Friday, November 25, 2011

Post Thoughtbubble Comics Haul!

So, last weekend was the Leeds Thoughtbubble Festival, and as with the previous couple of years I headed out and spent too much money on comics and tat. Actually I was little restrained this year, compared to previous years, but still didn't do too badly!


So, how do they all read?

Unseen Shadows: Tales of the Fallen: Its really interesting to see how self-publishing success story Fallen Heroes is spinning off into a multi-platform assault on geekdom as a whole, with Tales of the Fallen leading the charge. Launching at TB11, it's four stories around earlier incidents in the lives of four of the characters in the book, each a standalone, and each with a markedly different feel. There is a clever balance at work in the volume, whereby you don't need to be familiar with Fallen Heroes to understand any of it, yet it brings new facets to the characters if you have (or when you do) read the novel. I sat in on the Unseen Shadows Panel on Sunday, where they mentioned how key that balance was, and how hard they'd tried to get there with it, and that effort really shines through, and it feels like a labour of love for all involved.

Dark Judgement 1 & 2: I've never liked the Dark Judges, from 2000ad's Judge Dredd stories. I've always preferred the more grounded (grounded? in Judge Dredd??) stories and been less keen on the supernatural/psychic sort of stuff. That said - Dark Judgement is ace. By removing the focus from the big hitters, onto the Dark Judges and their interaction with normal citizens and street judges, they become, as they should be, creatures of nightmare, cruel and twisted and leaving more than simply death, but horror and dismay in their wake. Over both volumes you have two stories for each judge (the best is the second Judge Death one, in my opinion, though they are all good) across a cross-section of Mega-City One.

The Lovecraft Anthology v1: Self Made Hero are one of those Small Press companies that would take all my money if only I'd let them. After the great job they did on At the Mountains of Madness, the Lovecraft Anthology takes a number of Lovecraft's shorts and converts them to comic format. It's a bit of an eclectic choice - big hitters like The Call of Cthulhu and The Dunwich Horror, and lesser stories like The Rats in the Walls, but all given the same boiled-down-to-their-key-beats treatment.

If I'm being honest I liked some more than others - I've never been a big fan of The Colour Out of Space so an adaptation was never going to do much for me, for instance, but the The Shadow over Innsmouth is great, as is the aforementioned The Dunwich Horror. I like the Call of Cthulhu but it felt too short for me, something I didn't feel about the others even though they're equally abridged. The art is great across the board, and Lovecraft's heavy text makes for great narration. There is an intent in that "volume 1" to more, and I really can't wait.

Orbital v2: And now we come to Cinebooks, who turn up to cons with "buy 2, get 3" offers which I simply cannot resist. I picked up Orbital v1 last year, and whilst not the stand-out of last years haul, I liked it enough to get the second. Essentially a tale of two mismatched galactic investigators, v2 is the concluding part of the initial storyline from v1 and I found it smoother reading, with a good mix of exposition and action. Again, Orbital isn't one of the stand-out titles for this year but a really solid, fun read.

Long John Silver v1: Now this is the stand-out cinebook for this year. A loose follow-up to Treasure Island, set many years later, Silver is recruited for an expedition to follow up on a claimed discovery of El Dorado. Interestingly Silver isn't the star of this volume, a role which falls on Lady Vivian Hastings, long-separated from her explorer husband and inconveniently pregnant, and the main instigator of what appears to be an increasing complex series of subplots as the voyage gets ready to sail.

Silver himself is as roguishly brutal as ever, the supporting cast are broad enough to be distinguishable early on, but many start to show interesting facets - not least of which Lady Vivian herself - as the first volume draws to a close. With apologies to every other volume in this post, this is the favorite book I bought this time around.

Largo Winch v1: Finally, I picked up Largo Winch on a recommendation, and it's kinda fun; but I'm a little unsure as to what I really think of it. As a first volume it feels very much like a big, self-contained, introductory story of a boy adopted to inherit a huge legacy, but there is more than a little wish fulfillment in the character setup and it didn't quite gel with me. Its not to say it's not a jolly read, and I'll probably get the second volume at some point to see if it settles out, but I did find myself skipping through it a little towards the end.

So that's it! Money well spent, overall, I feel!