Judge Dredd: The Dark Judges – spoiler light

dark judges

Judge Dredd: The Dark Judges a graphic novel published by 2000AD

Writers:
John Wagner & Alan Grant

Artists:
Brian Bolland, Brett Ewins, Cliff Robinson, Ron Smith

Letterers:
Tom Frame

Previously published in Progs 149-151, 224-228 & 416-427

The most widely known villains outside 2000AD fandom, Judge Death has been an inspiration for many things. Most notably Dredd and his deathly nemesis have appeared on many Anthrax albums and t-shirts.

This collection brings us the stories Judge Death, Judge Death Lives and Four Dark Judges. These stories are reprints so I am assuming most readers will be aware of the general thrust of the stories. There are spoilers below but due to the fact they are reprints I’m tagging them as light. If you have never read these stories maybe they are medium. There is only one heavy spoiler if you haven’t read Judge Death.

I’m reviewing the Kindle version of this book and all pages are black and white. It does suffer slightly from the fact that famous double spreads are cut in half. However the story is still easily read and brought back good memories. Continue reading

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Fox Fest at Snooty Fox featuring King Nothing – promoted by aLive Promotions.

Saturday 23rd February, Snooty Fox, Wakefield.snootyalive

Fox Fest, promoted by Jim Cameron of  aLive Promotions.

FOX FEST 2013 BAND SCHEDULE (reverse order)

1. King Nothing (LEEDS)
2. The More I See (PETERBOROUGH)
3. JD FDCS (MIDLANDS)
4. RONIN (Worcester)
5. Defy All Reason (WREXHAM)
6. THIRTEEN16 (LEEDS/BRADFORD)
7. Kill the Silence (LEEDS)
8. Sea of Abrogation (WAKEFIELD) Continue reading

Doctor Who: The Silurian Gift – a ‘Quick Reads’ book by Mike Tucker – spoiler light

QR2013This book is part of the 2013 Quick Reads released on 14th February 2013.

I’m assuming most people that have read anything on my blog read books. I may be wrong. After all one in six adults in the UK have difficulty reading books. That isn’t even counting people that can read books but don’t for whatever reason.

So why am I talking about Quick Reads to people I assume read?

These books are only £1.00. Why not buy one for someone who doesn’t read books. They are short, the print is larger than average without being large print. The books are always either by top authors or are popular subjects. Even if none of this years’ books are what you want you might find one on Amazon that is more what you are looking for.

sw silurian

This book, as you can see, features the Doctor as portrayed by Matt Smith. He doesn’t have any assistant with him and it isn’t clear where in continuity it is intended to fit.

The story is set in Antarctica and though the date isn’t mentioned I get the feeling it is in the near future. PelCorp, owned by business tycoon Rick Pelham, has found a new source of clean energy beneath the south pole ice-cap.

The Doctor is intrigued how PelCorp could find a new source of energy the first time they drilled in the Antarctic. He is further puzzled how they can extract it and refine it in mere weeks.

After one of his workers is attacked by a mysterious monster he accepts an offer of help from the Doctor. The Doctor accepts the help of a young woman, Lizzie Davies, who gets in on the trip by pretending to be the Doctor’s assistant.

What could be behind this intriguing plot? Well probably Silurians as they are in the title.

This is typical fare for a Doctor Who book, there are plot twists, there are a few surprises, there are multiple uses of the sonic screwdriver – but then that is what is required for a Quick Read. The whole point is to present an unchallenging but enjoyable read, this book manages this.

Try out a Quick Read or, as I suggested at the beginning, treat someone to one. Lets bring down that 1 in 6 figure.

Badger! – really cool tool by Michael Carroll

The title image for this blog was created with the Badger program by Michael Carroll (edit April 2015 – that was the original Badge, the current one is a higher-res version Michael made for me later in 2013). Michael is a writer of novels and comics. He has written several novels including the New Heroes series published by Harper Collins. In comics he has written several strips for Future Quake and Zarjaz before writing a few strips for the Black Museum in Judge Dredd Megazine. Since 2011 Michael has written stories for Judge Dredd published in 2000AD and Judge Dredd Megazine, most recently in Prog 1816 in January 2013. Michael also co-wrote the fan film Judge Minty with Steven Sterlacchini.

Michael was also Webmaster for the wonderful novelist Harry Harrison, who sadly passed away on 15th August 2012. I’d like to dedicate this review to Harry Harrison who was my inspiration as a teenager to try to write stories, I’ve been rejected by Marvel and BBC but at least I tried, thanks Harry. Continue reading

Judge Dredd Day of Chaos: The Fourth Faction – graphic novel – spoilers medium to heavy

Day-of-Chaos-The-Fourth-Faction

Judge Dredd Day of Chaos: The Fourth Faction a graphic novel published by 2000AD

Writer:
John Wagner
Artists:
Ben Willsher, Staz Johnson, Colin MacNeil, Henry Flint
Colours:
Chris Blythe
Letterer:
Annie Parkhouse

Previously published in progs 1700-1704, 1740-1751, 1753-1758 & Judge Dredd Megazine 307, 308, 310.

I picked this up in Travelling Man in Leeds. I missed Staz Johnson signing on Saturday 9th February due to work but Travelling Man hooked me up with a signed copy on the following Sunday.

There are spoilers below but as it is a reprint I’m saying they are medium as I expect most readers know something of the story. In more recent reviews of Judge Dredd reprints I’ve tried to keep the spoilers very light, this is because the stories, The Cursed Earth Saga and The Day The Law Died are much older and new readers are perhaps less likely to know much about them. Of course if you haven’t previously heard anything about this story the spoilers are heavy; in fact they get that way in my intro in the second paragraph following this, so beware.

Revenge is a dish best served cold. It’s an old saying, much quoted. This is a cold day for Mega City One, or rather this is the start of the build up to a cold day.

This story has its roots in 1981 when John Wagner and Alan Grant decided Mega City One was just a bit too big. Starting with Block Mania in Progs 236-244 where East-Meg assassin Orlok poisoned the water supply to several citi-blocks turning them in to warring factions. Then we entered the Apocalypse War in progs 245-270 when East-Meg One invaded following the chaos their agent had caused. Seeing his city devastated, Dredd led a hand picked band of Judges and in the end wiped the enemy city from the Earth with its own missiles.

30 years later…

Here we have a slow increase of threat to the city. There has recently been a change in Chief Judge, the outgoing Sinfield. sentenced to life on the Titan penal colony. The incoming Chief Judge Francisco, returned to the post after being poisoned by Sinfield. Dredd has been forced to be on the Council of Five, to all intents and purposes not only the leaders of the Judges but the Government of Mega City One, their Mayor being a symbolic leader only.

In an attempt to avoid what Dredd sees as tedium in the Council of Five meetings he initiates a policy of Zero Tolerance and starts with a crackdown in Sector 50. in The Skinning Room. This episode doesn’t have a great deal of plot linked to the main story of revenge. However it is essential for background of what state the city is in at the time. Every spare Judge is drafted in to Sector 50 and senior Cadets are also put on the streets. There is an interesting new element of Justice Department are seen, specialist snipers with unique uniforms and hover bike as a platform. This story centres on a Resyk employee with a murderous intent. Watch out for a cheeky cameo of the Justice Department’s Eagle symbol in one picture involving a female Judge strapped to an operating table.

Hot Night in 95 sees the tension on the streets increase as terrorist attacks take place throughout Sector 95, Where Dredd is temporary Sector Chief. This story re-introduces Judge Logan, who previously worked with Dredd in The Satanist, Total War, Origins and Tour of Duty. It also re-introduces Judge Hershey, a very longstanding character first introduced on The Judge Child and later rising in the ranks to become Chief Judge, replaced by Judge Francisco in his first term.

