Graphic Novel: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume 1

Teams full of heroes have been getting people giddy for over 50 years, what could be better than seeing your favourite heroes all grouping together to rid the world of evil, and one of the best platforms to portray these stories is through comic books. Comic books have brought some of the best crusaders to life through their pages, such as The Avengers and the Justice League of America. However, before these two super-teams were formed, and even before the first avenger (Captain America) was born, there was The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.the-league-of-extraordinary-gentlemen-bookStraight from the mind of Alan Moore, one of the greatest writers of our time, comes a story which unites together some of the most famous literary characters from the 1800s: Mina Murray, Alan Quatermain, Hawley Griffin, Dr. Henry Jekyll, Captain Nemo and Mr. Edward Hyde. The year is 1898, and Mina Murray is given a mission by Campion Bond (an ancestor of James Bond), who works for a man known simply as ‘M’, to track down and recruit the other members of the team. For there is evil afoot, and the league are the only ones who might stand a chance of stopping it. It seems that a contraption called the Cavoret, which enables flight, has fallen into the wrong hands and must be returned to the proper authorities by any means necessary. However in a world where the characters from authors imaginations actually exist, there’s no telling what could be waiting around the corner as they embark on their adventure.

What was great about reading this graphic novel, was the fact that it had so many different literary references throughout, on every page there would be a symbol which linked to another famous story, even something as simple as a painting or a wall sign. A few examples include the ‘Rue Morgue’ street sign in Paris, which is taken from Edgar Allen Poe’s 1841 short story ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’, and when Bond is briefing the league of their mission, past leagues can be seen in paintings on the wall which include other famous literary figures, like Lemuel Gulliver from Gulliver’s Travels and Natty Bumppo from The Leatherstocking Novels.

Another incredible read from Alan Moore who has brought us so many great graphic novels: V For Vendetta, Watchmen and From Hell, to name a few. He always uses such in-depth and thought-provoking story lines, which help the reader to delve into the plot more and connect with the characters, maybe even enticing them to research about the novel after reading it. One of the great aspects about Moore’s work is that the artwork always differs between novels, but fits together so well with the impression which the story gives off. This time Kevin O’Neill (2000 AD/Marshall Law) is the man behind the artwork, the images constantly switch between highly detailed drawings to blocked shapes representing the characters, but it works really well due to the Victorian theme which is present throughout. The dark, sombre colours match the tone of the story, and are suddenly thrown vibrantly bright during the violent action scenes, and when something is obviously out-of-place in this time-zone. It paints a picture of how is would have felt to live in that era and uncover something so unknown, that it would be a bright vision of the future.hydeFrom start to finish The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen kept me gripped to the storyline, maybe it’s because I enjoy a plot with some history behind it, and Alan Moore had obviously done a lot of research prior to writing it. It is a graphic novel which Moore’s previous fans will love, and will be enjoyed by an audience with a passion for literature.

Publication: TITAN BOOKS

Character Back-stories:

Miss Wilhelmina (Mina) Murray:

Mina Murray was a character in the world-famous 1897 novel, Dracula, by Bram Stoker. Her fiancée, Jonathan Harker, had a rather frightful encounter with Count Dracula in his castle but managed to escape to Budapest where he met up with Mina. Once her lover had recovered, they return to England and formulate a plan with Abraham Van Helsing to destroy the prince of darkness. However in the process Mina is bitten, and destined to turn into a vampire unless Dracula is destroyed, they succeed and the curse is lifted. Mina and Jonathan are married soon after, making her Mina Harker. In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen however, Jonathan Harker has passed away, and Wilhelmina has changed back to her maiden name of ‘Murray’.

