30 Before Thirty (Comics & Graphic Novels)

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I’m going to be thirty in just over 2 years and at this moment in time I’m OK with that (how I feel about it in 10 minuets is up for debate) but one of the things that I realised is that there are a fair few things I still want to accomplish whilst the career and social goals are somewhat out of my control things like films I want to see, albums I want to listen to and books I want to read are very much in my control, especially as I have 25 months to accomplish it. Here is a list of the Comics and Graphic Novels that I would like to have read by the time I’m thirty.

Grant Morrison’s 18 Days

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Camelot 3000

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Miracle Man: A Dream Of Flying

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All Star Superman 

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Preacher: Gone To Texas

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The Crow

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Sandman Preludes and Nocturnes

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Alan Moore’s: Saga of The Swamp Thing

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Marvel 1602

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Saga: Volume 1

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 The Order: Die Mensch Machine

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The Complete Scarlet Traces 

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Button Man

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Ronin 

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Superman: Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow 

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The Infinity Gauntlet 

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Amazing Spider-man: Kravens Last Hunt

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Promethea Book 1 

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Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus 

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Multiversity 

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Son Of Superman 

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Hellblazer: Original Sins 

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The Authority: Relentless 

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Hellboy: Seed Of Destruction 

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Doctor Who: Emperor Of The Daleks

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Death: The High Cost Of Living  

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JSA The Liberty Files 

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Alice In Sunderland 

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Daredevil Yellow

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The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch

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How many of these do you think I’ll get done before July 21st 2019?

30 Before I’m Thirty (Films)

Congratulations Mr Trump (2)

I’m going to be thirty in just over 2 years and at this moment in time I’m OK with that (how I feel about it in 10 minuets is up for debate) but one of the things that I realised is that there are a fair few things I still want to accomplish whilst the career and social goals are somewhat out of my control things like films I want to see, albums I want to listen to and books I want to read are very much in my control, especially as I have 25 months to accomplish it. Here is a list of the films that I would like to have read by the time I’m thirty.

How Green Was My Valley 

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Gentleman’s Agreement

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From Here to Eternity

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Gone With The Wind

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Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

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West Side Story

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Lawrence of Arabia

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Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf

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Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner

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Funny Girl

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Fiddler On The Roof

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All The Presidents Men

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Milk

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Kramer Vs Kramer

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Terms of Endearment 

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The Cider House Rules

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An Education

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The Wolf Of Wall Street

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Guardians of the Galaxy 2

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Moonrise Kingdom

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Saving Private Ryan

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Going In Style 

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Wall Street

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King Ralph

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Planes Trains and Automobiles

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O Brother, Where Art Thou?

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The Monuments Men

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Good Will Hunting

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Good Morning Vietnam 

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This Is Spinal Tap

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How many of these do you think I’ll get done before July 21st 2019?

WW3 Is Probably Around The Corner

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The situation in Syria at the moment is beginning to look like a complete clusterfuck, its a war on all fronts, Assad being backed by the Russians is butchering his own people, who in turn are being butchered by The So Called Islamic State who are also fighting Bashar Al Assad’s forces not to mention the omnishambles that is combined joint task force under operation inherent resolve (seriously who names these things, they might as well have named it the Coalition Kick Ass and be done with the thing).

Without going into why Assad is attacking his own people or why the Russians are backing him or how and why an organisation of so called Islamic terrorists got involved (beyond saying they’re opportunist scum looking to gain a foothold in the region amid the carnage) suffice to say the latest developments of the saga read like the prologue to some dystopian epic the likes of which Phillip K Dick or George Orwell would have loved to receive credit for.

Assad has once again turned illegal chemical weapons on his own people, the very people he should be protecting, and in response to this, the United States Of America under Donald Trump has launched 59 missiles aimed at key targets in response. However in response to America’s response Vladimir Putin has mobilised the Navy of The Russian Federation The frigate Admiral Grigorovich RFS-494 has moved into in the area from where the missiles where launched. Supposedly with the aim of visiting a Syrian naval base, but something about this whole thing sets my teeth on edge.

