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  1. Darren

    Star Wars - the new canon

    Just one more, because I finished this last night, and I'm glad to say it carries on at the same level as the previous volumes and the related Vader collection above. It carries on directly from the last volume and now the story moves more into space, so there are lots of beautifully illustrated dogfights and gigantic explosions, which is always a good thing in my book. It seems like Gillen has a complete story planned out for his time on the main Star Wars series, and we are about halfway through, and it's all hanging together perfectly, including its links with the rest of the canon including his own previous Darth Vader series. Speaking of which, one thing that's occurred to me is that with all these links between different comics, they could all be full of call out boxes with "See Darth Vader #7 - Ed" etc. all over the place, but Marvel have wisely avoided that altogether, and worked on the basis that readers either recognise characters or events from elsewhere or they don't. Not knowing the links doesn't diminish the stories in any way, but I'm glad they've kept the cross-reference clutter off the rather beautiful pages. And speaking of beautiful, again I must say what a fantastic front cover that is. With this recent bunch of collected editions, Marvel are producing real top notch stuff.
  2. Darren

    Star Wars - the new canon

    Finally (for now) the third volume of Vader's current series. And it's another that keeps up its series' quality. Again this is set in the very early days of the Empire, but Marvel have been very clever with their concurrent series set in different time periods, because this ties in very closely with the events of the main Star Wars story "Mutiny At Mon Cala" - in fact they could be seen as two parts of the same story, set decades apart. Which also means I probably read them the wrong way round. But even so this is a great story in its own right, and as usual with this series it is full of insights into the young Vader's mind. Interestingly, as this is a little later on, his inner perception of himself has started to match his outer appearance, masked and armoured, even when thinking back to events that occurred before his immolation and "imprisonment" in his life-support apparatus. And just like its companion volume in the main Star Wars line - what a cover again! Spoiled by that blurb but you can't have everything. Oh and I should also say that this collection also includes a one-off story which links Vader to the events of the novel Catalyst, and implies that - no, I can't just say it like that. BIG spoiler alert! I make that four thumbs up and one meh out of five, which is a much better hit rate than Marvel were managing not too long ago. And long may it continue.
  3. Darren

    Star Wars - the new canon

    Another great one! This is the fifth and final volume of Poe's comic, and it keeps up the high standard that the series has maintained throughout. Best of all, this finale takes place after the end of The Last Jedi, so for the first time (I think) we're into truly uncharted territory, rather than filling in gaps between existing points. Having said that, a significant chunk of this is told in flashbacks, covering the events of The Force Awakens from Poe's point of view, including what happened to him between crashing on Jakku and reappearing on Takodana, before the story moves forward to what I think is the "latest" period yet covered anywhere in the new canon. But I have to mention the absolute best thing in this book: the first nine pages of issue 28, which is a conversation between two unidentified characters talking about the raid on Starkiller base, followed by the revelation of their identities on page 10. Again, it's something that can only work the way it does in comics, and it's utterly brilliant. As soon as I realised who they were, I went back and reread the entire conversation, as I'm sure most readers did at the same point. Those few pages alone make this essential, but the rest is top quality stuff too.
  4. Darren

    Star Wars - the new canon

    But this is much more like it! The previous volume of the main Star Wars series, @KieronGillen's first, was good, but this is even better. It still has the semi-photorealistic faces that I don't like much, but either I'm getting used to them or they're getting toned down a bit, either way I'm not so bothered by them any more. Story wise this is absolutely excellent, and it's full of the great dialogue and clever little touches that Gillen always produces. Plus! What a great cover for the collection. At last someone at Marvel is thinking about this rather than just (apparently) picking any old cover at random from one of the included issues and bunging it on the front. That would make a great poster, like all the best covers.
  5. Darren

    Star Wars - the new canon

    This was... OK. It's a prequel to the Solo film and given the character it's a pretty lighthearted romp. Lando quips his way through the whole thing, convinced as he is in the film that not only is he the best thing since sliced bread, but also it won't be long before the rest of the galaxy realises this. It has its moments but it's far from essential, although not actually bad. Having said that, most of those moments come from L3-37 so if you found her annoying on screen you're unlikely to enjoy this much at all.
  6. Darren

