Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Shipping delays on Batman, Justice League Dark and Red Lanterns

Sorry folks, we've just had some bad news from Diamond UK concerning a few comics expected this week:

Due to a problem at the printers the following DC titles will not be shipping this week as originally scheduled:

MAR140212 - BATMAN #31 (ZERO YEAR)
MAR140237 - RED LANTERNS #31

These titles will be in deliveries next week.


Diamond Comic Distributors UK

Apologies for the inconvenience.

Ben Fardon wishes this happened less often.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Big Game Hunting - Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition NOW AVAILABLE TO PRE-ORDER

by Ben Fardon

After length speculation, Wizards Of The Coast have finally unveiled the details for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition.

We can now start taking pre-orders on the following items. Unlike the release of 4th Edition, this new edition is once again staggered across several months. All release dates are subject to change of course.

It all kicks off with the Starter Box in July. This is everything you need to get stuck in, and we'll be hoping to run a launch event at the store where you can join us on a short adventure. More details on that to follow.

In August, the Players Handbook arrives alongside the first pre-written adventure, the Tyranny Of Dragons: The Hoard Of The Dragon Queen. Interestingly, these new adventures were not designed in house by the Wizards of the Coast team. Instead they've been developed in conjunction with Kobold Press, designers Wolfgang Bauer (founder of Kobold Press and former designer/developer for WotC and TSR) and Steve Winter (former editor/designer at WotC and TSR, plus co-creator of the computer game Pool of Radiance), which ha certainly piqued the interest of the international gaming community.

The following months see the release of the Monster Manual, the Dungeon Masters Guide and the second Tyranny Of Dragons adventure which sees the dramatic return of Tiamat!



RRP £17.00
PRE-ORDER PRICE £15.00 (requires £5 deposit)
The Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set is your gateway to action-packed stories of the imagination. This box contains the essential rules of the game plus everything you need to play heroic characters on perilous ad- ventures in worlds of fantasy.
Ideal for 4 – 6 players, the Starter Set includes a 64-page adventure book, a 32-page rulebook for playing characters level 1 – 5, 5 pre-generated characters, each with a character sheet and supporting reference material, and 6 dice.


RRP £30.00
PRE-ORDER PRICE £27.00 (requires £7 deposit)
The Player’s Handbook is the essential reference for every Dungeons & Dragons roleplayer. It contains rules for character creation and advancement, backgrounds and skills, exploration and combat, equipment, spells, and much more. Use this book to create exciting characters from among the most iconic D&D races and classes.

RRP £20.00
PRE-ORDER PRICE £18.00 (requires £5 deposit)
In an audacious bid for power the Cult of the Dragon, along with the Red Wizards of Thay, seek to bring Tiamat from her prison in the Nine Hells to Faerun. To this end, they are sweeping from town to town, lay- ing waste to all those who oppose them and gathering a hoard of riches for their dread queen. The threat of annihilation has become so dire that groups as disparate as the Harpers and Zhentarim are banding together in the fight against the cult. Never before has the need for heroes been so desperate.


RRP £30.00
PRE-ORDER PRICE £27.00 (requires £7 deposit)
The Monster Manual presents a horde of classic Dungeons & Dragons creatures, including dragons, giants, mind flayers, and beholders—a monstrous feast for Dungeon Masters ready to challenge their players and populate their adventures.The monsters contained herein are culled from the D&D game’s illustrious history, with easy-to-use game statistics and thrilling stories to feed your imagination.


RRP £20.00
PRE-ORDER PRICE £18.00 (requires £5 deposit)
The Cult of the Dragon leads the charge in an unholy crusade to bring Tiamat back to the Realms, and the situation grows more perilous for heroes with each passing moment. The battle becomes increasingly politi- cal as opportunities to gather allies and gain advantage present themselves. From Waterdeep to the Sea of Moving Ice to Thay, it is a race against Evil. Succeed or succumb to the oppression of draconic tyranny. Win or lose, things will never be the same again.


RRP £30.00
PRE-ORDER PRICE £27.00 (requires £7 deposit)
The Dungeon Master’s Guide provides the inspiration and the guidance you need to spark your imagination and create worlds of adventure for your players to explore and enjoy. Inside you’ll find world-building tools, tips and tricks for creating memorable dungeons and adventures, optional game rules, hundreds of classic D&D magic items, and much more!

To pre-order, you can either pop in store or email me at shop@proudlion.co.uk. Deposits to secure your pre-orders can be paid in store by cash or card, or if pre-ordering via email I can send you a PayPal invoice. as I say, stay tuned for more details about our D&D 5th Edition launch event in the coming weeks.

Ben Fardon is ready for a few days off. No, not ready - desperate. Desperate for a few days off.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Proud Lion 2.0 - the big come back (issues)

by Ben Fardon

Another piece of the puzzle fell into place last week. The units for our new back issue section arrived, and were swiftly assembled. With the aid of our back issue guru, Rob Watkins, I transported the boxes of back issue comics to the new store from storage at the old premises, and reorganised them on a new island section in the middle of the store. There are slightly less boxes than we used to have in the old section upstairs at 40 Albion Street, but it's a necessary compromise in the new premises. We have pretty much the same amount of space that we used to have on two floors now arranged on one floor, but that does mean we've lost some wall-space (and quite a bit of storage space!), hence the need to compromise. Sorry folks, that them's the breaks!

