Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Proud Lion 2.0 - engage

Picture the scene. You've worked hard - very hard - to move a business from one premises into another with as little downtime as possible. As a comic shop, you have new products out every week without fail, monthly instalments of engrossing sequential storytelling that your customers are keen to purchase. Unlike other stores that may contain seasonal ranges of stock that refresh every few months, with restocks as required, under ideal circumstances your little enterprise cannot close for more than a few days. But that's fine, because you and a fine crew of good friends and comrades have achieved what you set out to do and you have settled into a new homestead.

Your erstwhile comic supplier - they who are the sole physical American comic supplier in the US and UK (not counting lovely indies!) - have one task. Get the comics to you. Now you leave it a little late to inform them of the move, bracing yourself for the possible impact of something going awry, forcing you to stay put in the old location for a week or so longer. But with deft negotiation, you arrange for the delivery to be upgraded to an earlier timed delivery and redirected to the new address. This is a boon, as the delivery normally arrives on Tuesday, street-dated for Wednesday (giving you plenty of time to check it all off and get organised ahead of the day of release), but this week it's delayed until Wednesday for Wednesday (in a frankly frustrating example of milking the disruption of the Easter holidays for two weeks rather than just one!). So arriving two hours earlier would be of great help.

Sadly, it still goes to the old address, and is five minutes late to boot. 



This is what happened to us today. Thankfully, we had the foresight to position Rae at the old shop in case of such an eventuality. We couldn't allow the delivery to sail off back to the depot on today of all days. Not on Rex Manning Day. The delivery was shipped over to the new shop via taxi, but we'd already lost a chunk of time.

Additionally, the new shop layout is lovely - I'm really pleased with it. But I used to have fantastic cubby behind the counter at the old shop and whilst it may have looked like a mess to most, it was organised chaos and I knew where most things were. I'm still finding a home for a lot of the essentials in the new place, creating a certain amount of lag today our day. Not to mention the lack of a physical internet connection is going to drive me nuts over the next few weeks (though we have a plan in place for that).

Thankfully, everyone today was wonderful. Thank you to everyone who popped in and said hi. Many kind words were proffered which was a delight.

The store was vibrant, despite the rattled chaotic ramblings of the large man behind the counter and the occasional rookie mistakes. You were all very forgiving, for which I was most grateful. I had naively assumed the hardest graft was behind me and today would be business usual. How I laugh at my foolishness now!

It's all uphill from here. Tomorrow will give me a chance to catch up and we'll get better organised over the next few weeks. I'm even starting to feel less exhausted as you might be able to tell from this more verbose, less decorated blog post!

For the tl;dr crowd, here are the cliff notes. Shiny new store. Frustrations with delivery SNAFU and lack of reel internets. Epic first day though. Everybody rocks. Everything is awesome. Big smiley face.

Ben Fardon is slowly catching up on correspondence. Your email/Facebook message/tweet is very important to him and your missive will be answered shortly.

Proud Lion 2.0 - I assure you we've moved!

Phew. Well, we made it. Today we laid out the rest of the stock, fixed some posters to the wall and did a bunch of other important things, including hanging this sign in the window of the old shop:

After this picture was taken, we returned and removed the shop sign and the web address sign - don't be alarmed!

I'd be lying if I said we were completely finished. We still have to wait for our telecoms provider to migrate our line over, so for now we're strictly a 3G and email shop. The phone number should be operational again mid-May. I'll keep you posted.

It'll also be a short while before we have back issues in the new shop. They are coming though, so don't panic! We're simply waiting on some new furniture for that section - nothing fancy.

We also don't have our signs up on the exterior of the building yet. They'll be up soon. With the wonderful assistance of Rae and the ever lovely Charlie, we were able to rescue the old sign.  I'll post pictures when the exterior is finished, as we have a few fun ideas to add to the building, including a new front door. For now, you'll find the door propped open welcoming you to come on in!

Speaking of signage, our bay tops aren't up yet either. These will be up in the near future. Most of these finishing touches will be put in place after Free Comic Book Day, but for now our focus is on making sure we don't miss a single new comics day. Amazing Spidey #1 tomorrow! (Uh, today?)

