Daredevil: Born Again


By Frank Miller, David Mazzucchelli & various (Marvel)
ISBN: 978-0-7851-3481-7

Matt Murdock is a blind lawyer whose remaining senses hyper-compensate, making him an astonishing acrobat, formidable fighter and living lie-detector. Very much a second-string hero for most of his early years, Daredevil was nonetheless a striking and popular one, due in large part to the captivatingly humanistic art of Gene Colan.

He battled thugs, gangsters, a plethora of super-villains and even the occasional monster or alien invasion, quipping and wise-cracking his way through life and life-threatening combat.

However in the late 1970s, under the auspices of Jim Shooter, Roger McKenzie and finally Frank Miller, the character transformed into a dark, moody avenger and latterly grim, quasi-religious metaphor of justice and retribution…

Miller’s tenure on the series was groundbreaking, transformative, commercially successful and critically acclaimed, but – as is the nature of comicbooks – brief. After thoroughly shaking things up, the auteur moved on to other landmark projects, but was occasionally enticed over the years to return for short stints and special events to the troubled advocate of both legal and vigilante justice.

Miller’s initial run was measured by a number of powerful relationships he wove for the sightless swashbuckler: primarily his doomed first love Elektra Natchios and his ultimate enemy Wilson Fisk, the undisputed Kingpin of Crime.

In 1988 Miller returned for a short run where, with artist-of-the-moment David Mazzucchelli, he wrote what is still considered by most fans as the definitive Daredevil tale, as well as one of the most memorable contests of Good against Evil ever seen in comics.

Born Again collects Daredevil volume 1, #226-233 (January-August 1985) and changed the way superhero comics were perceived by fans and by the vast world of casual readers beyond the confines of our art form.

Fisk has been untouchable for years. He has bribed, terrorised and colluded his way to a position of legal invulnerability and is, to all intents and purposes, beyond the reach of justice. This has resulted in an uncomfortable status quo and grudging détente with costumed vigilantes such as Spider-Man, The Punisher and Daredevil, but that is about to change forever…

Before all that however, a taste of things to come can be seen in ‘Warriors’ by Denny O’Neil, Miller, Mazzucchelli & Dennis Janke as former costumed villain and recovering mental patient Melvin Potter is blackmailed into committing crimes by crooks who have kidnapped his girlfriend.

In the past Daredevil had been a largely sympathetic opponent, but recent personal events have pushed the Man Without Fear to a dark, angry, unforgiving place, and when he confronts Potter in his Gladiator alter ego, the fight is brutal and without pity until the barely-resisting super-villain can explain the situation. Then, all that anger is supplemented by guilt as the Devil in Red deals with the real bad guys…

The main event begins as Miller & Mazzucchelli reveal the fate of a long-missed early cast-member. Karen Page had been Matt Murdock’s true love before eventually leaving him for an acting career in Hollywood. Now she resurfaces as a fading porn star and junkie, stuck in Mexico, who sells the secret of Daredevil’s identity for one more fix…

The revelation is toxic. As it inevitably makes its way into the hands of Fisk, the arrogant crimelord ensures everyone who passed the knowledge up the line to him is eradicated. He plans an epic vengeance against his foe and wants to share the joy with no one…

The mounting pressure of impending ‘Apocalypse’ first surfaces as an IRS audit and missed mortgage payments Matt knows he already paid…

He’s not even suspicious when his own accountant won’t talk to him and honest cop pal Nick Manolis formally accuses Murdock of bribing witnesses and committing perjury…

With his friends attacked and legal career destroyed, Daredevil goes on a rampage, trying to beat information out of underworld small-timers in a frantic search for the mastermind behind Murdock’s woes. Everything falls into place when his house blows up. Matt knows whose hand is behind the impossible procession of bad fortune…

In the heart of a New York winter, Matt Murdock vanishes. Penniless, homeless and pushed beyond all rational limits, his mind shuts down. ‘Purgatory’ sees the brilliant lawyer in the black depths of a breakdown, with Fisk’s spies dogging his heels. The Kingpin revels in each report of comatose depressive bouts or incidence of petty violence perpetrated on innocent bystanders. However, as Fisk revels in sending his enemy into a living hell, a woman already there breaks out…

Between moments of drugged oblivion, Karen Page is tortured by guilt. Finally, unable to contact Matt, she throws in with a most dangerous man who promises to bring her to New York for a few small considerations…

She won’t make it in time. Insanely galvanised to seek retribution, Murdock confronts Fisk in his palatial Manhattan skyscraper and is beaten almost to death. The brutalised Daredevil regains consciousness in a car rapidly filling with water at the bottom of the East River…

Kingpin’s euphoria turns to paranoia as the vehicle is recovered but no body is found…

Utterly beyond rationality, the thing that was once Matt Murdock roams the back alleys in ‘Pariah!’ His friends, however, have not forgotten him, and Daily Bugle reporter Ben Urich has been quietly digging. When he discovers why Manolis fabricated charges against Matt, Ben is forced to witness the cop’s fate as a warning…

Lost on the streets as Christmas dawns, Matt endures another brutal beating from petty thugs and crawls off to die. Is it destiny or something else that leads him to a church and a woman he thinks he knows?

…And time passes and Wilson Fisk knows no peace of mind. There is still no corpse…

‘Born Again’ finds the strands coalescing. In a church hospital ward, Matt Murdock emerges from the recuperating husk of his broken mind. The nun called Maggie is infuriatingly familiar but fierce in her determination to make him whole in both body and soul. Elsewhere, although the Kingpin’s ubiquitous tentacles keep Urich quiet and Matt’s friends fully occupied, the big man is not content.

His victory is incomplete and perhaps the vanished foe will return. Thus, Wilson Fisk makes an ill-judged decision and begins calling in carefully-hoarded favours from the high and mighty of the establishment…

As Matt slowly recovers, he has no idea Karen Page is about to re-enter his life, nor that Urich, fed up with being terrorised, is speaking both to the police and on record in the Bugle…

‘Saved’ begins with Murdock battling his way back to fighting fitness in time to save Ben Urich from Fisk’s grotesque assassin. He then reaches out to Melvin Potter. Soon, the resurrected Man Without Fear is ready to make his first move against Fisk…

All subtlety abandoned and gripped by mania, the Kingpin co-opts a military top secret to strike back. Through his illicit connections Fisk forces an Army General to unleash the military’s latest super-soldier in the heart of Murdock’s beloved Hell’s Kitchen, even as his usually impeccable attempts to ensure silence go spectacularly awry when a hit team fails to kill Urich and a vital witness…

Nuke is a Vietnam-obsessed, drug-fuelled, black ops killing machine spouting deranged mantras of ‘God and Country’ and his savage assault on the district certainly draws out Daredevil. Sadly, he also comes to the attention of the nation’s first patriotic guardian and ‘Armageddon’ finds the out-of-control human weapon also confronting his idol Captain America as well as the rest of the mighty Avengers.

