Thursday, 30 May 2013

New Beginnings - The Wake #1

Scott Snyder is a writer that I'm really enjoy reading the work of, so upon the news that I would be reviewing his new title The Wake, I was obviously excited.

Snyder has produced one of my favourite runs on Batman, but being on the mainstream DC label has sometimes meant that it has had certain constraints in terms of tone. The Wake however is being launched on Vertigo, another tick in a box for me as the label often comes up with some gems aimed at a more mature audience.

The story is broken into four main sections starting with a glimpse into the future with a teaser called The Quest. In a ruined, drowned city, we meet a lone scout and her friendly dolphin.

It’s a freak tidal wave that sends the story crashing back 200 years to The Call where we meet Dr Archer, a prominent scientist who has fallen out with certain government agencies in the past. Her expertise is desperately needed - and not easily gained - but her scientific curiosity draws her in with a recording of an underwater sound that is as familiar to her as it is alien.

This leads us to Base Camp, where a number of other significant heads from their respective fields are gathered. It’s only when they reach their prototype and illegal base facility that the real interest begins. All of them have been given different reasons to be there, all told different stories and what they needed to hear.

However, like blind men describing an elephant nothing matches even closely, but all are required to analyse the same thing. On entering the structure something has clearly gone horribly wrong and a man is in desperate need of medical attention. All the while the same noise that Archer was drawn to can be heard, leading her to the focus of all their attentions on the source. An imprisoned and monstrous aquatic individual.

To add further mystery, the final phase of the issue is The Storyteller, set 100,000 years ago. It shows a Neolithic man painting caves, who uses an alien device and which costs him his eyes. For what reason we don’t know yet but it will all slowly unfold.

Sean Murphy is the artist for this issue (known for his own recent title Punk Rock Jesus) and his pencils worked really well. When I first saw the issue it immediately reminded me of Kristian Donaldson’s work from on The Massive, or Chris Mooneyham’s work from Five Ghosts, and it fits with the story to a great degree. It isn’t overly defined but still gives a lot of detail. The facial expressions and body language on all of the characters are very emotive, with many of the frames not requiring scripting to convey personality or an idea. A slightly novel depiction in the work, is that sound effects are added to the frames. Not quite a camp as the Sixties' Batman but still making a presence and adding to the comic in a way not often seen in modern comics.

Normally I’m not one to enjoy a comic that doesn’t really tell you much in its inception, and to be honest this issue hasn’t really gone to great lengths to define where this series is going. However, there's just the right amount of information there in the groundwork to set the scene, whilst leaving you with open questions needing answers.

I really enjoyed this as a first issue. Personally it shouldn't be a case of if you should get this comic, but more when. The answer is now!

Matt Puddy is pleased this first issue made such a splash!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The Watcher - BFI IMAX London: The Dark Knight trilogy all nighter!

I was recently lucky enough to take the fmaily to the BFI IMAX at Waterloo to (finally) see Star Trek Into Darkness. Don't worry though, this is not a belated review of JJ Abram's second foray into the final frontier.

Instead, this is simply a short notice to tell you all about an awesome upcoming event the BFI IMAX is hosting that some of you may want to travel to the capital for!

At a minute to midnight on Saturday 8th June, you can watch all three of Chris Nolan's Batman films back-to-back through the night and into Sunday morning.

The event's approximate running order is as follows:

The Dark Knight Trilogy 
23:59 - Batman Begins: IMAX 15/70mm
02:19- Intermission
02:50- The Dark Knight: IMAX 15/70mm
05:22- Intermission
05:50- The Dark Knight Rises: IMAX 15/70mm
08:30- Finish

The BFI IMAX is now administered by Odeon. You can order tickets online here.

Ben Fardon enjoyed his trip to London, but was glad to get home to the cat.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Big Game Hunting Live - Galaxy Trucker

This year, Proud Lion took part in the first ever International TableTop Day. It was an awesome day, and a lot of fun was had. So much so in fact, that we've decided to start a monthly gaming event: Big Game Hunting Live! The first Saturday of each month, we are going to select a board or card game for all you lovely people to come and play.

One of the great things about TableTop Day is the opportunity to learn new games. With that in mind, we will be hosting two teaching sessions during the day. These sessions are for people who have never played the game before, or want to brush up on the rules. Teaching sessions will usually only play enough of the game to demonstrate how it is played, depending on time available.

