Hotwire: Deep Cut #3 Review

Since Steve Pugh’s first Hotwire series from Radical in 2009, I’ve been hooked on this adventurous sci-fi/horror blend. It’s one of those rare titles that manages to capture and hold the attention of anyone who reads it. Believe me, I have a wealth of #1 issues that I grab out of curiosity and then drop after being unfulfilled. This isn’t the case here, thanks to its charming protagonist. Alice Hotwire is a no-nonsense action gal with a confidence and subtle sexuality that belies her tiny frame, and puts the pale heroine somewhere in the ballpark of Lt. Ellen Ripley and Lisbeth Salander.

Set in a future Britain in which ghosts cause havoc, and the titular detective exorcist rescues the city and her fellow, suspicious cops from danger, it’s a setting that fans of 200AD will be somewhat familiar with. It’s a glowing world yet one in which there are hidden dangers and rebellious elements.

This final issue of the second series wraps things up nicely, though it still makes sense if you haven’t read the previous doses. However, you won’t regret picking up any previous issues.

Hotwire has assistance in keeping the so-called blue-lights at bay with her partner Mobey and fancy gadgets such as ceramic tombs and suppressor towers that are scattered around the country. In this finale, a dead soldier, with a pregnant woman in his arms, who sees Alice as her angel, has let his fellow deceased soldiers out of the confines of the forrest in which they were contained (and bored) for decades. Now their blue tendrils and scary forms are making their way to the city and their first stop is a passenger train.

Alice also has to deal with the far less careful efforts of a team from Bear Claw Security (of which there is an ad for in these pages) and in one of this issue’s best sequences, she jumps out of a hi-tech helicopter to get to the ghosts first. With technical hitches, and a possession of one of the soldiers, it means it’s all up to the small, feisty exorcist to save the day.

Pugh makes each page a dazzling ocular spectacle. The last issue came out in October and it’s obvious why it takes the artist so long. The digital paintwork is extraordinary and he never skimps on the details. His design work for vehicles, costumes and weapons is worthy of a grand sci-fi blockbuster and the page layouts and even sound effects and speech are diverse.

Granted, the story isn’t full of surprises, though I do like the addition of an upgraded teddy bear as a new friend for Alice, as shown at the end.

The tale ends in an intriguing fashion, with Alice in charge of the Bear Claw crew. Hopefully Pugh will give us a third series in which this plucky solo operator must learn to lead a team.

Smurfs, Shrapnel and The Traveler Games

Want something to distract you in between bouts of reading comics? How about games based on comics, then? Three different comic publishers have all made launches within days of each other.

First up is Papercutz with their first of many games based on The Smurfs.

Smurftastic news! Papercutz, the premier publisher of such popular graphic novel series as BIONICLE, DISNEY FAIRIES, GERONIMO STILTON, NANCY DREW, TALES FROM THE CRYPT, and THE SMURFS has posted the first of three all-new Smurfs games on its website. “Brainy’s Bad Day” is now available to play at Papercutz will post more free games in the following months. These games can be played online and on any Flash-enabled phone with a web browser.

Recently, Capcom launched its iPhone game “Smurf Village” which quickly became the most popular game on the Apple iPhone App store. “Brainy’s Bad Day” lets you take on the role of a mischievous Smurf attempting to bean Brainy with a tennis ball. You have 30 seconds to score 10 points and move on to the next round. For extra points, try to bop Brainy as he walks through the woods. Highly addictive and great for all ages, “Brainy’s Bad Day” is easy, free, and more fun than a barrel of smurfberries!

Radical Publishing’s game based on their sci-fi Shrapnel series has the most potential to please serious gamers.

Gamers take on the role of Vijaya “Sam” Narayan, a former military hero, who is fighting to save the galaxy from the Solar Alliance. Gamers navigate Sam and the Alliance across multiple planetary terrains, battling enemies, all while unlocking secret missions and compiling money to purchase weapons and upgrades. During game play, players also accrue points to stay atop of the leader board in hopes of winning cash prizes.

Unlike other games, this dual stick shooter is based on an intelligent engine that modifies game difficulty based on the player’s ability – perfect for the novice or expert player.  The 3-D graphics and sound effects make game play realistic and engaging.

“Once you start battling enemies, it is hard to stop playing … the game play is very addicting.” stated Barry Levine, President of Radical Studios. “Our partner, Moyo Studios, has created a fun and challenging game that immerses casual gamers inside Sam’s world”.

Specific Game Play Features Include:

16 mission types + 5 secret missions

9 weapons and upgrades to help Sam defeat her enemies

Unlock codes to increase points on the leader board

For a limited time, Shrapnel is available for $.99 at the Apple App Store.

Lastly, BOOM! Studios have released a new game based on their new Stan Lee’s The Traveler comic.

Alongside the much anticipated release of the time-bending superhero saga STAN LEE’S THE TRAVELER #1, comes the debut of STAN LEE’S THE TRAVELER in SPLIT-SECOND MAYHEM available now in the iTunes store for the iPhone & iPod Touch and brought to you by Stan Lee, BOOM! Studios, GameSalad, and D7!

In this fast-paced puzzle game, you play as The Traveler battling against the Split-Second Men to defeat evil and save the future! Speed up or slow down time to navigate citizens through perilous traps and dangerous encounters with the Split-Second Men. Straight from the pages of STAN LEE’S THE TRAVELER, SPLIT-SECOND MAYHEM makes you the hero and puts you in control of the adventure!

Get Published With Radical

All you budding artists take note of this awesome opportunity from one of the best comics publishers around. Here’s the press release telling you all you need to know.


Looking to have your artwork published in a Radical comic? Well, now is your chance! Radical Publishing is pleased to announce a new contest to test your illustration skills. Simply draw your best version of the villainous Jebediah Crone, based on a scene from Radical’s newest horror miniseries, ABATTOIR. For each of the first five issues, Radical will select a winner to be featured on a per issue basis, with 5 winners in total. For a chance to be featured in Abattoir #2, upload and email a link of your Jebediah Crone artwork to no later than November 10th, 2010. Your illustration MUST be based on a scene of Jebediah Crone as seen in the pages of ABATTOIR #1.

Winner #1 will be announced on November 17th with runner ups featured on Radical Publishing’s Facebook page. Each artist is limited to one illustration and all illustrations are judged exclusively by Radical Publishing’s Art Director, Jeremy Berger.

That’s not all. After the release of ABATTOIR #6, Radical will hold a contest for fans to pick the best entry amongst the five individual winners. The winning illustration will then be featured in the ABATTOIR trade paperback collection.

Created by director Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw Franchise, Mother’s Day), written by Rob Levinand Troy Peteri and illustrated by Bing Cansino, ABATTOIR #1 goes on sale October 27th, 2010. Taking place shortly after a brutal massacre occurs in a gorgeous house, Real estate agent and family man Richard Ashwalt is assigned the impossible task of picking up the pieces and selling the property. As Richard inspects the blood-soaked grounds, a twisted old man journeys to the house with a sinister and terrifying purpose. Richard is about to be drawn into a web of shadows, murders and massacres that will shatter him to his very core!


The Last Days of American Crime #3 Review

The finale in Radical’s latest bi-monthly offering has many things going for it. Sam Worthington’s attachment to the film version, writer Rick Remender’s (The Punisher, Fear Agent) high concept tale and Greg Tocchini’s eye melting art. Every issue of this series should come with a complimentary combination eye wash and brain soap. It’s dirty, but very entertaining. As with all good tales, it’s the central story idea that is the fundamental building block to a rollicking good time. Remender has not only a great concept, but the skills to build upon it.

The American Peace Initiative is a signal that will be broadcast America-wide, rendering all knowing criminal thoughts (and thus, activities) non-existent. Of course, it’s not necessarily a popular decision, with many leaving the Staes for Canada and Mexico, but for some opportunists they see the chance of a lifetime. Middle-aged Graham Bricke is one such man, and the focus of Last Days. The first two issues saw him form his team, consisting of lovers Kevin Cash and Shelby Dupree, as well as battle it out with Bricke’s former partner, Enrique.

This finale opens with a bloodied Graham and Shelby on their knees facing Enrique’s angry goons while their leader screams about his dead daughter. In case you’ve forgotten what kind of comic this is, the initial pages will “gently” remind you. With Bricke’s narration adding tension like a piano wire, it gets off to a good start and thankfully only gets better.

We learn about Bricke’s criminal past, his “flirtation” with an honest life and the motivation for this last job. With less seemingly random acts of violence Remender brings a laser-like focus in these 56 pages, and like any good heist film, makes the job one worth waiting for. Of course, there’s double-crossing, murder and the sense that you never really know what the outcome will be until the final page is turned, and when the broadcast goes out during the final few minutes of the job, it makes things even more interesting, and heightens my desire to see a faithful film adaptation. There is perhaps a tad too much exposition in the conclusion, but not enough that it ever gets distracting, and it doesn’t take away from the suspense and mystery from the entire series.

As much as Remender’s bloody fingerprints are all over this book, so are those of Tocchini. This is a series whose visual approach is as daring as its story. Tocchini’s pages could almost be the work of a team of artists, with inking, colouring and page layouts being a work of perfect tandem. He somehow manages to give scenes of flying fingers and bullet wounds an air of light-filled delicacy, maintaining an effective balance between dazzling beauty and bludgeoning brutality.

Radical prove again that they know what comics are capable of and are waiting for the other guys to catch up.

Ryder, The Rising Reviews

Part of Radical Publishing’s new Radical Premiere line of comics (which seems to be mature first issues for only $1) are these 2 great reads, which were included in Radical’s 7 new releases for last week (their most yet I believe).

First up is The Rising. With a name like that it may sound like some dodgy horror film from the ’90s in which some mysterious creature devours hapless townfolk. What it’s really about is more interesting. A brutal sci-fi tale with the kind of profanity and blood that makes me think it’s a lost 2000AD story, The Rising could be something quite entertaining. Could be, but it isn’t there just yet, which is just as well considering this is a teaser for next year’s mini-series.

It does well to present a beautifully painted package from J.P. Targete, who’s working on the upcoming John Carter of Mars film, filled with the kind of sweaty soldiers and creepy aliens to lay a solid foundation for what would make a great video game. The story by E. Max Frye (from HBO’s Band of Brothers) throws out enough concepts loosely familiar to fans of Aliens and Avatar, but also intriguing elements that reveal the future mini-series has a solid ground upon which to build an intriguing universe.

It opens with a squad of rugged sci-fi soldiers desperately fighting some well armed aliens. The sergeant carries a man writhing in pain called Blithe, before the pair of them get hit, and separated, by a lightning strike from a hovering drone. Then an astonishing 7 almost silent pages follow. Yes, 7. At first I thought I thought the text had fallen off these pages or had somehow became invisible. After a second read, it actually made perfect, although unexpected, sense. Basically the mute pages show Blithe discovered by an attractive near naked woman who takes him back to her village, where he gets a beard and a loincloth, heals, watches a tribal dance, cosies up with his rescuer and then, of course, escapes with his life as his newfound forest friends get attacked by those pesky alien intruders.

Cut to future New York, in which we primarily learn there’s a female President (who announces the end of the war with the alien Dracs), and Blithe’s brother is apparently a powerful politician who has no patience for his sibling. Oh, and Blithe is a prisoner in a tough camp who receives a visit from a hypocritical reverend who unleashes a man mountain called Darwin on the rebellious Blithe for a Fight Club of sorts.

The second half is much better. It’s wordier and more happens, and there’s something about a virus which must certainly become more prominent in the mini-series. That, and the mixed feelings about the Drac’s arrival on earth could make for a good tale. So far, it’s not entirely original, but thankfully there’s also hints of its ambition. Plus, every page looks colourful, dazzling and gaze worthy, as any sci-fi comic should. See a preview here.

Ryder on the Storm is another $1 primer, though a more mature offering than The Rising. Writer David Hine and artist Wayne Nichols throw a mix of influences on the page, but they all work splendidly together. It’s kind of like a future as seen through 1930s eyes, or a noir film set in the world of Batman: The Animated Series.

Ryder is a P.I who’s approached by a lady  with a mysterious back tattoo, as she’s somehow found herself in a room with her rich dead boyfriend, who killed himself with a power drill. Or so it seems.

Hine introduces several characters with ease and Nichols clean, crisp (even in the bloody parts) artwork may not be as lush as Radical’s usual titles, but it works well here.

With a classic pulp approach (ice queen, “voice-over”, people with secrets) this is a great set up with enough dangling hooks to make the upcoming 3 ish, bi-monthly mini a worthwhile read. See a preview here.

Solomon’s Thieves and Earp

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything for Broken Frontier as I’ve been busy with Extra Sequential and its journey from on-line mag to print. Hopefully good news to report on that soon. Anyway, here’s my review of Solomon’s Thieves, a rousing OGN written by Jordan Mechner, Prince of Persia’s creator.

Also up at BF is one of the best interviews I’ve done in a while (not that I can take credit for that) as the writer of Radical’s new sci-fi series Earp: Saints for Sinners is one interesting fella. Read my chat with M. Zachary Sherman here.

Hotwire: Deep Cut

Woo hoo! Writer/artist Steve Pugh’s wild sci-fi series Hotwire is retruning to shelves in July. The gorgeous TPB collecting the first series is now out, and below is all you need to know on the next mini-series starring Alice Hotwire, Detective Exorcist.


Detective Exorcist Alice Hotwire is back in a brand new adventure! Radical Publishing is proud to announce that the first issue Hotwire: Deep Cut, follow-up to the acclaimed Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead, is now available for order through Diamond Previews. Written and illustrated by Steve Pugh and co-created by Warren Ellis, Hotwire: Deep Cut delves further into the life and mind of the city’s only supernatural investigator, Alice Hotwire.

Directly following the explosive events of Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead, Alice Hotwire is taking some much needed R&R. But when a ghost from her storied past appears at her door, it sets off a series of events that lead Hotwire and her partner, Mobey, across the city as they try to stop a secret government project from turning the city into a living nightmare. In Hotwire: Deep Cut, Steve Pugh takes readers on a new supernatural adventure that will offer a glimpse into Alice Hotwire’s past, as well as her future, with a host of familiar faces including the unsettling Coroner Love and the rest of the Metro Police.

“Iconic characters like Alice Hotwire deserve to have their stories told,” said Radical President and Publisher Barry Levine. “With Requiem for the Dead just released in trade paperback, we felt it was time to continue the story that Steve and Warren began. This time around, Steve has upped the ante for Alice and I can’t wait to see how the fans react to some of the surprises he has in store.”

Hotwire: Deep Cut #1 is the first of a three-issue miniseries and is listed in the May 2010 edition of Diamond Previews, shipping July 2010. Hotwire: Deep Cut #1 is 32-page comic retailing for $3.50.

Fans are encouraged to visit the Radical Publishing website at for more information.