Beware Spoilers Ahead!

My reviews do contain spoilers about the main stories but I do attempt to keep them at a minimum. I will not reveal any major plot points or twists unless stated at the beginning of a review.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Lady Castle Issue #1

Ladycastle Issue #1

I've always loved medieval fantasy. It may have started with The Fellowship Of The Ring, it may have started with my grandmother's love of the royal family and English history, or perhaps there is just something appealing to everyone about riding horses, fighting monsters and saving princesses. Doesn't being the hero appeal to everyone in some way? To be the one that slays the beast, defeats the bad guy and saves the princess? I was always a little disappointed as a child in the lack of women running around killing dragons and fighting with swords and that's what drew me to Ladycastle. Ladycastle is written by Delilah S. Dawson, Illustrated by Ashley A. Woods, Lettered by Jim Campbell and published by Boom!.

Princess Aeve is the eldest child of King Mancastle and sings of her life locked away in a tower while her father searches for a suitable prince for her to marry. She has been locked away to be kept pure since she was twelve with a promise that she can leave once she is married to a prince she has never met. As the King searches for a suitable prince he takes all of the men in the castle with him, leaving the women in the castle alone to follow the rules set by the King. One day the last knight Sir Riddik returns to the castle and informs the women that the King and all the men have been eaten by a dragon and that a curse has been placed on the castle and its inhabitants. Upon hearing this tragic news Sir Riddik agrees to take upon the mantle of King but the Lady of the lake has other ideas and names Merinor, the blacksmith's wife, instead.

Often when attempting to portray female characters as strong and independent there seems to be a thought that all femininity must be removed from the character, implying that femininity is weak. This is why I love the designs of many of the characters in Lady Castle, as it doesn't follow this trope at all. While some characters are designed with a more masculine style many of the characters still wear dresses and do traditionally feminine things such as making their new flag a pink unicorn. Feminism is about choice, be it choosing to cut your hair short and dress in a masculine style or wear your hair long and wearing the daintiest feminine dress possible. This is something Ladycastle gets very right, in that presenting yourself in a masculine or feminine way doesn't make you less of a strong and independent woman.

time to knight up or shut up

The character I find most interesting is Princess Gwyneff. She is a tomboy and takes full advantage of her freedom while expecting her sister to give up the same things she takes for granted. Gwyneff is neither malicious nor spiteful, however she is perfectly okay with encouraging her sister to marry a man she has never met simply because it would stop her father forcing her to do the same. This is a perfect example of people that "just want feminists to stop complaining" but are completely willing to take advantage of the freedoms this "complaining" has accomplished for them. Gwyneff is not bad just misguided in her thinking that things will get better if others make sacrifices so she doesn't have too.

Ladycastle is an fun comic with an important message and manages to maintain an interesting story while not diluting the ideas of feminism and sisterhood. This is a great comic for little girls to be shown that they can be whoever and whatever they want and a great comic for everyone else who enjoys the occasional shout of "Girl Power!".

I give Lady Castle 3.5 out of 5 magical swords

Find out more about Ladycastle here.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

In The Local Pocket #11 - After The Snow #1

After The Snow #1

After The Snow is a local comic written by Dale Maccanti, art by Trevor Wood and colours by Anthonie 'Nemo' Wilson and published by White Cat Press. I love fairy tales and always enjoy reading different versions of the well known ones be they old or new, dark or whimsical, book or comic book form. Needless to say I was pretty excited when I found out some local creators had done their own take on classic the Snow White.

After The Snow takes place 15 years after the well known fairy tale with a now ageing Snow-White now ruling her kingdom with her husband, Leo. Snow-White's kingdom is far from the happily ever after she was promised as the crown is in serious debt to Snow-White's father and there are murmurs of an uprising. However Snow-White does not concern herself with the working of the kingdom preferring to spend her time on things such as her fading beauty, her husband's possible infidelity, that she has been unable to conceive a child and of course apples. While the fate of the kingdom teeters on a knife's edge a group, possibly of dwarfs, spies some humans cutting into their enchanted forest and decide its time to do something about it.

And then the humans ruined everything again

Many comics that take on classic fairy tales with a darker retelling often fall into the same trap of removing every colour that isn't dark blue or grey. After The Snow manages to side step this common trope by allowing colour to shine through and I love that this comic uses the art and expressions of the characters to set the tone rather than a simple lack of colour.

After The Snow is just enough of a separation from the Disney movie that it feels like a very different story but close enough that everybody knows how Snow-White ended up the queen. This gives the reader all the needed back story but enough room that the they know that this is not the same sweet little Disney princess that can hit a high note. Snow-White is no longer a blank slate of a princess but a complicated character with complicated wants and desires, she struggles with concerns over ageing and in consequence concerns for her marriage and while capable of great kindness, she is also capable of great malice over a crime as simple as selling a red apple.

Disney has forever left its imprint on the story of Snow White and After The Snow cleverly weaves just enough into the story to make it familiar while still telling its own story which can be a struggle for comics based off such well known material. I'd recommend After The Snow to fairy tale fans, fans of high fantasy and anyone who has ever asked "and then what happened?".

I give After The Snow 4 out of 5 red apples.
You knew it was going to be an apple

Pledge to After The Snow on Kickstarter and find out more about White Cat Press here.

We all eventually become our parents

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Hulk #1

She-Hulk is great, Volume 1 Law and Disorder by Charles Soule is a fantastic read that can be both serious and funny. So when I found out That Jennifer Walters was taking over the mantle of Hulk rather than She-Hulk I was pretty excited and thought I'd pick up on the new series and oh boy, was it not what I was expecting.

Hulk is written by Mariko Tamaki, art by Nico Leon, colours by Matt Milla and published by Marvel Comics. The issue follows Jennifer's return to work after the events of Civil War 2, which involved falling into a coma after a fight with Thanos and waking to the news of  the death of her cousin Bruce Banner (the original Hulk). Jennifer's return to work at her old law firm is anything but a joyous occasion as she struggles with anxieties about getting her life back together and taking on cases again. Her first case back that should be a simple eviction case for an inhuman named Miss Brewn but, of course, this is not a comic about easily solved and simple court cases so we can expect more drama here in the issues to come.

Hulk is an understatedly beautiful comic, with a dulled colour pallet and nothing particularly spectacular or interesting in the first issue its easy to not appreciate how pretty it is. The facial expressions are nice, if a little cartoony, and Jennifer's hair just looks great and great hair always wins points with me. One criticism is how the background characters either have no faces or dot smiley faces, its like an army of 2004 msn characters :) :) :) :).


Hulk deals with some very serious and hard hitting issues such as grief, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder by dressing them up in a superhero costume and it works extremely well. Watching Jennifer trying to ward off an unwanted transformation is harrowing and is a great demonstration of how horrible a panic attack or the like can be for the person experiencing them. Most of my exposure to She-Hulk comes form A-Force, Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat and the 2014 She-Hulk comics in which Jennifer is happy, friendly, supportive and a strong leader so seeing her as a broken woman trying to recover a traumatic event and no longer in complete control of her transformations is just straight up depressing.

Hulk issue #1 really wasn't what I was expecting but something I thoroughly enjoyed and I hope the series will maintain its high quality. I do worry that like a lot of books that deal with mental health as an important plot component that the story can become stale if there is no development or that the character's mental health issues will be completely solved with a single event, a trope I loathe.

I give Hulk Issue #1 4 out of 5 cupcakes

cupcakes are story relevant I promise
Find out more about Hulk issue #1 here.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from anxiety or depression please seek help at your local doctor or at Beyond Blue.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

In The Local Pocket #10 - Job Dun, Fat Assassin #1

Job Dun, Fat Assassin #1

Job Dun, Fat Assassin is an Australian comic written by Mark Hobby, illustrated by Ben Michael Byrne, colours by Noelle Criminova, letters by Bolt-01. Job Dun is gross, one of the grossest things I've ever read so if you have a weak stomach turn back now and go check out my review of Huck, if not then read on.

Look I'm going to be honest with you I don't entirely understand what is going on in Job Dun. So far as I can tell Job Dun is an assassin/bounty hunter with an implant in his brain called a Spray Maker that lets the user "spray paint reality". This seems to mean that the user will see an glossed over version of the world with everyone being more attractive than they really are, when its online that is. Dun is hired by Lady Octavia to do a retrieval mission and bring back a man named Conos. Conos is now the leader of a strange cult that Job must now infiltrate to retrieve him.

Spray off Vs Spray on
The art of Job Dun is, look, I didn't want to review this comic, its gross. The main reason I didn't want to review this comic is because I didn't want to have to read it multiple times and look at how gross it is.  I've mentioned before that I'm not a huge fan of toilet humour but when done well like in The Pro, a comic I recently reviewed, it can work and work well, Job Dun however looks like the inside of a sewage system by comparison. There are boobs on almost every page, to the point that they randomly show up at any point in the comic. I'm normally all for surprise boobs but they need to serve a purpose. Any panel where Dun is not affected by the "Spray Maker" makes the world look grotesque, think dropping a lollipop behind a couch levels of gross. This is actual not a criticism of the artist Ben Michael's art, he does a wonderful job portraying this grossness. Michael's also does a series called Kranburn which is a fantastic post apocalypse series set in Australia which is just so, so good and I'd suggest going to read that instead.

Annnnnnnnd I'm out
Although I did finish the comic I didn't think much about the characters as I mentally checked out after Dun got splashed in the face with a strippers breast milk. I don't get this kind of humour in the same way shows like Ren and Stimpy never appealed to me, even as an adult but I can see how some people with a slightly twisted sense of humour may like comics like Job Dun.

Oh look sexy nuns, how...... Funny......
As for a rating for Job Dun: Fat Assassin I will leave it with, what I feel is a very fitting, quote from the movie Billy Madison: What you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Find out more about Job Dun: Fat Assassin here.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

5 Things I Hate About Batman

Batman is by far DC Comics biggest cash-cow, making his way into popular culture in a way that most other companies can only dream of their characters doing. With more movies, toys, clothing, shoes, and other branded items than you can shake a batarang at there are no two ways about it, Batman is a huge money maker. I had a few drinks recently and went on a bit of a rant about how I think Batman is a bit shit. But even without the gin I still think that Batman has a few issues, the biggest one being that Batman is what can only be described as a Mary Sue, he's just a little bit too perfect. Can you imagine if someone pitched you a story idea where the main character has more fighting skill than a group of highly trained assassins, is so mentally strong that he can resist mind altering drugs and hypnosis, smart enough to invent space age technology, the peak of physical fitness, famous, handsome and oh by the way he's a billionaire You'd probably tell them that character's can't be god.

Apparently they totally can
Being such a moneymaker Batman seems to find his way into A LOT of DC's projects. Even things that he, an un-super powered human, has no real business being involved in. You can't blame DC for putting their biggest money maker in smaller projects because, lets face it, more money means more projects and Batman practically prints money. And before anyone gets all upset about me knocking Batman just remember he's not real.

Even the awful Batman products make an obscene amount of money

#5 He's an expert at being an expert
They say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. When you crunch the numbers, its 20 hours a week for 50 weeks for 10 years, so about 3 hours a day, everyday for 10 years. Batman didn't start down his dark and brooding path until he was 8, and lets be generous and say that Bruce Wayne is 38. So we've got 30 years to become and expert in hand to had combat, various martial arts, long distance running, parkour, gymnastics, forensic science, criminal psychology, armed combat, first aid, stealth and electronics just to name a few. With just the few of Batman's skills I've named we are already up to over 30 hours a day. Sorry Batman fans but the math just doesn't work.

Here we see Batman the computer expert

#4 Mind over matter
You don't just get to will yourself to not be affected by hallucinogens and psychotropic drugs! Thats not how drugs work Batman!

#3 Dark Justice mascot
Dark Justice is a great film from DC that involves some of its more minor but still awesome characters including Swamp Thing, Zatana, Constantine, Etrigan, Deadman and *sigh* Batman. The real question is why is Batman even in this movie? He scoffs at the idea that hundreds of crimes across the globe where the perpetrators describe seeing the same horrifying demons could possibly be related or caused by magic. Firstly Batman knows so many people in the Justice League that use magic, so why he dismisses magic as the cause? Secondly Batman doesn't really do much, the majority of the work is done by Zatana and Constantine. Batman is clearly completely unqualified to deal with magic but somehow he ends up involved. I feel like the only reason that Batman was involved is because Deadman had a fanboy moment.

Batman: I'm completely useless here

#2 The Man With A Plan
Batman has a contingency plan for everything. Alien invasion? Got a plan for that. Superman goes rogue? Got a plan for that too. Natural disaster? Know what to do. Robot apocalypse? Got it covered. Batman and Bruce Wayne need to be in the same place at the same time? Not even an issue. Shark attack? Don't make him laugh. Sudden magic attack? Don't stress, its organized. Keep the Joker in jail? HOW THE F*%K DO YOU EXPECT HIM TO DO THAT?!?!?! Batman has an emergency plan for everything that you could possibly imagine and yet he can't come up with a plan to keep the Joker in jail for longer than 15 minutes. On a side note if a friend of mine was keeping a secret plan to destroy me I'd be pretty mad.

#1 Fighting Superman
And then Superman blasts Batman's head off with his laser eyes from space. The end.

Bonus Point
You remember that guy in high school that took himself so seriously that it went full circle and became a little bit funny? That's probably how the rest of the Justice League feels about Batman.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

The Horror A4

The Horror A4

The Horror A4 is an independant written and illustrated by Gaz "Gazbot" Gretsky and funded through Kickstarter. The Horror A4 came highly recommended by my friend and local creator, Chris Mcquinlan, who then proceeded to message me less than 24 hours later to see if I had had read it yet. I can now say, yes Chris, yes I have read it and you were right its pretty damn good.