From that point on, Fisk’s fate is sealed…

Epic, devious and still shocking, this is a blockbusting tour de force which ranks amongst the very best Fights ‘n’ Tights clashes ever crafted and remains one of the most accessible and entertaining.
© 1985, 2010 Marvel Characters, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Phoenix Presents… Lost Tales


By Adam Murphy (David Fickling Books)
ISBN: 978-1-910989-19-7

The educational power of comic strips has been long understood and acknowledged: if you can make material memorably enjoyable, there is nothing that can’t be taught better with pictures. The obverse is also true: comics can make any topic or subject come alive and reveal how even the most ancient or alien of cultures is just people like us wearing different hats…

The same amiable ethos and graphic versatility that made Adam Murphy’s wonderful Corpse Talk collections such a treasure to read and learn with also informs this superb collection of visualised folk tales, gathered from distant, less-frequented corners of the world; ones not generally seen in our schools or nurseries.

In 2012 Oxford-based family publisher David Fickling Books launched an anthological weekly comic for girls and boys channelling the grand old days of British picture-story entertainment. Every issue offers humour, adventure, quizzes, puzzles and educational material: a joyous parade of cartoon fun and fantasy.

Since its premiere, The Phoenix has gone from strength to strength, winning praise from the Great and the Good, child literacy experts and the only people who really count – the totally engaged kids and parents who read it. Inevitably the publishers have branched out into a wonderful line of superbly engaging graphic novel compilations, the latest of which will magically broaden every reader’s fantasy landscape…

This superb compilation of tales – first seen in The Phoenix – goes beguilingly beyond mythical borders established by generations of westernised kids reared primarily on the works of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson, and offers tantalising flavours far fresher to the jaded fantasy palate.

However, when you look closer, you’ll soon see that the themes, problems and solutions don’t vary that much and might well be universal…

Opening proceedings is ‘Strong Wind and Little Scabs’ which comes from the Mi’kmaq tradition of North America, detailing how a poor girl brutalised and maltreated by her older sisters becomes the wife of a god-like hero, after which ‘The Gifts of Wali Dad’ takes us to the ancient Punjab where a poor yet virtuous man finds his harmony and inner peace disrupted by too much wealth…

An old Romani legend becomes ‘Lucky Jim and the Golden Hair of the Sun’ as a vile king learns his daughter is fated to marry a simple gypsy peasant. His many scandalous attempts to thwart fate are futile and bring about his own doom, whilst a tale of avarice and guile defeated by honesty and ever sharper wits is revealed in ‘Two Merchants’, which comes from the lost Central African kingdom of Kanem-Bornu…

An honest, adoring but extremely simple peach-seller once married a beautiful and smart woman who gave him a drawing of her to keep him always happy. When he lost ‘The Picture Wife’ she was then compelled to orchestrate his rise to the heights of society in feudal Japan, before Brazil brings us a heartbreaking tragedy of sea-monsters, broken friendships and shallow, forgetful princesses which explains ‘Why the Sea Moans’

The high price of casual ingratitude informs the Russian fable of ‘The Snow Daughter’ who was magically bestowed upon a childless old couple and this fabulous lexicon of international wonders closes far closer to home with a Scottish tale of greedy, gullible and ultimately evil landowners who covet the precious few passions of a poor crofter. Thankfully, the old farmer has wits far surpassing the money and vicious intentions of his adversaries and ‘Riben, Robin and Donald McDonald’ has a happy ending with just deserts liberally served all around…

Witty, welcoming and utterly beguiling, The Phoenix Presents… Lost Tales seductively introduces readers to the myths of a wider world, and is also a fabulously fun read no parent or kid could possibly resist.
Text and illustrations © Adam Murphy 2015. All rights reserved.

The Phoenix Presents… Lost Tales will be released on August 4th 2016 and is available for pre-order now.
Why not check out the Phoenix experience at https://www.thephoenixcomic.co.uk/ and see what Adam’s up to at http://adammurphy.com/portfolio/comics/

Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Jungle Tales of Tarzan


ByMartin Powell & various (Dark Horse Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-63008-248-2

Jungle Tales of Tarzan was the sixth prose novel release, published in 1919 after monthly serialisation in prestigious pulp Blue Book Magazine between September 1916 and August 1917.

The content is a series of twelve loosely connected episodes, wherein the young Lord of the Jungle confronts various cognitive and physical stages in his own development. They are all set after the foundling’s ape foster-mother Kala was killed and before that first fateful meeting with Jane Porter and introduction to human civilisation.

The stories have been adapted in whole or in part by most of the American comics publishers who have released Tarzan material – Gold Key, Charlton, Marvel, DC and Malibu Comics – as well as by quintessential Tarzan illustrator Burne Hogarth in one of the industry’s earliest graphic novels.

In 2015 – anticipating this year’s movie release – current license-holder Dark Horse Comics released an all-new adaptation of the complete text, scripted by Martin Powell (Scarlet in Gaslight, Alien Nation), designed by Diana Leto and individually illustrated by a broad swathe of differently-styled artists.

Following author Robin Maxwell’s Introduction ‘Back to the Jungle’, the adaptations begin with ‘Tarzan’s First Love’ (painted by Leto) detailing how the adolescent Ape-Man was increasingly drawn to fetching young She-Ape Teeka. Incomprehensibly, no matter what he did, the young maiden just wasn’t interested in her ardent, hairless admirer…

A brutal and epic clash between the local tribesmen responsible for Kala’s death and the jungle legend highlights the uncanny bond between the seldom-seen but terrifying white ghost and mighty elephant Tantor, who proves valiant and true following ‘The Capture of Tarzan’ (delineated by Pablo Marcos, Diego Rondón & Oscar Gonzalez), whilst Lowell Isaac’s interpretation of ‘The Fight for the Balu’ shows wistful sensitivity and potent fury as childhood friends of Tarzan become incomprehensibly aggressive after the birth of their first baby. They soon change their tune after a leopard attacks…