It just seems like the opening salvo of what could potentially be a very dangerous course of action from both sides. I mean its like the bay of pigs or Sarajevo in 1914. All these parties have allies and this just seems to be the first pebble that begins an avalanche, Assad bombs his own people, so America bombs Assad’s operations in Syria, then what happens next, does Russia stick up for its ally and Attack America? Then do America’s Allies from the coalition join in? Would Britain, France, Germany and The Netherlands then commit ground troops to the situation and being a long protracted fight on three fronts? I don’t know. But I really hope to any pantheon of gods out there that this doesn’t happen and that it isn’t the case. Who knows, maybe this missile strike will give Assad pause and call back his forces and focus on fighting and expelling ISIS rather than putting down half-hearted rebellions.

Lifting The Veil On Politics: The USA

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This is the second of a series of posts trying to de-mystify politics for everyday people.

No matter where you are in the world you undoubtedly hear a lot about American politics. You cant turn on a screen without seeing President Trumps tangerine visage plastered in front of the press, with quotes snapped right from his twitter feed running around the blogosphere for years to come.

But what do you actually know about the system that put Trump in the top office?

The federal government of the United States is split into 3 branches, The Judicial Branch (The Supreme Court and the Lower Courts), The Legislative Branch (which is split into the United States Senate, which has two senators from each state, and The United States House Of Representatives which has 435 members from congressional districts, these two institutions are collectively known as the United State’s Congress). And thirdly the Executive Branch (the offices of the President and The Vice President of The United States).

The reason for the separation of powers between the three branches of government, was to create a series of checks and balances, so that no one branch of government could become more powerful than the other. For example the President can veto a bill from congress, the congress can vote down legislation introduced by the president, or the courts, when petitioned, can decided that legislation is unlawful or not in the spirit of the law.

The federal government is based upon the written constitution of the United States, which sets out the way the government should be run, the power of state legislatures, as well as the rights bestowed upon citizens of the country.  There are currently 27 amendments to the constitution, the first 10 of which make up the bill of rights, and the others deal with issues such as suffrage, presidential term limits and successions, congressional salaries, and the prohibition/ reinstating of alcohol.

State Legislatures

American law can get a little confusing to outsiders, because there are different laws for different states so you actually have 51 different sets of laws for one country. But its actually no different from the way the UK is set, federal government in Washington devolves law making responsibility to local state legislatures, the same way that the UK government devolves law making powers to the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales. These state legislatures will make laws on many things such as education policy, traffic laws and even controversial things such as gun regulation, gay marriage and drug decriminalisation.

The state governments are governed in much the same way as the federal government, The governor of the state will be held accountable by the state senate and both can be held accountable by district courts and the supreme court.

Hopefully that helps shed some light on the way that laws are made across the pond.

The Lazy Ramblings Of A Lazy Guy (On Being In Love)

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I was recently introduced to the Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Fellow by Jerome K Jerome. The book consists of 14 essays on 14 topics

  1. ON BEING IDLE.
  2. ON BEING IN LOVE.
  3. ON BEING IN THE BLUES.
  4. ON BEING HARD UP.
  5. ON VANITY AND VANITIES.
  6. ON GETTING ON IN THE WORLD.
  7. ON THE WEATHER.
  8. ON CATS AND DOGS.
  9. ON BEING SHY.
  10. ON BABIES.
  11. ON EATING AND DRINKING.
  12. ON FURNISHED APARTMENTS.
  13. ON DRESS AND DEPORTMENT.
  14. ON MEMORY.

Jerome K Jerome is pretty much me down to a tee. He’s lazy and just writes whatever comes to mind. He doesn’t care who he offends, and I often felt that he may have been somewhat high when he picked up the pen. But Mr Jerome has inspired me, so I am going to be writing a series of posts on the topics that Mr Jerome turned his hand at. (I know I’m ripping the guy off, but quite frankly I don’t care)

On Being In Love 

Have you ever seen someone and known that they would be a terrible distraction to your life. That was how I would describe it, that feeling of knowing that this person is going to really change your life. That knowledge that this is going to be massively inconvenient.

That’s how it all begins then you slip into it, the early days are all wine and dinner and flowers and dancing, but then comes the big pants and netflix, the cups of tea, the farting and the lack of make up, if you can get through that, that is true love. The enduring real world version of the thing.

Foreigner wanted to know what love is, well its two people who have decided to just give up and settle with each other because they find the other person somewhat less detestable than the rest of humanity, that my friends is love.

This is the second in series of posts ripping off the work of Mr Jerome K Jerome and his seminal piece The Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Man.

 

The Lazy Ramblings of A Lazy Guy (On Being Idle)

 

The Man Down My Local (1).pngI was recently introduced to the Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Fellow by Jerome K Jerome. The book consists of 14 essays on 14 topics

  1. ON BEING IDLE.
  2. ON BEING IN LOVE.
  3. ON BEING IN THE BLUES.
  4. ON BEING HARD UP.
  5. ON VANITY AND VANITIES.
  6. ON GETTING ON IN THE WORLD.
  7. ON THE WEATHER.
  8. ON CATS AND DOGS.
  9. ON BEING SHY.
  10. ON BABIES.
  11. ON EATING AND DRINKING.
  12. ON FURNISHED APARTMENTS.
  13. ON DRESS AND DEPORTMENT.
  14. ON MEMORY.

Jerome K Jerome is pretty much me down to a tee. He’s lazy and just writes whatever comes to mind. He doesn’t care who he offends, and I often felt that he may have been somewhat high when he picked up the pen. But Mr Jerome has inspired me, so I am going to be writing a series of posts on the topics that Mr Jerome turned his hand at. (I know I’m ripping the guy off, but quite frankly I don’t care)

On Being Idle

Laziness is both a blessing and a curse, there is nothing more satisfying than spending a day lazing about on the sofa, especially when you know that there are plenty of more important things that you could be doing, and therein lies the curse. Having to put aside that bliss, can prove difficult and indeed a real hardship and can even lead to outright resentment. Or at least this is how I feel. I’ve now reached the point where I actually hate to have to do things. When people interrupt my doing nothing I really do get a little bit angry about the whole thing.

Since the advent of the internet the whole staying in thing really has taken off, with the world of online streaming services and takeaway foods that you don’t even have to speak to people to get, the world of insular laziness has actually become more and more of a easy thing to achieve.

Laziness and indeed idleness itself is a state of mind, its where you sacrifice any sort of social life just to achieve the pleasure that comes from doing nothing. It’s hard to get into the head space required to want to do nothing but watch Game of Thrones in your pants while eating cereal straight from the box.

There are some people who couldn’t be lazy if their lives depended on it. They just lack that lack of drive. They have too much motivation, too much determination to just get things done. The world would stop without those people, without them we wouldn’t have anything. But thanks to those people the rest of us, those lazy fellows can enjoy the things those great enablers have given us. Thanks to them we can vegetate until we fuse to with our sofas, until bed sores set in and until we have to wash ourselves with rags on sticks.

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The world takes a dim view of laziness, but to those who say this is say to you…meh I’ll tell you later.

 

This is the first in series of posts ripping off the work of Mr Jerome K Jerome and his seminal piece The Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Man. 

Smackdown On Potomac

So the bad news from last week is that the orange beast, Donald Trump, won the election to become President Of The United States. I’ve written about Mr Trump’s extremist policies in previous posts. Now however he may have actually done something that I approve of, well something I don’t overly disapprove of at any rate.

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Linda McMahon and President Elect Donald Trump

Mr Trump has put forward a name for the position of secretary of commerce. Linda McMahon, the former Chief Executive of WWE. Sources close to the Trump team have suggested the potential appointment.

On the face of it this seems like a bad idea, cronyism and nepotism at its best, Mr Trump’s links with the McMahon family are well known, with Mr Trump actually being a member of the WWE hall of fame, and footage of Mr Trump’s ringside antics played throughout the campaign. However, when you look at it in depth the logic behind the decision starts to shine through.

As Secretary of Commerce, Mrs McMahon’s role would be to promote American businesses and industries. Along with her husband she has grown the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) into a company worth over  $600 Million, with assets both stateside and abroad. And whilst her political credentials are somewhat lacking, she does have the business acumen both domestically and overseas to actually be a candidate worthy of consideration. Another consideration to mention is her media profile, which is a positive, the WWE is a major media operation and she was at its head, and at times in the past she has even been an on screen presence, and this will only serve her well in the position.

One final consideration is that Mrs McMahon is a woman, and from President Elect Trump’s view, handing out a high level cabinet position to a woman could do a lot to help repair some of the damaging rhetoric of his campaign, and may even bring in a few more women voters for the 2020 elections.

Opera, An Aide De Small Talk Guide

One of my more obscure passions is opera. I know what you’re thinking, that this is a pretty weird thing for a man in his 20’s to be into, but there you have it, I am enamoured  with those foreign subsidised vowels. I’m not sure how my love of the art form came about but it is something I’ve indulged since my teens, leading my mother to be possibly the only parent ever to yell up the stairs “WILL YOU TURN DOWN THAT F***ING OPERA” to which I would invariably turn it up louder.

So here is a little look at 5 operas designed to give you something to start off with.

Pagliacci:

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Pagliacci is a fairly short Italian opera by  Ruggero Leoncavallo which premiered in Milan in May 1892. It follows the tale of the jilted clown Pagliacci and his quest for revenge on his cheating wife and her lover. As an opera in two acts the High point of the piece from my point of view, comes at the end of act one, where the great clown, upon discovering his wife’s infidelity begins preparing to take the stage for the evenings performance, it’s beautiful, haunting and really moving.

HMS Pinafore:

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H.M.S Pinafore is a comic opera in two acts by the British duo Gilbert and Sullivan. This opened at the Opera Comique and had an original run of 571 performances. The story takes place aboard the ship HMS Pinafore. The captain’s daughter, Josephine, is in love with a working class sailor, her father intends her to marry the slightly inbred First Lord of the Admiralty. She goes along with her father’s wishes, but her fiancee’s  advocacy of the equality of all man encourages Josephine to overturn conventional social orders and plans to elope with her true love Ralph. As with most Gilbert and Sullivan operas it feels like a pantomime, especially being in English. The best part from my point of view is the song He Is An Englishman, it evokes a national pride in me (even as a Welshman) and is both stirring and rousing at the same time.

Cavalleria Rusticana 

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The Cavalleria Rusticana is an opera in one act by Pietro Mascagni adapted from a play and short story written by Giovanni Verga. It premiered in Rome in 1890 and since 1893, due to its relatively short length, has been performed with the aforementioned Pagliacci. The story is a pretty simple one, a young farmer goes off to war, while he’s away his fiancee gets married to another man, he comes back and meets another woman, his married ex doesn’t like it, they begin an affair, then the cuckolded husband and the jilted rebound girl team up for revenge and like any good opera ends in tragedy. You may recongnise this particular opera from The Godfather Part Three. I think the best bit musically would actually be the Intermezzo, and the this opera was actually the first opera recording that I ever purchased on CD (the Maria Callas version).

Carmen

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Carmen is a four act opera by the French Composer Georges Bizet the opera was first performed at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on 3 March 1875, the song Habanera from act 1 and the toreador Song from act 2 are among the best known of all operatic arias. The opera is written in the genre of opéra comique with musical numbers separated by dialogue. It is set in southern Spain and tells the story of the downfall of Don José, a naïve soldier who is seduced by the tempestuous gypsy Carmen. José leaves his childhood sweetheart and also deserts from his military service, however he loses Carmen’s love to the toreador Escamillo, after which José  then kills her in a jealous rage. The depictions of everyday life, immorality, and lawlessness, and the tragic death of the main character on stage, broke new ground in French opera and was highly controversial at the time, however managed to draw in non french audiences and proved extremely popular outside France, a fitting legacy for Bizet, who died after the productions 33rd performance, never knowing the success it would gain.

