Comic Review – Quarry’s War #1


Max Allan Collins is an experienced writer whose works span across multiple formats. He is probably best known to mainstream audiences as the author of The Road To Perdition graphic novels, which inspired the 2002 Academy Award winning movie staring Tom Hanks and Paul Newman. He’s also notable for having been entrusted with completing a number of Mike Hammer stories that were unfinished by Mickey Spillane at the time of his death. Max Allan Collins also wrote the Dick Tracy comic strip for a number of years and has written more than a number of mystery novels and novels based on popular mystery television series.

Quarry’s War #1 marks the first time Collins has adapted one of his earlier works into a graphic novel format. The point of view character here is Quarry – a former U.S. Marine Sniper who becomes a professional assassin for hire upon returning home from The Vietnam War.

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Quarry’s War #1 tells two stories, with the setting shifting between every alternating page. The first story, set in Chicago in 1972, sees Quarry and one of his partners (a man with the code name of Boyd) sent out to dispatch a Chicago mobster who slept with the wrong man’s side-piece. The second story, set in Vietnam in 1969, shows Quarry and his spotter, Lance Corporal Lance Roberts, as they are shipped out to clear out a village that seems to be a front for the Viet-Cong.

Those who are unfamiliar with the character of Quarry don’t need to worry about not having read Collins’ earlier novels. This comic proves to be a wonderful introduction to Quarry’s character. Both stories are easily accessible and sure to please those who enjoy action stories with anti-heroic leads, realistic military comics or true-crime thrillers. It will also appeal to fans of the recently canceled Quarry series on Cinemax.

Collins found a perfect artistic partner in Szymon Kudranski. Best known for his work on SpawnArrow: Season 2.5 and various Batman books, Kudranski boasts a gritty yet photo-realistic style which suits both the suburban jungles of Chicago and the rain-forest jungles of Vietnam. The action is crisp and clear throughout, with well-choreographed action sequences and some memorable character designs that give each and every character a distinctive and unique look. Colorist Guy Major does a fine job of varying his palettes, using different color schemes for one story than he does for the other. The lettering by Comicraft is nice and legible, with distinctive balloons used for each character’s voice-overs and Quarry’s own thoughts rendered in regular text rather than all capital letters.

While mostly of interest to fans of Max Allan Collins’ earlier works, Quarry’s War #1 offers wide appeal to a number of genre fiction enthusiasts. If you enjoy comics or short stories about manly men who work in the shadows, dealing with decisions that most people hope they never have to hear about, you’ll want to enlist in Quarry’s War.

8/10.

Quarry’s War #1 releases on November 29, 2017.


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor: Year Three #8 (The Lost Dimension – Part 6)

All around the universe, in different places and different times, something has awoken. At first impossibly large white holes began to manifest, absorbing or annihilating everything unfortunate enough to encounter them. Now, the holes are smaller, leaking some sort of anti-energy which possesses the minds and bodies of anyone unfortunate enough to be struck by it… and the anti-energy has come to Earth!

The Doctor – currently employed as a professor at St. Luke’s University in Bristol – encountered this anti-energy as he was approached by his friends at UNIT regarding the current crisis. He was also approached by Jenny – a “daughter” of sorts, created from a mingling of human and Time Lord DNA during an earlier adventure – who sought out her “father” for help after an encounter with the anti-energy of her own in deep space.

With The Doctor’s assistant Nardole and student Bill in two, the four quickly take refugee inside The TARDIS… only to find another Doctor and his companions waiting for them!  A paradox of this magnitude can only occur under the most dire of circumstances and two heads are rarely better than one with the egotistical Doctor is forced to work with himself. How much worse can things get? And how many more Doctors are likely to show up to stop this invasion from a lost dimension?



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The odd thing about the Doctor Who: The Lost Dimension event thus far has been how well its individual chapters have stood on their own. This tends to be the exception rather than the rule with comic book crossovers, which are usually written in such a manner as to encourage (if not outright require) the reader to have been picking up every single related issue. The third chapter, for instance, focused on The Tenth Doctor being drawn into the action and the events of The Lost Dimension were made to fit naturally into the flow of the on-going story of The Tenth Doctor’s comic book.

With this sixth chapter, The Lost Dimension starts moving forward with its main plot and bringing the various Doctors together to tackle a crisis that threatens all of space and time. George Mann does a fantastic job capturing the voices of the various Doctors and companions – no surprise given Mann’s extensive experience writing Doctor Who in both novels, comics and radio plays! The only real fault with the story is that the companions get abandoned early on and basically shrug it off, literally saying they need to stay free in case The Doctors need rescuing later.

The artwork suffers from a similar sense of incongruity. Both Rachael Stott and Marcelo Salaza are fantastic artists and, individually, their pages look fantastic. There is a good deal of difference between their personal styles, however, and it’s somewhat jarring visually as the book shifts from one aesthetic to another. Still, those Whovians who have been reading the story to date will find a lot to love about this latest Twelfth Doctor comic.

8/10


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Torchwood: The Culling #1

Historically, the results are mixed when the actors involved in a franchised creative property decide to seek artistic fulfillment at the planning level. For every great director or writer discovered, there are twice as many hacks who forsake the usual tone of the series in order to build monuments to their and/or their character’s glory. For every Voyage Home, there is a Final Frontier.