Will Meugniot deftly details the constantly-questioning outsider’s search for ‘The God of Tarzan’ after overdosing on his dead father’s books and suffering a brain-expanding religious experience, whilst ‘Tarzan and the Native Boy’ – illustrated by Nik Poliwko – sees him experience paternal yearnings. After abducting a small child and learning of both guilt and folly, the Ape-Man earns his first arch-enemy by spoiling greedy fetish-man Bukuwai’s scam to impoverish little Tibo’s distraught mother…

Steven E. Gordon explosively renders the return match when ‘The Witch Doctor Seeks Vengeance’; trying – and failing – to feed little Tibo to hungry hyenas before Jamie Chase details ‘The End of Bukuwai’ as the vile witchman finally captures the “tree devil” Tarzan and learns that jungle vengeance is far worse than anything he could conceive of…

‘The Lion’ (Terry Beatty) explores Tarzan’s eccentric sense of humour as the Lord of the Apes acquires an entire skin of Numa the lion and learns from his anthropoid subjects a painful lesson about practical joking, after which Mark Wheatley turns in a lush and spectacularly effective interpretation of much-adapted fantasy ‘The Nightmare’.

Here starving, curious Tarzan steals and gorges on elephant meat from the native village. The resultant food-poisoning takes him on a hallucinogenic journey never to be forgotten and almost costs his life when he can no longer tell phantasm from actual foe…

Crafted by Sergio Cariello, Patrick Gama & Dave Lanphear, ‘The Battle for Teeka’ features an epic clash as the new mother is stolen by a rival ape pack and Tarzan must lead his people into a full-on war to save her…

‘A Jungle Joke’ (Tomás M. Aranda) sees an unrepentant Tarzan revive his hilarious Numa masquerade to bedevil the local natives; taking the place of an actual lion the savages plan to torture, before this legendary lexicon concludes in metaphorical triumph with Carlos Argüello limning an epic struggle after an eclipse blankets the jungle and ‘Tarzan Rescues the Moon’

With a bonus section highlighting Darren Bader’s cover art and additional illustrations by Bader, Thomas Floyd, Louis Henry Mitchell, Steve Price & Thomas Yeates, Jungle Tales of Tarzan is a delicious treat for both Ape-Man aficionados and devotees of the comics arts in all their multi-various styles.
Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Jungle Tales of Tarzan © 2015 Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. All rights reserved. Tarzan ™ and ® Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. and used by permission.

Marvel Adventures Spider-Man Volume 4: Friendly Neighborhood


By Paul Tobin, Roberto Di Salvo, Matteo Lolli, Terry Pallot & various (Marvel)
ISBN: 978-0-7851-5257-6

Since its earliest days Marvel has always courted the youngest comicbook audiences. Whether through animated movie or TV tie-ins such as Terrytoons Comics, Mighty Mouse, Super Rabbit Comics, Duckula, assorted Hanna-Barbera and Disney licenses and a myriad of others, or original creations such as Tessie the Typist, Millie the Model, Homer the Happy Ghost, Li’l Kids or even Calvin, the House of Ideas has always understood the necessity of cultivating the next generation of readers.

These days however, accessible child-friendly titles are on the wane and with Marvel’s proprietary characters all over screens large and small, the company usually prefers to create adulterated versions of its own pantheon, making that eventual hoped-for transition to more mature comics as painless as possible.

The process began in 2003 when the company created a Marvel Age line which updated and retold classic original tales by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, merging it with the remnants of its failed manga-based Tsunami imprint, which was also intended for a junior demographic.

The experiment was tweaked in 2005, becoming Marvel Adventures with the core titles transformed into Marvel Adventures: Fantastic Four and Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man. The reconstituted classics were then replaced by all-original yarns.

Additional titles included Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes, The Avengers and Hulk, running until 2010 when they were cancelled and replaced by new volumes of Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes and Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man which carried on the established continuities.

This digest-sized collection collects issues #13-16 of that second iteration and sees Paul Tobin firmly in the driving seat, deftly blending action with humour and even inserting a little low level soap opera romance as 16-year old Peter Parker continues his first steps as reluctant yet driven superhero Spider-Man. Even after all the time he has prowled the streets and skyscrapers of New York, fighting crime and injustice, he’s still just a kid learning the ropes and pretty much in over his head all the time…

Illustrated by Roberto Di Salvo, the drama begins with our hero and his Aunt May vacationing in Britain. Whilst the senior Parker checks out antiques shops and farmers’ markets in Devon, her poor nephew has found a spot of bother on Dartmoor, beside British “Scooby Gang” T.U.F.F. (Teenage Ultimate Forteans Forever).

Following reports of monster sightings on the moors, Spidey and Co. unite with jungle lord Ka-Zar and his smilodon ally Zabu to crush a ring of exotic pet smugglers selling dinosaurs stolen from the Savage Land in ‘Raptor of the Baskervilles’.

A tricky task at the best of times, their valiant endeavour almost ends in disaster when the thieves bring in mutant maniac Sabretooth to kill the pesky, interfering kids…

Back in the Big Apple, the Web-spinner then teams up with Police Captain George Stacy to stop a run of armoured car heists perpetrated by Mysterio. ‘The Illusionist’ (Matteo Lolli & Pallot) had liberally dosed the heroes with hallucinogenic gases but was unaware of Spider-Man’s secret weapon: Peter Parker’s mutant girlfriend Sophia Sanduval who can communicate with animals and works as a part-time operative of the Blonde Phantom Detective Agency. “Chat” has got a lot of unusual animal resources at her disposal and is more than willing to lend some assistance…

The critter-whisperer is of even greater use when Doctor Doom seizes control of the UN whilst she and Peter are attending on a school trip. With delegates held hostage and a deadly bomb hidden on the premises, Chat and her bestial buddies play a key role saving the day in ‘Council of Doom’ (Di Salvo art) whilst all Spidey has to do is keep the Iron Dictator and his deadly army of robot doubles distracted. Well, that and not die…

Wrapping up the narrative action is ‘Magically Suspicious’ (Lolli & Pallot) as insane enchanter Baron Mordo seeks to open the gates of hell and let the Elder Eldritch Ones loose on Earth.

