The Swamp Thing #1 Review

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The Swamp Thing #1

Review by Paul Bowler.

A new era of horror blossoms in The Swamp Thing #1, DC Comics brand new 10 part maxi-series from the creative team of writer Ram V and artist Mike Perkins. The Guardian of the Green has a new host, Levi Kamei, who cannot control his nightmarish metamorphosis into the Swamp Thing. Finding himself caught up in a terrifying mystery surrounding the ghastly murders committed by an ancient desert legend, Levi must revisit events from the past in his homeland of India, and confront a fearsome new villain if he is to ever understand the horrifying reality of what is happening to him…

Ram V is no stranger to Swamp Thing having written for Justice League Dark and Future State Swamp Thing for DC Comics. Now as part of DC Comics Infinite Frontier initiative in the aftermath of the Death Metal and Future State events, Ram V’s new Swamp Thing mini-series introduces us to Levi Kamei (DC’s first lead character heralding from India), an everyday guy with a deep rooted fear of flying, who now faces an inner-struggle to understand and control his dream fuelled transformations into Swamp Thing.

Exactly how Levi initially became Swamp Thing is opaquely mapped out by Ram V over a series of flashbacks to Levi’s trip to India to visit his dying father. Burning terror, violence and a dark bargain made by his brother all played some role in Levi’s origin as Swamp Thing. Previously, once a character had been transformed into Swamp Thing it was permanent, and there was no turning back. Ram V masterfully sows an uncanny twist into the narrative that seems to indicate that Levi is some kine of vessel or conduit for the Green, especially if Levi’s petrifying trans Atlantic flight back from India to the USA is anything to by, and its a change that respectfully builds on the enduring legacy of Swamp Thing whilst also branching out in a completely fresh direction for the character.

Swamp Thing #1: Becoming Part 1 broodingly establishes this new set-up as the action divides between a Sherif and his deputies investigation of a gruesome murder in the Sonoran Desert, the haunting legend of the Pale Wanderer, and Levi Kamei’s recollections about his trip to India after he returns to New York where he is welcomed home by his long-term friend-with-benefits – Jennifer Reece. It is only really at this issues mid-way point that this series’ premise becomes more clear as we begin to see the wider picture of Levi’s plight, one that’s steeped in the history of India, along with powerful real-world and environmental issues, raw emotion and dark creeping horror. 

Gloriously illustrated throughout by artist Mike Perkins, every page blooms with intricate detail, vivid horror, and unsettling atmosphere. The scene setting opening in the desert offers a curious mix of isolation and dread, where the forensic examination of a corpse and the lifecycle of a blowfly provides a stark contrast with the symbiosis of Levi’s metamorphic relationship with  both Swamp Thing and natures inexorable cycle of life and death. The grim story of the Pale Wanderer, a former Civil War soldier who abandoned his humanity after he wandered into the desert, and subsequent manifestation as some ghostly ghoul is also rendered with eerie clarity by Perkins. Levi Kamei’s journey is filled with compelling mystery and drama throughout, with Perkins art and colourist Mike Spicer’s exquisite use of rich tones and shadows bringing Levi’s mesmerising mind-trip down the green rabbit hole of Swamp Thing’s domain to life as dark fantasy melds with the frightening real-world  horror of his transformations.

Ram V is clearly going for a less esoteric approach here than some writers have previously taken with Swamp Thing, and on the whole this makes the series feel extremely accessible to all. Fans might be disappointed there’s no mention or acknowledgment of the current Swamp Thing, Alec Holland, or recent events in Justice League Dark, and the battle with the Upside-Down Man. However, Ram V does such a great job introducing Levi Kamei as a new kind of Swamp Thing with this issue that it all serves to further the mysterious tone of the story anyway. This issue is a little bit of a slow burn, but its rich with characterisation, and everything builds to a nerve jangling face-off between Swamp Thing and the Pale Wanderer.

Swamp Thing #1 sets Levi Kamei on a hauntingly macabre path, one  fraught with emotional turmoil and grim revelations. I’ve been eagerly anticipating the arrival of this 10 part maxi-series, I’m a big horror and Swamp Thing fan, and I’m pleased to say that I was highly impressed with this issue. If Ram V’s Future State Swamp Thing wetted your appetite for more, then The Swamp Thing #1 is sure to satisfy your horror craving with its deep and enchanting take on the character, and a killer creative team firing on all cylinders.  

Publisher DC Comics

Writer Ram V / Artist Mike Perkins

Colorist  Mike Spicer  / Letterer Aditya Bidikar

Cover Mike Perkins & Mike Spicer

Variant Cover Francesco Mattina 

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

X-Men #18 Review

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X-Men #18

Review by Paul Bowler.

