The Ether by Garvey and Dizevez

Image from Matt Garvey's website go check it out (source page linked on image).

Image from Matt Garvey’s website go check it out (source page linked on image).

Before you read this take another look at that cover. Really look at it. I can’t articulate just how much I liked this cover. I’ve always loved it when I’m taken out of the narrative in a an interesting way.  This may not sound sane but there is a subtlety to the brash and obvious way the author subverts and older style of cover art. The first time I read the cover I missed a good portion of what was going on. Take another look, you know you want to. There was something  rather pleasing about the clarity of this cover, like the slap in the face I get when reading hard-boiled noir.

Inside the drawing style continued to describe a vigilante helps cops story. Taking a lead from this publication I’m going to break out of my review to talk about buying it. I visited MCM Comicon in London last Friday. Probably my favourite bit was wandering around the authors section. There was something fascinating about standing in front of a writer you’ve never heard of and them telling you about their labours of love and why you should buy them. In nearly every case I bought something but this was always going to be the one I read first.

…anyway, Garvey really does bang out the secret identity of the main character and a large part of their backstory in a remarkably short space. I loved that. It worked. I need to read the second one to see if the great pace continues. This was well worth a read.

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Weird Ales: Last Orders Edited by Lynn M. Cochrane

Cover for Weird Ales

Have you ever walked in to a pub for the first time and everything stops and every single person turns as one to stare in silence at you? That’s what reading this book reminds me of. That uncomfortable feeling stayed with me throughout this book. The stories themselves were different and odd (in a good way) but they always felt like something I could relate to. I think that only added to my discomfort. I clearly spent too much time in dodgy pubs and social clubs when I was younger. The characters in this book seemed so familiar. The desperation and hopelessness coloured by the short-term highs and lows of ordinary people made a great backdrop for these stories.

If you are looking for creepy and disturbing stories set in the seething underbelly of pub culture then stop searching and pickup this anthology now. Stupidly good value at the price of a cup of tea too.

The Hunt For Vulkan by David Annandale

Cover The Hunt For Vulkan

This was the seventh book in the Beast Arises series that I’ve read. In terms of action this is the book where things really start to kick in to action. Koorland with some nudging took charge and added impetus to the response of Terra. The search for the only known living Primarch began. The elusive gene father of the Salamanders had been fighting for more than a thousand year on his own. The crash course in being a leader stunned Koorland and I really enjoyed how he still didn’t see himself as a worthy leader.

For me the most interesting part of this book was how the Astartes that are seen as gods amongst men are seen as wayward children to Vulkan. There was a sense that Vulkan had foreseen this situation and knew how it would conclude and yet held himself apart from the Astartes. It would have been easy for this to have come across as a cheesily forced enigma but it didn’t. There was a surprising depth to the character of Vulkan that I really enjoyed.

There were some unanswered questions in this book like how did the Orks know where Vulkan was (If they did) and if they did were they aware of his singular threat to The Beast? Hopefully These questions will be answered in the next book.

Echoes Of The Long War by David Guymer

Echoes Of The Long War Cover

This was the sixth book in the Beast Arises series. It would have been easy to make this almost a throw-away information filler but I found the tensions in this book really made it work. The inter-play between the Iron Warriors and the Fists successor Chapters was palpable. It was like that awkward family gathering where you have to be polite to that relative that you have a mutual hatred with. For me that alone made this worth a read.

There was a lot of story in this book. A lot of converging threads hinting at massive violence to come. All the in-fighting and pettiness on Terra becomes impossible to stomach with an attack moon in orbit. There was some great ship to ship action but for me this book was all about the tension and whilst some of that was physical it worked so well because it was all about that interplay.

In short I really enjoyed this story and think it adds something different to the already enjoyable series.

Codex Heretic Astartes: Chaos Space Marines

Cover Codex Heretic Astartes

This is the Chaos Marines Codex for Warhammer 40k 8th edition. Before I talk about what is inside this codex I’m going to talk about what isn’t in it and why you don’t have to buy it (yeah I laughed as I typed that). If you bought the Chaos Index you have the base rules to field all your old Chaos models. That’s a key point for me. The Indexes allow us to keep using our old models and units. An example of this is a Chaos Lord on a bike no longer exists in this Codex. You can however take it as an Index approved unit. It has also been made very clear that if Death Guard or Thousands Sons are your only Chaos units then you are better off sticking to your Index rules until the shiny new Codexes for those armies arrives (Gimme Death Guard NOW). You also are not able to build a Chaos Daemons list from this book, as per before use the Index for now.

So that was a lot of reasons not to buy this book now for my opinions on why to buy it. I’ll start with my personal Chaos army and then go to generic stuff afterwards. My Chaos army celebrates my Lord Nurgle. Part of that is my Death Guard, which I’ll be running as a detachment in their own right but for me the core of my army are a renegade chapter now called The Granddads that worship Nurgle (stop shaking your heads). I also have some Daemons which will be another detachment spread through my horde. This is where one of the key benefits of the Codex come in. If you don’t belong to one of the main Legions the special ability for your army is being able to advance and charge. Chaos Beasts suddenly got fun, and jump pack troops deploying away from the enemy in cover and not gambling on that 25% charge chance is suddenly viable.

Overall I think this Codex has opened up a lot of ways to play and to compliment the various Legions and Daemons or lead themselves to victory over the corpse throne. I’m a little disappointed with the relics though as for instance if you follow Nurgle you are more or less reduced to Puscleaver which replaces a power sword and is useless for either the Daemon Prince or Sorcerers in my army. The Warlord trait I personally find it hard to look past an extra wound and Feel No Pain on a 6+. I’ve also found my Forgefiend to be miserably bad in the couple of battles I’ve used him. Even if standing still at full health he only hits on a 4+ and I found myself either moving or wounded in every round. I barely hit and felt the points were not a great investment. Yes I’m saving up for a Chaos Landraider but again I wish I had the option for a Redeemer. Mutilators, Mutilators, Mutilators. I want to use them so badly but I can’t ever see them being worth the points. They are so slow that the only real option is to come in from reserve and gamble on the 25% of charging. They invariably are going to get minced which might be a good distraction if they can make a few saves but most troops can just walk back out of range and still fire at them. Oh and if you are not collecting skulls then you cannot have enough psykers.

There will be some criticism about an excuse to sell more Codexes. If adding colour to your army with a unit of Plague Marines is all you want then you don’t need to wait for a specific codex you can run that in either the Index or Codex. Personally I hope Games Workshop keep up this frenetic pace of releases so that Codex creep is less this edition. Some armies such as Tau are already feeling under-powered with their lack of a psychic phase and wet paper towel close combat weapons. I am enjoying 8th edition more than I ever did 7th edition.

 

 

 

Welcome To The Darkside – My Local Comic Shop

Killing Joke Graphic Novel and Joker Pop

Darkside Comics is my local comic shop. I can remember going to comic shops as a teenager and twenty five years later I’m starting to enjoy it again. A lot of that has to do with the owner Holly and the atmosphere she’s given to her business. It would be easy to say that as a woman she is bound to have more female customer than some of the creepy blokes that ran comic stores when I was a kid but that would be doing her a great disservice. Darkside is inclusive. Not as some lip service publicity seeking make a quick buck gimmick. Holly has a unique way of not just bringing all her customers together through comics but to enthuse people who wouldn’t necessarily ever visit a comic shop to want to visit. Whether is is through her women’s nights, pride tables or the cool Beast Boy stickers she puts of the comics for younger readers there is a genuine feeling of being part of a community just by walking in. For somebody like me that is awkward around people that is impressive, but when you consider my wife has now bought Squirrel Girl from there and my 9yr old has comics on order and loves having a look around. My eldest was an avid reader when he was nine so it has been hard for us to deal with a child who enjoys reading less. It is great to see him eager to read things and talk about the story afterwards.

Is Darkside the cheapest? No. We could get most things slightly cheaper elsewhere but we don’t just pay for  the comics. Holly understands a LOT better than silly Amazon algorithms what our tastes are. For example my boy is probably going to give Lumberjanes a go and I’m not sure that would be at all likely without Holly explaining to him what it is about. Is Darkside unique? I doubt it. I also know that whilst the bigger stores like Forbidden Planet are also great with how they treat people it doesn’t have the same personal feel every time you walk in. If you are ever anywhere near Chelmsford it is only about a minute from the train and bus stations and well worth your time.

Training Days by Joan De La Haye

Training Days Cover

This book follows on from The Race. The story started pretty much directly after the first part but it was different. Whenever I’ve read anything buy De La Haye I’ve always felt it was South African. In this story though it felt like as the main protagonist changes and moves away from her roots so the writing changes. I found it fascinating to feel the voice change as the character does. It was only a slight shift but it really added something to the story.

There is a definite act two feel to this story and it really does build well upon the first book. I don’t think it works as well as a stand-alone book when compared to the first book but I think the writing is a lot better in terms of the characters. I re-read The Race before reading Training Days and I would highly recommend doing that if you can. I can’t wait for the third part so that some vengeance can be enacted.