To facilitate their return he has pre-emptively unleashed a horde of demonic wraiths to take out the world’s superheroes, leaving only Spider-Man, Chat and Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Stephen Strange free to lead the extremely messy resistance…

These Spidey super stories (accompanied by a cover gallery from Barry Kitson, Patrick Scherberger, Edgar Delgado, Ale Garza & Chris Sotomayor and a big bundle of pin-ups by the likes of John Romita Senior, Terry & Rachel Dodson, Salvador Larroca and more) are all exceptionally enjoyable escapades, but parents should note that some of the themes and certainly the violence might not be what everybody considers “All-Ages Super Hero Action” and would perhaps sit better with older kids…

Fast-paced and impressive, brightly and breezily leavening light-hearted action with loads of sly laughs, this book shows the alternative web-spinner at his wall-crawling best with the violence toned down and “cartooned-up” whilst the stories take great pains to keep the growing youth-oriented sub-plots pot-boiling on but as clear as possible.

Never the success the company hoped, the Marvel Adventures project was superseded in 2012 by specific comics tied to Disney XD television shows designated as “Marvel Universe cartoons”, but these collected stories are still an amazing and arguably more culturally accessible means of introducing character and concepts to kids born two or three generations away from those far-distant 1960s originating events.
© 2011 Marvel Characters, Inc. All rights reserved.

Garth Ennis’ Complete Battlefields volume 2


By Garth Ennis, P. J. Holden, Russ Braun, Carlos Ezquerra, Hector Ezquerra & various (Dynamite Entertainment)
ISBN: 978-1-60690-222-6

Garth Ennis is a devout aficionado of the British combat comics he grew up reading. He’s also a writer with a distinct voice and two discrete senses of humour.

In Battlefields the cruel, surreal ultra-violent gross-out stuff that made Hitman and The Boys such guilty pleasures are generally sidelined to make room for the far more blackly sardonic ironies of Preacher and True Faith.

Ennis practically resurrected the combat genre in US comics through a sequence of superb War Stories co-created with the industry’s top illustrative talent for DC’s mature reader Vertigo imprint, and later crafted more of the same for Dynamite Entertainment through the themed-anthology series Battlefields, beginning in November 2008. Here he continued blending a unique viewpoint (pro-warrior but savagely anti-war) with his love of those British comics strips, and this second Complete Edition gathers three more triptychs set in World War II, all digging deep beyond big-screen glamour glitz to expose the grimy guts of life during wartime in self-contained arenas most of us never gave a second thought to…

Illustrated by P. J. Holden, the horrific madness resumes in 1942 as ‘Happy Valley’, highlights the outrageous behaviour and doomed camaraderie of airmen ‘From a Land Down Under’.

When not pulling stupid pranks or rowdily carousing, the Australians of 444 Squadron spend their nights pounding the German industrial heartland of the Ruhr Valley in their Vickers Wellington bombers…affectionately known as “Wimpys”.

However, one particular crew is more than a bit upset when their top-notch pilot is replaced by fresh-faced Ken Harding; a kid straight out of flight school. However, after the first mission the frequent fliers have cause to reassess the weird little sprog and his raw skill or incredible luck.

The magic happens again after dull times and enforced grounding ‘In Pomgolia’ leads to more nights of sheer terror and exhilaration before the inevitable finally happen in the breathtaking conclusion ‘Who’ll Come on Ops in a Wimpy With Me?’

In volume one Ennis and his venerable old collaborator Carlos Ezquerra (artistically aided, abetted and inked by his son Hector) introduced a work-shy, callow crew of Londoners manning a Churchill Tank who had to adapt to a new commander in the short squat shape of a foul-mouthed Geordie, who babbled orders in his bizarre northern jibber-jabber no normal bloke could understand…

Now Sergeant Stiles returns in ‘The Firefly and His Majesty’. It’s February 1945, and, riding a brand new Sherman Firefly, he’s part of a push deep into enemy territory. Sadly, a fanatical old adversary piloting Germany’s last super-weapon is ready to offer the invaders a lethal ‘Welcome to the Fatherland’

Stiles is now part of the Fourth Royal Tank Regiment, having fought his way from Africa all the way up into Italy and fully intends on killing a few more smug “Jormans” before he’s done.

Soon he and his new squad come upon the remains of an American tank column that has been obliterated by two King Panzers. As Stiles tracks one of them he thanks his lucky stars the monster tanks weren’t around until the war was almost won. Still, his Firefly isn’t exactly standard issue either…

As they cautiously hunt for the enemy, the crew share the story of why Stiles hates Tigers so much and why he’s looking for one German tank commander in particular. ‘Soldiers of the Reich’ then sees the over-eager sergeant finally make a mistake which – he judges – makes him no better than the scum he’s hunting…

Filled with righteous fury, Stiles at last confronts his hated enemy in the ruins of a bombed-out cathedral, but after all modern innovations of butchery are exhausted the final terrible battle in the ‘Kingdom of Dust’ is fought and won with the most primitive of weapons…

The final tale in this turbulent tome also features a returning character.

‘Motherland’ is drawn by Russ Braun and returns to the Soviet theatre of war to chart the further exploits of female flyer Anna Borisnova Kharkova. She began defending her country as a night bomber harassing the German invaders as one of the all-woman squadrons dubbed Nachthexen or Night Witches…

Now a Captain, she is part of a vast Flight of fighter pilots harassing the enemy as they retreat from Stalingrad, pushed back by the sheer volume if not quality of the massed Russian war machine. The Soviets are now building up to a mass attack to liberate Kursk, but female pilots still struggle to earn the respect of their arrogant male comrades.

Although she has an ally in Commander Colonel Golovyachev and a friend in her timid mechanic Private Meriutsa (AKA “Mouse”) she has also picked up a ruthless enemy in Political Officer Major Merkulov of the NKVD, whom she caught in a moment  of arrant cowardice under fire…

Anna contents herself with killing Germans whenever she can and is astounded after a spectacularly disastrous sortie to be made a Hero of the Soviet Union for her efforts. The award results in her being removed from combat missions and ordered to school more hopelessly ineffective girls in the intricacies of aerial warfare, but her attempts to protect them are wasted once new Political Officer Captain Bobrov orders the untrained novices into combat…

Rushing after her defenceless charges Anna suddenly finds herself in the greatest and most important battle of her life…

Packed with blistering action, horrific human experiences and breathtaking gallows humour, these amazing tales of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances come with a fascinating and informative Afterword from the author, script excerpts, recommended further reading, covers by Garry Leach, plus extensive sketchbook sections featuring character designs, layouts, pencils and finished art from Braun, Holden and the Ezquerras.

These are not stories for children. Due to Ennis’s immense skill the carefully constructed moments of tension, terror and relief strike home and strike hard; whether he is aiming for stress-releasing belly laughs,, lambasting the Powers That Be always ready to send fodder to slaughter or, as seen most frequently here, examining in excoriating detail how the acts of war makes mortals into monsters.

