Reviews

BOB LANCE #1: THE ROUND TABLE


Love the cover.  Like the way the king looks as though he is looking past Lance and is thinking: "Is that man drawing us??" The printing is exquisite with sharp black on white and the art itself might be called by some trendy idiot "old school". No computers used to draw anything and you are looking at the work of a skilled artist who knows how to use negatives (b&w), cross-hatching and shading effectively -Luciano Bernasconi, of course, created the legendary character Wampus.


Although Bob Lance was created in 1970 by Pier Carpi and Bernasconi none of the work has dated -the art is in fact better than in some modern US comics. And since the action is set in the past that certainly is not going to be a drawback. In fact Bob Lance became one of Hexagon's most popular series and now English readers can get in on the fun. If you've always been interested in European comics but the foreign language put you off along with ordering from overseas -no more!

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DICK DEMON: VANISHING POINT


There are some nice character twists here and it's good to see the world Demon will be inhabiting built up and it will be interesting to see how the character evolves.

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DRAGUT / SCARLET LIPS


Shape-changing beastmen, pirates, vampire and magic. Come on that has to have raised your interest somewhat...if not...are you dead??
Lofficier seems to the the traditional comics writer -able to turn scripts out for any period or scenario and make them interesting and fun.  Macall must be enjoying himself as an artist;he has taken us to the past, present and future and possibly all three in one story! It does give me hope for at least good comics coming from Independents when I see things like this.  


If you do not get in on Hexagon Comics now you will be sorry when they take off and you'll be paying flippers 2-3 times the cover price for a "key" issue. Considering the absolute mess Marvel Comics made of the recent Avengers "Enter the Phoenix" storyline it is a breath of fresh air to read things that make sense and are not just wasting paper. Recommended.

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THE ENCHANTERS


When Jean-Marc Lofficier asked whether I'd like to see some of the new English language editions from his Hexagon comics I hesitated (about 1.3 seconds in fact). You may well think that if these characters have a fifty year old history it will be a nightmare to know who is who or does what. I know something about the characters but even I was wondering whether I might have to start looking things up. No worries.


The character are introduced and even origins given and it was all done so smoothly that it was enjoyable and never distracted from the story itself. What did it remind me of? The great type of stories that Marvel Comics produced in the Silver and Bronze ages.  Gabriel Mayorga's cover has that kind of vibe to it and his work inside on chapter 1 cannot be faulted. Unlike a lot of current Marvel books I did not have to look at pages or panels twice to see what the hell was going on. The pages are clean and uncluttered. Easy on the eyes and help the story flow.


Roberto Castro's art for chapter 2 is a style change but it works and I love it. If I could afford to pay artists then this is one of the styles I would go for. Lovely.
The one thing with black and white artwork is that you get to see the details that color tends to swamp out -DC Showcase The All Star Squadron is an example: I knew the art was good (I have a complete run) but when I saw it in b&w it looked far better. Mayorga and Castro are both wonderful artists.
The story by Lofficier is what you might expect: a great yarn with good characterization and steadily paced action. I read this book at 01:00 hrs and all morning I was going back over the story in my mind and looking at the art again....seriously, if you want a good read and good art as well as something that seems fresh I recommend this book highly (I don't tend to do this very often).


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THE FRONTIERSMEN / CODENAME: GLORY

Manuel Martin Peniche's work kept reminding me of something then it struck me: the old black and white Marvel comic magazines of the 1970s/1980s. Look at that cover image of the Frontiersmen -last time I got this excited about a group of hombres slapping leather (oh, behave!) was when Carlos Pacheco drew Two-Gun Kid and others in Avengers Forever.  Why is it that Marvel cannot produce these types of comics today because this was fun...and that final panel!

Of course, Mayorga on Code Name: Glory works his wonderful style and I have a feeling that Soeurette is going to find her wish of "just being a singer" thwarted in future. These books have been like a breath of fresh air and though they may not be in comic stores (for various reasons) you can buy them straight from Amazon where ever you are and that's a good way to buy (unless you miss the smell of sweat and musty books in comic stores).

Again, a book I would recommend.

