Friday, 18 November 2016

Little Girl Black - review

Writer James McCulloch is probably best known for his horror series City of Lost Souls, but his latest book, soon to be published in graphic novel format, dives into a much more realistic and darker corner of the horror genre.

In Little Girl Black we learn about the professional life of businessman Jonathan Watkins and also learn about the dark secrets he harbours in his basement. Here he keeps a group of women and girls imprisoned and under his control; something we learn has been ongoing for many years. When he kills one of the girls for minor accident, he sets out to replace her with a new victim, setting about a chain of events that will challenge both him and his prisoners.

The realistic nature of the story, and it's parallels with real life stories, makes it a much more disturbing tale than James' previous work. This is no fun horror tale with goofy monsters and sparky kids to save the day, this is a grim insight into the most depraved corners of human nature. The dialogue and artwork are no-holds-barred, and artist Pedro Mendes does a great job in illustrating the emotionally charged scenes and graphic violence. The story moves at a pace that compels the reader to keep turning the page, constantly wondering how the story will develop, and whether the ending will be as desolate as the plight of the imprisoned girls.

This will not be a book that everyone will want to read, but if you're comfortable with the likes of American Psycho or the TV drama Thirteen, then this should probably be on your reading list.

The first two issues of the series are available now, with the full 76-page Graphic Novel following soon.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Batman and Robert the Bruce

September 17th 2016 is Batman Day, a celebration of DC Comics most popular character. Across the world comic shops will be celebrating with cosplayers and special events. The event was first introduced three years ago to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the first appearance of Batman in a comic book.

To celebrate I thought I'd investigate the links between two of my favourite heroes, Batman and Robert the Bruce.

What links could possibly exist between a fictional superhero and a Scottish monarch? Well, Batman co-creator Bill Finger revealed the name of Batman's secret identity, Bruce Wayne, as having been inspired by two historical characters, Robert the Bruce and 'Mad' Anthony Wayne. Indeed, the Wayne family home, Wayne Manor is supposed to have been owned by Bruce Wayne's ancestor Anthony Wayne, who was a real-life hero of the American Revolution.

Similarly Robert the Bruce fought for freedom in Scotland's war of independence in the middle ages.
The similarities between Robert the Bruce and Batman don't stop there. One of the most famous stories of Robert the Bruce has him hiding from his enemies in a cave, and which comic book character has a liking for hanging around in caves?

Beyond the predilection for caves, both Bruces were inspired by animals to take up the fight against their enemies. Bruce Wayne was inspired to dress as a bat when said creature flew into his home (or through the bat cave depending on which origin story you read). Similarly, Robert the Bruce, whilst in hiding and considering giving up the fight for his country, was inspired by a tiny spider building its web.

Batman is also well known for having a faithful sidekick, Robin the Boy Wonder. The orphaned Dick Grayson would be taken under the wing of Bruce Wayne and trained to become the masked crimefighter, Robin. Incidentally Robin's costume is inspired by Robin Hood, who in turn may have been inspired by Scotland's own William Wallace. Robert the Bruce also had his faithful sidekick, Sir James Douglas. Douglas had been sent to France for schooling and for his own safety, when Scotland's king had been deposed by the English King Edward. Douglas' father, who had fought in the rebellion alongside William Wallace, was eventually captured and died in an English prison. Thus the young James Douglas had been orphaned, and on his return to Scotland he was taken under the protection of King Robert the Bruce. Douglas remained a loyal follower of the King and became a renowned guerrilla fighter, using stealth tactics to attack the enemies of the King.

It seems likely that Bill Finger may have been inspired not only to name his character after historical characters, but also to base some of their personality and background on them too. I'm sure none of this supposition could be proved, but it's certainly a nice story for Batman Day.

The story of King Robert the Bruce and the Battle of Bannockburn is retold in the comic book King Robert the Bruce and the Wars of Independence, available from Maximized Comics.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Captain Crosshair - Episode 1.

Here's the complete first episode of Captain Crosshair. We're taking a break from him for a few weeks and introducing another character in two weeks time. Let us know what you think of the Captain so far.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four

Next week is the last in this first episode of Captain Crosshair, then we'll have a break for a week and then be back with an introduction to a new character!

Monday, 13 June 2016

Captain Crosshair Episode 1-3

Captain Crosshair tests military equipment in the field for Sharpe Advanced Weaponry. His helmet, suit and rifle are all S.A.W. prototypes. More will be revealed in future episodes.
Previous parts: Part One | Part Two