That's it for the update today, other than a quick reminder that we do not buy back issue collections at present, nor do we currently offer any valuation service. Should either of these positions change in the future, I'll be sure to let you know.

Ben Fardon is awaiting delivery of over 500 small window stickers.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Proud Lion 2.0 - the signs, they are a'changing

by Ben Fardon

Success! It's been a bit daft, trading from a premises with no shop sign out front. I've been frustratingly aware of this since we moved. There wasn't time to do it before Free Comic Book Day, so we muddled through. After a day's rest on the Sunday, we reconvened on the Bank Holiday Monday with the aid of my Dad and long-time friend of the store, Andy Smith, and began to put the sign up on the new building. Then it began to smegging rain! And hammer drills plugged into extension cables plugged into the mains, up a ladder, in the rain? That's a bad idea right there. You don't need to be a Health & Safety Executive to work that out!

Since then, the rain has been an intermittent but constant feature of the British weather (I know, quell surprise right?), until this week. So, we assembled once more, this time with the generous aid of Joe Stacey and my father. Long story short, we got it done. With thanks in part to the groundwork laid with Andy's help a few week's previously. I'm grateful to both of them for their help, plus a big cheer to Charlie from Judder for helping Rae to rescue the sign from the old place.

There were a couple of other pieces of progress this week, but I'll save those for further updates over the next few days. I hope you all had a great weekend, and I urge all DC Comics fans to check out the blog post I put up the other day about placing orders NOW for Future's End month in September.

Ben Fardon loved Godzilla!

Saturday, 17 May 2014


by Ben Fardon

Here we go again. The annual September event month from DC rears its ugly head again with The New 52 Future's End month.

Many of you will have read the New 52 Future's End #0 given away at Free Comic Book Day (if you missed out, you can read it for free at Proud Lion Digital).

This series has continued with a weekly comic that launched earlier this month. The story shows us a horrific future for DC's New 52 - one where a machine called Brother Eye is trying to assimilate all of humanity and only a few superheroes have been able to fight back. In a final desperate gambit, Batman is able to send his protege Terry McGinnis (the Batman Beyond in his New 52 debut) back in time to try to prevent the activation of Brother Eye. There's also storylines involving Grifter, Firestorm and a fairly fateful encounter for Green Arrow...

In September 2014 - for one month only - the entire New 52 line jumps forward five years to show us your favourite DC characters in this new future.

As before though, enough hype, here's the rub. There are 3D and 2D covers for each of these issues and DC have announced that the print run for these comics will be set at the point where we place our Previews order. In a nutshell this means that there will most likely be NO RESTOCKS for these comics. Once again, we have to get this right first time. We won't be able to guarantee any order adjustments after the Previews order is sent in.

Here's what we're going to do here at Proud Lion. All normal DC New 52 comics Reservations will be filled with the New 52 Future's End 3D cover of your chosen title(s) in September. If you're happy with that, you don't have to do anything.

If you'd like to downgrade to the 2D cover or amend any of your order for that month only (maybe you read Batgirl regularly, but have no interest in that Future's End issue of Batgirl?), please contact me by 5pm on Wednesday 21st May.

If you'd like to order anything extra, please let me know by 5pm on Wednesday 21st May. You can download a pdf order form here, which you can print off and bring into the store, or you can email me your order at shop@proudlion.co.uk. Those orders will be binding once placed; please honour your commitments.

We will be ordering very little for the shelves, so please don't rely on the shelf stock to fill your interest. If you want it, please order it! I'm afraid that's the only way we can do this.

Non-Reservation Service customers can also use this form to place orders, however those orders will be subject to a deposit of the full cover price I'm afraid. 

One final special offer though, anyone who wants all 41 of these comics can order the Proud Lion Future's End Month Bundle Deal. You'll get all 41 comics for £100 (saving you over £30 off the normal total price)! Please note that to secure your Bundle Deal order, you will need to pay a £25 deposit by Wednesday 21st May. We can invoice you via PayPal if that helps.


Here's a look at the solicitations, plus the cover images that have been revealed so far.

Writer: Sholly Fisch
Penciller: Pascal Alixe
Cover: Lee L Weeks
With the Man of Steel missing, ordinary people around the world start to mysteriously exhibit his strengths and abilities.

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Penciller: Alvaro Martinez
Inker: Raúl Fernández
Cover: Yvel Guichet
Mera has claimed the throne of Atlantis for herself – and she’s sentenced her unfaithful husband, Aquaman, to death!

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Penciller: Sean Chen
Inker: Mark Irwin
Cover: Yvel Guichet
The Dead King leads the Others in a final assault on Atlantis to end Mera's reign forever!

