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Showing posts from December, 2020

Review: Saga

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Hazel is special. Her young parents should be mortal enemies - they are from opposite sides of a war that has raged on for many years - but apparently love conquers all... Her mother Alanna is from the planet Landfall. Her people have wings of various kinds. Hers are like those of an insect.  Hazel's father Marko is from Landfall's moon Wreath. The people there have horns of various kinds. His are like those of a ram.  Landfall and Wreath are locked in a perpetual state of war, but in the interests of environmental conservation their war has been outsourced .... to the rest of the universe.  The destruction of either Landfall or Wreath would result in the demise of both worlds, so they have subcontracted their conflict to other planets. All the bloodshed occurs far away and mostly involves other races, so the civilian populations of Landfall and Wreath go about their lives without much inconvenience.  When private Alanna is put in charge of guarding captured enemy combatant Mar

Review: Genecy

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An extremely feared and militaristic nation, proudly recognised as the Grunnod, has stolen freedom, joy and fortune from an entire galaxy. They are in search of an ancient artifact from a long, forgotten time. It is believed to unlock a door to an immense and immeasurable power...  Kaizaxx is from the planet Tanaan, a world that fell to the despotic Grunnod empire. He and his entire race are enslaved by the invaders, lost without hope until intervention by the mysterious robed figure Geshemah, who leads a massive rescue. The plan to evacuate forty thousand Tanaanian slaves is brutally crushed by the Grunnod, who shoot the ships out of the sky. There is only one survivor...  As their ship dies, Geshemah passes Kaizaxx a glowing green staff saying "It is the reason why your people are shackled..."  In that moment, Geshemah is revealed to be one of the Grunnod. Why is he working against his own people? Kaizaxx has no time to ponder this question, however: no sooner does he take

Review: Hybrid Zero

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Zoe Artemis Chithuri Able is a very unusual girl. Her father Ian is human, clone son of Dr Jacob Able, owner of at least three worlds. Her mother Arealea is Quterion (horned humanoid), a race that serves as soldiers for the State. But Zoe's unconventional nature is more than just her mixed heritage. Her body is heavily augmented with military technology, powered by an energy crystal embedded in her neck. Augmentation is nothing new to Quterions; Arealea has ludicrously enlarged breasts because she was originally designed as a paramour (to make walking possible she also has a tail and a reinforced spine). Not to be outdone, Ian is also upgraded as a hypertrophic hulk. Dr Able summons them to his home on Eridanos, a world contained within a vast planetship that he owns. Ian's sister Case is trapped within her automated laboratory following an experiment to open a gateway into a new universe. Entering the lab will be dangerous due to the defensive systems that have come online in

Review: Planetary

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"It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way." A woman walks into a diner... She gets a frosty reception from the sole customer, the cool customer Elijah Snow. A white-haired man who looks a lot younger than he should... The woman, Jakita Wagner, is also far from average, in her figure-hugging onesie and with hidden strengths. She invites Snow to join her organisation, Planetary, which seeks to uncover "... what's really been going on this century. The secret history." Lulled by the promise of a huge paycheck - plus some existential ennui and a niggling curiosity - Snow joins her at Planetary HQ and meets the third member of their team, The Drummer. Never without his drumsticks, he has an affinity with information in all its forms. Planetary by writer Warren Ellis and artist John Cassaday is a high-tech, high concept action/thriller with a 20th century noir-pulp vibe. It combines fresh ideas with nostalgic elements aplenty: fans of 1960s sci-fi TV

Review: Invisible Kingdom

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"The emptiness you feel is normal.  After all, it's only by emptying ourselves of falsehood that we make room for the truth." Grix is captain of the Sundog , a freighter transporting cargo between the four planets of  the Duni system. Her employer is Lux, a company that has a monopoly on trade. The Lux name is emblazoned everywhere, selling goods and entertainment to the populace. Vess is an initiate of the Renunciation, a contemplative religious order that seeks to rise above the base materialism of the system's consumerist culture. Having made her way, blindfolded and barefoot, from her home world to the prime planet Duni, she enters the floating monastery to begin her new life as a None (sic) seeking to transcend the material universe and enter that of the spirit, the 'Invisible Kingdom'. Following a near crash, Grix discovers discrepancies in the cargo manifest that indicate financial irregularities by Lux... Following her induction as bookkeeper for the

Review: Horizon Zero Dawn

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  Based on the highly popular game, Horizon Zero Dawn follows the stories of principal characters Aloy and Talanah immediately following the end of the events in the game. The premise of the Horizon Zero Dawn world is an Earth one thousand years from now in which a once-ruined ecosystem has been rebuilt by a range of animal-shaped robots. A greatly reduced human population lives in separate tribes with very little technology. When the robots (referred to simply as machines ) suddenly become hostile for no apparent reason, warriors have to fight back using specially adapted versions of pre-industrial weapons. The warriors' armour is made from the irregular metal components of machines they have slain. They have a kind of cyberpunk Plains Indians style to them. What you have here is a mix of sci-fi with mythological heroic legends. The design of the machines - many of them resembling semi-organic mechanical dinosaurs - is a striking feature of the world: a Terminator/Jurassic Park