In the afternoon, we will also be hosting a “pro” session. This will be a full game playthrough, and is open to people who know how to play, or have attended a teaching session earlier in the day. No sign-up is required, and participation will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

On Saturday 1st June, we will be showcasing Galaxy Trucker! This is a great game where you first build a spaceship, then try to fly it to your destination in one piece! Teaching sessions will be at 11am and 1pm. The pro session will be at 3pm. Hope to see you there!

All participants will receive a voucher that entitle them to 10% off Galaxy Trucker, or either of the two expansions. As Proud Lion is only a small store, we only hold a limited stock so you may have to backorder your copy if we sell out on the day.

Rae enjoyed her weekend in London, but misses the lovely weather.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

New Beginnings - The Green Team #1

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed the new DC title, The Movement brought to us by Gail Simone. In that issue the main characters and setting were very much centred around the idea of “the common man” or the normal 99% of the population. By contrast this week’s comic, The Green Team, is the complete and polar opposite in terms of wealth. The 1%.

As a side note it is worth mentioning that The Green Team was previously a DC comic back in the Seventies, but that was more about the Boy Millionaires being involved in adventures rather than being an actual part of them. The Teen Trillionaires will be more involved in this incarnation.

Now whereas The Movement was focussed on the situation and surrounding events, Art Baltazar has made this a more self-centred piece initially revolving around Prince Mohammed “Mo” Qahtanii. Trying to step out of his father’s shadow he is striking out on his own by visiting a Pop-up Expo. The main motivation for is the hope of meeting Commodore Murphy, one of the richest kids in the world and apparently getting richer by the minute too.

The differences between them as characters are huge. Mo is shy, reserved and introverted, whereas Commodore is bold, outgoing and almost brash. The common ground between them though is that neither of them flaunt their social positions.

As a result this issue is mainly about excessively wealthy kids befriending each other, and showcasing their developing personalities. It also looks to be a catalyst for Mo to grow personally as well because the main inference in this is that he has lead a very sheltered life under his father with his naivety becoming the main reason for the how the issue concludes.

What is also hinted at is that Commodore is looking to use his wealth to chase his own superhero dream, one that quickly becomes realised by the issue end. If anything though he is ironically more like a ruthless version of Lex Luthor with an unlimited budget.

This final thought - and the previous dynamic - is what I am guessing is going to become the main crux of the arc. Although money won’t be the saving factor, it will be the instigator. The solicitations for the third issue talk about Commodore hiring Deathstroke. Certainly judging by the cover, the kids look set to make fools of themselves in front of Slade Wilson, which seems set to be very entertaining!

Now there is plenty of movement in the story as it can literally go anywhere but first of all they have to escape The Riot Act.

For the issue Baltazar has teamed up with Ig Guara for the artwork. I’m in a middle ground with it as I don’t find it low quality but also it’s not amazing. There is a cartoon-esque quality that I used to see a lot in the Amazing Spider-Man but also some really fine pencil work too. I'd say it's good but not great.

One aspect I did like about it though which I feel may have been more of Mayer’s (inker) and Quintana’s (colourist) influence is how the characters pop from each frame. Time has been taken to ensure that the colours for them are crisp and sharp whereas the background is toned in a similar but slightly muted way.

As a first issue of a reinvented team, it has certainly introduced them in true New 52 fashion; but there is only so much that can be done in one issue. For me it will be up to the following comics to flesh this out more into a beefier title, though it certainly arrived with more meat on its bones than The Movement. 

Matt Puddy wonders how long it is until the inevitable crossover.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Proud Lion Digital (powered by Comixology) is live!

You can now support Proud Lion, Gloucestershire's premier comic shop, when you buy digital comics! Just click on the image above to be taken to our affiliated Digital Store, powered by Comixology.

(Please note that Comixology use Flash to construct these affiliate sites, and as such they do not work on iOS devices at this time. Similarly, making in-app purchases on the Comixology app does not support Proud Lion.)

Thursday, 16 May 2013

New Beginnings - Doomsday.1 #1

Right then readers, first thing I have to do this week is make a confession. When I saw the list of upcoming reviews included Doomsday.1 my mind initially wandered to some new spin off from DC, following a Superman villain. Luckily watching over me was the editor who left a link for me to follow to see how wrong I really was.

