Comic Review 58 // Aliens: Dead Orbit by James Stokoe

Looks like I dropped a Warhammer 40k addiction for an Aliens one! This time I am review a comic by James Stokoe for Dark Horse Publishing. It is the collected works of 4 issues and is titled Dead Orbit. Here is the official fluff:

After a horrific accident strikes a space station, an engineering officer must use all available tools--a timer, utility kit, and his wits--to survive an attack from the deadliest creature known to man.

Collects issues #1-#4 of the thrilling and claustrophobic Aliens story: Dead Orbit, penned by Orc Stain creator James Stokoe!

Got to be honest and state this story is lacking on plot and reads like a lazy Alien story, going through all the classic Alien ideas.

Step 1 - A ragtag group of people discover a space hulk floating in deep space and decide to explore it.

Step 2 - Discover a Xenomorph hidden in the hulk.

Step 3 - Die!


The real highlight of this comic is the stunning work of James Stokoe. He is able to produce a beautiful Alien and a great space station backdrop. But sadly the story is so dull, you will find yourself enjoying the crew die. The characters are completely forgettable which is what I plan to do with this comic. Let's swiftly move on.

Book Review 54 // Aliens: Earth Hive by Steve Perry

Taking a little break from the Black Library catalogue of tales (there is so many!). I knew I wanted something in the science fiction range but what? I then remembered the Alien franchise and Ripley. It's been awhile since I last tackled an Alien book, so I headed to the e-library and grabbed Volume One which contains three tales. The first being Earth Hive.

Book Details

Title: Aliens: Earth Hive

Author: Steve Perry

Publisher: Bantam Books

Type: E-book

Page Count: 278

Commercial Fluff: Wilks was a space marine with a near-fatal flaw: he had a heart. Billie was a child, the only survivor of a far-flung colony outpost. Thrown together in the last hellish night of an alien invasion, Billie and Wilks helped each other get out alive. Thirteen years later Wilks is in prison, and Billie lives in a mental institution, the nightmare memories of the massacre at Rim seared into her mind. Now the government has tapped Wilks to lead an expedition to the aliens' home planet to bring back a live alien. But the competition on Earth to develop the aliens as a new weapons system is brutal. When Wilks's team departs on their mission, a trained assassin trails them. And what follows is no less than guerrilla warfare on the aliens' planet - and alien conquest on Earth!

Review

I think it comes as no surprise that I enjoy a good Xenomorph book. This one was written in the early 90's to tie in or novelize the Dark Horse Comic collection and is Book 1 in a series following the characters Wilk and Billie.

Wilk and Billie can be compared Dwayne and Newt of the film franchise. Wilk's is a Colonial Marine who was sent in to rescue and investigate a mining colony that had gone quite. Sadly it turned out to have been a Xenomorph infestation. Out of about 40 troops sent in only Wilk survives and managed to escape with Billie (the only colonist survivor at the age of 10). After returning to Earth (something Dwayne and Newt failed to achieve) Wilk is sent to a prison complex for interrogation and Billie is mind wiped, in attempt by the military to cover up the xenomorph threat. Jump forward 10ish years and we are now ready for this tale.

During a routine clean up of the atmosphere surrounding Earth, a spaceship is discovered carrying a Xenomorph! Luckily for Earth the ship is destroyed but not before the flight route is discovered. Soon the military are mounting a mission to the believed home world of the Aliens. As you can imagine there is a lot of backstabbing (thanks to the companies) and soon a small group of Marines have landed on the home world. As in all classic Alien films/titles nothing goes to plan and as the Marines start dieing on a far away world, Earth is faring no better with an outbreak of Xenomorph's!

By the time our two main characters arrive back to Earth, everything has gone to shit and mankind is abandoning Earth to the Xenomorphs! The tale ends with Wilk, Billie and Mitch (android) smuggling onto one of the final spacecrafts leaving earth and their destination is unknown.