I'm very, very tired and tomorrow is delivery day, so I'll sign off now with a gallery of images showcasing the new shop. See you tomorrow folks, we'll be open at 8 St George's Place (opposite Badlands Records) from 10am - 6:30pm.

Ben Fardon is dog tired but looking forward to the arrival of new stock to fill up the new shop.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Proud Lion 2.0 - settling in

by Ben Fardon


A tremendously late, tremendously short but tremendous none-the-less blog post tonight - or is it this morning? - featuring a look at some of the progress made to day.

Graphic novels! We're planning a restock in time for Free Comic Book Day, have no fear!

Quite a lot more to do tomorrow - including some TLC for the old shop - to turn it into a giant advertisement for the new place, in a manner that would befit Dante from Clerks. A loving homage, you might say. "What smells like shoe polish?"


OK, time to get some sleep. See you soon folks, not long now.

Ben Fardon is too tired tonight to repeat the address 8 St George's Place ad infinitum.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Proud Lion 2.0 - moving day!

by Ben Fardon

Goodbye old friend...
5pm on Saturday 26th April marked the last day of trading from our original premises on Albion Street. Just over six years and one month after I first opened the doors, we spent a lovely day serving comics, graphic novels, games, collectables and other delights to our customers, before turning the key and cashing up.

Then the hard work really began.

Over the course of the next few hours, we packaged up stock, disconnected IT equipment and dismantled furniture. By the end of the night, we were all exhausted but Proud Lion was ready to ship across town.

This morning, we hauled ourselves out of bed and reconvened. Assisted by a van, several cars and a workforce of fantastic friends, we loaded up and set off for pastures new. By the time we'd finished, the old premises looked pretty desolate (pictured right).

8 St George's Place though is definitely taking shape! There's a lot more to do, but I'm pleased to announce that Proud Lion will be trading from 8 St George's Place as of next week. We'll be closed tomorrow as usual, plus Tuesday to get a chance to get everything ship-shape.

Here's a sneak peek at the new sales counter

Proud Lion will re-open in our new premises (that's 8 St George's Place, have I mentioned?) on Wednesday 30th April at 10am. It will be new comics day, and we'll have a treasure trove of new titles including the all-new Amazing Spider-Man #1, the new Atomic Robo, Jason Aaron's Southern Bastards, plus the fourth issues of Serenity: Leaves On The Wind and Batman Eternal, and the finale of Origin II. We'll also have the second deluxe expansion for Netrunner, Honor and Profit!

New release comics section taking shape

It will be business as usual, just in a brand new location. I'm very excited to be able to welcome you to our new home!

Don't forget, this Saturday is Free Comic Book Day! If you want your free #swag, you'll have to come and find the new shop. We'll be over on 8 St George's Place, opposite Badlands Records!

Thank you to everyone who has helped us over this weekend: Rae, Kiddo, my Dad, Andy, Kieran, Jamie, Christina, Duncan and Gideon (never underestimate the moral support of a friendly face and kind words!), Lex, Jo and Liam! Furthermore, huge thanks to everyone who offered to help as well. Even if we didn't call on your services, it was greatly appreciated to feel like we were working with a net!

See you next week. At 8 St George's Place!

Ben Fardon has a fun way to remember the new postcode, that apparently highlights his upbringing in Wiltshire.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Proud Lion 2.0 - taking shape

by Ben Fardon

Phew. It's safe to say we are exhausted here at the Lion Heights, after toiling away all over Easter.

We took possession of a shop that was a basic shell. Grey/purple walls surrounding us and lots of work to do:

So we set to work painting:

Followed by fitting slat wall and other fixings:

Rae and my Dad hard at work, whilst I slack off taking pictures!

After a long weekend, we are starting to look like a shop. We have some additional work to do this weekend, but we are hoping to move into the new premises on 8 St George's Place shortly. Stay tuned for more news!

