Tuesday, 30 August 2011

New from Commando!


Sitting tensely together in the Dakota on their way to the night drop into Occupied Europe, ten hand-picked paratroopers jokingly nicknamed themselves the ten little soldier boys. Fate must have smiled, for it turned out to be a grim and deadly jest.
   One by one, at the hands of the Nazis, they were picked off. One by one, they died the death of heroes…


Flat on his stomach on the railway line, Private Andy Morgan crawled forward grimly. It was up to him to stop a Nazi armoured train — and all he had to do it with was one single hand-grenade.
   And what made it even tougher for Andy was that the only two guys with him were the type who would pack up and run if things got dicey.

 What do you get if you send a marauding, aristocratic “Toffs Brigade” on a race against time to recover their stolen regimental silver?
   You get a rip-roaring adventure, that’s what!
   And if that’s not enough, don’t forget to add a battered but trusty Bedford QL lorry nicknamed “Queenie”…better known as the



“Relax, it’s one of ours.” So said the U-boat’s look out as the looming shape of a Focke-Wulf Condor appeared over them.
   Unfortunately the crew of the bomber didn’t seem to realise that the sub was on their side for its lethal payload was soon tumbling down to bring destruction and death to the men below.
   The Killer Condor had struck again but surely at the wrong target…

Orbital 3: Nomads review

Space Opera. I think that every writer may dream of creating one of their own, but few have a vision powerful enough to carry it off successfully.
In his series Orbital, I think that Sylvain Runberg has managed to pull it off.
He manages this by mixing the familiar with the exotic in perfect quantities. So here we have a story set on Earth with our main protagonists a pair of mismatched cops.
Then the waters get nice and muddied.
I was particularly taken by the human lead-Caleb. His actions and motivations in the book are… complicated. Likewise, his partner, Mezoke, who is a member of an alien race called the Sandjarr (the war between then and earth having recently ended) has some of her background revealed in this volume, which also serves to complicate her actions.
All the political wheeling and dealing is balanced out by some nice action sequences and scenes of achingly cool ships zooming across the mountains and seas.
Ah yes, the design. It always come back to the art in these Cinebook volumes, doesn’t it? The art is very good, with the slightly cartoony take on characters working very well. But it is in the design work that it really delivers. Cities and aliens and ships all battle for top spot in the wow factor as the reader turns each page to find another new wonder to drool over. It is too easy to throw about comparisons to Blade Runner (as is always done when anything approaching a tall building features in sci-fi) or to artists like Moebius. But I’m going to do it anyway.
I have a complaint though. This volume really is too short. The story does not end at what I feel is a natural volume break- in that it is not strictly a cliffhanger- although it does leave the reader desperate to read the next volume. It does read like it ended there because the page count demanded it. Thankfully, I have the next volume sitting right now on the to-be-read pile!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Space Marine gameplay trailer

I spent a rather enjoyable afternoon playing the newly released demo for this.Can't wait for the full game!

Super movie review

If you have seen the trailer for this movie already, you’ll no doubt have formed a pretty good idea of what you’ll be watching.
From the trailer you would be forgiven for thinking what you’re in for is a light romp, albeit a violent one, a bit like Kick-Ass only with a middle-aged man and her out of Juno.  What you do get, however, is something very far from that.

While on the surface this movie has elements of a knockabout comedy, for my money it is a much darker beast.
Rainn Wilson plays Frank, a short order cook in a restaurant whose wife leaves him for another, cooler and more interesting man. So Frank decides, through a series of visions inspired by a very funny television show, to become a superhero called The Red Bolt and hit people with a wrench.
This all sounds potentially hilarious, but what it is in fact is a rather disturbing journey as we follow one man through a mental breakdown.
Ellen Page is very good as Libby, a shop assistant in a comic book store who becomes Red Bolt’s sidekick Boltie. Her character provides the majority of the humour as she encourages the Red Bolt to beat up a boy who scratched her friends car and gets over excited as she slips further into the realms of fantasy.
Less funny is the comedy rape scene, but I suspect it is supposed to be okay because it is a woman doing it to a man…
This is not a bad movie however, it is just not the movie that the trailer makes it look like.
There are some great performances, particularly Liv Tyler, who I am not a particular fan of, but she is wonderful as the estranged wife (and also manages to get a nice little in joke for fans of her dad’s band in there too).
In a way this works better than Kick-Ass as a ‘realistic’ depiction of what real life superheroes would actually be like, and the big set piece showdown at the end is brilliantly executed. I did wonder how a short order cook suddenly got so good at fighting as he takes on a drug lord’s army of hired thugs, but never mind.
So basically- watch this by all means, but be warned – appearances are deceptive!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Doctor Who The Chase audiobook review

