Comic Review: The Witcher, Vol. 1: House of Glass

Published: October 7th, 2014
Written by: Paul Tobin
Art by: Joe Querio, Mike Mignola (cover)
Based on: The Witcher novels by Andrzej Sapkowski

Dark Horse Comics, 137 Pages

Review:

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a Witcher comic book but I’m glad that this didn’t disappoint and was a pretty cool read.

While the cover was done by Mike Mignola, the interior art was not. However, it does have the same sort of vibes even if it is less stylized.

The story here was enjoyable and there’s a mystery to be solved. While things aren’t what they seem, the story isn’t predictable and the ending is pretty satisfactory.

Most of the story takes place in and around a haunted house but there are a few characters that come into this tale, as well as some neat monsters, many of which you’ll recognize from The Witcher games.

The story here was interesting and well written with fairly rich and well developed characters that you end up caring about.

All in all, if you are a fan of the franchise, this is definitely worth your time.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other Witcher comics.

Book Review: ‘Kings of the Wyld’ by Nicholas Eames

I heard some good things about this book from different sources. It got me hyped up and I was really stoked to give it a read.

Initially, it lived up to expectations, as the first fifty or so pages were great. It was well written, I liked the two main characters and it hit you in the feels from the get go.

However, once they set off on their adventure, the book became tedious and tiresome.

A lot of times, the action happened off the page and was just sort of reflected on, as characters spent most of their time exchanging witticisms. Because of this, I felt like the author was leaning on the strength of his dialogue and working around his possible weaknesses.

However, after hundreds of pages of mostly banter, I couldn’t wait to get through this book.

Sure, there is action but the stuff I wanted out of this book took a backseat too often. By the time you get where you’re supposed to be going, you don’t care anymore.

This was about 500 pages. It could’ve bumped up the action and told a good, solid story in 300 pages.

I had hoped that this would be the start of a series I could’ve loved but in the end, I’ll pass on its sequels.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: I’m assuming it’s sequel and other installments in the future, as well as other modern fantasy novels.

Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 11: Attack On Technodrome

Published: July 1st, 2015
Written by: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz
Art by: Cory Smith
Based on: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird

IDW Publishing, 104 Pages

Review:

This isn’t really a filler volume in the long-running Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series by IDW, as much as it is its own solid story that puts a heavy emphasis on developing a much bigger event that is going to go down and take up the two volumes after this one. The second such event in this version of TMNT continuity. When I get to those, I’ll probably review them together, as I did the last massive story arc.

In this, however, we see Donatello go behind his brothers’ backs and try to work out an alliance with Shredder, so that they can all take down Krang, his army and the dreaded Technodrome.

There are a lot of swerves and plot twists but the story reads really well and was pretty satisfying. While this wasn’t my favorite volume, it doesn’t disappoint and it kept the story moving forward at a brisk pace without it becoming redundant or derivative of previous stories, which is really hard to do when a series has gone on as long as this one has.

Cory Smith has taken over the art full-time and I like his work. It’s a bit more dynamic and detailed and it feels like the quality is a step up from what it has been. And that’s not to knock the previous artists, as I’ve really liked this series from both the art and writing sides of the coin.

In the end, I’m still enjoying this series and frankly, it’s now probably my favorite version of the turtles. I’m really looking forward to the big arc that follows this one.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: the rest of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles run.

Book Review: ‘The Cthulhu Stories of Robert E. Howard’

I’ve always loved that H.P. Lovecraft never really gave a shit that other writers would tap into his Cthulhu mythos. In the case of Robert E. Howard, the two had become good friends whose work influenced each other. So, naturally Howard wrote some Lovecraftian tales and even merged some of his most famous characters with those existing in Lovecraft’s literary universe.

The first story in this anthology collection sees Howard’s Kull of Atlantis crossover into Lovecraftian horror. Granted, this also happened in some works featuring Conan the Cimmerian, as well.

My favorite story in the collection was the second one, which was originally a novella. The story is called “Skull-Face”. The story is about a British man who smokes opium, has weird visions and then discovers that there’s something real and sinister afoot.

As I was reading “Skull-Face”, I kept envisioning Peter Cushing as the main character and it read like something that could’ve been adapted greatly by Hammer Films in the 1960s.

The rest of the stories were also pretty solid but my mind kept drifting back to “Skull-Face”.

All in all, this was really neat to read as it merged two of my favorite fantasy authors’ worlds together. Sure, Lovecraft influenced Howard’s sword and sorcery tales but this thick volume went beyond just the stuff I’ve read involving Conan, Kull and Solomon Kane.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other works by Robert E. Howard, as well as the literary work of H.P. Lovecraft.