Ben Fardon fell asleep trying to do this blog post several nights in a row!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Proud Lion 2.0 - we have lift off!

by Ben Fardon

After months of hints and speculation, we can confirm that Proud Lion is moving to new premises soon!

That's right, we are Oscar Mike. I finally got our hands on the keys to the new shop last Friday and work has already begun. We've been painting and starting the shop fit, with the hopes of being ready in time for Free Comic Book Day. It will all depend on how much we get done this Easter weekend, but rest assured we'll keep you posted!

Here's a few of the frequently asked questions that have been asked in store recently regarding our upcoming move. If you have a query that I don't cover, please email me (though bear in mind replies may take a little longer at present as we have a LOT on!).

Where is this fabled new location, Ben?

I'm glad you asked! Our new premises is 8 St Georges Place, Gl50 3JZ, opposite our friends at Badlands Records (don't forget it's Record Store Day this Saturday!). Some of you may remember it used to be the British School of Motoring offices a while back, and more recently it was a little art gallery.

It's just around the corner from the Library and The Wilson, Cheltenham's Art Gallery & Museum. There is a small, open air car park behind the  new premises.

Right now, it looks a little like the picture on the left (I had hoped to have an artist's impression of Proud Lion 2.0, but it's not been possible yet).

Here's a handy map I put together yesterday:

When will you be moving?

It's frustrating but I can't fix a date yet. As I say, it will depend on how much we get done this weekend. It is my goal to see us in there in time for Free Comic Book Day, but I'll provide regular progress updates.

Why are you moving? What's happening to the old location?

40 Albion Street has been our home for a little over six years and I'd love to stay if we could, but it's sadly not an option. The whole row of shops will be demolished in the near future, along with the old Odeon and the old car dealership to make room for a new mixed development of flats, houses and smaller shops.

We will retain the use of 40 Albion Street for the first few months that we have the new premises, allowing us to hang a huge banner directing our lovely customers to the new shop.

You don't seem to have much stock in at the moment - are you really moving, or are you closing down?

We are moving! I have every intention of guiding Proud Lion from our impending sixth birthday through to our tenth birthday and beyond! It's true, I'm not doing any large restocks just yet but this is simply due to logistics. The more stock we have in store now, the more we have to move to 8 St Georges Place in the next few weeks and the greater the risk that things will get damaged in the move.

Anything we can do to help?

Bless you, you guys rock. We've had loads of offers of help and they're all very gratefully received. If we do end up needing any assistance, I'll be sure to put out a request on our social media feeds. Thanks again!

Right, I'd best get my nose back to the grindstone. Lots to do and deadlines are looming. Have a lovely Easter folks!

Ben Fardon is not allowed in lifts with other people anymore.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

The Watcher - Captain America: The Winter Soldier

by Jack Meldrum



Captain America: The Winter Soldier is fantastic. Not merely 'good for the genre' or 'good but-flawed', but out and out tremendous. It's the best MARVEL movie ever made, by any studio. It's so good I genuinely believe it deserves Oscar nods for screenplay and director. It's a turning point for superhero movies and modern blockbusters, a rousing, earth-shattering film without a single bad scene or awkward moment. At all.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier has totally redefined what a superhero movie is. When we look back in a decade, we'll mark at as the point where 'superhero' stopped being a genre and started being a form – a method and style of making any kind of movie, where character and action are irrevocably intertwined and everything exists in this kind of hyper-real, impossible state that you believe in wholeheartedly. It's a sublime political thriller in the vein of The Manchurian Candidate, and it has the best action I've seen in a Hollywood film in my short life – easily the best in a decade at least. It's a tense, chilling film about trust and conspiracies where a man flies around on a jetpack wing suit.

Everything works. From a wonderful opening scene that introduces us (and Captain America, still played note-perfect by Chris Evans) to Anthony Mackie's scene-stealing Falcon to the gut-busting mid-film twist to the fantastic final action sequence, The Winter Soldier is a testament to how the most important part of a movie is the screenplay. There's not a wasted line or a superfluous scene. Action happens because it should, not because someone worried we might be bored. Characters behave like real, complex human beings who just happen to have superpowers and deep moral codes.