The secrets of the mysterious Vault are finally explored in X-Men #18 from writer Johnathan Hickman, artist Mahmud Asrar and colorist Sunny Gho. It has been a long time since this team of specialist agents were sent by the Quiet Council of the Mutant nation of Krakoa to investigate the Vault – a place where time moves differently and a chronal lock makes it impossible for anyone to rescue them. 

Along with the central premise of establishing the new Mutant Island nation of Krakoa, Johnathan Hickman’s relaunch of the X-Men, which began with House of X and Power of X, also revealed that Professor X’s long-time friend, Moria MacTaggert was really a Mutant with a Groundhog Day style power that allowed her to relive multiple irritations of her timeline. Having spent many lifetimes trying to advance the X-Men’s cause and rebooting the timeline each time to learn from their setbacks, House of X and Power of X saw Moria discover that the ultimate threat and suppression of Mutantkind rested with an artificial intelligence that would be created in the distant future – Nimrod. 

So when a Child of the Vault managed to escape from the Vault – a technological marvel that uses time dilation and advanced technology to alter humans — the X-Men sent the Mutants Darwin, Wolverine (Laura Kinney) and Synch to South America to enter the Vault and assess the potential threat, along with the capabilities of the children, and uncover any inherent weaknesses in the children’s powers or the Vaults remarkable technological infrastructure. The only trouble is the team never returned. They’ve been gone for months, but as time moves differently inside the Vault, Darwin, Wolverine and Synch have now actually been inside the Vault for centuries!

The ongoing narrative of Hickman’s new X-Men run has sometimes felt less of the compelling blend of fresh ideas and innovative character arcs that spun our of House of X and Power of X, and more like a case of two-steps forwards and two-steps back as branches of the storyline unconsciously folded back over itself or became diluted with meandering events like X of Swords. Hickman is keeping a lot of plate spinning — some more successfully than others — but so far its been enough to keep everyone guessing and excited about where all of this is essentially  going for the X-Men.

Darwin, Wolverine and Synch entered the Vault way back in X-Men #5, now with X-Men #18 Hickman is finally addressing this tantalising plot thread, and he certainly doesn’t disappoint with the often bizarre and mind-boggling revelations that are divulged thick-and fast throughout this issue with almost serendipitous glee. Having this issue narrated via Synch’s recollections of events is also a clever move by Hickman which organically drives the plot from key selective viewpoints, with the inner machinations of the Vault and the motivations of the Children of the Vault converging on parallel lines with the X-Men’s incursion, and the series’ now iconic bullet-point style info-graphics filling in the blanks — especially the insightful information concerning the evolution of Synch’s powers post resurrection and what this could mean for mutant kind going forward.

This team was selected for their unique survival abilities: Darwin can adapt to any life-threatening situation, Wolverine has her healing-factor, and Synch can duplicate their powers. They were ideally suited to this mission, especially as there was no way back if things went wrong (which of course they did), and X-Men #18 details what happened in the initial moments of the relative 537 years that the team have effectively been missing. The Children of the Vault are purportedly the true heirs of the world, meant to be vastly superior to humans and Mutants, so how they react to the “wild gods of the outside world” proves decidedly disturbing, and the technological wonders of the  Vault are an uncanny challenge in itself for the X-Men’s team to experience — let alone  fully comprehend. 

Artist Mahmud Asrar and colorist Sunny Gho give substance and clarity to the finer vagaries of Hickman’s storyline, with hauntingly futuristic landscapes, advanced machinery and technological interfaces, and the almost palpable mix of awe and trepidation the team experience permeates every page. Asrar does a fantastic job of rendering these powerful emotional moments as the mysteries of the Vault begin to unfold, with intricate, sweeping page-layouts seamlessly condensing the narrative, there’s an action-packed encounter between the X-Men and the Children of the Vault that is also impressively realised, while Sunny Gho’s subtle use of delicate tones and shade brings an almost spiritual quality to the teams journey into the unknown and the ensuing centuries of discovery that await.

It has felt like a hell of long wait for Marvel’s flagship X-Men title to finally get back to addressing the mystery of the Vault and the fate of Darwin, Wolverine and Synch after they failed to return. In that respect X-Men #18 certainly gets the ball rolling again, even though it frustratingly poses just as many questions as it answers. However, if you’ve stuck with Hickman’s new X-Men this far your patience is rewarded as X-Men #18 finally gives us a clear sense of progression, and in that respect above all it delivers in spades. 