Writer: Gail Simone
Penciller: Javier Garron
Inker: Javier Garron
Cover: Clay Mann
It’s five years later, and Barbara Gordon has become Bête Noire – a.k.a. The Black Beast! Part Batman and part Bane, she leads a squad of female agents through the Gotham Underground!

Writer: Scott Snyder & Ray Fawkes
Penciller: Aco
Inker: Aco
Cover: Jay Fabok
It’s five years later and Bruce Wayne is using dangerous science to help him continue his war on crime. What is it, and what forced Bruce to resort to such extremes?

Writer: Ray Fawkes
Penciller: Dustin Nguyen
Inker: Dustin Nguyen
Cover: Pat Gleason & Mick Gray
Bruce continues to feel the fallout from his extreme new crime fighting methods – is he ready to face the might of Heretic?

Writer: Greg Pak
Penciller: Howard Porter
Cover: Aaron Kuder
A new super beings seeks out Batman: a creature born of hate who the broken Bat may not last long against!

Writer: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Penciller: Eduardo Pansica
Inker: Julio Ferreira
Cover: Dan Panosian
Luke Fox has rejected his father, which leads him to rebuilding a more deadly and dangerous Leviathan!

Writer: Marc Andreyko
Penciller: Jason Masters
Inker: Jason Masters
Cover: Rafael Albuquerque
Now a creature of the night, Batwoman turns against her former lover, Nocturna, in final, deadly conflict.

Writer: Christy Marx
Penciller: Robson Rocha
Inker: Oclair Albert
Cover: Dan Panosian
Free of Ra’s al Ghul’s control at last, Black Canary claims her rightful place as the head of the League of Assassins!

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Penciller: Moritat, Steve Lightle, Stephen Thompson, Mark Irwin, Ron Frenz, Brett Booth
Cover: Dan Jurgens, Norm Rapmund
Trapped out of time on a world that defies reason, Booster Gold struggles to escape the fate that has held him and so many forgotten heroes captive!

Writer: Sholly Fisch
Penciller: Patrick Olliffe
Inker: Tom Nguyen
Cover: Terry & Rachel Dodson
Catwoman’s battle to be kingpin of crime in Gotham City takes an unexpected turn when Selina and Black Mask are revealed to be one and the same!

Writer: Ray Fawkes
Penciller: Juan Ferreyra
Inker: Juan Ferreyra
Cover: Juan Ferreyra
After a desperate five-year quest, John Constantine has claimed the ultimate occult prize: the Helmet of Fate!

Writer: Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato
Penciller: Scott Hepburn
Inker: Scott Hepburn
Cover: Jay Fabok
Batman takes his war on crime to the next level, but he needs the help of his greatest ally - The Riddler?!

Writer: Daniel H. Wilson
Penciller: Eddy Barrows
Inker: Eber Ferreira
Cover: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Michael Holt has survived the war between the two worlds he's called home. Now, he's taking drastic measures to ensure that there will be no more war - regardless of the cost!

Writer: Robert Venditti/Van Jensen
Penciller: Brett Booth
Inker: Norm Rapmund
Cover: Booth/Rapmund
It’s the final showdown between The Flash and his future self for control of the Speed Force – with Wally West’s life hanging in the balance!

Writer: Tom King
Penciller: Stephen Mooney
Inker: Stephen Mooney
Cover: Andrew Robinson
Branded a traitor, Dick Grayson has become the most powerful hero in the newly resurgent and dominant Mother Russia - and now, he must battle the Beast from the East in one final struggle for supremacy!

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Penciller: Andrea Sorrentino
Inker: Andrea Sorrentino
Cover: Andrea Sorrentino
Green Arrow is dead - and his replacement finally stands revealed!

Writer: Robert Venditti
Penciller: Martin Coccolo
Inker: Martin Coccolo
Cover: Billy Tan
Across the universe, the dead are rising - the Black Lanterns are back! Only one being knows what it will take to destroy them this time.

Writer: Van Jensen
Penciller: Igor Lima
Inker: Ruy José
Cover: Francis Portela
John Stewart makes a fateful decision – will he choose to take his last shot at redemption? Or will he pull the trigger and kill any chance of a life worth living, in the name of saving the Corps?

Writer: Justin Jordan
Penciller: Dio Neves
Inker: Marc Deering
Cover: Dio Neves
The power of the White Lantern power has brought Kyle to the brink of death! Now, he must decide whether to release that power into the universe, or find another unsuspecting soul to take it on.

Writer: Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti
Penciller: Chad Hardin
Inker: Chad Hardin
Cover: Amanda Conner
Harley and The Joker make it legal at last! Follow the happy couple to their secret honeymoon spot, where it’s literally till death do they part!

Writer: Dan DiDio
Penciller: Philip Tan
Inker: Jason Paz
Cover: Howard Porter
Five years from now, the New Gods are missing, Infinity Man is trapped on Earth, and all is not as it seems in Mark Moonrider’s life. Is he living some beautiful dream, or is he stuck in a never-ending nightmare?

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Penciller: Jedd Dougherty
Inker: Jedd Dougherty
Cover: Mike McKone
The mystery of the Martian Manhunter is revealed at last as his decades-long plan for world domination comes to fruition! Continues in this month’s JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED: FUTURES END #1!