These hyper-authentic yarns reek of grim veracity and are a tribute to the spirit of people at their very best and worst. This is war as I fear it actually is, and it makes bloody good reading.
© 2010, 2011 Spitfire Productions, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Cedric volume 2: Dad’s Got Class


By Laudec & Cauvin with colours by Leonardo and translated by Erica Jeffrey (Cinebook)
ISBN: 978-1-84918-003-0

Raoul Cauvin is one of Europe’s most successful comics scripters. Born in Antoing, Belgium in 1938, he joined publishing giant Dupuis’ animation department in 1960 after studying the dying – and much-missed – print production technique of Lithography.

Happily, he quickly discovered his true calling – comedy writing – and began a glittering, prolific career at Spirou where he devised (with Salvérius) the astoundingly successful Bluecoats as well as dozens of other long-running, award winning series such as Sammy, Les Femmes en Blanc, Boulouloum et Guiliguili, Cupidon, Pauvre Lampil and Agent 212: cumulatively shifting more than 240 separate albums. Bluecoats alone has sold in excess of 15 million copies thus far.

His collaborator on sharp, witty yet kid-friendly family strip Cédric is Italian born, Belgium-raised Tony de Luca who studied electro-mechanics and toiled as an industrial draughtsman until he could make his break into comics.

Following a few fanzine efforts in the late 1970s, Laudec landed soap-style series Les Contes de Curé-la-Fl’ûte at Spirou in 1979. He built it into a brace of extended war-time serials (L’an 40 in 1983 and Marché Noir et Bottes à Clous in 1985) whilst working his way around many of the title’s other strips.

In 1987 Laudec united with Cauvin on the first Cédric shorts and the rest is history… and science and geography and PE and…

We have Dennis the Menace (the Americans have one too but he’s just not the same) whilst the French-speaking world has Cédric: an adorable lovesick rapscallion with a heart of gold and an irresistible streak of mischief dogging his heels. Collected albums of the variable-length strips – ranging from a ½ page to half a dozen – began appearing in 1989 (with 29 released so far) and are always amongst the most popular and best-selling on the Continent, as is the animated TV show spun off from the strip.

This second Cinebook translation – from 2009 and originally continentally released as Cédric 4: Papa a de la classe – hauls straight in to the action as the little lout is invited to a party at the palatial home of posh-boy and romantic rival The Right Honourable Alphonse Andre Jones-Tarrington-Dupree

Previously, overly-imaginative Cedric had been utterly enamoured of his teacher Miss Nelly but once new girl Chen joined the class Cedric’s life changed forever. She’s different; her skin isn’t the same colour as everybody else’s and she talks really funny. He just can’t stop thinking about her…

All’s fair in love and war as ‘Milady and the Geisha’ finds Dupree tricking Cedric into wearing the most embarrassing fancy dress costume imaginable, only to see his devilish scheme badly backfire, after which ‘There are Flakes, and then there are Flakes…’ reveals how not everything falling from the sky is snow, before ‘Cats, Cats, Cats…’ sees Cedric and best pal Christian try to extort extra New Year’s gifts from feline fancier Aunt Jean only to fall at the first hurdle…

A young man’s first encounter with grooming products and cologne is always a heady experience and the ‘The A-Scent of Man’ shows the result of Cedric’s lack of impulse control whilst the grown-ups take centre stage in ‘A Story That’ll Make Your Hair Stand Up Straight’ as Grandpa starts dangerously criticising his useless son-in-law’s visit to a tonsorial stylist, after which ‘To Each His Own’ renews the simmering war after each tries and fails to hang a picture on the living room wall…

When Chen gets ill, Cedric goes to extreme efforts to be with and be like her in ‘Love, Love, Love’ before ‘Tails of All Sorts’ finds Cedric and Grandpa checking out each other’s romantic fascinations…

Kicking and screaming, Cedric is forced into the local Cub Scout group, and even after yomping all over the countryside in ‘Valderee, Valderah’ uses every opportunity to sabotage the experience. Just as he’s being kicked out, however, the Girl Guides march past with little Chen happily with them in line.

When she becomes obsessed with her headphones, Cedric decides to record a message for darling Chen, but his delivery is no match for his heartfelt enthusiasm in ‘Message Not Received’ and, after Mum and Dad have one of those blazing row over nothing, Grandpa has to explain a few painful facts of life about ‘The Big Scene’ to the appalled kid…

‘Hair Apparent’ deals with the 8-year-old’s first attempt at shaving whilst ‘A Tough Choice’ finds the cash-strapped kid having to choose between a present for Mum or Chen before the episodic antics close on a slapstick high note as another Cubs camping trip is disrupted as ‘A Man Misses His Calling’ sees Cedric seemingly lost in the woods…

Rapid-paced, warm and witty, the exploits of this painfully keen, adorably amorous scallywag are a charming example of how all little boys are just the same and infinitely unique. Cedric is a splendid family-oriented strip perfect for enticing youngsters and old folk alike…
© Dupuis 1991 by Cauvin & Laudec. All rights reserved. English translation © 2009 Cinebook Ltd.

Star Trek Classics volume 5: Who Killed Captain Kirk?


By Peter David, Tom Sutton, Gordon Purcell, Ricardo Villagran & various (IDW)
ISBN: 978-1-61377-831-9

The stellar Star Trek brand and franchise probably hasn’t reached any new worlds yet, but it certainly has permeated every aspect of civilisation here on Earth. You can find daily live-action or animated TV appearances constantly screening somewhere on the planet as well as toys, games, conventions, merchandise, various comics iterations generated in a host of nations and languages and a reboot of the movie division proceeding even as I type this.

Many comicbook companies have published sequential narrative adventures based on the exploits of Gene Roddenberry’s legendary brainchild, and the splendid 1980s run produced under the DC banner were undoubtedly some of the very finest.

Never flashy or sensational, the tales embraced the same storytelling values as the shows and movies; being simultaneously strongly character- and plot-driven. An especially fine example can be found in this superior epic, seamlessly blending spectacular drama, subtle character interplay and good old fashioned thrills, with the added bonus of madcap whimsy thanks to the impassioned fan-pandering efforts of scripter Peter David.

This swashbuckling space-opera (originally printed in DC’s Star Trek #49-55 and boldly spanning April-October 1988) was a devotee’s dream, pulling together many old plotlines – in a manner easily accessible to newcomers – to present a fantastic whodunit liberally sprinkled with in-jokes and TV references for über-fans to wallow in.

