Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Doctor Who The Sea Devils audiobook


Ah, the Sea Devils. Most people of a certain age remember that iconic scene of the titular monsters emerging from the sea. 
And the bit in the minefield.
And these scenes are, of course in here… but it is surprising just how little ‘sea devil’ the reader/listener gets for their money here. After a brief appearance at the beginning, the creatures disappear for the majority of the story, only popping up again towards the final act.
What we get for most of the story is a no less interesting tale of the Doctor visiting the recently captured Master on an island prison. Actually, I mentioned the classic scenes above, well there is another in the TV show (unless I have created a false memory!) where the Master is watching the Clangers on television, and is whistling back at them in an attempt to communicate. But unfortunately this wonderful scene does not feature in the book.
As for the book, it is pretty well written. There are long passages of obvious padding – like a lengthy explanation of how sonar works – that are there for no other reason than to lift the word count, and serve only to slow down the story.
That being said, I enjoyed listening to this. Pertwee’s Doctor was always good at pricking the pomposity of the establishment, which is something he gets to do a lot in this one. And this incarnation of the Master is delightfully scheming. Charming and cruel in turn, and sometimes at the same time.
The Sea Devils audiobook is released by AudioGo.

Assassin’s Creed III’s The Hidden Secrets Downloadable Content




Today, Ubisoft announces the Assassin’s Creed III’s first downloadable content pack, The Hidden Secrets, is now available for Season Pass owners on Microsoft’s Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system and Windows PC and will be available tomorrow for PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system . The Hidden Secrets downloadable pack will be available broadly on December 11 on Xbox Live Arcade for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and Windows PC and will be available on December 13 on the PlayStation® Network. The first downloadable content pack will release for the Nintendo Wii UTM at a later date.

The Hidden Secrets for Assassin’s Creed III adds three extra missions, including the Lost Mayan Ruins, the Ghost of War and a Dangerous Secret, for an additional hour of gameplay, taking gamers from the lost Mayan ruins to the high seas. Every successful mission is rewarded with in-game weapons. Gamers will also receive:

·         Two single-player costumes including the fabled Captain of the Aquila uniform and the traditional Colonial Assassin outfit
·         Two multiplayer characters including the fearsome Redcoat and the deadly Sharpshooter

The Assassin’s Creed III Season Pass grants access to all five upcoming downloadable content packs including The Hidden Secrets, to gamers owning the original game.  The Season Pass provides more than 25% savings versus purchasing the DLC separately.

Assassin’s Creed III Season Pass is available for purchase for 2400 Microsoft Points on Xbox LIVE or £23.99 on the PlayStation®Network. It can also be purchased at GAME in the UK.

Future Assassin’s Creed III downloadable content will feature “The Tyranny of King Washington,” an all-new single-player campaign told through three episodic content packs that lets gamers experience an alternate history of the events following the American Revolution.

It’s 1783 and the American Revolution is over, but the true battle is just beginning. Blinded by a thirst for unlimited power, George Washington has declared himself King. Now, our new hero Ratohnhaké:ton must dethrone the tyrant and return freedom to the land.

In addition to this all-new single player experience, Assassin’s Creed III downloadable content will feature new maps and characters for an even more expansive multiplayer experience in the upcoming  “The Battle Hardened” pack.

Assassin’s Creed III is now available on PlayStation® 3, Xbox 360®, PCs and the Nintendo Wii UTM.

About Assassin’s Creed III:
Set against the backdrop of the American Revolution in the late 18th century, Assassin’s Creed III introduces a new hero, Ratohnnhaké:ton, of Native American and English heritage. Adopting the name Connor, he becomes the new voice for justice in the ancient war between the Assassins and Templars. Gamers become an Assassin in the war for liberty against ruthless tyranny in the most stylized and fluid combat experiences in the franchise to date.

Assassin’s Creed III spans the Revolutionary War, taking gamers from the vibrant, untamed frontier and bustling colonial towns to the intense, chaotic battlefields where George Washington’s Continental Army clashed with the imposing British Army and the tumultuous high seas. Assassin’s Creed III will feature unprecedented scope and scale.

For more information on Assassin’s Creed III, please visit the Assassin’s Creed Official Website: http://www.assassinscreed.com

DANDY EXHIBITION LAUNCH AND DIGITAL DANDY EVENT - SATURDAY 8TH



On Saturday 8th December at 2pm there will be an opening event for the University of Dundee’s latest comics exhibition which will celebrate the 75th birthday of the world’s third-longest running comic, The Dandy, created by Dundee publishers DC Thomson. The exhibition looks back over the Dandy’s past, but also towards its future as it moves on-line with the launch of the Digital Dandy this week.

The exhibition features original artwork from DC Thomson’s collections dating back to the earliest years of the comic, much of which has never been shown in public before. The launch event will also give an exclusive behind-the-scenes glimpse at the creation of the new Digital Dandy, with a discussion led by Dr Chris Murray, with contributions from Morris Heggie, former Dandy editor, new Digital Dandy editor Craig Ferguson, Digital Production manager Mark Hunter, writer Dan McGachey, long-time DCT artist David Sutherland, and one of the artists who is very closely involved in the direction of the Digital Dandy, Stephen White (Brassneck and Keyhole Kate).