And – SPOILER ALERT – there's one of the most shocking, nauseating twists you can imagine in any movie, revealed during a terse conversation with a man who lives inside a gigantic tape-reel IBM computer. For real. It's one of the best scenes in the movie and you don't question it for a second.

The eponymous Winter Soldier is also one of the best things in a very, very good movie. Sebastian Stan has perhaps thirty words in the whole thing but he acts the pants off it. He's chilling and menacing and goddamn relentless and there's never a doubt that he really would kill you, right now, if he was asked to. Despite the soaring unreality of the film, it's totally compelling, to an extent where several times I questioned how this movie even existed. It's that potent.

I can't even tell you about my favourite scene – one totally overflowing with cleverness and unbelievable use of multiple story threads – because it's pure spoiler and you deserve to see it untainted. But you do absolutely deserve to see it. The Winter Soldier is one of the best movies of the year so far, quite possibly the best superhero movie ever made. Unlike The Dark Knight, it's dark without being morose, and it's smart without being smug. It's a fantastically watchable, shockingly well-handled film that mines the source material for every bit of good stuff it can and then creates a transcendent movie experience.

This one's gonna go far.

Jack Meldrum tried to upload himself to his pocket calculator. It's still trying to compute his ego.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

The Watcher Retrospective - Captain America: The First Avenger

by Jack Meldrum

As of writing it's been just over 24 hours since I saw Captain America – The First Avenger in cinemas for the first time. Not that it was the first time I saw it, as I've had the movie on DVD since roughly six months after it first came out.

But seeing it on-screen reminded me just how good this film is. 

The ultimate strength of Captain America is that it fully embraces the message delivered by Doctor Abraham Erskine – that a 'weak man knows the value of strength' and that, to steal a quote from Disney's Hercules, 'the strength of a hero is the strength of his heart'. It's an absolutely unironic celebration of goodness, of honesty, of courage and idealism. There's no jingoistic nonsense because Steve Rogers (played to perfection by Chris Evans) is not a jingoistic man. He's not even a patriot, if one considers how patriotism so often plays out. He's a man who believes wholeheartedly in the values his country is supposed to be about. And the movie believes in him in the same way.

Joe Johnston (who also did the sublime Rocketeer and the really underrated Jurassic Park 3) opens the film with the present-day discovery of the frozen Cap and then uses the prolonged flashback that is the rest of the picture as justification for montage after montage – an approach that delivers surprisingly effective results. It's the Second World War as we know it in movies, not necessarily as it was, and because the Captain is such an impossibly fictional character, it works. Johnston's clichéd beats aren't clichés, because he's using them to absolute best effect – embracing the impossible nature of the material and selling it to us as he knows we'll understand.

Hugo Weaving is the standout, though. His Red Skull - a man so evil the Nazis said 'maybe he's a bit much, ja?' - is a glowering menace and somehow totally believable, even when he's fondling the Cosmic Cube and shooting laser beams at Hitler's cronies. Toby Jones' Armin Zola is equally terrific, with a curious amoral/moral bent that suggests he's not totally comfortable with the Asgardian-derived superweapons he's asked to churn out. Skull and Zola form the backbone of the film's narrative and structure, driving the plot forward with their sinister 'kill everyone, remake the world' super-scheme. Their sublime construction and performance means that any time the film's jovial WWII stuff feels a little flabby, we cut right back to these tight, taut interactions between man and monster and it all feels fine.

The movie is, frankly, an impossibility – made less so now by the presence of the totally incredible sequel, but still something so honest and heartfelt it's unbelievable it dropped in the cynical year of 2011. It's a film I never expected to work, and yet it does, and it does it by kneecapping cynicism from the word go and going out of its way to treat what it does as what it is. It's silly, stupendous stuff.

So when I say the sequel is a total masterpiece, you know where I'm coming from.

Jack Meldrum volunteered for the super-soldier programme, but they said he was too super already. 

Thursday, 10 April 2014

New Beginnings - Shutter #1

by Matt Puddy

Fresh from Image this week we have Shutter, a new comic by Joe Keating and Leila Del Duca.

