Saturday, September 20, 2014

Review- ROGUE TROOPER: TALES OF NU-EARTH VOL. 1



ROGUE TROOPER: TALES OF NU-EARTH VOL. 1 (2000 AD, Second Printing, April, 2011; Softcover)
Collects the Rogue Trooper stories from 2000 A.D. Nos. 228-232, 234-243, 246-258, 260-262, 265-301, 303-317, and 2000 A.D. Annual 1983, 1984 (cover dates September 5, 1981- May 21, 1983)
Writers: Gerry Finley-Day and Alan Moore
Artists: Dave Gibbons, Cam Kennedy, Brett Ewins, Colin Wilson, Mike Dorey, and Eric Bradbury

Rogue Trooper is a G.I., or Genetic Infantryman, a sort of super-soldier modified to withstand the harsh toxic environments of Nu-Earth without a breathing apparatus. Mankind relocated to this new Earth but their chemical warfare in the Nu Earth future war polluted the atmosphere. The G.I.'s entire personality transfers to a biochip at the time of their death, and these biochips can be installed in various hardware. When Rogue's comrades are killed in combat he inserts them in his helmet (Helm), his gun (Gunnar), and his bag (Bagman). They can speak and retain their entire personality and serve as the supporting cast. 
It is really interesting to see how influential these British comics were on American comics. The third party narrative is used sparingly, mostly as a plotline recap since this was a weekly strip, with the rest of the story being entirely dialogue driven. Compare this to American comic books of similar vintage and you will see what I mean. Nowadays this is par for the course, but British comics are where that style started.
 While this was consistently enjoyable throughout 400-odd pages, The Fort Neuro arc was my favorite. I love how the one base, the Napoleonic Complex, pretended to be from France. Dave Gibbons (later of Watchmen fame) was the original artist for the series, and Alan Moore writes the story from the 2000 A.D. Annual 1984. Cam Kennedy is nearly as good an artist as Gibbons. This is good stuff that holds up remarkably well 30-odd years after it's original publication.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.

http://www.instocktrades.com/TP/2000-AD/ROGUE-TROOPER-TALES-OF-NU-EARTH-GN-VOL-01-(C-0-1-/DEC090975

The OCD zone- The only covers that are included are #228, 231, 241, and 317.
DVD-style Extras included in this book: There is an uncredited additional page at the end of the cover gallery in the back of the book.
Linework: Things look good for 95% of the book. A few pages look murky, like a few of the pages may have been scanned from printed pages instead of sourced from film. The film was altered from original publication for the 2005 192 page collections. The *footnote box refers to previous books rather than individual issues.
Paper stock: Thick uncoated stock, zero sheen under any light source.
Binding: Sewn binding, six stitches per signature.
Cardstock cover notes: Dull matte coating, easily scuffed even when handled gingerly. I strongly dislike this style of finish. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Review- GEORGE ROMERO'S EMPIRE OF THE DEAD: ACT ONE


GEORGE ROMERO'S EMPIRE OF THE DEAD: ACT ONE (Marvel, 2014; Softcover)
Collects George Romero's Empire Of The Dead: Act One Nos. 1-5 (cover dates January- August, 2014)
Writer: George A. Romero
Artist: Alex Maleev
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth

Zombies are all the rage these days, what with the ongoing success of The Walking Dead and all. Younger fans might have overlooked the guy whom Robert Kirkman stood on the shoulders of, Mr. George Romero. If you do not know who he is, use that thar Google button on yore Internet machine and get on right back to me, y'hear?

Done? Okay, good. This takes place 30 years after Night Of The Living Dead. Humanity has been sequestered into Protected Zones, where military and SWAT teams keep the undead out and people live a somewhat normal life within the confines of Manhattan. Of course there is another kind of undead now, the original undead...vampires. Couple that with the emergence of the self-aware, almost thinking zombie and you have a fresh spin on a stinking, rotting idea. Leave it to Romero to once again save us all.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.

http://www.instocktrades.com/TP/Marvel/GEORGE-ROMEROS-EMPIRE-OF-DEAD-TP-ACT-ONE/APR140769

The OCD zone- Marvel has a tendency to triple dip, so I am going to hold off on buying any and all future arcs until we get an Omnibus or an Ultimate Collection trade paperback. I am tired of endless upgrades or being dissatisfied because a superior format is released down the road. I have more than enough unread books to last me until such collection happens.
DVD-style Extras included in this book: Introduction by Stan Lee. (1 page)
#1 variant by Frank Cho. (2 pages)
#2 variant by Greg Horn (1 page)
#1-5 variants by Arthur Suydam. (5 pages)
Paper stock: Good weight semi-glossy coated stock.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.
Cardstock cover notes: Glossy lamination. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review- Queen/ Live At The Rainbow '74

Queen/ Live At The Rainbow '74 (Hollywood, 2014)

This is the holy grail, two soundboard recordings from 40 years ago. I bought the standard consumer edition 2 CD set, although there are a number of other configurations available (single CD, 4 LP set, Blu-Ray, DVD, etc.) Disc One is taken from the Queen II tour stop at the Rainbow in London, England in March of 1974. The band was on fire, with everything played punchier and rocking much harder than the recorded versions of those songs. While Queen thrived with studio magic they could cut the mustard live and go toe to toe with any heavyweight band of the era, even Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath.

The track Guitar Solo would come to be known as part of Brighton Rock, as it is the guitar break from that song. It was already nearly fully formed here and would be recorded for the Sheer Heart Attack album later that summer. Why they broke up Son And Daughter into three separate tracks makes no sense. This solo fits neatly into the middle, but I guess if you really hate two and a half minute guitar solos you could hit skip and go right back into the song. They did the same thing with the song Drum Solo, splitting Keep Yourself Alive into three tracks. That one is even more asinine, as the drum part is merely a more fleshed out version of the fill toward the end of the recorded version and clocks in at around 30 seconds. This is repeated for both of these songs on Disc Two.

There are some non-album songs here, the encore Jailhouse Rock/ Stupid Cupid/ Be Bop A Lula medley and the B-side/1991 Queen II reissue bonus track See What A Fool I've Been. While the solos and reprises are given individual track numbers there are in reality only 12 songs here not counting recorded intro Procession. The set is split neatly with five songs off of each of their albums, the cover medley, and a B-side.

I have never seen Queen live and would have killed to be at this show, or any Queen show for that matter. Freddie Mercury was brilliantly playful with the way that he worked the crowd, all wink and no machismo like so many bands of the era. Roger Taylor kills it on drums and is criminally underrated. His and Brain May's backing vocals rule. This is an absolutely brilliant performance.

Disc Two was from their triumphant homecoming show at the same venue some eight months later. The band seemed more cocksure and seemed to put slightly less effort into impressing the audience, with their place in their hearts seemingly assured by this point. Tempos were slowed a pinch, being closer to the albums, while the then-new material off of Sheer Heart Attack was so different from the first two albums that the set didn't seem to flow quite as well. If I had to pick one show of the two I would go with the one on Disc One. Having said that, I would have been thrilled to witness the show captured live on Disc Two (Sides 5-8 for you vinyl people following at home). This era was the beginning of the shift that would turn Queen into a worldwide household name. One can only hope that this is the beginning of more archival live sets. I know that I would buy them all.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.


The OCD zone- For those of you who just walked in, this is the part where I dissect the packaging of a product. Those who buy mp3s and eBooks may be scratching their heads and thinking who cares, but to those of us who still value physical media this has some merit. The digipak has a trifold with a full hub for each disc. The booklet slides into the middle. This is a really nice package at this price point.