Fan-favorite John Barrowman has thankfully proven to be more Nimoy than Shatner. Writing with his sister Carole E. Barrowman, the two have crafted a children’s book series (The Hollow Earth trilogy), an Arrow tie-in comic detailing the secret life of Malcolm Merlyn and a number of Torchwood tie-ins.

Torchwood: The Culling is the third of these Torchwood mini-series published by Titan Comics. Set immediately after the events of Torchwood: World Without End and Torchwood: Station Zero, the story also draws off the Torchwood novel Exodus Code as well as the short comic Captain Jack and The Selkie.

That sounds like a lot of back-story (and it is) but The Culling does a fantastic job of establishing itself without an overly-long explanation of what came before. A cast list at the start of the issue gives us all of the major players we need to know and the dialogue handles the rest of the exposition before we jump into the action with a sequence that seems to pay homage to the films of John Carpenter.

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Having just thwarted an attempt by the plant-based lifeforms known as The Vervoids to conquer the Earth, Captain Jack Harkness and Gwen Cooper – acting leaders of The Torchwood Institute – have returned to Torchwood House in Scotland to do a bit of cleaning-up. They’re shortly contacted by Captain John Hart – Jack’s ex-partner in every sense of the word – who has news regarding a Vervoid scheme Torchwood didn’t know about. Namely, that the Vervoids were trying to create a Human/Vervoid hybrid that could move undetected on Earth.

Most of the action of the comic concerns one of these hybrids, who somehow survived the destruction of Station Zero in the last Torchwood mini-series. The hybrid takes the name Sladen (A clear tribute to actress Elizabeth Sladen, who played the character of Sarah Jane Smith on Doctor Who) and sets about learning and evolving while running into another of Torchwood’s enemies who is out for revenge.

Dry as this synopsis may sound, the execution is top-notch. The Barrowmans fill the script with the sort of humor Torchwood fans have come to expect as well as the harder sort of science-fiction that informed the television series. Artist Neil Edwards does an equally fantastic job on the artwork, capturing the likenesses of the established actors perfectly and choreographing the action of the issue well.

The only respect in which the comic falters is that, accessible as it is to new readers, it’s still primarily aimed at those who have been keeping up with the story so far. Longtime Torchwood and Doctor Who fans will love it but newbies may feel like they’re not in on the joke.

8/10


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor: Year Three #9 (The Lost Dimension – Part 3)

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor: Year Three #9 - Part 3 of The Lost Dimension CoverOnce upon a time at a science-fiction convention, legendary writer Neil Gaiman was asked how to simply sum-up the television series Doctor Who to someone who had never seen it, before they sat down to watch any random episode. One might think this a daunting task given the show’s infamously complex continuity. After all, Doctor Who is over fifty years old and has spawned innumerable media including novels, radio plays and stage plays. And comic books, of course!

Undeterred by the questioning conventioneer, Gaiman spake thus.

“…There’s a blue box. It’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. It can go anywhere in time and space and sometimes even where it’s meant to go. And when it turns up, there’s a bloke in it called The Doctor and there will be stuff wrong and he will do his best to sort it out and he will probably succeed ’cause he’s awesome.”

It is a simple yet elegant summary and Titan Comics’ current Doctor Who crossover mini-series, The Lost Dimension, is born of the same easy accessibility. The title page opens with a description of The Doctor as an immortal alien, who can regenerate a new body in moments of great stress and notes that The Doctor’s various incarnations are only allowed to cross their own timeline and interact with one another on the “dire days” when “the fabric of the universe is threatened.”

This, clearly, is one of those dire days.

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The issue opens with The Tenth Doctor having a vision of one of his past incarnations in pain, before he and his current companions (aspiring artist Gabby Gonzales and her best friend, Cindy Wu) are pulled from the time stream and forced to land on a futuristic power plant. A power fluctuation in the space station turns out to be responsible for the turbulence but it’s nothing The Doctor can’t fix. What proves trickier, however, is a sudden manifestation of the strange energy that seems to have attacked The Doctor’s past self…

Despite being the third part of The Lost Dimension, a new reader could easily jump into the Tenth Doctor series with this issue and follow the action of the story without difficulty. This chapter also neatly fits into the on-going action of the series’ regular storyline, without disrupting anything as is frequently common in comic-book crossovers. Fans of The Tenth Doctor who have never read the comics before will appreciate writer Nick Abadzis’ command of the character and hear David Tennant’s voice in their heads as they read the dialogue.

The artwork shows an equal level of care and craft. Though artists Carlos Cabrera, Mariano Laclaustra and Fer Centurion usually work on The Twelfth Doctor series, they prove just as capable of caricaturing David Tennant as they do Peter Capaldi. The action sequences are as thrilling as anything you’d see on the show and the colors by Hernan Cabrera look fantastic throughout.

Sadly, the issue is not without flaw. The fast pace of the story doesn’t allow any time for Cindy and Gabby to be revealed as characters to new readers. As a result, neither of them show their usual spirit. A larger problem is that The Doctor doesn’t really do anything in this story except type on a computer, which – while causing things to happen – doesn’t speak to the usual hyper-kinetic tone of The Tenth Doctor, who usually runs around shouting “Allons-y!” as all heck breaks loose.

Still, if this is your first trip on The TARDIS in comic-book form, Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor: Year Three #9 will prove a satisfying adventure. The artwork is great and the story, despite a bit of flatness in the characters this time around, is good. Fans of the TV series, however, might want to see where it all began in Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor: Vol. 1 – Revolutions of Terror.

8/10


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.