Showing potential promise to be the new Indiana Jones of the comic book world, the story revolves around Kate Kristopher. Coming from a family with a history that is steeped in secrets, mystery and also discoveries, her late father opened up a whole new and interesting world to her when she was just a child. An example of this would be her 7th birthday treat, when he metaphorically offered her all of the different worlds whilst showing her our own Earth from the surface of the moon.

From the outset this is clearly set in an alternate reality, or pockets of one that is outside of our own. Paintings depicted by Del Duca in the hallways showings things like meeting aliens on Pluto in 1902 or family portraits complete with fairies or other magical creatures.

All of this is a lot to take in for a young girl. It's a huge amount to live up to, should she choose that path. Skipping forward 20 years and things are very different to our world. Society is multilayered with spacemen and minotaurs alike and plenty in between. It also appears that Kate not only followed the path, but documented it too and published books which have become fan favourites.

Once the book ideas started to wane, Kate turned to another love and photography has filled the void for her. All the while she has never forgotten her late father, whose grave she visits regularly. Today being special, as it’s her 27th birthday.

Things are tough and rapidly spiral down when she is attacked by three spectral assassins only to be aided finally by a robot (which looks suspiciously like the man from the Pringles tubes) who endeavours to not only save her, but also to warn her to be wary of the assailants her father always shielded her from. Her siblings.

At first I found this story a little slow to pick up and get going, but on the second and third read through it becomes apparent that this is necessary for providing a much more sombre feel and mood, mimicking Kate’s own feelings, and then also providing a very harsh contract when the action kicked in. As a writing ploy it did work very well, setting up a cliffhanger for the end of the issue.

Del Duca’s artwork for the issue is well thought out and detailed. In the flashbacks, there’s a certain grainy quality to imply the age, and when brought into the present there’s an extra level of clarity. Even the bystanders have had attention paid to them in the frames, but at the same time it’s not overly detailed and distracting. I may well have another new artist to add to my list of favourites.

As a new beginning it certainly comes across well (as long as you do tough it out through the slow-paced opening) and I’ve enjoyed reading it. Whether or not it can hold the interest is yet to be seen, and I have a feeling there will be flashbacks galore to come, but all the same it's a good first issue that is well worth your time and money.

Matt Puddy scored a zero.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Afterlife Inc. - The Book of Life Kickstarter

by Jon Lock

Hi gang,

Jon Lock here, writer and creator of AFTERLIFE INC.

AFTERLIFE INC. is the tale of con-artist Jack Fortune, who, following his untimely demise, discovers an afterlife in chaos and decides to take over and run it like a business.

Over the last three years I’ve been publishing the on-going adventures of Jack and Co. as they attempt to modernise the Great Beyond. Now, for the first time, I’m collecting volumes 1-3 of AFTERLIFE INC. in one luxury hardback edition, the Book of Life.

At 376 full-colour pages, the Book of Life charts the entire AFTERLIFE INC. story to date along with 70 pages of special features, including pin-ups, character profiles, behind-the-scenes material, a guide to the afterlife and even an exclusive never-before-seen AFTERLIFE INC. tale.

The Book of Life is available to pre-order through Kickstarter right now. While the Book will eventually retail at £40, backers can take advantage of a Kickstarter-only price of £35. There’s also the chance to secure a copy for the early bird price of just £30! These super-reduced copies are limited, however, so be sure to get in early to avoid disappointment.

For all the Book of Life news as it happens, be sure to join the official mailing list. No spam guaranteed!

Thanks for your time, everyone. The Book of Life is a major landmark for AFTERLIFE INC. I look forward to being able to share it with you.

Jon Lock

For more info about the world of AFTERLIFE INC., and even some free stories, check out Jon’s website.

AFTERLIFE INC. is also one of the top 100 indie comics on Comixology. You can also find the series on Proud Lion Digital.

The Book Of Life will also be available to buy from Proud Lion once it's released.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

New Beginnings - Deadpool Vs Carnage #1

by Matt Puddy

So after fighting off the reanimated corpses of a town and essentially cloning his personality, or being forcibly made to attach to the body of a cerebrally affected wheelchair user, what does happen when you place a homicidal psychopath in the sights of another homicidal psychopath?