Publisher Marvel Comics

Writer Johnathan Hickman / Artist Mahmud Asrar 

Colorist Sunny Gho / Letterer VC’s Clayton Cowles 

Design Tom Miller / Cover Leinil Francis Yu & Sunny Gho

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

Immortal Hulk Flatline Review

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Immortal Hulk Flatline 

Review by Paul Bowler

Expanding on the dark saga of The Immortal Hulk, Marvel’s one-shot Immortal Hulk Flatline, written and drawn by Declan Shalvey, delivers a tale that smashes into the heart of all things Gamma! At the dawn of ever day, Bruce Banner awakens in a new place. Perhaps the Hulk is trying to tell him something? Banner has grown tired of his green-skinned alter ego, but when a new gamma-powered villain suddenly arrives in a New Mexico town he has no choice but to confront his anger, and the terrifying results are far from anything Bruce Banner could ever have predicted…

Few comics have enjoyed or can compare to the success and critical acclaim that The Immortal Hulk has enjoyed in recent years. Al Ewing and Joe Bennet – along with a number of guest artists — have redefined the character and by taking him back to his horror roots. However, Marvel were somewhat caught off guard by the unprecedented success of The Immortal Hulk, so with the series’ end  already set and established to happen with its fiftieth issue, their response was the commission of a series of one-shots by esteemed writers and artists to bring us further standalone stories from this hugely popular era of the Hulk. 

One the most eagerly anticipated of these one-shots has been Immortal Hulk Flatline by the acclaimed Irish creator Declan Shalvey who is doing both the writing and the art for this one-shots intriguing storyline. Known for his pin-sharp, striking visual style, and fine writing skills, Shalvey brings all his skill to bare on crafting something uniquely special for the Immortal Hulk Flatline. While Ewing’s and Bennet’s main series rumbles towards its conclusion, Declan Shalvey steers the narrative back to reexamining the dark schism that fuels the conflict between Banner and Immortal Hulk, with the green behemoth deposing Banner at different locales around the country, seemingly intent on drawing his attention to something that Banner is still desperately struggling to define. 

Of course that’s only part of the mystery at the heart of Immortal Hulk Flatline. The other is Banner’s chance meeting with his old friend and college lecturer on Gamma radiation, Professor Noonan. This haunting encounter leads into the discovery of a new gamma-powered adversary that Banner and the Immortal Hulk inadvertently come into conflict with. Shalvey brings some new and unexpected insights to the core themes of Al Ewing’s ground-breaking run on The Immortal Hulk, casting new light on the chilling dynamic of the series’ initial premise, and the existential common goal that ultimately drives Banner’s pantheon of alters. 

Handling the role of writer, artist and colorist like this is quite a responsibility and Declan Shalvey does so with considerable style and verve. The artwork is indeed a veritable tour de force by Shalvey, his Immortal Hulk is a distilled version of Joe Bennet’s horror themed grotesque, and more of a chiselled, brutish thug, but his Immortal Hulk persona is still every bit a darkly menacing powerhouse to be reckoned with. The new Gamma irradiated villain that Hulk battles in this one-shot possesses telekinetic-like Gammer abilities, which are used to devastating effect as their savage no-holds-barred conflict crashes from page to page across a plethora of dynamic and stylish page layouts. Petit’s lettering is bang on point as well for what is actually quite a dialogue intense issue. Shalvey also employs a masterful use of color, using muted tones to highlight the drudgery of the dead-end jobs Banner takes on to blend into the background, while vibrant colors accentuate the explosive battles, and somber hues Convey the shared reckoning of the emotive climax. 

Declan Shalvey has achieved an astonishing feat with this one-shot special. The fact Shalvey’s brought so many quintessential elements of the series together is remarkable in itself;  that he’s also made them resonate so well in such a glorious fusion of story and art makes The Immortal Hulk Flatline one-shot one of the early high-points of 2021 and a fine addition to the enduring legacy of the Immortal Hulk.

Publisher Marvel Comics

Writer & Artist Declan Shalvey

Letterer VC’s Cory Petit

Cover Declan Shalvey

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

Star Wars: Darth Vader #10 Review

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Darth Vader #10

Review by Paul Bowler.

Having endured the Emperor’s wrath and survived the test of the Eye of Webbish, the Dark Lord of the Sith’s ordeal continues in Star Wars: Darth Vader #10 with a terrifying confrontation with the Red Horror in the depths of space! As Imperial forces close in, the greatest predator in the galaxy is now the only thing standing in the way of Vader’s quest to uncover the Emperor’s greatest secrets!

The action and drama are almost palpable in Marvel Comics Star Wars: Darth Vader #10 (2020-), as writer Greg Pak steers the Dark Lord’s journey into the realms of action-packed star-fighter combat and dark psychedelic horror. Vader has already survived his brutal punishment for defying the Emperor, then being stranded on Mustafar where he rebuilt his cybernetic shattered body, before fighting the assassin Ochi, waves of droid mercenaries, and tackling the bizarre trial within the Eye of Webbish Bog. Now, having taken his old star-fighter and Ochi along for the ride, Vader set course for the planet Exegol – where the Emperor’s darkest and most insidious secrets are waiting to be discovered. 

