Book Review 141 // Aliens - Bug Hunt: Deep Background by Keith R.A. DeCandido and Empty Nest by Brian Keene


I know right! How many damn Alien-themed short stories can there be? The answer is a lot hahaha. Well, you will be glad to hear that I am pairing up the stories once again this week, so two reviews for the price of one.

Up first, Deep Background by Keith R.A. DeCandido. This is an interesting tale found the journalist Nickole Kejela as she is given an assignment with a group of Colonial Marines. The ultimate idea of the assignment is to expose Weyland-Yutani's underhanded business practices. The story then joins her on the job as she records the squad's daily training and she starts interviewing them, during this period she is accepted by the team and joins in some lighthearted gambling. As the story seems to be slowing down, we get a booster shot as the team is deployed to LV-148 to evacuate a group of Weyland-Yutani scientists.

The story given to the marines is a simple in and out job. Rescue the scientists before their base is destroyed by a sinkhole. As the marines operate the rescue mission and start pulling out scientists, a mystery cavern is discovered and you guest it Eggs are discovered. Soon shit hits the fan and the Lieutenant of the group is discovered with a Facehugger. Of course, the procedure is not properly followed and the chest buster escapes to start the classic reign of terror.

A day later we rejoin the action to discover Kejela and three marines making their last stand. We only find out their ultimate fate when Kejela's boss reads the report about LV-418. It is then revealed that Weyland-Yutani knew about Xenomorphs presence the whole time, using this info, she contacts the USCM Chief of Staff and in exchange for deleting the report, she is rewarded with a hefty bribe.

A dark tale indeed!

The second tale Empty Nest by Brian Keene, sees us joining Lance Corporal Michael Lombardo at a colony on Taurus 7. Unfortunately for the Corporal, the base is overrun by Xenomorphs. As the sole survivor, Lombardo is left facing off against a group of Xenomorphs and strangely behind a lone surviving colonist.

After luring the alien group into a trap, Lombardo detonates a grenade, blasting them to pieces. With the way clear he rescues the strange survivor, and hands over his knife to offer her some form of protection. As they rush back to the hanger, we discover her name is Alice and she has had a rough life. We discover she is alone and has watched her colleagues die to the aliens, we also discover she is terminally ill from cancer and lost a child to stillbirth. This is a really dark past, that hints as to why she may have survived for so long? Do Aliens sense genetic flaws?

Well turns out this is what the author wanted me to think and I fell for it! As Lombardo reaches the escape shuttle, he is confused as to the lack of Xenomorph activity. At this point, Alice shows her true colours and mutters, "Because they sent me instead", before slitting his god damn throat!! What a plot twist. We discover she is in fact with a child, a xenomorph child, and sees this as her chance to have a family.

What an ending, loved this tale, had me hooked from start to finish. It was amazing.

As always, I thank you for reading. I hope you will take a moment to use one of the links, and help support the blog. Thank you.

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Beer Review 152 // Triple Berry Hi-Fi - Sons of Kent


Nothing like a fruity sour during a heatwave. Luck for me this Triple Berry Hi-Fi by Sons of Kent hits the mark. The description is short and to the point:

Sour Beer brewed with Blueberry, Blackberry, and Raspberry.

A fruited sour beer packed full of fruit and at a rather easy-drinking 4.8%. The pour is bright, purple, full of hazy and is topped by a beautiful foamy head. It looks like a full-on dessert in a glass. As I leaned in for a good healthy sniff, you just get full-on fruit. It is like a berry pie, extremely moreish and if I had to pick on I feel raspberry pushes into the lead-on aroma.

After the first sip, it is easy to say this is a winner. The taste is like a berries fruit smoothie but without the seeds. It is bold, tart and easy to drink. I would happily drink this one again and again. Perfect for this hot summer, so go get some if you can find it.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. And if you are ever in Ottawa come to say hi!

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Comic Review 147 // Judge Dredd: Trifecta by 2000 AD


Sticking to a few collected 2000 AD stories at the moment. I am not quite ready to dive back into the complete case files just yet. So what is today's comic? Why I am jumping forward in the timeline to enjoy Trifecta, an amazing storyline at the time that three separate stories running that then to the surprise of the reader actually combines.

Here are the official details.

