Dreamcast 10 Years on – the VM (1999)

Ridiculous, brave, innovative. Dreamcast had a memory card, but it was not just any memory card – it was the VM (visual memory). Although at its most basic it was a peripheral storahe unit / memory card for the Dreamcast, it was more than that. With its LED screen, some games utilised that functionality and there were mini-games that could be played on the tiny LED screen. I remember one for Sonic Adventure, but it was pretty unplayable, and pretty boring. A noble failure – here is a youtube vid of its history, both official and homebrew;

The most electrifying movie scenes I have ever seen part one – the Rocky / Apollo rematch in Rocky II (1979)

Rocky 2 is one of the best sequels in US cinema history. The way the original Rocky film was concluded, and that films massive critical and commercial success, naturally dictated that a follow-up had to be made. Luckily for the viewer, the second film is a logical progression from the first film, a perfect companion piece to it and a fine film in its own right. It also hosts the finest boxing fight in cinematic history, in my opinion.

This film is great, and that is as much as a review you are going to get from me on the subject, but it is essentially a lead-in to a mesmerising, titanic boxing match – a re-match, in fact – between reigning champion Apollo Creed and challenger Rocky Balboa.

I remember watching this on Christmas Eve, 1982, on VHS, with the excitement of Christmas relegated to the periphery as I sat, Findus French Bread Pizza in a sweaty hand, gripped with excitement as this fight ebbed and flowed. The final seconds of the fight had me breathless (literally) and feeling like an electrical charge was running through me. What follows is a movie scene that is pure cinematic pleasure, a thorough justification of the medium as entertainment, and a scene that age does not dim, dilute or lessen in its impact.

Ladies & Gentlemen – the climax of Rocky II, Creed vs. Balboa (needless to say SPOILERS);

Review – Unknown Soldier #13 (Vertigo, 2009)

‘The Way Home’ is the new arc in this terrific series, taking us back to the heart of this title, with the Unknown Soldier coming to the aid of Paul, a child taken by the rebels and forced into their army. His story, told through his own words and drawings, is harrowing, but all the more disturbing for the fact that you know that this is a very real scenario endured by many. Having escaped the GUSCO camp (aimed at rehabilitating child soldiers), having escaped the hellish conditions of forced conscription into the LRA, Paul is now desperate to get to his family in an IDP camp. Moses, initially reluctant, agrees to help this tragic child.

That summarises the issue, but does not do justice to the contents. The writing, as ever, is brutally honest in its depiction of a war in Africa where the most vulnerable are the most exploited and the casualties of war are predominantly the innocent. While Dysart is keen to emphasise the suffering – and this he does with subtlety, power and honesty – he can also weave a terrific and involving story around these bald and terrible facts.

This issue sees a change of artist, as Ponticelli takes a break. The replacement artist is DRC illustrator Pat Masioni. I am a huge fan of Ponticellis work, but Masioni ably takes up the art duties and makes this issue his own. His art, like Ponticellis, lays bare the brutality of war, the grief of suffering and the evil that men can do – witness his drawing of a child being ripped from his mothers arms, her pleading, the hostility and threat of the rebel soldiers – and does it with an energy and anger that drives the story, engaging the reader.

Unknown Soldier #13 is a change of pace from the high octane thriller energy of the ‘Easy Kill’ arc. It is more contemplative, more terrifying, more heart-rending. The focus is back on the victims of the wars and internecine struggles in Africa. There is no greater tribute to this title than this – Dysart and his supremely gifted artists sear these terrible events into your conscious. A lot of the images and words are not easy to forget. and nor should they be. Unknown Soldier is the most important comic book on the market right now, it is political, righteous, angry, engaging and gripping – no other title manages this feat.

Review – Die Hard Year One #2 (Boom! Studios, 2009)

A John McClane ‘Origins’ / ‘Year One’ book, exploring his life as a cop prior to the Nakatomi Plaza hostage crisis. Sounds like a great idea, and actually lives up to its promise. A greasy, corrupt New York is laid bare, with McClane as the rookie cop, fresh from the Marines, dealing with flashers and amorous older women, all the time biting his tongue until he has ‘grooves worn in’ as he regularly gets his balls busted by his training officer, Ken Bingham.

Elsewhere Rosie Haskell, a pretty Blonde girl from a small town, is really having a day to forget, as a ‘New York minute’ places her in the wrong place at the wrong time, on the Island of Manhattan. She sees 2 cops – Peter Noonan and Russ Ciardello – in a comprimising situation with a body in an alley. That is not the problem – the problem is when they see her, watching them….

McClane and Haskell are going to cross paths soon – but that is not for this issue. The scene is being set up for that encounter, as killer corrupt cops are ready to pounce on Haskell as soon as she breaks cover.

Written by Howard Chaykin, the series is really capturing the spirit of the McClane character, with his quick wit and regular-guy attitude. The art by Stephen Thompson effortlessly captures the flavours of day to day New York hustle and bustle, and also manages to convince with a good portrayal of a younger McClane. The language is authentic, the scenario gripping and the issues skips along with little drag. A good ten to fifteen minutes of your time well spent – and what more justification do you need for investing in a comic book?

Finally, a quick nod to UK artist Jock (2000AD / Vertigo’s ‘The Losers’) who does the ‘b’ cover – and what a treat it is – McClane remodelled as a shaggy haired Dirty Harry with a New York sunset in the background. Love it!

‘Die Hard Year One’ #2 is out tomorrow (28th October) from Boom!

Boom! Studios kindly provided a digital copy of this issue for review.

Review – Resurrection #4 (Onipress, 2009)

Back in June I reviewed issue 1 of ‘Chapter 2’ / reboot of Resurrection. To be honest I was not that impressed with it – I thought Greenwoods art lacked something, that it was too ‘cartoony’ for the subject matter, and the characters left me unmoved. Overall I felt uninvolved. One highlight was the start of the issue, featuring Bill Clinton, as the President of The United States, addressing his nation about the Alien invasion.

I nearly gave up after issues 2 & 3 to be honest. But this issue just about has the start of something interesting. Without giving away the ending, it is fair to say that what Guggenheim began with at the start of ‘chapter 2’, he carries over into the end of issue with some style. Oh, and there is some ‘Dawn of the Dead’ type shenanigans with the Road Agents trying to break through into Red Lion. Being British, everytime I read ‘Red Lion’ I think of an old-school English pub, with nictine stained walls and a fruit machine blinking in the corner of a dimly light room. So let’s forget the fact that ‘Red Lion’ is a plain daft name for a sanctuary, and grab what positives we can from this – Resurrection #4 turns a corner – it actually works on a basic level (to entertain), though a lot of the problems I have with the series – the art, the lack of character in the characters – remain.

Still, it stays on my pull list for now. A resurrection of sorts, for Resurrection.

5 page Preview – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? #5 (Boom! Studios, 2009)

DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? #5 (A)
DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? #5 (B)
Written by Philip K. Dick
Drawn by Tony Parker
SC, 32 pgs, FC, (5 of 24), SRP: $3.99
COVER A: Moritat
COVER B: Brett Weldele
Diamond Code: AUG090721

The book that inspired BLADE RUNNER continues! The world has survived war… but is it ready for mass empathy? Everyday, the thousands left on Earth immerse themselves within the plight of Wilbur Mercer. They suffer as he does, making a never-ending climb through a Hellish terrain. Welcome to the world of Rick Deckard, the world of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

5 page preview of ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ #5, which is due to be released on October 28th, 2009;

5 Page Preview – Die Hard Year One #2 (Boom! Studios, 2009)

5 page preview of Boom! Studios ‘Die Hard Year One’ #2, on sale October 28th, 2009;

Cover A

DIE HARD: YEAR ONE #2 (A)
DIE HARD: YEAR ONE #2 (B)
Written by Howard Chaykin
Drawn by Stephen Thompson
24pgs, FC, SRP: $3.99
COVER A: Dave Johnson
COVER B: Jock
Diamond Code: JUL090749
Preview Pack : Covers + First 5 pages

BOOM! Studios continues to present America’s greatest action hero translated into the sequential art form for the first time! Drunks, pimps, freaks and the debauched rich. It’s all in a night’s work for NYPD rookie John McClane. But what happens when 1976’s toughest kid on the street runs into a dark conspiracy involving a blonde on the run? With McClane, it means the fun’s just starting. Join legendary industry creator Howard Chaykin on a thrill ride that’s rung up over $1 billion in box office worldwide and become the gold standard for classic action! Yippee Ki Yay!

Cover B

Preview of Die Hard Year One #2;