BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER FILM REVIEW

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Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Review by Paul Bowler

The tragic loss of lead actor Chadwick Boseman, who died of cancer in August 2020 aged just 43, brings an added sense of poignancy to Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Writer-director Ryan Coogler’s sequel to his 2018 smash hit Black Panther is both a sombre tribute to the death of the Oscar nominated star and an epic-scale superhero movie that builds on the original film’s powerful themes of colonisation, vengeance and forgiveness. 

Ryan Coogler’s screenplay co-written with Joe Robert Cole (who also co-wrote Black Panther with Coogler), makes the passing of Chadwick Boseman an integral part of Wakanda Forever. Opening with the heart-rending death of Chadwick’s King T’ Challa unfolding off-screen while his scientist sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) desperately seeks a cure for the unnamed malady that has struck him down, the raw emotion conveyed by Wright’s performance and Shuri mother Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) in these tragic moments are deeply heart-felt and movingly real. Following the emotive funeral sequence, events return to Wakanda a year later.

However, Wakanda is now a nation adrift without either its king or his iconic alter ego Black Panther, and the Wakandans must find a way to embrace the next chapter of their great nation. As Shuri and Queen Ranonda struggle with their grief, M’Baku (Winston Duke), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and the Dora Milaje (including Florence Kasumba) unite as the world powers set their gaze on Wakanda for a share in the nations rights to their precious metal resource vibranium following King T’Challa’s death. With the interventions of War Dog Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), Everett Ross (Martin Freeman), Dominique Thorn as MIT student Riri Williams/Ironheart and Michaela Coel as Wakandan warrior Aneka a new path slowly begins to emerge for the kingdom of Wakanda.

The political turmoil and intrigue is stoked further by the introduction a flying Mayan merman called Namor (Tenoch Huerta) who emerges from the ocean depths of his kingdom to wage war on the surface world. Much like Wakanda, Namor’s civilisation has its own rich culture and technologies built on the previous recourse vibranium. He fears the forces the surface world will seek to overthrow and colonise his people as the Spanish conquistadors did his ancestors. Namor then proposes an ultimatum for Ramonda and Shuri, to either join him in his war against the surface dwellers or Wakanda will become his enemy. 

It is this moral conflict and quandary that drives the narrative of Wakanda Forever and places Shuri front and centre at the heart of the action. Given the film has a veritable plethora of main and supporting characters, Letitia Wright very much takes the lead here in Wakanda Forever  and gives an outstanding performance as Shuri. The film does feel a tad overlong though, the pace drags a tad in the mid-section, but things soon pick up once Namor make his presence felt and everything builds to a satisfying showdown on barge in the Atlantic.

While not quite in the same league as the original film, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever manages to respectfully address the passing of Chadwick Boseman and weave some intriguing foreshadowing into what future the MCU may hold. Amidst all the action, spectacle and world building at its core it is Basset’s and Wright’s standout performances that really ground the film and keep everything on an even keel. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever may not be the most spectacular Marvel movie, but it is certainly a deeply moving one on which to close Phase Four of the MCU.

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

KING SPAWN #16 REVIEW

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King Spawn #16

Review by Paul Bowler

Al Simmons grand design to bring Wanda back is revealed in at last in King Spawn #16 as the Deadzones become a key move in Spawn’s opening gambit. The pieces are all in place. Both friend and foe alike now face the insurmountable challenge ahead as ambition and power in the quest to claim the throne of Hell heats up! This issue of King Spawn has been touted as a great jumping on point for new readers. Indeed, it is exactly that, and the finely orchestrated narrative writer Sean Lewis has established with this series, arguably the jewel in the crown of the Spawn’s Universe of titles, ultimately comes to fruition with King Spawn #16 in a way that is both satisfying for long-term readers and easily accessible for newcomers. Multiple forces have conspired on all sides to influence Spawn: Raven said he was a pawn in his own game, the Clown deemed him a failure, a court of religious zealots call him a King, and even the goddess Gaia claimed he could bring his believed wife, Wanda, back from the dead. Even as his closest friends fell by the wayside, some even betraying him, Spawn’s actions have become more, and more ruthless as his obsession with the throne of Hell consumed him.