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Penciller: Jedd Dougherty
Inker: Jedd Dougherty
Cover: Mike McKone
In the concluding chapter of the epic story that began in this month’s JUSTICE LEAGUE: FUTURES END #1, the armies of Mars rise against the unsuspecting population of Earth – and only the combined might of the Justice League and the Legion of Super-Heroes can stand against them!

Writer: J.M. DeMatteis
Penciller: Andres Guinaldo
Inker: Walden Wong
Cover: Juan Ferreyra
An emotionally and physically scared Zatanna struggles to find a way to return her team and the House of Mystery itself to our own dimension – but the cost might doom them and our world!

Writer: Sean Ryan
Penciller: Andre Coelho
Inker: Scott Hanna
Cover: Jeremy Roberts
Amanda Waller’s covert war against the United States reaches the boiling point as the Suicide Squad takes the White House!

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciller: Scott Kolins
Inker: Scott Kolins
Cover: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Red Hood rides solo in the future as he reveals hints to how the Outlaws and his partners Starfire and Arsenal parted ways and how that lead to Jason Todd’s new mission of retribution and brutal justice.

Writer: Charles Soule
Penciller: Jim Califiore
Inker: Jim Califiore
Cover: Scott Hepburn
The ranks of the Red Lanterns have grown to monstrous numbers, and with no Blood Lake to restore their sanity, they’re terrorizing the universe. It’s up to Blue Lantern Guy Gardner to correct the deadly mistake he made!

Writer: Cullen Bunn
Penciller: Igor Lima
Inker: Ruy José
Cover: Kevin Nowlan
Sinestro has been imprisoned by a powerful new intergalactic force with ideals based on a twisted version of his own code! Lost in a super-max prison on the far side of the universe, he orchestrates an escape… and his revenge!

Writer: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Penciller: Scott Hampton
Inker: Scott Hampton
Cover: Dave Johnson
G.I. Zombie stands alone against a zombie army of thousands as the U.S. military’s experiment reaches its horrifying fruition!

Writer: Frank Barberie
Penciller: Tyler Kirkham
Cover: Jorge Jimenez
Kon has a final, fateful confrontation with his clones and finds help from some unlikely allies!

Writer: Tony Bedard
Penciller: Ema Lupacchino
Cover: Giuseppe Camuncoli
At last, Supergirl reconciles with her father, Cyborg Superman – in the most horrific way possible!

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Penciller: Lee L Weeks
Cover: Ken Lashley
There’s a new, much darker Superman prowling the streets of Metropolis! But who exactly is he?

Writer: Charles Soule
Penciller: Tom Raney
Inker: Tom Raney
Cover: Tom Raney
The battle between the God of War and Nemesis can only spell doom for humanity – but can Kal restore Diana to her senses before it’s too late?

Writer: Charles Soule
Penciller: Jesús Saíz
Inker: Jesús Saíz
Cover: Jesús Saíz
The Avatars of the Green, Red and Gray go to war with the avatars of Bacteria and Metal! It's five years later, and Alec Holland is trying to mediate a ceasefire that could also be his last stab at reconnecting with humanity!

Writer: Will Pfeifer
Penciller: Andy Smith
Cover: Karl Kerschl
With the Teen Titans dead, a new group of young heroes seek justice in the future DC Universe!

Writer: Ray Fawkes
Penciller: Francis Portela
Inker: Francis Portela
Cover: Guillem March
Pandora’s box has been reformed – but it can only be sealed from the inside! How can she make the ultimate sacrifice to safeguard the world against the deadly evils it holds?

Writer: Dan DiDio / J.M. DeMatteis
Penciller: Phil Winslade
Inker: Phil Winslade
Cover: Guillem March
With one coin of redemption left, the Phantom Stranger faces his final challenge - in front of the new Council of Eternity!

Writer: Charles Soule
Penciller: Rags Morales
Inker: Rags Morales
Cover: Tom Raney
Her humanity lost forever, Wonder Woman embraces her true nature as the God of War to battle the armies of Nemesis!

Writer: Paul Levitz
Penciller: Yildiray Cinar
Inker: Paul Neary
Cover: Stephen Segovia
Power Girl must break into Cadmus Island to free Huntress – but she ends up a prisoner herself!


Ben Fardon is getting to old for this s... tuff.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

New Beginnings - The Woods #1

by Matt Puddy

When I was handed the copy of The Woods and told that it looked good, the eager and excited look on the editor’s face should have been a small clue. How could I possibly shy away from such an emphatic appraisal before I had even read the issue?

Written by James Tynion IV, The Woods is a new title for Boom Studios in which a whole school – complete with the standard archetypes – is transported off planet. After building up each of the characters by showing their inner thoughts as well as general conversation, the scene is slowly set. It’s more about what to do, as opposed to what is really going on.