Highlights:

Quick easy reading and quite the page turner. It was fun to explore a world controlled by the Xenomorphs. The real highlight for me though was the crazy cult that grew around the xenomorph's on Earth. It would seem the Queen is able to manipulate those sensitive enough to her mind control, just like the drones. I really like the idea of this weird cult, who willing choose to be the new generation of Xenomorph's and how after being infected spread across the globe, to create new queens and hives.

Lowlights:

Could have been two books. One book could have been purely about the attack on the Alien World and one book about the spread of the xenomorphs on earth. Sadly instead they rushed both tales a bit. I also found the xeno's description a bit comical but how else would a human describe a xeno than Banana Headed!

Overall a fun, tie in to the movies and a great leaping point into this new series. Watch this space as I start Nightmare Asylum book two in the series.

Craftworld Iyanden 18 // Zhemon's Reckoning Guardian Defender Squad

It's been a long time coming but I finally have a 40k article. This time I am looking at my first Guardian Defender Squad - Zhemon's Reckoning.

The origin of this squad hails from during the time of Iyanden's wars with the corrupted Dark Angel Captain, Zhemon. This squad hailing from House Ulthanash was first called to action on the world of Ishasta and would battle alongside the wraith host raised to combat the fallen Space Marine. Whilst the ghost warriors led the attack on the fortress, Zhemon's Reckoning acted as a bodyguard detail for the council of seers who traveled with the war host. Though not exactly a combat role, the squad did see action during the closing stages aiding in the destruction of one of Zhemon's Maulerfiends. Sadly losing six of their members in the bloody attack.

Following the outcome of the battle the survivors of Zhemon's Reckoning now numbering only four, traveled with the Seer Council to meet with the Dark Angels. What happened at this meeting has never been discussed, but the four guardians returned to the craftworld changed. All four ultimately joined the aspect sects and met their ends in battle. But with everything on Iyanden these unsung heroes did not rest for long.

Now with the galaxy torn in two and a new God rising, this Guardian Defender unit is once again formed to fight the enemies of Iyanden. Still drawing from House Ulthanash citizens, who take it upon themselves to don the war masks and fight in honor of the original members. Of the original members their story didn't end in death, it is whispered that they now have rejoined the living as Ghost Warriors and once again travel together as a unit with a strong thirst to fight traitor and loyalist Space Marines. Some even bearing the mark of the Ynnari on their bodies.


Book Review 53 // The Tomb and other short stories by H.P Lovecraft

Back at the reading again and this time it's into the early works of  H.P Lovecraft. Originally I was going to review each tale separately but they are rather short tales so I am combining into set piece.

Up first, the title piece - The Tomb.

Originally written in 1917, this tale was Lovecraft's first adult story. The most telling thing about this tale is that there are no eldar god's. That right it's a straight up psychological, horror tale. It tells the story of child who discovers the entrance to a long abandoned mausoleum, whose line is believed to be ended following a fire of their nearby mansion. As the story progresses we find the child growing into a man and becoming more obsessed with tomb. There is some unusual time hopping dreams in this tale, which gives it a nice twist and the ending is a little sad for the main character as he locked away and viewed insane. In all a great opener if a little short.

The Festival - A Christmas tale if HP ever actually wrote one. Describes the tale of a young man being called back to his ancestor home Kingsport for the Yuletide. It makes note of how everyone acts and seems strange towards him and whilst in a run down, damp house he discovers the Necronomicon. Then as the bells chime he is lead into Church which houses a mysterious underground cave system and for the first time introduces the Byakhees (something that would be a staples of Mythos). Highly descriptive and an amazing read and easy to see why Lovecraft started down this road to the Mythos.

Imprisoned with the Pharaohs - Credit to Lovecraft and Houdini (Yes Harry Houdini though it is said he didn't help much). It represents a Houdini adventure and reads a bit like an Indiana Jones adventure. It was an okay tale at best, easily forgotten and bit to far from the Lovecraft I enjoy.

HE - Based on Lovecraft's time in New York City. In this tale he attempts to bring an evil sorcerer into the setting of New York and sadly fails. This instead showcases the racist that was H.P Lovecraft and was awkward read. So we will swiftly move on.