The Chase is a strange one. It’s one of those Who tales that has flashes of complete genius interspersed with some utter nonsense. But then, it is a Terry Nation story!
And before you throw your hands up in protest, hear me out.
Nation was not very good at plotting. The Chase is a case in point. There is no real sense of urgency in here. The Daleks have their own time machine are chasing the Doctor through the universe! It is literally a race against time and should be a lot more exciting that it is.
The problem is the episodic nature of the narrative. Each episode or so is a self-contained mini-adventure. The Doctor and the TARDIS crew land, have a quick adventure and leave just before the Daleks get there.
There is also the classic Nation method of naming planets. The planet Aridius is a desert planet. Although it was originally a water planet and all the water went away and… well, the story does not really make much sense, but never mind. There is some great adventuring going on amongst my complaining!
The other classic if the planet Mechanus. I bet you can’t guess what sort of things inhabit this planet..?
One more moan… there are a couple of howlers that have made it through the edit to the finished book. For example, we are told within the space of ten minutes that the Doctor had changed his appearance many times before and also that he is on his first incarnation.
What is very good is the writing itself. John Peel has taken the stretched narrative of Nation’s original scripts and worked them into a pretty well written book. Maureen O'Brien, who played the companion Vicki in this story, is quite wonderful as a narrator. It is a brilliant stroke of genius from Audio Go to have an actor connected with the particular story in question narrate it, as it adds a nice level of authenticity to the proceedings.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Western review

Now, you may or may not know this, but here at HiEx! We are big fans of the western genre- so this book would have to drop the ball in a pretty major way to be received badly!
So we can ponder how possible this is before plunging further into the review- It is published by Cinebook, written by Jean Van Hamme – who also wrote XIII, Largo Winch and Thorgal with art by Grzegorz Rosinski – who illustrated Thorgal. You just know this is going to  be good already, don’t you?
And of course you would be right. It is quite brilliant.
The art is equisite. It is painted in warm sepia tones and cool blues, giving the whole book a lovely ‘old world’ feel. The only strong, sold colour in the book is the bright red blood that accompanies any acts of violence and serves to add to their impact. And these pages are broken up by the occasional magnificent fully painted double page spread, which serves as a chapter break and sets the scene nicely for what is about to follow.
The story itself is self contained- this book is a one shot- so you have no need to worry about picking up further volumes after this one. That’s not to say you will not want any, of course!
The narrative is as twisty as you would expect from Van Hamme, and has a pitch black streak running through it. The Old West was tough, so don’t expect this to have one of those endings where they all go off into the sunset together!
So yet again, Cinebook have delivered the good with yet another classic slice of comics. It’s almost getting tedious..!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011


Great news if you're a Playstation 3 owner... which we at Hi-Ex are not..! Still, we can wait for the 360 version. Well, we're going to have to!

Today, Ubisoft announced that PlayStation® gamers will be able to test their assassination skills on September 3, 2011 with a multiplayer beta of the highly anticipated Assassin’s Creed Revelations.

From September 3-11, PlayStation Plus members and Uplay members will enjoy exclusive access to the multiplayer beta on PlayStation 3. The multiplayer beta offers access to nine characters (The Sentinel, The Vanguard, The Guardian, The Vizier, The Thespian, The Deacon, The Bombardier, The Trickster and The Champion), three maps (Knight’s Hospital, Antioch, Constantinople) and four playable modes (Wanted, Manhunt, Deathmatch *NEW*, and Artifact Assault *NEW*), which are only a sample of the final multiplayer content.

In Assassin’s Creed Revelations, master assassin Ezio Auditore walks in the footsteps of the legendary Alta├»r on a journey of discovery and revelation. It is a perilous path – one that will take Ezio to Constantinople, the heart of the Ottoman Empire, where a growing army of Templars threatens to destabilize the region.

Assassin’s Creed Revelations will be available on November 15, 2011 along with the Collector’s Edition, the Animus Edition and the Special Edition.