Trouble is the only route to Exegol is through the Red Nebula, forcing Vader to navigate his way past a trio of Imperial Star Destroyers commandeered by administrator Umbaran and the monstrous Summa-Verminoth that lurks within the nebular. Pak’s scripting and characterisation is bang on point, with the Imperial’s cold and calculating facade wavering in the face of Vader’s relentless determination, while Ochi’s snarky quips punctuate the tension with plenty of wry humour as Vader and his unwitting prisoner continue to make a surprisingly efficient — if rather fraught — double-act.

The art by Raffaele Ienco is gloriously detailed and almost  feels cinematic in its rendering of the huge scope and scale of events in this issue. Vader’s iconic look is now very different with his limbs and cybernetics rebuilt from the junk found on Mustufar – giving the Dark Lord a more gritty appearance. The space combat with the TIE fighters is also impressive and puts you right in the heart of the action. However, it is the Lovecraftian appearance of the grotesque leviathan Summa-Verminoth itself, whose attacks are both physical and psychological, and  Vader’s dream-like journey through classic scenes of the Star Wars saga past, present, and possible future where Vader confronts his worst nightmare that are truly mind-blowing. Ienco’s artwork is also beautifully enriched by colourist Neeraj Menon’s exquisite use of tone and shade throughout, and the cover by Arron Kuder and Richard Isanove presents a hauntingly bleak snapshot into this most mesmerising aspect of Vader’s journey so far during this Into The Fire story-arc.

One of the caveats the Emperor decreed at the start Vader’s fall from grace, was that Vader was prohibited from using the Force to help him during these trials, and that doing so would mean his death. It is this pivotal limiting factor for the Dark Lord of the Sith that now crucially plays a key factor in the climatic scenes of Darth Vader #10, where immovable force finally quite literally meets immovable object as the quasi-nihilistic rhetoric of the Dark Side ultimately tips the scales for the victor.

Into The Fire Part V: The Red Horror reaches a major turning point in this compelling storyline, and the creative team on this book continue to impress on every level. Star Wars: Darth Vader #10 transcends the conventional perceptions of Darth Vader’s legacy with a skilful reframing of reality,  one that juxtaposes  Vader’s destiny with that of his son, and brings the Emperor’s darkest secrets within striking distance at last!

Publisher Marvel Comics

Writer Greg Pak / Artist Raffaele Ienco

Colorist Neeraj Menon / Letterer VC’s Joe Caramagna

Cover Arron Kuder & Richard Isanove

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

Future State Swamp Thing #2 Review

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Future State Swamp Thing #2

Review by Paul Bowler

Humanity strikes back in Future State Swamp Thing #2 to reclaim the world the new Swamp Thing avatar has nurtured and forged in his own image. Duped by Woodrue Wilson’s quest for power and revenge, a lone group of survivors have hatched a terrible plan that will plunge the world into darkness. Yet for all his enemies insidious deceptions Swamp Thing also harbours a terrible secret of his own, one that will call for the ultimate sacrifice lest the green be lost from the world forever…

As we move into the second month of DC Comics Future State comic book event, one depicting a possible future for the DCU in the aftermath of Death Metal, few have embraced this opportunity for such creative free licence like writer Ram V and artist Mike Perkins with their dark, apocalyptic Future State Swamp Thing. 

In Future State, Swamp Thing is now the Green Father overseer of the world, sheer loneliness led to him creating offshoots of his own species blessed with his memories of humanity, and though he believed mankind was lost Swamp Thing’s encounter with a human survivor has finally led him to a desolate S.T.A.R labs facility in the frozen north. Now in this second, concluding issue writer Ram V explores the dark visions of the mysterious Undying Man, the gnarled Jason Woodrue: the Floronic Man! He has captured the hero who was once known as Obsidian and convinced the  leader of this last bastion of humanity that by harnessing his powers they can save the world. Swamp Thing must lead his own kind and the last ragtag band of human resistance against Woodrue, but will humanities last sapling of hope survive to see the dawn of a new world?

Mike Perkins artwork renders every nuance of Swamp Thing’s determination to reach his goal in striking, almost visceral detail. Swamp Thing is quite literally prepared to walk through the fires of Hell to reach his goal. The depiction of the horrifically disfigured Woodrue is also vividly realised, with his seething ambition and desire for revenge at being rejected by the green fuelling his deranged scheme. The juxtaposition between Swamp Thing and Woodrue’s motivations are the backbone to this story. Neither have been all that honest with those who follow and trust them either. The dramatic line Ram V establishes between saviour and destroyer is masterfully blurred, with Perkin’s art sumptuously cultivating a lush spectacle of apocalypse and rebirth, while the intricate use of color by June Chung beautifully seeds the narratives rich emotional undercurrents as they flourish and bloom.

