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Review: Bloodrayne – Twin Blade June 29, 2006

Posted by HC in Aftershock Reviews.
4 comments

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Writer: Steve O’Connell
Artist: Steve Scott
Review: David Zuzelo

BloodRayne is one of those videogame characters that seems custom tailored to comics with leather corsets, big arm swords and busty babes beating vampires bloody… and indeed the comic series from Digital Webbing rolls on with Twin Blades. Set in the early 1930’s, this one-shot covers the origin of Rayne’s distinctive weaponry.
While scuttling about and eating wolves she meets a man that knows of her special talents right away (of course), and he proceeds to tell her the story of The Brimstone Society and his place in it as “Agent Wraith.” They get attacked by a big monster, Rayne uses the blades… and that’s the end. Not exactly plot heavy or character oriented, it’s fun T n’ A n’ G(ore) with monsters and splattery swordplay. The results of the Bloodrayne franchise have been mixed with DW/Echo 3’s comics and Uwe Boll’s movie finding varying degrees of success and failure and Twin Blades, while decent looking, doesn’t pack much at all for the reader to gnaw on. So, the script can be summarized as a little back story filler on The Brimstone Society and not much else. Steve Scott’s artwork is good and the inks by Stacie Ponder add depth, but I have to say that when you have a story that builds to one battle I would appreciate a slightly better monster design than a guy that looks like he escaped from a Chaos comics backup tale.
Also, the fight sequences are clunky speed affairs, which isn’t really to my taste. BloodRayne film director Uwe Boll realised that it would be hard to pick those swords up and just start chopping, and it would have made sense to show something similar here instead of our heroine just hacking away.
This one shot contains a lot of “making of” material that is better than the finished product, and anyone that enjoys the story behind the panels will like this section of the book. Considering the price tag and the fact there is only 21 pages of story, this was a smart bonus to include.
A little flash and not enough substance, but not so bad that I won’t give the publishers another shot on the character. Twin Blades is a quick time filler that leaves me thirsty for a real story and character development that equals the cool look of this particular vampiric bad girl. On the upside, the forthcoming Plague of Dreams is going to be a three issue series from the creators of the best of the one shots, Lycan Rex. You can check out a preview of Plague of Dreams here.

Ratings: (Out of 5)
Art: 3
Story: 2
Chills: 1
Overall: 2

Review: Zombies! Feast #1 June 24, 2006

Posted by HC in Aftershock Reviews, IDW.
2 comments

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Writer: Shane McCarthy

Artist: Chris Bolton

Reviewer: David Zuzelo

Zombies! Feast starts up a promising new series for IDW, containing sharp artwork by Chris Bolton that keeps the blood and viscera flowing well from panel to panel while being pushed along by fast paced script from Shane McCarthy. During a routine prisoner transport for Federal Marshal Cooke and his crew of officers things take a Silent Hill turn as radio signals fail and they crash their bus in a storm. It probably doesn’t help that they are transporting what appear to be a batch of VERY mean men in prison jumpsuits looking for a way out of their own predicaments. I guess we know they are mean because they curse a lot and one is a Nazi wannabee who will no-doubt get in the Marshal’s face. Taking cover in an abandoned farmhouse where they meet a grotesque little zombie girl (whoa, George Romero, take a bow) the stage is set for blunt force trauma to lots of undead skulls as well as buckets of interpersonal mayhem between prisoners and police.
For pure nasty action, Zombies! Feast delivers the gobbling goods, with a particularly gross bit involving some brain swallowing that gave me the heebie jeebies while admiring the lettering on the word THUNK in the same panel. McCarthy focuses his script by letting the artwork carry the action, which it does quite well.

While it feels cinematic, it does make for a very VERY quick read (at $3.99 per book this is a common issue for IDW in my opinion) and this style doesn’t exactly push the comic book form to the bleeding edges of the best told tales. As a set up issue, Zombies! Feast #1 feels a bit like a 5 minute prologue to a very promising splatfilm, and I’ll be sure to check out the further issues. Bolton’s artwork and the moody coloring captured my imagination enough to warrant another look, and once some of the story blanks are filled in and the characters get to have their moments amongst the mayhem this could be a zombie book worth remembering.

Scores: (Out of 5)

Art: 4

Story: 2

Chills: 3

Overall: 3

Review: U.T.F. #1 June 24, 2006

Posted by HC in Aftershock Reviews, Independant.
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Writer: Scott Reynolds

Artist: Tone Rodriguez

Reviewer: David Zuzelo

In theory U.T.F. (Undead Task Force) is a good idea. Mix zombies and vampires and stir in a U.S. Government agency full of muscular and sexy ass kickers to stop the monsters, season with great art. Repeat. However, the execution in this book is sadly lacking.  Issue 1 opens up on a prison revolt/vampire infection that has promise before going backwards in time to introduce the actual characters of the story.  The standard big guy and nipple popping through leather jumpsuit chick appear and blow away some zombies, two vampires walk into a bar and only one walks out and so on.  Not exactly innovative, but still-the idea is fine. 

There are so many distractions along the way through the 21 page tale that U.T.F. had me tuning out and losing interest. The characters all talk like Power Man second stringers regardless of race, there are misused words (“You sure know how to weld(??) that boomstick, Nacho.) and for some reason Los Angeles is always described as LA rather than L.A.  I had to read that tidbit over several times to make sure I understood what was being said. 

Am I nitpicking? Perhaps, but for the price of the book a little more editorial could have fixed these distractions. It would have left me inside the story at least. Is U.T.F. a cliché driven book that Rob Liefeld would have drawn with gusto? Sure, but if done correctly I’m all for relaxing my brain and digging into the gore and having fun with the splatter. When the tiny details are greater than the story we have a problem…

On the upside, Tone Rodriguez’ artwork is refreshingly simple and stylish, foregoing the stick figures under photoshop layering that passes for “horror” art in many cases.  Ape Entertainment has lots of interesting projects (I would recommend Athena Voltaire to any comic book fan), and perhaps with some editorial attention, UTF can step up for the remainder of the 3 issue series.  I can’t say I’m enthused to spend another $2.99 to find out.
SCORES: Out of 5

Art: 3

Script: 1

Chills:

Overall: 2

Review: Angel Spotlight: Illyria #1 June 3, 2006

Posted by HC in Aftershock Reviews, IDW.
4 comments

Writer: Peter David

Art: Nicola Scott

Reviewer: Cavan Scott

Of all the characters in what these days is called the Buffyverse, Illyria showed the most promise and yet, with the cancellation of Angel, was never allowed to truly come into her own.

After a couple of misfires with their Angel spin-offs, IDW have got this just right. Peter David, no stranger to TV-tie-ins presents a brief but involving tale of a demon striving to understand what remorse means and how it will take her one step closer to being human. In a relatively short page-count David crams in more character development and empathy than most writers can manage in an entire series. Of course his job is made considerably easier thanks to the amazing art of Nicola Scott who perfectly captures actress Amy Acker (although her Wesley is almost unrecognisable).

Unlike IDW's first Angel efforts, this isn't just for completests. If you've not dipped your toe into Buffy-inspired comics then this is a great jumping-on point.

SCORES: Out of 5

Art: 3

Script: 3

Chills: 2

Overall: 3

Aftershock: 30 Days of Night: Dead Space June 2, 2006

Posted by HC in Aftershock Reviews, IDW.
5 comments

Dead Space

No. of issues: 3

Writer: Steve Niles & Dan Wickline

Art: Milx

Reviewer: Cavan Scott

Hack/Slash: Trailers made a very good point in its collection of mini-adventures this March – when franchises have run out of steam they blast into orbit.

With this in mind I approached 30 Days of Night: Dead Space with trepidation. Did the final frontier equal the first nail in the coffin for horrordom’s latest, and at present, greatest horror darling.

The concept is a simple one. Hours before NASA relaunches its Space Shuttle program the mission commander is converted to the vampire hordes. Once the team hit space, his vampirism hits out and floating in their tin can, high above the world, the NASA team are slaughtered one by one.

However simple the concept, you have to admit it’s a strong one. Claustrophobic location – check. Lots of mindless violence – check. Using as much red ink as you can without prompting a world shortage – check. Every box is ticked then. Well, almost.

Unlike the original 30 Days of Night I am not convinced that Dead Space would warrant many repeat visits. With three issues to build suspense and dread, writers Steve Niles and Dan Wickline choose to rush in and cut to the bloody chase. It’s an admirable tactic but one that means that the characters are mere cyphers, truly lambs to the slaughter. You don’t have the time, or indeed the inclination to form any connection with them and so hardly care when their throats are ripped out in zero G.

The real tribute of the series came in the form of Milx’s art and impressive colouring. A shame that his talent obviously wasn’t stretched by a below-par, phoned-in script.

Perhaps Hack/Slash were right after all.

SCORES: Out of 5

Art: 4

Script: 2

Chills: 2

Overall: 2