Now he has opened the Deadzones just enough to allow himself and his enemies a peek inside at the havoc he has wrought beyond the veil of reality itself. Sean Lewis juggles a cavalcade of plot threads and dark machinations here which have been carefully set out over the last fifteen issues. Its fascinating to learn the cosmic fury and cataclysm Spawn has unleashed since he closed the Deadzones – effectively cutting Heaven and Hell off from those they have tormented and manipulated since time began; while also trapping their minions who didn’t have time to escape back to their own realms here on Earth.

We get a startling insight into the lofty Angels that have become subservient in order to make sacrifices to themselves, demons who are suffering a twisted energy crisis of mass proportions as they no longer have fresh souls to fuel the fires of their depravity, and the dark cabals of man who impotently prostrate their faith to the forces which no longer hold sway over them. Amidst this potent smelting pot of treachery and betrayal, Al’s best friend, Terry, must make a fateful choice, while Spawn assembles those he’s chosen to do his bidding, sending them on a suicide mission with the prize of success the very throne of Hell itself.

From the moment you cast your gaze over this issues ominous looking cover by artists Puppeteer Lee  and Francesco Mattina, you know you are in for something really special from this issue of King Spawn. The interior artwork by Javi Fernandez is quite literally mind-blowing. The epic scope and scale is staggering, as we peel back the veil and observe events cascading  between realities, with glimpse into Heaven, Hell and the infinite beyond as Fernandez channels some classic Kirby inspired cosmic visuals. The result is one hell of a mind-trip through the worlds and times of Spawn, past and present, with each moment carefully framed and grounded in its own reality with Javi Fernandez’s distinct visual style. There’s even a subtle moment of reflection for one character that throws an unexpected curve ball into the mix. This powerful moment, darkly punctuated with shadow over a drink in a seedy backstreet bar is perhaps even more shocking than any of the eyeball popping visual spectacles of multiple realities we spiral through over the course of this issue. The color by FCO Plascencia  and Color Flats by Sheila Saldana provide a sublime  contrast to Fernandez’s art, balancing exuberant tone with wrath filled shadows as the voyage through the intermixed realities of Spawn’s Universe is set out with fervent detail and clarity.

King Spawn #16 is without doubt a standout issue, monumental in scope, visually stunning, and one that elevates the saga of Spawn to a whole new level. The creative team are really firing on all cylinders with this one, and with a surprise arrival of a new Monster-God providing a fittingly epic cliff-hanger, King Spawn is sure to become a must read from here on in. If you like your Spawn unflinchingly brutal, in-your-face dark and gritty, then King Spawn is the comic for you.

Publisher Image Comics

Script / Plot Sean Lewis  / (Additional Script Todd McFarlane)

Art Javi Fernandez / Color FCO Plascencia / Color Flats Sheila Saldana

Lettering Andworld Design / Cover Artists Puppeteer Lee / 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

THE POWER OF THE DOCTOR REVIEW

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The Power of the Doctor

Review by Paul Bowler.

The Power of the Doctor marks the end of an era and Jodie Whittaker’s final adventure as the thirteenth Doctor. The stakes couldn’t be higher this time around either as the Doctor battles to save her very existence as she faces the Daleks, Cybermen and her arch nemesis, the Master. The Doctor and her friends must solve the mystery behind a series of bizarre happenings; including an attack by the Cyber-Masters on a speeding bullet train in a distant galaxy, the disappearances of seismologists from 21st century Earth, and the defacing of some of history’s most iconic paintings. As the Doctor is confronted with threats on multiple fronts, the Daleks are also inexplicably trying to contact with the Time Lord, and just what kind of hold does the masterful Rasputin have over Tsar Nicholas in 1916 Russia? The Doctor soon faces a battle to the death against her deadliest enemies. Friends and allies, both old and new, will unite and fight alongside her before one last heartbreaking choice seals the 13th Doctor’s fate forever…

Jodie Whittaker’s five year tenure comes full circle in The Power of the Doctor.