The exhibition and launch have been created as part of an on-going partnership between DC Thomson & Co Ltd, the University of Dundee Museum Services and the newly established Scottish Centre for Comics Studies based at the University. Dr Chris Murray, director of the centre, said: “We are proud to be able to help The Dandy celebrate its 75th anniversary, which is a remarkable achievement. Of course, the comic is also in a process of transition, as the final print version goes to press and is replaced by a new digital Dandy. This promises to be an exciting and innovative step forward for comic and its beloved characters.”

All are welcome for what promises to be an informative and engaging series of talks about The Dandy’s history and its future.

The exhibition is open Monday-Saturday until 7th January (except when the University is closed for Christmas 23 December – 2 January). The launch will be on Saturday 8th December at 2pm in the Tower Building, University of Dundee. Admission is free.

For further information email museum@dundee.ac.uk or c.murray@dundee.ac.uk

Monday, 26 November 2012

Doctor Who The Wheel of Ice by Stephen Baxter audiobook


Following close on the heels of JP Colgan’s novel, we have The Wheel of Ice, but sci-fi hard-hitter Stephen Baxter.
This, I am delighted to say, features possibly my favourite TARDIS line-up: The Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe. And what’s more, this being a second Doctor story, it is read by the wonderful David Troughton, who, as I have said here before, does an uncanny impersonation of his father. Things are let down somewhat by him having to supply not one but two Scottish accents during the course of the story. It’s not that it’s hard to tell the difference between them, more that they are not… great! However, this is really just a minor criticism. 
The story itself is everything you would expect from a writer like Baxter. It contains some breathtakingly huge sci-fi concepts. The central idea is simultaneously incredibly ambitious and mind expanding in scope and concept and, well, same old same old. 
What I mean by this is this: I made a comment in the review of Dark Horizons about the central idea of the story being one that has been used, in my opinion, too many times in Who and in sci-fi in general. This book really does just take that same idea and dresses it in different clothes.
This is not to say, of course, that it is a bad book. Baxter is an amazingly good writer. As well as being able to communicate complex ideas and give the reader a true sense of the scale of the things he is describing, he also tells a rattling good adventure yarn. His characterisations of the main characters are spot on. I think there was a minor continuity error in there somewhere, but to tell the truth I didn’t write it down at the time and have forgotten now, so I suspect it wasn’t that important (well, I know it’s not important at all, but you know what I mean!).
So, in summary. This is Big Concept sci-fi of the like we don’t normally see in a Who story. I wasn’t convinced it would work if I was being honest, but it most certainly does. 

This is well worth your trouble.


The Wheel in Space is released by AudioGo.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Cancertown 2 - Blasphemous Tumours



Review by Colin Taylor



When discussing something I’ve enjoyed reading I often use superlatives like:

Delightful.
Wonderful.
Brilliant.
Superb!

Now when it comes to ‘Cancertown 2 - Blasphemous Tumours’ none of those seem appropriate. At all.

I don’t think the creators would thank me for using them either. Rather its ugly and depraved, grim and dirty, challenging and uncomfortable and you know what, I think that’ll make them happy. I should add its never anything other than gripping, a real page turner.

For those of you that don’t know ‘Cancertown 2’ is the sequel to... well ‘Cancertown’. In this second book our... I’ll not use the word hero, our protagonist, Vince Morley, seemingly riddled with disease and convinced he’s dying, is drawn back from ‘our’ world into the eponymous netherworld, that exists across the darker edges of ‘ours’. There, as he degenerates, piece by piece, body part by body part, before our eyes, he has to rally the forces he needs to defeat a terrible new menace, Headrush, who’s ripping apart this grim world and its inhabitants. In the very opening scene Headrush literally tears apart a character called Corpsegrinder. This perfectly sets the scene and tone for the rest of the story. The stakes are high.

While Morley is attempting to save Cancertown he barely manages to retain what little is left of his grip on both world’s he inhabits. An entire world is at stake and the only thing that can save it is a man seemingly powered by anger and self recrimination alone. This isn’t light reading!

At first glance you’d be forgiven for wondering why Morley would want to save Cancertown and “players” who live there. The place really is some hellish landscape, scarred and scabbed over. The “players” who are harsh and perfectly hideously designed, are all filled with bile and bitterness. None of them seem to like each other and most of them seem to want to wreck vicious vengeance on Morley. They are restrained only by the prospect that Morley apparently is a being of great power in their world.



As the tale unfolds and Morley revisits many of the denizens of this bleak and soul crushing place, you begin to understand its power and honesty. Its not pleasant, but it exists, it reflects our work and its taken the creators courage to explore it.

The story by Cy Dethan, is really engaging, bold and thrilling but not perfect. The overarching plot can sometimes get a little lost, as we (re)meet and greet Cancertown’s inhabitants one by one. Many of the grudging conversations Morley has with them run over similar ground. How the particular ‘player’ he is talking to, really should be a greater danger to Morley than they seem to be. None of them like him, but they provide him with revelations about his relationship with the realm he is apparently so ‘powerful’ in. Yet they all leave enough enigma in what they say to keep Morley and the reader guessing and wanting to learn more, which drives the story forward.