The Further Dasterdly Deeds of PJ Maybe sees the serial killer, a fan favourite, locked up in a high security iso-cube. He had been hiding in plain sight as Mayor Ambrose, oddly the best Mayor the city had probably ever had, now publicly assumed to be dead. He was considered such a threat that his very existence was supposed to be secret. If you know PJ you can guess what happens…

Nadia is the next episode, named after  mysterious woman who has recently arrived in the city. Nadia meets with a sleeper cell to arrange something big. Dredd meanwhile is now avoiding his duties on the Council of Five by teaching at the Academy of Law three times a month, when able. A PSI Cadet, Hennessy, brings him details of her precognition that some form of devastation was going to hit the city on the day of the upcoming Mayoral Election, to replace the ‘dead’ Mayor Ambrose. Hennesy leads Dredd slowly towards Nadia. Nadia’s sleeper cell successfully kidnap a scientist from the city.

The Fourth Faction, the eponymous episode of this graphic novel, reveals the enemy to be East-Meg One survivors led by Colonel Borisenko. The kidnapped scientist is a bio-engineer that had developed a deadly virus that he had refused to turn over to Mega City One’s Special Weapons Division. Now Borisenko wants the same organism.

The final episode in this graphic novel is Elusive. PJ Maybe gets revenge on political rivals as well as finding a new safe place to hide from the law.

There are continuity flaws in Judge Dredd if you look at it closely but to a greater degree the continuity is rather good given the 36 years the strip has been going, not only weekly in 2000AD but monthly (more or less) in the Megazine. And past stories can easily come back to haunt Mega City One.

As ever John Wagner has pulled together an interesting cast of characters, old and new. The wealth and depth of material in Dredd cannot be underestimated.

The artists all do wonderful work, with some interesting tweaks to many of the uniforms Judges other than Street Division wear. Interestingly the fact that the same colourist has worked on all the stories it gives this collection a uniform feel while still allowing each artist to use their own style. I really have nothing to criticise in the layout or delivery. Colin MacNeil sneaks in a visual reference to the Judge Dredd fan chat-room – Colin is often found in there, so am I.

TimeRiders 7: The Pirate Kings – a novel by Alex Scarrow

I’ve already reviewed three of Alex’s books, the Ellie Quin Series, so I am sure if you read my reviews you’ll be able to guess I like his work. Alex writes thrillers for adults, A Thousand Suns, Last Light, Afterlight, October Skies and The Candleman. Ellie Quin, currently available only on Amazon for Kindle (remember there are Aps for most platforms) is a Sci-Fi romp for young adults (and adults) with more than a hint of Halo Jones, Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy, among others. This review is about the 7th book in the successful TimeRiders series by Puffin.

There are spoilers for the full series in this review, but I’m keeping them as light as possible. I’ll try not to include the bombshell from the 6th book for example… and it is a whopper. If you haven’t read the series and want a bit of background information see my article about the series so far

TimeRiders, I am picky about the title being written correctly all one word but two capital letters, is a Sci-Fi series about three young time travelers. In the words of the blurb on the back of this book:

TR7‘Liam O’Connor should have died at sea in 1912.
Maddy Carter should have died on a plane in 2010.
Sal Vikram should have died in a fire in 2026.

But all three have been given a second chance – to work for an agency that no one knows exists. Its purpose: to prevent time travel destroying history…’

Now settled in Victorian London of 1889 the TimeRiders eventually find themselves bored. There have been no time-waves for some time.

Maddy decides she wants to see the Great Fire of London and the others agree. The four travel back in time without the Support Units, Bob and Becks. But the fire doesn’t quite behave as they expected and they wander too near. In the following confusion Liam and Rashid are separated from Maddy and Sal.

Liam and Rashid find themselves on the high seas travelling from London to Africa and then the Caribbean in the company of some rather unsavory sorts. But how long will they be lost for while Maddy and Sal try to find them without the internet to help them look for changes in history.