This feature-length episode is a time twisting epic, written by outgoing show runner Chris Chibnall, and directed by Mangus Stone (2020’s Spyfall Part One, Praxeus, Ascension of the Cybermen and the Timeless Children, along with the 2021 Flux episodes The Halloween Apocalypse, War of the Sontarans and Village of the Angels. The Doctor’s companions Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill) and Dan Lewis (John Bishop), accompany Jodie Whittaker for her final outing as the Doctor, and Jacob Anderson also reprises his role as Vinder from Doctor Who: Flux to briefly rejoin the TARDIS team.

Indeed, a host of friends and foes make a dramatic return in The Power of the Doctor, including Classic companions Ace (Sophie Aldred) and Tegan (Janet Fielding), along with Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave) for the special, even Bradley Walsh returns as Graham… and that’s just for starters! The Master (Sacha Dhawan) is back too, as is Ashad / The Lone Cyberman (Patrick O’Kane), and classic monsters the Daleks and the Cybermen all have key roles in this blockbusting adventure which also pays tribute to past Doctor’s and the legacy of Doctor Who.

Jodie Whittaker’s five year tenure comes full circle in The Power of the Doctor. Her final bow provides a timely celebration of Doctor Who itself, and the special also nicely bookends numerous aspects of the 13th Doctor’s era. The Power of the Doctor is a veritable roller coaster ride from beginning to end. In terms of scale its certainly also one of the most spectacular to date  as it features the most special effects shots ever seen in an episode of Doctor Who. Every big action set-piece is massive, even the pre-credits feels like a mini movie in itself. Writer and show runner Chris Chibnall’s era has been something of a mixed bag at times but he certainly delivers the goods here in the scripting of Whittaker’s final adventure. 

Airing as part of the BBC’s centenary celebrations, this adventure is packed with action and Easter eggs galore that fans of every era of the show will enjoy. Following the frenetic opening the Doctor discovers the Cyber-Lords have a machine-like world lurking in the Earth’s shadow, one that’s tethered to the Master’s TARDIS and seemingly powered by a mysterious child-like entity. Its not long before the Master’s presence is felt in both the past and the present, leading to a reunion for the Doctor and Yaz with some old friends at UNIT, before the Daleks and Cybermen also enter the fray! There’s a wealth of emotions, action and humour woven throughout Chibnall’s overarching plot as the 13th Doctor rallies against the Master, the Cybermen and the Daleks who have joined forces for a volcanic team-up in order to spring a deadly ‘forced regeneration’ on their mortal enemy.

Jamie Magnus Stone’s stylish direction keeps everything on track, with events racing along at a cracking pace, before giving way to the emotional conclusion that beautifully leads into the 13th Doctor’s startling regeneration.

At its heart though, it is Jodie Whittaker’s outstanding performance as the Doctor that makes The Power of the Doctor into something really special.

It’s clear that Jodie Whittaker had a blast working with Who veterans Jemma Redgrave who plays Kate Stewart, and 80s-era cast members Janet Fielding and Sophie Aldred, as Tegan and Ace. Their return isn’t just window dressing either, and they each have a crucial role to play as the action unfolds. There are heartwarming moments aplenty and emotional farewells too. Mandip Gill gives a particularly standout performance as Yaz’s adventures with the Doctor draw to a close, and there are moments that are especially poignant for the Doctor and Yaz. 

Past Doctor’s also show up thanks in part to the Doctor’s subconscious because of the her forced regeneration and her own emergency holographic AI programme, with: David Bradley as the 1st Doctor, Peter Davison as the 5th Doctor, Colin Baker as the 6th Doctor, Sylvester McCoy as the 7th Doctor, Paul McGann as the 8th Doctor and Jo Martin as the Fugitive Doctor! That’s not all, the same AI enables Tegan to have a heartfelt chat with the 5th Doctor, and Ace gets a reunion with the 7th Doctor as well. Both are magical, fan pleasing scenes, and genuinely heartwarming. It was also fitting to see Bradley Walsh return for the 13th Doctor’s send-off, even thought was a little bizarre to see him suddenly appear and team-up with Ace to destroy a volcano full of Daleks! Later its revealed Graham has set up a support group of sorts for ex-TARDIS travellers, where we see Dan, Yaz, Ace, Tegan and Kate Stewart are joined by three more classic Doctor Who companions of yesteryear: Melanie Bush (Bonnie Langford), Jo Jones (Katy Manning) and Ian Chesterton (William Russell) reminisce about their adventures with the Doctor. This was another wonderfully staged and unexpected moment that rounded off this episodes nods to the past in fine style.

