Marvel’s New Official Avengers Age Of Ultron Poster

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Check Out Marvel’s New Official Avengers Age of Ultron Poster!

Marvel Studios has unveiled the official poster for Joss Whedon’s ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron.’ It features the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, together with the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, with the Vision obscured by sunlight overhead as Ultron’s lethal robots swarm down from the sky. Eagle eyed fans have noticed that as well as the main cast members, the posters credits also feature the names of other actors: including Anthony Mackie (The Falcon), Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter), Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill), Idris Elba (Heimdall), and Stellan Skarsgard (Erik Selvig). The credits also reveals that the composer Danny Elfman has contributed “additional music” to Brian Tyler’s score.

Avengers Age of Ultron Offical Poster

 Marvel’s Avengers Age of Ultron is release in the UK April 23rd 2015

 

Bullet Gal #9 Review

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Bullet Gal #9

Review by Paul Bowler

Silence really is golden; it also comes packing a gold handgun in Bullet Gal #9’s entirely silent issue. This IF? Commix book prequel series from Australian author Andrez Bergen, the writer of the noir-themed superhero detective novel Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa, IF? Commix series Tales to Admonish, and the graphic novel Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat, continues Mizi’s enthralling adventures in Bullet Gal #9 – available digitally and in print mediums by Australia publisher IF? Commix at the end of February.

Following the revelations of Heropa’s digitally spliced origins, last issue brought the main story arc back into sharper focus, the honest cop Bob and his partner Irv Forbush were introduced, Bullet Gal’s mentor, Lee, faced the Police investigation, and Mizi still clung to life in hospital after being shot and left for dead by Brigits henchmen. With Bullet Gal #9 Andrez Bergen brings us another slightly off beat instalment this month, with this inspired “silent issue”, where despite the absence of words, the ominous tone and stylishly noir-infused narrative proves to be as compelling as ever. Discover more about how events were shaped in previous issues, the influences they had on the characters, their schemes, and the glorious serendipity of Heropa’s star-struck vision of yesterday as we revisit the defining moments of this series from a completely new perspective.

With no speech bubbles to guide the narrative, Bullet Gal #9 is totally dependant on Bergen’s art to drive the plot. It’s a bold move, and one that really plays to Bergen’s strengths as a writer and artist. This issue really showcases his distinctive art and use of digitally enhanced photomontages, mixing striking black and white pictures with bold visual flourishes, this issue speaks volumes without using so much as a single word of dialogue.

Bullet Gal 9_COVER ART

Instead events unfold with countless hidden details to enhance the experience. Headlines featuring Major Patriot, the ad hoc leader of the crime crusaders crew, immediately set the tone of this issue from the outset. But whether you choose to read between the lines or merely offer them a fleeting glance, it soon becomes clear that the reality lurking behind the star spangled glamour of the headlines is very different indeed. Mizi’s medical report at Heropa General Hospital gives us further insight into the horrific events that saw her cut down in a hail of bullets and the full extent of her terrible injuries, all counterbalanced by the incongruous presence of a freshly poured mug of coffee that looks so real you’d swear you could reach down and lift it from the page.

Some of the more abstract and emotionally charged scenes actually seem even more intense and dramatic within the context of the silent format. From herein we get a fascinating glimpse of events: Lee, the man with seven identical duplicates, faces the emotional fallout of Mizi’s brush with death, from here we glide dreamily across Heropa’s gleaming skyline, then darkened streets pave the way as Bob and Irv Forbush begin their investigation, before fresh doughnuts and a handwritten note of trust distract and enlighten with delicious intrigue.