Illustrated by Tom Sutton & Ricardo Villagran, it began in ‘Aspiring to be Angels’ as, following the aftermath of a drunken shipboard stag-night riot (caused by three very senior officers separately spiking the punch), the Enterprise crew discovers a rogue Federation ship with impenetrable new cloaking technology is destroying remote colonies in a blatant attempt to provoke all-out war with the Klingons.

At one decimated site they find a stunted, albino Klingon child who holds the secrets of the marauders, but his traumatised mind will need special care to coax them out…

Naturally the suspicious, bellicose Klingons want first dibs on the Federation “rebels” and political tensions mount as Kirk and his opposite number Kron not-so-diplomatically spar over procedure in a ‘Marriage of Inconvenience’.

Emotions are already fraught aboard the Enterprise. Preparations for a big wedding are suffering last-minute problems and a promising ensign is being cashiered for the High Crime of Species Bigotry…

Moreover, unknown to all a telepathic crew-member has contracted Le Guin’s Disease (that’s one of those in-jokes I mentioned earlier), endangering the entire ship…

The crisis comes with Federation and Klingon Empire on the verge of open hostilities. Thankfully the renegade ship moves too precipitately and is defeated in pitched battle. However, when Security teams board the maverick ship what they recover only increases the mystery of its true motives and origins…

Taking advantage of a rare peaceful moment, ensigns Kono and Nancy Bryce finally wed, only to get drawn into a ‘Haunted Honeymoon’ as the Enterprise is suddenly beset by uncanny supernatural events, culminating in the crew being despatched to a biblical torture-realm resembling ‘Hell in a Handbasket’

When the effects of the telepathic plague are finally spent, normality returns for the crew, just in time for them to discover Kirk has been stabbed…

Gordon Purcell steps in for ‘You’re Dead, Jim’, with Dr. McCoy swinging into action to preserve the fast-fading life of his friend. Lost in delirium, Captain Kirk is reliving his eventful life and is ready to just let go when Spock intervenes…

With the Captain slowly recovering and categorically identifying his attacker, justice moves swiftly. The assailant is arrested and the affair seems open and shut, but ‘Old Loyalties’ delivers a shocking twist and sets up a fractious reunion as Kirk’s Starfleet Academy nemesis Sean Finnegan (who first appeared in the classic TV episode Shore Leave – written by the legendary Theodore Sturgeon) arrives.

The senior officer has been sent by the Federation Security Legion to investigate the case and what he finds in ‘Finnegan’s Wake’ (with Sutton & Villagran reuniting for the epic conclusion) is an astounding revelation which upsets everyone’s firmly held convictions, unearthing a sinister vengeance scheme decades in the making…

Masterfully weaving a wide web of elements into a fabulous yarn of great and small moments, Peter David has crafted a compelling yarn which ranks amongst the greatest Star Trek stories in any medium: one which will please fans of the franchise and any readers who just love quality comics.
® and © 2013 CBS Studios, Inc. © 2013 Paramount Pictures Corp. Star Trek and related marks and logos are trademarks of CBS Studios, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Clifton Volume 5: Jade


By Rodrigue & de Groot, translated by Luke Spear (Cinebook)
ISBN: 978-1-905460-52-6

An infallible agent of Her Majesty’s assorted security forces, Clifton was created by Raymond Macherot (Chaminou, Les croquillards, Chlorophylle, Sibylline) for the weekly Tintin. Our doughty exemplar of Albion debuted in December 1959, just as a filmic 007 was preparing to set the world ablaze and get everyone hooked on spycraft…

After three albums worth of strip material – all compiled and released in 1959-1960 – Macherot left Tintin for arch-rival Spirou and his bombastic buffoon was benched.

Tintin revived him at the height of the Swinging London scene and aforementioned spy-boom, courtesy of Jo-El Azaza & Greg (Michel Régnier). Those strips were subsequently collected as Les lutins diaboliques in French and De duivelse dwergen for Dutch-speakers in 1969.

Then it was back into retirement until 1971 when – Greg – with artist Joseph Loeckx – took another shot. He toiled on the True Brit until 1973 when Bob De Groot & illustrator Philippe “Turk” Liegeois fully regenerated the be-whiskered wonder. They produced ten more tales after which, from 1984 on, artist Bernard Dumont (AKA Bédu) limned de Groot’s scripts before eventually assuming the writing chores as well. The series concluded in 1995.

…But Never Say Never Again…

In keeping with its rather haphazard Modus Operandi and indomitably undying nature, the Clifton experience resumed yet again in 2003, crafted now by De Groot & Michel Rodrigue for four further adventures. Although the humorous visual vein was still heavily mined in these tales, the emphasis was subtly shifted and the action/adventure components strongly emphasised…

Originally released in 2003, Jade was Rodrigue & De Groot’s first collaboration and signalled a fresh start with all the fans’ favourite bits augmented by a stunning new partner for the old war-horse…

Bob de Groot was born in Brussels in 1941, to French and Dutch parents. As a young man he became art assistant to Maurice Tillieux on Félix, before creating his own short works for Pilote. A rising star in the 1960s, he drew 4 × 8 = 32 L’Agent Caméléon where he met Philippe “Turk” Liegeois, and consequently began making a slow transition from artist to writer. Together they created Archimède, Robin Dubois and Léonard before eventually inheriting Raymond Macherot’s moribund Clifton.

In 1989 de Groot – with Jacques Landrain – devised Digitaline, a strong contender for the first comic created entirely on a computer, and co-created Doggyguard with Michel Rodrigue, even whilst prolifically working with the legendary Morris on both Lucky Luke and its canine comedy spin-off Rantanplan.

He’s still going strong with strips such as Leonard in Eppo, Père Noël & Fils and Le Bar des acariens (both published by Glénat) and much more.

Michel Rodrigue really, really likes Rugby. He was born in Lyon in 1961 and eventually pursued higher education at the National School of Fine Arts, where he also studied medieval archaeology.

From 1983-85 he was part of the French Rugby team and in 1987 designed France’s mascot for the World Cup. He made his comics debut in 1984 with sports (guess which one) strip Mézydugnac in Midi Olympique. After illustrating an adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac in 1986 he and collaborator Jean-Claude Vruble produced a volume of La Révolution Française, scripted by Patrick Cothias.

