Archive for January, 2013

[Book Review] False Negative by Joseph Koenig

Posted in Book Review with tags , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2013 by Casey Hutton

Anyone that has read this blog knows my infatuation with pulp and noir-style reads, whether they be in the form of novels of comics. Suspense-thrillers with gritty imagery has always won over my heart. So, when I heard about Hard Case Crime I took a look at their website. Sure enough…it was a plethora of books by various authors that had me from the get go. Their selection consists of noir, old and new, by some writers well-known within other genres.

FalseNegativeCoverMy initial head-first dive into their titles consisted of False Negative by Joseph Koenig. From cover to cover, Koenig has put together one of the more interesting reads I’ve gotten my hands on in quite some time. He was a great understanding of the genre and the time period his novel is placed, and as we follow along with his main character (named Adam Jordan), the seedy-side of Atlantic City comes alive.

The book is a legitimate page-turner and in general remains consistant until the end. The story involves a reporter that commits a serious foopah in the journalism industry and ends up getting the boot out onto the street. Having no where else to turn and no other talents, he ends up writing for a magazing dubbed Real Detective. Koenig has us following along as Jordan stumbles from story to story, always seeming to come back to the one case that haunts him, and as new murders ensue he can’t help but become involved.

For three-fourths of the novel, I was kept guessing who was behind the killings involved with the main storyline. With Koenig throwing in side-stories of Jordan earning a living, it kept me engrossed and turning the pages one after another. So much so that I sat aside several other books I was reading (I usually have 3-5 going at the same time) to focus on this one.

What can I say negative about this particular title? Not much. I felt the killer was revealed (even though not necessarily outright, but enough they were singled out quickly) too early. More attention to the main plot could have added to the ‘chew’ of this title. Keep in mind, there wasn’t a lack of main story…I just felt some of the skipping around might have taken away a bit here and there, and in some places had me scratching my head thinking I was missing a page or two between thumbing to the next. And lastly, the final two pages could have been removed entirely and the story ended with ‘Chapter 13.’

But honestly, no piece of work is perfect. What makes a piece of writing great can be in the eye and mind of those who read them. In my opinion, False Negative is well written over all, and what little it does lack is made up for in that need to keep turning the page. If the catalogue of Hard Case Crime is anywhere close to this (and with big names like Stephen King on the bill…) I should say this publishing company is going to be just what the doctor ordered for my noir and pulp fixation.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5 Gingered Digits.

Verdict: Character Development (1/1), Climax (0.5/1), Entertainment (1/1), Plot (1/1), Story (1/1).

[Comic Review] The Superior Spider-Man #2

Posted in Comic Review with tags , , , on January 30, 2013 by Casey Hutton

TheSuperiorSpiderMan002Dan Slott and his team at Marvel Comics have done something amazing…and although I was not a Slott ‘hater’ with the wrapping up of Amazing Spider-Man, I had no idea this is what was going to be coming next.

I enjoyed The Superior Spider-Man #1 enough that I wanted to keep with it. Now, with the release of The Superior Spider-Man #2…I’m left feeling speechless.

First thing’s first. Stegman and Delgado’s finished art is eye candy. I couldn’t help but love every panel my eyes came across. It’s both gritty and dark, yet crisp and clean (I know…I don’t get it either!). A lot of times, a book’s cover can be the best part of the title. In this case, it’s the exact opposite. The cover is simple, Octo-Peter and MJ kissing with a black background. Not over-the-top and not too understated. Then BAM!! Once I cracked open the cover, my eyes were overwhelmed with artistic goodness. Stegman…you are amazing and in rare form!

And now for Mr. Dan Slott. There was a lot of “controversy” surrounding the wrap up of The Amazing Spider-Man. I, personally, thought it was an interesting way to bring in a newer embodiment of Spider-Man. Did I necessarily like every aspect? Of course not, but in my view it was a story that should have been longer that was instead shoe-horned into three releases (Amazing Spider-Man #698-700). In what could have been a release or to in and of itself was crammed into only a couple of pages (the culmination and finale of #700).

This issue, The Superior Spider-Man #2 was what I’ve been waiting for, and if this is a taste for what is to come I do ever foresee myself wanted to put this title down. Here we have Octo-Peter struggling with his old habits. That villain shining through in moments where Peter would have given into his emotions. The tech-savvy genius trying to make the most effective use of his time even go so far as “making an app for that” approach which had me chuckling. Not to mention (SPOILER) the next villain being introduced. Who doesn’t love the Vulture…especially one in a world revamped where we may not know what to expect!

If there were any doubts to fanboys…I hope this issue quells some of the internet hatred of the creative team. If they can bring out an issue like this that I felt was knocked totally out of the ball park…I think that alone speaks volumes to both the dedication and future the team sees in this title.