Alan Quatermain:

Alan Quatermain was the lead character in H. Rider. Haggard’s 1885 book, King Solomon’s Mines, and many novel’s after that as well. He is an English, professional game hunter who prefers the plains of Africa to the civilization and cities of Britain, therefore he spends the majority of his life in Africa. He is referred to as Macemazahn by the natives, which means ‘watcher-by-night’, and on occasions is accompanied by his two helpers Sir Henry Curtis and Captain John Good, also by his African friend Umslopogaas. In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Alan Quatermain is a tired old man who resides in Egypt (check) and is addicted to Opium, whilst barely conscious and in Opium withdrawal he asks for Umslopogaas, and babbles about the diamond mines.

Captain Nemo:

The character of Captain Nemo comes from the 1870, Jules Verne novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Nemo is the son of an Indian Raja and is a scientific genius, and through his genius he created his submarine, the Nautilus. Which allows him to roam the deep seas, as he attempts to reap his vengeance on the British Empire. In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Captain Nemo is written slightly different, instead of his hatred for the British Empire, he is instead attempting to save it. In the graphic novel, among his crew is ‘Ishmael’ from the book 1851 book Moby Dick. The word Nemo derives from the Latin term for no-one, when Quatermain is drifting in and out of consciousness he asks Captain Nemo who he is, and he replies “No One.”

Dr. Henry Jekyll and Mr. Edward Hyde:

The character, or rather characters of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are world-famous, even if you have not read the 1886 novel – Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – by Robert Louis Stevenson, or seen any of the film adaptations, you still will have heard the stories. The story goes that Jekyll has always lived with the feeling that he is fighting between the good and evil inside himself, so to make himself a better man he creates a potion which should take away these evil urges. However the serum does the exact opposite and unleashes the evil, transforming Jekyll into the monstrosity known as Mr. Hyde. As Hyde, Jekyll becomes violent and cruel, causing havoc in the streets. After taking the serum many times Jekyll realises that he no longer needs it to transform into Hyde, he just needs something to tip-off his rage, and after he murders a man he becomes an outlaw in England. In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Dr. Jekyll has fled to Paris, where Mr. Hyde has began to raise hell. Hyde is even stronger and more ferocious now, however after a sedative and a talk they persuade him to aid them in their mission.

Hawley Griffin:

Hawley Griffin is actually the only character in the novel who is not taken straight from a book, although he is based around a familiar story. Alan Moore took the name ‘Griffin’ from the main character in H. G. Wells’ 1897 novel, ‘The Invisible Man’, and the name ‘Hawley’ from the infamous Edwardian murderer, Dr. Hawley Crippin. The character of Hawley Griffin in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen seems to based on a man who, after The Invisible Man was killed by a mob, stole the invisibility formula for himself.

Shocking Saturday: All The Boys Love Mandy Lane

All The Boys Love Mandy Lane is a film which I have been wanting to see for many years now, mainly because, from the trailer, it looked as though it wasn’t just your run-of-the-mill slasher horror flick, and I am glad to say that it wasn’t. This film will make you think that you have worked out the premise pretty soon into the film, and then turn your idea on its head.all_the_boys_love_mandy_lane

Mandy Lane (Amber Heard) is the most beautiful, untouched girl in school, and because of that, every guy, and girl, is trying to get with her, so that they will hold the award for ‘who cracked Mandy Lane’. After a graphic and fast-paced opening, which explains why Mandy is no longer hanging out with her best friend Emmet, the plot of the story becomes apparent. A high school boy, Red, has his parents ranch to himself for a few days, and decides to invite some of his friends over to blow off finishing the year. The gang get the idea to invite Mandy, and believe that in doing so by the time they come back, at least one of them will have gotten with her. Their plan takes a slight detour however, when people begin disappearing around the ranch as a hooded figure is seen walking the grounds. All the boys are after Mandy Lane, but it seems that one will do anything to be with her.

What first made me think that this is a film different from the others was, as I said before, the opening scene. I will not go into details because I would hate to give anything away, but seeing that kind of highly detailed violence so early on, and the dialogue between two of the characters gave me the impression that I was in for a real treat.

I wasn’t wrong, this film brought everything to the table, the story was gripping and at points had you guessing, after you thought had sussed out the plot of the film. The special effects were great as well, it wasn’t just the cheap scare gore as seen in such disasters as Prom Night, these are actual cringe-worthy effects, so realistic sometimes that you will be holding parts of yourself as a victim is mutilated. The violence was also straight up front and in your face, not blocking what is happening from your view, except for a few scenes, but director Jonathan Levine (50/50/Warm Bodies) still made those work really well. I think that horror films can have both these types of violent scenes and be a good film, they just need to be varied. As the audience needs to know that the violence is happening and see it with their eyes, because that is the reality of it, but what I call ‘muffled kills’ can also be used really well by letting the audience’s imaginations do most of the work. Film makers just need to remember that your imagination can sometimes be more terrifying than anything you will see, your imagination can be your worst enemy.

Amber Heard has starred in some big films throughout the past years (Pineapple Express/Never Back Down/Drive Angry), and this film was one of her first lead roles. She captures the essence of Mandy Lane so well, in showing that she knows how beautiful she is, but doesn’t flaunt it because she doesn’t want every guy chasing after her. A timid, yet strong lead role for Heard, which shows us the talent that she has to offer.

What was great about this movie was that you go into it thinking that it is going to be a ‘guess-the-killer type malarkey, but it turns into something completely different by the jaw-dropping ending. Jonathan Levine has created a film which keeps you tense all the way through, as you attempt to pin point who is slaughtering these kids, and after watching the ending will force you to think back a see the film from a different perspective.

Tag Line: She’s To Die For.

Horror Rating: (:-O) (:-O) (:-O)

Star Rating:

The World’s End

The long-awaited third instalment of Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s ‘Cornetto Trilogy’ finally hits cinemas, and it gives the fans everything that was needed to conclude this enjoyable trio of films, which began in 2004.The World's End New FIlm Poster

The story begins with Gary King (Simon Pegg) telling the tale of ‘the golden mile’, a mission that consisted of a pub crawl of 12 pubs in his home town of Newton Haven, which he and his four friends: Andy, Peter, Oliver and Steven attempted when they were teenagers. Unfortunately they never made it to the last pub on the map, The World’s End. Now, 20 years later, Gary wants to get the old gang back together to finish what they started, and after he tells them a few lies, they all sign up. However the town seems to have changed slightly, nobody recognises the boys, and they get the eerie feeling that the inhabitants want nothing more than to have them leave Newton Haven. As their crawl continues, it appears that something is definitely wrong with the town as they are constantly attacked by robots who have been created to look like the community. Although scared, and quite drunk, the gang realise that the only way to escape is to act normal and finish their pub crawl once and for all, by finally reaching The World’s End.

Once again Nick Frost joins Simon Pegg on the silver screen, however unlike the previous two films in the trilogy, Frost this time has a hatred for Pegg, the reason for which is later revealed in the film. At first it was tricky to picture the duo not being friends, because of the banter between them, on and off the screen. However Frost plays his part really well, convincing the audience that he is just sick and tired of Gary King acting like a child and not letting go of his teenage years by growing up. It got me thinking, maybe this is replicated in real life due to Pegg’s child-like behaviour, but seen as Frost is a big-kid himself, I highly doubt this is the case.

The trilogy has given us three great films which have attempted to reinvent different genres by adding comedy into the mix. The first being Shaun of the Dead in 2004, which starred Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as two friends who get put right in the middle of a zombie attack in London. The film is rife with references from classic zombie films, directors and one-liners. It was quite an enjoyable watch for an avid zombie film fan, but used proper British comedy and romance to give the film a different feel. It was the first rom-com-zom (romantic-comedy with zombies). The second genre which the duo tried to bring to a newer audience, was the police-action genre ,with Hot Fuzz in 2007. Which once again starred Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, this time as police officers working in the quite village of Sanford, Somerset. However all is not as it seems with the overly friendly townsfolk as unfortunate accidents begin to happen all over the village. Now with The World’s End, ‘Pegg’ and ‘Wright’ have jumped on to the apocalyptic-film band wagon and have succeeded in creating a science-fiction film, filled up with raw British comedy. Which, although will go down a treat with the English audience, maybe seen as too gritty for our friends across the pond, as our comedy is not understood by Americans in the same way we see it. Take for example the American version of The Inbetweeners.

The World’s End was always going to be compared to Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz after it was released, due to them having the same director, writers, actors and comedy. Still, although they are all so alike in various ways, they seem like three completely different films, perhaps because of the genre change. They all offered something different and it did not get boring towards the end of the trilogy. Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg attempted to make each film connect with their genres (zombie/police/sci-fi), and make them an homage to the films which had inspired them. Each film has its own highlights and amazing scenes. Shaun of the Dead has the long morning walk to the shop without noticing a single zombie and it’s Don’t Stop Me Now zombie fight scenes. Hot Fuzz has the hilarious southern, foul-mouthed Andys and the gigantic police/civilian shoot at the end, and The World’s End has one of the biggest bar fights I’ve seen in a British comedy, plus whilst the chaos is happening Simon Pegg is trying to finish his pint, the scene just worked so well, as did the fight sequences. All three films have their high points, and are great in their own right. If I had to pick a favourite it would be Shaun of the Dead, mainly because I am quite a lover of zombie films, it brought the zombie genre once again into the limelight, and every film reference was placed so well.

Once again Pegg and Wright’s film showcases some great British actors, to name a few: Eddie Marson (Hancock/Sherlock Holmes/Law and Order UK), Martin Freeman (Sherlock/The Hobbit/The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) and Paddy Considine (Dead Man’s Shoes/Hot Fuzz/The Bourne Ultimatum). There are also plenty of extras which you can spot from various British films – Pierce Brosnan and Bill Nighy, and plenty of people who have been extras in Pegg and Wright’s previous films, for example David Bradely, who plays the mumbling farmer, Arthur Webley in Hot Fuzz.

The World’s End will have you in stitches as Simon Pegg and the gang spurt out more great comedic one-liners, whilst they attempt to conquer their drunken quest, all the while fighting off an army of robots, and it proved that British comedy and science-fiction can go together quite well. Thus ending the ‘Cornetto Trilogy’.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Joss Whedon’s Comic-Con interview has sent Marvel fans wild as he explained who will be the primary villain for the sequel to 2012’s superhero blockbuster, Avengers Assemble.

It has been revealed that the villain will be non-other than Ultron, one of Marvel’s biggest villains, and the film will be named Avengers: Age of Ultron.ultron

Ultron has played a vital part in the Marvel universe, constantly popping up to battle with The Avengers over the years. He is a robot, which was created by Dr. Hank Pym (Ant Man), who instead of obeying his creator, decided to rebel and pledge a mission to destroy the entire human race. Although a robot, Ultron does have a human conscience, and is also highly intellectual, that, mixed with his terrifying, metallic suit and mask, makes him a villain worthy of the next Avengers film. What is also great about the introduction of Ultron is that, in the original origins, he creates his own android named Vision, who is one of the most famous Avengers from the comics, and teams up with the group after switching sides.

However the origin of Ultron is going to differ greatly from that of the comic books, for example he will not be created by Dr. Hank Pym, because Edgar Wright’s ‘Ant-Man’ is not going to be released until after Avengers 2. So another origin for Ultron is going to be written, perhaps one which includes Tony Stark’s discard of his Arc Reactor, some rumours are saying.

Avengers: Age of Ultron is set to be released in 2015.

Shocking Saturday: Sinister

From the mind that brought us The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Hellraiser: Inferno, comes a film that will have you jumping out of your seat on numerous occasions and will make you pose the question, “how much can I really trust my family?”Sinister_Quad_Rev_AW.inddOnce again, it is the slightly original storyline which makes Sinister interesting, demons have always played a part in the horror genre – The Exorcist, Evil Dead, but this film has a twist which shows the demon not doing all of the work.

Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke), is a famous writer, and has decided to move his family to a new home and begin writing his new book. However what his family do not know is that they have just moved into the house where a family was recently murdered, Ellison believes that being in the house where the crime happened will help him to submerge himself into the book he is writing. He finds an old box full of films in the attic and proceeds to watch them. The films show various different families being killed, dating all the way back to the 1960s, and after a bit of editing the films he realises that they all contain a certain symbol in them and the same ghoulish figure is always present during the murders. Ellison consults a man who specialises in the occult and demonic phenomena, and finds out that symbol and the figure are connected to a demon called Bughuul, who chooses a child from a family, steals them and kills all the other members. Now, because of Ellison’s meddling due to his interest in his book, it is happening to his family, and he must find a way to stop it before himself and his loved ones are slaughtered and become just another film in the box.

The creepy being which lurks around the house and in the films, helps to intensify the fear which the film is putting across, which, in a way, differs from a typical horror film. Generally not seeing what is hunting you is scarier, as you use your imagination and think of the worst thing possible (The Blair Witch Project), then when you actually see what it is some of the fear is taken away because it is not as scary as you thought, like with films such as The Woman in Black and White Noise. However Sinister shows the villain all the way through the film and still manages to keep the creepiness on a high level.

If it is not the creepy Bughuul that will haunt you after seeing this film, then it most definitely has to be the imaginative deaths which the previous families suffered. Some are burned alive, some are drowned and another family are all hanged from the same tree in their back garden. It is not what they die from though, people being drowned hung check and burnt has been in horror films numerous times, it is the way in which they are killed. A contraption is created from a tree to pull all the family up by their necks at the same time, and, with the drowned family, they are tied to pool-side chairs which are attached to cinder blocks that are pushed into the families swimming pool, one by one dragging them underwater.

It was a had quite an imaginative plot, which, although at points was quite predictable, it still offered some great scares and a spectacular ending, which is not normally seen in an American horror film.

Tag Line: Once You See Him, Nothing Can Save You.

Horror Rating: (:-O) (:-O) (:-O)

Star Rating:

Graphic Novel: Marvel Zombies vs Army of Darkness

Marvel’s ideas for their comic books have gone above and beyond wackyness in the past, and just when you think that it can’t get any crazier than their Marvel Zombies series, they create one of the greatest crossovers in comic book history. Marvel Zombies vs Army of Darkness.Marvel_Zombies_Vs._Army_of_Darkness_Vol_1_1

This is a crossover which, until now, only occurred in a fanboy’s dream. For those unfamiliar with the Army of Darkness, it is the army of Deadites (demons) from the Evil Dead film trilogy, which are constantly awoken by the Necronomicon – the book of the dead, and then sent back to hell by the film’s protagonist ‘Ash Williams’. Throughout the films Ash cuts off his hand after it gets infected by darkness, and replaces it with a chainsaw, which is then replaced with an artificial metal hand. However he keeps the chainsaw, and, along with his boom-stick (double-barrelled shotgun) he rids the world of these evil creatures.

Now Ash has fallen through a hole in the sky, and into another universe, quite similar to his own. There is only one major difference, this universe is inhabited by Marvel heroes, and after Ash gets a warning that the Deadites will soon arrive and destroy this world, he realises that it is up to him to warn the Earth’s crusaders about their impending doom. Assuming that he is a complete nut-job, the heroes ignore him, until they realise that he was babbling the truth, but by then it is too late.

Set just before the first Marvel Zombies comic book series, this one shows something that the other did not…the actual infection spreading, and then the world’s population being devoured by the heroes. Which was great because most of the time, in something zombie themed, the best part is seeing the outbreak happening, as oppose to what happens afterwards. It also brings along with it the humour of Ash from the Evil Dead films – his overly arrogant macho-ness and his famous catchphrase “gimme some sugar baby”, although this time spoken by a zombie, the boom-stick makes sure that he does not speak it again.

