Welcome to the month nine roundup.

I am finally into double figures. This brings all sorts of thoughts to mind. Like how am I going to fit all of the titles I still have left into my dwindling number of days? And more importantly what the hell am I going to do without a daily blog to suck up all my free time.

Plus, dear reader, we also have to think about how we are going to choose the final issue!

This month there were no Thumbs Down titles.

There were also zero No Thumbs titles.

We had twenty-twoThumbs Up titles.

Proof: Goatsucker – Alexander Grecian

Proof: The Company of Men – Alexander Grecian

Proof: Thunderbirds are Go! – Alexander Grecian

Proof: Blue Fairies – Alexander Grecian

Proof: Endangered – Alexander Grecian

American Vampire: volume 4 – Scott Snyder

Americus – MK Reed

Transmetropolitan: Back on the Street – Warren Ellis

Transmetropolitan: Lust for Life – Warren Ellis

Transmetropolitan: Year of the Bastard – Warren Ellis

Transmetropolitan: The New Scum – Warren Ellis

Transmetropolitan: Lonely City – Warren Ellis

Transmetropolitan: Gouge Away – Warren Ellis

Transmetropolitan: Spider’s Thrash – Warren Ellis

Transmetropolitan: The Cure – Warren Ellis

Transmetropolitan: One More Time – Warren Ellis

Transmetropolitan: Tales of Human Waste – Warren Ellis

Powers 14: Gods – Brian Bendis

Axe Cop Volume Three – Ethan Nicolle & Malachai Nicolle

Crossed: Badlands – Garth Ennis & Jamie Delano

Walking Dead 17: Something to Fear – Robert Kirkman

The Chimpanzee Complex: Paradox – Richard Marazano

This month we had eight Double Thumbs Up titles. Could be the most ever.

Proof: Julia – Alexander Grecian

American Jesus – Mark Millar

The Tourist – Brian Wood

Transmetropolitan: Dirge – Warren Ellis

Axe Cop Volume One – Ethan Nicolle & Malachai Nicolle

Axe Cop Volume Two – Ethan Nicolle & Malachai Nicolle

Wet Moon – book 6: Yesterday’s Gone – Ross Campbell

Pride of Baghdad – Brian K. Vaughan

Another month down and some killer titles. Proof and Transmetropolitan have been on my radar for some time and it is great to finally get a chance to enjoy them both. There were some brilliant off the radar titles such as Americus, The Tourist, and The Chimpanzee Complex. Powers, Crossed, Walking Dead and Wet moon all prove that long established titles don’t necessarily lose their magic.

My star was possibly Axe Cop for making me laugh for hours on end, Pride for the great art or The Tourist for proving that less truly is more. Plus the twist in American Jesus was out of this world.

See you next month. Not many of them left so make the most of it.

====

BONUS REVIEW: The Chimpanzee Complex: Civilisation – Richard Marazano

Chimpanzee Complex 3The final volume in the series does an incredible job of building suspense and evoking atmosphere. With mostly two characters and a single location the pace slows right down and is eerily quiet. You get the Scott/ Cameron deserted spaceship vibe in spades here.

The art is of the same high standard with some great video-screen effects and astronomical vistas. You can predict the ending but aren’t disappointed by it.

A solid Thumbs Up!

BONUS REVIEW

BONUS REVIEW: The Chimpanzee Complex: The Sons of Ares – Richard Marazano

Chimpanzee Complex 2This volume follows on from the last and is every bit as gripping. It is a really tense and enthralling read. Although many of the ideas aren’t original you don’t know which direction the story will take. Having real historical figures involved, both alive and dead, is certainly unusual and might not be to everyone one’s taste. The dialogue is quirky in places but that may be the nature of the translation. The child character also seems to talk and think way above her years.

The art is good but as the locations require more hand drawing it sometimes breaks down. Having a photorealistic head inside a hand-drawn space suit messes with your mind somewhat. Oddly the surface of Mars is one of the most realistic looking settings.

Another fine Thumbs Up!