This fact in itself threw me a little, as such a monumental upheaval was dealt with in a relatively minimal way. Due to the story focussing on specific characters, you only get a small sense of the full situation. There are some bolder depictions - like the strange spider-bat creatures that attack or seeing a small girl get eaten in a classroom - but outside of that, it’s quite coldly dealt with. This is all due to the fact that the story clearly isn’t meant to be held within the school. The realisation that the young genius Adrian Roth comes to is that it might all be a test of some sort, theorising that a nearby artefact is a marker, pointing to a secret is held at the centre of the titular woods. A dare, if you will. This is the pivotal point of the issue as it changes the location and potentially sets up the remainder of the series.

A group is formed, including the pushy over-achiever who forces herself in, and preparations are made. It’s time to enter the woods. As they pass the strange triangular artefact, an automated test sequence begins, unseen by our protagonists.

What I really liked about this story is the science-fantasy feel to it all. There is a present-day realism bestowed upon to it all by taking an everyday school, and sticking it in a scenario straight out of Labyrinth or The Neverending Story. The concept of taking such a large cross-section of kids and placing them in mortal danger is also very reminiscent of Battle Royale or more recently The Hunger Games; it isn’t a new idea but it certainly gels with a popular style at the moment. By sectioning off a small group, it keeps it within this genre but also makes it unique at the same time.

So the big question is what will just over 500 people thrust into an alien wilderness do?

Michael Dialynas is the artist for the series. Now being completely honest he is a new artist to me and I have no frame of reference for his other works. But looking at this issue on its own has provided some interesting things. There is lots of creativity in the new creatures that attack the school (and plenty more to come I would assume). The characterisation of the individuals makes it clear as to what these people represent, meaning readers can identify easily and relate more to the story.

From a larger perspective the artwork is quite soft and easy on the eyes. That said, even without huge amounts of details, the faces are incredibly emotive meaning a lot is conveyed without needing extra dialogue.

As a first issue I have to admit that the initial hype that got passed on was well lived up to. It’s a really interesting new comic and aside from the casual ignoring of, “How the hell did we get here and where is here!?” it’s looking like a good story to follow. Tynion IV has played a good opening hand.

Let’s see how deep into the forest we go.

Matt Puddy is a fan of the colour palette too.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

New Beginnings - Original Sin #0-1

by Matt Puddy

Well it’s that time of the year again when Marvel rolls out a new event for the combined universe to undergo. It’s been teased and hinted at for quite a while – and I think some of the recent one word teasers also relate to the repercussions too – but we now embark on the eight-part Original Sin storyline. 

There are several crossovers also occurring as a result with the sins spilling into Avengers, Mighty Avengers and Deadpool. And those were just the ones advertised in the back of part one!

There is an issue #0 (written by Mark Waid) to also take into account which - for those who aren’t really aware of who the Watcher is - explores the role that the Watcher plays and how he came to be over the millennia that preceded the present day. It also shows an uncharacteristic moment when he speaks in the presence of a mere mortal – Nova – which demonstrates his scope and view over all things.

Jason Aaron’s main storyline though revolves initially over the Watcher coming to an end. The issue is titled Who Shot The Watcher? which is an interesting premise for a series to begin with, considering Uatu was meant to be all-knowing and all-seeing. Sadly I think it's impact has also been muted a little bit, as it follows so soon after the new Hulk title which also a whodunnit about who shot Bruce Banner. In such a short time, the duplication of the same idea comes across as bad planning perhaps on Marvel’s part.

Opening with the crime itself, the narrative then quickly shifts location and levity to a restaurant on steak night, Cap, Wolverine, Black Widow and Nick Fury are seen arguing over the best steak (or bear) they’ve had. Things change quickly when they all have to head to the moon and the Avengers assemble at the scene of the crime. Aside from the shock factor at who has been killed, the ramifications of his arsenal being pillaged and his technology being plundered are potentially outweighed by the gruesome act of the assailant having also gouged out his eyes.

Realising that this could take more than the Avengers are prepared to do, T’Challa is called to help and a slightly random assortment of heroes are put together as a loose-knit team to help dig, investigate and interrogate the various leads in order to get to the bottom of it all. Along the way Spider-Man and The Thing end up fighting a Mindless One who is apparently gaining sentience and individuality, something it cannot handle so it ends its own life. Stern stuff for an entity that is being controlled from a big bad in the background. Someone that we gain a glimpse of but nothing more.

So will Nick Fury also manage to play detective? What will T’Challa find on his various challenges, and what will happen between The Punisher and Doctor Strange seeing as they’re already at odds... the next seven issues will tell.

Veteran Mike Deodato (and one of my favourites! BF) takes to the pencils for this series. There are a lot of familiar faces with a grittier depiction. A lot of attention has been paid to every frame and panel and it feels as though there is a real classic quality to this. It adds a certain gravitas to the whole comic which would have been lost if another artist (Ramos for example) had been on it instead.

It is a big issue with a bold and brassy opening, but is it too big? The cast in this issue alone is huge and the advertising for issue two pulls in even more known heroes to the situation. Even with the cast shown it sometimes felt a little diluted and spread too thinly to hold a concise story over the coming issues. For instance, crowbarring in Ant Man and Emma Frost just to show they are part of the team felt awkward, although you can see it might be necessary.