At its heart though, it is Jodie Whittaker’s outstanding performance as the Doctor that makes The Power of the Doctor into something really special. Whittaker brilliantly channels the bright and breezy essence that has made her incarnation of the Time Lord so unique from her predecessors. Her Doctor has been a celebration of change, she built a fam of her own, boldly confronted injustice and darkness throughout time and space, and always remained compassionate even in her darkest hours. This episode, above all, perhaps delves deeper into the psyche of the Doctor than ever before.

Most notably of course The Power of the Doctor is also the first time that three classic foes of the Doctor have featured together in one storyline since the shows revival in 2005.  The return of Sacha Dhawan as the Master was an inspired move by Chibnall to front the trio of major foes the Doctor must face. Sacha Dhawan brings a scenery chewing performance along with a manic intensity to his incarnation of the Master that is both charming and disturbing. He’s always been the perfect foil for the 13th Doctor, never more so than here, and at times it looks like he could actually succeed in his grand design to highjack her forced regeneration and claim her infinite regeneration cycle for himself. He’s not alone though. The Daleks are also part of his Masterplan, and Patrick O’Kane’s welcome return as the chillingly evil Lone Cyberman makes the Cybermen seem even more deadly than ever this time around.

Now it falls to incoming show runner Russell T Davies to see if he can capture lighting in a bottle for a second time!

The build up to the regeneration itself is another beautifully crafted piece of fan service. It was lovely to see the Doctor and Yaz share one last trip before going their separate ways. Jodie Whittaker is resplendent in her final moments as the 13th Doctor takes in one last sunrise as she regenerates, and in a surprise twist when that regeneration happens she done’t change into her recently announced successor, Ncuti Gatwa, instead she miraculously turns into returning Time Lord David Tennant! Yes, it seems David Tennant and Catherine Tate are indeed reprising their roles for the 60th anniversary, and it has been confirmed that they will appear in three special episodes, set to air in November 2023. The next Doctor, played by Ncuti Gatwa, will then take control of the TARDIS, with his first episode airing over the festive period in 2023!

The Power of the Doctor was a spectacular finale for the 13th Doctor that sets the groundwork for a whole new era moving forward. Now it falls to incoming show runner Russell T Davies to see if he can capture lighting in a bottle for a second time!

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 THE POWER OF THE DOCTOR TRAILER

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At las the long wait is over. Check out the awesome new trailer for Doctor Who: The Power of the Doctor. Jodie Whittaker’s swansong as the 13th Doctor looks set to be an epic adventure as she faces her final battle in The Power of the Doctor on 23rd October 2022!

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

VANISH #1 REVIEW

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Vanish #1

Review by Paul Bowler.

The worlds of magic and superheroes collide in Vanish #1, the new creator owned Image Comics series from writer Donny Cates (GOD COUNTRY, Hulk, Thor) and artist Ryan Stegman (Venom, King in Black). Vanish delivers squarely on the initial premise Cates skilfully blends into the narrative of this opening issue; fusing a heady mix of dark fantasy, visceral gore and brutal superhero action to forge a blistering introduction to the fractured existence of Oliver Harrison. A former protege trained in the Out-World of Magic, at fourteen he vanquished the greatest threat to his realm, but the rules he broke to do so came with a high price. Now as an adult he drifts through a mundane existence in the real world, his past all but forgotten as his life drowns in a sea of mental instability, drink and drugs. But his efforts to hide from his nightmarish past take a sharp turn when he is saved from muggers by a hero named Pocket Rocket. Oliver’s dark past resurfaces with a vengeance during this chilling encounter and sets him on a quest to embrace his destiny as the chosen one once more.

