Category Archives: best of

My ‘rambling’s on one of my favourite bands, ‘Red Sky July’…

I have been a fan of Shelley Poole (below, centre) for a very long time, ever since she was one half of Alisha’s Attic in the 90’s, through her solo career, to her current incarnation as one of the members of her latest band, Red Sky July (RSJ). As a teenager I was a huge fan of Alisha’s Attic and I wish I’d seen them live, but the only gig I could’ve attended unfortunately took place during a planned vacation. Luckily for me her new band, with Charity Hair (below, right) and her husband Ally McErlaine (below, left) from Texas (the band, not the place), have given me a chance to keep up to date with her endeavours and to enjoy what she is currently doing. And what they are doing is pretty fantastic!

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So, right off the bat I would say that everything RSJ has done is worth your time, though I obviously have personal favourites. RSJ make country music, but not American chart Country music, this is real country music, stripped down and beautiful. Their first, self-titled album is gorgeous, with ‘Morning Song’ (they happily tell fans at gigs  that this was their first collaboration and the reason the band began) and ‘Loving You’s Easy’ as stand out tracks, though you may struggle to find a physical copy as I think it has sold out. It is, however, available digitally (http://tinyurl.com/zzv8ejr). Their second album, Shadowbirds (http://tinyurl.com/h28w3kl), is superb and is mine and my wife’s favourite album of the three and songs like ‘Renegade’ and the title track stand out.

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Their third, ‘The Truth and the Lie’, aims more for the mainstream audience and succeeds in changing their sound for this market, though I personally prefer the more stripped down versions when we see them play live. Standout tracks include ‘Sway’, which is stunning, ‘Jetrails’ and the title track. They then returned to what they do best with ‘Voyager’, a six track EP available online only (http://tinyurl.com/jk2e637). I would say that their albums now rank among my wife and my favourites of the last few years and make for great driving music too! Shelley’s solo album, Hard Time for the Dreamer (http://tinyurl.com/j555c5k), is also an absolute gem but, like with their eponymous debut, you might have a hard time finding it for a reasonable price.

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Seeing these guys live is an absolute treat though, unlike some of their truly dedicated fans, I have only managed to see them at the Green Note in Camden. This tiny little café can’t hold more than a few dozen people and my wife, my family and I have seen them play several times in this most intimate of settings. They are sat on a small stage literally a few feet away from the crowd and they engage and banter with the audience in an incredibly intimate way. The only other time I have ever come this close to a band was seeing Powderfinger at the Birmingham Carling Academy, who filled stadia back in Australia, and being in the second row in the audience. Like that, seeing RSJ in such a remarkably small space is a true delight.

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The other thing that I love about RSJ is their attitude towards their fans. You will never see more fan service than their gigs at the Green Note, especially their wonderful Christmas gigs, where you’ll also hear their lovely Christmas song, ‘Save Christmas Day For Me’ (http://tinyurl.com/ho3bth2). Shelley, Ally and Charity will happily sign anything you ask, they’ll take photos with you and Shelley also takes an interest in her fans, getting to know their lives. The one disadvantage that I am at is that my parents have become bigger fans of RSJ than my wife and I, as we were at somewhat of an disadvantage living in Canada from 2010 to the end of 2014. My mother and father saw them many more times during that period than we were able to and so now have a closer relationship with the band than I do. Grumbles!

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If you have any interest in great music, if you like supporting wonderful bands, or you simply want to see a superb live show, then I would recommend you give Red Sky July a go. Tickets for the Green Note shows disappear astonishingly quickly so act quickly if you want to see them there. Otherwise check out their albums and gigs at other venues! Cheers!

 

My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, now has TWELVE reader reviews with an average of 4.4 stars and is available from all electronic retailers. It’s sequel, ‘Jesus Returns: here he comes again’, will be out soon! Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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My review of ‘Star Trek Beyond’…

This time I’m reviewing Star Trek Beyond, the latest in the rebooted franchise and, as with my other movie reviews, I will be talking about the events in this movie (such that they are) so this review comes with a SPOILER warning. If you don’t want the movie spoiled then please read no further. Otherwise, onto the review…Oh, one more thing. There are quite a few acronyms in this review, sorry about that, but it’s necessary, I think. Right, the review!

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I’ve been a fan of Star Trek since I was a teenager. Watching The Next Generation (TNG) at 6pm on BBC2 was something I loved and ‘The Best of Both Worlds’ (BoBW) remains two hours of the finest TV I’ve ever seen and the only part of TNG that I think still holds up really well today. Watching Picard become assimilated by the Borg was a seminal moment in my TV education and the seventh movie, First Contact, is not only my favourite Star Trek movie (yes, I know ‘Wrath of Khan’ is the better movie but I still enjoy First Contact more) but one of my all-time favourite movies. It helps that I saw it for the first time with my best friend and my brother and that we were the only people, besides a cinema staff member, in the screening. That was a fun experience!

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My wife and I are also big fans of Deep Space Nine, I’ve seen it several times through, and actually we recently finished watching the series from the beginning again. DS9 has an impressive story arc, along with wonderful characters and, like BoBW, ‘The Way of the Warrior’ is also incredible TV. I never got on with Voyager and Enterprise is bloody awful, slow and pointless in my opinion. As for the movies, well The Motion Picture is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, as are the Search for Spock and the Final Frontier, but Wrath of Khan, Voyage Home, Undiscovered Country and the aforementioned First Contact are all superb. The entire run is something of a mixed bag and the movies that I haven’t mentioned are not really worth worrying about.

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As for the rebooted franchise, well I have enjoyed it so far. I have seen each in the series in the cinema and I found the first to be an enjoyable romp of a movie that successfully brought Star Trek back to the mainstream, something that I thought would be quite difficult to do. Into Darkness continued that trend of pleasing both mainstream viewers and fans of Star Trek like myself, though I have seen reviews that have said that it divided fans. I liked that movie (especially as I hadn’t realised that Cumberbatch was Khan beforehand) although I did have a few little niggles (Tribbles, I’m looking at you!) and  a friend of mine gave an impressively thought out dissection of the movie some time ago that did make me question whether it was as good as I had previously thought. I could find no flaws with his arguments either.

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When I first heard that they had given the next movie to Justin Lin, the director of one of the Fast and Furious movies, I was concerned (and the trailers did little to assuage my concerns) but the reviews (including that of my go-to movie critic, Mark Kermode) were pretty decent and it seemed to be going down well with the reviewers. How wrong they were. Star Trek Beyond is bloody awful. It is a garbled mess of a movie with almost no discernible storyline and pretty much nothing of note or value. Yes, seeing the Enterprise destroyed is entertaining, but the trailer had completely spoiled that and we’ve seen it done before anyway. The villain (ably played by Idris Elba) is even less developed than those in the past two movies (why are ST villains always so one-dimensional, except Khan of course) and the plot is completely nonsensical. As for the plot-holes, well you’d need some sort of plot to worry about the holes in it and what little there is, isn’t worth mentioning.

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But to give you an example of how awful this movie is, I offer this. There is a climactic scene where Kirk and his crew face the fleet that destroyed the Enterprise. And they do so in an ancient, wreck of a ship. This insurmountable foe is overcome by the application of the Beastie Boys ‘Sabotage’ track. Now, I have no problem with this, it’s silly goofy fun. What I have a problem with is that these ships, which are connected via radio waves, seem to spontaneously explode once their connection is cut. No explanation is offered and I think we are meant to assume that the ships that explode are crashing together. Yet, when this effect is shown again, the ships genuinely seem to be spontaneously combusting. This is awful storytelling that neatly fits with how ramshackle the rest of the plot is. Things like character development are ignored or placed into the category of ‘is that even what that character wanted’ an example being when a prominent female character is offered a place at the academy. Did she even want to go, was that mentioned, because I never heard it?

My biggest problem with Beyond is that it is just incredibly boring and though there seems to have a lot going on onscreen, it failed to engage with either me, my wife or my family, and I wonder how that is possible. The one moment that I enjoyed, when Spock looks at a picture of the Original Series crew, relied entirely on your affection towards said crew to get an emotional reaction. It worked for me but it did so because of my connection to those movies, and not because of Beyond, and also that I was aware that most of the actors in the picture have now passed away including, most recently, Leonard Nimoy. And when a movie has to rely on your feelings about characters in previous entries, then it is certainly failing.