It is Mizi’s recovery though, as the light of a brand new day spills in through the window of her Hospital room that is perhaps the most remarkable moment of all. Bullet Gal’s life blooms again just like the vase of fresh flowers at her bedside as she basks in the glory of her resurrection, her eyes turning skyward to greet the message that will complete her journey back from the brink of oblivion. Bergen’s vision balances everything throughout, giving us just enough to keep the underlying narrative on track while allowing our imagination free reign to find added meanings and subtexts as and when they present themselves to us. Simply allow yourself to become immersed in the history and stars of yesteryear, whilst marvelling at the panoramic vistas of Heropa’s skyline, before Mizi’s enemies set out to ensure her demise, where a single cigarette is cast from a window to be crushed under the wheel of a car as someone watches and waits…

This silent issue could so easily have become a case of style obliterating substance. However, I’m pleased that certainly isn’t a factor here, if anything, Bullet Gal #9 is a triumphant noir-shrouded rhapsody of storytelling and characterisation made all the more remarkable for embracing such a bold move at this point in the series.

Following the release of his new novel Depth Charging Planet Goth and the debut of his 70’s hardboiled pulp IF? Commix crime saga Trista & Holt, the new Bullet Gal trade paperback edition: It’s not you it’s me, collecting the entire 12 issue series, will be available from IF? And Under Belly Comics in March. Bullet Gal #9 is another outstanding issue, this IF? Commix series from Andrez Bergen constantly impresses with its striking visuals and great characters, and this silent issue is one of the most daring and inventive so far.

Bullet Gal #9, is published in print form at the end of February 2015 in Australia, along with the digital version, and available direct from the IF? Commix website.

FIND OUT MORE FROM IF? COMMIX VIA THEIR SITE:

iffybizness.weebly.com

 

The Walking Dead #137 Review

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The Walking Dead #137

Review by Paul Bowler

When two teenage boys attacked Carl and Sophia at the Hilltop, Carl struck back and beat them savagely with a shovel. Maggie placed Carl in a cell for his own protection when the boy’s parents demand justice. During his time in lock-up, Carl befriended Lydia, the young Whisperer that Jesus captured. Now that Sophia has woken from her coma, she is able to verify Carl’s self-defence story, and Carl is soon released. Later he also assumes responsibly for Lydia when she is released from lock-up. Meanwhile, Gregory’s plot to take back control of the Hilltop from Maggie takes a sinister turn. Having bonded over their experiences in the Zombie apocalypse, Carl and Lydia begin to get even closer…

Walking-Dead-137 (preview-panel)

Robert Kirkman continues to keep the focus on Carl Grimes in The Walking Dead #137 as the simmering undercurrents of unrest at the Hilltop threaten to boil over and bring Maggie’s leadership to an end. Ever since the war between the Saviors and the Hilltop communities ended and Negan was imprisoned, the stability and peace that Rick and his fellow survivors established after rebuilding Alexandria has seemed relatively solid. The two year time shift has really allowed the characters grow and evolve, especially Carl, and his decision to move to the Hilltop and learn a trade as a Blacksmith has certainly led to some exciting developments.

Now we get a sense of how quickly loyalties can be swayed in this new alliance, when Gregory, having stirred up trouble between Maggie and the parents of Carl and Sophia’s attackers for his own gain, seizes his chance to strike at Maggie under the pretence of friendship. It’s dark, foreboding stuff, especially when Maggie finds herself in dire peril. Let’s hope there’s some serious payback waiting for Gregory in the not too distant future!

Carl’s new friendship with Lydia also plays a pivotal role in this issue. Carl has grown so much as a character over the last few issues, moving from Alexandria to the Hilltop, protecting Sophia from their attackers, and now he even takes on responsibility for Lydia after she is released. The chilling introduction of the Whisperers, people who wear the skin of the dead so they can travel alongside the Walkers, has also become one of the most intriguing aspects of this storyline.

The Walking-Dead #137 (Cover)

Robert Kirkman has gradually built up the mystery surrounding the Whisperers for a while now, even with everything Lydia revealed about them and their way of life, I think we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface as far as the Whisperers are concerned. The friendship between Lydia and Carl has continued to blossom since their time spent in the adjacent cells in the lock-up, after Carl was released he even returned to give her his hat so she wouldn’t feel so scared and insecure. The moments they share in this issue are extremely moving. Even so, I still don’t trust Lydia, and I’m sure her seduction of Carl is some kind of sinister deception on her part.

