Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The Further Adventures Of Grappling Gertie (Continued)

The story so far

 Gertrude Williams is the headmistress at a boarding school for girls. But in the evenings she dons a mask and fetching bodysuit to become the wrestler Leopard Lily. 
  After receiving a blackmail threat , Gertie asked the two pupils who already knew her secret to discover the culprit. This they did and locked the girl in an abandoned shed to await Gertie's displeasure. But when Ms. Williams and her sidekicks went back for a little chat, their prisoner had gone.
 That night Gertie received a phone call from local villain Sam Roper, who revealed that he had the missing girl and not-so-politely suggested that Gertie take a dive in her upcoming championship bout. If you ahven't read it yet, Part One is HERE
Now read on.
Girls comics really love alliterative names, don't they?

Monday, 29 July 2013

The Further Adventures Of Grappling Gertie.

  A while back I did a post on one of the most unusual characters in British comics - Gertrude Williams, the staid English teacher who moonlighted as masked lady wrestler Leopard Lily. (READ IT HERE) 
 Well, ever since I've been keeping an eye out for the prequel "Grappling Gertie's Schooldays" and in the process stumbled across an intriguing thread on the Comics UK Forum, which revealed that Gertie had a story in the 1992 Bunty Annual.
"This I have to see" I thought and immediately trotted over to Ebay. The result was a charmingly old-fashioned story of blackmail and plucky schoolgirls that could have been written at any point between 1992 and 1971.

 Rather than just post the action pics, I'm going to post the entire story in two easily-digestible installments.  Hope you like it.

 The story opens with Ms. Williams , now gone up in the world as headmistress to a girls boarding school, pulling two rowdy pupils into her office for a wee chat...

Saturday, 27 July 2013

A Fistful Of Comics: July 2013

  The other day I had a day off and this inspired a bright idea. "I know. I shall pop over to Forbidden Planet in Southampton and treat myself to a few comics."
 And so I did.
 I wish I'd taken my camera because for reasons as yet unknown to me, Southampton city centre is currently sporting a number of medium sized, excitingly decorated statues of rhinos.
 Anyway, I came away with a Clara Oswald figurine, a clutch of reading material that looked sorta interesting and (somehow) a wooden broadsword. It was on sale...

Mercy Sparx #1 (Devils Due Entertainment)

sexy devil-girl on motorbike
What's it about: Mercy Sparx is a devil-girl who secretly lives among humans, serving heaven.
Her task: Hunting rogue angels.
What did I think:  Well the cover looks like it would be perfect on a Rock album, probably something sleazy and AC/DCesque. So obviously I was going to buy it.
 And the first two pages open with a bang as we get a montage of Mercy laying the smack down on her previous targets.  But after that, I got a wee bit lost. 
 As it turns out, this is a relaunch of a title I've never read before so I occasionally found myself struggling to keep up with who these people are and what's going on. 
 It's done well enough that I'm going to see if there's a TPB out for Vol1 and I can see myself maybe picking it up if I see Mercy Sparx again. The artwork is decent, Mercy is a take-no-shit kinda devil-gal, there's an intriguing way to use Extreme Metal, and a comic where a devil-girl punts an angel in the naughty bits is, let's face it, already quite high up the Coolometer.
 A bit more research may be required but promising.
devil kicking angel in the vagina
A devil girl gives an angel a shoeing. I'd buy any album that had that on the cover.

Chronos Commandos #1 (Titan Comics)

What's it about: You can probably guess from the cover. US commandos are sent back in time to the Age Of Dinosaurs to foil a dastardly Nazi plot.
What did I think: It's not a bad start I suppose, for some reason I couldn't get into it that much. I'm not sure why. The artwork is decent enough, the storytelling simple but respectable (March through jungle, fight T. Rex, fight Nazis. Home) The characters are a collection of WW2 cliches - probably deliberate -so I'm not sure how tongue in cheek this is meant to be.
It's just...
 It wasn't bad but given that I'm a sucker for anything involving WW2 or dinosaurs, I could have enjoyed Chronos Commandos more than I did.
Incidentally,  Titan Comics is a UK outfit so that might explain why the whole thing feels like something 2000AD might do.