Rating: 10/10 Gingered Digits!

Reasoning: Artwork (2/2), Character Development (2/2), Climax (2/2), Plot Development (2/2), Story (2/2).

[Film Review] Dredd (BR/DVD)

Posted in Film Review with tags , , , , , on January 28, 2013 by Casey Hutton

Judge Dredd (2012)Although not necessarily a ‘new’ release, as it came out January 8th of this year, I figure I’d take a look at one of the more recent films to be released that I legitimately enjoyed.

I have been a fan of the Dredd character since I was a kid. The art. The Comic. There’s even a part of me that loves the Stallone film adaptation from the 1990s.

This adaptation, however, released by Lionsgate is superb. It’s dark. It’s gritty. It’s Dredd. It has a one-liner or two and some of the same sadistic humor that the comic had (and still has), but none of the over-the-top additions its predecessor had.

We follow Dredd along with a new Judge with psy powers as she gets her review on the street. They are summoned to the scene of three bodies having been dropped from a rather high altitude in one of the tower living dwellings. Things take a toll for the worst, and it ends up the tower goes on lockdown and all hell breaks loose. Mayhem ensues.

As far as story goes, it’s straight forward. There no real surprises here, and once the film gets going it’s almost none-stop action. Although I enjoy the cast (Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby and Lena Headey to name a few) the talent that went into this wasn’t a must. The dialogue is direct, and with only a handful of exceptions, most of the actors involved either die horribly soon after they come onto the screen or they   wear a helmet.

Some of the filming technique in this is amazing. The ‘Slo-Mo’ scenes are amazing. The light and how it plays off the set and camera is amazing. After watching some of the special features included in the BR/DVD combo pack, they even went so far as designing a new camera system that allowed them to do what they wanted.

Overall, it’s worth the time to see this film. It doesn’t go much of any where as far as location. It’s a solid action flick. And, unfortunately, it got pretty much forgotten at the box office. Hopefully, just as in the Stallone rendition, it gets its time to shine and will be found years on down the line…even if it’s in the ‘El Cheapo’ bin.

Rating: 6/10 Gingered Digits.

Reasoning: Character Development (0.5/2), Climax (1.5/2), Direction (2/2), Plot (1/2), Story (1/2).

[Book Review] Something From the Nightside by Simon R. Green

Posted in Book Review with tags , , , on January 28, 2013 by Casey Hutton

SomethingFromTheNightsideIn my lifetime, it’s very hard to come across a book that fails to meet my literary expectations but still end up loving it. Not only that, but, for the most part, loving the entire series.

In Simon R. Green’s Something From the Nightside, I found a book I couldn’t help but hate to love.

The book, which is the first in an ongoing series, came out in 2003. I read it when it was a new release…and I’ve read it once more after that. This time around having been my third. While perusing the ‘New Release’ shelves in the science fiction section at my local book store I saw that Green had released yet another in the series. Having been out of the loop for a while, I decided to start over again rather than pick up the new title and miss out on previously released back story.

The story revolves around a private eye with special talents name John Taylor. You won’t forget that name because it’s repeated about 1,000 times within the title’s 230-ish pages. Having been in the “normal” world now for a few years, a damsel in distress draws him back in to the seedy side of London, a completely dark and sadistic side of London known as the Nightside. The Nightside is also a name you will not forget, as you are constantly reminded of its name with every turn of the page.

This damsel has Taylor following her daughter into the bowels of this unearthly, supernatural part of town. A place where magic is real, time has no real meaning and the cars can eat you.

Overall, this title is what I would consider ‘Popcorn’ reading. It’s light, fluffy and quick. At only 230-ish pages, it doesn’t take much time to go from cover to cover. But the real kicker is, with all the poor grammar, gaps in story and just in general mind-numbing amount of times the Nightside is mentioned…I couldn’t help but enjoy myself.

The story lacks in several areas…and in general lacks enough to sink your teeth into for long. The character development, although present, isn’t enough to really help you feel for the characters involved in the storyline. The climax was ok…not great or anything spectacular…just borderline on almost being disappointing, but not in the end.

What the story does have is a feel. By that, I mean it screams noir. Modern noir, but noir nonetheless. Green utilizes the Nightside in such a way that the world of today is shoved aside and a grittier side of reality is revealed to us. A place where a futuristic spaceman walks shoulder to shoulder with a knight in shining armor. Unbelievable, yes…but still one heck of a good time!

Give this one a shot. It’s short and well worth the time. Even if you can’t get into it enough to follow along by delving in the rest of the series, Something From the Nightside will most likely have some aspect to tickle your fancy.

Rating:  5.5/10 Gingered Digits.