Donny Cates takes a slow and deliberate approach to brining this new world of fantasy and heroes to life. What at first appears to be an everyman route to Oliver’s origin quickly takes a dark detour as Cates explores our anti-heroes chequered.past in what can best be described as  an R rated Hogwarts. From there we witness the cataclysmic events that brought Oliver Harrison to where he is now as an adult. Its an unflinching trek through magical worlds, where a gifted youth is thrown away, while evil sorcerers and heroes battle for supremacy and power. 

Stegman and Mayer’s artwork feels like a throwback to the early, days of Image Comics. There are some pretty distinct Venom flourishes thrown into the mix as well, especially during the grittier sequences . The flow of the story is perfectly matched in the visuals, concise page layouts give the action and characters scope to breath, and the overall level of detail crammed into every panel is little short of spellbinding. Sonia Oback’s colors further enhance the moody atmosphere and edgier tone of this new series.

The way everything is set up in this issue is almost as engrossing as the premise itself. It may be a bit OTT in places, but that’s all part of what makes this issue such a compelling and exciting  read. With its no-holds-barred mature themes and striking artwork Vanish #1 is easily one of the best new creator owned comics I’ve read in a long time. If edgier superheroes and dark fantasy are your thing, then Cates and Stegman’s new Vanish comic series  is sure to be right up your street.

Publisher Image Comics

Writer Donny Cates / Pencils Ryan Stegman

Inks JP Mayer / Colors Sonia Oback

Letters and Design Johan J Hill

Cover Stegman / JP Mayer / Jason Keith

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

SPAWN #333 REVIEW

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Spawn #333

Review by Paul Bowler.

Schemes and betrayal mount in Spawn #333 following Spawn’s audience with his former mentor, Cogliostro, now known as the all-powerful Sinn! Their clash revealed just how much Sinn’s power has grown. In fact, Spawn got his butt well and truly kicked. Now Al has become totally obsessed with hunting down and stopping Sinn, but Spawn’s allies have all-but abandoned him, and a new even deadlier threat is growing. Recent issues of Spawn have seen Al becoming more and more isolated from his friends after he resolved to go it alone as the power struggle for Throne of Hell escalated. Spawn #333 sees friends and foes alike plotting against Spawn. Writer Rory McConville’s deftly juggles numerous plot strands and characters in this issue, with additional script by Todd McFarlane, and its these powerful-scenes and sinister machinations that form the driving force for much of the narrative. At times there seems a bewildering array of dark skulduggery brewing, each with the sole aim of taking Spawn down and wresting control of the Dead Zones from him. 

Even Haunt and Marc are seemingly prepared to betray Spawn, although Marc still feels uncertain about it and wants to try and reason with Spawn first directly. Meanwhile Sinn is conducting his own gruesome recruitment drive, but newcomer Cadiiclus, a former servant of the Clown, may yet proved Sinn with a way to seize the throne and reopen the Dead Zones without Spawn’s power.

This is one hell of a stylish looking issue as well. Carlo Barberi’s finely detailed artwork together with Jay David Ramos’ vivid colors make for a winning combination, and the dark brooding atmosphere they craft makes this a truly riveting issue to read. The characters are all superbly rendered too, no mean feat considering the wealth of different characters featured over the course of this issue, and there is a real sense of growing dread as so many different and opposing factions close in on Spawn. 

If you’ve been following recent developments across the Spawn’s Universe of titles then this issue of Spawn delivers on every level, newcomers though might find it all a bit overwhelming. Perhaps the biggest highlight of this issue cones in the furious exchange between Spawn and Marc. Its a dramatic, no-holds-barred diatribe of home truths and shock revelations that might well change their friendship forever. It is this tumultuous turning point, along with its mix of intrigue, plots and all-out action that makes this another cracking good issue, and essential reading for Spawn fans. 

