influence on their lives, on the future of the League and on their whole world than they, or the reader imagined.

My thoughts 

The blurb sold me on this book - and it didn't disappoint (well, there was one 'disappointment' but I'll come to that later).

The 'style' of the story, especially from the point of view of Inar the builder, put me in mind of a massively expansive fantasy video game (you know the kind of thing where you just wander around the screen going 'Woooah, how cool is that') and for me that was a massive plus point. 

When Inar is sent to spy on The League, his people's conquerors, it made me wonder just what was going on as he seemed to be in a much better situation here - who are the 'good guys', who are the 'bad guys' am I going to be changing my mind every other page. Inar's part of the story was, I'll admit, my favourite - partly for the world building but also for his companion and comedy sidekick Lott, a great character who seems to lighten the mood at just the right time.

The other side of the story concerns the Blade Priest Craithe which, for the most part is more contained to the one area. This was a lot darker with sacrifice avian type Gods and the threat of an ancient Big Bad. When the book begins though the offering of human sacrifice is possibly coming to an end and the way this plays out between different factions made for an interesting read.

So, great characters, great plot, great world-building and a massive chonker of a book - 'what is there to disappoint?' you may well ask.

Well (and it's just a personal opinion) it could have really benefited from a map. That's it, a map, even though the world building was so good and so clear I knew more or less where I was for the majority of the time. What can I say, I like maps 😉

Two other things though - when Inar is first taken to The League they stay in a massive sprawling castle but the people who live there can find there way around as the corridors are all marked as are the individual doors - THEY BASICALLY HAVE A STREET GUIDE FOR THE CASTLE!! How cool is that idea? It may have been done before but I don't recall it.

Also, Evil Elves!!

So, when you put it all into context I guess the lack of a map is only a small thing really 

4.5/5* Highly Recommend (and the only reason it hasn't got 5* is that I feel the story is only going to get better in later volumes)

Monday 4 July 2022

Rivers of London: Body Work Delux Writers Edition

 'CSI meets Harry Potter in this fantastic SPECIAL EDITION graphic novel from Ben Aaronovitch, writer of the bestselling Rivers of London supernatural police procedural crime novel series! This Deluxe Writers' Edition presents the full script of the graphic novel along with the unlettered, full-color artwork, allowing the reader to read the original script and see the artwork side-by-side.

Grant is part of a very special London police unit. Full-time cop and part time wizard he works on rather unusual crimes - those that involve magic and the general weirdness that permeates London's dark underbelly.

His latest case begins with a perfectly innocent car on a homicidal killing spree - without a driver. But, before you know it, there's a Bosnian refugee, the Most Haunted Car in England, a bunch of teenagers loaded on Ketamine and seemingly-harmless wooden bench with the darkest of pasts...'


 So, last week I covered the origins of Spiderman from 1962. This week we come right up to date with Body Work pt1 the first graphic novel in Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London universe. And oh, my friends, it is so much more than that. This is the Delux Writers Edition and it is a thing of outstanding beauty.

 I've loved the RoL novels since day 1 but I've always been a sucker for 'magic London'. The series stars Peter Grant who is basically a wizard policeman and crimes with a supernatural leaning.

 With the graphic novels Lee Sullivan (pencils and inks) and Luis Guerrero (colours) bring the characters to life in Aaronovitch and Andrew Cartmel's story and I think I enjoyed the visual aspect of this even more than the novels (and I love the novels!).

 The story here is of a possessed car on a killing spree (reminded me of the King classic Christine) but there's so much more than just a killer car going on.

  The big thing about this edition though is the way it is presented. This is almost a masterclass on how a graphic novel is created and put together (I guess if Body Work were a dvd this would be one of the extras).

On each double spread we get the unlettered artwork on one side while the other has the dialogue, captions etc and such things as photo references that were taken to give the art accuracy. The book is printed on glorious feeling paper which gives it even more of a 'special book essence'.

And then, when you reach the end - another treat. Several 1 page shorts, Tales From The Folly, a collection of short stories featuring the side cast (Beverly Brook, Toby the Dog etc). It's amazing how much story you can get from 6 or so panels.

This book is a real gem and deserves pride of place on any book shelf but mostly it deserves to be in your hands as you treat your eyes to what I can only call a true work of art.