Doomsday.1 is a new IDW title brought to us by John Byrne - a revival of a comic called Doomsday + 1 that he did in the Seventies with writer Joe Gill. This time Byrne serves as both writer and artist. Now personally I can be a little wary of when the writer/penciller boundary is broached. Byrne's writing was also unfamiliar to me, so I did a little research before reading and I’m glad I did. John Byrne has a phenomenal back catalogue of work across a large range of brands; for instance this is the man that drew the well known Dark Phoenix arc in X-Men. His career has stemmed from artwork and moved to writing so with this settling my mind I opened the pages.

Doomsday.1 is an apt title as this is a story about the end of the world. From the lofty heights of a space station scientists have discovered and recorded a solar flare of enormous proportions, almost four times the size of the Earth. The bad news keeps coming. The flare is not dissipating and will strike Earth giving rise to a catastrophic event.

In the wake of the news breaking worldwide - after the American president takes extraordinary steps by announcing it to the nation instead of hiding the fact - the issue mainly follows how various groups around the world react, including our astronauts on the space station. While Earth is anticipating the worst, the astronauts are preparing to return.

One of my favourite parts of this story is that it feels honest. The reactions, the decisions and the actions people take don’t feel out of proportion. It may have a slightly incendiary couple of pages involving the Pope - and I’m sure someone somewhere will latch onto those frames - but aside from that it has a realistic feel to it, with a subtle hint of underlying panic. Very interesting stuff and provokes some even more interesting thoughts.

The issue ends - after a moment of self sacrifice - with the space voyagers having a rough landing and setting foot on what remains of the Earth. With only odd fires scattered here and there and no real signs of life, what do you do and where do you go?

Byrne’s artwork is a frustration to me. The very first page features the space station in orbit and is a really good image with plenty of detail, but it's not a traditionally clean image. Byrne is known for being strongly against the use of simple straight lines. After that though the artwork felt a little dated and very similar to a lot of his work from the Eighties. Another slight sticking point is the sheer volume of information, both graphically and literally, that Byrne tries to convey. You can see he has really put a large amount into this and wants to get a lot of emphasis and information across but sometimes (for example the President) this floods the frames leaving them feeling cramped. With such a strong story it would have been interesting to see how this may have worked as a collaboration with another artist instead.

On the whole the presentation and depiction of this story is good and I enjoyed it from an intellectual point of view as it made me engage with the subject matter. The second issue promises even more, as this first issue was about establishing an understanding of the situation on such a massive scale. I think this could be a sleeper hit as a result but future issues will tell all.

Matt Puddy would greatly appreciate your support for Hockey For Heroes.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Funny Pages - Chew

I’m a fan of fun.

Unashamedly, unreservedly. I don’t shy away from humorous books or comics and dismiss it as “kid’s stuff”, I seek out a good chuckle-maker as a rare prize. Sure, darker comics often lead me joyously astray (to the streets of Gotham more often than not), but I always return to fun with a warm handshake and a novelty hand buzzer. After all, it’s relatively easy to play on the fears and personal dramas of a world full of such things (according to the press anyway), but it’s a much harder, more worthy job to seek out the good in life - the things that make you smile or laugh - and try to replicate and supplement them.

In this vein, I find myself starting a new series of articles to celebrate those happy few comics that truly are “comic”. I’ve chosen a short-list of only the best: comic books that have made me personally laugh, out loud, with my actual mouth. It’s a very exclusive club, as anyone who has typed “LOL” whilst wearing a stoic expression would attest. And to allay fears that “funny” doesn’t have to mean “kiddy”, let’s start with the Image Comics series Chew.

Written by John Layman with art by Rob Guillory, Chew appeals directly to the weirder side of my sense of humour. It’s certainly one of the most unique stories I’ve ever come across! Chew deals with a world where a mysterious plague befell the USA only a handful of years before the present day, which the American government blamed on Bird Flu and promptly banned all chickens from the country. So with that fairly believable set-up, you’re already reading a comic book filled with chicken dinner speakeasies, gangsters smuggling poultry, and big businesses experimenting on frogs to get them to taste like chicken! But then it gets weird. The main protagonist, Tony Chu, is a cop who has a very specific superpower: whatever he eats, he gets a psychic impression of the history of that piece of food. He sees the cow being slaughtered for the burger. He watches the apple being sprayed with pesticide. So when the Food and Drug Administration (the most powerful Feds in the country due to the chicken situation) get wind of his powers, he has to start chowing down on dead bodies (and worse!) to solve cases.