Red Sonja # 1 (Dynamite Entertainment)

What's it about?  Red Sonja has a debt to repay to a king that once rescued her from slavery. Since his kingdom is in the path of a marauding army and his army was wiped out by plague, Sonja has a difficult task ahead of her. 
What did I think?:  I must admit to losing track of Red Sonja's timeline in recent years. First she was dead, then they brought her back as somebody else entirely who just happened to look the same and may have been a reincarnation, then they bounced back to the MK1version and her early career. For a while she was a queen then seems to have given up on that idea and (briefly) became a vampire.
 Now Dynamite are relaunching Red Sonja with acclaimed writer Gail Simone (Birds of Prey) handling  the story. I'm curious to see where she goes with it and whether she tries to dump the chainmail bikini while nobody's looking. 
 I digress. If you've read any of Dynamite's Sonja before this isn't too much of a stretch. Sonja being her usual badass self basically. I did like the scene where her new allies try and get her into a pretty dress though. The artwork is pretty decent throughout, that particular panel especially.
 And don't you think the poor thing looks absolutely knackered on the cover? 
I've only just noticed. What do those little plates on her thighs protect...exactly?

Uber #3 (Avatar Press)

What's it about?: 1945.  The Third Reich destroyed the Russian armies attacking Berlin with the superhuman Panzermensch. Now an Allied spy briefs Churchill while Hitler begins to plan his next move. 
What did I think?: I may have missed something important by not picking up #2. Oh well.
Again, quite a bit of talking about the Panzermensch but not much in the way of Nazi Superman action.  (Hitler uses one to make a point) Luckily the writers managed to keep me interested despite a lack of superpowered face-punching. 
  And the blonde lass on the cover yet again fails to make an appearance.
 Artwork: Decent. Story: Intriguing but better deliver some punchups soon.
 Hitler. One of history's top all-time utter wankers. 

Fearless Defenders 5 &6 (Marvel)

What's it about? Valkyrie and Misty Knight have their long-awaited showdown with the crazed Doom Maidens. But has Val managed to recruit enough new Valkyries to face the old ones in battle?
What I thought: If all else fails, get a bunch of people in spandex hitting bad guys. It that's not comics Rule ~1, it ought to be.  So here you get a decent pagga with a plot twist and an attempt at playing the Tear Jerker card that doesn't really work.  Nothing too deep but a respectable way to kill some time.
  Oh and She-Hulk has now cut her hair and started wearing trousers as well. 
God damn it, Marvel. I do not approve of this trend. 
Don't blame you, love. I'd leg it if I saw them bloody things too.

That's all folks.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Been Reading: Rachel Aaron - The Legend Of Eli Monpress (2012)

" Eli Monpress is talented. He's charming. And he's a thief.
But not just any thief. He's the greatest thief of the age, and he's also a wizard. And with the help of his partners - a swordsman with the most powerful magic sword in the world, and a demonseed who can step through shadows and punch through walls - he's going to put his grand plan into effect.
Because Eli won't rest until he's amassed a fortune. Step one in his plan is to increase the bounty on his head, so he'll need to steal some big things. He'll start small for now though: he'll just steal something that no one will miss - at least for a while. 
Like a king . . ."

This omnibus collects the three novels "The Spirit Thief", "The Spirit Rebellion" and "The Spirit Eater"

  Or to put it another way, you can get a nice, big chunk of Eli and his team as they move from one caper to the next.