Each of the ‘players’ gets an individual font for their speech, to emphasize how different they sound. A Letters’ job is to go unnoticed, well most the time, they are the great unsung heroes of comics. Their craft is to help the reader move around the page and absorb the story without really drawing attention to their work. The first half is of this is managed well here by Nic Wilkinson. The second half less so. The use of too many fonts (and to be fair I have no idea if this was dictated in the script?) was pretty distracting and given the scripting was strong enough and the dialogue well crafted enough, to grant each character its own voice, its unnecessary too.

While we’re on visuals the art by Graeme Howard, coloured by Peter Mason, grows throughout the story. At the start it can be awkward and the storytelling slips at times Pretty early on these problems are sorted out and before you know it Mason is doing a fine job. It is, throughout, gritty and ugly, but its meant to be. It looks entirely appropriate for the story and the art sets the atmosphere perfectly. Characters have a diversity that means everyone is easy to identify and while the script doesn’t always call for great emotional range, people are angry A LOT, desperate and menacing, occasionally scared, but that’s about it, all of this the artist conveys perfectly well.

Before reading Cancertown 2 I was warned, by one of the creators no less, that I’d need to read the first book beforehand, or risk getting lost. Stuff and grimy nonsense I say. This is a sequel, but its structured in such a way as to introduce you to all the characters, settings and workings of Cancertown, perfectly well. In fact I’d suggest that Dethan does an excellent job of this. Important events have clearly happened before and I understood that if I’d read the first book I’d know more about the specifics of the moments referred to, but everything you need to enjoy... well be grabbed, by this story is given to you.

It does worry me these days how people expect to know everything about every story in front of them. I’m more than happy to accept that the characters in a story have existed before and may well do so after its finished, in fact its the sign of a good story, characters should feel as though they have lived beyond what we read and Cancertown 2 does this very well. Letting you know what you need to naturally and fluidly, without upsetting the balance of keeping things moving on at the same time.

I chose not to read the first book after the warning, though I was offered it, as I think its important that a book of some 140ish pages, should bloomin’ well stand up by itself and I’m glad to report it does. Sure reading this made me want to go back and read the first, but out of curiosity not necessity.

The fact that Cancertown 2 is so grim and ugly is both its greatest strength and greatest weakness. It has a tone and atmosphere that’s entirely appropriate for the story and themes explored. The book stands out as a bold exploration of the things that rot people, both physically and mentally. Its meant to be hard and its meant to be difficult. Which is of course also its biggest weakness, there’s little variance, its relentless and unswerving. Given its aims and themes that’s understandable, but can make it unpleasant to read, that’s not to say its not gripping, but unpleasant all the same.

I kind of think that’s exactly how the creators want you to feel.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Simon Bisley and Glenn Fabry signing Batman Judge Dredd Collection





To celebrate the release of THE BATMAN JUDGE DREDD COLLECTION on 27th November, 2000 AD is delighted to announce an exclusive signing by two of the biggest names in British comics.

Simon Bisley and Glenn Fabry will be signing and sketching at Gosh! Comics on 1 Berwick Street, London, UK, this Saturday (24th November) from 2pm to 4pm. The work of both for the Batman/Judge Dredd crossover stories was critically-lauded and praised by fans.

The Batman Judge Dredd Collection is a brand new hard-back collection that brings together all of the characters’ crossovers stories from the 1990s for the first time, and also includes the hard-to-find Lobo/Dredd crossover story. It is being co-published by 2000 AD and DC Comics.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

ASSASSIN’S CREED ANTHOLOGY

I'm unashamedly a massive fan of this series, so I make no apologies for this press release!


 Today, Ubisoft announced Assassin’s Creed Anthology, a unique collection containing every Assassin’s Creed game ever released for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, available exclusively at Amazon in the UK from November 30, 2012 for £119.99.
Assassin’s Creed Anthology is a prestige collector’s edition which includes all expansion packs and downloadable content for the Assassin’s Creed games, including the Season Pass for Assassin’s Creed III, which provides full access to all forthcoming downloadable content, the first of which will be available mid-December.  The Anthology Edition also includes five exclusive lithographs, an exclusive steel book and a collector’s box.
Assassin’s Creed Anthology includes:
Assassin’s Creed®
Experience the power of an Assassin in Jerusalem, 1191 AD during the brutal times of the third Crusades.

Assassin's Creed® II
Assassin's Creed II introduces you to Ezio, a new assassin carrying on the deadly lineage of his forebears. Confront an epic tale of power and corruption as you hone your assassin's art, wielding weapons and instruments designed by the legendary Leonardo da Vinci himself in this gripping and deadly sequel.
Also includes:
Sequence 12: Battle of Forlì DLC and Sequence 13: Bonfire of the Vanities DLC.

