Thursday, 22 March 2012

Review of SUPER DINOSAUR, VOLUME 1 by Robert Kirkman and Jason Howard (Image Comics, 2011)

Super Dinosaur, Volume 1

Bought as a Christmas present for my son, I couldn’t resist reading this myself. Tapping into many boys’ love for big reptiles and even bigger battles, Super Dinosaur relates the adventures of juvenile genius Derek Dynamo, son of Doctor Dexter Dynamo, and his best friend, the anthropomorphized, weaponized Super Dinosaur (SD for short!), a relatively small, genetically engineered T-Rex who fires missiles frequently, wears gym shorts occasionally and bathes when necessary; but who, despite his bravado, is a sensitive, sometimes lonely soul. Conspiring against this team are black-bearded villain Max Maximus and his band of playfully named dino-men: Tricerachops, Breakeosaurus, Dreadasaurus and others. Conspiring against everyone is The Exile, a sinister figure with a grudge against humanity. As anticipated, the action is almost constant; onomatopoeic explosions crater the pages. The artwork is crisp, the colors bright, the detailed illustrations of SD’s robotic suits and gizmos particularly appealing, and the story touches on some pertinent political and personal concerns—ageing, dementia, bereavement, environmental damage, nuclear war—in a way younger readers will identify with. And it ends with an unexpected twist which will leave them eager for volume two…

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Review of TRIBESMEN by Adam Cesare (Ravenous Shadows, 2012)


Both a tribute to the cannibal exploitation films of the 1970s/80s—Cannibal Holocaust, Eaten Alive, Cannibal Ferox et al.—and a unique yarn in its own right, this novella, set mainly in an eerily quiet jungle on an unnamed Caribbean island, explores what happens when people suffer for the sake of art, when yelling “cut” is not enough to stop the carnage. The cast of characters, a group attempting to make a cheap B-movie, ranges from the loathsome—Tito Bronze, racist sleazebag and director of “blood and beaver pictures”—to the loveable—Cynthia, a timid actress who finds her courage. The story is brisk and precisely plotted. Each chapter switches to a different character’s point of view, heightening the tension and creating a very cinematic feel. And unlike a great deal of genre fiction, this doesn’t overstay its welcome; the whole thing can be read in one long sitting. Horror fans, especially, will find a lot here to please the palate: skinned corpses, maidens on stakes, anatomically twisted natives whose speech sounds like bad dubbing, a pig-head hat, good old fashioned people-eating and, most importantly, a memorably hair-raising finale that will whet their appetite for whatever dish, human or not, Cesare cooks up next.