Review – Unknown Soldier #8 (Vertigo, 2009)

Another dark and furious issue, kicking off the new ‘Easy Kill’ arc. As audacious a storyline that you are ever likely to find in a comic book, here Moses Lwanga (aka The Unknown Soldier) is propositioned by a new activist group to carry out the brutal killing of an American Actress whose charitable works in Africa are noted. A veiled reference to Jolie or Madonna? Her death could be attributed to the LRA (Lords Resistance Army, comprised of press-ganged Child Soldiers), and their leader become a pariah, hunted and eventually destroyed. The argument, to persuade Moses to carry out the deed, is that the sacrifice of one individual could dramatically relieve the suffering of the many – that cold blooded murder can be justified when extreme times call for an extreme response. It is a fascinating argument, one that no doubt will be examined fully in the issues to come.

That is not all – in this issue we get to see the terror and misery of those most likely to be exploited and abused in this conflict – the children. Dysart and Ponticelli pull no punches, and Moses’ attack on the LRA early on in the issue is astounding in its determination to show a truth that the Western / First world have no comprehension of. Some of it is hard to read at times – its a brutal, bloody read, political, angry and focussed. This arc is threatening to be a classic. I believe the title itself already is a classic.

Review – Wolverine #72 (Marvel, 2009)

Well, it has took a long time to get here, but we finally approach a conclusion to the ‘Old Man Logan’ arc. How long has this arc been going on? A year? The issues have been worth the wait, this has proved to be a real (out of continuity) treat. It is just the gaps between the issues have somewhat diminished the overall effect. Anyway – great issue, a bit of Red Skull, some other Marvel icons thrown in the mix, and a really gripping ending that you know has been coming, it is just how we were going to get there….Well, getting there was as satisfying as it could be really, and the last few panels are no doubt intended to get the fanboys out of their seats and cheering, salivating for the finale. It is all very good, the Red Skull confrontation being a highlight.

Another great installment in a great series, mixing humour, self-reverence (of Marvel icons) and darker material.

The List -the Top 4 Beastie Boys Albums (1989 – 2007)

This week TWLB will be posting some nice lists all about the Beastie Boys, simply because they are great and make us very happy indeed, and have been doing this amazing trick for years. So, this week you already have the top 5 Beastie Boys singles, with the Top 4 Beastie Boys albums and the Top 3 Beastie Boys EP’s to follow. There is a possibility that TWLB might even do something about Beastie Boys videos or their Grand Royal magazine. Anyway, today, its the……….


The Top 4 Beastie Boys Albums

No.4 – The Mix-Up

Evolution probably dictated this for the Beastie Boys – this is the offspring of The In-Sound From Way Out, Root Down, Namaste, In 3’s etc etc etc. It needed to be done. A whole album of Jimmy Smith type organ driven, fuzzy jazz funk instrumentals. The fact it is pretty great, that it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome, and that the likes of ‘The Rat Cage’ and ‘Suco De Tangerina’ are standouts from the Beasties total output, elevates this album above the likes of ‘Hello Nasty‘ and ‘To The 5 Boroughs‘.

Stand out track – ‘The Rat Cage’

No.3 – Check Your Head

After the pure Hip Hop thrills and superb sampling on ‘Paul’s Boutique’, ‘Check Your Head’ is a progression in a different direction that makes perfect sense. Fusing their Punk / DIY roots with the fundamentals of Hip Hop – the beats, the funk – they create a grungey, thrilling compilation, with sharp rhyming, bouncy beats, ROCK (in the thundering ‘Time for Livin’ and ‘Gratitude’ and some sublime funk (in Namaste particularly). Also, in ‘So What’cha Want’, you have the genesis of the next album, ‘Ill Communication’ – it started right here, on this album, on that track. Check the video out here.

Stand out track – ‘So Whatcha Want’

No.2 – Paul’s Boutique

Ignoring the fact that this is a quantum leap in style and substance from ‘Licensed to Ill‘, and just judging it as a singular work, ‘Paul’s Boutique’ is a fine Hip Hop album. In fact, it is one of the best party hip hop albums ever. Its a raucous, joyous celebration of Hip Hop – life affirming, even. The samples are audacious and brilliantly assembled into the songs (take, for example, the little sample of ‘Stop That Train’ by Clint Eastwood and General Saint’ on ‘Stop That Train’, or the fuzz guitar work out of The Isley Brothers ‘Who’s That Lady’ deployed on ‘Year and a Day’). The raps are generally an improvement on the snot-nosed bawling employed on ‘Licensed to Ill’ (though not always – and ultimately, that is what knocks it down to no.2 on my list). Overall, it’s an album that refreshes you, invigorates and inspires you.