Book Review: ‘Flame and Crimson: A History of Sword-and-Sorcery’ by Brian Murphy

As a lifelong, hardcore fan of sword and sorcery fiction, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Brian Murphy did his research and it showed, as this great book is probably the best thing I’ve ever read on the history of sword and sorcery fantasy, as a whole.

It’s part biographical when it covers specific writers in the genre but it also gets really deep into the history of the sword and sorcery style and how it was established and grew into quite the phenomenon that still creeps in and out of mainstream pop culture.

While this spent a good amount of time on the legendary writer, Robert E. Howard, and his most famous creations Conan and Kull, it also went way beyond that exploring other writers and their work, which helped propel sword and sorcery forward and into the hearts and minds of literary fantasy fans around the world.

The book also shows how sword and sorcery grew beyond just words on a page and how it sort of fell out of popularity but also had a resurgence, later on.

If you love sword and sorcery and you haven’t picked this book up, you definitely should. It’s something I will probably go back to and reference for years to come.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: other books about sword and sorcery literature, comics and film. Especially, the books put out by Pulp Hero Press.

Comic Review: Conan Chronicles – Epic Collection IV: The Battle of Shamla Pass

Published: January 14th, 2020
Written by: Benjamin Truman, Tim Truman
Art by: Joe Kubert, various
Based on: Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard

Dark Horse Comics, Marvel (reprinted), 464 Pages

Review:

These massive collections are kind of pricey, which up to this point was fine. But this one is probably my jumping off point, as it was such a big step down from the previous three Epic Collection releases Marvel has put.

These beefy trade paperbacks cover the span of Conan stories while they were being produced and published by Dark Horse after the original Marvel runs. Well, now that Conan is back at Marvel, they’re releasing two-to-three of these per year to fill in the void.

I guess the stories in this volume weren’t all that bad but the art was a big departure from what I had come to expect with the other volumes.

Additionally, the art was a mixed bag with contrasting styles that changed too often and just sort of made this collection feel really disjointed, where the others felt cohesive, uniform and consistent.

In fact, I’d say that this one made me appreciate the early volumes that much more.

I guess if you’re a Conan completist and you want all of these, have at it. For me, I’ll have to look through the next one before I just outright buy it.

Rating: 5.75/10
Pairs well with: other Conan comics from the Dark Horse era.

Video Game Review: Splatterhouse 2 (Sega Genesis)

I dug the hell out of the Splatterhouse games way back in the day. However, other than recently playing and reviewing the first one, I hadn’t played them since the early ’90s.

This one wasn’t released on the TurboGrafx-16 like its predecessor. Instead, it was released on the 16-bit Sega Genesis (or Mega Drive for international readers).

Unfortunately, this chapter is just more of the same and doesn’t do much to improve upon the first one. In fact, I think it is slightly worse in just how repetitive it is, as well as how shitty the controls and mechanics are.

Plus, it doesn’t take much for you to die, which doesn’t make a lot of sense when you’re a Jason Voorhees looking character with a more ripped physique and a myriad of badass weapons to use.

Additionally, the baddies in the game are all just kind of generic looking and uninspiring.

This is a game that’s fun for about ten minutes until you say to yourself, “Okay… I get it.” and then move on with your day.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: the other releases in this series.

Comic Review: Challengers of the Unknown by Jack Kirby

Published: November 28th, 2017
Written by: France Herron, Jack Kirby
Art by: Jack Kirby, Rosalind Kirby, Marvin Stein, Wally Wood

DC Comics, 321 Pages

Review:

Most comic book fans know that Jack Kirby left Marvel after the booming ’60s and went to DC for a few years to create the cosmic side of their universe, as well as other cool comics like The Demon and Kamandi. However, few people seem to be aware of the fact that he did some work for DC in the ’50s, as well.

Challengers of the Unknown is a really interesting series and honestly, because the art is so Kirby and because it features several large monsters, it feels very much like it was created for Marvel before Stan Lee started writing about superheroes.

Back then, Marvel had a lot of monster comics and Jack Kirby was the king of that genre. Being a fan of that stuff made me really want to check this out, as it sort of mixes his monster stories with the action hero genre.

This book is about a team of cool dudes that go on grand adventures and often times find themselves faced with Kirby-style monsters and robots. This is very pulpy like the comics of the era, as well as the film serials that were inspired by them like Flash Gordon and The Phantom.

Most importantly, this is just a cool series and I always love Kirby’s iconic art style so it’s a win-win all around.

Now I can’t say that this is as good as his best Marvel (or even DC) stuff but it’s still an enthralling read for those who appreciate the guy and his patented style.

All in all, this is a superb, engaging read with great, vibrant art and cool monsters. There’s not much of anything to dislike.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: Jack Kirby’s other work for DC Comics.