Category Archives: Review

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Age of Ultron Review

C’mon, let’s go to the pictures! What’s your cinema snack of choice? I’ve always had a sweet tooth myself, and a bag of sweets- gummy bears, jelly beans, strawberry cables- was my companion to Avengers: Age of Ultron over the weekend. I’d been eagerly anticipating both: as one of the most anticipated superhero films of all time, Age of Ultron is the latest addition to Marvel’s sprawling Cinematic Universe, and was bound to be a great time for all concerned.

Fumbling in the dark as the film started, I started to eat…and while I didn’t regret my decision, it wasn’t everything I’d hoped. Some of the sweets were enjoyable, but a lot were a little tasteless, or sickly. Having eaten one, I would be happy to leave the rest of them- but invariably I found myself scrabbling round, getting the last few bits while discarding very little. Hey, I’d paid for it, after all.

What I’m hinting at none too subtly is that my culinary experience roughly matched my filmgoing one. Age of Ultron is the cinematic equivalent of a bag of sweets you pick off the shelf: it’s great as a treat, and something you eagerly anticipate. But it remains something with relatively low nutritional value, rarely lives up to your expectations, and the end result is probably the sickly pleasure of indulgence over the warm satisfaction of a good square meal.

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Comic Review: Rudek and the Bear

The greatest  strength of any creative endeavour is its ability to transport us, to take us to places- real or imagined- we might never be able to visit otherwise. While they risk shifting into simplistic assessments of a place or time, comics manage this very well, offering windows on complex, difficult… or just esoteric subject matter. They will never be the last word on a topic, but for some people they could be the first, and there’s certainly value in that as well.

Rudek and the Bear is not, on the surface, a complex comic: in fact, it goes out of its way to eliminate a lot of complexity. But that’s okay, because the end result is a charming and accessible look at a little known corner of 20th century history.

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Graphic Novel Review: Spooky Sleepover

Halloween isn’t something I’ve typically participated in. Growing up, our short street didn’t allow for much trick-or-treating, and Halloween costumes seemed more trouble than they were worth as a result: getting all dressed up with nowhere to go wasn’t all that attractive an idea. Similarly, I’ve never been a big fan of horror, in its myriad forms: I recently dared to watch The Cabin in the Woods (an unconventional horror flick by many standards) and I played Slender: The Arrival on Easy mode, but nothing more than that. Fear is not something I’m that keen on experiencing, even recreationally.

And yet Halloween- a holiday that revolves around fear- is typically aimed at children. Which indicates that fear is something that anybody can experience provided it’s in the right quantity. Of course, some children will probably be into Halloween for the sweets, or the dressing up, or because their friends are doing it. But some will also like to be scared, if only a little bit. As a result, we have Spooky Sleepover, a thoroughly silly book that’s sure to appeal to children…or the child in all of us.

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Graphic Novel Review: Here We Go, Part One

As a writer I think I’ve always been somewhat envious of artists. Writing requires digestion, comprehension to appreciate it even on a basic level, but a picture has an immediacy to it:  in many respects it has revealed everything to you straight away. This isn’t to suggest that drawing lacks nuance or depth, but I suspect that usually a picture will grab someone far more easily than a block of text will.

Budding comics writer Jesse Young seems to understand this: as he says, an artist can shop around a portfolio of artwork if they want to work in comics, while a writer‘s craft, in comics at least, has to be seen in the context of the finished product. And thus we have Here We Go, a showcase for Young’s writing and a collaboration with several very talented comics artists.

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Graphic Novel Review: Lost at Sea

How many of us remember our childhood? It is perhaps ironic that such a crucial part of our lives is essentially denied to us as adults, existing only as vague recollections and hazy, distorted images most of us look fondly on. Even if the actual events were anything but. Nostalgia is, as Don Draper so famously pronounced, the pain of an old wound…but that’s a discussion for another time.

If we bother to preserve anything of our youth- school books, drawings, diary entries- these elicit derision, or embarrassment. We’re left wondering how we ever thought our ideas, our passions, were ever worthy of our attention. We have become strangers to ourselves, and we can’t recapture how it felt to be young.

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Detail from We Won't See Auschwitz by Jérémie Dres.

Graphic Novel Review: We Won’t See Auschwitz

Any discussion of Judaism will invariably go to one place sooner or later: Auschwitz. The most infamous concentration camp of the Second World War, if not world history, it was just one of the places where 6 million Jews died in appalling circumstances. It casts a shadow over both Jewish history and identity as it does over history full stop.

Or does it? French Jew Jérémie Dres disagrees, as he seeks to reconnect with his Jewish identity in the bold graphic novel We Won’t See Auschwitz. 

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