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GALAOR


The Isle of Doom uses some very vibrant colours at just the right points to great effect and, of course, it co-stars Futura who I first came across in the Strangers... Seeing Futura in this was a bonus and, again, the book has more mature scenes. Galaor's origin is fast paced enough but I think, for me, the all out winner in this book has to be Lagrid Princess of Mu. The art is great and the colour work cannot be faulted and is on a par with the quality you expect from Cinebook.  There is no question of the packaging and printing being anything but top quality and each story begins to fill in gaps and help build a universe that I hope is going to be around for a very long time to come. Recommended.

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GUARDIAN OF THE REPUBLIC / BARBARELLA


To be blunt this book was like the good old Marvel comics of the 1970s when things happened that you never expected. Did I expect that the Guardian of the Republic was going to find a home in the future? HOW does he find a home in the future? Its a greal twist...but it does involve Barbarella.  Yes, the Barbarella!


It is a fun adventure and José Luis Ruiz Pérez's artwork fits the bill here. I mean, great art combined with a murder mystery a "resurrected" hero and the sexiest adventurer of the sci fi world ("You are very handsome, Maxine. I'm sure we'll ghet along famously") how could you go wrong? This is what comics should be and offer more than reboots or dark misery. Byan Wetstein's colour work is incredible in this.

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4 Stars - Comixology/Amazon


This is a fun read, but when compared to Dynamites very first issue of Barbarella, which I covered months ago. This is a much cleaner story in that it has been toned down, which is not a bad thing given that its a holiday special, which means it needs to be a bit more inclusive. That said. It doesn’t stop Barbarella from being true to the character that she is and although I’d figured out who the murderer was well before the issue concluded. I still enjoyed the story and the various character interactions.

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GUARDIAN OF THE REPUBLIC & DRAGUT & SCARLET LIPS & TIME BRIGADE


The Necromancer has launched a campaign to kick Europeans out of America -imagine the way that might alter everything today. Conquistadores, giant robots and some epic battles with three heroes thrown into the mix and Macall draws it -that is bound to be a winner! Imagine you lived through three years of that,  What a sory to share with friends.  Except a certain Time Brigade erases your memory of the events.  Some of my fondest Avengers comic memories are when some of the team journeyed back to the Wild West -it was fun to read. This story may not contain Marvel's Avengers but it is just as much fun.


In all honesty, if you do not buy these books now it is no good in a few years time finding out how good they are and then pay the extortionate Ebay or Amazon prices to buy copies! If you want fun and action buy today!

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GUARDIAN OF THE REPUBLIC & KIT KAPPA & NIGHT PRINCE


You could describe this as a sort of Captain America-Master of Kung Fu team up.  The Guardian of the Republic pops up all over the Hexago line and there is no reason why he shouldn't really and it would be nice to see him mentioned more in comic forums where, unless it is an American created DC or Marvel character, "foreign created" characters never get a look in. The art is crisp and clean black and white with some grey tone and to be honest I think any regular reader of CBO knows that I am going to say that this was a great fun read. You will not be disappointed. Just look at this artwork.


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GUARDIAN OF THE REPUBLIC & PHENIX & SUPER-PATRIOTS


No kidding. Kudley Koala. He's there on the cover -look!  Liked Macall's work from when I saw it a few years back now on Strangers amongst other titles.  "Super hero slug-fest" might about cover this one and, yes, I am still someone who appreciates Macall art. "Big Bad Ben" from London? It could have been worse! But it is all fun and I think that most of us need spome fun and escapism these days. You want some super hero action then buy this book.

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GUN GALLON


It suddenly struck me while reading this that Macall's work looked similar to a UK artist of the 1980s -John P. Welding. This is interesting book and has a definite "old feel" to it which works considering its subject matter. More Sword and Sorcery meets Flash Gordon it is enjoyable and has a lot of nice detailed artwork to carry along Lofficier's story smoothly. If you want to have a change from Marvel, DC or Image then give this book a go -in fact you would be treating yourself in buying some of the other titles already detailed on CBO.

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HEXAGON COMICS: THE FIRST 70 YEARS!

This book was certain;ly an eye-opener for me and the contents had me flipping back and forth through the pages.  The creator biographies are always welcome if you have a genuine interest in comic book history -photographs of the creators are very welcome because you may see the name and the art style that goes with a name but there is nothing like the words "Oh. So that is what he looks like!" Nice especially since a good number of these creators are no longer with us. There is plenty -plenty- of artwork as well as stripwork. You get to see the "generation 1" creators -the originators- and "generation 2" the new blood that are taking Hexagon into the 2020s!

It is always a very nice surprise when you have been reading and collecting comics as long as I have to find new characters, creators and comics. I know that there are other old companies around the world but how many ever feature in books or even online? Timely became Atlas and Atlas became Marvel Comics and National Periodical Publishing became DC Comics but Hexagon was and is Hexagon!

Even if you are not interested in the history then the characters are some of thwe most unique -such as Wampus. But if you just love looking at different art styles and page layouts this book has that. I just cannot recommend this book enough-it is pure comics joy and I am still browsing through it and how can you ignore that cover?!

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HEXAGON GROUP #1: THE DARK HIVE

There is some character information so you don't sit there thinking "Who's this?" -in fact, you could just take these as new characters. The artwork within compliments the stories superbly. Honestly, I never read the story until my third pick-up of the book. I was dealing with another computer breakdown and glanced at the cover of this book and next thing I knew I had forgotten the PC! The art, especially by Berger, is superb. This is what Harrier Comics could have been. The art is so smooth and detailed and the printing quality is so good that panels pop out at you.

I will be honest with you: I have only been really excited  three in the last few decades when it came to new comics. Once was in the 1970s with Seaboard's Atlas Comics and the other time was in the 1980s when Archie brought out its Red Circle Comics and the 1980s Hong Kong Jademan Comics. Since then things have just plodded along. Is it weird that at my age I am now getting so excited by a new (rejuvenated) line of comics?  Please do yourself a favor and try a copy of this book. I hope it might spark fresh enthusiasm in others.

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HOMICRON #1

Strangers had an English language six issue run through Image Comics a few years back. The stories are good, there is almost a Captain Mar-Vell (original)/Green Lantern thing going on here but with European style and flair.  Now this one ought to appeal to comic fans who are into super heroes but have not tried a Euro comic. A cosmic super hero, evil aliens –it’s got the lot. The art on the original strip I liked so I was dreading getting to the up-dated stuff –some times there’s a bit of visual jarring when you get used to the original art and suddenly there is a new artist with a new style.  In fact, the new style works and there was no visual jarring to confuse my old mind.  Italian artist Lina Buffolente created Homicron in 1972 and is one of those Italians working in comics that we in the UK never hear of (there were Italian artists working in UK comics). Lofficier and Dzialowski revamping the character works well and explains why I’ve seen images of a male Homicron and a female Homicron!  We also see Homicron as she/it becomes more integrated in the Strangers universe of C.L.A.S.H., etc. Well worth getting hold of.

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JAYDEE

Yes, folks –three classics from the legendary Italian artist Danilo Grossi.  There is a nice piece that connects the old series of Jaydee to the Strangers Universe. The art is pure 1970s classic and has a great feel to it. And Star Knight is a series I’ve heard of but never seen –very funky!  Dick Spade? Well, could you be more inclined to investigate – Dick Spade screams out private detective but I guess it’ll work for an investigative journalist! So how does all of this fit into the Strangers Universe?  If you can wait a few days, no seriously, you DO have to wait, I’ll tell you.  I really do despair that these books are not in UK shops –are they in US comic shops?  They really should be.

Perhaps Hexagon Comics need a bigger presence at UK or US comic conventions because then comic buyers can see what they are missing and with the UK really embracing European comics now maybe a liuttle nudging won’t hurt!

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KABUR

“Long before the destruction of fabled Mu…Eons ago, in an age of swords and sorcery, there arose a great champion…whose legend became…The Saga Of Kabur!” With a hook like that can you go wrong?  No. I loved the John Buscema Conan’s and, as I wrote, got the first Kull comic but I’m not a major barbarian comics fan.  But this is far more.  The stories are full of good characterization, plot twists as well as some great action involving swords, bows, fists and, oh yeah, monsters and dastardly villains inter-mixed with sorcery. Young Kabur was fun and the art style worked well. In fact, the whole comic is full of lush black and white work -I think that many young artists could learn a lot from this if they intend to draw comics.

I’m not sure whether I’ve written it before (I may have knowing me!) but Jean-Marc Lofficier deserves a great deal of praise for bringing these French classics to an English language readership.  I sometimes feel I’m quite spoiled with the type of books I get –and not a DC or Marvel in sight!

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KABUR / ZEMBLA


Firstly, I liked the story and how it ran so I have no problem there. It is setting up and establishing a world for this and future stories. The problem is that I am not fond of the "super steroid muscles" as in evidence in the cover illo. Now I have written this in the past and people have told me how they like it but in certain books. Those books were the sword and sorcery genre. Now I am a John Buscema Conan/Tarzan art fan. I will even go for Barry Windsor-Smith Conan art and, as we ought to know by now, in comics it is certainly a case of "different strokes for different folks"!


Bearing that in mind, I sat down to read this. You'll be happy to know I never gouged my eyes out in disgust! In fact, and I cannot understand why, the super muscles never  put me off and those seemed confined to Zembla and Kabur and at one point I wondered how Ben Dilworth would draw this.  There is, with the female characters, a certain Lady Death vibe going. The colour work is really very nice and looking at the book as a whole I realised the art and colour reminded me somewhat of the 1980s Rock N Roll Comix.


By the time I reached the end of the story I found the maps and background info on the world involved in this story. I long ago gave up trying to work out why I -or anyone else- likes something but I liked this so I'm not going to think any deeper on this!


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KIDZ


I looked at the cover and thought "Kidz" well this is going to be a let down" and I have no idea why. The UK had plenty of child heroes in its weekly comics so why I was so negative I have no idea. We live in strange times, folks and nothing is stranger than my mind (which is quite normal). The story and concept works really well and I would like to think that a company like Thomson or Rebellion could do this type of thing but so far old characters used by Rebellion have been rebooted and Americanized. What Hexagon have done here is to prove that with a good writer who knows all of the characters and a good artist you can make an interesting comic featuring kid heroes. Of course, you have to have the best dastardly villains, too! A lot of people are checking these Hexagon reviews out and I do hope some are going to buy because otherwise people are really missing out. 

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THE LUNATIC LEGION


Okay, everyone should know by now that I have a problem with humorous comics. Having had to write a few for other publishers as well as newspaper/magazine one panel gags I had my funny bone removed. I have a collection of Howard The Duck as well as Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew and I like the art but do I laugh? No. I appreciate that this is Hexagon Comics and I showed a couple people scans of one of the strips and they loved it. So it's just me! I know there are people out there who only collect humor comics and if you are one of those who do then give this a try.  Quality etc is there and in these bloody awful times we could all do with a good laugh.

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MORGANE


This was a nice and enjoyable romp into the world of Arthurian legend and modern day sorcery... and action.  The story and dialogue are well written but no surprises there. The artwork by Lirussi I loved. I've seen a similar style used in one of the Graphic Classics series a few years back. In black and white it looks incredible and far better than the reproduced image above. I was expecting artwork similar to that on the cover so what I discovered inside was a treat.
Lots of betrayal and skullduggery as you might expect when it comes to demonic pacts and sorcery!

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THE PARTISANS #2


Good story. Good characterization. The art looks nice and for "North Africa"  Guevara uses a grey tone style which contrasts with "Pacific Theater"  and its black and white style. A mixture of characters from various nationalities in exotic settings -I can't complain because Black tower has been doing that since the 1980s. I think that these Hexagon books deserve a wider readership.

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STRANGERS #5: THE KINGDOM OF SHIVAR


Again -story and script very acceptable, and taking in a lot of locations and scenes. Martin Peniche really goes all out on this one. The story outline tells you all you need to know and, I've written it before but this is like a good old Marvel Bronze age comic full of characters and action and it's enough to keep any comic fan happy.  Hexagon has shown that someone can publish high quality comics/comic albums and graphic novels in b&w...as I have been saying, writing and doing since the 1980s. The books and characters are like a breath of fresh air.