Reasoning: Character Development (0.5/2), Climax (1/2),Entertainment (2/2), Plot  (1/2), Story (1/2).

[Comic Review] The Black Beetle #1

Posted in Comic Review with tags , on January 27, 2013 by Casey Hutton

TheBlackBeetle000One word for you: AMAZING!

That pretty much sums up this series, and this title, put out by Dark Horse Comics. The title and the man behind it, one Francesco Francavilla is one part genius, one part artist for a total of three parts stupendous. For once, I have to admit I’m a fanboy…and it’s not a “classic” title that has garnered my admiration. It’s something new and completely fresh. If you haven’t had the opportunity…and yes, I mean opportunity…to have been given a chance to read this title…you have no idea what you’re missing.

I have been a fan of pretty much anything with a “noir” feel to it. Dark Horse and Francavilla seemed to have timed this title at just the right time, as that artistic/literary taste of mine hadn’t been filled in some time.. Piquing my interest with The Black Beetle #0, (collection of shorts released previously in Dark Horse Presents), I couldn’t wait until The Black Beetle #1 hit the shelves. So much so that I didn’t want to wait to see how the title would pan out before I added it to my pull list.

TheBlackBeetle001But…enough drooling and down to business. In The Black Beetle #1, we see the first in a four part series that has our hero…or rather masked vigilante…out to bring down two of the local La Familia families in Colt City. However, it appears that he is not the only one, and his carefully lain out plans were disrupted as another was one step ahead of him, killing the two men in question via an explosion just as he was swooping in to deliver his own brand of justice.

Thus, we are led on a bit of a chase, only to wind up in Colt City’s heavily fortified prison and still the nemesis that had foiled the Beetle’s plans has struck yet again.

This book is put together great. The art. The writing and dialogue. It all works together and breaths with an air direct out of the era it’s meant to be set in. I simply love it. Francavilla has outdone himself and I hope this will be a series that will be around for some time to come.

Do yourself a favor and pick this title up while you can (from what I understand, it sold above expectation), read it…then read it again, taking in every panel as you go. For once, it may finally be a title you won’t regret investing your time and money in.

Rating: 10/10 Gingered Digits.

Reasoning: Artwork (22), Character Development (2/2), Climax (2/2), Plot Development (2/2), Story (2/2).

[Comic Review] Uncanny Avengers #3

Posted in Comic Review with tags , on January 25, 2013 by Casey Hutton

UncannyAvengers003Oh Marvel, Marvel, Marvel…exactly how many Avengers and X-Men titles are you going to come up with? Better yet, how many of them will be able to hold their own and continue with decent story and art? That is a question that seriously needs to be considered.

In Uncanny Avengers #3, I’m still left on the fence about this particular series. Each issue has its moments to shine, and, in my opinion, seems to come up just a tad short of spectacular. This one is no different.

I have to say I have a part of me that loves the Red Skull character. Within the pages of Uncanny Avengers, things are taken one step further and the Red Skull has transplanted Xavier’s brain into his, making him a telepath with rather immense and twisted powers.

In this issue, we find the Red Skull in New York, causing a riot amongst the masses as he controls the “normal” humans into lashing out at mutants. I love this. As a matter of fact, when our Avengers team, led by Havoc, arrives, I had hopes for something epic. When Captain America started giving into the Red Skull’s powers, I really wanted to see this character fall from grace and lash out, making him a mind-controlled villain, if only for a little while. Instead, I was sorely disappointed when the focus shifts and Thor ends up being the duped super hero. Although I’m still tickled to see one of the big-named Avengers fall…I still wish it had worked out different. But, at least I had some satisfaction in seeing Wolverine getting smeared! Yes…I do indeed have a love/hate relationship with many of the mainstream heroes.

The artwork in this title is satisfactory. There are a few panels where I’m not really sure how faces and bodies of characters could contort in such a fashion…but it’s not enough to take away from the book as a whole. One thing I can say is it’s very poppy.

Rating: 4/10 Gingered Digits.

Reasoning: Artwork (0.5/2), Character Development (1/2), Climax (0.5/2), Plot Development (1/2), Story (1/2).

[Comic Review] Lot 13 #3

Posted in Comic Review with tags , on January 8, 2013 by Casey Hutton

Lot13003When I started reading DC ComicsLot 13, I had my reservations. A horror comic from a rather family-friendly company (it’s more risqué titles shuffled over to Vertigo), I thought I was going to be in for a laugh. However, with Lot 13 #3, my opinion is starting to change.

The story is starting to ramp up, and what has been lacking from the two previous issues is not being filled in.

The hotel the family found themselves in is on the border of living and the dead. Although why all of this is happening now hasn’t been touched yet, it have become obvious that whatever is going on the family is stuck right in the middle as the dead have come alive and have started haunting this building. Layouts change, doorways open into times past. I found myself rather impressed, and although there isn’t much in terms of story the thrill is enough to more than make up for it. Plus, the ending is not one that I saw coming.

The artwork here is also good. Although more pencil/colored pencil in appearance, colors still leave a striking image on each and every page. Blood and gore stand out clearly when in contrast with the rest. The dead…or rather undead…leave me feeling a little uncomfortable.

Rating: 8/10 Gingered Digits.

Reasoning: Artwork (1.5/2), Character Development (1.5/2), Climax (2/2), Plot Development (1.5/2), Story (1.5/2).

[Comic Review] Morbius: the Living Vampire #1

Posted in Comic Review with tags , , on January 7, 2013 by Casey Hutton

Morbius001There have already been several sketchy titles in Marvel’s “Marvel Now” lineup. I do my best to pick up first and second issues of almost everything that is released, even Avengers, but unfortunately, not many have made the list of must-reads for me.

With their latest release, Morbius: the Living Vampire #1, I thought it was just going to be another title to throw into the pile of disappointment. Instead, I reached the back cover with a feeling of content and happiness. After reading Spider-Man #699.1, I was intrigued enough to get #1, so in essence, this is really the second issue revolving around the Morbius character. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the character. I’ve wanted to like the character for so long, but he’s always been written coming up short. This time around, however, I think I may have finally found the Morbius I’ve always wanted.

In this issue, we find our new hero settling into a suburb of New York called Brownsville. It doesn’t take long before he gets a taste of exactly what kind of world he’s stepped in. This issue is mainly his adjustment to freedom and his “death”. What I love most is, this book has a very Spider-Man feel to it as far as the writing and the abuse the character goes through. He tries to be a good guy, no matter how much he has to go through and if that’s a trend that keeps up, this will be a series I will keep buying.

The artwork also has the same Spider-Man feel to it. I didn’t take the time to note the artistic team behind this yet, but they have the lines and inking that strike a cord with me, and the motion panels are reminiscent of the web-slinger as well.

Rating: 9.5/10 Gingered Digits.

Reasoning: Artwork (2/2), Character Development (2/2), Climax (2/2), Plot Development (1.5/2), Story (2/2).

[Comic Review] The Flash #15

Posted in Comic Review with tags , on January 4, 2013 by Casey Hutton

I have to admit that, since I started reading DC Comics’ “New 52” The Flash, I haven’t been overly disappointed in any release.

TheFlash015However, in The Flash #15, I’m left not really feeling sated like I have in previous issues. This issue is part three in its “Gorilla Warfare” story arc. I am unsure what exactly what was meant to be accomplished by the release of this issue other than some story depth because it doesn’t really go anywhere. We see Gorilla Grodd’s motives and plans for coming to Earth. We see different potential outcomes as mentally, the Flash witnesses these during his comatose state. But, as far as anything else, it doesn’t happen here. It make me excited, however, to see how the next issue plays out.

The artwork here also keeps up with previous issues. Great lines. Great inking. Very pretty on the eyes. I picked up this title for the eye candy and am still pleased by the substance I can sink my teeth into as a result of the storylines.

Rating: 8/10 Gingered Digits.

Reasoning: Artwork (2/2), Character Development (1.5/2), Climax (2/2), Plot Development (1.5/2), Story (1/2).

[Comic Review] Invincible #99

Posted in Comic Review with tags , on January 3, 2013 by Casey Hutton

Invincible099I am a little late on the bandwagon to Image’s invincible line. I actually decided to start picking up the series due to its relation with Guarding the Globe. So, I don’t know all there is to know as far as what’s going on and who is who (other than the few that appears in the branch off series), but what I do know is…this series is AMAZING!

In Invincible #99 the end of the world is nigh! Or at least, that’s the direction we’re led to believe. No matter the outcome (and doubtful we’re going to see a large portion of the population wiped out by Dinosaurus’ master plan) it’s going to be interesting. Although this book is heavily revolved around Invincible and Dinosaurus’ battling it out in Los Angeles, it has enough panning around to other members of his team to break it up. This factor is one I find endearing of this series.

The artwork is also phenomenal! I love the inking and the color…it literally pops off the page. From what I can tell from flipping though the volumes of previous issues, it has remained as such since relatively early on. The full page panels are outstanding. I love the final full page panel with Invincible’s head being mushed by Dinosaurus’ giant mitts. If I could get this as a print, I would, that how much it struck a cord with me!

Rating: 8/10 Gingered Digits.

Reasoning: Artwork (2/2), Character Development (1/2), Climax (2/2), Plot Development (1.5/2), Story (1.5/2).