Assassin's Creed® Brotherhood - The Da Vinci Edition
Ezio must journey into Italy’s greatest city, Rome, center of power, greed and corruption to strike at the heart of the enemy. Defeating the corrupt tyrants entrenched there will require not only strength, but leadership, as Ezio commands an entire brotherhood of assassins who will rally to his side. Only by working together can the assassins defeat their mortal enemies and prevent the extinction of their order.
Also includes:
The Da Vinci Disappearance: 1 single player story Mission
2 Additional Solo Missions: Trajan Market and the Aqueducts
New Multiplayer features: 1 Map + 6 Characters + 2 new modes

Assassin's Creed® Revelations - The Ottoman Edition
Ezio Auditore must leave his life behind in search of answers, in search of the truth. In Assassin's Creed® Revelations, master assassin Ezio Auditore walks in the footsteps of the legendary mentor Altaïr, 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.
Also includes:
The lost archive: 1 single player story Mission
New Singleplayer Features: 3 Skins, Capacity upgrades + 1 Additional Mission: Vlad the Impaler’s Prison
New Multiplayer Features: 6 Maps + 7 Characters + Customisation Items

Assassin's Creed® III
Assassin’s Creed III invites players to experience the untold story of the American Revolution through the eyes of a new Assassin, Connor.  Designed from the ground up over more than two years, Assassin’s Creed III takes one of gaming’s most beloved franchises to new heights.
Also includes:
The Season Pass, providing instant access to all forthcoming Assassin’s Creed® III downloadable game content packs, the first of which is available from mid-December 2012.


For more information on Assassin’s Creed, please visit (www.assassinscreed.com) and facebook.com/assassinscreed


Judge Dredd joins World Book Night




Rebellion Publishing is delighted to announce that one of 2000 AD’s titles has been chosen as the first ever graphic novel to be featured in World Book Night.

Judge Dredd: The Dark Judges is an all-time classic from the pages of the ongoing weekly British comic, and this pocket-size ‘B format’ reprint sees the ultimate lawman of the future encounter his deadliest foes - Judges from a dimension where even life itself is a crime!

It is the first time that a graphic novel has been featured in World Book Night, which aims to give away 500,000 books to promote and encourage reading. The BBC has returned as the charity’s media partner, with the book selection to feature on BBC1’s “The One Show” tonight (8 November), as well as tomorrow’s “Newsnight Review”.

Featuring some of the most iconic moments in the strip’s history, this volume includes the original Judge Death story, along with the sequels, Death Lives and The Dark Judges, and the Judge Anderson follow-up, Four Dark Judges.

“As one of the most iconic British brands in publishing we are absolutely delighted to be a part of World Book Night ,” said 2000 AD and Rebellion Publishing manager Ben Smith. “Not only is The Dark Judges a classic Judge Dredd story, but the role that comics can play in encouraging reading and boosting literacy is well known. I have no doubt that people who receive one of the free copies will discover a new world of amazing stories, and hopefully will develop an appetite for great British comics.”

Monday, 3 September 2012

Dredd 3D review




Okay, I suppose the first thing you want to know is: is it any good? Is it better than the ‘other’ one? Is it worth your money?
The answer to all of these questions is yes.
You can forget all about the Stallone travesty. And then there’s that other thing people keep talking about… The Raid. You can forget all about that too. I have seen the Raid, and while Dredd shares a broad similarity in basic plot, they are totally different beasts.
So, if you are a fan of the comics, there are a few things you will be expecting and I am happy to say that I think you will find them all present and correct here.
Let’s start with the main character. Mega City One. The movie opens with a jaw dropping shot as we glide across the Cursed Earth, over the West Wall and into the city itself. If you are one of the people who thinks that the only thing they got right in the Stallone movie was the city, then be prepared to be amazed, because this is a lot better.
As for Karl Urban. Well, he is Dredd. I cannot fault his performance at all, and the amount of information he manages to convey with only his mouth and chin to act with is very impressive. He, like writer Alex Garland and director Peter Travis, understands the character of Dredd. So much so that, to the delight of this fan at least, he doesn’t have anything approaching an emotional journey or character arc. He’s Dredd and the beginning, middle and end. Well… that’s not strictly true… there is perhaps a hint of glacial speed movement in there… perhaps.

Which brings us to Olivia Thriby, who as Cassandra Anderson, is very much the emotional core of the movie. Thirlby plays her wonderfully, and there is real emotion in her eyes at time, especially in one early-ish scene where Dredd, as the Judge assessing her on her final exam, has her pass sentence on a criminal. It’s a powerful scene and really brings home the brutality of the job these people do. Shout out too, to the depiction of Anderson’s psychic abilities, which are also realised in a very clever fashion.
The other character I found myself having sympathy for was, surprisingly, Lena Heady’s villain – Ma-Ma Madrigal. There’s much subtlety to her performance, and Ma-Ma comes across in the end as as much a victim as everyone else in the city.
As I said above, the thing that gratified me the most was just how everyone involved seems to understand and respect the source material. To give another example. In your standard action movie, any spectacular death is usually greeted with an hilarious one liner. Not so with Dredd. When he’s killing people, he’s a man doing his job, and this resulted in what are possibly my two favourite scenes in the movie.
As I’m am sure you have figured out by now, I liked this a lot. It’s a great action movie, but more importantly, it’s a great Dredd movie and deserves to do well at the box office.
Be warned though, it is bloody, it is sweary, it is very violent. But if you know Dredd, you’ll know that already.


Doctor Who The Nu-Humans review



Oh Doctor, when will you ever learn..? How many times will you fall for the same old thing? How many times will you need to land on an alien planet and find a dead body before you figure out not to examine it, just in case you’re accused of murder?
At least once more, it seems, because this is how this adventure begins, too. I sometimes think that the Doctor does this on purpose..!
So, here we have the Doctor, Amy and Rory landing on an earth like planet and getting involved in the goings on in a mining and terraforming colony. But a colony with a difference. Writers Cavan Scott and Mark Wright have managed to take that other cliché of sci-fi – terraforming – and find a neat new twist on it. And the twist serves to open up an interesting story direction, and one that I find myself exploring again and again: That of identity.
Don’t panic though! Yes, there are Themes. As well as one of identity, there’s a strong political message running through the proceedings, but there is also a lot of that other Doctor Who staple: running.
There is a lot of running. There are Big Flying Things and there is enough humour and plot turns to keep the listener hanging on until the end.
The characters are will written – The Doctor’s lines are authentically Doctor-ish and Amy is as annoying and Rory as likeable as they should be.
The story is narrated by Raquel Cassidy who does a good job. She injects the right amount of emotion and/or excitement into the narrative, and there is never an instance of the listener getting confused – which in a one-off story of this length (it’s over an hour long) is no mean feat, I think.
All in all, this is a worthy addition to the AudioGo range.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

XIII: The Trial



A word of warning from the off. This is not a ‘New readers start here’ volume!
The Trial follows on almost immediately from the previous book, Three Silver Watches, but not quite in the direction I was expecting. Yes, I figured from the title, cover and from what had gone on before that there would be a trial and that the President of the USA would be involved in it somewhere. And I was right on all counts, but also very wrong.
This being XIII, it takes a preposterous idea and runs with it in such a way that the reader is happy to come along, even though they know just how insane it is! And this one more so that other volumes. Obviously I’ll not tell you what happens here, but trust me – it’s crazy.
And it’s not only the high concept idea, but the returning guest stars that will surprise the reader. Add to that a completely unexpected outcome for one character and you’ve got yourself some classic XIII action going on.
If you’ve been following the series, then this will be a treat. If you haven’t, chances are you’ll be struggling to keep up with what’s happening for a lot of it. And as always, I can’t wait to get to the next volume!
XIII The Trial is available from Cinebook.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Remission Impossible: Cancertown Returns as Volume 2 Pre-orders Open




Cancertown 2: Blasphemous Tumours
Writer: Cy Dethan
Pencils and Inks: Graeme Howard
Colours: Peter Mason
Letters: Nic Wilkinson
Original Designs: Stephen Downey
Publisher: Markosia
Released: November 2012

Sequel to the “Where the f*** did that come from?” indie hit, Cancertown: An Inconvenient Tooth, Cancertown 2: Blasphemous Tumours finds a dangerously ill Vince Morley tumbling between warring worlds as the barriers between his two realities cave in around him.

In May 2009, an unknown team unleashed their first creator-owned work, Cancertown, on an unsuspecting world. As the scrappy indie outsider flew off the stands at Bristol Con at its astounding launch weekend, comic book legend Bryan Talbot said:

“For a first graphic novel from a new creative team, Cancertown is remarkable... We’re seeing here the first outing of creators who will make their mark on the future comic industry.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you."

It seems the warnings weren't enough as the sickness has returned. November 2012 sees the launch of the sequel at the Thought Bubble Sequential Arts Festival in Leeds, and it's taken a turn for the darker.

The Cancer Cell has grown and mutated to include the talents of Graeme “Dick Turpin and the Crimson Plague” Howard on pencils and amazing new discovery Peter Mason on colours.

With nightmarish intensity in both visuals and storytelling, this second volume of Cancertown hurls the reader head-first through the looking glass. The foundations are shaking, the old powers are falling and all the scores must be settled before the dust ever will.

Read a free 11-page preview: http://www.myebook.com/index.php?option=ebook&id=128757

Pre-order Offers:

Pre-order and Thought Bubble Launch Special Offers

£12 Cancertown 2 (prepaid, pre-order for posting or collection)
£15 Cancertown 2 (buy from the table at Thought Bubble Launch)
£20 Cancertown 1 and 2 (pre-order or from the table for posting or collection)

Everybody who pre-orders will be entered into a draw to win a framed original sketch of the Cancertown characters by Graeme Howard.

Every pre-order will also have a DVD containing the following:
·      Scripts for all 6 chapter
·      Script for a previously unseen Crosshair origin short story
·      Cover concepts
·      Full chapter in inks
·      Full chapter in colours
Postage: £2.50 UK, £4.00 Rest of World.

Payment must be received for pre-orders by 1st November 2012 to qualify for pre-order price, competition and extras DVD.

Normal cover price of book is £16.99 (180 pages, colour).

You can pay by cheque or Paypal.

Please visit http://theraggedman.blogspot.co.uk/p/special-offers-and-pre-orders.html or email cy@cydethan.com for more details, to place your order or for payment information.

Should’ve known better than to trust an angry, blinded monster with a spaz-hand and a grudge.”

Six months after the events of Cancertown: An Inconvenient Tooth, Vince Morley is a dangerously sick man. Bugf**k is in a psychiatric hospital, sticky fingers picking through the darkest corners of the mind that brought Cancertown into existence. The crossing points between Morley’s two realities are wearing thin and all the rules are changing.