Fluff:
 Mega-City One, 2134 AD. Fresh from the devastating events caused by the Chaos virus, Dredd becomes aware of a potential power grab from within the Justice Department. Wally Squad gumshoe Jack Point is given a mysterious doll to safeguard. Dirty Frank wakes up on Luna-1 as a board member of Overdrive, Inc. All three Judges soon find themselves embroiled in the same case in which allegiances and grudges form in equal measure!
Page Count: 176
Writers: Al Ewing, Simon Spurrier, Rob Williams.
Artists: Simon Coleby, Henry Flint, D'Israeli, Carl Critchlow.

Review

This brings back happy memories as I remember being obvious to the story arc as it came out in 2000 AD. And as the stories combined my mind was blown. A true highlight was the fact that it combines three of my favourite characters, Dredd (of course), Dirty Frank and the comically depressed Jack Point.

This story at the time was a piece that played on thirty-five years of Dredd history and had references going all the way back to the days of Chief Judge Cal. Though it definitely helps to know your MC-1 history, it isn't needed the knowledge to enjoy the ride.

The story itself is split into three parts, each following one of the main characters in his own viewpoint of the larger story. Now of course we all know Dredd - the main lawman of MC-1. Then we Jack Point the simping detective, a member of Wally Squad, a screw-up and a clown located in Angeltown. Finally, we have Dirty Frank, also a Wally Squad Judge. One of absolute renown in the Justice Department and normally found in the low-life sector, acting like a crazy, homeless person.

In each of the stories the leads face off against their own villains - Dredd faces off against the new head of the Undercover Division. A Judge that he already has some history with, the possibly corruptable Judge Bachmann. Whilst Jack Point has to deal with Archmime Turner of Simpology and how they too have been manipulated. Whilst Dirty Frank is off on Luna facing down Enormo Overdrive, a Shark/humiod businessman. The three stories are all unquie in their own ways and as the stories start to merge the the insanity gets dialled up to extreme levels. Between the three stories we are treated to aliens, clowns, ninjas, floating cities, and man who we last say at the end of Chief Judge Cal's reign, who has been chilling out in the walls of the Hall of Justice! And these are the standout points, I'm pretty sure I missed other references throughout the story.

As with each stories writing the artwork is also unquie. And I love how it was used to keep the stories feeling separate until they needed to join up. Overall a really impressive read, that I would recommend to some you has a working knowledge of the Dreddverse. Once again for me Dirty Frank was the standout character, but I truly became enthralled by Jack Point in this series and I can't wait to read more on him soon.

Have you read this adventurous series? Let me know in the comments. If you have a moment please give me a follow over on youtube and use any link below to support my hobbying.

Amazon Link: Trifecta

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Miniature Monday // Welcome to the Corp


"All right, sweethearts, what are you waiting for? Breakfast in bed? Another glorious day in the Corps! A day in the Marine Corps is like a day on the farm. Every meal's a banquet! Every paycheck a fortune! Every formation a parade! I LOVE the Corps! "

—Apone

Welcome to another Miniature Monday, youtube treat. Today we check in with the Marine Corp aspect of the Aliens: Another Glorious Day in the Corps by Gale Force Nine.

Made from stunning hard green plastic, these figures are kind of what you expect. In no way, as detailed as GW kits they still manage to pack a wow factor. In this opening set, you get seven playable characters. Ripley (be weird to not include her), Newt, Gorman, Hudson, Hicks, Frost and Vasquez. Each figure ranged from three to four parts to make and went together very easily. It also seems like we have a nice array of weapons, 1 flamer, 1 Smartgun, 1 Shotgun, 2 Pulse Rifles and a pistol (well done Gorman). Not sure how the game plays at the moment so not sure if they start with these weapons or not. As you will see in the following video they all go together wonderfully and I hope to start painting soon.

Until then, I would love it if you could watch the video and go give me a follow on youtube! Until then cheers.

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6OKu5RY4oT3XvGtAf7BdPg?sub_confirmation=1



Audio Review 43 // The Path Forsaken by Rob Sanders


Finishing up my Black Library Xeno shorts this week with, Rob Sanders - The Path Forsaken. It looks like the series is ending with an Eldar tale. Damn this set was Eldar heavy, four out of eight followed the path! Enough of me rambling here is the fluff:

Indiscriminate in their destruction, the Tyranid host consumes all in its path, sparing nothing and brooking no parley. The exodite world of Ephraeleon will be the next to fall, its people unprepared and undefended, but for Eldar Ranger Una Belphoebe the fate of the planet means nothing compared to the love of her prince. With the chitinous horde already descending on the jungles of Ephraeleon has her desperate rescue come too late?

An Eldar audio drama. Approx. running time 36 mins. Produced by Heavy Entertainment for Black Library. Performed by Gareth Armstrong, Sean Barret, Lucy Brown, Claire Corbett, Martyn Ellis and Paul Panting.


Okay, let's get some of the excitement out of the way.
  1. It's an exodite world, so yes, there are dinosaurs.
  2. It's based around rangers, some of my favourite Eldar characters.
  3. I hadn't heard of Ephraeleon, so I eagerly added to the Eldar Encylopedia
The story follows a ranger called Ola Belphoebe, who has been tasked with leading her team on a rescue mission. Their goal is to rescue an exodite prince from being eaten by the hive mind. Seems a simple enough plot, rescue the prince and escape before being eaten along with the world. The only problem is between the web way gate and their goal is a jungle filled with dinosaurs and alien bugs!

I found the dinos and Nids very entertaining when discovered, unfortunately, I found the cast to be one-dimensional and rather dull. I found myself engaging more with the planet the fauna/flora rather than the wannabe, heroic cast.

The voice acting was solid and I enjoyed the Scottish/Welsh accents the cast was given, and the sound effects truly saved the audiobook. Overall it is fine, not great, not bad, just fine. I wouldn't rush out to buy it but if you can find it cheap, go for it!

Amazon Link: The Path Forsaken

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Book Review 140 // Bug Hunt: Zero to Hero by Weston Ochse / Dark Mother by David Farland / Episode 22 by Larry Correia


Okay, I want to start speeding up the Alien short story reviews. This seemed like a good time as the tales get a bit quicker and harder to write a full post about without giving you a blow-by-blow of the plot.

The first tale this week is Zero to Hero by Weston Ochse. Got to be honest it is a strange one, the main character Corporal Franklin Sykes, is slimy. Having bribed he is way to a remote station, far away from any real action, all he does is play computer games. That is until an issue arises at the mine! Fearing Xenomorphs we discover a true coward until he is pushed into action. Unfortunately for Skyes, the issue seems to stem from Weyland Yutani testing out some bioweapon, and accidentally turning the miners into zombies!

It was a slow-building story but ended surprisingly strongly.

The next tale is Dark Mother by David Farland and follows the company man, Carter Burke. Set in his final hours inside Hadley's Hope, we discover his fate which was not disclosed in the film. We discover Burke was captured by a xenomorph and moved into the nest area. Hear he drifts between the current setting and flashbacks of his childhood. It ultimately explains a lot about Burke and why he behaves the way he does. This story is a true origin piece. I also find the ending to be very satisfying as Burke finally gets his deserved ending.

Pretty good, lacking action but great origin piece.

The final tale this week is Episode 22 by Larry Correia. Going to be upfront and honest, this was not for me and found the story a bit dull. It is a written version of a documentary show discussing the creation of the Pulse Rifle. I get how the right fan would get a kick out of this piece but for me this was a hard miss.

Oh well, can't win them all...right?


As always, I thank you for reading. I hope you will take a moment to use one of the links, and help support the blog. Thank you.

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Beer Review 151 // Juan Almonte by Bicycle Craft Brewing

Time for a fun beer from one of my favourite Ottawa-based breweries - Bicycle Craft Brewing - Juan Almonte. Described as a Jalapeno Pale Ale, I have had a version of this beer every release and have always enjoyed it. But for me personally, it will be the first time out of a can!

Let us drink up and enjoy!

The pour is a beautiful orange, dark yellow, with a bright white clean head. It looks like a really West Coast IPA at this point. On the aroma, I get an earthy green jalapeno scent, slight spiciness but nothing scary. On the sip it is very easy drinking, the flavour profile matches the aroma. Slightly earthy, slightly malty, with a roasted pepper taste. I didn't notice the building heat until about halfway through. I was also pleasantly pleased that it never went beyond this level. No sweating after finishing this beer! The finish is pleasant and with the gentle heat, it will make you want more, which you can do as it is only 5.2%. Overall another hugely enjoyable beer by this crew.

Okay at this stage I am going to sign off and go grab another can! Have a great week everyone and check out the following links to help support me.

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Comic Review 146 // Judge Dredd: Dead Zone

It's been a hot minute since I last read a Judge Dredd story. I wanted to jump back into a Case File book but felt I wasn't quite ready for that. Instead, I dived into the Dead Zone. Two linked stories are over 96 pages and are set after the Day of Chaos. Here is the commercial write up:

Following the death of 90% of the Mega-City One population in the Day of Chaos, Judge Dredd's latest case takes him into the Cursed Earth where illegal fortunes await those tempted to mine the vast mass graves.

Following the devastation of the Day of Chaos, Mega-City One is rebuilding itself. But criminals will always find ways to cheat and exploit the desperate even... While investigating a murder at the Chaos Day Memorial, Dredd comes across a slave ring in which people are being sent into the bowels of the earth to rob the bodies of the dead. Yodie - one of those forced into this harrowing labour, finds a technologically advanced bracelet that bestows tremendous power to whoever wears it. Meanwhile, the 'owners' will stop at nothing to get it back...

Written by: John Wagner
Artist: Henry Flint & Richard Elson

The first story is Dead Zone. This kicks us off straight into the fun as we are introduced to Yodie and his pregnant partner Belle. The pair are travelling across the Cursed Earth heading towards the bright if incredibly broken lights of Mega-City One. Unfortunately for the pair, they come across a Memorial Facility for the victims and the Chaos Plague. Here they stumble across a gang of gross grave robbers, who after kidnapping the pair force Yodie into working in a dead body mine. Which seems as gross as they sound. Running simultaneously, Judge Dredd is at the facility investigating the death/murder/suicide of their accountant McPhee.

During one of his "digs", Yodie discovers a bracelet with glowing stones. After tapping a stone Yodie goes invisible. Using this surprising turn of events, Yodie attempts to escape, during the attempt guns are fired and the sound attracts Dredd. In the chaos, Yodie and Belle flee to Mega-City One. Sadly the adventure didn't end there and with the introduction of time police, really damaged the tale. Ultimately Yodie and Belle get the happy ending, but it honestly felt touch and go at points.

The follow-up tale Breaking Bud joins a technician called Bud, who after working on the bracelet case can't resist its lure, especially as his life takes an utter nose dive. Of course, the story goes off the rail. For me, this story wasn't as interesting as the first, and the time police involvement really weakens everything.

I really enjoyed the stories and it was a great way to get back into the Dredd-style stories. The only real change I would make is to drop the damn Time Police! Way too sci-fi for a sci-fi story hahaha.

As always I hope you enjoyed and will support my blog by using the link below.

Amazon Link: Judge Dredd: Deadzone

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Miniature Monday // Durham Red by Warlord Games and 2000 AD


Welcome back Stront heads! As I am sure you may have guessed we are back with another Strontium Dog paint job. This Durham Red! Here is her back story.

As a result of radioactive fallout (strontium-90) from a nuclear war in 2150, Durham Red was born with a mutation that made her resemble a vampire in appearance and behaviour, although she had no supernatural attributes. Shunned by other mutants, she joined the Search / Destroy agency at a young age, becoming a bounty hunter, or "strontium dog." Whilst working for the agency, she met Johnny Alpha (the lead character in the Strontium Dog series) and they were briefly romantically involved, but he was unable to trust her, and this lead to their relationship ending.

At some unspecified time after Alpha's death, Red became tired of her life and entered suspended animation. She only intended to do this for a couple of years, but she was not awoken until 1,272 years later. She discovered that the human race had spread throughout the galaxy on her revival but was still divided between pure-blood humans and mutants. As a mutant who drank the blood of normal humans, she had become a mythical figure to the mutants, who revered her as a saint ("Saint Scarlet"). Her efforts to end the conflict backfired and only made things much worse, costing the lives of billions. However, she lived for another ten thousand years, and eventually witnessed a renaissance of human civilization. In the last episode of Dan Abnett's stories, it is implied that she became an empress and was responsible for a new golden age of humanity, before faking her death and withdrawing from public life. Stories published since then are set before she entered suspended animation.

As far as my scheme went I kept it simple with her classic comic strip look. Black mohawk, red hair, yellow straps, orange suit, chainmail parts and black boats. Hope you enjoy! I am working on a painting video as you read this. If finished in the time it will be here below.


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Audio Review 42 // Howl of the Banshee by Gav Thorpe


Still working my way through some Warhammer 40k short stories. Once again, I fall into the Aeldari thirst trap with Howl of the Banshee by Gav Thorpe. Pre-warning at 38 minutes, this is a really quick Black Library tale. But let us dive into the commercial fluff.

The Howling Banshees of Biel-Tan wage war in the depths of a Chaos-tainted craftworld. Blood Runs. Anger Rises. Death Wakes. War Calls. And failure is unthinkable…You wouldn’t want to get in a fight with Exarch Clyona and her deadly Banshee sisters. Their masks have sense-warping powers that can liquefy unsuspecting foes. And the setting for their battle is like no other, the depths of a dead craftworld.

As mentioned, the story follows six Howling Banshees (an elite close combat aspect warrior group of the Aeldari), as they face off against a horde of Khorne Daemons. The battle also takes place on a long-dead Aeldari Craftworld that they have now infested. 

Solid enough idea, and plot. It just did not have enough time to do it true justice. Gav Thorpe did really well to make an interesting squad of Banshees, and the fallen Craftworld itself is very intriguing. But, the overall effect is not groundbreaking, as an Aeldari fan I enjoyed it, but if I was a space marine fan or even a Khorne Daemon fan, this would be a hard miss.

I really want to like this, I really do, but I don't think I can recommend this one. Hard Miss!

Amazon Link: Howl of the Banshee

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Book Review 139 // Exterminators by Matt Forbeck - No Good Deed by Ray Garton


I'm still on these Alien shorts. This time the story is by Matt Forbeck and is titled, Exterminators. The story is a dual cast of Dietrich and Frost, and it helps to explain why they love a flamethrower.

Set on Sullivan 9, Dietrich and Frost slip away for some private R & R. Escaping the watch of their squad, they find a remote dive bar that is definitely illegal and slip in to have a drink. Inside they find a rough crowd, but are ultimately served a drink and left alone. Soon they start to hear tales of insects that are terrorizing the locals, and after some chat, discover one patron is actually inflicted by a bug. Looking at the victim, they discover a bug attached to the man's chest, that is making him sick. When asked why they haven't requested assistance, they are told due to the illegal nature of the bar/area they can't rely on company help.

As the marines are about to head off to get a doctor, it is noted that the insects are forming once more outside. We then have full-blown bug/body horror happening, which ultimately ends with a blown-up bar and a lot of dead locals. Dietrich and Frost survive (though hospitalized), and the story basically ends with Dietrich declaring next bug nest they find, she'll be bringing a flamethrower.

Overall, a bit of a silly story, but a fun quick read, so no issues there.

With that being such a straightforward tale, I am going to dive into the next story. Double feature Thursday!

No Good Deed by Rob Garton is set very early on in the Alien infestation of Hadley's Hope. We join a Bounty Hunter and synthetic, as they track down two escaped Convicts, who had hoped to hide out in Hadley's Hope.

I wasn't really a fan of this one. There was a couple of reasons. 1 - Though the base was suffering from an attack, the locals seemed very indifferent about using the bounty hunter's ship to escape. They instead lock the new arrivals outside. Very noble, and unrealistic in my opinion. 2 - One of the convicts had been genetically tested on and basically rages out into a red hulk. Never heard of this before in the stories, seems to marvel and out there for me. 3) Having seen what is happening the bounty hunter basically goes meh and flies away. Cold, real cold.

Overall unimpressed. The first bad story in the book for me.

As always, I thank you for reading. I hope you will take a moment to use one of the links, and help support the blog. Thank you.

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Book Review 141 // Aliens - Bug Hunt: Deep Background by Keith R.A. DeCandido and Empty Nest by Brian Keene

I know right! How many damn Alien-themed short stories can there be? The answer is a lot hahaha. Well, you will be glad to hear that I am pa...