The powerful closing scenes are deeply heartrending as Swamp Thing confronts the enormity of what he has wrought upon the world, himself, and the constructs he’s crafted from his inner self and feelings. Future State Swamp Thing #2 is a magical, visceral and emotional addition to the legacy of Swamp Thing. When this event started I must admit I dismissed it, believing Future State would be just a rehash of DC’s abortive 5G event, instead Future State  has proven a great showcase for new talent and creative teams, and I couldn’t be more pleased to have been proven wrong about my misgivings. Future State Swamp Thing has been the evergreen jewel in the crown of DC’s Future State event, like all good stories it leaves you wanting more, and more we shall have when the new 10 issue maxi-series by Ram V and Mike Perkins, with colors by Mike Spicer, debuts in March!

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

Publisher DC Comics

Writer Ram V / Artist Mike Perkins

Colors June Chung

Letters Aditya Bidikar

Cover Mike Perkins and June Chung 

Doctor Strange Epic Collection: Alone Against Eternity Review

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Doctor Strange Epic Collection: Alone Against Eternity

Review by Paul Bowler.

Marvel Comics Doctor Strange Epic Collection: Alone Against Eternity collects a magical mix of Bronze Age talent. In this trippy, spellbinding mid-’70’s voyage through the mystic arts, some of Doctor Strange’s most iconic adventures are brought to life by the wondrous talents of Steve Englehart, Marv Wolfman, Jim Starlin, Gene Colan and P.Craig Russell.

Steve Englehart and Gene Colan arguably crafted some of the most breathtaking and classic Doctor Strange storylines of all time. For when Dormammu and Umar and Eternity sweepingly declares that the very end of time itself is imminent. In order to save the world and reality as we know it Stephen Strange will have to confront the most uncanny threat of all – himself! This enchanting and mind-bending saga remains one of my favourite Doctor Strange, and its a delight to revisit it here in this collection.

Also here is the conclusion to Englehart’s run, the spine-chilling Dracula crossover, a trip to hell, and the Time Travelling Occult History of America. Then the brilliant Marv Wolfman and Jim Starlin enchants us with an outstanding confrontation between Doctor Strange and Xander the Merciless and Clea gone mad! With a reality twisting descent into the uncanny Quadriverse, we then reach an unparalleled reckoning as Stephen Strange confronts his status as the Sorcerer Supreme! As if all that wasn’t enough, there’s a gorgeously illustrated annual by co-writer / artist P.Craig Russell to enjoy as well!

With its mesmerising storylines and impressive artwork the Doctor Strange Epic Collection: Alone Against Eternity is a sumptuous mix of arcane wonder and bewitching spectacle on every level. Collecting Doctor Strange (1974) 6-28, Annual (1974) 1 and Tomb of Dracula (1975) 44, this Epic Doctor Strange volume of classic stories is sure to cast a spell over fans old and new alike.

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

Future State Nightwing #1 Review

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Future State Nightwing #1

Review by Paul Bowler.

Dick Grayson carries on the good fight in Future State Nightwing #1 as he leads the resistance in Gotham against the Magistrate’s oppressive regime. Batman is gone and Bruce Wane is believed to be dead. In order to stay one step ahead of the Magistrate and his cybernetically enhanced troops Nightwing has established a base in the abandoned Arkham Asylum, but a visit from Gotham’s new Batman could prove fortuitous — at least so long as he can fight like a Dark Knight!

DC Comics Future State is in full swing now following the aftermath of the multiverse saving events of Death Metal, and it looks like this possible glimpse into the future is going to be very dark indeed for Nightwing. Now as Nightwing’s mission to keep the citizens of Gotham safe from the Magistrate’s police state begins to escalate, writer Andrew Constant quickly establishes how grim the situation has got in Gotham since Batman was murdered by Peacekeeper-01. Right from the get-go the stakes are raised as Nightwing intervenes to help a couple being harassed by a Cyber, although everything isn’t quite what it seems, and plans are being hatched in Magistrate HQ to take Nightwing out — permanently!

Nicola Scott’s artwork and Ivan Plascencia’s vivid color palette stylishly conveys every nuance of the plot as scenes shift from Nightwing’s vertigo inducing rooftop skirmish, to the gleaming Cyberpunk vista of Gotham, the  high-tech interiors of Magistrate HQ, and the gloomy ruins of Arkham Asylum that Nightwing now calls home. Nightwing’s costume for Future State is  a nice blend of the classic look with some cool looking futuristic refinements. Although the story is primarily action driven, its in the quieter moments where Dick talks via video link to his allies, especially Barbara, where Nicola Scott’s art really shines and accentuates the scripts emotional beats with powerful effect. Yasmine Putri’s cover portrays a stunning depiction of Nightwing – its almost as if Gotham has a new Arkham Knight!

The face-off between Nightwing and the Next Batman is easily the big highlight of the issue. While I found this new Dark Knight’s debut in Future State The Next Batman #1 rather underwhelming, his characterisation here in Future State Nightwing is much less one dimensional, and far more satisfying as a result. Andrew Constant really fleshes out the characters and their motivations in these scenes, which, though heavy with exposition, skilfully adds an intriguing    plot twist into the mix as the Magistrate’s forces close in. 

It seems the future hasn’t been kind to Dick Grayson, but he’s still very much depicted here in Future State as the character that can resist the darkness and remain in the light — despite all the friends and allies he’s lost. Although Future State Nightwing #1 might not exactly be the most groundbreaking chapter in DC Comics current line-wide Future Sate event, the exciting story by Andrew Constant and impressive artwork by Nicola Scott nevertheless still provides a fascinating glimpse into these dark times for Nightwing in Future State.

Publisher DC Comics

Writer Andrew Constant / Artist Nicola Scott

Colorist Ivan Plascencia / Letterer Wes Abbott 

Cover Yasmine Putri

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

Future State Robin Eternal #1 Review

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Future State Robin Eternal #1

Review by Paul Bowler

Future State Robin Eternal #1 provides a thrilling, action-packed new chapter in DC Comics line-wide Future State comic book event as Robin strikes back against the Magistrate’s oppressive regime in Gotham. A regenerative drug that could make his cybernetic forces immortal is en route to the city. Robin and Spoiler must embark on a daring heist at 20,000 feet to intercept it, but will Tim and Stephanie Brown’s emotional baggage jeopardise their mission or prove the key to its success?

DC Comics Future State has so far provided an intriguing glimpse into a possible future for the publishers core titles and characters. Future State Robin Eternal might not be the most catchy sounding addition to the line-up on glancing at the solicitations but new rising star writer Megan Fitzmartin (Supernatural)  has clearly brought her A game to the table for this jaunt into a future vision of Gotham, and fans of Tim Drake’s Robin and his former girlfriend Stephanie Brown, a.k.a Spoiler, will find plenty to enjoy here. Tim Drake’s Robin  has been pushed from pillar to post somewhat in recent times, so its great to see him being put front and centre like this in Future State.

Megan Fitzmartin crafts a fast-paced, action-driven story, laced with strong emotional beats for the character. It seems that Tim has soldiered on alone as Robin as the Magistrate’s regime took over Gotham – banning the masks and costumed vigilantes with his advanced technology and cybernetically enhanced forces. Believing that Batman, Bruce Wayne, has been killed, along with the betrayal of Jason Todd, and Dick Grayson in Arkham, this lone Robin is desperate to find a way to stop the shipment of a new drug derived from the Lazarus Pit that can make the Cybers unbeatable. Fitzmartin skilfully highlights just how Stephanie’s and Tim’s former history still makes things strained between them, and there’s a welcome reunion with an old We Are Robin member as well that’s also beautifully written into the narrative.

This futuristic looking Gotham is realised with some pretty amazing artwork too. With pencils  by Eddy Barrdows (Detective Comics), inks by Eber Ferreira, and colors by Adriana Lucas, Future State Robin Eternal boasts a distinctly vibrant, almost Cyberpunk vibe that dynamically cascades across the stylish page layouts. From the stunning rainswept opening battle between Robin and the hulking Cyber high on the new prototype drug, through to Tim’s emotional scenes with Spoiler, along with his reunion with Darcy, and the inevitable team-up with Robin leading his allies on an exciting Mission Impossible style heist to intercept the shipment of the Lazarus Resin are  all just some of the many highlights brilliantly crafted by the artistic team for this impressive looking issue. 

While I don’t tend to go in for comic book events that much I have to say I’ve found Future State quite entertaining so far — from the issue I’ve read anyway. Future State Robin Eternal #1’s creative team seizes the premise of this possible future and runs with it for all its worth. The ensuing result proves extremely satisfying indeed, Future State Robin Eternal is a veritable showcase of creative verve, and the issues thrilling cliffhanger provides a great hook to bring us back for the conclusion in the next issue.

Publisher DC Comics

Writer Megan Fitzmartin / Pencils Eddy Barrdows 

Inks Eber Ferreira / Colorist Adriana Lucas

Letterer Pat Brosseau Cover Irvin Rodriguez & Emanuela Lupacchino

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

Future State Swamp Thing #1 Review

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Future State Swamp Thing #1

Review by Paul Bowler

Future State Swamp Thing #1 proves a most welcome addition to DC Comics Future State event. In the aftermath of a terrible war life has been reborn in Swamp Thing’s image. Humanity  hides in the shadow of this new avatar of the green who now rules the Earth. The last survivors of the human race are on the brink of rebellion, but Swamp Thing is no stranger to violence, and if its war they want its war they will get! 

The regular DC Comics line is currently taking a two-month break to make way for DC’s line-wide Future State event, which has been touted as a showcase for new creative teams on many of its core titles and characters that will offer readers a glimpse into a potential future for the DC universe. Fans of Justice League Dark will undoubtably be pleased that writer Ram V is on board here for Future State Swamp Thing #1 to retain the most recent take on the character through into Future State, and together with artist Mike Perkins this new chapter in the Swamp Thing saga flourishes in the creatively fertile soil of this compelling issues grim apocalyptic storyline.

Ram V quickly establishes how in this future the world has succumbed to both the failings of humanity and heroes alike, weaving a dark analogy of the present, with climate change, war and disease ultimately providing civilisations downfall despite all the heroes efforts during Death Metal – or perhaps because of it? Most of the human race is now missing or dead, and of the few remnants of humanity Swamp Thing has managed to retain, sheer loneliness has led him to create offshoots of his own species imbued with the personalities and memories of his various recollections of humanity. Swamp Thing has become the Green Father, but his attempts to recreate humanity in his own image has also given rise to all the best and the worst aspects  of which that lies therein as well.

Mike Perkins artwork is at times gorgeously haunting and beautifully serine. From the strikingly expansive vista recapping the demise of the world though to Swamp Thing’s poetic storytelling to Calla, which in turn contrasts sublimely with conflict proved by the tenacious Indigo, and the warm kindness this Green Father still holds for humanity are all superbly illustrated by Perkins. The subtle use of color by June Chung is also excellent — accentuating the tone and  fine detail of Perkins artwork perfectly.

The inmate weirdness of Swamp Thing’s world and philosophical magical undercurrents are masterfully woven into the narrative by Ram V, which, together with Mike Perkin’s spellbinding art, almost makes it feel like we’re observing a vivisection of the very essence of what makes Swamp Thing the indomitable character that he is as the layers of his being and psyche are slowly peeled away layer by layer before our eyes.

Future State Swamp Thing #1 certainly gets this opening week of Future State off to a good start. With the discovery of a mysterious fortress in the North and the surprise appearance of another prominent DC Comics character, there’s plenty of intrigue on offer to entice us  back for the next issue. If anything, Future State Swamp Thing #1 wets our appetite even more for the 10 issue maxi-series, also by the creative team of Ram V and Mike Perkins, with colors by Mike Spicer, arriving in March.

I wasn’t going to bother with Future State much, apart from Swamp Thing really, but sadly as I write this first review of 2021 the UK is also going back into lockdown. Its a necessary measure, but I won’t lie, I am finding it a little depressing. Hopefully things will get back on track soon once the vaccine gets rolled out. I’m not looking forward to spending more weeks being apart from family and friends either. Fortunately I can do everything from home, and I’ve got my writing to keep me occupied. So, no doubt I’ll end up doing some more box-set binging, I might check out some of the other Future State books as well now I’ll have a bit more time on my hands. Fingers crossed the end of this COVID 19 pandemic isn’t too far off now, so take care, and stay safe everyone. 

Publisher DC Comics

Writer Ram V / Artist Mike Perkins

Colors June Chung / Letters Aditya Bidikar

Cover Mike Perkins and June Chung 

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

Doctor Who Revolution of the Daleks Review

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Doctor Who Revolution of the Daleks

Review by Paul Bowler.

The Doctor and her friends face the return of the Daleks in the 2021 New Year’s Day special Revolution of the Daleks, written by Doctor Who show runner Chris Chibnall and directed by Lee Haven Jones whose Doctor Who credits also include Series 12’s Spyfall Part Two and Orphan 55. Locked up in a high-security alien prison, the 13th Doctor is isolated with no hope of escape. Back on Earth her companions Yaz, Ryan, and Graham are doing their best to continue their lives without her. Its not easy though, especially when they uncover a dark plot involving a Dalek!

When we last saw Jodi Whittaker’s 13th incarnation of the Time Lord in the Series 12 finale, The Timeless Children (2020), she’d been locked up in a space prison by the Judoon following the epic battle with the Master (Sacha Dhawan) and the Lone Cyberman’s (Patrick O’Kane) army of Cybermen in the ruins of Gallifrey. Although Revolution of the Daleks was filmed long before lockdown, we can perhaps sympathise with the Doctor’s plight and her sense of isolation in this friends without idea what’s happening back on Earth.

Meanwhile Graham (Bradley Walsh), Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Ryan (Tosin Cole) have had to adjust to life back in Sheffield while the Doctor is in space jail, and this episode highlights just how resourceful they can be in her absence.