It turns out that several characters throughout the story have food-based powers, and it’s delightful how creative these are. John Layman has done the seemingly impossible and thinks up brand new superpowers in a comic book industry awash with superheroes. He continually impresses with the sheer scale of weirdness he lays onto his fast-paced plot, never once allowing it to collapse under the weight of absurdity. Cyborgs, alien plant life, conspiracies, terrorists who look like mime artists, it all just blends together effortlessly to yank up the corners of your mouth and not let go.

Complementing this nicely is Rob Guillory’s gritty, detailed art, which works as the perfect accompaniment to Layman’s narrative. Guillory presents the world of Chew as a grimy, dirty cesspit full of disorder and food crumbs, lifted only by the wonderfully witty sight gags and Easter Eggs that litter each page. Mirroring the story nicely, the art reminds us that this is a grim world that’s stained around the edges, but it helps to laugh at it. A bit of advice though; don’t read these comics whilst eating, or you may lose your appetite. No punches are pulled, no meal left unsavoured! Not to go into too much detail, but a stand out moment for me is when Tony falls in love, and the scene manages to be emotionally touching, hilarious, and truly disgusting at the same time.

Laugh Out Loud Moment: When Tony’s hateful boss dreams of murdering Tony or allowing him to die, then reluctantly remembers how much paperwork that would cause. A close second (not counting the aforementioned love-at-first-sight scene) would be the introduction of Poyo, the uber-deadly, constantly angry, cock fighting Mexican rooster that impressively stacks up his body count whenever the story catches up with him. The famously murderous chickens from the Zelda videogames have nothing on the force of nature that is Poyo. It's little wonder that he once got his own solo one-shot issue!

Todd Marsh is hoping to continue his Digital Canvas articles as soon as the muse allows it.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

New Beginnings - The Movement #1

Very well known for her recent writing on Batgirl - and the firing and subsequent re-hiring too - Gail Simone is having a prolific year. Before she came to comic books she was the author behind a body of work which identified the sexist view on the portrayal of women in comics, usually as an object or motive for male-centred stories. She has now gone on to become a writer which I (rightly or wrongly) associate with female focussed stories which have a strong empowerment theme.

The Movement is set in Coral City in the heart of the DC Universe - more specifically they have staked their claim to the Tweens between 10th street and 20th street of the city. A band of dysfunctional young superheroes have taken it upon themselves to watch over the streets, be it from crooked police officers, general criminals, or (as I anticipate the story to unfold) more high profile case such as the murderer known as the Cornea Killer.

Although the team are unknown - with members in their roster such as Mouse or Burden - there have been promises of better known characters joining the stories at later dates too (or at least New 52 versions of such characters). But aside from that very little is known about all of them combined. The issue is very much a teaser and introduction. By the end of this issue there are still a couple of characters whose names you don't know, nor do you know the full extent of their powers. It's still very much an open book.

Power is also a very key theme to this story. It revolves around what happens when you have power, how you use it and the repercussions of whether that is right or wrong. This goes back to the very beginning, as the reader is witness to an abuse of power by two police officers who don’t expect to be seen, recorded and spread across the internet for their own crime.

This all culminates through the course of this issue, as the police are not only beaten and verbally driven out of the area, but the local community demonstrates their support of the new team and their local plans. The faceless masked masses expose that even the Police Chief is someone who can be pushed to the point of crossing the line.

This cannot end well though - the second issue is teased as being a city against them.

The artwork is by Freddie Williams from Green Arrow, and although it is easy and at times fun to follow, I found the bodies blown up and out of normal proportions in both overall shape and in some of the finer details. For example there is one page where Virtue is demonstrating her power, which felt ruined to me by an excessively large nose and overly flared nostrils.

As a first issue I’m mixed. On one hand you have a power struggle storyline influenced by the real life Occupy Movement (although I was more strongly reminded of a superpowered version of Project Mayhem in Fight Club), but on the other I also had an underwhelming feeling from this new team. The artwork certainly didn’t grab me either. However the calibre of Simone’s work and a strong fan base could really carry this through for a lot of people.

One to watch develop for sure.

Matt Puddy was sad to miss Free Comic Book Day.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Free Comic Book Day 2013 - many thanks!

Thank you to everyone who helped to make Free Comic Book Day 2013 at Proud Lion such a roaring success! 

We exceeded last year's phenomenal event in every way. More comics, a larger selection, a bigger turn out... AND we ran out of comics quicker than last year too!

The photo below shows just how huge the spread on offer was before we opened the doors. Apologies to anyone who missed out, we had loads and it still wasn't enough! 

The right side features all the kids comics we also had on offer at the start of the day. Thanks to every grown up who respected our request to limit their selections from from this section to two, so that more children could get chance to get free comics! We still ran out by midday! 

We had some fantastic cosplayers on the day and it was a genuine pleasure to give out free Iron Man 3 HeroClix to those in costume. There were Watchmen, Sith, Ewoks, Batman, Iron Man and an awesome female Han Solo! Congratulations to everyone, you looked wonderful! (Thanks to Todd Marsh for the photos.)

Many thanks to everyone who persevered through the busiest part of the day, when we had to limit the people upstairs to one out, one in. And my eternal gratitude to everyone who helped out, which includes anyone who made a purchase or gave a generous donation to charity.

We had cookies and cakes on offer on the day! In the end, our bakers helped us raise £40 for Winston's Wish!

Roll on next year. Saturday 3rd May - save the date!

Ben Fardon is loving the beautiful weather.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Which Comics Should I Get? Your Free Comic Book Day Cheat Sheet

It's Free Comic Book Day!

There's a vast array of comics on offer this year, but helpfully Glen Weldon at Monkey's See in the US has put together his guide to what's on offer.

You can find the original article here. Presented here is an abridged version, edited to highlight what Proud Lion has on offer.

Mary Ann Shilts takes one of the give away comic books from the display rack at the New Dimensions Comics store in Cranberry, Pa., Butler County, as part of Free Comic Book Day 2012. Free Comic Book Day 2013 is Saturday, May 4.

This year there are a whopping 52 different FCBD comics that stores may have in stock, most of which you can preview on the Free Comic Book Day site. On this same site, you can enter your zip code and find the closest participating shop.

Understand that not every shop will have every comic. There are 12 titles that most shops will likely carry (those designated "Gold Comics" on the FCBD site) and 40 others that some shops will order, and others will not (designated "Silver Comics").

That's a lot of books to choose from, and that's where the staff comes in: Tell them what you like — what movies, books, television shows you seek out, and they'll be able to find something that should line up with your tastes, whether or not it's an FCBD offering.

Herewith, however, is Monkey's See's annual FCBD Cheat Sheet. Below, we'll list several different kinds of prospective FCBD customers and match them with the Free Comic Book Day comics best suited to them. Find yourself, or a reasonable analogue thereof, on the list below, and hie your butt to the nearest FCBD-participating comic shop this Saturday.

Yes, let's begin with you, there, with the peanut butter on your sweater.

A. I've got kids. I want them to read good things.

Excellent! Some really nice all-ages comics on offer this year:

Mouse Guard/Rust Flip Book – Archaia's collection includes original short stories from Mouse Guard (a great book), an upcoming Jim Henson's Labyrinth graphic novel, and an adventure of Jet Jones the rocket-boy.

World of Archie – The continuing adventures of America's favorite sweater-vested, tic-tac-toe-headed ginger.

Finding Gossamyr – A special FCBD story that rounds out the world of the popular fantasy web series, in which a math prodigy is transported to a world where mathematics are magic.

OK? Yes, you there. In the mini-van.

B. I've got kids, too. But the backseat DVD player just conked out, and we're driving to Tampa. So.

So quality isn't the looming issue for you.


You want books you know they will read.

Yes. Quietly.

... What am I, Supernanny over here? Let's leave it at: books you know they'll read because they're already familiar with the characters. So we're talking licensed tie-ins of existing properties, then. Of which there are a kajillion. But you should —

Look, could you speed this up? Our youngest is getting that look on his face. We shouldn't have bought them the Pixie Stix back in Raleigh-Durham, I see that now.

Fine, fine. I was saying: You should know that licensed tie-ins have a spotty track record. But as long as you go into it knowing that there's no knowing how good they'll be –

Oh god, they're gnawing on each other's feet now. This is going downhill fast. Game over, man, game over—

Hold on, help is on the way!