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The last time I was this disappointed by a movie that I paid to see in the cinema was Jurassic World, another turgid, mess of a movie, and that time, as with this one, I saw the movie with friends and family on a group outing. I wish I hadn’t paid to see this terrible movie and I certainly will not be ever watching it again. I have better things to do with my time and better movies to see and I would recommend that you do the same. To paraphrase Spock in Beyond, this movie is ‘horseshit’. Well put, sir, well put!

 

My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, is available now from all electronic retailers. Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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My ‘rambling’ review of Neil Gaiman’s ‘The View from the Cheap Seats’…

In case it isn’t quite clear from my previous ‘rambing’ blog posts, Neil Gaiman is probably my favourite author. I have loved his work for as long as I can remember from reading his and Terry Pratchett’s ‘Good Omens’ in the 90’s as a teenager, to discovering ‘The Graveyard Book’ in my local library many years later, I’ve always read everything of his that I can get my hands on. I’ve enjoyed all of his novels and most of his short-story collections, as well as his excellent comics especially Sandman (which I will be buying in the beautiful omnibus edition when funds allow). I’ve never read anything of Gaiman’s that I didn’t find to be beautifully written and that I didn’t take a lot away from. Anyway, onwards to the review!

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‘The View from the Cheap Seats’ is a non-fiction, mish-mash of many random things such as the introduction to books written by friends of Gaiman, including the late Terry Pratchett, to blog posts taking in such topics as his appearance at the Oscars (from which the title of this book is taken) or a heartbreaking visit to Syria, to musings on friends like Charles Vess or Dave McKean and with ‘View’ Gaiman’s passion is clearly on display. He writes about things that matter to him and that he wants you to care about and everything written by Gaiman is worth reading, in my opinion.

I would always recommend reading Gaiman’s work but ‘View from the Cheap Seats’ is something a little different, something that may be passed over by readers of his due to the fact that it’s not a work of fiction. I would urge people to not do that. Find the time for this sizeable tome, you won’t be disappointed and a lot of worthwhile information will be conveyed to you. I also felt with this volume that Gaiman was almost reading these exchanges to me (as it often feels like when you listen to his audio version of Neverwhere) and that was something I enjoyed very much. He is a writer who is always looking to improve, always striving to be better, and someone who does not want to stay still for too long, nor to repeat what he has already done, something which many writers seem to settle into once a certain level of success and fame is reached. Reading Gaiman always makes me want to be a better writer and I think that is one of the best things about reading his work.

When my wife and I recently saw Gaiman and Amanda Palmer in a New Statesman event, several things stood out. One is how unbelievably talented this pair is (but also how hard they work) as well as how much they adore each other. Second, they obviously give a shit about the world around them and want to do what they can to improve said world. Gaiman’s visit to Syria, and subsequent appearances on news networks, as well as his blog post (which is included here) demonstrate that he would very much like to contribute to both the conversation and to finding a solution to the problems of the world. And given the state of the world, I think most of us know how he feels.

I got the copy that I read from my local library (something I’m sure Gaiman would like) but I may at some point pick up a copy of this book if only to, hopefully, get it signed (along with my hardcover copy of Graveyard book, which I treasure) as well as to work my way back through the frankly ridiculously long list of authors that Gaiman talks about. From Ray Bradbury to Brian Aldiss and many other names along the way, the book could potentially provide you with an impressively long reading list. I will be endeavouring to find the time to add some of these authors to my to-read list, though I have no clue when that will happen, given the stack I seem to permanently be attempting to tackle

I think it’s fair to say that Gaiman is an influence on my writing, probably my biggest influence, and I strive to one day write as well as he does. Maybe if I keep going that will happen. Eventually. ‘Only an atheist’ has already been compared to Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett by a reader who reviewed it and I hope that something I write will be compared to Gaiman. Until then, I shall also strive to be the best writer I can be, to aim to keep improving, and to repeat myself as little as possible. In this, Gaiman provides a role model and for that, as much as for his writings, I am grateful. Cheers!

 

My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, is available now from all electronic retailers. Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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My ‘rambling’ review of Terry Moore’s ‘Rachel Rising’…

So, in case it’s not clear by now, I absolutely love comics. I read as many as I can get my hands on, I have a subscription to Marvel Unlimited (which is well worth the money (http://tiny.cc/m2s3cy)), I borrow what I can get from my local library (which, unfortunately, isn’t much compared to the last city I lived in) and I buy what I can afford to. My preferred means of collecting is in big, beautiful hardcovers, though I am now buying more trades in an effort to support creator-owned series like Bitch Planet, Rumble, Monstress and quite a few others. And every now and then a series comes along and stuns you with its brilliance, like this one. Anyway, onwards…

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Rachel Rising (I’m gonna call if RR for the rest of this post) is a wonderful, independent comic series written and drawn by Terry Moore and I just love it! And one of the best things about it is that my wife also adores it, even more than I do I think. There aren’t that many series that we agree about or where she refuses to let me read the latest volume until she has done so even when I was the one who ordered and paid for the bloody thing! Anyway, RR recently concluded and, when I received the last volume, I started the entire run from the beginning again. It reads incredibly well this way but I had to wonder where Moore had found the time to do everything that he does on this book and release it in a reasonable schedule! It’s staggering how much of his work has gone into this one man show from the writing to the drawing and the covers (as well as, presumably, the editing). His work rate puts the rest of us to shame!

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RR follows our titular character as she wakes up in a grave having been strangled to death. Well, wakes might not be the right word and the question of whether she’s actually alive or dead is never really answered during the series. Not that that is a problem, Moore simply keeps that issue in the background as he explores the rest of his diverse cast from Rachel’s best friend, Jet, to her aunt Johnny to Zoe, a homicidal little girl. RR isn’t afraid to show the darker side of the world and features the highest body count in a small town that I think of besides a movie like The Crazies. And I love the inventiveness that Moore displays in dispatching his characters in all manner of ways. And, oh, the ending of the series. This is how you stick the landing, people! RR reminds me of other brilliant horror comics like Locke and Key where the writer understands exactly how much time they need to tell the tale and they don’t feel the need to go any further. And then you miss it so much when it is done…

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If you like horror comics, or series that are a little different, ones that aren’t afraid to do unusual and epic stories, then you’ll like RR. If you’re a fan of creator-owned tales where the writer is free to cover whatever material they like and do with their characters as they wish, then read RR. As a writer of atheist fiction that explores ancient archetypes, I especially liked how Moore played with religious characters like Lucifer and Lilith and how the entire story tied into tales eons old.

You may have to go a little out of your way to find RR as it’s not available at the usual online sources but you can find it on the Forbidden Planet website. Or you could, you know, go out and find your local comic store and support them instead. RR is well worth the effort! Now, I just need to meet Mr. Moore at a convention, get my trades signed (consider parting with more hard earned cash to get the hardcover) and get a convention sketch of Rachel or one of her co-stars and all will be right with the world. I look forward to it!

 

 

My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, is available now from all electronic retailers. Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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Ramblings: My Current Favourite Marvel Comic Series!

So, for the past few months I have had a subscription to Marvel Unlimited and this has proven a very wise investment indeed. As a result I have enjoyed a significant number of series that I would not have otherwise read, as well as all of those that I would likely have hunted out anyway. What can I say, I’m a big fan of comics! And seeing as I’ve written a few Ramblings about which series are my favourites I thought I would continue in that vein. This post is about the best comics currently being published by Marvel. I doubt I will be able to write a similar post for either DC, Dark Horse or IDW as I do not read enough of their output to compile such a list. I love Hellboy and the associated series at Dark Horse but I can’t think of any others that I read from them and DC has published almost unrelenting bleakness since the New 52 began. I enjoy Scott Synder and Greg Capullo’s Batman, and I want to read both Stewart Cameron’s Batgirl and Tim Seeley’s Greyson, but I can’t think of any others that I currently love from that company. I also read Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye and Zombies Vs. Robots from IDW but that’s about it. And I’ll likely compile a list of my favourite Image comics series as they publish a lot of excellent material but for now onto my favourite series from Marvel.

Right, so here is the list: Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, Loki: Agent of Asgard, Thor: God of Thunder, and Secret Avengers. Now, I am aware that two of these series have the word Marvel in their name and that several have either completed their runs as single issues or will shortly do so. But I don’t buy or read them as singles and there is delay on issues arriving on Unlimited. And most still have trades to be released or have just released their final book and so I will ignore that discrepancy.

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OK, so first up is Captain Marvel, written by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Christopher Sebela with art by several artists including Dexter Soy, Scott Hepburn, David Lopez and quite a few others. I have loved this series since the very first issue, through the continual relaunches, and finally to its conclusion at the start of Secret Wars. The thing that defines this series above all else is its grounding in character and the way in which the story is told with warmth and heart. I love it! I believe Captain Marvel will be relaunching sometime in the near future with a new writer and I am looking forward to reading the new take on the series. But I do not expect it to be the same and I have to say that as I read the last page of the final issue, before the series was folded into Secret Wars, I was very moved by its conclusion. I would also recommend that you check out DeConnick’s other series like Bitch Planet and Pretty Deadly. They are both highly enjoyable!

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Moving on, Ms. Marvel, from the pen of G. Willow Wilson with art principally by Adrian Alphona was a surprise hit. A series about a young, Muslim girl who becomes an inhuman and then takes on the mantle of Ms. Marvel does not sound like the easiest sell to comic book fans but this series quickly found its feet and audience soon after launch and that is a good thing indeed. For it is wonderfully told with a remarkably authentic voice that combines the kick-ass approach of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with humour and wit and cultural authenticity. Kamala Khan is a fantastic superhero and the series will soon be relaunching with a new number 1. So you have no excuse for not giving it a go!

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Next up we have Loki: Agent of Asgard. Now, I have been a fan of Loki from his depiction in Journey Into Mystery, written by Keiron Gillen, through Young Avengers, also written by Mr. Gillen, and now in this series written by Al Ewing with art principally by Lee Garbett. In my opinion, Ewing has done a phenomenal job of sculpting a brilliant, literary comic that builds on all that has come before whilst keeping Loki as the mischievous scamp we know that he is (well, sort of!). This series has recently come to a conclusion with the start of Secret Wars and I have actually finished the run, but I don’t mind cheating and including it on this list. It’s well worth a read, as are Journey Into Mystery and Young Avengers, so go find them and I hope that we will see Loki return in his own series again soon!

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Fourth on my list is Thor: God of Thunder. In my opinion the main Thor series has had its ups and downs since J Michael Straczynski’s seminal run and, though I enjoyed Keiron Gillen’s run (he’s on this list quite a few times, eh!), I was less impressed by Matt Fractions’ handling of the series, which was surprising given the quality of his Invincible Iron Man run. But Jason Aaron’s series since the relaunch has been nothing less than stellar. With stellar art from Esad Ribic, Ron Garney, Agustin Alessio and more recently Russell Dauterman , Aaron has built an impressive, epic story that culminated in the son of Odin losing his hammer.  And now that the son of Odin is no longer Thor, with an at-first unnamed lady wielding the hammer, the series has continued to impress.. I can’t wait to see what Aaron does next!

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Finally we have Secret Avengers in its most recent incarnation. Following on from the series’ helmed by Ed Brubaker, Warren Ellis, Nick Spencer and most recently, Rick Remender, Secret Avengers by Ales Kot is unlike any of these. Kot’s SA is brilliant and bonkers and quite hilarious, with a distinctive art style, as we follow the misadventures of Maria Hill, Hawkeye, and Phil Coulson among others. With art by Michael Walsh, Secret Avengers is laugh-out-loud funny (no, seriously!) with heart and pathos and the tragically short run, is quite fantastic. I hope Marvel collects it in a shiny hardcover, I’ll buy it!

Now, I know that I have cheated a little by having a few series that have actually finished their runs as singles, and even on Unlimited, and I think I will write another of these in a while once I’ve had a chance to read some of the series that are coming out following Secret Wars. I will also eventually compile a list of my all-time favourite series published by Marvel though it might be quite tricky to pick only five series. For now though I recommend that you read the series listed above as they are excellent and easily found by either purchasing a Marvel Unlimited subscription, which is an incredible bargain in my opinion, or by picking up the trades from either your local comics store or by borrowing them from the library. You won’t be disappointed (I hope!).

Check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on comics, politics, self-publishing and my novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’ which is out now at all electronic retailers! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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Ramblings: The Movies of Matthew Vaughn

So in keeping with this, the subject of this week’s blog post is the movies of Matthew Vaughn. Now, most people are likely not familiar with this particular director and producer for I do not think he is a household name. But in my opinion he should be as the movies that he has made and directed are of the highest quality and I’m sure that most of you have seen or at least heard of some of them. They are Layer Cake, Stardust, Kick-Ass, X-Men First Class, and Kingsman: Secret Service. He has also been active as a producer for many movies including Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch and The Debt among others.

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In my opinion the five movies that he has directed are all excellent. Layer Cake is a fun, gangster movie that was released in the 90’s and is among the best of the gangster movies released during that period and it stars Daniel Craig as he tries to leave the world of drugs behind him. Stardust is an incredible fairytale where we follow Charlie Cox’s character Tristan as he tries to retrieve a fallen star for his beloved but things take an unexpected turn when he finds that the star is a young lady in the form of Clare Danes. Kick-ass is a movie where our young hero, an ordinary boy played by Aaron-Taylor Johnson, dons a cape to fight crime and consequently gets his ass kicked (see what I did there!). X-Men: First Class is an incredibly fun X-Men movie that deals with the early formation of the team and stars James MacAvoy and Michael Fassbender as a young Professor X and Magneto respectively. Lastly, Kingsman is a James Bond-esque style movie, starring Taron Egerton, that cleverly parodies Bond without ever becoming too ridiculous and features incredible action sequences (I’m looking at you, church sequence) as well as the heart that I feel is characteristic of Mr. Vaughn’s movies.

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Now, one of the really remarkable things about the movies of this particular director is that, in my opinion, three of the five movies are better than the source material on which they are based. And that is not an easy thing to do especially more than once. How many examples are there of movies that are thought of as better than the books that they are based on rather than the other way around? I am sure there are some, but I think the weight is rather balanced in the opposite direction. Now, I have not read the Layer Cake novel so I cannot comment on that. And I like the works of Mark Millar and enjoyed the graphic novels that Kick-Ass and Kingman were based on but there are other books from this author that I prefer such as Chronanauts and Jupiter’s Legacy. And I think both movies are far superior to their source material. And I am also a huge fan of Neil Gaiman, as you can tell if you read my previous posts, but even in the case of Gaiman’s brilliant book I feel it has been adapted into a truly magical movie.  Actually, Stardust is one of my favourite movies of all-time.

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Kick-Ass actually nicely illustrates my point. Matthew Vaughn, along with Jane Goldman on writing duties, has adapted a well-respected, but particularly brutal graphic novel, into a superb movie with a hell of a lot of heart, which I feel the comic lacks, and considerable panache. In my opinion Kick-Ass is a seriously brilliant movie. Vaughn and Goldman then pulled the same trick again turning Kingsman, an enjoyable graphic novel also from Mark Millar, into an incredible, spectacular adventure that parodies Bond with aplomb. And Kick-Ass 2 then aptly demonstrated what happens when these two are not involved. You get a movie with all of the brutality of the source material, but none of the style and heart that Vaughn and Goldman bring to the project. Kick-Ass 2 is a steaming pile of shit of a movie, a turgid mess that did not understand what made the first film so fantastic. It looked at its predecessor and thought it understood what made it so wonderful but it did not. And we got something that was just horrendous.

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So, I guess that the point of this (always) Rambling blog post is that, if you don’t know the movies of Matthew Vaughn, then I would recommend that you hunt them out and watch them. Each is excellent, directed with a hell of a lot of style and heart and they are some of my favourite movies. And once you’ve seen them tell your friends and families how great they were and then maybe this director will get some of the acclaim that I feel he is due. And I eagerly await Kingsman 2, which is out in 2017. I actually wish that Matthew Vaughn made movies more frequently than he does but then his films are of such high quality that I guess I can endure the wait. Besides, I can always watch them again on DVD, as I often do. His directors commentaries are also a lot of fun. Check them out too but only once you’ve seen the movies. You won’t regret it!

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Check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on comics, politics, self-publishing and my novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’ out now at all electronic retailers! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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Ramblings: My all-time favourite comic book series

So, I recently posted an article detailing my five favourite currently running comic book series, and now I thought I would turn my attention to my all time favourites, the only rules being that these series cannot be the same as those in my last list and also that they must have concluded. So Saga, Mind Mgmt, Astro City, Transformers More than Meets the Eye and The Fade Out aren’t here. Instead we have Locke and Key, Starman, The Unwritten, Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers and Gotham Central. These are the series that I consider to be the best I have ever read and my absolute favourites. Right, let’s get on with it…

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First up we have Locke and Key and if there ever was an argument that a series should not use fill-in artists then this is it. Written by Joe Hill, son of Stephen King, and drawn by Gabrielle Rodriguez, this incredible series follows the Locke family as they move into a new house following a bereavement and find all manner of interesting keys scattered around. And these keys can do amazing things like allow your spirit to leave your body or open up your head so you can either put in or take out information. Locke and Key is a horror comic that is unafraid to take us to scary places and both the writing and illustration work wonderfully well to create an incredible series. Now that the run has ended you can buy it in beautiful hardcovers and race through the series without the delays that the individual issues suffered from. In my opinion this is probably the finest comic book series that I have ever read, I love it!

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Next up is Starman. Published between 1994 and 2001 by DC comics Starman, was written by James Robinson with art by Tony Harris and then Peter Snejberg. The series follows the adventures of Jack Knight after he inherits the mantle of Starman following the death of his brother. This is very much a series that deals with family and legacy and the overarching story is very impressive. If you like stories, as I do, with a definite start, middle and end, then this is one for you and, like Astro City, this is super-hero comics done right with gravitas and heart and character deaths that hit hard. It’s brilliant stuff! There was also a 12-issue follow up starring the anti-hero, Shade, which is also excellent.

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Third we have the Unwritten. Now I find this kind of a hard comic to describe. This creator owned series was published by Vertigo and written by Mike Carey with art from Peter Gross. We follow Tommy Taylor, a clear analog of Harry Potter, as he battles to discover who and what he is and how to win the war that he was created by his father to fight. He is joined in this battle by two friends and a plethora of other characters, including a particularly foul mouthed rabbit who used to be a man, as they battle Count Ambrosio, a clear analog of Lord Voldemort. This series is literary comics at its finest, brought to you by the writer of the wonderful Lucifer series, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Read it people!

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As with the previous ‘best of list’ comics I published, there is one Transformers series on here. The Last Stand of the Wreckers was published by IDW Publishing, the current holders of the license, and was co-written by the current writer of Transformers: More than Meets the Eye, James Roberts, and Nick Roche, who also shares art duties on the series with Guido Guidi. Last Stand is brilliantly bonkers and brutal story telling that is filled with insanity, excellent character work (and deaths), with artwork in the distinctive Nick Roche style. This series also brought us the talents of James Roberts and a sequel is now in the pipeline with the first issue due in November. I look forward to it!

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Finally, we have Gotham Central. This was a police procedural comic that focused on the lives of the officers of the GCPD and how they cope working in a city as demented as Gotham. Now Batman certainly does feature, but the series is not about him, it is about the police officers and their support staff. As a result the storytelling is very grounded, in the way that the main Batman series often is not, and it is more interested in the lives of its subjects than in Batman’s opponents. Written by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka with art from Michael Lark, Brian Hurtt and Kano, Gotham Central is a wonderful example of something unexpected that unfortunately didn’t find the support it needed at the time. It is now highly respected and thought of very fondly and the entire run is about to be released in a beautiful hardcover. I can’t wait to pick it up!

Now, there are obviously a few series missing from this list that others might take issue with. These include classics of the genre like Watchmen, Sandman, Dark Knight Returns and so on. I’ve read all of these and I agree that they are excellent but this is my list and they are not my favourite comics. Series that could also have been on this list include the brilliant Planetary, Transmetropolitan, Sleeper (or nearly anything from Brubaker and Phillips), Lucifer, and many more. As I’ve said before, I love comics and this won’t be the last time that one of my blog posts talks about my favourite series and the comics that I would encourage you to read. In fact, the next time I talk about comics it will be to tell you which are my favourite Marvel series currently being published. Until then, go out and read the ones above, You won’t regret it!

Check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on comics, politics, self-publishing and my novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’ which is out now at all electronic retailers! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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