Will this be all wrapped up and solved in eight issues? Well yes solved I'd say, but wrapped up? No, I can envisage that there will be a great deal of fallout from the simple actions that this opened with. But then that's a classic Marvel event, often the aftermath is even more interesting than the event itself such as Dark Reign and the preceding Secret Invasion. Jason Aaron is well known as one of Marvel’s architects so I trust his work. We'll see where this takes us.

Matt Puddy is going to melt on his upcoming travels.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Carrier bags and charity - Maggie's

Hi folks,

It's been a few weeks since the end of the last financial quarter (and the last financial year), and it was of course also the end of the latest period of collecting money for charity from our sales of carrier bags. I haven't forgotten despite all the recent chaos of moving premises, etc!

This was our twelfth full quarter and together we raised £29.45!

Last time I donated to Cancer Research UK on behalf of a friend, Joe Kelly, who opted to forgo any birthday presents from friends this year, instead asking them to make a small donation to the charity instead. A few months later it sadly became very clear why Joe had made that decision, as someone very important to him and his work colleagues sadly passed away. My heartfelt condolences to everyone at Keith Holland & Associates.

This time, I'm making a donation to Maggie's, an organisation that provides free practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer and their family and friends. I'm doing on behalf of local resident Reg Lee, whom I met soon after opening at the new premises at 8 St George's Place. Reg has just recovered from having testicular cancer and was helped by the Maggie's centre here in Cheltenham. He's doing the Cheltenham Circular Challenge 10k this year to raise money for Maggie's. You can find out more about his undertaking on his Virgin Money Giving page.

The next carrier bag donation will be in early July. If you have a charity you'd like Proud Lion to support, please email me at shop@proudlion.co.uk.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

New Beginning - Dream Police #1

by Matt Puddy

This week we have another new title in the already growing stable of Joe’s Comics – Dream Police. Well, I say new, but actually Dream Police originally debuted in 2005 under Marvel's Icon imprint. A single issue by J. Michael Straczynski with art from Mike Deodato Jr. then nothing else. Until now.

On this occasion the artist joining him is Sid Kotian. Kotian is also the artist on Apocalypse Al so the artwork is certainly familiar.

Dream Police is pretty much exactly as it sounds. In the opening we meet Joe Thursday and his partner Frank, who have been partners on the force since as far back as they can both remember. Bickering like an old married couple, every day they head out from the station to various calls in response to dreams and situations going awry. These range from a dragon that didn’t want to go away, to a thespian cat who felt that dying in a dream instead of living the happy ending he was due to provide his dreamer, fit more with his “style!” Joe and Frank are there to make sure that things work out right and prevent the nightmares getting involved.  This is maybe not as easy as it sounds when a dapper gentleman dressed top to toe in black, sporting a white half face mask arrives even though he's not required.

It’s a delicate balancing act it seems which Joe enjoys because part of it means he can see the false realities that the dreamers inhabit, as well as the truth of the landscape around them as welll. Even the random elements are enjoyable such as the creatively made restaurant that changes the pocket reality that it resides in, changing the decor and food to match.

This issue also explores the dangers that Joe can face such as lucid dreamers who realise the power they can hold during a waking dream state, but also the much more serious threat of what the nightmares can actually do. Something lies beneath the polite exterior and mask, and the reveal of their secret faces is enough to avert the situation. One that has gotten Joe shot several times, but as an officer he has the luxury of not dying.

A visit to the regular haunt for refreshment leads to the most interesting changes to it all, as Joe’s partner changes from Frank to Katie and even Joe doesn’t notice. Just like he was in a dream himself...

After the last title on Joe’s Comics didn’t really catch my eye I was at least a little wary of this one. Kotian as well isn’t a bad artist too but not one of my favourites either, so his style of using some quite heavy shadowing with a lot of fine small details isn’t completely lost on me, but still didn’t stop me from wondering what I was about to get into.

The combination of the landscape of dreams and the story did pleasantly surprise me. It has a real feel of a Dragnet-style cop drama through its narration, but with lucid and fluid surroundings (complete with dwarf builders) that adds a different dimension to it all. Literally. For my reservations about what this could be, I was happy to be reading a new and innovative tale with an even bigger twist in the end of it all.

If you’re looking for something new and off the wall, I don’t think you can go wrong with this lighthearted jaunt into some dream time mystery.

Matt Puddy is ready to tackle Marvel latest big event.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

An important update regarding this week's delivery!

by Ben Fardon


Our TNT driver has returned with the three missing boxes! Goodness only knows what happened, but they are here and I'll start processing them in a second.

We'll be back to normal opening times today and tomorrow now, though I will be closed between 2:30pm and 3:30pm to run an errand I'd arranged thinking the new comics weren't coming today.

Apologies folks, what a ridiculous comedy of errors. All out of my hands, but still infuriating to all concerned. 

Comics should be ready to collect within the next hour.

Sorry folks, some bad news.

Due to a mistake by the courier TNT, our comic delivery has been delayed until tomorrow. 