    Star Wars - the new canon

    I had another pile of Star Wars TPBs for Christmas, and whereas after my birthday I took my time and spaced them out over a few months, this time I've binge read them all over a few weeks (with 1.5 still to go) which means I'm going to have to write very cut down impressions of each one... or I'll be here all night. First up: This is really good - like the first volume it's about Vader in the very early days after his "creation," while he's still coming to terms with his new life. I won't say anything about the story but I will say that the best thing in this volume is its portrayal of Vader's "inner life," a vivid depiction of the way he perceives himself, quite different to the masked figure he presents to everyone else. It really takes advantage of the comics medium, and is quite brilliant.
  7. Darren

    What books did you read in 2019?

    I read Under the Dome a few years ago and thought it was great, although at the time I found the ending frustrating. But looking back I really like it - it might have been a bit clunkily done (I can't really remember) but the actual concept is brilliant. I'm avoiding specifics obviously. I think I'm trying to say is that, from what I've read, I like the baggy epic Kings as much as the short sharp Kings. But then again I'm one of those weirdoes who really enjoyed the last few Dark Tower books so feel free to discount my opinion as the ravings of a lunatic.
  8. Darren

    What books did you read in 2019?

    You’ll soon be way ahead of me then, I won’t be starting my next King for a few weeks yet. I like to read a few other things in between each one!
  9. Darren

    What books did you read in 2019?

    I’m very gradually reading all of King in publication order (in between other books), a project which will probably last the rest of my natural life, so the other Bachmans are on the list too, except Rage which isn’t available anywhere and which I’m happy to ignore on the basis that the author has effectively disowned it.
  10. Darren

    2000AD & The Meg

    Without giving anything away, WOW WOW WOW at this month’s Lawless. It’s always the best thing in the Megazine but amazingly it got even better. Meanwhile over in 2000AD Brink continues to be stupendously great. What a zarjaz time to be alive.
  11. Darren

    Star Wars Episode IX (December 2019)

    Arthur “Two Sheds” Jackson
  12. Darren

    What books did you read in 2019?

    I finished my first book of the year the other day: The Long Walk by Richard Bachman aka Stephen King. I would have finished it much sooner but I didn’t read for a whole week while I had flu and couldn’t concentrate on anything! That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. Anyway, The Long Walk is a bit of an odd one. It’s very readable although it doesn’t make perfect sense; there are hints that it takes place in an alternative dystopian America but these are never properly developed so you don’t get a sense of the context in which the walk takes place; and like many King books the ending is quite anti-climactic, although I did like the link on the last page to the Dark Tower. But on its own terms, as a tightly focused story of a group of teenage boys taking part in what is basically the ultimate game show (or what would now be the ultimate reality show) and gradually realising the reality of what they’ve committed themselves to, it’s a success. All these boys volunteer to be one of 100 randomly chosen participants, knowing full well that 99 of those 100 will not survive to the end, because they’re teenage boys and all think that they’re effectively immortal. The whole thing could be read as a Vietnam parable, with the state literally killing its own young, cheered on by the general public, but it’s not necessary to do so and it definitely isn’t laboured. It works like the best King stories, through its characters, and this is as good a bunch as any: flawed, and ultimately doomed.
  13. Darren

    New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe (2019)

    I think I finished this on the Wii U, or got very close to the end at least. I remember thinking it was easily the best of the New SMB series and possibly the best 2D Mario ever. I loved it so much I bought the limited edition Luigi disc rather than just the DLC, only to find it was hard as nails and fail to ever even reach the first save point.
  14. Darren

    Now TV

    If you have Now TV but haven’t watched the Leftovers, sort that out this instant!
  15. Darren

    Best one hit wonder of all time

    So Tenpole Tudor wasn’t a one hit wonder? You'll be telling me next neither were Sigue Sigue Sputnik.

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