By Plumeri & Bloz
If the last time you took any interest in dinosaurs was when Jurassic Park came out then youíve got plenty of catching up to do. The science of palaeontology is constantly revealing new evidence, putting forward new ideas and reassessing old ones, so what we understand about these great beats of the Mesozoic era has significantly moved on - for example, are you aware that most meat eating dinosaurs are now thought to have had feathers? There are plenty of hard science and popular science books out there to dip your toe into, but if thatís not quite your thing then you canít go far wrong by picking up this excellent series from Plumeri and Bloz.
Each page (or couple of pages in some instances) deals with a different dinosaur, theory, discovery, or even features the palaeontologists themselves, turning a small fact or two into a short, amusing narrative to get the point across. If youíre aware of Horrible Histories then itís not a million miles away from that. In this volume they cover, for example, the titanic rivalry between Cope and Marsh as they battled to out-do one-another with their fossil discoveries, the range of ostrich-like dinosaurs, and just hard T-rex could bite.
Itís wonderfully accessible, cleverly written, funny, and has some of the best cartoon illustrations on the topic Iíve ever come across. So whether youíre a kid who likes dinos or an adult looking to brush up on the latest news, Iíd highly recommend you get yourself a copy.
And if you liked that: You might like to learn more about Cope and Marsh in Bone Sharps, Cowboys And Thunder Lizards
Dinosaurs #2: Bite of the Allosaurus (Dinosaurs (Papercutz)) (Book)
By Gary Clark
Publisher: Swamp Productions Pty Ltd
I discovered Gary Clark's work a few months ago now and quickly signed up for a daily Swamp cartoon in my inbox. After a couple of weeks I was suitably engrossed to order a couple of collections too, the first of which is Swamp Tour.
To set the scene, this is a strip set predominantly, but not exclusively, in a Swamp, with a wide cast of characters ranging from the charming to the despicable.
There are a number of duck characters, most of which are involved in the comings and goings around the air traffic control tower, but thereís also a duck dad and son, police ducks, army ducks, motorcycling ducks, and then thereís Ding Duck - the duck that just canít grasp flying.
Cheese and Chives are two rather grotty rats living the life of Riley amongst the festering junk dumped in the swamp, who also turn up as lab rats from time to time. Old Man Croc is toothless and somewhat ineffectual as a class-A predator and barely gets noticed when the Swamp Tour boat passes by, then thereís a friendship between a turtle and a snail, a frog and a toad, and the utterly friendless, but vicious, Bludgerigar. We also get flies, ants, dung beetles, and the recurring character of a dead floating rat.
This broad cast allows Gary to turn his humour towards a myriad of topics so one day it may be a gag about duck hunting and the next about trying to pass a flight theory test. When there are dozens of bored looking flies sat on some dung one of them questions, ďIs this a bonding thing?Ē, while at the psychiatristís office a mosquito is explaining that ďNo matter where I am or who Iím with, sooner or later everyone finds me annoying!Ē as the psychiatrist can be seen reaching for the swat.
Garyís a gifted cartoonist, and a great gag writer, and even manages to cram in his passion for flying into many of the strips. Incidentally, the dad and baby duck characters are based on himself and his son Scott.
And if you liked that: Plenty more collections of Garyís work available. Visit www.swamp.com.au
By Francq & Van Hamme
So, Largoís trapped aboard a ship sailing out into the Black Sea, Simonís in prison facing historical charges of burglary, and the FBI think Largoís up to his neck in something extremely murky. Just who is puling all the strings here?
Van Hamme and Francq take us back a couple of decades into Nerio Winchís past, when he was visiting the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic and staying as a guest of one of the ministers. One of the members of staff at the house is put at Nerioís disposal, but she takes matters further than simply ensuring Nerio has fresh towels and ends up falling pregnant. Later, when she contacts Nerio, she finds little comfort nor sympathy from him, but she remains determined to flee her country and reach the US where Nerio is based. She gets as far as Ankara, but her resources are rapidly diminishing and all looks lost until an English accountant comes to her rescue and presents her with an offer sheíd be foolish to refuse. She gains the new life she seeks, but not the wealth and indeed acknowledgement for her son from his biological father, and so begins a long-term plan to claim that inheritance for him, whatever it takes.
Largo, then, not only has to deal with Sybil Lockwood, but with a brother he never knew he had, and he has to do so in the middle of the Black Sea. Fortunately, heís not alone.
An excellent conclusion to the story begun in Cold Black Sea, and with the trademark twists that defy your expectations that Van Hamme is so adept at. This is a tremendously satisfying book, combining great storytelling with some of the best visuals in the medium.
And if you liked that: There are plenty more Largo books to enjoy - check out the Cinebook website at www.cinebook.com
By Mignola, Arcudi, Latour, Campbell & Stewart
Publisher: Dark Horse
From Mike Mignolaís Hellboy universe comes this second world war tale of a powerful iron battle suit, The Sledgehammer, deployed into France in 1944. Supported by US Soldiers, the aim of the suit, and the man inside, is to test the suitís capabilities whilst confronting a group of bedded-in Nazis. Although the suit performs well, it encounters some strong, and unusual, resistance that overpowers it and itís only the determination of the few surviving soldiers that get him carried out of there, now little more than a dead weight. They meet more Nazis on the road, keen to take the powerful suit for themselves, which sees a heroic action by the retreating US group but a chest wound for perhaps the meekest member of the group, Redding, after he displays some outstanding courage. They end up hiding in a barn, surrounded by German troops, heavily outnumbered, and facing certain defeat.
Redding is now dying, and receives a vision of what will happen to his comrades in the coming hours, but he also learns a little more about the occupant of the suit, what powers it, and how he can help. He leaves his body and takes possession of the suit, bringing it back to fighting strength and enabling it to confront the menace outside the barn.
But itís not just the Allies that have a secret weapon weighted very much towards the paranormal. The Germans have the Black Flame, and now the two creatures are set to clash when The Sledgehammer is sent to retrieve a stolen experimental plane and its pilot.
This is billed as Horror, but of all the Mignola books this reads more like a straight superhero comic than anything else heís done. Horror elements are present, but the strong and somewhat obvious parallels between Iron Man and Captain America canít help but steer your preconceptions. Itís not a bad tale, but personally I felt the artwork prevented us from getting to know the characters in any depth which kept the unfolding events at a distance. I would have liked to have got to know Redding a little more and for there to have been time to make the Black Flame a little less two-dimensional. If you like Mignolaís other work youíll no doubt enjoy it, but perhaps not as much as the likes of BPRD and Hellboy.