Doctor Who Robophobia review

Sequels are sometimes a tricky thing, depending on what you are writing a sequel to. If it is something that wasn’t particularly brilliant or remembered with a lot of affection – I would suggest that The Claws of Axos may fall into this category – then it may be a bit easier than picking something that is well loved and may even considered to be a Classic.
I wonder what the reaction was when James Cameron went into a meeting and said he wanted to do a sequel to Alien? To me, trying to do a sequel to The Robots of Death is almost the same sort of thing.
And just like Cameron, Nicholas Briggs, the writer of this story, manages to pull it off by doing something totally different while at the same time riffing on and being respectful to what has gone before.
It is one of these nods to the past that provides the story with its strongest scenes. In episode three, the listener is left in no doubt as to what is going on because of the knowledge they have carried over from The Robots of Death.
The cast are, as is usual, wonderful. McCoy is at his mysterious best as the Seventh Doctor as he does his I-know-what’s-going-on-but-I’m-not-telling-or-maybe-I-don’t-know-but-I’m-pretending-I-do thing.
Nicola Walker is beyond good in her supporting role- she does some amazingly subtle things with her voice acting here, managing to convey complex emotions with the slightest inflection. In this Ace-less adventure, she makes a more than worthy replacement, and I for one would not be averse to seeing her return- that’s not a spoiler, merely my opinion!
Great stuff as usual from Big Finish. Actually, writing this review has got me in the mood to listen to this one again…

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Judge Dredd costumes from 2000 AD and Planet Replicas

These look... wow. Just... wow.

Prepare to dispense justice like Judge Dredd and Judge Anderson - officially licensed Judge replica costumes from Planet Replicas are coming!

Faithfully reproduced from 2000 AD’s most famous lawman of the future, the costumes complete with the distinctive helmet, name badge, pads (shoulder, knee and elbow) utility belt, Lawgiver (sadly, not operational) and gloves.

All other items can also be sourced through Planet Replicas. Personal customisation will be available, as well as other options.

With the choice of male and female Judge costumes, outfits for the whole family are a possibility – ideal if you are setting up your own Mega-City One Sector House.

Published once a week in 2000 AD and monthly in the Judge Dredd Megazine, Dredd is judge, jury and executioner all rolled into one while his irreverent partner in crime-busting, Judge Cassandra Anderson, is a powerful psychic who uses her mind to root out lawbreaking.

Created by John Wagner with Carlos Ezquerra (Dredd) and Brian Bolland (Anderson), Dredd and Anderson patrol the dystopian streets on their huge Lawmaster bikes and dispense violent justice with their Lawgiver sidearms.

For more information please contact info@planetreplicas.com and check out the promotional photos on www.planetreplicas.com

Planet Replicas is licensed by Rebellion to produce replica props, for more information please see www.planetreplicas.com and www.2000adonline.com

Planet Replicas are also the folks behind the costumes in the Judge Minty fan movie:

Batman Live!

You know, there have been some pretty hideous and horrible and unjust things happen. But one of the very worst was when we at Hi-Ex! were offered tickets to the Batman Live show and were not able to go!
I know, I know- it is an utter disgrace!
Don't worry though, we will somehow manage to get through it and get on with our lives while at the same time despising each and every one of you who get to see it, because it looks awesome (in fact, if anyone wants to write a review for the blog, please drop us a line!)
In the meantime, here's some info on it and the tour dates for anyone wanting to go see...

BATMAN LIVE was unveiled by Warner Bros. Consumer Products, DC Entertainment and Nick Grace of Water Lane
Productions Ltd last month at The Manchester Evening News Arena to a full house, and is currently performing in arenas
around the UK as part of the World Tour. To date BATMAN LIVE has received a large number of positive reviews from
critics and the UK public cannot get enough of the ground-breaking spectacular.
“MESMERISING – Entertainment doesn’t come any better than this. Spectacular ACTION”
Manchester Evening News
“A mind blowing SPECTACLE. THRILL ride”
The Sun
“Kerr-pow! Batman’s a dazzling, high-tech hit”
The Daily Telegraph
The Guardian
Audiences entering the arena are greeted by a 3D Gotham City landscape, complete with buildings, soundscape and
video animation, setting the scene for the story to come. The sheer magnitude of the production becomes apparent from
the first moment the full symphonic score is heard, and the 100-foot bat-shaped LED video wall comes to life to enhance
the action on the impressive custom-built stage.
The 43-strong cast of actors and circus-trained acrobats have been rehearsing to perfect the state-of-the-art production –
and as the lights dim and Gotham City’s afternoon turns into night – you can almost feel the anticipation in the air.
Faithfully adapted from the DC Comics characters and stories, BATMAN LIVE focuses on Robin’s quest for justice, which
leads him to follow in the footsteps of his hero – the mysterious vigilante known as Batman, much to the dismay of his
protective guardian, billionaire Bruce Wayne, whom the audience knows is secretly Batman.
This dynamic triangle resolves itself in a non-stop thrill-ride across Gotham City that transforms Bruce Wayne and Dick
Grayson into the legendary crime-fighters, Batman and Robin. The adventure transports the audience from the Big Top of
Haly's Circus to the lower depths of Arkham Asylum, and from the glittering peaks of the Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge to the subterranean wonders that await inside the Batcave.