Rodrigue then joined Roger Brunel on Rugby en B.D., Du Monde dans la Coupe!, Concept, Le Rugby en Coupe and La Foot par la Bande.

For Tintin he drew Bom’s Les Conspirateurs and produced Rugbyman, the official monthly of the French Rugby Federation, amongst a welter of other strips. Along the way he began scripting too, and after working with de Groot on Doggyguard joined him on the revived Clifton.

He also remains astonishingly creatively occupied, working on Ly-Noock with André Chéret, Brèves de Rugby, La Grande Trambouille des Fées for René Hausmann, Futurama comics, Cubitus with Pierre Aucaigne, and many more…

Pompous, irascible Colonel Sir Harold Wilberforce Clifton is ex-RAF, a former officer with the Metropolitan Police Constabulary and recently retired from MI5. He has a great deal of difficulty dealing with being put out to pasture in rural Puddington and takes every opportunity to get back in the saddle, assisting the Government or needy individuals as an amateur sleuth whenever the opportunity arises. He occupies his idle hours with as many good deeds as befit a man of his standing and service…

In his revived incarnation the balance between satirical comedy, blistering adventure and sinister intrigue is carefully judged and this re-introductory tale begins with the old soldier and his contentiously fiery, multi-talented housekeeper Mrs. Partridge preparing for a camping trip.

Clifton is taking the local scout troop to Wales, but a few last-minute minor catastrophes are testing his patience and turning the air blue with extremely imaginative invective. The unflappable Mrs. P is able to offset them all – thanks to a family connection in the army surplus business – and soon the Colonel is ready to set off.

Plans change at the very last minute when a shadowy figure leaves a letter. That enigmatic messenger is painfully unaware that it is being carefully observed by another…

The message is in code, but once again la Partridge is up to the task, and Clifton adapts his plans. When the scouts board the lorry the colonel has secured, they learn that they are now heading for Devon…

Arriving at scenic Snooze-on-Pillow, Clifton gets the lads to set up camp but is soon accosted by an unctuous stranger who takes him to meet an old enemy fallen upon ignominious times…

Otto von Kartoffeln was one of Hitler’s greatest assets in the war, but now he is a feeble wreck in an old folks’ home bullied by a monster of a nurse. He doesn’t just want to talk over old times, however. The shrunken old remnant wants to share the secret location of a submarine full of Nazi treasure.

Over tea, served by a rather attractive young lady, the old soldiers’ minds go back to their earliest encounters. The tale unfolds of a U-Boat once commanded by Kartoffeln which sank off Scotland at the end of the war. He would happily have left it there forever, if not for the fact that a gang of neo-Nazis are trying to recover it and start up the Fuhrer’s madness all over again…

The old men have no conception that their teapot is bugged and avid young ears are listening with shock and awe and something else…

All too soon the restless old warrior is hurtling north: dodging bombs and ducking bullets beside an unlikely new partner. Determined on scotching a sinister plot, scuppering a vast submarine base and stopping the rise of the Fourth Reich, Clifton is aware that – as always – there are plots within plots, and amidst the frenetic death-defying action he has to keep one eye on his deadly foes and another on the people claiming to be his allies…

Still, with nothing to lose and civilisation to save, Clifton naturally does his utmost…

Funny, fast and furiously action-packed, Jade gives our Old Soldier a subtle overhaul and fresh start in a cunningly-conceived adventure romp in the grandly daft Get Smart! and Austin Powers manner; sufficient to astound and delight blockbuster addicts whilst supplying a solid line in goofy gags for laughter-addicts of every age to enjoy.
Original edition © Les Editions du Lombard (Dargaud-Lombard SA) 2003 by Rodrigue & De Groot. English translation © 2008 Cinebook Ltd.

Yakari and the Coyote


By Derib & Job, coloured by Dominque, translated by Jerome Saincantin (Cinebook)
ISBN: 978-1-84918-101-3

Children’s magazine Le Crapaud à lunettes was founded in 1964 by Swiss journalist André Jobin who then wrote for it under the pseudonym Job. Three years later he hired fellow French-Swiss artist Claude de Ribaupierre who chose the working name “Derib”. The illustrator had begun his own career as an assistant at Studio Peyo (home of Les Schtroumpfs), working on Smurfs strips for venerable weekly Spirou. Together they created the splendid Adventures of the Owl Pythagore before striking pure comics gold a few of years later with their next collaboration.

Launched in 1969, Yakari detailed the life of a young Oglala Lakota boy on the Great Plains; sometime after the introduction of horses by the Conquistadores and before the coming of the modern White Man. This year the 39th album was released: a testament to the strip’s evergreen vitality and the quality of its creators.

Overflowing with gentle whimsy, Yakari enjoys a largely bucolic existence; at one with nature and generally free from strife. For the sake of our delectation, however, the ever-changing seasons are punctuated with the odd crisis, generally resolved without fuss, fame or fanfare by a little lad who is smart, compassionate, brave… and can converse with all animals…

Derib – equally at home with enticing, comically dynamic “Marcinelle” cartoon style yarns and devastatingly compelling meta-realistic action illustrated action epics – went on to become one of the Continent’s most prolific and revered creators. It’s a crime that such groundbreaking strips as Celui-qui-est-né-deux-fois, Jo (the first comic on AIDS ever published), Pour toi, Sandra and La Grande Saga Indienne) haven’t been translated into English yet, but we still patiently wait in hope and anticipation…

Many of Derib’s stunning works over the decades feature his beloved Western themes, magnificent geographical backdrops and epic landscapes and Yakari is considered by fans and critics to be the feature which first led him to deserved mega-stardom. Originally released in 1986, Yakari et le coyote was the twelfth European album (and Cinebook’s ninth translated tome), but – as always – is both stunningly simple and effectively timeless; offering certain enjoyment from a minimum of foreknowledge…

One bright sunny day, the boy brave is playing by the river, when his trusty chums the beavers bring him a present. They have found a dilapidated birch-bark canoe and hope Yakari can repair it so they can have some real fun…

Next morning finds the lad and his human friends Rainbow and Buffalo Seed hard at work. Before long the vessel is seaworthy again and the trio are ready for their maiden voyage. As befits a proper hunter, Buffalo Seed insists on bringing his bow and arrows with him…

The current soon catches them and the kids get a huge thrill shooting roaring rapids with no more than a few bumps and a thorough soaking. They continue on in exhilarated contentment, but no one notices that the bellicose little hunter’s moccasins have vanished…

Feeling hungry, they paddle ashore far downstream and begin gathering food, where Rainbow’s search ends in a happy surprise as her foraging uncovers three coyote cubs playing tug-of-war with Buffalo Seed’s shoes. She then endures a far scarier shock when she runs into the cubs’ snarling mother…

Fleeing in terror Rainbow calls for Yakari to explain, but the pups’ magnificent father has already interceded and calmed down his over-protective mate. Admitting to swiping the footwear, the crafty one then invites the children back to meet the family and his great friend and fellow trickster crow…

After a wonderful afternoon of play the children head back to the canoe and Coyote goes hunting, but the humans now have a new problem: Buffalo Seed is missing…

In the morning Rainbow and Yakari are awoken by Coyote, who has news. Their cocky companion tried to hunt a cougar and now the bad-tempered, unreasonable, hungry beast has the human boy trapped in a cave. The foolish hunter had made the great mistake of getting too close to the big cat’s cubs…

Normally, Coyote would handle things, but cougars are their greatest rivals, and this situation needs careful handling…

Leaving Rainbow to watch mother coyote teaching her babies useful survival tricks, Yakari, Crow and Coyote – only stopping infrequently to play a few harmless jests on other animals – pick their way up a rocky cliff face where an extremely irate cat patiently waits for his elected prey to come out of the hole he’s barricaded himself in…

Back at the Sioux encampment, Yakari’s faithful steed Little Thunder had grown concerned. With the children gone for days, the pony broke out of the corral and started tracking them down. Now in the woods below far below, the wonder steed finds Rainbow and the coyote family. However Yakari and the wily papa are elsewhere, facing a rather dangerous impasse…

The irate cougar will not be reasoned with and is determined to kill Buffalo Seed. Thus, unable to overpower the brute, the new companions have devised a risky plan that should draw him away from the cave entrance long enough for the boy to get out. Sadly, even with Coyote and crow distracting the already-angry cat, the real problem will be getting away from the fast-moving hunter, once he notices he’s been fooled…

And then Yakari hears the drumming of hoofbeats…

Superbly suspenseful, joyously inventive and offering a hilarious twist to counter the tension, this is another visually stunning, seductively smart and happily heart-warming saga to delight young and old alike.

Yakari is one of the most unfailingly entertaining all-ages strip every conceived and deserves to be in every home, right beside Tintin and Asterix.
Original edition © Le Lombard (Dargaud- Lombard S. A.) 2000 Derib + Job. English translation 2011 © Cinebook Ltd.

GI Zombie volume 1: A Star Spangled War Story


By Justin Grey, Jimmy Palmiotti, Scott Hampton & various (DC Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-4012-5487-2

When DC controversially rebooted their entire continuity with the New 52 in 2011, most reader and critical attention was focussed on big-name costumed stars, but the move also allowed creators to revisit older genre titles from those eras when superheroes were not the only fruit.

A number of venerable war titles and stars were revisited and re-imagined – even the iconic and presumed sacrosanct Sgt. Rock – and some novel ideas and treatments were realised… although largely ignored by the audiences they were intended for.

One of the most appealing and well-realised appeared in a revitalised Star Spangled War Stories, outrageously blending the global war on terror, current socio-political disaffection and Earth’s ongoing fascination with the walking dead to produce a spectacular, tongue-in-cheek blockbuster romp tailor-made for TV or movies.

Perhaps that was the point all along…

Written by Justin Grey & Jimmy Palmiotti with art from Scott Hampton, the serialised saga from SSWS volume 2 #1-8 (spanning September 2014-May 2015) has been collected in one riotous read, augmented by a smart little epilogue that graced Star Spangled War Stories: Future’s End #1.

The premise is deliciously simple and sublimely subversive. Soldier Jared Kabe has been the Republic’s most secret weapon for decades: an unkillable agent infallibly serving the nation in secret through most of its wars and so many of its unpublicised black-ops counter-strikes against America’s implacable enemies.

And just so we’re on the same page here, he’s unkillable because he’s already dead…

When not battling on numerous officially sanctioned war fronts, this perfect operative has tackled pervasive social ills such as drug cartels and human traffickers, and it’s just this kind of simple mission which leads to an unlife-changing moment as his commanding officer – Codename: Gravedigger – pairs him with maverick – but still breathing – agent Carmen King.

They were only supposed to infiltrate a biker gang militia, but the case takes on a life of its own when the smelly redneck nut-jobs buy medium-range missiles and a deadly bio-agent to use on Washington DC.

After an astounding amount of cathartic bloodshed, Carmen is soon deep undercover, playing house with a slick madman running a clandestine organisation of would-be world conquerors whilst Jared strives to prevent the strike on the government. He succeeds by bringing the missile down in unlucky Sutterville, Tennessee, only to discover to his horror that he has a personal connection to the payload and must face a horrific ‘Small Town Welcome’

As Jared and Special Forces struggle to contain a spreading contagion, Carmen is deep underground in a sybaritic paradise housing an enclave of wealthy fanatics in Utah, all eager to remake the world to their specifications. Even whilst playing along with the head loon she has one eye on the citadel’s labs and armoury and the other on her ‘Exit Strategy’

Southern crisis largely contained, Kabe rushes to rendezvous with King and selects a uniquely undead methodology to enter the subterranean fortress; one that offers ‘Door-to-Door Delivery’, but the head paranoid panics and chooses to abandon his base and acolytes in the ‘The Living Desert’. Taking Carmen and a few select, trusted individuals, he flees to San Francisco after first employing his private nuclear option…

‘Two the Hard Way’ sees Jared survive the detonation and another bio-bomb outbreak before heading for the coast where Carmen’s cover has been blown and she is attempting to blast her way out.

With the disclosure of Kabe’s past connections to the madmen in charge, ‘The Final Countdown’ begins with the GI Zombie, Carmen and a dedicated cadre of special agents invading a locked-down fortress determined to prevent the “City by the Bay” becoming another glowing toxic crater…

The main event magnificently completed, there’s a little extra treat for readers: ‘United States of the Dead’ appeared in Star Spangled War Stories: Future’s End #1, set “five years from now” and reveals how a zombie bio-agent has been used to infect Gotham City and how Kabe and Co. must stop the rot to save the world…

With cover and variants by Dave Johnson, Howard Porter and the late, great and already much-missed Darwyn Cooke, this is a fabulous high-velocity action adventure: fast paced, devastatingly action packed and simply dripping with sharp and mordant black comedy moments. This is the kind of graphic extravaganza you use to convert folks who hate comics…
© 2014, 2015 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.