Yaz is still determined to find out what happened to the Doctor, but the gang soon find themselves busy investigating a sinister scheme that’s been brewing with the Daleks. Trouble is, how can they possibly fight a Dalek without the Doctor’s help? Fortunately Captain Jack, played by the brilliant John Barrowman MBE, also makes a return for this New Year’s Day spectacular as the Doctor’s friends prepare to face their greatest challenge of all time!

As well as the welcome return of John Barrowman as Captain Jack, Revolution of the Daleks features a wealth of guest stars including Sex and the City’s Chris Noth who returns as scheming business man Jack Robertson from Series 10’s Arachnids in the UK (2018), making their Doctor Who debut are star of the stage and screen Dame Harriet Walter as a corrupt government minister, and TV star Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (The Trial of Christine Keeler) who plays the young scientist Leo Rugazzi.

Chris Chibnall’s pacy script for Revolution of the Daleks is packed drama, emotion, and bold action-set-pieces. We really become invested in the Doctor’s plight as she struggles with her incarceration, Jodie Whittaker gives a superb performance, and it turns out the Time Lords been in prison for a very long time indeed! Mandip Gill is also great as Yaz, who refused to give up on the Doctor in the last ten months since they returned to Earth in a spare TARDIS, and has almost becomes obsessed with finding her. She also keeps the gang together and takes the lead in their investigation into the Daleks. Fortunately, with with some help from an old friend, the Doctor manages to break out of jail and return to Earth. However, the reunion with he friends isn’t all plain sailing, and the Time Lord is still struggling to come to terms with the fact that everything she once knew about herself has now changed forever.

As you’d expect John Barrowman is quite simply “Fabulous!” as Captain Jack. His guest appearance in Fugitive of the Judoon was one of the biggest highlights of Series 12, and while the Jack who returns in Revolution of the Daleks is slightly older and wiser he’s still every bit as fun and flirty as ever! There’s a lovely scene in particular where Jack talks with Yaz about how she feels about the Doctor, and of course Jack knows all too well the thrill of travelling with the Time Lord in the TARDIS and also how it can feel when the Doctor leaves you.

Revolution of the Daleks not only picks up after the events of The Timeless Children but its also a sequel to 2019s New Year’s Day special Resolution, we get to find out what happened after the Dalek attacked GCHQ, and director Lee Haven Jones deftly balances all the drama, character arcs and Dalek action in fine style. 

This new year themed special of course features the return of the Doctor’s deadliest enemies, the Daleks! Last time we saw a Dalek was in 2019s New Year’s Day special Resolution, which saw the 13th Doctor confronted with a lone Reconnoissance Scout Dalek. Now boasting an updated casing reminiscent of that same steampunk Dalek design, this new glossy black Dalek design makes its debut here in Revolution of the Daleks when a fiendish scheme is unleashed to manufacture “defence drones”, but when the Recon Daleks mutant remains finds a fresh human host and begins cloning itself a new Dalek menace soon threatens the entire world. Even with Captain Jack on their side the Doctor’s friends find themselves  thrown in at the deep end, battling against impossible odds as a mass inter-Dalek conflict unfolds around them, and they must hold off the Daleks at all costs until the Doctor can find a way to defeat both of the waring Dalek factions.

Of course the Doctor eventually uses some clever slight of hand to save Earth in the nick of time help her friends fend off the Daleks, but this New Year’s reunion with her “Fam” will sadly be short lived, as this episode also marks the final appearance for Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole as Graham and Ryan in the show. Their departure is an especially moving moment, and I doubt there’ll be a dry eye in the house as it unfolds.

Packed with thrills, spills, Easter eggs galore and a few surprises too, Revolution of the Daleks is a landmark event for the 13th Doctor’s era. It’s great to see Doctor and her friends go up against the Time Lords deadliest enemies, the Daleks, before the status quo introduced in The Woman Who Fell To Earth (2018) is changed forever. A spectacular sequence featuring the Daleks that was filmed on the Clifton Suspension Bridge is another big highlight of this New Year’s Day special, we also get to see Whittaker’s Doctor meet Captain Jack at last, there are fond farewells for the TARDIS team, and new adventures ahead for the Doctor and Yaz. Revolution of the Daleks is an emotional, action packed treat. It ties up many of Series 12’s loose ends, whilst also providing a moving coda for Ryan and Graham that beautifully bookends their travels with the 13th Doctor, and nicely paves the way for the next chapter of the 13th Doctor’s adventures. Series 13 will also see the Doctor and Yaz welcome a new travelling companion to the TARDIS when actor and comedian John Bishop joins the cast as ‘Dan’, and the new series will appear on BBC One later in 2021!

Images Belong BBC

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook