Monday, 28 September 2009

Dinosaurs and Barbarians!

Not in the same comic! At least not this time... (Are there any comics that feature dinosaurs fighting barbarians? I’d read them). I’ve only just got round to spending my birthday money and you’ll be seeing the results of that, here, over the next few weeks. First up is...

‘Flesh’ – Pat Mills, Kelvin Gosnell, Massimo Belardinelli & Ramon Sola (Rebellion Books)

Dinosaurs fighting cowboys, does it get any cooler than that? I don’t think so... If you’re still doubtful then take a look at this and see if it changes your mind (you might need to click on the picture to enlarge),

I told you! (Although I’m still not sure about furry Tyrannosaurs...) If you’ve ever wondered why the dinosaurs died out then their being farmed to provide meat, for the people of twenty third century earth, is as good an explanation as any other. An asteroid striking the earth and wiping out the dinosaurs? Pah! Give me time travelling cowboys every time! This trade paperback collects ‘Flesh’ books one and two, not only do you get rampaging Tyrannosaurs (book one) but you also get giant scorpions and sea monsters for your money as well. All of this is drawn with real power and verve by Ramon Sola and Massimo Belardinelli (already a favourite artist of mine from his work on ‘Slaine’ and doing himself every favour here).
There’s a great pulp feel to the storyline (it’s dinosaurs fighting cowboys, what do you expect?) but Mills has also got a cautionary tale going on under the surface. There are some things mankind just isn’t meant to meddle with and nature will always find a way to tip the balance in its favour (even when it has been dead for sixty five million years, I loved that bit!) ‘Flesh’ is a storming read that hit the spot on every level and was heading for top marks... until I realised that one of the pages had been printed twice, at the expense of another page entirely. The flow of the tale came to a crashing halt and I had to get my head together before continuing. It’s not the story’s fault it was published incorrectly but the bottom line was that it was incomplete. Check this out before you buy your copy! I’ll be keeping my eye open for a corrected version that I can buy in the future (and it will more than likely get full marks then).

‘Conan the Cimmerian #14’

So there I was in Forbidden Planet (returning my copy of ‘Flesh’) and a quick glance over the shelves showed me that the latest issue of ‘Conan the Cimmerian’ was available for my reading pleasure. I didn’t hang around, buying a copy and reading it on the train back to work. It’s been a while since I’ve read them but Robert E. Howard’s ‘Conan’ tales (as enjoyable as they were) always felt a little heavy on the ‘Conan’ focus and subsequently a little light on the world building. The comics, that I’ve read, make up for this by fleshing everything out and giving Conan more of a backdrop to work against. Everything is well rounded and #15 is no exception to the rule; Conan’s stay in Khoraja (after the events of the ‘Black Colossus’ storyline) is examined in more depth and we also get to see the ramifications of last year’s ‘Cimmeria’ storyline play out in Conan’s home village.

I was a little taken aback by the sudden change in artists, I’d become used to Giorello’s work. Joe Kubert and Tim Truman (artist as well as writer!) are worth sticking with though and I liked the way that each artist took on half of the story to draw; this really set the two storylines apart from each other. If I had to choose right now I would say that Truman’s art did it for me, on a first read, but Kubert’s work ran a close second! We’ll see if I feel the same after a re-read...

As far as the storytelling goes, both Ben and Tim Truman show that the series is in safe hands for as long as they decide to take it forwards. It’s another highly entertaining read, roll on next month!

Nine out of Ten


Jim Haley said...

I suppose Turok: Dinosaur Hunter doesn't really count. He's not a Barbarian - but a time-travelling Native American Shaman.

Mardel said...

I can't think of Conan without thinking about Arnold Schwarznegger, and he's our governer now, so it's even worse for me...... ugh.

The cover's not so bad though!