BONUS REVIEW

The Chimpanzee Complex: Paradox – Richard Marazano

Chimpanzee Complex 1Something fishy occurred in the 1969 moon landings and only in the year 2035 does this come to light prompting an unexpected space mission.

This is a Franco-Belgian title that has been translated into English. It has a strong female protagonist and a prominent sub-plot concerns her relationship with her young daughter. These two storylines blend epic drama and personal emotion, with each thread capable of standing on its own. It is a real page-turner and in only 56 pages a lot happens.

One of the standout elements is the art. It looks like real photographs that have been traced and painted or digitally posterised. It is a very bold technique and takes a little getting used to as the realism is much greater than you are accustomed to. It sits in the uncanny valley between real life and fiction. It does make everything much more dramatic and gives a real depth to scenes with movement or action.

An excellent read that sets you up for volume two. Thumbs Up!

275/90

Tomorrow: DMZ: (1) On the Ground – Brian Wood

Walking Dead 17: Something to Fear – Robert Kirkman

After months of slow but necessary build-up we finally have another killer volume. And killer in the Kirkman sense of the word as the author/ butcher gets busy on his remaining cast.

To present a credible threat to our band of heroes takes something special. After the Governor and everything else they have endured it requires a different kind of menace to cause fear in Rick and the reader too. Kirkman has been driving us mad with trivialities, and doldrums, and the day to day boredom that much of a zombie aftermath would entail.

Did we make the mistake of believing the rosy glow on the horizon was something good? Time for us readers to get our comeuppance. There are shocks, surprises, a wonderful twist, and some hard to stomach brutality, the like of which we have not seen in ten volumes.

The art is great and there is nothing that distracts from the drama unfolding before you. A real master of the craft isn’t seen through spectacle and gratuity but through the subtle nuances that affect you without noticing why. Adlard knows his characters and his readers well and a small change of expression or shift in eye-line saves Kirkman a dozen words. This black and white world feels so authentic.

Definitely the most dramatic and engaging volume for some time. Definitely a Thumbs Up!

274/91

Tomorrow: The Chimpanzee Complex: Paradox – Richard Marazano

Pride of Baghdad – Brian K. Vaughan

Inspired by the true story of four lions escaping from Baghdad zoo during the bombing of Iraqi in 2003, award winning writer Brian K. Vaughan imagines their story.

This is a fantastic story told from the animal’s point of view. Part Lion King part Watership Down you are able to make an emotional connection to these wonderful and wild creatures. There isn’t a traditional plot as such, and thankfully it doesn’t descend into an episode of Lassie, but there are a lot of subtle moral questions woven into the animal’s journey if you are inclined to spot them.

The art is an absolute joy to behold and the vibrant, natural colours are a masterpiece themselves. The animals are faithfully rendered with dynamic poses and fluid musculature yet capable of conveying primal emotions you can empathise with. This is thick book but there are much more pictures than words allowing you to drink in the setting and leisurely bask in the tangible atmosphere.

If you are so inclined you can take a very powerful message from the author, or maybe you are bringing your own. A Double Thumbs Up!

273/92

Tomorrow: Walking Dead 17: Something to Fear – Robert Kirkman

Crossed: Badlands – Garth Ennis & Jamie Delano

Great, you think. Garth Ennis has returned to the Crossed universe he created for a nine issue extravaganza. Not quite. Only the first three issues are written by him in a sort of Crossed novella.

It is astoundingly good. Ennis at his most thoughtful crafts a technically superb story with a strong message and plenty of emotional investment. Jacen Burrows also returns bringing the distinctive style that launched the Crossed universe. He has a great time mixing blood and snow and evoking real atmosphere.

The second, standard length, tale doesn’t try and compete or blend in, or even become a shock and gore fest like previous stories. It has a bunch of very quirky characters and achieves a really unique dynamic. Rather than a group of survivors who tell their origins through flashbacks we cut between three sets of unconnected people who enjoy their own separate storylines before meeting.

This fresh approach and some indistinct narration is a little weird at first but you soon embrace it. The story twists and turns unexpectedly and you might not predict the ending, leaving you with raised eyebrows.

The art for the second story is similar enough to the Burrows template not to feel out of place but makes more use of bright colours. There is also more nudity in this story than any other so far.