The Horror A4 begins with an enormous monster emerging from underground after being disturbed by a mining operation. This comic doesn't mess around, the second page in a giant rock/mud monster erupts from the earth and begins wrecking havoc and smashing things. Good work comic. The story cuts to three years later where we meet the protagonist Boots, real name Jenna, lamenting the uselessness of the Military Police, as they chase down and capture a young man, questioning if they would really help the people if a demon attacked. Boots meets up with her friends and talks about how she will tell the world all about the wrongs that are done once her stream goes live. Across town BJ, a "millionaire CEO", is desperate to create himself a legacy at any cost but needs to find a way to keep shareholders happy long enough to finish his plans.

The design of The Horror is on the futuristic side with some space age technology holographic projecting phones and robots making the world look futuristic without making it unrecognisable. The trains still look like trains and the streets and markets look like a place you could actually go. Boots and her teenage friends dress in a more gaudy fashion than most of the adults, highlighting the rebellious nature of Boots and her friends. I find the designs for The Horror to be a little busy with so much detail packed into each panel that it can be a difficult to tell exactly what is going on.

I LOVE how the character Boots is written because everyone, absolutely everyone, has known a Boots before and if you didn't know one you were one. Boots is a deeply flawed character, she shows little concern for the young man arrested by the military police in the market place even using the distraction as a chance to steal a chocolate bar but then proceeds to wail to her friends how she saw the military police beat him possibly to death, how she will tell his story and how she is going to change things.  Boots talks about righting the wrongs of the world while stealing when she has more than enough money to pay for things. Boots is self righteous, hypocritical and very very teenage.

Look at all that teenage angst
The Horror combines several different genres with giant monsters, corporate espionage and teen and, so far, it works. I really really hope I'll be able to get my hands on the next issue to see if Boots really follows through with her promise of helping the world, how much carnage the next giant monster attack will do and what the dastardly BJ has in store.

I give The Horror A4 3.5 out of 5 Horrors

Get your copy of The Horror A4 here and find out more about creator Gazbot here.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

The Pro - R18+

The Pro is a one shot comic written by Garth Ennis art by Amanda Conner and published by Image Comics. I've written reviews on comics that I've deemed R18+ before but I mean it with The Pro, like really really mean it, if you are under 18 why not check out my review on Bizarro #1? A review about a prostitute gaining super powers and using them to give super powered hand jobs isn't exactly what I'd call a wholesome read.

The Pro begins with our hero giving a blow job, I'm not skipping anything it begins with exactly that on the first page, and then being chased from the car while her client shoots at her after refusing to pay the agreed amount. The Pro (who is never named) then collects her son from the babysitter and returns home lamenting over being "fucked again" by life. The Voyeur Viewer, an omnipotent alien being, grants The Pro super powers (without her knowledge) and alerts The League that a new hero will be joining them. When The Pro wakes up she is shocked with her new abilities but not as shocked as she is to see a team of superheroes floating outside her window who welcome her into The League Of Honour.

The Pro, despite being a foul mouthed, crude, and poorly mannered prostitute, is a pretty likeable character. While she isn't exactly winning mother of the year she takes care of her son and despite her lack of doting attitude clearly loves him, this is clearly a woman who has been dealt a bad hand in life she works as waitress during the day and a prosititue at night just to make ends meet. After gaining her super powers The Pro attempts to fight with The League Of Honour but has trouble adjusting to the rules she must now adhere too. The Pro, depending on how deep you want to read into it, is actually a pretty thought provoking comic being a critique on the super hero genre as a whole, on race representation and female representation in the super hero genre. If you aren't up for analysing The Pro is still really enjoyable as a comedy and you can completely ignore any deeper meaning.

Yes, yes it is
The Pro is both beautifully drawn and incredibly gross with an interesting contrast between The League of Honour and The Pro. The panels that involve the heroes are bright, colourful and sharp like any classic super hero comic while The Pro looks worn and shabby in not only herself but her surroundings. Having everything in The Pro's world looking old and overused is an incredibly effective way of emphasising that her life is difficult and a struggle without the character needing to say a single word about it.

I'm not normally one for toilet humour but even I found The Pro funny and, for a comic about a super powered prostitute, filled with symbolism. If you aren't easily offended or mind some excessive sexual content then I'd strongly recommend The Pro, even if the premise puts you off a bit its still an amazing read.

If public breast feeding bothers you The Pro is going to freak you out

I give The Pro 4 out of 5 Pros

Find out more about The Pro here.