Advertisements

Tag Archive: Simon Bowland


Review by C.J. Bunce

Number Six is dead.  Long live Number Six.

A new beginning arrived this year with a four-issue limited series for fans of espionage, spies, and 1960s television.  Fifty years after the series wrapped, The Prisoner returned, and the series is coming your way this month in a collected trade edition.  Written by Peter Milligan (X-Statix, The Mummy) and illustrated by Colin Lorimer (The Hunt, Harvest), with colors by Joana LaFluente and lettering by Simon Bowland, The Prisoner: The Uncertainty Machine introduces a new Number Six to the Village.  We previewed the first issue earlier this year, and the story over the next three issues wrapped this summer with a satisfying finish.  A cool, stylish re-introduction to the strange world from the original TV series, the new story is also completely updated for modern audiences while adhering to the mystery of the original.

Is Number Six experiencing any reality now that the recently ejected MI5 spy has been caught and tortured by the Village for his state secrets?  Or is each new journey toward discovery another tap of his mind by the torturers in this mysterious classical old town?  Could The Uncertainty Machine be swapped with a James Bond universe look inside the inner-workings of SMERSH or SPECTRE?  Maybe.  It also shares some of its style choices with the Kingsman series, and maybe even Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta and a British spin on Twin Peaks.  Spy genre, fantasy, science fiction, or all of the above, the four chapters deliver a smart follow-up to the original.

Milligan engages readers from the initial action sequence, and Lorimer’s re-creation of the Village is a perfect homage for fans of the original and the real-life location in Wales where the show was filmed, Portmeirion.  This Number Six’s partner was taken while both were on assignment with MI5.  Can Number Six confront Number One, rescue his partner and find his way to become the second agent to ever leave the Village, and the first to leave with his mind intact?  How does Number Two play into the story, and what about Number Zero?  It’s this kind of back and forth uncertainty that ties the book–and its title–together.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Review by C.J. Bunce

World War II is definitely a theme in popular culture these days.  Only in the past week we had a preview of Archie 1941, then a preview for Season 3 of The Man in the High Castle, and now a 1941 story featuring everyone’s favorite master spy.  James Bond is a young man trying to survive the Clydesbank Blitz in Scotland in the first origin tale of Bond years before his memorable stint in Her Majesty’s Secret Service in the new comic book series Ian Fleming’s James Bond Origin.  Issue #1 arrives Wednesday at comic book stores everywhere.  We meet the orphan Bond as a young adult, eager to learn more about his parents, already able to teach fellow students a course in judo, and eager to grab onto the coattails and seek the advice of the professors he has access to.

Written by Jeff Parker (Suicide Squad, Fantastic Four) with artwork by Bob Q (The Lone Ranger) and lettering by Simon Bowland (Plastic Man), the first issue of the story has the same feel of an untouchable oppressor from the sky as H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds.  Full of the action level we know from the Bond movies, the story is waiting for the hero to step in and take over.  How is James Bond of March 11, 1941 different than the Bond with the 00 status?  He has some rudimentary skills, he has the desire to learn, but he doesn’t have the confidence just yet.

   

The Clydesbank Blitz is the most  destructive attack by the Germans on Scotland, and Bond finds himself right in the middle of it.  The new series will be released this week with seven cover variants, with artwork by artists John Cassaday, David Mack, Kev Walker, Gene Ha, Ibrahim Moustafa, and Bob Q with Jordan Boyd.

Check out a preview from Issue #1 and all the covers (above and below):

Continue reading

The world first met Ian Fleming’s James Bond with the release of the novel Casino Royale in 1953.  That first Bond story would be adapted into a newspaper comic strip in the UK in 1958, followed by a film–a satirical comedy version–in 1967 starring David Niven, followed by a dramatic film version in 2006 starring Daniel Craig.  But it’s the print comic version, the newspaper adaptation, that received a new retooling of sorts this year.  Dynamite Comics tapped writer Van Jensen (Flash, The Six Million Dollar Man: Fall of Man), artist Dennis Calero (Masks, Kolchak), colorist Chris O’Halloran (Lockjaw, Black Panther), letterer Simon Bowland (Red Sonja, Judge Dredd), and vintage cover artist Fay Dalton (Worlds of Tomorrow) to deliver a 2018 update to Casino Royale for a new generation of readers.  The result is a rich and elegant new look at Fleming’s first Bond adventure.

From the look of Bond’s classic 1933 Bentley to the French casino where much of the story happens, the tone, mood, and style is fresh while also nostalgic.  Jensen balances the extensive dialogue from the original novel to avoid a graphic novel that is merely talking heads.  He is most successful at having Bond explain the rules of Baccarat to the reader via a conversation at dinner with M’s assigned companion for him, Vesper Lynd.  Calero’s Bond has the steely eyes of Michael Fassbender.  At the card table we meet some doppelgangers in this reader’s eyes: Grace Kelly as the American film star, Barbara Bel Geddes as the rich American, Philip Seymour Hoffman as the DuPont heir, Emma Thompson as Mrs. DuPont, Julian Glover as the Belgian, Nigel Green as Lord Danvers, Pete Postlethwaite or Titos Vandis as the Greek.  And in Le Chiffre we see a bit of Aleister Crowley (Fleming’s inspiration for the character) mixed with Orson Welles (who played him in the 1967 film), and a little JFK meets Brad Pitt for American CIA agent Felix Leiter.

