Realm Of Chaos
featuring Gav Thorpe, Jonathan Green, Ben Chessell, Andy Jones, Rjurik Davidson, Chris Pramas, Rani Kellock and Mark Brendan
A Warhammer anthology and nothing too surprising here. It's all blood, guts, mutants and hard-bitten cynical veterans.
The stories are fine for a bit of visceral entertainment, but, as with most Warhammer books, this isn't going to challenge your intellect terribly. The stories all try to deal with the corruption of humanity by chaos, but rather than being morality tales or studies of human duality, they all turn out seeming shallow.
The biggest problem with Warhammer stories is that they often lack depth and complexity; by making the stories short, as in this anthology, you all but guarantee that to be the case.
2 out of 5
Return To The Amalgam Age Of Comics: The DC Comics Collection
(Art by Rodolfo Damaggio, Dave Gibbons, Oscar Jimenez, Adam Pollina, Val Semeiks, Ty Templeton, Rick Burchett, Ray Kryssing, Mark Morales, Jimmy Palmiotti, Anibal Rodriguez and Bill Sienkiewicz)
A collection of supposed Issue #1s featuring characters from the Amalgam universe; including Bat-Thing, Dark Claw, Generation Hex, JLX, Lobo the Duck and Super-Soldier.
In case you don't know what Amalgam Comics was, it followed on from the Marvel Versus DC comics event of the mid-90s and featured mash-ups created by the two comics universes merging together. So, for example, Batman and Wolverine were mashed-up into Dark Claw and Superman and Captain America were mashed-up into Super-Soldier. This anthology treats the Amalgam Universe as if it were always a part of comic book history, treating the characters as familiar old faces, referencing back issues that never actually existed and even going so far as to mock-up letters pages from the fans.
There are two main things I liked about this book. The first is a factor of the Amalgam universe as a whole; the clever way that Marvel and DC have worked out which characters to mash-up. Rather than just crossover the characters that faced-off against each other in Marvel Versus DC (like Hulk and Superman or Batman and Captain America), the mash-ups are cleverer than that; crossing over characters whose tones match one another. For example, mixing up Captain America and Superman is a stroke of brilliance as each is their own universe's embodiment of peace, justice and the American way. Similarly, the lonely tragedy of mutated monsters Man-Bat (DC) and Man-Thing (Marvel) makes them perfect candidates for a mash-up, with their story (by Larry Hama) being my favourite in the book.
The other element I really liked was the way that the stories play to specific comics tropes in their style, not just holding to the aesthetic of mid-90s comics. The best example of this is the Dark Claw story which claims to tie-in to the hit animated show; a reference to the fact that both Marvel and DC released titles doing just that (I was always fond of the Spider-Man one myself), however, the Super-Soldier story also does a good job of aping the 1930s/40s comics where Superman and Cap both got their start (racial stereotypes and all).
One final thing of note that I really liked was the way that in the overtly humorous Lobo the Duck story by Grant, Lobo's pet, Impossible Dog, keeps randomly transforming into bulldog versions of famous Marvel and DC characters "that don't even exist in this universe!".
4 out of 5