Review: Orisha Exos

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Beni is top of her class, that class being young people training to pilot Orisha - giant military space robots defending the Earth from her enemies.  This is Afrofuturism at its finest, though, so Earth is now called Yoruba (!) and the Moon is Mawu , names from African culture.  Giving Earth's Moon an actual name (which it badly needs, being not the only moon in the universe) is something I heartily approve of.  "Earth" is a pretty dull name too (as noted in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) ...  In Orisha Exos by SoVereign Comics (who also brought us Ayanmo Stigmata ), written by Tyrone Jackson with art by Demone Amerson, the world - once dying from environmental neglect - was abandoned by the wealthy elite who flew off into space in search of new planets to colonise. The common herd was left to fend for themselves which, after long hardship, they did. Many years later the survivors prospered and began to colonise the solar system.  Excellent! But then the des

Review: Abducted

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Claire has nightmares... When she was a little girl she would go up into the hills with her father to collect insects. She would trap them, take them home and pin and mount them. In her dreams, the roles are reversed. She sees her own face reflected in the compound eyes of the thing that has taken her... Doc was once the host of a successful show where he investigated claims of paranormal events. Now cynical and burnt out, he kills time taking drugs and watching the mysterious military base near his home. He sees the large vans come and go... Claire receives a call at work: her husband has been involved in an accident and taken to hospital. She jumps into her car and races to be by his side. En route , a vehicle rams her and she blacks out. Paramedics arrive and load her into their ambulance.... but they are not paramedics. The ambulance makes a stop and she is transferred into a large van... Doc starts seeing visions of a mysterious woman. Astral projection?  Or too many magic mus

Review: Exilium

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Nia, Ken and Tr'u are part of the United Earth Resistance defending the planet from alien invaders. Nia and Ken are human, Tr'u is an alien, his people (classic 'greys' from UFO lore: short, big head, big eyes) having come to Earth decades earlier as refugees, fleeing the same enemy that is now threatening their new home. Things are not looking good for the Resistance; the world is under siege and defeat seems imminent. Earth needs allies against the invaders and the only ones they can turn to for help are the Exilium ('exiled') - xenophobic humans who chose to leave Earth rather than share it with Tr'u's race. Can the 'prodigal sons' be persuaded to return to the fold and fight the good fight? Writer Ben Slabak and artist Salomon Farias' Exilium is action-packed from page one, filled with battles both on the ground and out in space, and the fantastic visuals do not disappoint. This is balanced with some rich narrative elements: Nia and Tr&#

Review: Robot Western

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WANTED: ON OR OFF! A band of outlaws ambush a cargo train in the desert.... but this is no ordinary Western tale: the desert is on a distant alien planet, the outlaws are robots (as are the horses) and the train is carrying 'blue-coal', a glowing mineral energy source. The bandits are Black Stack, Hangman, Slinger, Strong Box and Yellow Belly, comically designed characters with human personalities, living in a steampunk Wild West style world. A parallel strand to the adventure of the outlaws takes place ten years earlier. Robot boy Rusty moves with his parents to a new home when his father sets up a blue-coal mine. After his father is damaged and can no longer work, Rusty decides to set out to Dodge City to find a way to provide for the family. It is not obvious how these two threads come together later, but the reader is teased by the prospect that, somehow, they will....  Writer Doug Hopkins and artist Shipeng Lee's Robot Western is a joyfully clich├ęd genre mash-up, a

Review: Starship Down

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What would be the consequences of the discovery of absolute proof of the existence of intelligent aliens? Scientists and philosophers would have a field day, of course, revelling in every detail, all the differences and similarities between 'them' and 'us' .. but how will everyone else react? You, me, the 'average Joe'? How will it impact their view of the world, the universe, reality?  Will it be a cause for celebration ... or consternation? This is the central question of Starship Down by writer Justin Giampaoli and artist Andrea Mutti from Dark Horse comics. Cultural anthropologist Dr Jocelyn Young is called in by the US Navy when ancient cave paintings are discovered by cobalt miners in Siberia. Also in attendance is the Russian military ... and a cardinal from the Vatican. Young soon learns that this is no ordinary dig. Not only did the miners uncover cave paintings that are 40,000 years old but also an equally ancient crashed spacecraft. Her expertise

Review: Firefox

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Oregon farmer John Kirby is minding his own business one fine morning when suddenly - KA-BOOM! - a strangely-dressed man falls out of the sky. He speaks to John in an alien language and he is being pursued by a very large, very aggressive silver robot. Both men face imminent annihilation... The injured alien warrior grabs John's hand and two become one: the space warrior Firefox who blasts the robot to slag with beams of fire from his hands. Writer Warren Montgomery and artist Luis Rivera bring us this tale of interplanetary superbeings very much in the vein of classic DC and Marvel, and it will definitely appeal to lovers of nostalgia. But there is also more to it than just fanboy homage; there is a complex backstory with characters that have more to them than meets the eye... Who killed John's parents? Why are Omega and her brother Powercross on opposite sides? What is the origin of the mysterious eight Wave Orbs, objects of devastating power? Firefox has a diverse mix of

Review: Letter 44

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Letter 44 by writer Charles Soule and artist Alberto Alburquerque begins with a new president of the United States taking office following a successful election campaign. No parties are mentioned but Stephen Blades appears to be a liberal Democrat and his predecessor Carroll a war-mongering Republican.  Carroll  has left his successor two wars and a damaged economy to deal with (a few contemporary parallels there) and one other thing ... a personal letter. Carroll  reveals that, seven years earlier, a large mysterious structure was discovered in the Asteroid Belt. This information was kept from the public to prevent panic. A spacecraft (the Clarke ) was hastily constructed and a crew of scientists and soldiers assembled to investigate. They should be arriving at their destination just about now... This is a slow-burn drama, political as much as it is science fiction, kind of West Wing meets 2001: A Space Odyssey (hence the nod in the name of the ship). As much novel as graphic it is