I got my hand bitten off trying to save the world’s biggest c**t from something worse than him. Don’t pretend you know anything about me.”

Within Cancertown, something new has appeared – a creature of horrific violence and limitless rage. The foundations are shaking and the old powers are falling, one by one. Papercut, deadliest of the Cancertown players, seeks out Morley to claim the favour he owes her – a favour that could cost him more than just his life.
We can no longer protect you. Cancertown 2: Blasphemous Tumours is coming...

Reviews of Cancertown 1: An Inconvenient Tooth
"I described it to someone asking me what it was about as a "rip-roaring mindf***".
John Freeman, Down the Tubes

"The book grabs you by the throat right from the start and drags you kicking and screaming into the vividly twisted world of Cancertown...what we have here is a well crafted, fantastical story that demonstrates what a comic book should be. I for one can't wait to read more tales from Cancertown."
The Sidekickcast

"Cancertown: An Inconvenient Tooth is one of those rare treasures in its originality, well written and beautifully drawn.
Cy Dethan has scripted an exceptional story. If you like horror stories mixed with detective novels you are going to love it."
Comic Shop Voice

" I bloody loved this graphic novel.

“It was a complex, dark and twisted fantasy with a heavy noir feel to it.Think Maltese Falcon crossed with Criminal Macabre and a dash of Alice in Wonderland, trippy as hell (God knows what sort of dreams I'm going to have tonight!)...Seriously though, pick this up as it’s one hell of a read."
Geek Syndicate

"The thought put into the story was exceptional, the heart between Bugf**k (not really her name) and her father was real and Vince's predicament is never far from his mind and he knows it. The twist behind the origins of the leaders of Cancertown wasn't something I was expecting. Essentially, Dethan put together a hell of a book."
Comics Related

"Cancertown leaps out of the page at you, grabs you by the jugular and doesn’t let you go. Simply put, it’s weird, disturbing and any number of other words that you’d associate with horror. It is also compelling and, in the tradition of the best horror comics, has just the right mix of action, adventure and mystery thrown in to keep you guessing."
SciFi Pulse


Harry Harrison


It was a very sad thing this morning to wake up to the news that sci-fi author Harry Harrison had died.
Harry had been ill for some time, but this does make his passing any less tragic.
I had been fortunate enough to have met Harry a few times, through our mutual friend Michael Carroll. This led to one of the most surreal and incredible moment of my life. We were all out for a meal together and I found myself in a conversation about writing with Mike and Harry. I can’t remember what I said, but it was some observation on ‘how I write’... and I remember harry nodding in agreement to whatever it was I had said. I remember that, in my head, I was screaming – stop it! You can’t agree with me! You’re Harry Harrison! You know more about writing that I will ever know!
Harry was a magnificent man – even in his old age he was still vital, intelligent, sharp and... alive in a way I don’t see in people of my age or even younger.
RIP, Harry, you will truly be missed.

Richmond A Clements

Monday, 13 August 2012

Doctor Who: Dark Horizons Novel and audiobook review



A Doctor Who story set in Scotland, written by a Scottish author? How could Hi-Ex! ignore this ? This was one book it really would have been remiss of us not to review.
And by some no doubt timey-wimey coincidence, a review copy of the audiobook version arrived round the same time as the novel, so I’ll be reviewing both of them here.
The story is set on the Isle of Lewis, as the Doctor arrives just in time (doesn’t he always?) to get involved in an adventure with the islanders, a boat load of Vikings and a third, mysterious alien force.
Author J.T. Colgan does a wonderful job in evoking the atmosphere of the island, with some brilliant descriptions that sometimes almost leave the reader shivering with the cold and damp she’s describing.
Colgan also presents us with a good cast of characters, all of which are well written. Her take on the Doctor in particular is very good, and she gives him some wonderful lines that are in turn funny or weighted with his many years of existence.
The plot is good, if not particularly original (I think the Earth must be positively littered with crashed alien spaceships by now!), but the aliens themselves are a nice idea.
But the book is not without its problems. There are a couple of occasions where mistakes seem to have slipped passed the editing process. At one point the Doctor appears to be speaking underwater, and on another runs into the water before deciding to roll up is trousers and do it again a couple of paragraphs later.
The contemporary characters also sometimes lapse into modern language and slang, which serves to pull the reader out of the story.
But the good parts are very good. The attitude of the Vikings towards the Doctor is just brilliant and was what I enjoyed most about the story. They see a mysterious stranger with a box in a strange colour they don’t have a word for (which is another lovely touch), who can do incredible things – what else could he be but a god? This to me, made sense they would think like this and was doubly enjoyable because the Doctor was so put out by it. He likes it when people admire the TARDIS, so receiving the opposite reaction makes for some great scenes.
The audio version is read by Neve McIntosh, who has appeared in the TV show a few times, most recently as Madam Vastra in A Good Man Goes to War. She does a very good job at bring the atmosphere in the book to life, help in no small part by her having a head start with the accents. It has all the excellent production values you would expect from and AudioGo release, and is definitely worth seeking out!