A dazzling celebration of storytelling and stagecraft, BATMAN LIVE is, at its heart, a poignant coming-of-age story. Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, both orphaned at an early age, must first learn to overcome their own fears and forge their own family – with the help of Police Commissioner James Gordon and Bruce’s trusted butler, Alfred Pennyworth – if they’re going to survive the combined forces of Batman’s larger-than-life rogues’ gallery: The Joker, The Penguin, Catwoman, The Riddler, Two-Face, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy.
“Batman will be brought to life through this incredible stage show that will tour the world,” said Brad Globe, President, Warner Bros. Consumer Products. “As one of the most iconic characters in all of popular culture, Batman enjoys universal appeal and we think that fans of all ages will be amazed by this action-packed, live experience.”
Acrobats suspended in the air, The Joker’s henchmen in choreographed fight sequences and stunning scenic elements are all part of the BATMAN LIVE experience. One of the exciting elements is the eye-catching all-new Batmobile, designed especially for the show by legendary racing car designer Professor Gordon Murray, known for designing race cars for some of the most successful teams in the world for Formula One racing, as well as the famous McLaren F1 road car.
Creative Director Anthony Van Laast said, “It has been a thrilling journey for myself, the creative team and the company to develop the production from the early creative seeds, to the first day of rehearsals and now an amazing show. It is everything I hoped the show would be – exhilarating, impressive, exciting, dynamic and yet accessible – and I truly hope that the arena-going public have as much fun watching it as we have had making it.”

BATMAN LIVE is currently touring arenas for the first time ever across the UK, Dublin, then Europe, arriving in North America in August 2012.
BATMAN LIVE is a live-action, super-heroic spectacle of unprecedented scale that is every bit as human, touching, and inspiring as it is spectacular.
BATMAN LIVE – Future UK Tour Dates 2011
Wednesday 3rd August SECC, Glasgow 7pm 0844 395 4000
Thursday 4th August SECC, Glasgow 7pm 0844 395 4000
Friday 5th August SECC, Glasgow 7pm 0844 395 4000
Saturday 6th August SECC, Glasgow 11am, 3pm & 7pm 0844 395 4000
Sunday 7th August SECC, Glasgow 3pm 0844 395 4000
Wednesday 10th August Sheffield Motor Point Arena 7pm 0114 256 5656
Thursday 11th August Sheffield Motor Point Arena 7pm 0114 256 5656
Friday 12th August Sheffield Motor Point Arena 7pm 0114 256 5656
Saturday 13th August Sheffield Motor Point Arena 11am, 3pm & 7pm 0114 256 5656
Sunday 14th August Sheffield Motor Point Arena 3pm 0114 256 5656
Wednesday 17th August NIA Birmingham 7pm 0844 338 8000
Thursday 18th August NIA, Birmingham 7pm 0844 338 8000
Friday 19th August NIA, Birmingham 7pm 0844 338 8000
Saturday 20th August NIA, Birmingham 11am, 3pm & 7pm 0844 338 8000
Sunday 21st August NIA, Birmingham 3pm 0844 338 8000
Wednesday 24th August London O2 Arena 7pm 0844 856 0202
Thursday 25th August London O2 Arena 7pm 0844 856 0202
Friday 26th August London O2 Arena 7pm 0844 856 0202
Saturday 27th August London O2 Arena 11am, 3pm & 7pm 0844 856 0202
Sunday 28th August London O2 Arena 11am & 3pm 0844 856 0202
Monday 29th August London O2 Arena 3pm 0844 856 0202
Wednesday 31st August London O2 Arena 7pm 0844 856 0202
Thursday 1st September London O2 Arena 7pm 0844 856 0202
Friday 2nd September London O2 Arena 7pm 0844 856 0202
Saturday 3rd September London O2 Arena 11am, 3pm & 7pm 0844 856 0202
Sunday 4th September London O2 Arena 11am & 3pm 0844 856 0202
Wednesday 7th September Liverpool Echo Arena 7pm 0844 8000 400
Thursday 8th September Liverpool Echo Arena 7pm 0844 8000 400
Friday 9th September Liverpool Echo Arena 7pm 0844 8000 400
Saturday 10th September Liverpool Echo Arena 11am, 3pm & 7pm 0844 8000 400
Sunday 11th September Liverpool Echo Arena 3pm 0844 8000 400
Wednesday 14th September Nottingham Capital FM Arena 7pm 0844 412 4624
Thursday 15th September Nottingham Capital FM Arena 7pm 0844 412 4624
Friday 16th September Nottingham Capital FM Arena 7pm 0844 412 4624
Saturday 17th September Nottingham Capital FM Arena 11am, 3pm & 7pm 0844 412 4624
Sunday 18th September Nottingham Capital FM Arena 3pm 0844 412 4624
Wednesday 28th September Dublin O2 Arena 8pm 0818 719 300
Thursday 29th September Dublin O2 Arena 8pm 0818 719 300
Friday 30th September Dublin O2 Arena 8pm 0818 719 300
Saturday 1st October Dublin O2 Arena 12am, 4pm & 8pm 0818 719 300
Wednesday 5th October Belfast Odyssey Arena 8pm 028 9073 9074
Thursday 6th October Belfast Odyssey Arena 8pm 028 9073 9074
Friday 7th October Belfast Odyssey Arena 8pm 028 9073 9074
Saturday 8th October Belfast Odyssey Arena 12am, 4pm & 8pm 028 9073 9074
Tickets for UK and The Republic of Ireland are on sale now.
For more information go to www.batmanlive.com
UK Ticket Prices: £20.00 / £30.00 / £35.00 (excluding booking fee) Limited Availability of Premium “Gotham City” seats
To book tickets for the UK (excluding Belfast), please contact the OFFICIAL NATIONAL TICKET SALES HOTLINE
– 0844 875 9000 or the relevant venue or for online bookings please visit www.ticketzone.co.uk
Republic of Ireland Ticket Prices: Wednesday 28th September– All tickets €30 Thursday 29th September – Saturday 1st October – €44.20, €33.60, €23 Limited Availability of Premium “Gotham City” seats
To book tickets for Dublin, call the venue on 0818 719 300 or for online bookings please visit http://www.ticketmaster.ie
Northern Ireland Ticket Prices: Wednesday 5th October – All tickets £25 Thursday 6th October – Saturday 8th October - £38, £33, £22.50 Limited Availability of Premium “Gotham City” seats
To book tickets for Belfast, call the venue on 028 9073 9074 or for online bookings please visit http://www.ticketmaster.ie

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Doctor Who Tales from the Vault review

Like are good ideas, the one behind this story is a simple one.
It is similar to the comic strip series in the Judge Dredd Megazine called Tales from the Black Museum in that it is spinning stories out from the grisly (or not so grisly) leftovers from certain crimes.
This being Who, the crimes in question are naturally of a fantastic nature. Each is well written and well told.
Talking of which, the cast list… to say it is (from the perspective of a Who fan) impressive, is a gigantic understatement. There are four short stories, each of them is narrated by a different companion. So we have Peter Purvis doing one, Wendy Padbury on another and Katy Manning on a third and the amazing Mary Tamm on another. Which is all a bit awesome, I’m sure you’ll agree.
So, when I tell you that this is not all, and that the story that frames these shorts, and features two soldiers in the UNIT vault looking at the items, stars Daphne Ashbrook and Yee Jee Tso from the Paul McGann TV movie, then I’m pretty sure your fan radar machine or whatever it is you have, will blow a bit of a fuse.
Of course, all this fan service would be nothing if the script was not up to scratch. Well, maybe it would. The actors assembled here are good enough that I suspect they could lift mediocre material enough to make it listenable. But this tale was written by Jonathan Morris, and he knows a thing or two about writing.
It is a very strong piece. I don’t mind admitting that I was wrong in predicting the ending, too. I had thought myself very clever to have worked it out from the first few moments of the audio, but was way off the mark.
To say any more would be too much. Just go listen to it.
And the best thing about this?
Well, they only tell the stories of a few of the items in the museum here, and it’s chock full of artefacts. Surely it can’t be long before Big Finish takes us on another trip into the UNIT archives..?

Hi-Ex goes to Belladrum!

Team Hi-Ex are heading to Belladrum festival this weekend to run children's comic workshops at the Tweedledee tent. The theme for Belladrum this year is space, which will be great for comic strips!

The workshops will be free, at 1pm to 2.30pm on friday 5th and Saturday 6th August.

The idea is that the participants will draw a 1 page comic strip which will get laminated to keep it safe from all the dancing and festival fun. We will also be giving out some goodie bags to keep the precious art safe. A big thankyou to our local Comic shop, 'Heroes for Sale' who has kindly provided the carrier bags.  Hopefully next week we'll have some wild comic space adventures to show you!