Kaboom! Summer Blast – Grab-bag collection of such beloved properties as Adventure Time (which, let's just note, is a very, very good comic in its own right), Regular Show, Peanuts, Garfield, Ice Age, etc.

Sponge Bob Freestyle Funnies – Nickolodeon's wildly popular member of the phylum Porifera in square ... well, technically they're shorts, no?

Bongo Free For All Comics – Dependably great Simpsons/Futurama comics.

Sesame Street and Strawberry Shortcake – Together at last! I guess!

Star Wars/Captain Midnight/Airbender – Darth Vader and Boba Fett hangin' out, sipping blue Mandalorian space-Prosecco, getting mani-pedis, just having a girls' night out. Um, presumably. Also a story of Captain Midnight (yes, the radio guy), and a tale from Avatar: The Last Airbender Totally Not the Blue Cat People Whose Tails Are USB Ports Or Whatever.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: New Animated Adventures – A comic book based on an animated series which is an update of an animated series that was based on a comic book.

Sonic The Hedgehog – A comic based on a video game.

Grimm – A comic based on a television show which might be a little grim/dark/gory for little kids.

OK. You there, in the back?

C. I used to read superhero comics when I was a kid, but then I discovered (girls/boys) and haven't really spared them a thought since. I keep hearing there's some good stuff, there.

There's some great superhero books you need to check out. Fantastic Four, Hawkeye, Daredevil, Young Avengers, Wonder Woman, Invincible, Batgirl, Dial H for Hero. None of them are FCBD offers this year, I'm afraid. Here's the ones that are:

Infinity – A preview of Marvel's big summer superhero event.

Superman Special Edition – Includes a preview of an upcoming Superman comic, and a reprint of a December 2006 story which reintroduced the character of General Zod into DC continuity. A continuity that has since been disposed of. Not once, but twice. But hey, who's counting? (Me. I am counting. Me.)

DC Nation Super Sampler – Stories introducing two new animated series, Beware the Batman and the (welcome! Groovy!) return of Teen Titans, Go!

Hulk and the Agents of SMASH/Avengers Assemble – Two stories from comics based on two Marvel animated series.

Stan Lee's Chakra The Invincible – Set in Mumbai, this new series follows a young technological prodigy who develops a mech-suit capable of unlocking his mystical chakras. But not in the sexy way.

Valiant Masters - Reprints of stories from the 90s, the XXXXTREEEEME!!! era of Poochie-fied, hyperviolent comics storytelling. Your mileage may vary, but I find this stuff testosterrible.

Yes, you there, with the ear-trumpet.

D. I remember, back when I was a but a barefoot boy with cheek of tan, taking a shiny-new Indian-Head nickel over to Ol' Mr. Crumblefeather's Feed Store every Saturday morning, where I'd buy me a fizzy drink and some penny candy and Li'l Orphan Annie comic book.


Then, with the change I got back, I'd take myself over to the five and dime to buy my mother some ribbons and buttons and lotions, after which I'd head over to the motion picture show and –

Okay, gramps, we get it. You harbor fond, if frankly economically and numismatically questionable, memories of comics in the olden-timey days. So for you:

Buck Rogers – Reprints of old Buck Rogers comics from the pre-TV, pre-Twiki, pre-Erin-Gray-in-the-white-catsuit, era. You were warned.

Prince Valiant – Reprints of ye olde Arthuriane comicse.

E. I like science fiction. It never really occurred to me to try a comic, though.

Atomic Robo and Friends – This is your best bet on Free Comic Book Day. Ask for it if you don't see it. It's great. Fun and funny. Both at once.

2000AD Sampler – Several comics from Britain's long-running science-fiction anthology comic, including a new Judge Dredd tale. But if that doesn't fill you with enough Dredd....

Judge Dredd Classics — ... you can always pick up this sampler of old-school JD comics.

Valiant 2013 — Excerpts from Valiant's current line of science-fiction comics.

Aphrodite IX – In a post-apocalyptic world, there be dragons. If you need to know more than that before committing, this probably isn't for you.

Endangered Weapon B and the Tentacles of Doom – So is steampunk considered science fiction, nowadays? I can never keep up with you crazy kids and your rigid taxonomies. Anyway – dirigibles, a grizzly bear in a mech suit, the lost Library of Alexandia, squid-thingies-that-are-probably-aliens, more. As if more is needed.

The Steam Engines of Oz – Preview of an upcoming series set 100 years after Dorothy offs the Wicked Witch of the West. Also previews several titles in Arcana's new steampunk line of comics.

F. I Am A Disaffected Narrow-Chested Self-Styled Intellectual Given to Wearing Knit Hats Out-of-Season Who Disdains Superhero Comics As Puerile Fodder for Idiot Children And Who Finds Science Fiction And Other Genres Asinine Who Much Prefers To Read Mature, Richly Nuanced Literature About Narrow-Chested Self-Styled Intellectuals Given to Wearing Knit Hats Out-of-Season.

... You seem fun.

Who Are Also Maybe Starting a Band.

I see. Okay, gimme a minute. Because this isn't going to be easy. Historically, Free Comic Book Day has dutifully reflected the current status of the comics marketplace, which is to say: wholly dominated by superheroes, licensed tie-ins, and genre fare.

But this is a once-in-a-year opportunity to show the truly limitless breadth of comics storytelling, and FCBD offerings have never done a particularly good job of representing that. There are plenty of comics that fit your description, trust me. You'll just have buy them.

Let me get back to you on this one, okay? Yes, you there, with the clear-eyed gaze and friendly expression.

G. I'm just curious to see what's out there. I have no particular interest in superheroes, but other genres – Western, Thriller, Horror, Fantasy, whatever – are fair game. I like a good story.

Well, aren't you just exactly who comics shops hope to meet on Saturday.

The Walking Dead – You've seen the show and wished they'd stop wringing their hands and maybe kill a freaking zombie already. Now read the book.

Mass Effect/Killjoys/RIPD – If you go by the cover, this looks like just another adaptation of a video game, which would mean it belongs up with licensed tie-ins. But it also includes two other stories, Killjoys and RIPD, both of which – but especially RIPD, about a police force that enforces supernatural law – show a bit more promise.

Damsels – A Fables-ish take which examines the life of fairy tale characters (in this case, The Little Mermaid) outside the tales we know.

FUBAR – Sampler-pack of "American History Z" stories about the American Experience ... and zombies, including an incident at Valley Forge.

The Strangers – Here's how writer Chris Roberson describes this new series: "Swinging sixties supernatural super spies." Here's how I feel about that: "I'm in."

Yes, you there. Clutching that beat-up old issue of Maxim with a strange fervor.

H. I like boobs. And guns. And chicks with boobs and guns.

Got just what you're looking for:

Worlds of Aspen 2013 – Here's what we know: The preview on the FCBD site is just a series of pin-ups. It may be all we need to know.

... And that's everything. Good. Now go forth ...

F. Wait, What About ...

You again. Yeah, okay, listen, Mr. Mature, Nuanced Relationship Story Blah Blah Superheroes Are Dumb Blah, you're just gonna have to suck it up and buy something, I'm afraid. Maybe next year, the FCBD organizers will wise up and throw you a bone, but not this year.

Happily, most stores will stock lots and lots of great somethings in which adults very like you negotiate the world of jobs, relationships and mortality utterly without the aid of spandex, magic, or rayguns. Without knowing exactly what kind of stories you like, I can't reliably guide you to them – that's something to discuss with the staff on Saturday.

Okay? We good? Now, you and all the rest of you. Take yourself, and your kids, to the nearest comics shop on Saturday. Talk with the staff. Ask them questions. Answer theirs.

Discover something.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day!

Only one sleep to go, then it's Free Comic Book Day! Our line up of freebies can be found here along with some shiny extras we've added at the last minute!

Ahead of the big day, can I please just remind people that we're open 10am-5pm tomorrow. If you arrive early, please respect our neighbouring businesses by keeping the noise down and queuing sensibly. Make sure you leave access to their premises please!

The morning is often the busiest as folks get down looking to get the full range of comics before we start to run out of certain titles! This means we may have to instigate a "one in, one out" policy at the door until the rush dies down (some of you may remember we had to do this last year!), so please be prepared for that.

Right, that's the disclaimers and notices out of the way! Lets's have some fun! Free Comic Book Day is a wonderful event for us and I'm always delighted to host it, I look forward to seeing you all in store.

Here's some words from Wolverine:

Ben Fardon will be working late, laying out all the freebies on the table upstairs...