Diamond did manage to get us the half of our delivery containing our graphic novels and merchandise to us today, so we do have eagerly awaited books like Godzilla Awakening HC, X-Men No More Humans HC, Batman Vol 3 Death Of The Family (not the mask box set, that's not until September!) TP and Batman Vol 4 Year Zero Secret City HC on the shelves now. There's also an amazing Play Arts Kai Robocop figure, some cute chbi Transformer toys and some delightful My Neighbour Totoro plushes!

This means we'll be closing today at 5pm, but now open tomorrow until 6:30pm instead. Comics should be available on the shelves or from Reservation Service pull lists tomorrow from midday at the latest. Anyone waiting on a regular invoice from us will find those are delayed until tomorrow afternoon.

Apologies for this inconvenience folks. Rest assured, no one is more annoyed than I am. Thankfully life should be back to normal for the next two weeks, then we just have to get through the late May Bank Holiday. Fingers crossed!

Any problems, please do get in touch, but remember the phone is offline until next Thursday, so it's best to email me.

Ben Fardon is fed up of this nonsense now.

New Beginnings - Batman Eternal #1-3

by Matt Puddy

Who is the scourge of the night, the world’s greatest detective, 75 years old this year and appearing in a new weekly ongoing title from Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV and more?

OK, well the title of this week’s review does give it away a little, but it's Batman.

The series has gotten off to quite a good start by turning things on their head from the very beginning. Opening immediately with a fire-strewn foreshadowing of things to come, we are greeted by the sight of a de-costumed Bruce strapped to a destroyed Bat-Signal in front of a crumbling and destroyed Gotham. Things are not looking good. However, this downfall had to start somewhere and we immediately step back to see how.

These initial issues revolve around an incident that no one would have expected, the arrest of Commissioner Jim Gordon for the deaths of a large number of Gothamites. While trying to apprehend a suspect - concurrent with Batman is taking down Professor Pyg - things aren’t what they seem. Is there a gun or not? Is he armed or is there something not right here? Why won’t he give himself up? Gordon is faced with all of this and more, leading to him making the decision to disarm the man, but in the process the bullet hits a fuse box, creating a brutal train crash that no-one can stop. What a way for a rookie, Bard - handpicked by Gordon himself - to start his first day too with the arrest of the man who brought him into the fold.

The next two issues up the ante even more, with the return of a major player as well. After addressing the Mayor and setting several other events in motion, the resurgence of Carmine Falcone shakes the city to its core and starts a gang war - aided by a corrupt interim commissioner - that Gotham has not seen the likes of before.

It’s hard to really be objective on the writing and artwork when you look at the line up emblazoned on the cover. Snyder, Tynion IV, Fawkes, Layman, Seeley and Fabok. All of these have more than established themselves at DC, and the level of work on the Batman family of titles alone is very high. Snyder for instance has quickly become a firm favourite of mine some years ago and I will happily read his stories any time. Tynion’s work is also one I like, and as he has co-written these first scripts, it can’t be a bad thing. 

The artwork is all from Jason Fabok which although not my preferred style normally, it is something I like on Batman. Throughout all these issues there is very little light. This is taking Batman back to the night and into the dingy streets of a dangerous Gotham. It’s also bringing what’s left of the family back together too after the Joker tore them asunder.

Fabok has put a slightly new twist on the Batmobile (issue #3 cover) - Bruce apparently has more versions of his cars than Tony Stark has suits. I’m not sure I’m completely taken by it but time will tell. What will be interesting is how the rest of the known villains will come in and be seen. The series is promising to look at how Batman interacts with a huge range of his allies and enemies.

With almost the first month under its belt Batman Eternal has kicked off with a bang. If you’re a Batman fan and not already on this title then I would wonder why not? If you simply like Batman and want a title that will immerse you in the mythos of the character then this would also be a good title to read, but not necessarily for the younger reader as it comes across at a teen level, and being a weekly book it will quickly get a bit expensive!

I’m hoping that the writing team are able to keep up the pace on this and I’m keen to see how far it goes.

Matt Puddy has seen some great progress on the latest piece.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

New Beginnings - Hulk #1

by Matt Puddy

Hulk is a character that I really enjoy. Over the years I’ve seen him as a slave and a gladiator, a leader and a tyrant, a hermit and an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. He’s been a part of Banner and yet on more than one occasion he’s been apart from Banner. In the most recent iteration, Indestructible Hulk, Banner managed to craft a deal with S.H.I.E.L.D. that enabled him to focus on being a scientist and create, invent and generally give back to society, whilst Hulk became a living weapon that S.H.I.E.L.D. could almost point and fire. Even throughout the recent Terrigen mist incident things were going fine, but the culmination of it all left even the Hulk physically drained and opened Banner up to attack. In the final issue Banner was shot twice in the head leaving the question, "Who Shot Bruce Banner?"

Mark Waid picks up straight where this left off, although not with the obvious route. Drafting in a top neurosurgeon under mysterious circumstances, Aaron Carpenter finds himself operating on and trying to save his former classmate. Through the course of the operation, we review in passing how the original accident with the gamma bomb happened. How the Hulk is seen as a threat by some and a saviour by others. But most importantly we see a shadowy meeting between suits posing as S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and a female figure who trained relentlessly to ensure the double tap to the head that she gave to Bruce was perfectly placed to ensure the correct outcome.

It’s only when they try to make an addition to Banner’s brain pan that things go wrong. Through a twist of fate, a woman who owes her life to big green is there to wake the Hulk. Frought with agony and pain, there is only really going to be one outcome in this scenario and smashing ensues. The finale of this first issue finds the real S.H.I.E.L.D. agents tracking down Bruce, but with one major issue. What once was one of the world's eight greatest minds is now less than a shadow of his former self.

As I mentioned before I’m a fan of the Hulk, so I was always going to pick up this title to read but as a result I may have got myself a little overeager and built this new beginning up a little too much. Mark Waid is a great writer and I’ve often enjoyed his work in the past, but this time I felt it spent too much time on the build up and maybe slid a little too much into cliché as well. The clandestine meeting, the shadowy figure, plus the fortuitous placement of a motivated “fan”. The one thing I did like is the cliffhanger problem, though will inevitably be solved somehow at the end.

Mark Bagley is another fantastic name to have on the title, Marvel have clearly put together a pair of powerhouses to make this title work. It is another vision of how the Hulk looks though, and there is always a favourite look that fans have. Personally I prefer the short-lived Marc Silvestri version, or Carlo Pagulayan’s imagery used in Planet Hulk, but that’s due to me liking the excessive nature whereas Bagley’s Hulk is a little more man-sized, albeit a very big man.

For the remainder of the book the images are full and detailed, easy to follow and pleasant to read. Jerome Opena’s cover artwork is really well worked and shows a variety of aspects in the Banner/Hulk dynamic, but yet again another version of Hulk.

Will I be following this title? Of course I will, and for anyone who was reading Indestructible Hulk it’s the natural next step. As part of Marvel Now it is also living up to its promise of investigating origins of main characters so even a new reader could easily pick up the loose history to Banner.

This title will tick a lot of boxes for a lot of people so it might be worth picking up, but if you’re going to then maybe take a look at what’s happened in the last 6 months to fill in a few gaps.

Matt Puddy has been waiting patiently for these articles to finally go up. Anyone would think the editor had been busy moving shop or something!

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Free Comic Book Day 2014 - as the dust settles...

I think it's fair to say we're all still buzzing despite being very tired!

Over the last few years Proud Lion has begun to morph from a solo venture by yours truly, into very much a family affair. No more so than these past few weeks, with us all working long hours to move the shop into the new premises. Rae, Kiddo, my Dad and some of our wonderful friends were all striving towards one goal - to be trading from the new premises in time for Free Comic Book Day. And we did it!

This Saturday was what it was all about. Free Comic Book Day is always a wonderful, vibrant event for Proud Lion, but this year you all helped us to completely outdo the previous outings. The perfect first extravaganza in the new shop.

Some of you will remember that back in January, I decided to make Free Comic Book Day a little more modest this year. I revealed that we ordered over 2000 free comics last year, at an average cost of 23.5p per comic, which was a harder bill to foot than I'd anticipated. This year, I decided to focus on just 20 of the 57 titles available, picking ten titles for the line-up myself and asking the Proud Lion customers to vote for the other ten.

From those 20 titles, we then ordered over 1500 free comics, so I think it's fair to say we didn't skimp out on our FCBD offerings! If anything we had more of the titles you'd told us you wanted! In an effort to give more people a chance to get some free comics, especially people who have to start work on a Saturday before we open at 10am, I took the decision to split the stock 60:40s on each of the titles that we had. 60% went out ready for us to open, the remainder would be used to refresh the tables at 1pm.

Both times, we'd run out of free comics within an hour! 

Huge queue outside (with thanks to @OldManRupee)
The view from the queue! (with thanks to @DeadAllOverUK)

We had such a wonderful turnout that we had a huge queue down the road. It was quite a sight to behold on such a beautiful day! Thank you to everyone for the incredible patience and understanding we received on the day. Rest assured, wheels are in motion to ensure we have even more free comics next year, and we learned a lot about the best way to serve people in the new premises on a busy day, so we'll definitely look to make some refinements for our next big event.

Incredibly busy inside! (with thanks to @jonlockcomics)

Speaking of which, we hope to see you all again later this year for our Grand Re-Opening. Full details TBC.

A huge thank you from all of us here at Proud Lion, to everyone who helped make this year's Free Comic Book Day a roaring success. Pun, fully intended. Thanks to Jon Lock for coming down and being such a huge part of the event, and thanks to True Believers Comic Festival for the lovely print we had on offer at the start of the day. The original art work for that print will be proudly display in store at some point in the future, as Stuart was kind enough to gift it to us as a shop-warming present!

Have a lovely Bank Holiday. We'll be re-open on Tuesday from 10am.

Ben Fardon is trying to find out what's happened to the Comixology affiliate site. More news as soon as possible.