There's a lot to like about this book. Let's start with the basic set-up, as it's an intriguing one.
 Everything in the world has a spirit - mountains, rivers, trees, the wheels on a cart - and humans with the gift of wizardry can communicate with them, even make them do their bidding. Some make bargains for mutual benefit, some enslave the spirits by sheer force of will. Eli, on the other hand, can get usually the spirits on his side through asking nicely.  How and why he can do this is one of the things we find out as the trilogy progresses. We also get a good idea as to why he is so determined to make himself the most wanted criminal in the entire world. 
 Then you have Eli's sidekicks. Swordsman Josef carries the worlds most powerful sword  and is always on the lookout for a good fight. He is also surrogate father to Nico, a small, skinny girl who has something very dangerous growing inside her.
 In determined pursuit is Spiritualist Miranda. Not one who talks to the dead but a young woman who can command spirits. Together with her giant, talking dog Gin,  Miranda is determined to bring Eli back in chains. Unfortunately things have a habit of getting complicated.
 All these people are well-fleshed out, easy to root for if not always like, and while Rachel Aaron doesn't go overboard with her descriptions, she does have a nice line in dialogue.
 Obviously the capers central to each book go pearshaped every time, usually in spectacular fashion, and with some novel action sequences.

So: Interesting characters, a memorable world for them to play in, some surprises and questions that need answered and plenty of action to keep things moving along at a brisk pace.

 I ended up being late back from lunch this afternoon because I had to see how this ended. I always think this is a good thing to have in a book.

One of the most entertaining things I've read lately and since there's a second  collection out (The Revenge Of Eli Monpress) that just went on my wishlist.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

The Metal Project: Total Metal

The Metal Project:A man with too much time on his hands attempts to collect every Heavy Metal song with "Metal" in the title. The ones on Youtube at any rate. 

Since I haven't done a post on The Project lately, I thought it was about time I delivered another haphazardly chosen selection of heavy metal songs. I'm not going to bother with any kind of theme so I will just close my eye, scroll at random and see what I hit.
 Here goes and I hope you find something you like.

Arkanos - Metal Infernal (Bolivia 2012)

 (Melodic Power Metal in Spanish. Starts gently but picks up the pace. Nice, restrained synths. )
Honour to: sergioledez666

Manitu - The Black Metal Is The Law (Colombia 2003)

(Harsh, primitive Black Metal performed by fiends.)

Honour to: janusjec

Oz - Total Metal (Finland 1984)

(Raucous, no frills stuff to get drunk to. Vocals a bit lost in the mix though)
Honour to: dogdrill08

And if you like that you may like..

Rotor -Metal Az Isten (Hungary 2007)

Honour to: petimetal

Chalace - Heavier Than Metal (|Demo-USA 1985)

(Starts with a pleasant intro but if you've heard enough metal, that's not going to fool you for a minute.
 Once the band switches on, they play a strain of US Power Metal that probably wasn't terribly fashionable even back then.
Full marks for energy and once you get past the vocal style  this isn't bad at all.)

Honour to; NWOBHM87

Ensiferum - Stone Cold Metal (Finland 2009)

(Folk/Viking Metal that's bombastic, epic but surprisingly catchy.
At one point they start channeling Ennio Morricone and The Charlie Daniels Band.
I can see people jigging to this.)
 Honour to: cuerdasdeacero09

Man In Pain - Todo Por El Metal (Argentina 2012)

(Anthemic, Fist in the air stuff. Think Manowar or Dream Evil)
Honour to: fedenwobhm

Maelstrom - Caged By Metal (Italy 2007)

(Enthusiastic Thrash Metal)

Honour to:  LordVexus

The hour is getting late so I'll wrap up here.

See you again soon.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Heavy Metal Cover Girls: Metal Goddesses.

   For this latest selection of  metallic pulchritude, we find ourselves contemplating a selection of  deities, which may explain why they are more elegantly dressed than usual.
  As anybody with a cursory awareness of Greek mythology will tell you, even the Goddesses who are supposed to be "good" can still throw a spectacular shit-fit if annoyed. 
 And they get annoyed quite a lot...

 The Mystery - Apocalypse 666 (Germany 2012)

Woman destroying city
 Lucra, Goddess of Banking, is displeased with the current financial climate. 

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Film: Is Sharknado (2013) The Ultimate Stupid Shark Movie?

Tara Reid
Ian Zeiring
John Heard
Chuck Hittinger
Audrey Peeples
Cassie Scerbo
Jaason Simmons
(Yes, it is spelt like that)

  When a Hurricane begins battering at California, it's not just the wind and the rain that's dangerous. With the flooding comes a horde of ravenous sharks, swimming through the streets of LA. 
 Surfer-turned bartender Fin finds himself struggling through the shark-infested floodwaters to rescue his ex-wife and daughter.  Except it's not just the sharks in the streets he needs to worry about.
 Hurricane David stopped off along the way to scoop up some friends and now it is literally raining sharks.