Ash teams up with the only heroes left: Scarlett Witch, Dazzler and unfortunately Dr. Doom. Together they attempt to stop the infection by using the Necronomicon, and save what’s left of humanity. However a huge twist in the story, forces Ash to work together with an enemy which fans of the films would never think was possible.marvel-zombiesarmy-of-darkness-20070306024243797-000

The Karate kid himself, Ralph Macchio, once again is the editor. However this time it was written by John Layman, rather than Robert Kirkman. Before you feel that there might be some slight disappointment, have no fear because Kirkman was the consultant, so he oversaw the entire thing. The images, by Fabiano Neves, are once again rife with colour and detail, down to the last blood-seeping scar, and the vast landscapes which sometimes take up entire pages are just breath-taking. There is so much going on in the scene, you think that you have seen everything on the page and then discover something else going on.

This is a novel that comic and horror film fans alike will be drooling over whilst reading it. From the witty comedic conversation, although short, between Ash and Spider Man, to the classic comic covers which have been altered to display the Marvel zombies and Ash popping up in the background (the cover for the graphic novel actually being the cover from an Uncanny X-Men issue which the upcoming film X-Men: Days of Future Past storyline is taken from), these are just some of the aspects which make this such an enjoyable read, and impossible to put down.

Publication: MARVEL

Shocking Saturday: The Human Centipede (First Sequence)

Deemed one of the sickest films by audiences and critics alike, The Human Centipede has made people all over the world gag from its grotesque scenes, but what is it about the film that makes us so intrigued to watch it.human_centipede_xlg

I believe the popularity which the film has had is due to word-of-mouth reviews, mainly from people just telling their friends ‘I watched this film last night, it was so disgusting’. From then on it entices people to view it for themselves and see what all the hullabaloo is about, the same thing could be said for Hostel.

The film is set in Germany, and follows, Lindsay and Jenny, two American tourists who are on their holiday. Their car tyre pops (typical) on a quite road surrounded by nothing but trees, and the girls come to the conclusion that they need to find somewhere to stay for the night. After running through the desolate woods in the pouring rain for about 10 minutes, they come to a house where the owner lets them in to dry off. For a few minutes everything seems to be fine, that is until the girls find out that this is Dr. Josef Heiter, a world-renowned expert who specialise in separating Siamese twins and has in the past tried to connect his three dogs together. The girls are drugged and wake up next to a Japanese man in what looks like a hospital room, but soon turns out to be the mad doctor’s basement.

Tied to the beds and being completely helpless Heiter explains to his three captives what he plans to do with them. For me this scene, and the ending, were the best parts of the film. It makes you think, ‘what if I were in their position?’, having what is going to be done to you explained right before it happens, and it being so brutal that you wouldn’t want to be alive after the doctor is through. The fear in their eyes and the feeling of not being able to do a thing about it made this a jaw-dropping scene, especially for audience members not familiar with the storyline. To sum up, after the death of his three-dog experiment, Heiter decided that he wanted to try the centipede trick again, this time with humans. The surgery consisted of cutting the tendons in the knees of all three people and attaching the three victims together via their mouths and bottoms, by slicing skin from their bum cheeks and sowing it onto the other victim’s face. Therefore creating a three-person centipede that has the person at the front consume food, which is then passed through them to the next person, and so on until the individual at the end needs the loo. It is quite a disturbing scene when this happens.

With the mountains of horror films being released, many of the plots have become very monotonous – as everybody knows. So what is needed to get the attention of film fans, is something completely new and never been seen before. This is probably why The Human Centipede is so well-known, because it offered something different, even if afterwards they wished that they hadn’t seen it, at least they weren’t bored.

Many people will be turned off by the very notion of the film and won’t give it a chance, or might even watch the first half, then be too disgusted and turn it off. Fair enough if you don’t want to watch it, however if you do I insist you watch the whole film, because the ending is something which you just can not miss.

Tag Line: Their Flesh Is His Fantasy.

Horror Rating: (:-O) (:-O) (:-O) (:-O)

Star Rating: