Armed Forces Day 2018

Today I attended the Armed Forces Day celebration at Cwmbran Community Council (of which I’m Vice Chairman) along with my Daughter Marianna. In spite of the heat it was a lovely service and flag raising ceremony paying tribute to the work of the brave men and women who make up our armed services, both in the UK and abroad.

Myself (looking like a plantation owner) Marianna, Various Councillors, members of the public and Children from Our Lady Of The Angels School

It was also nice to catch up with so many friends, colleagues, clergymen and members of the community, and the event was a credit to the councils staff for organising it.

Comic Review: Scarlet Traces Volume One

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I’ve really been getting in to 2000ad over the past few weeks, not just Judge Dredd, but a whole wealth of other worlds, stories and characters that have begun life on the pages of Britain’s longest running thrill power serial. So its no surprise that a good number of the 30 comics that I want to read before I turn thirty originally sprang out of those thrill laden progs. Scarlet Traces was on obvious choice to wind up on that list, it takes HG Wells war of the worlds, adapts it so you don’t even have to have read the original, and then provides you with a sequel, where we see a steampunk British Empire based upon reverse engineered Martian technology.

Volume One of Scarlet Traces is divided into two stories, the first is a very faithful adaptation of HG Well’s original War of the Worlds Novel, which is so faithful in fact, whilst reading it all I had going through my head was the music from Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds, I mean literally right from that very first “No one would have believed in the last years of the 19th century….” it was like I was seeing on page the very images that I imagined when reading the book (and lets face it listening to the CD) The Artist, D’israeli, manages to capture the whole victorian sci-fi epic, in quite an open way, his work is a little more cartoonish than I would usually like, but for this story it seems to work.


The Second half of this volume is given over to a completely new story set a decade after the abortive Martian invasion, and shows Britain entering a seemingly golden age, at least on the surface, thanks in no small part to the technology that the Martians left behind. But all is not ticketyboo in the heart of the undying empire, unemployment is rife, discord in the north is high, women are going missing and bodies are turning up in the Thames, Captain Robert Autumn, retired solider and adventurer,and his former Sergeant-Major Archie Currie are drawn into a mystery that leads them from seedy bars to the corridors of power and the very Hall of the Martian King.


Ian Edginton manages to create a whole world (well several actually) and begins to answer a good number of questions that Mr Wells left unanswered in his original manuscript. But whilst the HG Wells original does serve as a jumping on point for this creation, what it doesn’t do is rely too heavily on it to work as a sequel, it introduces completely new characters who work as the stories protagonists, and indeed its antagonists, and manages to actually sit there as its own thing, I mean you could quite easily remove the Wellsian parts and it would still sit as its own story, a story of the price of Empire and how that price is measured in blood and sacrifice. I greatly await the arrival of Volume Two (which I have already ordered), and hope it lives up to this first instalment.


Book Review: The Fight

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I don’t really like boxing, in fact I’m not much of a sports fan all around, so why I picked Norman Mailers in depth background of one of the biggest sporting events of the 20th century (The Rumble In The Jungle) as part of the thirty books that I want to read before I turn 30 now escapes me, but I’m very glad that pick it I did.

The Story is the first (and sometimes third) person narrative of Norman Mailer and focuses on the Title Fight between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali at Kinshasa in Zaire (Modern day Democratic Republic Of The Congo) in 1974. It follows Norman as he interacts with both Ali and Foreman, during training both in the US and in Zaire, right up until (and through) the fight itself. Mailer is able to paint a vivid picture of the time and place in which the fight takes place, and owing to his own relationships with the key players of this drama, and the access he is afforded as a renowned pressman with almost unfettered access in a country where freedom of the press is the freedom to get shot for a bad byline.

As someone who knows sweet F all about boxing Norman Mailer manages to actually engage the reader in the whole pugilistic ballet from “rope-a-dopes” to footwork he manages to make it wholly accessible to the know nothings like myself. Mailer really is able to show why he is the king of the “new journalism” genre. Its one of those books that I took a chance on, and its nice to see that the chance has paid off, I’m glad that I was able to cross this one off the list.

Comic Review: Nikolai Dante- Too Cool To Kill

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I hadn’t actually read any of 2000AD’s Nikolai Dante, beyond a few pages in an old prog that I picked up at a car boot sale many thousands and thousands of years ago. But because I’ve been getting into the best of British Thrill Power over the last few weeks, I thought, I can just stick with Judge Dredd and the varying spin offs, so I went right out there and picked up a copy of Nikolai Dante: Too Cool To Kill.



The story follows Nikolai Dante in the future Russian Empire, the man is the illegitimate son of the patriarch of the Romanov Dynasty and lady pirate, Nikolai discovers his heritage early on, after being saved from execution by the Tsar, this half suave, half sleazy thief is dragooned into serving the crown before betraying/ seducing the Tsarina Jena Markarov and  joining his true family to become the black sheep and the new most expendable member of the Romanov clan.

The story moves with a fast pace and is ably written by Robbie Morrison who in a short space of pages manages to build the world of the future Russian empire and lend life to this larger than life Lothario and create life for a whole host of other characters that feels completely fleshed out and natural, unlike so many writers whose background characters sometimes come across as two dimensional and flaccid.

I most be honest, I really am looking forward to picking up the next 10 volumes of this series, because this sometimes sleazy, sometimes suave and sometimes chivalrous son of a Romanov has already jumped into my mind as one of the best characters in comicdom, and why with a lot of other 2000AD work proves why British is best.