  Picture the scene. It's the boardroom of low-low-budget monster-movie specialists The Asylum. The day has been long. Ties have been loosened and everybody has drunk too much coffee and eaten too many bad doughnuts.
 The air is tense and stinks of armpits.
  And that's when the CEO rises to his feet and tells his troops  "It's time to take this thing of ours to the next level. We need to push the envelope. We need to need to make the movie that will blow our rivals away forever. We...need... an..IDEA!"
"How about sharks? We're good at sharks." says a hesitant voice.
The CEO nods. "Good. But not good enough. How can we take shark films in a new direction?"
 One of the writers stands, swaying slightly, his eyes crazed from caffeine and sugar  "Tornado" he croaks before toppling over.
 The rest of the team stare at his twitching body "Did he just say...Tornado"
The CEO roars in triumph. "Yes" he bellows "Yes! A tornado with sharks in it. A...Sharknado!"
 He levels a nicotine stained finger at his boys "Or next project is "Sharknado". Make it so."

  Let me show you a rough approximation of what my face looked like when I heard about this film:
  Obviously I had to see it.
So it is any good?
  Not by any conventional definition, no. Then again, this is a movie about a tornado full of frigging sharks.  Normal rules do not apply.
  There's plenty of available targets for the budding snarker. Let's have a look at a few.
1. The sharks are badly CGI'd, rarely the same size in any two consecutive shots and yes Asylum,  I did spot the stock footage you snuck in to try and pad things out.
2. Continuity is a bit ropy to say the least. Enormous waves pop up out of nowhere but then vanish again for the next shot. The heroes end up fighting a shark in somebody's flooded living room but then outside there's barely a puddle. Said flood being even more baffling considering we've already established that this house is in Beverley Hills and presumably quite high up.
3. Fin's wife and kid, once saved, proceed to act like obnoxious assholes. I particularly loved  the bit where they complained about Fin taking time out to rescue somebody from a painful death.
4. The big plan is, just for a change not "Let's lure all the sharks to here and blow the shit out of them". It's actually stupider than that. Explosives still involved, mind you.

On the plus side:
1. Fin and his posse - surfer Baz, sharkphobic barmaid Nova and barfly George-  are easy to like and the acting is usually OK.
2. There are a few snarky lines peppered throughout to stop things getting too serious.
3.  Some of the deaths are ...creative.
4. And there is a certain satisfaction to be had from seeing our heroes trying to get a ravening shark off the roof of their car.

 Weirdly, considering the subject matter, "Sharknado" mostly plays like a regular disaster movie, albeit one with sudden outbreaks of shark. The cast treat the whole affair seriously and there's even an attempt at a little family drama. It's cack-handed  but it's there.
  Shortly afterwards Fin ends up battling flying sharks with a chainsaw. And to be honest I think I wanted to see a bit more of that sort of thing. I enjoyed it but....
 Or to put it another way: "Sharknado" isn't actually silly enough.

  If you like stupid Creature Features you will probably like "Sharknado" but The Asylum haven't quite managed to make the Ultimate Stupid Shark Movie.
  Hold that thought though. Because The Asylum are already talking about "Sharknado 2".
And we all know how sequels work. Bigger, bloodier and more of everything.
The dream may yet come true. 
 Anyway, here's the trailer.
That's all folks. 

Saturday, 13 July 2013

My Top Ten... 80's Rock Queens.

 Thanks to work and a few health issues blogging hasn't really been a priority lately. Sorry about that.

Anyway, I haven't done a Top Ten in a while so I thought I'd introduce you to some cool music.

  Now I'm about to do something most female musicians absolutely hate, which is lump together a disparate bunch of  artists based purely on their gender. I apologise for that but I'm hoping the music will make up for it.  Some are well-known, some...not so much.
So, in no particular order, here's ten of my favourite 80s rock/metal songs that have female vocals.