O’Halloran’s minimalist use of color and Calero’s lack of background detail helps keep the reader engaged, and Calero’s work is particularly interesting visualizing Bond’s thoughts in a way that evokes a Bill Sienkiewicz style.  The characters are not reminiscent of actors who have portrayed them previously, leaving readers to experience this version of Casino Royale without any preconceptions, although this version may make fans of the original films wonder how Sean Connery would have played Bond in this tale.  The various lettering styles required of the text give more significance to Bowland’s part in telling the story, and O’Halloran’s colors definitely evoke a 1950s world.

Here are some pages from Dynamite’s Casino Royale:

Continue reading

  

Twice before comic book creators have tried to resurrect the popular 1967-68 Patrick McGoohan television series.  The first was created by comic book giants Jack Kirby and Gil Kane in the 1970s.  In an odd twist as strange as the series itself, the Kirby/Kane comics never made it to publication.  Lucky for fans of these creators and fans of the show, the 1970s story will be available later this year as The Prisoner: The Original Art Edition, including Kirby’s first issue, 18 pages of Kane’s artwork, and a contemporary follow-up story by Steve Engelhart that would have continued the series.  It’s available for pre-order now here at Amazon or from your local comic book store.  A second attempt at a comeback came in 1988-89 with the prestige format DC Comics mini-series The Prisoner: Shattered Visage With powerful artwork full of symbolism from Mister X creator Dean Motter and co-written with Mark Askwith, the series raised more questions, and was reprinted in a trade edition that is still available (here).

Today a new beginning is coming to comic book shops with Titan Comics next continuation of the series, 50 years after the series wrapped.  Written by Peter Milligan (X-Statix, The Mummy) and illustrated by Colin Lorimer (The Hunt, Harvest), with colors by Joana LaFluente and lettering by Simon Bowland, The Prisoner: The Uncertainty Machine introduces a new Number Six to the Village.  It’s a cool, stylish re-introduction to the strange world from the original TV series.  Milligan engages readers from the initial action sequence, and Lorimer’s re-creation of the Village is a perfect homage for fans of the original and the real-life location in Wales where the show was filmed, Portmeirion.  This Number Six’s partner was taken while both were on assignment with MI5.  Can Number Six confront Number One, rescue his partner and find his way to become the second agent to ever leave the Village, and the first to leave with his mind intact?

  

Here is a preview of Issue #1 of The Prisoner: The Uncertainty Machine, courtesy of the publisher, with six covers and two exclusives (one from Diamond/Vice Press/Chris Weston, and one from Big Finish), including a Kirby original (also seen in the forthcoming The Prisoner: The Original Art Edition), and a Michael Allred cover.  We also added a first look at later covers from the series:

Continue reading

mycroft-cover-b    mycroft-2

We’ve seen some celebrities turn to the unlikely medium of comic books to tell their stories recently.  First, we saw Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Darryl McDaniels turn to comic books to tell his own story under the DMC label.  Then Congressman John Lewis wrote a graphic novel about the civil rights movement called March–winning countless awards this year.  Now basketball legend and activist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has adapted Arthur Conan Doyle’s Mycroft Holmes into the next best steampunk comic book series.

Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook, co-created with writer Raymond Obstfeld, artist Joshua Cassara, colorist Luis Guerrero, and lettered by Simon Bowland, is the ultimate mash-up of 19th century science fiction and fantasy motifs.  Sherlock’s smarter brother has been kidnapped by Queen Victoria, tasked with deciphering a building full of broken doomsday machines capable of doing the unthinkable.  Think Warehouse 13, if a suave Brit (think James Bond), with a quirky analytical mind (think Doctor Who) is plunged into a world-ending event and an impossible task to solve.

mycroft-holmes-kareem-abdul-jabbar

Mycroft Holmes reads like Bill Willingham’s Legenderry–A Steampunk Adventure and Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, only with five issues to speed through the story the action is quick, the dialogue is brief, and the banter is witty and fun.  Abdul-Jabbar, who became a fan of reading Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories early in his NDA career, grew to become a connoisseur of 19th century fiction including Holmes and his infamous brother, enough to write the novel Mycroft Holmes–A Novel with screenwriter Anna Waterhouse, published last year.   Mycroft Holmes and the Apocalypse Handbook takes Mycroft on a parallel-world adventure from the Mycroft of Abdul-Jabbar’s novel.

Continue reading

The Bionic Man Volume Three End of Everything Gillespie Tadeo Mayhew Villegas Dynamite

Dynamite Comics’ The Bionic Man series, especially Issues #17-26, was among the best comic book reading of 2013.  They are now available in a trade paperback: The Bionic Man Volume Three: End of Everything.  Featuring a story by Aaron Gillespie, with art by Ed Tadeo and Rey Villegas, colors by Thiago Ribeiro, letters by Simon Bowland, and covers by Mike Mayhew with other regular edition covers and variants by prolific Dynamite Comics artists Jonathan Lau and Ed Tadeo.

The Bionic Man is a great read and recommended for comic book fans.  It features Aaron Gillespie’s storytelling, which we lauded on our borg.com Best of 2013 list last year.  It also has the whole package from cover to cover–story, art, covers, humor, action, and fun.  We won’t re-state what we said in our review last year–you can read that here.  Enough of the origin stories that bogs down superhero books, this Steve Austin was able to get out there and do something.

Bionic Man Issue 20 cover by Mayhew   JF Kennedy bread card 1976

The series featured some of our all-time favorite cover art, with a cover run on Issues #17-22 by The Star Wars artist Mike Mayhew.  Mayhew created a new, cool, young look for Steve Austin, who sported the classic track suit updated for a modern audience and fashion sense.  His Issue #19 cover has Steve holding a car over his head, and you get to really see the strength.  Probably his best cover is for Issue #20, an inspiring cover which reminds me of one of my favorite paintings of President Kennedy.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: