Aladdin: Legacy of the Lost #3 Review

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Radical’s luscious books, as is anyone who looks at them really, and with the good news that a new volume of Steve Pugh’s excellent Hotwire lands in July, I’m a happy man indeed.

And on that note, Aladdin #3 concludes another great, and great looking, entry in Radical’s line up. Written by Ian Edginton with art by Stjepan Sejic, this has been a well crafted tale. It’s the kind of series that doesn’t demand attention, in that it’s not a high concept book (like Radical’s The Last Days of American Crime) and it doesn’t resort to cheap storytelling tricks and ‘mature’ updates of a myth to generate readers. It’s simply an attractive and accessible well structured story and unfortunately that’s all too are these days.

This final issue concludes the previous two (umm..obviously) but its simplicity means that every issue can be dove into without trying to rack your brain regarding what happened in the last installment. However, for those new to this title – Aladdin is a bit of a no hoper and a thief when he discovers a magical ring, meets wise adventurer Sinbad, tries to rescue Princess Soraya from the evil wizard Qassim and finally journeys to the undreground city where he and Sinbad get betrayed by the Mantis Queen. Kind of like Star Wars in the Middle East, but not really.

Edginton has used the familiarity of the legend including the titular hero, and wish granting djinn as the first steps on a grander epic. Throwing in surprises such as the appearance of Sinbad is just a nice bonus. The attack on Sinbad’s ship opens the issue, as Aladdin gets eventual aid from the djinn in his magical ring, who has a connection to the other djinn…the one in the lamp from the first issue, which is now held by Qassim’s greedy fingers.

Where this issue differs from the previous issues is its more hectic (though never harried) pace, the introduction of a few more scary beasts, the greater use of magic and the examples of love, and the heroism or selfishness it brings.

Sejic shines as always, quite literally, with his landscapes and dazzling cities looking like they belong in a Prince of Persia film as if made by Peter Jackson. He’s one of the industry’s brightest and most consistent artists and his sense of design when it comes to characters and layouts, holds immense visual appeal.

The other thing I noticed with this issue was Edginton’s approach to dialogue. With an ancient-set story like this it could easily become a bad mix of Shakesperean talk via the mouth of Thor, but thankfully there’s nothing like that here. It somehow feels old and I don’t mean because there’s no iPhone references. Every character speaks with the kind of purpose and heroism, and villainy, that you’d expect and want from a Middle Eastern epic journey.

The Last Days of American Crime #2 Review

In the age of Tarantino and Ritchie it’s unsurprising that this series was picked up, by producer/actor Sam Worthington, with such immediacy. With new concepts like this, Radical show that they know what it takes to make comics like the best examples of bold cinema.

The debut issue of this bi-monthly series introduced us to the world of ageing Graham Bricke who, like many others, wants to choke every opportunity they can before the U.S government broadcasts a signal throughout the nation, rendering criminal desires null and void. It’s one of those simple concepts that can be described in a sentence, yet whose potential is limitless. No wonder Hollywood are keen. Writer Rick Remender never gets bogged down by the hug scope of the idea though. There’s hints to actions outside of the happenings involving Bricke and his fellow crims, but it’s the ragtag bunch of ne’er-do-wells who are the charismatic centrepiece. The signal combined with the complete and total transfer of paper money to digital transactions ensure that the window of opportunity for Bricke and co. is becoming narrower and deadlier.

Issue 2 begins, with only 7 days left so Bricke (or Rory as he’s also known) has to move things along quickly with his new partners, safe cracker Kevin and his hacker girlfriend Shelby (who Bricke had a brief …encounter with last issue). The 3 characters are largely separated during the story, which means with only one issue left in this series, the finale is set up to be explode.

There’s no doubt that the world of American Crime is a filthy one. Rick Remender is writing the Punisher after all, so he knows a thing or two about the criminal mind, but whereas his work on that series, and Fear Agent shows a deft ability to welcome the fantastic, here he has a different agenda. From the opening pages in which members of a Mexican gang threaten a rival’s naked partner, it’s blindingly obvious that this isn’t one for the kids. Remender knows his boundaries though. There’s never a point, despite all the profanity and loose morals, that he’s puffing his chest out to show how ‘cool’ he is. He shows restraint and makes sure to give the reader a breather, and that’s something that Mark Millar could do with learning. There is a lot more violence, nudity and drug use in this issue than the debut, but there’s also the sense that Remender is ramping up his grandiose story, with the reason to the signal being given, as well as its implications on society’s freedoms.

This is a well paced tale, with Bricke as the guiding force, but the scenes involving Kevin’s run-in with some local drug dealers, his visit to his unique and wealthy family, and Shelby’s kidnapping, (along with the possibility of backstabbing) means that this is a guaranteed page turner. With a world filled with hardcore characters in the Sin City realm, and the approach of a Hollywood blockbuster, American Crime is an intoxicating, if sometimes shocking, mix.

A large part of the razzle dazzle is due to Greg Tocchini’s sizzling artwork. I’ve never seen an artist who can colour his own pencils with such verve. He has a rough approach, but one that is filled with details lesser artists wouldn’t bother with. By choosing unique angles it really does feel like a movie directed by the next big thing from the world of music videos.

This is another great entry in this series, and for a cheap 64 pager with a production and design gallery included, it’s pretty hard to pass by.

Hotwire TPB and Last Days of American Crime

These are two series from Radical that demand “Must Buy” stamped boldly on their covers. The Hotwire TPB is out on April 28, as is the second print of The Last Days of American Crime #1. Steve Pugh’s Hotwire is an awesome, and visually stunning addition to the realms of great sci-fi, and Last Days does the same for hard edged urban crime tales. Last Days #2 and Aladdin: Legacy of the Lost #3 are also out on April 28, and certainly purchase worthy.

Like City of Dust, I also collected all the individual issues of Hotwire, but having it in a collected form on high quality paper, with a cover gallery and extras means that it can be easily shown off to mates, as well it should.

Below is the official description of the Hotwire TPB and the cover of the 2nd print of Last Days #1.

In the near future, the living and the dead share the same space. Known as “Blue Lights,” the dead are mostly harmless, roaming the streets as mindless drones. But when the Blue Lights start showing up as ghostly weapons of mass destruction, Metro Police has only one person for the job: She’s Alice Hotwire, Detective Exorcist. She’s the best there is at reining in the Blue Light beat…and she’s the only one who can save the city from certain destruction.

Written/ illustrated by Steve Pugh and based on a story by legendary creator Warren Ellis, this four-issue miniseries is collected for the first time as a trade paperback in a special “director’s cut” edition that includes creator notes and early character designs that evolved into the Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead series. This trade paperback edition also contains newly remastered tales from Alice Hotwire’s past, featuring never-before-seen pages written by Warren Ellis (PlanetaryTransmetropolitan) and amazing newly painted artwork. Also included is an extensive gallery showcasing the evolution of the character, Alice Hotwire, a spotlight gallery of artwork from celebrated artists Steve Pugh, Stjepan Sejic (Witchblade), Jelena Kevic Djurdjevic (The Immortal Iron Fist) and Garry Leach (Judge DreddMarvelman) as well as an in-depth interview with co-creator Steve Pugh.

Aladdin: Legacy of the Lost #2 Review

So many good looking Radical books, so little time. My review of this week’s issue of their Aladdin reinvention is up now at Broken Frontier here. Written by Ian Edginton with art duties shared by Patrick Reilly and Stjepan Sejic, this second issue is a visually dazzling adventure. To prove my point, below the cover you’ll find pics of Sejic’s pages, uncluttered by text.

Legends: The Enchanted #0 Review

I was at one of my two local comic shops this week for my usual swag of goodies, when I noticed one of the guys bagging up the new releases. What caught my eye was Radical’s Aladdin: Legacy of the Lost #1. Amongst all the Big Two offerings, it stood out like a Twilight fan at Comic-Con. It’s painted cardstock cover and general handsome presentation means that it should (as it deserves to) swivel heads looking amongst the latest floppies.

That’s indicative of pretty much all of Radical’s output though, and this year looks set to be the best yet from the relatively new company. Aladdin, BTW is definitely another book you should read. It’s swashbuckling in all the right ways. And now on to Enchanted.

The perceptive would’ve seen the Legends: The Enchanted OGN in this month’s Previews. That 128 page “deluxe hardcover” book arrives in April, and this zero ish acts as a primer. Comparing the premise to Fables and the works of Zenescope is the first description that comes to mind, but like most of Radical’s books it’s set just enough apart from anything else that it’s easily its own beast. They have a brief, yet solid history of dressing up great concepts with killer looks and Legends is no different.

It begins with Jack the Giant-Killer doing what his title implies, with Conan-like machismo, simultaneously saving and destroying the humble town of Krakenfield in the process, before riding off on a mean bike. Then we’re whisked away to Pinocchio, who is fully grown and is being tortured. It seems that not everyone in this fantastic world likes these “enchanted” folk and their powerful abilities, including the handy, but painful “healing charm.” We then see Red Riding Hood slicing up some wolves in the dark woods, and then meet some ugly folk (including one wearing a shirt with the Radical logo on it) in a tavern looking to stir up trouble, but who do not go unnoticed.

Creator Nick Percival does a superb job of teasing the world he’s created. The OGN will show us darker versions of Hansel, Gretel, Goldilocks and Humpty Dumpty amongst others, and this #0 issue is a great introduction –and it’s only $1! This is a grisly world filled with bionics and mechanics as much as grotesque creatures and medieval brutality. Sure, not a lot happens here, but Radical are obviously confident that Legends will find a greater readership and if nothing else Percival’s tale is the mark of a future talent to keep your eyes upon. There’s a richness to his painting style that Radical readers would be familiar with and a boldness to the way he approaches each page. He lets each scene breathe, and though it’s obvious he’s bursting at the seams with mad ideas, he’s in no rush to tell a complete story here. There will be plenty of time for that come April, and I for one am looking to visit this crazy world then.

Worthington In Last Days Of American Crime Film

The comics not even out yet and the film adaptation is already in its early stages. Radical’s forthcoming series The Last Days of American Crime has a premise begging for a film to spring from it, and the premise is this: In the near future the US government broadcast a signal to the public, making conscious criminal acts impossible to occur, so one desperate man decides to make the most of the time he has remaining, thus the clever title. Radical have some great high-concept books, and it’s good to see a fellow West Aussie becoming a part of one of their films. Press release below.

SAM WORTHINGTON TO PRODUCE AND STAR IN THE LAST DAYS OF AMERICAN CRIME

Radical Publishing is excited to announce that Sam Worthington (Clash of the Titans and James Cameron’s Avatar) has signed on as both star and producer for the film adaptation of The Last Days of American Crime, based off of Radical Publishing’s comic book series, The Last Days of American Crime, created and written by critically acclaimed author Rick Remender (Punisher, Fear Agent). Sam Worthington will be a producer along with producing partner, Michael Schwarz, and Radical’s president and publisher, Barry Levine. Rick Remender will be the executive producer/screenwriter for the film and Radical’s Executive Vice President, Jesse Berger, will executive produce.

The Last Days of American Crime is set in the not-too-distant future, as a final response to terrorism and crime, the U.S. government plans in secret to broadcast a signal making it impossible for anyone to knowingly commit unlawful acts. To keep this from the public, the government creates a distraction, installing a new currency system using digital charge cards. Graham Bricke, a petty criminal never quite able to hit the big score, intends to steal one of the charging stations, skip the country and live off unlimited funds for the rest of his life. But the media has leaked news of the anti-crime signal one week before it was to go live… and now Graham and his team have just a few days to turn the heist of the century into the last crime in American history.

“I had met Sam’s producing partner, Michael Schwarz, at the recent San Diego Comic-Con, who loved the concept for The Last Days of American Crime” said Radical Publishing’s President and Publisher, Barry Levine. “I figured that since Sam had done three tentpole movies back-to-back with Terminator Salvation, Avatar and Clash of the Titans, that he would want the more character driven role of Kevin Cash, the sociopathic partner to Graham Bricke. Michael had set up a meeting between Sam, CAA agents Kimberly Hodgert and Jon Levin along with myself to discuss Last Days. During the two hour meeting, we hit it off and Sam had committed to both star and produce.”

Rick Remender commented with “Sam is the perfect guy for this. He’s a scene stealer, made up in equal parts charm and intelligence. Seeing him play violent sociopath safe cracker Kevin Cash will be a treat all the world will enjoy.”

Readers can preview the first 15 pages of The Last Days of American Crime on Radical Publishing’s MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/radicalpublishing

The Last Days of American Crime #1 appeared in the October 2009 issue of Diamond Previews and features two separate covers, one by Alex Maleev (DCD# OCT091056) and another by series artist Greg Tocchini (DCD# OCT091057).

The Last Days of American Crime #2 appears in the December 2009 issue of Diamond Previews and features two separate covers, one by Alex Maleev (DCD# DEC090978) and another by series artist Greg Tocchini (DCD# DEC090979).

 

Incarnate #1 Review

Incarnate #1 CoverIn the new tradition of musicians creating comics comes Radical’s Incarnate, from Nick (son of KISS’ Gene) Simmons, and I gotta say, it’s not too bad. This 3 issue mini-series is a reinvention of the vampire mythos, but before you roll your eyes at that notion, let me say that Simmons, as both writer and artist does a respectable job of breathing new life in to the undead.

It opens with one of preacher/poet John Donne’s works about death, from a few centuries ago, before revealing a naked boy eating a dog in an alley, while speaking lines like, “I am a bloodhound tethered to an invisible master.” Right off the bat, you know this isn’t a typical vamp comic.

Mot, the naked kid grabs some clothes off a hobo he’s just drained blood from before shooting Connor, a vamp assassin in the face, but it’s just a flesh wound. The pair then go to a club of vamps, or “revenants” as they’re known in Incarnate where they discover that their old foe Solomon Vane and his family are tracking them. Not only that, they’ve finally discovered a way to kill them. A battle comences with Vane’s eager general Vincent and an army of well armed soldiers but only Mot and Connor remain behind to fight them, and things don’t look good for the pair.

Incarnate is off to an impressive debut. It’s wildly different from any of Radical’s other offerings. Their painterly, serious approach is not taken here and this resembles a standard comic that you’d find from another publisher. Having Nick Simmons’ name on the cover certainly helps, as does the exposure its received on his family’s reality TV show. Not  alot is revealed about the revenants at this point. We know they’re immortal and treat humans with disdain, but that’s about it. Two more issues isn’t much at all to build upon that mythology, but perhaps if this series is successful enough, more will follow.

The manga influences are strikingly obvious, but Simmons makes it work. His passion for manga can be seen on every page, with flowing blood, speed lines and jagged panels everywhere. However, there’s a sense of clarity and purpose to the design. It never feels cumbersome and the story is satisfyingly streamlined. I can only assume Simmons is the primary penciller, as there is also an inker, a colorist and three assistant artists given credit. I’ve never seen that before, but Nam Kim is the only one given the honour of a cover credit besides Simmons’ name. However, from all the interviews I’ve read, and his appearance at Radical’s Comic-Con panel, this is Simmons’ show all the way. Considering this is his first comic as both writer and artist, he’s off to a good start. Hopefully with his name attached, and its manga flavour, many non-regular comics readers will pay attention and give Incarnate the chance it deserves.

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