The Horror at Red Hook - I hate to say it but another xenophobic tale from Lovecraft. At least this he covers it slightly better than in HE. We join a police officer named Malone, as he attempts to discover the cause of the resent surge of illegal aliens in the area. All the clues ultimately lead to an abandon church and when raided it is discovered it was the center of activity for smugglers. But it doesn't end there. Instead we find out they worship dark, long forgot cults and have possibly brought back something evil from a time that should have been forgotten. If you can past H.P Lovecraft's xenophobia comments you have a great tale. Read with caution.


The Strange High House in the Mist - Now we hit a more classical style Lovecraft tale. We have a professor, we have an isolated New England setting and we have a creepy ass house in a location no one should ever go exploring! A short and creepy tale that leaves you wondering how far the threat extends...

In the Walls of Erynx - A science fiction piece with all the Lovecraft twists and turns. I never realized he had attempted Sci-fi so I was extremely intrigued by this one. Set on and new colonized Venus we follow a brave mineral prospector as he travels aboard looking for a rare mineral. Only problem is this mineral is normally protected by a lizard man race native to Venus, believed to be inferior to mankind. The tale itself is a great read and can't help but feel bad for the prospector as he becomes entrapped in an invisible maze, made by what he believes to be an inferior race.

The Evil Clergyman - The final tale of this book and also H.P Lovecraft's final ever written piece. This is short tale and it struggled due to the limited page count. We have our character alone in a room and due to a reason I am unsure off he is able to swap bodies and possibly travel back in time to become an apostate of an earlier time. I didn't enjoy this tale at all, but it could have been purely due to me not understanding what was happening. IF you can explain it to me drop a comment below.

Then we get some filler to finish the book with titled Early Tales and Fragment. These are basically early works or ideas for tales that were never fully explored, if you are fan of Lovecraft than do read. Otherwise skip pass as they don't add much for their worth.

Overall this book is a solid read if you want quick punchy tales, if you are looking for a more in-depth tale to enjoy look elsewhere.

Cheers for joining me.

Comic Review 57 // Lawman of the Future 10

Welcome back everyone. I was away for a bit there due to family responsibilities but I'm back now and diving head first into issue 10 of Lawman of the Future. That's right we are officially into double digits.

First up the cover. We knew it would be Judge Death heavy so no surprise to see his corpse hand on the cover. Whilst Judge Dredd looks worries, PSI Judge Anderson looks like see is giving a speech. Not sure what the artist was thinking with this posing. As always there is something for free and two new stories.

This issue contains three tales as always. Judge Death (Part 3), Election Day and finally Perp Running. I also see a picture of Otto Sump so I am excited to see which tale he will be in, I can only assume it will be Election day.

Judge Death (Part 3) - Final we are getting the showdown I wanted. Judge Anderson versus Judge Death. Breaking through Death's psychic wards, Dredd and Anderson finally come face to face with the super villain. Physically weakening the body of Death, Anderson attacks Death on the spiritual realm. Using his own spirit trapping orb to capture the superfiend and entrap him with the spirits he has tormented.

The artwork was beautiful, and though the story deviated for main stream Dredd I enjoyed the twist. The way he was trapped at the end was a great way to finish this villain off. Great start to the issue.

Up next is a double page showcasing the ruling council of MC-1.

Chief Judge Jefferson - Non existent in 2000Ad so have no idea about him. Seemingly a street Judge before injury. Not much else to report on him.

Head of SJS - Judge Geer - Once again an all new character. I'm a bit confused as to his look. In the movies the SJS are all black military looking, designed to take down corrupt Judges. Whilst Geer looks like a street Judge with skulls, a bit of a miss for me.


Head of Tek - Judge Ramirez - okay seems to be all new characters with no links to 2000Ad. Sadly not much to report on the character.

Head of Med - Judge Kelly - once more no real details. Disappointed none of these characters have links to actual 2000Ad characters.

