Tuesday 26 October 2010

Book Reviews

Star Wars – The Force Unleashed II: The Graphic Novel Haden Blackman
Titan Books

Available Now - £9.99 (Trade Paperback)
Review by Brad Harmer

The end of the story in the hugely popular game The Force Unleashed left the Star Wars galaxy poised at the brink of civil war.

But before that can happen, the Emperor and his apprentice, Darth Vader, have another plan already in play. The author of the original game, Haden Blackman, returns with a new story of treachery, deception, and the manipulation of the overwhelming power of the Force.

If you’ve read the novel of The Force Unleashed II (reviewed
last week), then you’ll probably get some enjoyment from this, as it presents Boba Fett’s perspective on the events. If you haven’t, then you’re going to find this ropey and confusing.

The artwork is really good throughout, and the perspectives and positioning of the characters really works to present a dynamic, action-packed feel. The character of Xasha – Boba Fett’s bird at the time – is really cool, and I couldn’t help but wish that they’d made more of an effort to use her...but I can’t fret too much. This is the Star Wars Expanded Universe...she will be back at some point. Possibly with her own comic.

Unfortunately, asides from adding in a nice Vader/Fett plot point that isn’t covered in the novel, this is a pretty useless extra. If you know the story, it adds very little, and if you don’t know the story...then you sure as hell won’t be able to follow it through this!

Also, whilst the artwork is good, the sense of continuity and movement from frame-to-frame is appalling. The lightsaber combat is all but impossible to follow, and several times I found myself having to re-read segments so that I could follow what the hell was supposed to have just happened. Not a good sign in any comic.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Frequent blaster, spacefighter and lightsaber combat.
Sex/Nudity: Some flirting between Boba Fett and his bird, Xasha.
Swearing: None.
Summary: If you’ve read the novel, then this adds a nice, more Mandalorian perspective. If you haven’t, then you’ll probably find this confusing and underwhelming. 4/10

Shaun Hutson

Available Now - £20.00 (Hardback) & £19.56 (Digital Download)
Review by Brad Harmer

He sucked in a deep breath full of that strange smell he couldn't identify. He trailed his hands across the satin beneath him and to both sides of him and, when he raised his hands, above him too. He knew why it was so dark. He understood why he could see nothing. He realized why he was lying down. He was in a coffin.

A distraught couple thinks you've killed their daughter and they want a confession. If you say you did it, they'll kill you. If you say you didn't, they'll leave you to die. It seems hopeless but there is one way out...What would you do?

Apart from read something else, obviously.

So many authors of the last great horror boom in the 1980s are totally unable to move on, and keep churning out the same Garth Marenghi crap, again and again. Jumping on crass paedophilia sensationalism as if Chris Morris never happened, Epitaph reads like a horror novel written by The Daily Mail.

The plot progresses slowly as treacle uphill, and it’s a testament to the writing ability of this splatterpunk dinosaur that he can write about such subjects as premature burial and child torture with absolutely no sense of tension or emotional involvement whatsoever. The characters are merely puppets of the badly lain out plot, and the ending is, as always, completely botched.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
One vicious beating with a spade. Weird or not, I’ll take that over a
flame-throwing vagina any day.
Sex/Nudity: Some references to child molestation, but nothing explicit. Thankfully.
Swearing: Several strong uses.
Summary: Very unsatisfying. The ending is botched, as usual. Hutson sucks at endings. Even fans would do well to wait for the paperback rather than dropping twenty quid on this. 2/10

When Werewolves Attack: A Field Guide to Dispatching Ravenous Flesh-Ripping Beasts
Del Howison
Ulysses Press

Available Now - £7.99 (Paperback) & £9.54 (Digital Download)
Review by Blake Harmer

If you were ever to encounter a beast as fast, ferocious or simply as terrifying as a werewolf, what would you do? With vampires now becoming creatures of romance and zombies becoming more an object of comedy than sheer terror, it is good that werewolves have always retained their status as a monster that should be feared. Sadly, in the wake of paranormal romance novels such as The Twilight Saga, and the large mass of zombie books and films being released all the time, werewolves haven’t had a lot of limelight recently. Thankfully Del Howison has noticed this, and has brought us a comprehensive guide on how to survive a werewolf attack in the vein of Max Brooks’ The Zombie Survival Guide.

The book benefits from being easy to read and covering a lot of ground about the werewolf, from its history dating back to prehistoric times, to ways of defending against, killing, capturing or even taming a werewolf. This is done in an informative way and the accounts, while obviously twisted, do sound like werewolf attacks that have really happened and maintain the illusion that werewolves do exist.

The book does have its drawbacks, though. I did find that Howison can lose his way whilst discussing a certain topic about werewolves and some questions weren’t answered as satisfactorily as I would have liked. But, in a market that seems to have forgotten the werewolf this is still an enjoyable read and a good gift idea for Halloween or even to Christmas to the horror fanatic who has enjoyed similar books, such as the aforementioned Max Brooks classic.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Lots of mention of people being torn apart from eaten by Werewolves but the main focus is on the history of werewolves and how to prevent yourself being torn apart.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: None, the book mentions accounts of Werewolf attacks rather than telling them as a story.
Summary: An enjoyable read, if a little basic and lacking in originality at times. However, with vampires and zombies at the forefront of the horror genre it is really refreshing to see something about a werewolf for a change. An ideal gift for horror fans out there to tide them over to the next big thing. 6/10


Laugh it up, fuzzball...

Star Wars. Seven billion-trillion fans. The most revered franchise in movie history. The pinnacle of cinema.

Robot Chicken. A TV show where toys crash into each other. Sometimes good for a drunken chuckle.

Robot Chicken: Star Wars - Season 1 & 2. Like the twisted dream of a feverish nerd who's taken too much cold medicine. That's right, the stop-motion pyjama party from Adult Swim collides with the most revered fantasy film franchise - with all the subtlety of a diarrhea-suffering Wookie pounding on your bathroom door. If there's a bright centre to the entertainment universe, this double-DVD collection is probably the farthest thing from it.

Spoiler Alert: Contains Ewok violence and (drumroll please...) ...Boba Fett!

Thanks to our friends at Revolver Entertainment, we've got three copies of Robot Chicken: Star Wars - Season 1 & 2 to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to darthchickengiveaway@yahoo.co.uk before midday on Tuesday 2nd November. The first three names out of the electronic hat will win a copy each!

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