Cullen Bunn finds out in this new title with two of my favourites.

Leading up to this comic both characters have had a little bit of a make over. Carnage has been through the ringer having a new host in Superior Carnage, an offshoot of Dan Slott’s Superior Spiderman and Deadpool has just finished the short The Walking Deadpool (aka Night Of The Living Deadpool). In addition to that, psychologically there’s been change. I don’t think Carnage has been closer to Cletus Cassidy (if you can consider them two separate beings anymore) and Deadpool has lost the voices in his head and banter with the audience. So what is Cullen Bunn going to do.

Quite simply put the phrase “It takes a thief to catch a thief,” is particularly apt so long as you liberally substitute the word thief for alternatives such as unhinged loon or crazy murderer. After a fifth consecutive killing spree, Carnage is prime time news. Taking cues from where they appear, Deadpool takes on a quest from an imaginary higher power, feeling that he is the only one qualified (or deranged enough) to track down and finish Carnage off.

Let’s be honest here too, when Deadpool applies himself to a task we all know he will possibly pull it off. We also know that he will do it in his own emphatic style and kicks off his scrap with none other than a bloody big rocket. What ensues next could be akin to when he fought against Wolverine. Two “super” beings fighting and tearing strips off each other and the strips then grow back, only this time it has a dash of idiot and sprinkling of madman added to the mix.

In comic and comedic style, the fight carries on and Deadpool looks like things are going his way, until an extra unexpected symbiote also joins the fray.

From a fan point of view I think the character mix is good, normally I wouldn’t complain especially when Shriek (one of the lesser known symbiotes) arrives, but my issue was with the portrayals that I’ve come to associate with them all. Deadpool still feels a little neutered without his internal and multi-personality filled monologue or crowd baiting banter.

Carnage on the other hand was more crazy loony mad than the crazy scary mad I’ve come to know from the recent Carnage storylines. It almost felt like he played up to what Deadpool can be. Even Shriek had lost her clinical edge, but then again that could be a natural evolution of character progression. Storywise though it is very amusing and hits a funny bone straight off. This does put it predominantly in Deadpool's court and I think fans of him will appreciate this more than maybe Carnage fans.

Artistically Salva Espin has also hit home with a very comfortable Deadpool style, with punctuated characters that stand out and colouring from Veronica Gandini that makes the frames stand out, including the almost trademark coloured speech bubbles. There’s even a cheeky little visual gag when Wade is growing his fingers back. The cover art (Glenn Fabry & Adam Brown) was almost made to feel too clean, concise and detailed as a result. It’s great to see the effort put in where the stitching and fabric can be seen on Deadpool mask, but is that too much for this title?

Put it all together it’s a fun comic and one Deadpool fans should love. The Carnage lover in me doesn’t find it gritty enough especially when comparing it to things like Carnage USA (Wells/Crane) from a couple of years back but then again maybe Cletus needs to be a little relaxed once in a while.

Matt Puddy has his nose back to the grindstone.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Big Game Hunting Live presents: TABLETOP DAY

by Rae

As previously announced, we will be hosting our very own TableTop Day event on Saturday, April 5th from 10:00am until 5pm! Game slots are available to reserve in advance, or can be grabbed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Here is our current schedule (subject to change):

    10:00 – 11:00: selection of small games (no slots, just turn up and join in!)

    11:00 – 12:00: Netrunner (4 slots) *

    12:00 – 13:30: Forbidden Island / Forbidden Desert (8 slots, 4 per game)

    13:30 – 14:30: Castle Panic (6 slots)

    14:30 – 15:30: Smash Up (4 slots)

    15:30 – 17:00: King of Tokyo Tournament (15 slots, 5 per game)
* Please note that Netrunner is not suitable for children.

To grab yourself up to two reserved game slots, just email Proud Lion at Playing games on the day will earn you up to two free entries into our TableTop Day Raffle!

TableTop Day Raffle

As with last year, we shall be raffling off some fantastic prizes. Players will receive one free entry per game played on the day (up to maximum of two). Additional entries can also be purchased for £1 each. Money raised from the raffle will be donated to charity.

So, shall we get to the prizes then?

Grand prize: £20 of Proud Lion gift vouchers
Second prize: voucher for 10% off any game in store (maximum value £50)
Runner-up prize (x3): Munchkin booster pack

King of Tokyo Tournament

As you can see, we have several slots for the final game of the day, King of Tokyo. This game will be run as a tournament, but that doesn't mean you need to have played before! This game, like the others, is open to all, and we are happy to teach you if you're new to it.

Participants will be divided into three groups, with a maximum of five people in each group. Each of those groups will play a single game. The winners will then have a three-player stand off to determine the overall winner. That person will win the King of Tokyo tournament prize.

That prize? It's the SPACE PENGUIN.

Space Penguin is a genuine, playable add-on character for King of Tokyo. The winner of the tournament will be taking him home!

TableTop Day is now less than a week away. Reserve those game slots, and don't forget your raffle entries. Play games, win prizes! See you all April 5th!

Rae is still reeling from the last few episodes of The Walking Dead...

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

New Beginnings - Silver Surfer #1

by Matt Puddy

Now if anyone read this year's Marvel Point One review you will have already seen that new Silver Surfer comic from Dan Slott and the Allred’s was not a favourite of mine based on it's initial brief outing. I'm keeping as open a mind as I can though...

Norrin Radd has been a well established figure in the Marvel Universe. In his time he has been part of the Defenders and the Titans Three, has been a gladiator and prisoner on Planet Hulk, and in Marvel Zombies he was arguably responsible for the creation of space faring flying zombie super monsters. Most, however, will know him as the former herald of Galactus. This final salient point is what is currently pushing him forward.

Driven by the combined guilt and grief from the deaths of billions of life forms across the multitude of planets he selected for his master, the Surfer is now trying to atone by helping and saving others.

In the comic we see how he rekindles a star to save a world and prove his worthiness to become a champion. He has been selected by the residents of the Impericon. This partially confuses him as he’s never heard of them but they have hidden themselves from him for fear of being destroyed. Ironically it is their technology which has created a new power hungry threat to them, for which they need they help of the Silver Surfer. They need him to protect them from The Never Queen.

At the same time we also learn the slightly more mundane New England life of a young girl called Dawn. This is the same girl we met in Point One but this is set before that mini adventure. Dawn hasn’t been anywhere, nor does she have the inclination to go anywhere either. She is happy and content with her feet firmly on the ground. A backstory that is well established through the issue. It also makes a nice but complete role reversal, when she is torn from it all to be leverage in making the Surfer go through with being the Champion of the Impericon. It’s also made stranger by the fact he’s never met her or seen her before yet she’s meant to be the most important thing to her.

As writing goes the story is good and well structured. I’m currently reading Superior Spider-Man which is also Dan Slott, so have an open frame of reference. I don’t feel he’s disappointing in it, but then again I've also seen stronger from him. It flows well, even though it is split over two main areas, but at the same time also feels a little basic and doesn’t challenge the reader. This could be partially brought on by the artwork.

Unfortunately I’m not a fan of Michael Allred’s style of drawing so for me it really takes some of the gusto from the comic. It’s full of very strong lines and bright colours (courtesy of his wife Laura Allred) but lacks enough detail for me. I had the feeling that there was no background to the comic. It was also a little disappointing that the cover, also by Allred and Allred, had little bearing on the story at this present time and was the one from Point One, which I also feel was from a different point along this tale.

That said I did find the double page spread of the Impericon quite bemusing and almost played tricks on the eyes which was certainly a new experience.

This is a shot at redemption for Norrin, although it is with his arm twisted behind his back, and with Slott writing it I have no worries over the story. However, for me this is one comic I’m not sure I can read as I just can't reconcile Allred's artwork with the Marvel Universe.

Matt Puddy is very excited about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles teaser trailer even if it is Michael Bay.