Der Ring des Nibelungen

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 I’m cheating somewhat as Der Ring Des Nibelungen is actually a cycle of four operas composed by Richard Wagner, comprising of Das Rheingolfd, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung. The plot revolves around a magic ring that grants the power to rule the world, forged by the Nibelung dwarf Alberich from gold he stole from the Rhine maidens of the river Rhine, intended to rule the feminine multiplicative power by a fearful magical act termed as ‘denial of love’. With the assistance of the god Loge, Wotan – the chief of the gods – steals the ring from Alberich, but is forced to hand it over to the giants, Fafner and Fasolt in payment for building the home of the gods, Valhalla, or they will take Freia, who provides the gods with the golden apples that keep them young. Wotan’s schemes to regain the ring, spanning generations, drive much of the action in the story. His grandson, the mortal Siegfried, wins the ring by slaying Fafner (who slew Fasolt for the ring) – as Wotan intended – but is eventually betrayed and slain as a result of the intrigues of Alberich’s son Hagen, who wants the ring. Finally, the Valkyrie Brünnhilde – Siegfried’s lover and Wotan’s daughter who lost her immortality for defying her father in an attempt to save Siegfried’s father Sigmund – returns the ring to the Rhine maidens as she commits suicide on Siegfried’s funeral pyre. Hagen is drowned as he attempts to recover the ring. In the process, the gods and Valhalla are destroyed. The musical high points of this saga are too numerous to mention, but most will be familiar with the piece the Ride of the Valkyries (of Apocalypse Now fame).

Hopefully you’ll all go out and immerse yourself in these great works of art, but at the very least I hope this little guide may come in useful if you ever need it for small talk, are dragged to one by a would be suitor or even need an answer in a pub quiz.

 

 

Seeing Red (Razors) A 2000ad Review

What sounds better than making criminals pay for their crimes, by actually making them uphold the laws that they have broken? This is the concept of Red Razors. Brainwashing dangerous criminals into becoming the police force of Russia in the late 22nd century, what could go wrong?

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The series focuses on Razor’s the first of the Red Razor’s rehabilitation program, a former member of the Red Death gang, Razor’s is finally brought to Justice by Chief Judge Yeltsin, who after extensive surgery puts Razors to work cleaning up the streets of East Meg Two (the last population centre of a future Russia ravaged by nuclear war). Razors is a accompanied by his partner Ed, the talking horse.

Mark Millar (Civil War, Kick Ass) has managed to show a society that is overrun by violent crime, corruption at the highest levels, and the complete Americanisation of the world, there are lots of little nod’s and satirical references throughout, such as John Major’s Stand Up Comedy Club, the Mcburger and the Church of Elvis which left this hound dog chuckling right in the face of Armageddon and the violence that ensues, when the OAP KGB get their hands on a nuclear device supplied by a Mr Huggy Bear.

Steve Yeowell provides excellent art throughout and it really is quite well complimented by Nigel Dobbyn’s work in the second half of the book.

It was bloody, violent, shocking and managed to highlight the effects of capitalism on countries that aren’t used to such things as freedom of choice, this is why I devoured the book in one sitting and was then sad to find that that was itfor the Red Razors, hopefully one day there may be a sequel.

(Stop!) Lilyhammer Time!

Yesterday I began watching Lilyhammer, The Netflix original series. The premise is a fairly simple one, but also delightfully original.

A mafia wiseguy breaks the cardinal rule of omerta (a code of silence about criminal activity and a refusal to give evidence to the police.), gives up his new boss to the police after a botched assassination attempt, then decides to undertake his witness protection in Lillehammer, Norway.

As you can imagine there are a lot of cultural misunderstandings, and a Steven Van Zandt’s character Frank finds that his bulldozerish manner won’t fly in the face of Norwegian bureaucracy.

I do feel that this could have actually been a sequel the sopranos (where Steven Van Zandt played Silvio Dante) and has so far been a pleasure to watch.

I like the mix of Norwegian and English and it really is nice to see something aside from the norm.