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  • Review: Blacksad

    Review of Blacksad

    blacksadIf famed detective writer Raymond Chandler would have created gritty, noir stories with animalistic humans instead of tales like The Big Sleep and The Lady in the Lake, if Dashiell Hammett would have envisioned a tough, corrupt 1940’s where Sam Spade would still have tried to solve the mystery of The Maltese Falcon, but with a dog’s face or cat’s personality, they would have created something like the excellent Blacksad series. Written by Juan Diaz Canales with art by Juanjo Guarnido, the tales are set in the same universe as Chandler and Hammett, but there’s never a question about the personality of anyone in the story because each is represented by a human with overt animal characteristics.

    The hero of the stories is private eye John Blacksad, a feline who storms through the frames of the story, glowering, threatening with his claws, and trying to pry the facts out of a rogue’s gallery of hostile witnesses, tough guys with enough attitude to leave some behind when they walk out and femme fatales who are all too happy to sidetrack Blacksad as required. There are the cast of characters you’d expect in a noir detective mystery too, including police inspector Smirnov (a German Shepherd, natch), reluctant ingenue client Natalia (definitely a feline) and heavyweight boxer stool pigeon Jake (a dumb, hulking gorilla).

    The first story in the book is “Somewhere Within the Shadows” and it’s so noir that Guarnido could have just used black to color the frames. Blacksad sums up the story when he glowers at the city beyond his office window and mutters “out there, hiding somewhere, was the guilty party. Guilty of at least two murders… he’d both killed a person and destroyed my memories. And that bastard was going to pay!”. There are lots of nuances to the tale, corrupt politicians, and a white supremacist group headed by a thuggish Eastern European mountain of a man Karup (a polar bear).

    blacksad sample comic graphic novel strip art artwork
    Blacksad “discusses” an issue with a potential witness in “Somewhere Within the Shadows”.

    The second story in the book is “Red Soul” and it too is some solid writing and great art, a story that sees Blacksad accept a job as bodyguard and collections heavy for old crony Hewitt Mandeline (a dried up tortoise with a perpetual grin on his face).

    I’m a big fan of noir fiction and cinema, and the entire Blacksad series is a great addition to the genre, with tough, sprawling stories and period perfect artwork that is a pleasure to consume. Indeed, I often found myself looking at all the details Guarnido has tucked into the backgrounds on some of the larger frames in the story, posters, signage, cars, and clothes that demonstrate close study of the 1940s. I highly recommend the series, and suggest starting with Blacksad to introduce all the characters in the story.

    Blacksad TPD, written by Juan Diaz Canales, art by Juanjo Guarnido, lettering by Studio Cutie. Published June, 2010 by Dark Horse Books.

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  • Review: Penny Dreadful #2

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    penny dreadful #2 coverThe Showtime TV series is done, after three seasons, but the story continues with Titan Comics Penny Dreadful series, written by Krysty Wilson-Cairns, one of the writers from the terrific TV series. What the comic series presents, however, is a deeper origin story, more of the back story of Mina, who has been kidnapped by The Master, and the group trying to find and rescue her: Nina’s childhood friend Vanessa, her father Sir Malcolm and her husband Jonathan Harker.

    Penny Dreadful #2 is mostly told as a flashback, Harker telling Sir Malcolm, Vanessa, Sembene and the rest about how Mina took ill after wandering out into the rain late one night after a mysterious dinner guest. Her illness progressed and when he stepped into the sick room with family friends Lucy and Quincey, it becomes clear that it’s not exactly a cold that she’s caught.

    If you’re familiar with the TV series, you might be curious about Quincey. Inspired by the American cowboy sharpshooter Ethan, Quincey is a Texan (“not an American”) who also likes his six-shooter.

    Obviously in the same universe as the show, there’s just enough difference in the comic book series to make the story fresh and interesting. The artwork by Louie de Martinis is fantastic too, fluid, dynamic and bursting off the page with its muted color palette and lively pens.

    Penny Dreadful #2 also includes a short excerpt from Sharon Gosling’s fascinating book The Art and Making of Penny Dreadful, an essay on how the vampires were imagined and then created for the TV show. As it highlights, vampires have been portrayed so many times in movies, TV and stories, it’s actually quite difficult to come up with a new look. So they tapped makeup expert Mark Dudman, who created Voldemort, among many other movie creatures. It’s darn interesting reading, as is the rest of this issue!

    Penny Dreadful #2, written by Krysty Wilson-Cairns, art by Louie de Martinis, lettering by Rob Steen, story by Andrew Hinderaker, Chris King and Wilson-Cairns. Published by Titan Comics, July 3, 2016.

    And don’t miss out, pre-order issues #3, #4 and #5 while you can!

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  • Review: Batman #2

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    batman #2In case you missed Batman #1, Batman was poised to rescue the city of Gotham and passengers on board a critically disabled jet by diverting the jet into a large body of water. In the process of saving countless lives, Batman was prepared to lose his own. At the very last second, the plane slowed by an unseen force. As the nose of the plane lifted up gently, Batman mistakenly credited the assist to Superman before realizing it was someone else entirely. Two masked strangers introduced themselves as Gotham and Gotham Girl.

    Batman #2 opens with a fight between Gotham, Gotham Girl, and Solomon Grundy. This is the first good look we get at Gotham and Gotham Girl. By first appearance, the pair has Kryptonian abilities. They both levitate and fly in the manner of Clark Kent, and they also apparently have super strength. Later in the issue, we learn they also have enhanced vision and x-ray vision. The symbol they wear on their chests is even reminiscent of the Superman’s shield of The House of El.

    The fight with Grundy showcases the pair’s abilities, but also exposes a huge weakness. They haven’t been doing this hero gig for very long, and they’re green as grass. Batman is uncharacteristically trusting of the new duo. He agrees to help train them, either to make them into credible crime fighters, or so that he can keep them close for observation. The pair is extremely eager to please, which begs to question why they are so intent on getting close to Batman in the first place.

    I enjoyed the pacing of this issue better than the last. The last issue was all about establishing relationships and characters. This issue starts to move the Monster Men story arc forward, while still conveying a few important character developments. Tom King and David Finch have delivered another solid entry in the Rebirth mythos. I only hope that they are able to maintain this level of storytelling while pumping out two issues per month.

    Batman #2, DC Comics, released July 6, 2016, written by Tom King, pencils by David Finch, inks by Matt Banning and Danny Miki, colors by Jordie Bellaire, letters by John Workman, cover by David Finch and Jordie Bellaire, $2.69

    Review by Brendan Allen.

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  • Review: All New All Different Avengers #10

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    all new all different avengers #10All New All Different Avengers #9 introduced us to a new potential member of the team, the New Wasp, Nadia, daughter of Hank Pym and his first wife Maria Trovaya. Nadia was trained in the Soviet Red Room, and her earliest memories are of a man with a red star on his arm (the Winter Soldier). After discovering that her father, Hank Pym, had apparently sacrificed himself to defeat his creation, Ultron, Nadia went to join the Avengers. So, we have a new Wasp.

    In the second epilogue of All New All Different Avengers #9, we also learn that Nova’s father isn’t really dead. The deceased man Nova thought was his father was actually a shape-shifting alien. His actual father is alive, trapped somewhere in space. Nova asks Iron Man for time off to try to locate and rescue his father, but Iron Man refuses, committing the whole team to assist in the rescue.

    In the opening pages of All New All Different Avengers #10, we find the team aboard a spacecraft that Tony Stark has purchased second hand from Reed Richards, which apparently has no engine and is being propelled through space by Mjölnir. The plan is to use Nova’s helmet to match frequencies with any distress signal that may come from Jesse Alexander’s Nova helmet. The team almost immediately receives a ping.

    Following the signal, The Avengers find themselves marooned on an alien planet, their ship destroyed by a blast of electromagnetic energy coming from a distant tower. Having fallen headlong into a trap, they discover hundreds of other space travelers who followed the similar distress signals to the same fate. The team quickly decides they must travel through a strange portal into certain peril in order to save themselves and the rest of the marooned travelers.

    Meanwhile, back on Earth, Jarvis is taking Nadia to meet her stepmother, Janet van Dyne, the original Wasp. This part seems a little distant from the rest of the action. The Avengers are off planet on a mission. Jarvis and Nadia go on a road trip.

    Issue #10 serves as another solid chapter in this series. Mark Waid’s writing continues to showcase the individual characters’ strengths and abilities, while shoring up the team dynamic. There are plenty of humorous nods in the script, like having Tony Stark, one of the richest guys on the planet, buy a junked out spacecraft with a missing engine for the team to travel in.

    Another tip of the hat goes to Mahmud Asrar and Dave McCaig. The action sequences are amazingly detailed, but somehow the art team keeps the spreads clean and uncluttered. I said it in review of the last issue, that’s an awful lot of bodies (and a heck of a lot of red spandex) to keep separate and distinct.

    All New All Different Avengers #10, Marvel Comics, released June 1, 2016, written by Mark Waid, art by Mahmud Asrar, colors by Dave McCaig, letters by VC’s Cory Petit, cover by Alex Ross, $3.59

    Review by Brendan Allen

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  • Review: Spider-Man Deadpool #6

    Review of Spider-Man Deadpool #6

    spider-man deadpool #6In Spider-Man Deadpool #5, we saw Peter Parker die (twice) at the hands of Deadpool. Instead of going to hell, where ‘Pool expected, Parker ended up somewhere else, fighting for his life (soul?) against Mysterio and his manifestations of Gwen Stacy, Uncle Ben, and Doc Ock. When Deadpool arrived to help Pete fight his way out of wherever this was, DP called in a favor with his old flame, Death, and got Peter sent home. And then…we have a one-shot guest issue.

    Comedy Bang! Bang! host Scott Aukerman fills in for Joe Kelly on Spider-Man Deadpool #6 with a story that is definitely not in sequence with the time line that’s been established in the rest of the series. We’ll have to wait until next month to find out what happens in the aftermath of Pete’s brushes with death, why Patient Zero was dressed as Peter Parker and masqueraded as Pete at Parker Industries, and how Peter Parker/Spider-Man feel about being assassinated (twice) by the Merc’ with a Mouth.

    So…A few months ago, definitely before Spider-Man/Deadpool #1, but some time after Amazing Spider-Man #1, Deadpool learns that a movie is (finally) being made about his exploits and gets offered a job doing stunts for the lead actor, Donald Dryons (a spitting image of Ryan Reynolds, but with a mustache, so clearly NOT Ryan Reynolds). ‘Pool convinces Spider-Man to tag along to Hollywood, promising him an executive producer credit on the film.

    The story is very funny. There are several tongue in cheek self-deprecating jokes, and some shots fired at DC as well. My favorite gag in the issue (and I’m only giving one, so that you, dear reader, will get to experience the rest for yourself) is a movie poster advertising the new blockbuster film “Nighthawk V Hyperion: Yawn of Boredom.”

    Aukerman does a great job writing quips, one liners, and gags for both titular characters. Reilly Brown has drawn several stories for Spider-Man and Deadpool franchises, so he’s no stranger to the appearance or ambulation of either character. SMDP6 works well as a one-shot. If it were released on its own, prior to the current series, it would be a stand out. Unfortunately, being thrown into the middle of this awesome series will draw natural comparison to the regular creative team.

    Spider-Man Deadpool #6, Marvel Comics, released June 29, 2016, pencils by Scott Aukerman, art by Reilly Brown, inks by Rick Magyar, LeBeau Underwood, and Scott Hanna, colors by Jason Keith, letters by VC’s Joe Sabino, Cover by Mike Del Mundo, $3.59

    Review by Brendan Allen

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  • Review: Darth Vader #22

    Review of Darth Vader #22

    darth vader #22When we last left Darth Vader, he was left to deal with a monster from the original Star Wars trilogy – the dreaded Rancor. Lured into a trap by the traitor Cylo, Vader must deal with biomechanically enhanced Rancor – a similar beast that Luke Skywalker had to defeat in Jabba’s palace in Return of the Jedi.

    Darth Vader #22’s fundamental conflict, though, pits religion versus science. Can Cylo pawn Tulon Voidgazer’s Rancor defeat Vader and his reliance on the Force? It echoes the classic scene from Episode IV, when Admiral Motti challenges Vader’s “sorcerer’s ways,” right before Vader uses the Force to choke him. This time, though, the Rancor uses science to stymie Vader’s Force choke. But since this is a series with a Force user as the main character, you can probably figure out how things turn out.

    The series, which is coming to an end with issue #25, has been a high point for the Marvel titles, which were re-introduced in 2015 (and now considered canon). Faced with the embarrassment of losing the Death Star at the battle of Yavin, Vader has scheming to get back into the good graces of the Emperor.

    Familiar faces like the Rancor hearken back to what we loved about the movies. And unique characters like the murderous droids Triple-Zero and Beetee have turned our expectations on their head. There’s no doing things for the good of the Rebellion here. These droids love to murder humanoids.

    With only three issues left in the series, we’re left with a cliffhanger. We know that Vader will survive, but the seeing him deal with new characters and situations make us wish for just a little bit more Force in our lives.

    Darth Vader #22, Marvel Comics, Released June 29, 2016, Written by Kieron Gillen, Art by Salvador Larroca, Color by Edgar Delgado, Lettering by VC’s Joe Caramagna; $3.99.

    Review by Tom Smithyman

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  • Review: Doctor Who 10th Ltd Ed Vol 1: Revolutions of Terror

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    doctor who 10th ltd edition Vol 1 - Revolutions of TerrorDoctor Who has captured the minds and hearts of a worldwide audience since 1963, when William Hartnell first debuted on the BBC as a renegade Time Lord from Gallifrey, known only as “The Doctor.” The Doctor’s mission is to explore the universe in a stolen TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space) and fight off alien adversaries while protecting people in need.

    When Hartnell was physically unable to continue shooting the series in 1966, producers introduced the idea of “regeneration,” a process by which Time Lords are reborn, undergoing a change of appearance and personality when they are old, grievously injured, or dying. This regeneration process has allowed the producers to recast the main character twelve times and allows for each new actor’s interpretation of the role without paradox.

    Doctor Who 10th TPB Vol. 1 Revolutions of Terror collects Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #1-5, including two story arcs, Revolutions of Terror (#1-3) and The Arts In Space (#4-5).

    The first story in this book, Revolutions of Terror, picks up in the tenth Doctor’s timeline right after the television two-part episode The End of Time, where the Doctor has left behind his companion Donna Noble for her own safety and sanity. The Doctor finds himself in Brooklyn, investigating unusual activity involving psychic alien parasites that have entered this dimension via an open portal in a laundromat.

    Enter Gabriella “Gabby” Gonzales. Gabby is from a traditional Mexican family who own and operate the laundromat. Gabby is the wild child of her family. Her father wants her to take over the family legacy, but Gabriella wants to be an artist. When Gabby catches Ten sneaking around the family business, she interrogates him about his intent, then jumps at the chance to help The Doctor. She will take just about any opportunity to free herself from the drudgery of daily existence in the laundromat.

    In the second story, The Arts In Space, The Doctor rewards Gabby for her invaluable assistance in Brooklyn by offering her “just one trip” anywhere in space and time aboard the TARDIS. With all of space and time laid before her, Gabby chooses the biggest and best art gallery in the universe, the No-Gallery of Ouloumos. Ten is a friend of the artist, Zhe Ikiyuyu, who has been in seclusion on the planet’s moon for a century following a bad critique. Of course, when they arrive at the gallery, things are not as they should be and need to be set to rights.

    One of the things I look for in a series that is based off an existing fandom is authenticity. I am very impressed by the research and attention to detail paid by Nick Abazdis and Elena Casagrande. Abazdis has brilliantly captured David Tennant’s tics and mannerisms. Ten’s stream of consciousness monologues and lack of verbal filter are spot on. The writing uses callbacks to previous incarnations of the Doctor and television episodes. Casagrande’s artwork looks like it was taken directly from storyboards for the show. Her likeness of David Tennant is exceptional, from his messy spiked hair right down to his Chuck Taylors.

    The most brilliant thing about this comic series is how it fits right into the Who-verse continuity. With The Doctor being 900+ years old and an alien time traveler, it’s not even possible that we could have seen all his companions or all of his adventures. Who’s to say that there wasn’t a Mexican girl from Brooklyn between companions Donna Noble and Martha Jones? It’s not like he talks about previous companions with his current companions. The new season of the television show won’t be airing until 2017. In the mean time, I’m looking forward to digging further into this series to get my Doctor Who fix.

    Doctor Who 10th TPB Ltd Ed Vol. 01 Revolutions Of Terror, Titan Comics, released June 29, 2016, written by Nick Abadzis, art by Elena Casagrande, colors by Arianna Florean, letters by Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt, $15.29

    Review by Brendan Allen

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  • Review: Chew #50

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    chew #50 coverChew #50’s wraparound cover leaves no subtlety as to what’s about to take place. At last, we’ve arrived at the denouement to the series-long conflict between Tony Chu and the Collector, giving our protagonist the chance to avenge his sister’s death. In order to be a match for the Collector, whose accumulated powers have made him practically invincible, Tony has picked up a performance-enhancer of his own: he has feasted on the flesh of Poyo and absorbed the rooster’s unfettered badassery, a transubstantiation that turns him into an efficient vehicle of vengeance.

    It’s unlikely any fan of the series wasn’t upset by Poyo’s abrupt demise in issue #45. However, even if unnecessary on a logistical level (Couldn’t they have just sent Poyo in to take out the Collector?), it’s nonetheless vital on a thematic one. No one but Tony can face the Collector, and, as his departed twin sister affirms during their psychic encounter, this is the only way Tony can defeat him. Fortunately, Layman and Guillory make it a point to pay tribute to the Poyo throughout the issue, giving a sense of his presence that even the most rankled reader should find satisfying.

    The final showdown unfolds in a fairly straightforward and ultimately satisfying fashion. However, I was troubled by the ominous epilogue, which comes out of nowhere to leave things on a needlessly sour note. Then again, Layman and Guillory have a knack for uniting seemingly loose ends later on, so who knows—maybe by issue #60, it’ll seem more fitting.

    Chew #50, written and lettering by John Layman, art by Rob Guillory. Published July 2015.

    Review by James Florence.

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  • Review: All New All Different Avengers #9

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    all new all different avengers #9All New All Different Avengers #9 introduces the “All New All Different” Wasp in a brand new story arc titled Family Business. The chapter is narrated mostly from the perspective of butler Edwin Jarvis, who is more than a little disgruntled by the downgrade of the Avengers’ home base from a luxurious mansion to the dirty dilapidated hangar they are currently using.

    First appearing in Free Comic Book Day Civil War II #1, the new Wasp’s arrival at the Avengers’ hangar coincides with a brutal attack from an unseen and unknown foe. New Wasp is quickly put to the test as the Avengers try to discern if her origin story adds up when she claims to have familial connections with a founding member (or two) of the Avengers.

    Mark Waid has a habit of putting readers on their heels. Every time the reader starts to get comfortable, Waid turns the table and completely upsets the status quo. The diversity in ages, backgrounds, and personalities of the characters works really nicely in this chaotic environment. All New All Different Avengers #9 mostly serves to solidify the relationships between the current Avengers, but also does a nice job introducing and validating a new character.

    The artwork by Mahmud Asrar is classic and clean. With so many unique and recognizable characters sharing every frame, none lose their individual look or get lost in the action. Dave McCaig does an equally impressive job keeping the characteristic reds of the principal characters’ uniforms and armor from blending together in a crimson mess.

    This post-Secret Wars team only has one hero whose identity and likeness isn’t passed down from a previous incarnation. I haven’t been a huge fan of this “legacy” concept in the past, but it is working well here. The All New versions of the classic heroes retain enough traits of the original character to appeal to old school fans, while packaging them in a way that draws in new readers.

    All New All Different Avengers #9, Marvel Comics, released May 11, 2016, written by Mark Waid, art by Mahmud Asrar, colors by Dave McCaig, letters by VC’s Cory Petit, $3.59

    Review by Brendan Allen

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  • Review: Uncanny Avengers #10

    Review of Uncanny Avengers #10

    uncanny avengers #10We saw Hank Pym’s return from outer space in The Uncanny Avengers #9. Hank is wearing Ultron, or Ultron is wearing what’s left of Hank. The Avengers’ process of trying to figure out how much of the returning Utron/Pym is their old friend and colleague, and how much is Ultron is deeply unsettling. On some level, they want it to be true that Hank has returned, but there’s a healthy amount fear and doubt that it’s all a trick being played on them by Ultron. At the end of the chapter, Captain America resorts to calling in the leading authority on all things Hank, Janet Van Dyne, The Wasp, Hank’s ex-wife.

    In the opening sequence of The Uncanny Avengers #10, The Wasp arrives to help the team and an apparently reinstated Hank Pym clear some big nasty uglies from the subway. Hank and Janet are reunited briefly before Janet suggests they head off somewhere alone to catch up. It doesn’t take Janet long to suss out the truth that is teased on the cover. She isn’t speaking with Hank. He doesn’t recognize a reference she makes to one of their shared fandoms (superheroes mark out just like we do, apparently) and he speaks out of character about an experience they never shared.

    I can’t help but feel that this twist could have been drawn out for several more issues (or even several more pages), leaving the reader and the Avengers in an uncomfortable state of uncertainty. This may be one of those double switch situations, where the author is leading the reader down a path that isn’t the most obvious, which the folks over at Marvel have been known to do from time to time (Hail Hydra).

    The nature of the symbiosis between Pym and Ultron hasn’t yet been explored. Ultron has clearly demonstrated control at times, but Hank could possibly have control at others. We haven’t seen enough to know yet if any of Hank’s consciousness has survived, or if Ultron is keeping what’s left of the former Avenger alive as a meat puppet.

    Ultron/Pym is clearly a threat to the team and, well, Earth. Will the Avengers be able to reign in this fusion of creator and creation? Will they get any help from Hank? Is Hank even still in there? With so many important questions left unaddressed, you have my attention, Mr. Duggan.

    The Uncanny Avengers #10, Marvel Comics, Released June 22, 2016, written by Gerry Duggan, art by Pepe Larraz, colors by David Curiel, letters by VC’s Clayton Cowles, cover by Ryan Stegman and Richard Isanove, $3.59

    Review by Brendan Allen.

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  • Review: Art of Fallout 4

    Review of Art of Fallout 4

    art of fallout 4 coverThe Fallout series has been described a post-apocalyptic role-playing game. First introduced in 1997 as a PC-based game, the series has since grown across multiple platforms, as well as, coming into its own on the X-box and PlayStation gaming consoles. Fallout 4 is considered an action-roleplaying game in that the character can be designed to the player’s specifications, in-game interaction with NPGs can effect outcomes, but battles take place in real-time and are not turn-based. Further, the player can create specialized character builds through the game’s leveling system, in addition to selecting appearance and gender.

    Bethesda Game Studios designed the groundbreaking and revolutionary Fallout 3 and Fallout 4. Bethesda now owns the rights to produce all future Fallout games and is reportedly working on a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG or MMO) set in the Fallout universe. In addition to the Fallout series, Bethesda also created the much-beloved open-world Elder Scroll games, including the two most recognizable to console gamers: Oblivion and Skyrim.

    The Art of Fallout 4 is 368 pages of designs, concept art and weaponry from the world of Fallout 4, along with commentary from the developers. The result is a stunning rendered coffee table book of sketches and conceptual art. This book, best termed a compendium, is an artistic guide to the building of Fallout 4, with detailed explanations from the team of developers involved in the project. It has eight chapters that covers preproduction, the world of Fallout, characters, creatures, weapons, vehicles; well as set decorations and illustrations. Accompanying the numerous sketches showing the evolution of the Fallout 4 designs are detailed commentaries explaining the Bethesda Game Studios logic and reasoning for choosing each final design.

    Fallout 4 "rail yard" art

    The Fallout 4 concept team was led by Adam Adamowicz, Ray Lederer, Ilya Nazarov and John Gravato. The team worked on every aspect of the game from the gigantic cityscape set pieces to the tiniest details such as in game product logos and kitchen appliances. The book shows every sketch with meticulous attention to minutiae so the reader is fully immersed in the creative process. Much of the artwork has never before been seen outside of Bethesda HQ.

    Not to be outdone by the artwork, the accompanying commentary explains the purpose of certain aspects of game design that may not have been apparent in actual gameplay. For example, the 1st Chapter, “Preproduction” focuses on the power armor of Fallout 4 and its evolution into its latest anime “Mecha” inspired design. The designers explain several preliminary designs, describing in exacting detail the process via which they arrived at the final incarnation.

    In addition, designers explain the logic behind the in-game alternate history of the Fallout universe, pointing out the artistic juxtapositions between real historical architectural elements and those added by the designers to give the world of Fallout its art deco feel. The Art of Fallout 4 is a fully realized book that acts as an artistic reference guide to the game, recommended for fans of the game and fans of the game design alike.

    The Art of Fallout 4, by Bethesda Softworks, published by Dark Horse, December 9, 2015.

    Review by Euell Thomas.

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  • Review: Plutona #5

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    plutona #5 coverWhat are the elements of a good conclusion? Two things immediately come to mind. First, don’t overstay your welcome. There’s nothing worse than the washed up comic book character who doesn’t know when to say goodbye. Second – and most important – is leave the audience wanting just a little bit more.

    Given those two criteria, Plutona delivers.

    The brainchild of writer Jeff Lemire and artist Emi Lenox, Plutona follows a group of kids who discover what they think is the dead body of a superhero. Teenage angst mixes with the desire to fly and to have superhuman speed. Think of it as Stand By Me meets Batman vs. Superman.

    The series concludes with the group’s troublemaker thinking he can transfer the dead heroine’s powers to himself through a makeshift blood transfusion. The results aren’t what he hoped for, and the rest of the group must deal with his decision.

    “She wouldn’t leave me like this,” Teddy says. “She’s a hero.”

    After their infighting – and a surprise appearance – the group splits back up to their respective houses to deal with the magnitude of what they’ve seen. And to contemplate what it really means to be a superhero. While Teddy thinks that he can become a hero by mingling blood, the rest of the youngsters realize that, by defending each other, they themselves are the true heroes of the story.

    But Plutona is gone. And the rest of the group is left to deal with the consequences of their actions. In the closing panels we’re left with ambiguity – but also hope. Hope that there may be life left for these characters. Or at least a sequel or two.

    Plutona #5, Image Comics, Released June 29, 2016, Written by Jeff Lemire, Art by Emi Lenox, Color by Jordie Bellaire, Lettering by Steve Wands; $2.99.

    Review by Tom Smithyman.

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