Both tales are very good and really different from each other. It is nice to see Ennis return to his creation and have fun with it too. The Crossed themselves haven’t evoked real terror since their first outing and this book has them talking a little too coherently.

Overall a good read and a strong Thumbs Up!

272/93

Tomorrow: Pride of Baghdad – Brian K. Vaughan

Wet Moon – book 6: Yesterday’s Gone – Ross Campbell 

You are buying this book for one reason, and one reason only. To find out about Trilby. Campbell, in a genius application of suspense, makes you wait 46 long pages before revealing the truth. All the while the other characters are living their lives oblivious to the situation.

The art is really good with some very bold panel breaks and good use of black space. In fact whole black pages are inserted to really add gravitas to the scene changes. There are some nice establishing frames too that are very effective in tone. There are no prose pages to slow down the flow in this work either – a most inspired choice. The bug-eyes have settled down too and there is a nice line drawing dream sequence.

You think that nothing can compare to last volume’s cliff-hanger? Well there may be a surprise in store. This is a great return to form that just reaches the Double Thumbs Up!

271/94

Tomorrow: Crossed: Badlands – Garth Ennis & Jamie Delano

Axe Cop Volume Three – Ethan Nicolle & Malachai Nicolle

You know you are doing something right when you are on your third Trade Paperback, your art is appearing in the background of TV shows and Damon Lindelhof is writing your introductions. The simple idea at the heart of Axe Cop (that it is written by a six year old) shows no sign of becoming stale.

This is the longest of the three volumes and will certainly take a while to get through as it is jam packed with goodies. It starts with a medium length story then goes into almost 30 Ask Axe Cop skits. There are various holiday and seasonal specials, some non-Axe Cop stories, and a whole bunch of guest writers and artists. Crossovers like these are a tradition in the webcomic community and many of these are conjured up by the kids of other successful online creators. There is a full length official teamup with the hugely successful Dr. McNinja drawn by its artist. The two characters actually fit very well and seem to be cut from the same cloth.

We have left the technicolour spectacular behind and most of the art is in black and white. There are some special strips in colour and some black and white with a single colour highlight showing that the art is isn’t willing to stay still. The guest artists and guest pinup galleries give you a chance to see different styles at work. You also get to see Malachai drawing (before he gets bored) and Ethan writing.

The sheer quantity and diversity of material here won’t disappoint and this gets a solid Thumbs Up!

270/95

Tomorrow: Wet Moon – book 6: Yesterday’s Gone – Ross Campbell

Axe Cop Volume Two – Ethan Nicolle & Malachai Nicolle

This is the perfect antidote to modern life. In our world of structure, rules, procedure and conformity this is what we are missing. It’s the pure unbridled joy of creativity without consequence. No adult could make this up. And even if they did no one would publish it. But because it comes from the mind of a six year old playing with his toys it gets special dispensation.

This is the longest Axe Cop adventure ever. At what would be three issues long this is a seemingly endless romp through absurdity. It also has the perfect Monty Python ending too. It can get a little fatiguing and you might get a slightly numb to the frenetic twisting and turning and complete lack of logic. But you will never find anything less predictable than this work. We are all so postmodern that it takes untainted childish anarchy to stop us guessing the plot.

As well as entertaining this glimpse into a child’s mind is fascinating. You can see his emerging grasp of families, friendship, life, death, religion, politics and all aspects of our complex adult world. It is a rare treat to see our lives from the outside.

This is also the first Axe Cop story to be in full colour. The bright cartoonish hues really do add an innocent exuberance to the whole piece. The art, the layouts and the whole presentation is very adult and sophisticated in nature. These are proper techniques used effectively and intelligently to deliver and sustain this tsunami of ideas. You need some structure to stop your brain shutting down from the sheer wackiness of it all.

There are extensive notes, sketches, photographs and commentary, documenting the creative process in full and giving you a great understanding of how much time goes into making Axe Cop.

Double Thumbs Up for such a massive undertaking.

269/96

Tomorrow: Axe Cop Volume Three – Ethan Nicolle & Malachai Nicolle