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TALES OF THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE: DOCTOR DESPAIR


The characters -main and side ones- all work well and those additional "side characters" drew my eye to them because, if this were a film instead of a comic, those are the ones people would be talking about.  How do you tell people what goes on without ruining the story for them? In the case of this book you really cannot as it all fits in so well and leads to the climatic final page. £6.00 for a 148 page book is excellent and if you like your horror then you will enjoy this and for all of the horror comic fans out there who insist on trying to buy any horror related comic they can -guess what? I'd say this one was for you.

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TIGER AND THE EYE

We've had alternate Earths where the Germans won World War 2 or the Russians won World War 3 but I can't think of anyone having set a story in an alternate meso-american parallel. I like the art style and clean lines with occasional solid blacks and it seems to work well with the story. Reading comics for so long you get that "Oh, that looks like so-and-so's art" pop into your head and that happened a couple times here but it did not affect the story.

The story had a few twists and filled in a lot about this meso-American parallel and how things work there -don't worry there is still blood and heart removal -plus flesh eating savages. I think if the regular hexagon heroes cross over into this one there could be a few problems! As a one-off this was a bit of a surprise as I had no idea what to expect after all this is not a super hero book. It shows that Hexagon Comics can be novel and inventive.  Well worth reading.

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THE TIME BRIGADE: THE GRAIL WARS



The story is well paced and very enjoyable and the characters play through this well. What I loved was the European feel of Green's art which Mason's colours worked beautifully on. I'm sorry but my scans are not even showing how good the actual pages look (hey, I make do with my rapidly dying PC!) and what surprised me was the art style when it came to the characyters is not one I would normally go for but it worked.  No idea why and these days I try not to overdo the  deep thinking on why I like something. Would I recommend The Time Brigade? Bloody right I would. Good read. Good art and that is what counts.


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WAMPUS #1


Paris, Berlin, New York and Tokyo all suffer at the hands of Wampus and there can be very little doubt that not only is it one of the great comic book aliens but he is also one of comics greatest villains. I can’t recommend this book enough.  We see the classic Franco-Belgian characters such as Tintin and Blake and Mortimer but Hexagon comics have made the wonderful decision to bring us the –wanting for a better word- the French ‘Marvel-type’ characters. Even while writing this review, I have stopped to read through the book again.  Volume 2…oh, how long do we have to wait for that?! This is a nice chunky book and a great read.

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Wampus is one of the great alien monsters of comics, a creator of chaos on a global scale, his exposed skin stretched over his skeleton, his evil eyes able to possess any human or animal. Using local “print on demand” avoids the need for big print runs and transatlantic shipping, though the package is pricier and its set format cramps the art. Minor quibbles, if it brings us this obscure gem of bande dessinée pulp paranoia. 

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ZEMBLA #1

Read that and you might think “another Tarzan rip-off” but you would be wrong. Italian artist Franco Oneta drew the adventures of Zembla starting in 1963 and only stopping after 30 years!!  Zembla is one of the best loved characters in French comics. And what a character. I did get confused after the origin story because suddenly a host of secondary cast members had appeared such as Ye Ye (Zembla’s love interest though she feels ignored); Rasmus who is just so insanely out of place in the jungle!!  That said there is lynx cat (?) called Satanus and Hara of whom I can only say “what a guy!”.  Of course, there is the kangaroo (Petoulet) so there’s a lot of cartoony capers with it and Satanus. Yes, I did write kangaroo…there’s also a bear pops up in a story.  By Rasmus’ appearance I’m guessing they were all part of a circus.

“The Wrath of Boor” sees some great gorilla art.  The battle between Zembla and his crew and the gorillas looks great!.  More apes, evolved this time, in “The Super Apes Of Anthar”.  There is some bonus art at the back of the book including character sheets by Oneta in a cartoony style for a Zembla animated series.  Completely different to his serious work. But this is a treat and, yes, I’m feeling spoilt again!

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