Thursday, 2 May 2013

New Beginnings - Ten Grand #1

“Where she’s going, you can’t come. And where you’re going you don’t want her to come.”

Such a simply ominous phrase that provides all of the motivation in Joe Straczynski’s new title Ten Grand.

This is the phrase that an angel used to take Joe Fitzgerald’s love and turn it into a well motivated weapon. Joe is an enforcer, but of a different sort.

Back in the 80’s if there was an issue you needed to sort, the local hoodlums causing you grief or a mob boss breathing down your neck, then you sought out Edward Woodward and used the services of The Equalizer.

If you have a problem that is almost unique in its nature, without necessarily being fixed within the normals of society, then you head to Lenny’s bar and find Joe, because he deals with things that aren’t necessarily normal.

This is the case in point for Debbie, she doesn’t give a surname because names have power - a recurring theme in this issue - and Joe doesn’t need to know or care about it either. The case seems simple on the surface too; a missing sister, a mysterious cult, and a number of clues and snippets of information to help Joe. It’s only when he sees a picture of the man responsible and the mention of demonic practises that things really start getting interesting - especially as Joe put a bullet in that man years before.

The story then explores Joe's backstory, whilst also following him during his investigation by doing things such as summoning Angels in strip clubs – which appears to be a sort of twisted half pleasure for Joe – and using the internet with the alphabet of angels to find answers, all nice little touches on a story that had a definite feel of DC’s Constantine behind it. The big difference there is that Joe died, and keeps dying for the Angels' cause as well, but as long as he dies righteously he earns five precious minutes with Laura the woman he loves and does it all for.

Straczynski has returned to his Joe’s Comics brand with a strong opening salvo. The brand itself is being used as a platform to try and bring new ideas to light. It is an interesting story and an enjoyable read as it didn’t feel dumbed down or too obvious, although as mentioned above the shadow of Constantine looms over you as you read it. Thankfully this it is not a story that is trying to mimic or outdo Hellblazer. It also has a limited lifespan to begin with, as all the new Joe's Comics' titles are planned to be between six or eight issues (maybe 12 at a stretch) before a small break and re-evaluation. This is a concept that I like - if it’s got more life in a story then it will get the time and attention it deserves rather than rolling it out quickly to make a fast buck. I’m already hoping that this is going to be on that repeat list.

Ben Templesmith is the artist for this title too and I don’t recognise his work immediately, despite his well known work on 30 Days Of Night and his own creator-owned titles. Normally I am a big fan of tight clean lines with lots of detail in the frame and shy away from artists who don’t work in this way. However I found myself reading both the story and the artwork in this issue. I’m not completely sold on his work as I found levels of variation in it with some pages. Possibly there is something psychological in it all as I found the darker pages, or ones highlighted in reds and oranges to be stronger art for me, while the calmer coloured ones didn’t evoke so much of a response. I have to say my favourite was the last page as it had a strange sinister angel depicted in one part and then macabre images in another.

As a brand new title with a different perspective on things I would suggest getting it to read. Fans of JMS certainly won’t be disappointed by the writing either.

Matt Puddy is ready to delve into Gail Simone's new offering.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Free Comic Book Day - extra freebies!

Not long now folks, Free Comic Book Day is almost here! In addition to all the list of lovely free comics we showcased the other day, we'll also have some extra freebies on the day!

Free Comic Book Day brings out some of the finest cosplayers in the area and with this year's event falling on Star Wars Day as well, I'm hoping to see our best turn out of costumes to date!

Anyone who comes to Proud Lion's Free Comic Book Day in costume will receive a free Iron Man 3 HeroClix miniature (seen right)!

We'll have free variant covers from Marvel, IDW, Dark Horse, Dynamite and more featuring Buffy, Angel, Red Sonja, Witchblade, Darkness, Danger Girl, Army Of Darkness, Godzilla, Cyberforce and both Marvel and Ultimate Marvel heroes!

We also have first prints of Deadpool #2 and A+X #1! All extra comics are courtesy of Diamond UK in conjunction with ourselves.

Finally, we'll have some fantastic homemade Star Wars chocolate sugar cookies on offer. We'll be asking for a donation to charity for these, collecting for local charity, Winston's Wish.

See you Saturday!

Ben Fardon loved Iron Man 3!