THE DARK JUDGES


THE DARK JUDGES
Script: John Wagner, Alan Grant
Art: Brian Bolland, Brett Ewins, Cliff Robinson, Robin Smith
Price: £6.99
ISBN: 978-1-78108-040-5
Published: 13th September
Market: UK and Ireland



The crime is life. The sentence .... is DEATH!

2000 AD continues its run of Manga-size reprints of Judge Dredd classics with the stories of Dredd’s ultimate foes!

They are the four grotesque lawmen of the Apocalypse: the chilling Judge Fear, the devastating Judge Fire, the terrifying Judge Mortis and their leader - JUDGE DEATH! Twisted alien super-fiends from another dimension where all life has been declared a crime. After wiping out their own world, they plan to bring that murderous mission to Mega-City One!

Judge Dredd and his wise-cracking psychic partner, Judge Anderson, must do everything they can to stop the fearsome foursome bringing their brand of justice to the city!

Featuring some of the most iconic moments in the strip’s history, this volume includes the original Judge Death story, along with the sequels, Death Lives and The Dark Judges, and the Judge Anderson follow-up, Four Dark Judges.

With incredible artwork by Brian Bolland, Brett Ewins, Cliff Robinson, and Robin Smith, the latest in 2000 AD’s line of Dredd stories in B-format is an all-time classic, a must-have that will appeal to old readers and those unfamiliar with the world of Mega-City One.


Assassin's Creed 3 - Official Animus Trailer

Because Assassin's Creed, that's why!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises review




So, here we have it, the finale of Christopher Nolan’s epic trilogy.
After the astounding The Dark Knight, with its show stopping performance from the late Heath Ledger, could this film in any way live up to the hype?
The answer is yes. Yes it could. In fact, in places it even surpasses what Nolan et al achieved in the previous two movies.
I’m sure you all know the basic premise by now. This is set eight years after the events in The Dark Knight. Gotham is at peace, thanks to the sacrifice of Harvey Dent... but that is all about to change. A storm is approaching Gotham. A storm shaped like an unfeasibly pumped Tom Hardy as Bane.
We first meet him in the jaw dropping aerial opening scene, which was filmed here in the Highlands. But it is when he gets to Gotham that things really heat up, as he sets about his plan to dismantle the city.
While this is happening, Bruce Wayne, who has been moping about feeling sorry for himself, encounters a young lady called Selina Kyle and the shenanigans start there...
There has been a lot of talk about the running time of this movie, and it is a long one, make no mistake. However, Nolan manages to cram in a hell of a lot of plot into it. An awful lot happens. I would desperately love to tell you some of the things that take place, but I will not. I will not even hint obliquely about any of them, because there are some great surprises in here. Some I saw coming, some I did not.
I mentioned Bane and Tom Hardy earlier, and really should give him another nod here. Hardy has a hell of a task here, acting in a mask throughout the entire movie, and talking with an heavily distorted voice (which is actually not difficult to understand), but he manages to do all his acting with his eyes – projecting all his emotion through them. It is a show stopping performance.
Show stopping, but not the best in the movie. For my money, that honour goes to Michael Caine. Caine, as Alfred the butler, gets a couple of scenes early on in the movie that are very powerful. In the hands of a lesser actor they could easily have slipped from pathos into cliché and ham, but Caine is masterful in this.
In fact, every performance is brilliant. Bale, Oldman, Freeman and the rest all bring their best to the screen.
But, is this the last in the series..? Nolan and Bale both say yes, and if they are telling the truth, it is a fitting place to end things. But there are plenty of threads left hanging if they ever want to pick them up again. And I for one really hope that they do.
I went to see the movie at Eden Court, which as you know is the venue for Hi-Ex! each year.
Rather brilliantly, after the movie, the charity The Bat Protection League had a table set up. Now, from what I had just seen, I would suggest that bats are not in need of that much protection...
And go see the movie!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Doctor Who The Lost TV Episodes Vol4 review Pt3



The previous story, The Faceless Ones, ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, and this story, The Evil of the Daleks, picks it up nicely. It is unusal to see a second story revisiting some of the locations of the previous one in this way, and makes for interesting listening.

We have some nice, but basic, detective work from the Doctor as he and Jamie track down their missing TARDIS, and with it uncover a deeper, more sinister, plot. I think you can guess who’s behind it by the title of the story…
While this is a highly entertaining adventure, I am curious (but not curious enough to look at the moment) as to what continuity nerds think of it. There is a lot in this story that flies in the face of the Dalek-lore that has went before in and come after, and I’m sure there are fans out there who don’t like that at all. Me? It doesn’t really bother me! Still, it’s interesting to see some of the ideas put forward here echoed and used to a great deal less effect in modern Who tales like Daleks of Manhattan.

What we get is the Second Doctor at the height of his powers; he is at his sarcastic and manipulative best here and poor Jamie is on the receiving end of a lot of it, but his inherent nobility and honesty are a joy to behold.
I would have dearly loved to see these shows ‘in the flesh’ as it where, because Hines and Troughton are just so good here…
Loved this.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Doctor Who Darkstar Academy review



This audio adventure from AudioGo sees the Doctor and his companions Rory and Amy in the very familiar surrounds of an English boy’s boarding school sometime in the mid twentieth century. There are, what I hope are, deliberate nods to The Family of Blood with things like armed schoolboys roaming the grounds.
Of course, this being Doctor Who, things are not what they seem and everything is not as it first appears. There is a pretty good twist in this, so I won’t ruin it here, although I almost did a second or two ago when I was going to write how it reminded me of a particular movie.
The story plays out nicely, and there are some genuinely creep monsters in it. I often think when listening to these that they would be cool to see on television,  but on this occasion, I suspect that the monsters would be one that would provoke a bit of an outcry from being too scary. (Rant coming on) This outcry would only come from a small amount of people, probably with no children themselves and who don’t actually watch the show and who have forgotten what it was actually like to be a child and the thrill of the safe scare on shows such as Doctor Who… but I digress!
It’s a solid story, and the characters are well written, with the Doctor getting some brilliant Doctor-y lines. The story is read by Alexander Armstrong, who also does a fine job, but it’s hard not to imagine it being read by Mr Smith the computer at times!
Another solid release from AudioGo.

Monday, 16 July 2012

XIII Three Silver Watches review



For many volumes now, Jean Van Hamme has been drip feeding us information about the mysterious past of his amnesiac spy XIII.
Well, thanks to a character we have recently met, this book goes a long way towards filling us in on a lot of information. Only… it doesn’t really.
Yes, there is an enormous amount of information imparted here, however it is not about XIII, but rather about his grandparents.
Because of this, there is a real danger that this book could just be two men sitting about talking to each other for the duration, and for the first few pages I thought that this would be the case and that the dynamic cover image was going to turn out to be a big fat lie. I need not have worried though. For while a lot of the book is indeed two men talking, they are talking on the way to foil an invasion or between fights, as Van Hamme breaks his backstory up with an action filled main narrative. A narrative that does indeed include fighter jets doing what fighter jets do best: blowing things up.
And it’s one of these scenes that gives us our most ludicrous and over the top set piece yet. It’s insane and brilliant all at the same time, and wouldn’t look out of place at the climax of a James Bond movie.
This is not the best XIII book, and it is certainly not one for a new reader to start with – they would be lost from the first page. And while it is text heavy and at times heavy going, if you are a fan of the series, it is utterly essential.
Oh, and that’s before I even get to the ending, which left me thankful that I have the next volume sitting on the too-be-read pile already!

Spartacus Legends - First trailer

Here at Hi-Ex! we are big fans of the series Spartacus, so we're really looking forward to this!

Spartacus Legends comes early 2013. Gamers will experience primeval gladiator moments, from training inside the ludus to brutal battles in the arena, all while striving to become a legend.

Featuring thousands of ruthless weapon combinations and a robust skill system, Spartacus Legends delivers a variety of tools for gamers to customize their gladiators and dismember their foes. Gamers will be able to fight as Spartacus, Crixus or one of their own created gladiators as they battle with friends offline or in online multiplayer to join the ranks on the worldwide leaderboards.

Liam McIntyre has been very involved with the Spartacus Legends team. In addition to allowing his likeness and voice to be featured, Liam, a big gamer himself, played early builds of the game and provided his creative feedback throughout the development process.

The Spartacus franchise (Gods of the Arena, Blood and Sand and Vengeance) airs in more than 150 countries and has been translated into 15 languages. In the United States, viewership for the show has grown with each season and is one of the highest rated cable series, with more than six million viewers watching each episode.

In the upcoming final season, Spartacus: War of the Damned, sees the return of Liam McIntyre (Spartacus), Manu Bennett (Crixus), Dustin Clare (Gannicus), Dan Feuerriegel (Agron), Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Naevia) and Ellen Hollman (Saxa). They are joined by Todd Lasance in the role of Gaius Julius Caesar, along with Simon Merrells as Marcus Crassus. Spartacus is produced by Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi, Joshua Donen and Steven S. DeKnight.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

The Sarah Jane Adventures Collection review



This box set of ten stand alone Sarah Jane Adventures adventures is, with the exception of the final two stories, narrated by the late Liz Sladen. And when listening, I couldn’t help but think that there may never come a time when the Who fan isn’t a little bit sad at hearing her voice.
As you would expect with a collection of this size, the stories vary somewhat in quality, but are, as a rule, always worth a listen.
There is a problem with the series as a whole though, that would not be apparent if listening to these, say, one a month or whatever their original release schedule was, but when listening to the back to back, this problem is easier to spot.
And it is this: far too many of these stories revolve around a plot that has one of the main characters either being hypnotised or taken over by some alien intelligence.
A lot of them are structured very similarly too, opening with an action scene then flashing back to show how the characters got there. This is not a bad way to build a story, but if used too often, it becomes weary.
As I said, the quality is generally very good. I won’t got into each of the tales individually, but my favourite was probably 'The White Wolf', which built a lovely atmosphere and had a genuinely intriguing plot.
Naturally, Sladen is superb at reading the tales and her enthusiasm and her love for the role, for the character of Sarah Jane Smith, comes through with every word.
The final two are narrated by Anjli Mohindra and Daniel Anthony, and they too make excellent work of the stories, and leave the listener with some hope that this series can perhaps find continued life here on CD and download with AudioGo.