Publisher Image Comics

Writer Roy McConville / Todd McFarlane (Additional Script)

Art Carlo Barberi / Colors Jay David Ramos

Lettering Tom Orzechowski 

Cover Artists Francesco Mattina & Carlo Barberi

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

SPIDER-MAN – MAN WOLF AT MIDNIGHT EPIC COLLECTION REVIEW

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Spider-Man Man – Man Wolf at Midnight Epic Collection

Review by Paul Bowler

Man Wolf at Midnight is Marvel’s latest addition to their Spider-Man Epic Collection range. Weighting in at a whopping 416 pages of Bronze Age goodness, it heralds a stark era of change for our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man in the aftermath of what was arguably one of the darkest periods of Peter Parker’s life – the death of Gwen Stacy. There’s also a wealth of iconic events and introductions too as this collection revisits the origins of The Punisher, Man-Wolf, and the Spider-Mobile! This extensive collection features stories from The Amazing Spider-Man #124-142, and Giant Sized Super Heroes, all written by Gerry Conway, and with artwork by Gil Kane, Ross Andru, Paul Reinman, John Romita, Sr., Tony Morello, Jim Mooney, Frank Giacoia, Dave Hunt, and Mike Esposito.

Gwen Stacey’s death hangs heavily over the opening issues, with Peter an emotional wrecks as he struggles to come to terms with his girlfriends demise. Peter’s peers and supporting cast also feature prominently throughout this Epic Collection as they rally round their friend during this difficult time. This inevitably leads to some emotionally fraught moments as Peter begins to crack under the strain of his grief and his wall-crawling adventures as Spider-Man. 

Over the course of this volume Peter finally moves into his own apartment, his relationship with Mary Jane also begins to take shape, all while juggling his studies and work at the Bugle with the ever increasing demands of being Spider-Man. 

Indeed, this Epic Collection is a treasure trove of first appearances and iconic moments for Spider-Man amongst all this personal turmoil, most notably the first appearance of The Punisher, as well as Col. John Jamerson as Man-Wolf, the deadly Tarantula, and the debut of the Spider-Mobile; the super-charged beach buggy Spidey builds with the help of Johnny Storm. On top of all that we have the shocking reveal of Harry Osborne as the new Green Goblin, Aunt May’s not-quite wedding to Doctor Octopus, and the Jackal hatching nefarious schemes in the background. A wealth of other villains from Spider-Man’s colourful rogues gallery feature as well including: The Vulture, Kangaroo, Mindworm, Mysterio, The Grizzly, Hammerhead, Molten Man and Morbuis.

While this Epic Collection might not exactly be up there with the classic runs of Spider-Man comics, there is still loads to enjoy here, and I’m sure plenty of nostalgia for many too as they revisit this formative era of Spider-Man.

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

PREDATOR #1 (2022) REVIEW

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Predator #1 (2022)

Review by Paul Bowler.

The hunter becomes the hunted in Marvel’s long delayed Predator #1, written by Ed Brisson (Iron Fist, Ghost Rider), and with art by Kev Walker (Dr Strange, Doctor Aphra). Considering the immense legacy of the 1987 classic Predator film directed by John McTienan and the numerous Dark Horse Comics mini-series’ fans have enjoyed over the last thirty years, Disney’s absorption of the licensing agreement has now seen this long-delayed new Predator comics series finally become a reality. Writer Ed Brisson’s Predator #1 certainly has a tough act to follow with this new six-part story: Day of the Hunter. Right from the outset we are reintroduced to these extraterrestrial hunters and the sheer power of their advanced weaponry. However, what initially appears to be a smackdown between two raging Predators on a strange alien world is resolved through a surprise twist of fate that has seen the most formidable hunters in the galaxy becoming the prey. Set in the far future, the narrative is interspaced with flashbacks detailing how a young girl, Theta, witnessed the slaughter of her family during a survey mission on a newly discovered world. She grew up and vowed to hunt down the Predators, using their own armour, weapons and tactics against them… determined to hunt down the Predator that killed her mother in cold blood. 

Now Theta stalks the galaxy in her parents same research vessel, with only its AI for company, and a thirst for revenge against the Predator that changed her life forever. When the native lifeforms  on a planet she’s liberated from a Predator turn against her fearing she is actually one of the hunters themselves, Theta is forced to beat a hasty retreat back to her ship and escape into space.

Fortunately Theta salvaged information from the Predator’s vessel that yields some fresh leads on her target, but her ship is in a dire state, systems are breaking down and food supplies are running short. She has no option but to head for Port Medway, but being an outlaw from the authorities in what is technically a stolen ship now presents Theta with a whole new stack of problems to contend with.

Kev Walker’s art may be a tad conventional, but Walker brings a dynamic sense of motion and energy to the action sequences. The page layouts are straightforward and unfussy, which actually works well to highlight the narrative breaks as we follow Theta hunting in the present and confronting her Predator nemesis in the flashbacks. Colorist Frank D’Armata melds vidid tones and hues to accentuate every scene, and VC’s Clayton Cowles ever dependable lettering makes the exposition heavy sections less of a plod and more engrossing to read. After the initial battle between the Predator and Theta, the alien hunters presence is used sparingly. Its a good move as it helps build the suspense through means of the flashbacks, with the Predator using its high-tech camouflage to enable it to pick off the survey team one-by-one, before we finally get to see one up close and personal in all its glory. 

The issue builds to a nerve jangling climax as Theta’s mission forces her to face her greatest fear, in both the past and the present. Its a heartrending moment, and one that will no doubt set the tone of this series moving forward. After such a long delay I wasn’t honestly expecting much from this new Marvel Comics  Predator series, but I was pleasantly surprised at how good it actually turned out to be. Predator #1 gets off to a cracking good start, Ed Brisson and Kev Walker have ultimately proved to be an inspired creative team for this book, and there’s plenty that fans and newcomers alike will find to enjoy here in their bold new take on the Predator franchise. 

Publisher Marvel Comics

Writer Ed Brisson / Artist Kev Walker

Colorist Frank D’Armata / Letterer VC’s Clayton Cowles

Main Cover Leinnil 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

BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT PRESENTS RED HOOD #1 REVIEW

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Batman White Knight: Presents Red Hood #1

Review by Paul Bowler.

The one missing piece of lore from Sean Murphy’s White Knight alternative Batman universe has always been a particularly intriguing quandary. A quirk of writing on Murphy’s part had Jason Todd portrayed as the first Robin by the acclaimed Batman White Knight series. Now the mystery of what happened to Jason Todd is finally revealed  in Batman: White Knight Presents Red Hood #1, as Murphy’s Esleworlds style White Knight saga continues to expand in DC Black Labels new two-part miniseries. Co-written by Murphy along with Clayton McCormack, with art by Simone di Meo and colorist Dave Stewart, Batman: White Knight Presents Red Hood delves into Jason Todd’s fall from grace as the first Robin – where he gave up Batman’s secret identity  to the Joker and unbeknown to the Bat-Family was actually still alive out there somewhere. That juicy narrative thread is the tantalising hook which provides the catalyst for this miniseries’ premise and the fascinating insight it offers into Jason Todd’s character. 

Jason’s story is one that has reverberated throughout the White Knight universe and impacted on virtually every character. Having cheated death at the hands of the Joker by betraying Batman in the opening flashback, the issue flash forwards to even darker times in Neo Gotham. Jason Todd has spent years going form pillar to post, he’s been kicked out of the military and turned his back on the Superhero game for good. Now older, drunker and seemingly non-the-wiser our red-motorbike helmet wearing vigilante has taken to stealing from street gangs. That is until he crosses paths with a new Robin girl wonder wannabe  called Gan. 

The writing is really pacy, emotive and injected way more fun into this story than I was expecting – especially after the grim opening scenes. I really liked the dynamic between “Beer Guy” and this new Robin as the crime-fighting lessons begin. Jason is determined to do a better job training this Robin than Batman did with him, the dialogue and sentiment proves quite moving at times as well. Simone Di Meo’s art has a distinct Manga quality that is very different from Murphy’s work on this universe, but in the context of this story the different artistic style and warmer color pallet Dave Stewart employs works extremely well. Batman: White Knight Presents Red Hood #1 delivers  a long-awaited insight into the legacy of the Red Hood and his place in the White Knight universe. His mentorship of the new Robin also makes for a terrific read and I’m excited to see how this story plays out.