Without mentioning the big reveal from Book six I have to be careful what I say about this book. Liam, Maddy and Sal are still traumatised by the new knowledge of their place in the Agency. Maddy and Sal feel that Liam may have abandoned them and both consider running away to another time. Sal does exactly that at one point, travelling to 2026.

This book sees quite a lot of development in the three main characters while we see them reflect on the difficult changes they faced. They have decided to try to find a better future instead of keeping the future on the track Waldstein intends them to follow, Sal decides that there is one thing she must achieve, and that is the future of one little girl and her parents.

Liam, Maddy and Sal were well constructed characters from book one and the twists and turns they have seen has seen real depth added. Bob and Becks see much less action in this book, I do miss the old Becks though. We also learn a lot more about Rashim’s personality.

As usual their are scenes of violence in the book, something Liam has seen a lot of in the series. Modern ethics are shown in conflict with those of the 17th century. Colonialism is definitely not the heroic part of this book.

A very enjoyable read and aspects of it made me want to know more than Alex showed us. This series is very hard to pick a favourite from but I can easily see some people picking this one. After all there are PIRATES!!!

TimeRiders series so far (books 1 to 6) – novels by Alex Scarrow – spoiler light.

Alex Scarrow is the author of a number of thrillers for adults and the young adult sci-fi romp Ellie Quin. This review is an overview of the TimeRiders series, published by Puffin.

TR series 1-6

‘Liam O’Connor should have died at sea in 1912.

Maddy Carter should have died on a plane in 2010.

Sal Vikram should have died in a fire in 2029.

Yet moments before death, someone mysteriously appeared and said, ‘Take my hand . . .’ ‘

The three main characters are teenagers plucked out of their own time just before they die by a mysterious man known only as Foster. They are initially set up in a base in a lock-up under Williamsburg Bridge in New York in 2001. Thier base is in a 2-day-time-loop with time moving on inside but outside it is always the tenth or eleventh of November 2001. Maddy is the appointed leader of the group, her organisational skills and computer knowledge are key.   Liam is given the job of going through time to locate and deal with whatever contamination is happening. Sal is incredibly perceptive and her task is to spot small changes in detail that precedes any major changes to time.

Foster works for an unknown Agency apparently set up by the inventor of time travel, Roald Waldstein, who after seeing the future managed to convince he world’s government to ban time travel. From 2001, the day before and the day of the destruction of the Twin Towers, the team watch for any alteration of time and do whatever is required to put time back on its preferred course. Foster gives the team advice, shows them how to perform their tasks, but then leaves them with little explanation.

Book one (TimeRiders) we are introduced to Bob, a vat grown clone with a vestigial brain that is connected to an AI. Bob is a genetically engineered soldier, or Support Unit, and accompanies Liam on his missions into the past or future.
The team follow a group of travelers from the future to Nazi Germany , intent on ensuring the Allies lose the war.

Book two (TimeRiders: Day of the Predator) a female Support Unit is grown, and called Becks. When attempting to stop an assassination the team accidentally send Liam, Becks and a group of children millions of years in to the past. Where they encounter an undiscovered raptor more intelligent than science is aware of.

Book three (TimeRiders: The Doomsday Code) sees Liam and Becks travel to 1193 in search of a time traveler that is trying to obtain the Voynich manuscript, lost for centuries containing details of the holy grail.

Book four (TimeRiders: The Eternal War) following a fatal accident Abraham Lincoln never became President of the United States. The American Civil War is still raging by 2001.

Book five (TimeRiders: Gates of Rome) the team travel to 1st century AD Rome to stop a group of time travelers escaping from a doomed future of 2070. Two popular characters from Simon Scarrow’s ‘Eagle’ series appear. The team are joined by Rashid Anwar, a scientist from the fleeing group . He brings with him a robotic lab assistant called Sponge Bubba, with the outward appearance and irritating voice of Spongebob Squarepants.

Book six (TimeRiders: City of Shadows) the team relocate to London of 1889 fleeing Support Units that have been sent to kill them. They find themselves in the middle of Jack the Rippers grisly deeds.