Stand out track – ‘The Sounds of Science’

No.1 – Ill Communication

The first time I heard this, on its day of release in 1994, I was trying to make a go of it as an entrepreneur, running a music rehearsal studio. I had a lot of time on my hands, and this album was played to death that summer, alongside Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)’. This album still holds up very well. From the nagging, addictive flute loop of opener ‘Sure Shot’, to the hypnotic, psychedelic ‘Shambala’ and ‘Bodhisattva Vow’ and the relative quiet of ‘Transitions’, via the ROCK masterpiece that is ‘Sabotage’ (and that era-defining video) and hardcore flourishes of ‘Heart Attack Man’ and ‘Tough Guy’, this album is a varied masterpiece. The highlights are numerous, and as well as those I have already mentioned, there are some fantastic highlights – ‘Fluttermans Rule’, ‘Eugene’s Lament’, ‘Flute Loop’ and ‘Get It Together’, that has a great rap from Q-Tip from Tribe Called Quest….I could go on. It plays beautifully, it plays fluidly, it plays like a classic. It is a classic. It is the Beastie Boys finest moment – a grungy, pounding, fuzzy, jazzy, funky hip hop, soul, funk and rock bouillabaisse. Funny, furious and funky. There, I’ll shut up now. Except to say that ‘Ill Communication’ completed the Beastie Boys creative highpoint, a trinity of near perfect albums, kicking off in 1989 with ‘Paul’s Boutique’ and finishing with this one five years later. These 3 are the Beastie Boys equivalent of ‘Music of my Mind’, ‘Talking Book’ and ‘Innervisions’. Their ‘classic’ period.

Stand out track – ‘Sure Shot’

So…..what is on the mind of Wolfie Smith? (1979)

From the pages of Tornado – who could have used the byline ‘a short-lived title due to be merged with 2000AD very soon) – ‘The Mind of Wolfie Smith‘ was written by Tom Tully with art by Vincente Vano. It tells the story of a young boy, Ernie (aka ‘Wolfie’) Smith, whose telepathic and telekinetic powers suddenly emerge. But what, you may ask, does a ‘boy with the most powerful brain in the world’ crave?

Oh-kay. ‘Woflie*’ (if I can call you that) – you are the BOY WITH THE MOST POWERFUL BRAIN IN THE WORLD. Think about it. You can use your incredible talents for awe inspiring feats, change your world, and everyone around you – for better or worse. Look inside yourself – what is it you desire? How do you want to utilise that magnificent brain?

Oh F.F.S….

Taken from the pages of Tornado, issue 30, The Mind of Wolfie Smith (pages 28 and 30).

* I am sure this is a happy coincidence, but Wolfie shared the same name as a popular Seventies sitcom character.

The List – The top 5 Beastie Boys singles (1987 onwards)

This week TWLB will be posting some nice lists all about the Beastie Boys, simply because they are great and make us very happy indeed, and have been doing this amazing trick for years. So, this week you get the top 5 Beastie Boys singles, the Top 4 Beastie Boys albums and the Top 3 Beastie Boys EP’s. Might even do something about the videos or the Grand Royal magazine. Anyway, today, its the……….


The Beastie Boys – The Top 5 Singles

Number 5 – ‘The Electric Worm’.

A slinky cocktail lounge affair – ostensibly a reboot of what they were doing in the Nineties with the likes of ‘Sabrosa’, off ‘Ill Communication’ – this sublime instrumental is a fine way to introduce the joys of its parent album, ‘The Mix-Up’.

Number 4 – ‘(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)’.

A genius use of brackets heralds the breakthrough hit for the Beastie Boys. Still incredibly exciting 20-plus years on, this single is the originator of rock and rap, and miles ahead of the likes of Kid Rock forever. Amen.

Number 3 – ‘Intergalactic’.

They needed something special to get the attention after the 3 year break since anything was released from ‘Ill Communication’. With ‘Intergalactic’, a boisterous old-school romp, complete with amazing video, they delivered.

Number 2 – ‘So What’cha Want’.

Oh my gosh. Crunchy organ, bounding beats and a superbly simple and brilliant video. It all makes sense. An awesome track from the awesome ‘Check Your Head’ album;

Comics: Anticipated titles of the week (27/05/09)

3 goodies this week. Wolverines ‘Old Man Logan’ tale finally finishes (and it has been great up to now), and The Stand and Unknown Soldier are 2 of the finest examples of powerful, moving storytelling in comic books. Nuff said, as someone once said.


The Stand preview –

Unknown Soldier –

Wolverine Preview –

Activision Winter / Spring 1984 Catalogue

More game catalogue scans from the early years of home gaming – this time it’s Activision, who produced some of the greatest Atari 2600 console games (like Pitfall, for example);

Amongst the cover art highlights from this catalogue;

and River Raid was one of the great games for the Atari 2600, as well as having great art.