More reading ... Deathstroke and more

More reading ... Deathstroke and more

Book Reviews – I've been tearing through anything DC related my library network has available. Most recently I tore through all four volumes of the Deathstroke books and I thought they were pretty good. It was weird seeing Rob Liefield art again (with feet in some of the panels). I get why he's the baddest assassin in the DC universe and will probably need to pick up the model for the Batman game just because of that fact.

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Suicide Squad What a Novel Idea.

Book Review – So as you may have noticed from the book shelf in the margin, I've been reading a ton of DC graphic novels. This started as a means to integrate myself in the universe for the Batman Miniatures game and to fill in the numerous blanks I have about the characters in that universe. I always was more of a Marvel guy, however the Marvel game doesn't appeal to me as much as the dark a gritty Batman game does. (maybe that's why I didn't mind the new DCU movies as much, dark and gritty is kind of my thing, hence why I play 40K)

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Reading List - Going Batty

Comics – As a kid I liked Batman (and most of the Super Friends). Not so much the comic books but all the other media (TV, Movies, Toys) as a pop culture icon he was my jam. When I was younger there were very few Batman comics that caught my interest. Back then I didn't care for the artists and DC books in general weren't my style. I was more into Marvel and would occasionally pick up a book from the other guys if the cover looked interesting (Lobo was the exception I bought anything he was I guess I fit the demographic). 

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Book Review - Judge Dredd Case Files #16

Book Review – Just wrapped up Judge Dredd Complete Case Files #16, slowly I'm making my was through the complete series. Judge Dredd was never readily available when I was a kid so I didn't know a whole lot about him other than it was the same style as the other British sci-fi I liked (40K, Necromunda). When the miniatures game came out I decided to track down the complete collections and read them from the beginning.

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Dead Tau ... Book Review

Dead Tau ... Book Review

Warhammer 40,000 – Ok so that's probably not the most accurate title for this review, but it's kinda catchy right. As part of my Damocles binge I recently finished the Space Marine Battles: Damocles and for the most part really enjoyed the book. It's a bit different from other books in the series as it is an anthology rather than a single story.

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Book Review - Damnation of Pythos

Horus Heresy – Ok I'm behind on reading the Horus Heresy books. Really I'm not behind, Black Library is just slow to publish them in a format I'm willing to buy and read. I refused to buy special editions and oversized paperbacks because they don't match the rest of my books. I also don't like to pay more then $11 for a book I'm going to read once. (Honestly there's only about 5 books in the series worth reading more than once in my opinion, not that the rest aren't good it's just that one time through is enough)

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Who ya gonna call? Book Review

Book Review – So there was recently a kickstarter to the Ghostbusters Boardgame based on a combination of the movies, cartoon and IDW comic series. This campaign reminded me of how much I loved the franchise as a kid and made me eager to devour anything Ghostbusters related I could find. So yes I did manage to track down the Xbox 360 version of the game and plan on playing the "official" third installment as soon as I can find the time to indulge my console.

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Getting Raunchy - Judge Dredd Book Review

Book Review – Recently I finished reading Judge Dredd: The XXX Files. I picked this compilation book up because the cover art is really fun and kept catching my eye. I'm slowly reading the Complete Case Files but opted to take a break from them to read a stand alone compilation. 

Starting with the book itself, this is a nice trade paperback with a soft-touch finish on the cover which looks and feels great. The interior full color pages are printed on a nice glossy stock that reproduces the art well. This would look great on a coffee table as a conversation piece. (given you're ok with the content)

The stories inside are from mulitple time periods by different authors and illustrators, sharing the common theme of love, sex or other adult industries in Mega City One. Some of the stories are just plain weird like the Sex Olympics while others are a really compelling read with great art like the Jack the Ripper style sex-droid killer. Even the weird stories are an interesting read and provide a look into the seedier side of the Big Meg. 

I picked this up for some inspiration to finish up my Slippery Kitty Lounge terrain piece. The art definitly gives me some good ideas on how I should decorate the interior. The added bonus is I also have some ideas on possible story arcs to use once I can get my group back into playing the Judge Dredd Miniatures game.

If you're a fan of Judge Dredd this is a must read.

Judging the Aftermath ...

Book Review – As quickly as the Judge Dredd Complete Casefiles are being released in the US I'm picking them up and reading them. It bums me out that the next volume won't be released until February so I might have to splurge and get the British Editions.

Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol 6 picks up where the last volume ended. In the aftermath of the Soviet Judge invasion Mega City One is in ruins. Most of these stories deal with the problems that arose from the city being destroyed. Some of my favorites deal with a Soviet Judge who doesn't realize the war is over. 

Once the aftermath is dealt with the stories fall back into the usual pattern I really liked the series which dealt with the Perfect Crime. Each episode dealt with a different "genius plan" which is ultimately foiled by Dredd.

The quality of this as with the other collections is pretty top notch and I highly reccomend them if you have any interest in Judge Dredd as a character or the Mongoose Publishing miniature game.

And they shall know no fear ...

Warhammer 40K – My most anticipated release of sixth edition 40K has finally arrived. Space Marines love them or hate them are what define 40K. Everything else in the Warhammer 40,000 universe is really just filler for the eight foot tall power armored defenders of humanity. Anyone who has ever dipped their toes into the grim dark 41st millennium has owned or has a buddy that owns Space Marines. As such this release will have the biggest impact in this edition.

I picked my copy up from a local retailer that offers a 20% discount on GW stuff. This little discount is enough for me to stop by and pick up any stuff I might need. Sure I could probably find stuff cheaper online but I prefer to support my local stores so that I will still have a local store in the future. The price is a bit shocking but you can rationalize it with the fact that it's hardcover and in full color.

Moving on, everybody and their brother is going to go page by page and review this so I'm going to keep it general. The cover is nice and the embossing and UV spot varnish is cool, unnecessary but it looks nice. There is a ton of new art in this book as well as many of the same recycled pieces of art that have been in every marine book in recent memory. Personally, I'm sick to death of the Ultramarines Second Company by now, why not get some new art for a change.

The first part of the book is all background and it's nice to see the other "Codex" chapters get some love and more detailed background. This carries through to the unit entries which are organized by function instead of force organization slot, a nice change as this feels more like the Forge World books. From there you move into the model shots of which there seem to be a significant number of new shots.

Once you get through the background and photos there is the army list. This is set up just like the rest of the sixth edition codexs, with a unit summary options and costs. I like that they are still references the fluff page from back here as it makes finding stuff a little easier. The fold-out reference guide is also present and is worth photocopying laminating and keeping in your mini case for ease of use.

So overall the book looks good and functions the same as the rest of the books GW is steam rolling out. I'm happy with my purchase and hope that this editon will lat at least 2-3 years to justify the costs.


Function: There have been some significant changes to how the army list functions. Previously you chose a special character to unlock the army traits you wanted. That still exists for the most part. The big deal is you can no longer mix and match choosing which traits you want to take. You choose a chapter and that dictates the abilities you have and what characters you can use. So if you want to use the Chronos tank upgrade you have to be an Ultramarine Successor and you can't take the named characters with characters from other chapters unless you have them as allies.

It seems like this is going to fix any broken combos that could rear their head but it's a little annoying for someone that made up their own chapter and "created" characters using the named ones for stats.

Some things have gotten cheaper but to get the exact same options as you had in the previous book for a ten man tactical squad in a rhino you're looking at a 5 point bump in cost. Which means I'm going to have to redo my huge book of lists which was to be expected with a new book; and honestly if you don't need the leadership and attack bump on the sergeant you can get the same number of models for 5 points cheaper. 

Overall it looks like I'll be able to retain most of my lists with little modification. With the revised Chapter Tactics I also have a slew of new options to try out with my home-brew chapter. This book has also rekindled my fire to complete my company as well as potentially adding some new units once I can choke down the ridiculous cost of the Centurion Models. 


A Game of Thrones ... Book Review

Review – I finally was able to trudge through the first book of Game of Thrones. My wife picked up the box set of the first few books for me when the HBO show was announced and I've attempted to get into them several times unsuccessfully. Mostly this was because I had numerous other books I wanted to read in the ever growing Horus Heresy series as well as other Black Library publications. These type of books are fast reads for me that get to the action quick for the most part. With the change in book format I've had a significant gap in Black Library reading as I refused to buy the oversized books since they won't match the rest of the collection I already own. Apparently new books with be released in standard size 6-8 months after the oversized trade version, so hopefully in July I'll have more Black Library material to read.

So after several attempts I was finally able to connect well enough with A Song of Fire and Ice to grind through all 800+ pages. I don't mean to make it sound like this wasn't a good book, as the overall story was really great and full of surprises. For Father's Day my wife and kids gave me the first season DVD set, so now that I've read the book I can watch the series (finally ... its been hard holding back as I hear the show is very good.)

My primary issue with the book is the excessive amount of detail, I didn't feel like it added much to the characters and really slowed the whole thing down to a crawl. I'm starting the second book and so far it seems to have the same issue which I'm guessing just comes down to Martin's writing style. Hopefully I'll be able to read this in one sitting without having to continually come back to it.

Questing for the Law

Book Review – Hmm ... I seem to be running out of clever law references, anyway I recently finished reading Judge Dredd the Complete Case File Volume 4. This volume continues the chronological adventures of "Britain's Favorite Comic Hero" (I wonder if that's true, is Judge Dredd as popular over there as Spider-man is here?) and is presented in black and white like the other volumes. This time around the paperstock seems to improved in quality and there's a soft touch UV coating on the cover. I hope this is the direction the rest of the collections go in as it just feels nicer.

Some big stories in this collection most of which is taken up by the Judge Child story which takes Judge Dredd into space searching for a child who is supposed to save the city in the future. It's a interesting story that introduces the Angel Gang, a band of Desperadoes from the outskirts of Texas City. During the interstellar chase Dredd visits numerous planets doing battle with various alien species as well as law breakers on colony worlds. Eventually Dredd catches up with the child and deems him evil abandoning the quest to return to Mega City One. 

For a story that took up most of the book this was a good read some of the chapters were better than others and some were just plan weird, which seems to be a thing for this book. The material from this story feels dated although the new Green Lantern cartoon is using a similar premise to tie it's stories together so I guess the idea still is relevant. 

Where the book shines is when Dredd is back in his element fighting crime in Mega City One. I really liked Chopper story and the Rat Fink stories. They carried on for a few issues but kept on point without getting to weird. 

My name isss .... Death

Book Review – Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 03 is the third book in the series that captures Judge Dredd's chronological adventures from the pages of 2000AD. This book seemed to be significantly thinner than the other volumes I picked up. The paper seemed to be of a lower grade stock as well as having a few less pages (unsuprisingly the MSRP is the same as the other volumes).

This volume introduces Judge Death and being from another dimension in which life is against the law. Creepy premise but the initial story wasn't as great as I though it was going to be and only took up three or four chapters of the total book. It's a little unimpressive since he's featured on the cover but still not a bad read, especially since the shorts are self-contained or carry over for and issue or two.

My favorite story in the collection is "Sob Story," in which a gang of killers is killing residents that live in mobile homes and setting the home on auto pilot so it can be years before the body is found. 

This collection features more one shot stories than the previous collections and I really enjoyed the volume as a whole.

I am the Law ... Case Files 01 Review

Book Review – Dredd 3D peaked my interest in learning more about the long running British comic. I had some exposure to Judge Dredd through crossovers and the DC attempt at publishing new adventures during my youth but never really felt like the character was something I wanted to read more about. After that dreadful Stalone movie I passed the Judge off as a joke and never looked into reading more about him. 

The Mongoose Kickstarter (which lets be honest was really just a presale to garner attention, but good for them because the game looks like fun and I like the look of the sculpts) combined with the amazing new movie gave me reason to revisit the character and give him a second chance. A book that's been running since 1977 and still going strong has to be worth checking out. The special features from the blueray convinced me that I needed to read the original British work and not the attempts to "americanize/superheroize" the Judge.

Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 01 covers his adventures from the 2000AD, Programs 2-60. While these were written in 1977 they still hold up fairly well, some of the costuming is a little dated but overall the stories are well written and clever. Most of the stories are self contained one shots but a few carry over for a few issues such as the Great Robot War in which a robot named Call me Kenneth instigates a rebellion of all the robot slaves and Dredd's six month visit to the moon to serve as marshal of the Luna 1 colony. 

The printing is clean and crisp black and white with a decent quality uncoated paperstock. My only minor issue with the production quality of this collection is in the panels that span a full spread. Most of the text gets lost in the gutter due to the massive size of the spine on a collection this big.

I'm convinced that reading the original material is the only way to truly appreciate Judge Dredd. However this first collection is pretty disjointed and most of the stories are plays of pop culture at the time, so not all readers are going to love it. I have the next three case files to read and am looking forward to the books of the 1980's. 




BONUS REVIEW – Over the weekend I took my daughter and her friend to go see Mama. This is the new Guillermo del Toro movie about two girls who are found after being lost in the woods for five years. After years of searching their artist uncle and rock star wife adopt the girls and try to give them a normal life. Unfortunately the thing that kept them alive for all those years won't let them go and craziness ensues.

The visuals for this movie are super creepy and set the atmosphere for the story. Rather than being the traditional gore fest modern horror movies have opted to become this relives more on disturbing images and sounds to set the tone. While there are plenty of sudden scares the movie isn't all that scary and instead languishes in the skin-crawling, grimey-feeling creepiness that del Toro is famous for.

While I enjoyed the film and thought it was well executed, the ending fell flat for me. I'm not going to spoil it for those who have yet to see the film, but it was pretty meh for an otherwise well executed film. If you're a fan of Pans Labyrinth or Hellboy then you should definitely check this out as the visuals almost make up for the lame ending.


Book Review - Fear to Tread

Warhammer 40K – Although I suppose it should be Warhamer 30K since this is a Horus Heresy book. Hmm ... where to start. Well, this is a Blood Angel book, written by James Swallow. I'm not a huge fan of either however, I am a fan of the Horus Heresy series and a completist so I have an unnatural compulsion to read and own all of these books. Which apparently is a problem I share with many other people, as the Black Library has taken to releasing special limited edition short novella for limited periods of time to grab more cash from those addicted to the Heresy. I have stayed strong and avoided these as I'm sure they will eventually be released in paperback  as part of an anthology (much like the audio dramas are coming out soon in the next book). Ah, and then they've decided to release these in hardcover first (like a real publisher to grab some extra revenue). Good for them I'm actually glad to see the Black Library having such success, as it means more good books (and a bunch of terrible ones, but lets stay positive).

Wow, that was quite the tangent. Anyway back to the review. The story finds Sanguinius and his entire legion sent to the far reaches of the galaxy to fight an alien menace as ordered by the Warmaster Horus. When they arrive a bunch of weird stuff starts happening (ala Event Horizon and Pandora) and the crew starts killing each other. As they go deeper into the system it gets crazier and crazier until the daemons reveal themselves as such and full scale conflict breaks out.

I like that this delves a little deeper into the Black Rage and shows that it has always been part of the flawed geneseed of the Blood Angels. Previous cannon texts have indicated that the Black Rage was a marine reliving Saguinius's final battle with Horus which never really sat right with me. If the geneseed came from before Saguinius died then how would it be tainted with what he experienced during that final battle? 

Anyway if you can get through the first 2-3 chapters of the book the action picks up and it's a pretty fun read. Slaanesh and Khorne have teamed up to lure the Angels to become their chosen. The Word Bearers have set up the whole thing and there are Space Wolves around to police the Librarians. To fight the daemons and save Sangunius they must break the edict of the Emperor of mankind. 

Some of the authors from the Black Library just rub me the wrong way. It's not that there's anything wrong with their style, I just don't enjoy it and unfortunately James Swallow is one of those authors (Nick Kyme is the other). Something about the way they write just takes me forever to read, like I'm working to enjoy it.

If you're a hardcore fan of the Blood Angels or Daemons then this is a must read. If you like the Horus Heresy series and are a fan this is a must read. If you're neither of these you'd probably be better off passing on this book as it's one of the weaker stories so far.

NEW White Dwarf - Is it worth reading?

Review – To much fanfare and hype Games Workshop has revamped White Dwarf to a new format, new staff and new content. The cover hints at going back to its roots a monthly magazine that provided new rules, hobby tips and inspirational articles. Is that truely the case or is this just a new look for the same crap? I'm going to review this on three key points the look, the content and the value.

The Look: I do have to say the new format is impressive looking nice heavy paper, with spot UV varnish and giant sized photographs of models in all their glory, oh and don't forget the gate folds it seems that someone in their art department has just realized you can add them to books because they're showing up everywhere. Just flipping through their are tons of photos and detail shots showing off each new model with a small blurb about them. Purely based on looks this is a four star publication (not quite five as some of the shots in the battle reports are grainy and blurry)

The Content: With the shiny new coat of paint what's under the hood? Well unfortunately not as much as you would think. At it's core White Dwarf is still a catalog showing off GW's various IPs. The first half of the book is all about new stuff you can buy. Completely focused on the new Chaos Marine stuff, the presentation is better and you get a bit more info about each release but after the third or fourth time reading "and with Finecast your get to see Jess Godwin's original in it's crisp glory" you realize there's a lot more words with very little content.

Once you get past the obvious advertisements there's the "editorial"sections with a battle report, opt-ed piece and some army showcases. Then there is a hobby section that shows you some kitbashed Ork Bombmas, a Realms of Battle Board with a cool theme that uses a dozen or so Bastions and other kits and a brief paint scheme guide.

One thing I'm happy to see is the addition of Forgeworld, Fantasy Flight and Black Library content. While yes these are essentially just more ads for upcoming product it's nice to see some hype building for these aspects of the brand. The Horus Heresy section is really great and I'd be lying if I wasn't looking forward to the releases and considering saving up (or taking out a second mortgage) to pick up the books and models.

If you're looking into picking up the new chaos book this month and starting a new army you can find some great deals here.


Book Review – The Primarchs

Warhammer 40,000 – I recently finished up the latest Horus Heresy novel, The Primarchs. This is an anthology by several writers each detailing one of the Primarchs of the original Space Marine Legions.

The first short story revolves around Fulgrim, Primarch of the Emperor's Children Legion. I've always liked the background of these deviant marines and as such was excited to read more about them. This story doesn't disappoint. Develing deeper into the depths of depravity these worshipers of Slaanesh have fallen into, the story focuses on whether Fulgrim is himself or possessed by a daemon. Overall it's a really good read and is far darker than most of the other books.

The second story is about the (yawn) Iron Hands Legion. I don't know if it's the legion or the author but this is a long drawn out tale that doesn't ever pick up steam. I've never liked the idea of the Iron Hands, flesh is weak we're robots nonsense; it seems far to one dimensional. Ages ago I read another novel about the chapter (note: Pre-Heresy they were legion, Post-Heresy loyalists are smaller chapters) and didn't get into it. Although it could just be the writing style, I can't get into Nick Kyme's work no matter how hard I try. Essentially the story focuses on the bull-headed nature of the Legion and how Manus Ferrus's need for glory drives him to get beheaded at the Hands of Fulgrim during the dropsite massacre. With most of the anthologies there are going to be some chaff, this is it.

The third tale focuses on the Dark Angels and Lion El'Johnson's paranoia. Seeing everyone as a possible traitor after his encounter with Konrad Cruse in an earlier short story, the primarch of the first legion makes his way to a secret Mechanicus lab to stop the Death Guard and Iron Hands from stealing some warp technology. I enjoyed this story as there was plenty of action, encounters with daemons and a little more background info on some of the named characters from the codexes.

The final story revolves around the Alpha Legion infiltrating themselves to route out a leak. So far I've really enjoyed any Heresy book they've been part of. While it can get confusing in the earlier books with everyone being refereed to as Alpharious and/or Omegon. This short actually give names to some of the other characters so it's an easier read.

Overall the anthology is worth a read, personally I'd skip the Iron Hands story but the others make up for it.