Head of Psi - Judge Shenker - holy crap this one is based on an actual character! I wonder if he will be like his inspiration or actually be good at his job? I hate the Ying and Yang logo. Very weird uniform choice.

Election Day - The city is voting on who will be the next mayor of MC-1. The parties running include: Ugly Party, Free Mean Machine Lunatic Fringe, Peace Party, Punishment Party and Citizens for a Non Violent Society. Just like most things in MC-1 it soon devolves into a fight and Dredd is called into to make arrests.

With attacks rising Dredd becomes bodyguard to Otto Sump of the Ugly party and has to keep the leading candidate alive long enough to win the election.

Fun read for sure. Reminds me of a novel I read where it was election day but instead of Mean Machine, Judge Death was the random choice.

Perp Running (Part 1) - continuing the big mega racket story arc. We are introduce to Paradise Island, a resort floating out on the Black Atlantic. Here rich Mega City citizens come for holidays and to view the strange sea creature exhibits. It is also a base for perp running, changing a perps face to match a tourist before killing off the original. Soon Dredd has taken down some of the criminals and is heading to Paradise Island to follow the trail.

Good start to this tale and I am excited to see how the Kraken comes into the story. Also good to see tales escaping MC-1 and showcasing other locations.

Overall this is a great issue. Solid stories for all three. Great artwork and an okay filler piece. Now to start on issue 11.

Comic Review 56 // Lawman of the Future 09

Following on from the exciting introduction of Judge Death, I am swiftly moving onto issue 09. The cover is intense showing Judge Dredd versus Death in a killer embrace. Death looks crazy badass, but the real shocker is the tagline of meet Judge Anderson. So not only is Dredd getting some support but it is going to be the amazing PSI Judge herself. The rest of the cover is the classic line up, prizes to be won, great artwork and a new story.

The tales in this issue are Block War, Judge Death and Job Selling. Following the opening page we are introduced to PSI Judge Anderson and her case files. Not the most in-depth telling of her character but at the bottom of the page is some gang slants that I feel hint towards what is going to be seen in the comic.

Tale - Judge Death Part 2 - Eek! I'm excited for this one. Dress is pretty much at Deaths mercy and is only saved when reinforcement arrived. Having believed to had destroyed the host body, Dredd takes the remains of the body to psi division and we final meet Anderson. Whilst this is happening a survivors body is transferred to the local medbay, but why does the doctor believe this survivor is dead.

First up this is a three parter! This is new unheard of territory for the magazine. Secondly why is Anderson hardly in it? Give me more Anderson. Great opening tale.

We are then treated to a competition, a few adverts and the exit polls of previous issues. Then we get some info on the Angel from the Film, along side a two page poster of Mean Machine. All pretty standard. So let's move on.

Tale - Block War - opening panel is intense featuring Dredd and Hersey in the middle of a five way city block war. The lead up of the block war is pretty simple. The city housing department has decided to build five city blocks (The Jackson Five) and house the roughest members of society there, they hope to curb all crime in this way.  Well it didn't work and soon the blocks are a mess and block war is declared. Judges are called in to bring the blocks back under control. Soon through heavy handed violence and some knock out gas, four of the five blocks surrender. Only Micheal Jackson block remains lawless, but this comes to a swift end after Dredd smashes his way through the top floor killing the leaders with excessive use of a H-Wagon (think flying tank).

This was a classic Dress story line, full of over the top violence and action. Loved seeing this verses version of the H-Wagon. Looks menacing and brutal which it should.

Then a standard page of readers letters before the final Tale - Job Selling. The mega rackets are conning innocent citizens into believing they are heading to a well paid job. Unfortunately for the gullible citizen that job is as a slave, in a mutie mine in the Cursed Earth. Of course once Dredd finds out it all comes to violent end!

Great issue all three tales are epic and great reads. Of course the Death tale is the best, but the other two are great representations of MC-1 life and worthy of a read.  Now onto issue 10.

Book Review 108 // Redemption by Darius Hinks

I'm still riding that Necromunda short story wave, and this time we reach Redemption by Darius Hinks. Now from the title alone, it is ea...