Publisher DC Comics

Story Sean Murphy / ScriptClay McCormack

Art Simone Di Meo / Colors Dave Stewart

Cover Sean Murphy

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

DETECTIVE COMICS #1062 REVIEW

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Detective Comics #1062

Review by Paul Bowler.

With the new creative team of writer Ram V (The Swamp Thing, Catwoman, The Meany Deaths of Laila Starr) and artist Rafael Albuquerque (American Vampire, Superman / Batman) at the helm Detective Comics #1062 sets out an eldritch Gothic threat that will strike at the heart of the Dark Knight’s world like never before. This issues ominously titled “Overture” kicks off Ram V’s “Gotham Nocturne,” an epic all-new four part storyline. From the outset its clear this tale is going to be one steeped in operatically charged  horror and music. Something is also terribly wrong with Batman. Despite all of his best efforts, Bruce has been unable to pin down the source of the foreboding dread which besets him and the city he is sworn to protect. Indeed, the worlds greatest detective will soon confront his inner demons and his own mortality as a terrifying invasion of real demons start emerging from the shadows of Gotham City – a horror that is spawned with devastating consequence from the uncanny melody currently haunting the darkest corners of Gotham…

Ram V works his magic again with this impeccably paced scene-setting issue. Juggling rich characterisation and dark Gothic horror with consummate ease to craft a spellbinding mystery that inexorably builds around the Dark Knight. Whether he’s cracking a smuggling ring, battling a grotesque monster, or figuring out the workings of a strange box that looks like something from a Hellraiser movie, Batman is constantly on the back foot as the sinister events – seemingly orchestrated by a secret cabal – threaten to overwhelm him. Although the curtain is raised on this new threat, Ram V wisely keeps the air of suspense building, immersing us in rich characterisation and intricate plot twists as Batman realises he has only scratched the surface of this mystery. The full scale of what he faces in Gotham Nocturne gradually becomes apparent. But just who is human, who is demon, and has there been a demon within Batman all along?

The artwork by Rafael Albuquerque is every bit as impeccable and compelling as we’ve come to expect. Every page is awash with vivid imagery and brooding atmosphere – enhanced further by Dave Stewart’s exceptional use of colour and tone. Rafael Albuquerque masterfully captures the essence of the Batman’s world and the chilling danger he faces. Everything from the unflinching action, to the simmering lurking dread and the Gothic majesty of Gotham itself is all sublimely rendered via the prism of Albuquerque’s distinct take on Gotham. There’s lashings of visceral horror and gore too. One particularly gruesome sequence that really stands out is a startling transformation and fight with a hulking monstrosity. Bruce also experiences a horrific nightmare at one point that proves especially unsettling – highlighting just how vulnerable the Dark Knight really feels.

Simon Spurrier (Legion of X, Suicide Squad: Blaze) is on board as Detective Comics ongoing backup writer In these backups, Spurrier is set to explore various characters across Gotham, and how their stories interact with Batman’s wider world. The first new story feature Jim Gordon’s welcome return as a private investigator, with artwork by Dani (Arkham City: Order of the World, Coffin Bound), ‘The Coda’ is a stylish noir-tinged tale where Gordon’s case to find a woman’s missing son leads him into the ruins of Arkham. Detective Comics #1062 also marks the debut of a fantastic new logo and border designed by Darran Robinson. The issues stunning main cover is drawn by Evan Cagle, with variant covers by Lee Bermejo and J.H. Williams III, as well as InHyuk Lee, and a foil variant by J.H. Williams.

The new creative team hits the ground running with Detective Comics #1062 and brings a haunting new aesthetic to the fore as Batman is confounded by the unimaginable horror that’s sweeping across Gotham. Expectations for Ram V’s run on Detective Comics has been high, his skill in melding horror and  drama is flawlessly applied here, and together with Rafael Albuquerque’s superb artwork I’m pleased to say this issue exceeds all expectations. 

Publisher DC Comics

Writer RAM V / Artist Rafael Albuquerque

Colors David Stewart

Backup: Writer Si Spurrier / Artist Dani

Cover Evan Cagle

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