I got told off for my AOR list not including Heart so..

Heart - Who Will You Run To? (1987)
The Wilson sisters seem to have disowned their "Big Hair and Cleavage" era and I think that's a real shame. This track, for instance, features a massive chorus, a spiffing solo and a typically faultless turn from Ann Wilson.

   Honour to: emimusic

Monday, 8 July 2013

Terrible Metal Album Covers Chapter 17

  I was originally planning to do a piece on the Bollwood movie I just watched but I think I'll have to leave that until I'm slightly less bewildered.
 So in the meantime, how's about I break out another tasty helping of poor artwork, indifferent design and generally weak understanding of aesthetics?
 My usual warning applies: Bad album cover does not always equal terrible band. If a band really are shite I'll let you know, ok?
 Now grab a tasty beverage and a snack of your choice and let's appreciate some "art"

Axis Powers - Pure Slaughter (Sweden 2005)

awful heavy metal album cover 
 This Swedish Death Metal crew may be attempting to update the works of Hieronymous Bosch and Breugel. Or they could have just asked the artist to "Just put some cool shit on there."   I'm hoping this isn't what the artist sees every time he closes his eyes. 

Thursday, 4 July 2013

The Metal Project: Headbanging On The Fourth Of July

The Metal Project: My personal quest to find metal songs with "metal" in the title. Well it beats chasing about after a frigging great white whale, I suppose.

  Happy Independence Day America. To celebrate, here's a selection of All-American metalheads, just for you. Enjoy.

This seems a good place to start. 

  Belial - American Metal (Demo 1985)

Honour to: heavymetaller1978 

I don't normally do instrumentals but in this case, what the hell.
Features Marty Friedman (who went on to Megadeth) and Jason Becker (who became Dave Lee Roth's guitarist) duelling each other. 
Sadly Becker's career was cut short by  Lou Gehrig's Disease.
Despite being confined to a wheelchair, unable to play or even to speak, Becker continues to compose music. Respect is due.

Cacophony - Speed Metal Symphony (Instrumental 1987)

Honour to:  BollyRulez

I admit I might be pushing the boundaries of "Metal" with this next one.
What can I say?  I'm basically an 80s kinda guy.
When I first got into this music, Bon Jovi and Def Leppard were considered Heavy Metal

Bang Gang - Pedal To The Metal (1990)

(Sleazy LA Glam)
Honour to: Daemonja81

Possessor - Metal Meltdown (2010)

(Buzzsaw Thrash)

Honour to: PossessorMetal

Virgin Steele - Metal City (1983)

(An early track from one of the founding fathers of US Power Metal
And it's pretty good too.)
Honour to: IstKriegUNM

Total Eclipse - Guardians Of Metal (1999)

(Mellow intro leads into epic but  catchy Trad Metal that has a definite British air to it) 
Honour to:  ninja82hmrm

And finally, two tracks that seem to fit the spirit of the day quite well.

Skelator - Give Me Metal Or Give Me Death (2008)
(Thrash but with some nice, bluesy guitar action)
Honour to: rapanzel666

And I think I shall finish with...

Wild Dogs - Metal Free America (1987)

(Hardhitting USPM)
Honour to: CorryDMG

That's all folks and a Happy Fourth Of July to y'all.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Film: Hansel & Gretel: Warriors Of Witchcraft (2013)

Fivel Stewart
Booboo Stewart
(Neither of whom wear anything close to the outfits on the DVD cover)
Eric Roberts
Vanessa Angel
Cherie Currie
(Yes, her out of The Runaways)
Tyne Stecklein
Judy Norton
Kathryn Collins
Niclas Gillis

  When troubled teen Jonah Mazer is sent away to an exclusive private school, his studious, sensible sister Ella goes with him.  Almost immediately Jonah has a run in with the king of the local Jocks while Ella meets the blonde currently top of the social pecking order.
 Then the twins discover that something strange is going on at  this school. People are disappearing. People are turning up with all their memories and spirit drained away. People are meeting up in the night to do weird ritual shit.
And Jonah has just been invited to join a very exclusive little clique...

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