Charlie Adlard excels this issue; his art wrings every ounce of drama and emotion from Kirkman’s script. The Walking Dead is often at its most compelling and dark during these seemingly quieter instalments, and this issue is no exception. Adlard conveys the characters emotions perfectly, while Stefano Gaudiano’s inks and Cliff Rathburn’s grey tones enhance the atmosphere of every scene with ominous shadows and intense attention to the finest detail.

The Walking Dead #137 is another great issue. Sure, the pace is still a little slow, but events during this issue sets in motion some significant developments that could potentially herald some major turning points in this storyline.

All New XMen #36 Review

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All New X-Men #36

Review by Paul Bowler

The teenage original X-Men’s adventure in the Ultimate Universe draws to a close in All New X-Men #36, as the X-Men from both universes and the Ultimate Spider-Man, Miles Morales, battle Doctor Doom in his Latverian castle. Following the Ultimate Doctor Doom’s devastating counterattack, the X-Men must find a way to strike back against Doom, before the Ultimate X-Men can help the original X-Men return to their own universe.

All New X-Men #36 opens with Doom victorious, with Miles, the original X-Men, and the Ultimate X-Men all knocked unconscious after Doom’s explosive attack. With the announcement that Brian Michael Bendis would soon be ending his run on both of his X-Men titles in May with the renumbered giant-sized Uncanny X-Men #600, together with all of Marvel’s recent Secret Wars news, the original X-Men’s jaunt to the Ultimate Universe in All New X-Men feels even more significant now than when it began. While the plot meandered a bit at first, but Bendis soon got everything back on track, providing us with some great character moments along the way, and he brings this storyline to a relatively satisfying, if somewhat rushed, conclusion with this issue.

All New X-Men #36 (Cover)

Of all the X-Men books, All New X-Men has still constantly remained my favourite. Brian Michael Bendis has such a grasp on all these characters, he writes them perfectly, and this issue is no exception. From the moment Doom’s initial sense of victory begins to crumble after Jean cleverly gives her team-mates time to recover, this issue sees the original X-Men and Ultimate X-Men working together in the most innovative way imaginable to defeat Doom. The battle might be quick, but it’s certainly eventful, and I particularly liked how Beast left a farewell gift for Doctor Doom – especially fitting really considering how Hank was drugged, brainwashed and then forced by Doom to assist with his attempts in discovering a way between the universes.

Mahmud Asrar’s art really brings out the best elements of Bendis’ storyline. The characters and their expressions are all well defined, with virtually all the X-Men and Ultimate X-Men getting a chance to shine. We are treated to some spectacular looking splash pages, the fight with Doctor Doom is handled really well, and our glimpses through the portals into the other dimensions offers some extremely interesting concepts for us to ponder over. Marte Gracia’s colors are excellent; the tones used are bold and striking, enhancing the action as well as the quieter more emotionally driven moments towards the climax of the issue. There are plenty of fun scenes as well: the banter between the two Icemen is great, Miles also discovers how unfair mind-reading can be, and Jean really should’ve known better than to read Tony Stark’s mind.

It is only really during the final stages, where the X-Men have tracked down the young Mutant girl, Carmen that this issue begins to feel a little rushed. When this storyline began the original X-Men were trying to help a new Mutant, the young girl, Carmen, who subsequently lost control of her powers and transported them all to the Ultimate Universe. Now after everything the original X-Men, Miles, and the Ultimate X-Men have been through together, events wrap up very quickly, and the hurried conclusion feels a little bit abrupt as Bendis’ script races towards the finish line to send the original X-Men back to their universe.

So, as All New X-Men #36 concludes the original X-Men’s dimension hopping trip to the Ultimate Universe, we are left with a somewhat ominous coda for the next issue. Overall, this storyline has been quite enjoyable, although not as good as previous arcs, nevertheless All New X-Men #36 still provides a fitting closing chapter for this story, and it will be interesting to see what’s in store next for the original X-Men as Jean Grey’s training continues.

 

Justice League United #9 Review

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Justice League United #9

Review by Paul Bowler

The Infinitus Saga reaches a crucial turning point in Justice League United #9 as the Legion of Super-Heroes join forces with the Justice League United against the oncoming might of Infinitus and the ferocious army of Wraiths attacking the Polaris System. Fighting alongside the Thangarian and Rannian fleets near the planet Thangar, the JLU and the Legion must hold the line while Supergirl tries to save Ultra from Byth inside rift in space. With time running out and Infinitus growing stronger by the moment, Martian Manhunter desperately tries to reach out to Ultra’s consciousness before Brainiac 5 detonates a bomb capable of removing Infinitus from space and time forever…

Justice League United #9 continues the exciting interstellar between the Justice League United and the Legion of Super-Heroes as the battle against Infinitus rages in orbit above Thanagar. Part five of the Infinitus Saga is one of the most action-packed instalments so far. Jeff Lemire ensures the pace never lets up for a moment, skilfully keeping this epic space adventure and its vast roll call of characters on track, whilst still managing to give everyone a brief moment in the spotlight. The JLU and Legion of Super-Heroes make a terrific fighting force, and Supergirl’s battle with Byth gets really intense as the shape-shifters finally reveals his true form.

Justice League United #9 (Cover)

The camaraderie between the Justice League United and the Legion of Super-Heroes is also pitched just right by Lemire. “As long as the Legion lives…” Oh boy, that moment as the Legion and JLU race into battle against impossible odds is a real fan boy moment for fans of the Legion of Super-Heroes, and this opening moment really sets the tone for the rest of the issue. Now that Infinitus is almost as powerful as he was in the 31st century, and with the Wraiths becoming more tangible, Sardath and Brainiac 5 begin work on a bomb that could destroy Infinitus. When Thangar is attacked, the JLU and Legion divide their forces to send assistance, while Mon-El and Martian Marnhunter formulate a plan to help Supergirl fight Byth and rescue the young Ultra.

The frenetic pace of this issue doesn’t let up for a second, however, there’s still time for a few fun moments, especially when Green Arrow tries to emulate Ultra Boy’s rallying battle cry, and the scene where Bounding Boy springs into action is great too.

Justice League United #9 looks amazing, the pencils by Neil Edwards are as strong as ever, and all the characters look superb. Edward’s must have had a blast drawing this issue, JLU #9 is jam packed with so many characters and exciting battle scenes, its almost mind boggling, together with Inkers Jay Leisten & Keith Champagne, and Colorist Jeromy Cox, this book continues to deliver on every level with its incredible visuals and engaging storyline. Supergirl’s fight with Byth was another highlight this issue, especially Byth’s grotesque true form, and the page where Martian Manhunter freed Hawkman from Byth’s brainwashing was also particularly effective.

Justice League United #9 reaches a shattering conclusion just as it looks like everything might be resolved, its edge of the seat stuff too, and sets the stage for a thrilling conclusion to The Infinitus Saga next issue. I’ve really enjoyed seeing the Justice League United and Legion of Super-Heroes teaming up like this during The Infinitus Saga, I love both teams, so I’m kinda sad there’s only one more issue to go, but I’m still keeping my fingers crossed the Legion will return one day in their own title again at some point. Justice League United #9 is another great issue, with its terrific story by Jeff Lemire and art by Neil Edwards; it’s a space epic not to be missed!

 

Batman #38 Review

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Batman #38

Review by Paul Bowler

The outbreak caused by the Joker’s new toxin has plunged Gotham into chaos as the infected rampage through the city. Batman investigated Gotham Presbyterian Hospital where he discovered Patient Zero was in fact Joe Chill – the man who murdered his parents. Holed up in his apartment, Jim Gordon had to confront the Joker alone. Gordon shot the Joker, apparently killing him, but the Clown Prince of Crime didn’t die… Batman escaped with Duke from the hospital, now the Dark Knight must reach Jim’s apartment, but more horrors await them, and soon the race is on to find the scientist responsible for engineering the Joker’s toxin.

The Joker’s dramatic return continues in Batman #38 with Endgame Part Four, as Scott Snyders and Greg Capullos nail biting new storyline delves further into the mystery surrounding the Joker’s miraculous new ability to heal, amongst other things… Indeed, the horrifying impact of last issues unnerving torrent of cliff-hangers seems to have set up a chain reaction, one that looks set to reverberate though every aspect of Batman’s mythology in this issue with a story that is quite unlike anything we’ve experienced before.

From the first page, as Batman uses his glider to carry him and Duke towards Gordon’s apartment in Foundry Square, Snyder once again draws us into the rich history of Gotham City. It’s fascinating to learn more about the place where Jim Gordon lives, as well as role Foundry Square has played in Gotham’s history, a point which is exemplified even further as we begin to understand why Jim Gordon chose to live here.

Gordon’s injury is shocking enough, but the sight of Jim suddenly brandishing the same weapon the Joker used on him against Batman is a moment of sublime terror that Snyder executes with razor sharp precision. From here the issue proceeds at a break-neck-pace, with Gordon secured and Penny Two entrusted with getting young Duke to safety, Batman gets Dick Grayson to analyse the regenerative factor in the Joker’s blood as he battles his way across Gotham in order to find the scientist responsible for creating the new virus – Paul Dekker.

Batman #38 Cover

I really enjoyed these exchanges over the com-link between Batman and Dick Grayson over the course of this issue. With the tension heightening by the moment as Batman does his best to evade the hordes of infected civilians, the banter between Batman and Dick Grayson over the com-link is excellent, and the action is punctuated by some startling revelations. The defining moment comes as Bruce tells Dick what the Joker really “knows”. In essence we’ve been here before, In Death of the Family, with the Dark Knight locked in a deadly game of cat and mouse over whether or not the Joker actually knows who Batman really is. Even though the situation is even more dire here now in Endgame, when it seems like everything is lost, with no way out of this one, there is still the uncanny feeling that even a Batman without a plan will still find a trump card to play against the Joker.

Batman’s quest to locate Paul Dekker finds the Dark Knight confronted by none other than Crazy Quilt! This one time associate of Dr Karl Helfern also provides a brilliant link to Dr Death’s role in Zero Year, and in making the surprise addition of Paul Dekker as Crazy Quilt, Scott Snyder has single-handedly woven another classic villain into the ongoing narrative in a way that few, if any of us, could’ve ever really expected. The virus Dekker synthesized for the Joker actually turns out to be a story about something far, far older, and more dangerous than Batman ever imagined. The regenerative qualities the Joker has gained from this virus are astonishing, but with the Joker’s image now seemingly linked to the major tragedies in Gotham’s history, the implications of this discovery now makes his apparent immortality seem even more horrifying in the extreme.

The intensity and detail of Greg Capullo’s art is as captivating as ever. A brooding atmosphere of terror and suspense seems to permeate through every page of this issue as we follow Batman’s journey across the city, from that maniacal glint in Gordon’s eyes as he raises the axe, to the giggling crowds of infected civilians that follow Batman wherever he goes, and the gloomy menace of Dekker’s lab, Capullo keeps the action flowing smoothly as the horror and tension builds. Danny Mikis inks enhance the air of dread further still, and FCO Plascencias gorgeous colors bring a magnificent clarity to virtually every scene. Along with its dark, horrific tone, Batman #38 is also big on spectacle, with Batman taking on a tank being just one highlight, and of course that incredible, jaw-dropping, final page that delivers Endgame’s most shocking plot twist so far.

This issues backup story from James Tynion IV, with Sam Kieth’s stylish art, colors by Ronda Pattison, and letters provided by Travis Lanham, follows the escaped Arkham inmates, crazed disciples of the Joker, who have been given the task of telling their stories to Doctor Zaheer. This time it is Cassidy’s turn, with a chilling tale that gouges right into “Heart” of Gotham’s secret history. Doctor Zaheer’s plight is made all the more terrifying as her ordeal drags her further into the inmates mad, twisted world, while somewhere down in the darkness beneath Gotham, the truth is waiting for her… This dark tale of terror by Tynion is one of the most unsettling so far in this series of backup stories to accompany Endgame, Sam Kieth’s art encapsulates the horrific nature of this macabre story perfectly, and the lingering sense of the unknown that it generates deftly ties into the events unfolding in Endgames main story arc in a way that is both haunting and eerily disconcerting.

Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo are certainly keeping us all on our toes with Endgame. Even with everything that Batman discovers this issue, Snyder still manages to keep us guessing concerning the mystery surrounding the Joker’s apparent immortality. At one point Dekker even seems to acknowledge what we are all thinking, and he’s right, this doesn’t even feel like a Batman story anymore, it’s become something much bolder and braver. The ambiguity of the Joker being immortal challenges Batman like never before. Endgame has already delivered countless surprises, with elements from The Court of Owls, Death of the Family, and Zero Year gradually slotting into place, Endgame becomes more enthralling with every issue. As for the Joker, we only really get one glimpse of him this issue, its also one you won’t forget in a hurry, and it leaves you with a horrible feeling about where he’s probably going and what’s going to happen when he arrives…

 

Hellraiser Bestiary #6 Review

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Hellraiser Bestiary #6

Review by Paul Bowler

The final chapter of the Hellraiser anthology gathered in Hellraiser Bestiary #6, presents us with three of the most disturbing and visceral fables of horror based on Clive Barker’s Hellraiser mythos so far by this series, in a spellbinding issue of darkness that will rend your imagination until it drips blood red with the majesty of the Cenobites legacy of pleasure and pain. This innovative new anthology series from BOOM! Studios, with its devilish mix of talented writers and artists, has taped a fresh vein of horror that invites us to solve the darkest secrets of the lament configuration puzzle box and explore the blood spattered sights that await us in Hellraiser Bestiary…

The first story in this issue, A Place for Everything, written by Christopher Sebela (Dead Letters), with art by Matt Battaglia, is the unsettling tale of a hoarder whose obsessive compulsion brings dire repercussions for those she loves more than life itself. Christopher Sebela skilfully builds this sombre, heartrending tale, one that unfolds as this poor elderly woman looks back on the tragic events that have shaped her life, as her vain attempts to escape from the past becomes overrun with the clutter she obsessively gathers, until it threatens even her loving family. Matt Battaglia’s art captures the mood and tone of this story perfectly, and the resolution will sear this woman’s horrifying index of terror into your imagination long after the outcome is revealed…

HellraiserBestiary 06_coverA

Ben Meares and Christian Francis introduce us to a scientist who is hell bent on solving the mysteries of the puzzle box. The Science of Madness is a wickedly inventive tale where a scientist has only three days left to discover the secrets of the puzzle box even though it defies all manner of rational explanation. The art for this story by Peter Bergting builds on the drama wrought by the scientist’s frustration, before the solution which finally presents itself delivers a most unexpected climax, one that even confounds the Cenobites themselves!

The Hunted: Part Six concludes Hellraiser Bestiary in fine style, as Pinhead finally confronts the mercenaries who stole his pins. Writers Ben Meares and Mark Miller have certainly given Pinhead a tough time over the course of this story, now at last we get to see the payback for all the suffering he’s endured, as Pinhead takes on the leader of the mercenaries in a secret underground vault in the very heart of the Vatican City itself. I’ve really enjoyed this six part story by Meares and Miller, it’s been unflinchingly violent and blood thirsty at times, and it’s been fascinating to see how Pinhead has coped with the dire situation he suddenly found himself in. The Hunted: Part Six features great art by Carlos Magono, from the action-packed showdown in the vault, to the thrilling moment Pinhead is reunited with the pins so savagely stolen from his flesh, Magono’s art for this storyline has made every fiendish moment a delight to behold, and the colors by Matt Battaglia ensures this instalments looks incredible with his stunning use of tone and shade throughout. The conclusion sees Pinhead returned at his very best, and the new décor he chooses for the new Bestiary is most fitting…

Hellraiser Bestiary has been one of my favourite titles over the last few months. Each issue has featured some great stories and excellent artwork, making them all superb additions to Clive Barker’s Hellraiser legacy, and I certainly hope that we get to see another Hellraiser anthology series from BOOM! Studios.

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