Indie Comics Review – The Showdown Vol. 2 (Broken Icon Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he reviews of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

Its Halloween soon, so this week I’m reviewing The Showdown Volume 2, the follow up to the indie comic from Broken Icon Comics that I reviewed back in 2015. The Showdown was created by Russ Lippitt, with illustrations by Ezequiel Pineda and colours by Nae Esteban.

In the depths of hell, once a millennium, The Showdown takes place, a brutal death race which draws the attention of every monster in the underworld. Vampires, werewolves, zombies, skinheads and demons all fix up their cars and roll up to the start line, eager for a chance to make it to the finish line first and claim the grand prize – the chance to raise hell on earth once more.

In Volume 2 the race is in full swing, and Lippitt wastes little time in whittling down his cast of characters. Across the layers of hell, teams who get a little too close for comfort start brutally eliminating each other, either through wrecking vehicles or direct slaughter. The Dead Belles face off against killer clowns, the Hell Howlers try to fend off the Rompers, and the skeleton Bone Crusaders creep ahead of the Marauders. But who will make real progress in the race, and who won’t make it to the end at all?

After a first volume that was largely set up, this is high octane action from the get go, with plenty of surprises along the way, including match ups not playing out quite how you would expect and the arrival of a late contender that is pretty audacious and shocking. The story continues the atmosphere of a crossover between Wacky Races and Mad Max, with a dose of campy horror thrown in that is very enjoyable.

Pineda’s heavy and oppressive style fits right in with the world created in Volume 1, with the various hot rods and vehicles speeding through the various layers of hell, and haunting looking creatures and monsters. There is a level of camp horror that is brought out in the art too, which helps underline a book that definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously.  The colours from Esteban fill the dark and depressing world of hell out, with the sharp contrast of bright hellfire and colourful monsters making the dreariness appear more real.

The Showdown. Volume 2 currently has a Kickstarter, with just over 2 weeks remaining, so go check it out here!

Score: 7.5 Layers of Hell out of 10

 

Total Reroll: Episode 52 – Red Bones (S2)

Welcome back to Season 2 of Total Reroll, our Dungeons and Dragons podcast! Adam has been playing some some good old fashioned D&D with some friends in London, except it isn’t old fashioned because it’s 5th edition. After finishing ‘Hoard of the Dragon Queen’, we’ve moved on with the same characters to ‘Rise of Tiamat’, the second part of the Tyranny of Dragons storyline. You can find a mega-post of all of the Season 1 content here.

The gang set off to help Eldo’s clan, only to find the town elders kidnapped by a malevolent force… which Eldo just pushed off a cliff. Now the bone dragon he’s working with has just risen up to face us. Cue the battle music.

20160514_214904.jpg

Map of the hilltop. Path in the top right is where we came in. Black shape to the right is a shrine. Red circles are standing stones, red square is the stone slab. Green Xs are trees. Blue pond and waterfall heads over the edge of a 100ft cliff, which is also on all sides.


Download this episode (right click and save)

If you have any feedback email us at thelostlighthouse@live.co.uk, tweet us @lost_lighthouse or get in touch via our Facebook! Subscribe to the podcast feed or on itunes, and feel free to share or retweet too! Fancy supporting Total Reroll and The Lost Lighthouse? Check out our completely optional, pay-what-you-want Paypal donation page!

Our intro and outro music is ‘Acid Splash’ by Rich Thomson, and our “adverts” are provided by Anthony Walsh.

Enjoy!

Reader’s Review: Zombie Dice

Today, one of our dedicated fans, Sam Phillips, lets us know his thoughts on a classic game he’s recently picked up.

Zombie Dice 

Everyone loves zombies and I’m no exception. So when I spied a game combining them with a gambling-dice-mechanic I was hooked! 

Zombie dice puts you in the shoes of the recently undead. You hunger for soft, delicious brains and the aim of the game is to eat 13 victims before your shuffling brethren. 

I found the game is best played in a small group, each player takes turn to roll three of the specially marked zombie dice. The player then chooses to score the brains consumed (rolled) or hunt more fresh meat and roll another trio of dice. 

Annoyingly (for you) your intended meals aren’t helpless and come equipped with shotguns, a roll that leaves you with three blast symbols ends your turn without you being able to score any brains previously eaten. 

image

Bang Bang He Shot Me Down.

Zombie dice is the perfect pub game. The rules are simple to understand and teach, the game itself is compact enough for a pocket and the zombie theme won’t mark you out as a total loser if you’re one of those closet nerd types. 

In fact I would say zombie dice is the ideal gateway game to drag 
that friend who you wish to drag further into the rabbit hole we call geekdom. 

Sam

Indie Comics Review – The Showdown Vol. 1 (Broken Icon Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he reviews of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

This week I’m reviewing The Showdown, an indie comic coming up this month from Broken Icon Comics. Volume 1 was very kindly sent to me by its creator, novelist Russ Lippitt. Joining him on The Showdown is illustrator Tony Guaraldi-Brown, with colour assist from Jeremy Rodriguez and Jessica Lippitt editing the book.

In the depths of hell, once a millennium, The Showdown takes place, a brutal death race which draws the attention of every monster in the underworld. Vampires, werewolves, zombies, skinheads and demons all fix up their cars and roll up to the start line, eager for a chance to make it to the finish line first and claim the grand prize – the chance to raise hell on earth once more.

In this first volume we are introduced to several of the teams as they gather for The Showdown. The diverse range of monsters and their rides are really interesting, from the greaser ‘500’s’ and the ‘Dead Belles’ to Samhain’s ‘Mischiefs’ and the terrifying looking brother-sister team ‘The Freak’. Fights and threats are thrown around both on the night before the race and as the chequered is waved to start things off, but between two lovers, Stitch from the 500’s and Betty from the Dead Belles, there is also a promise to each other, despite the disapproval of their team mates.

the showdown2I think the most impressive aspect of The Showdown is the groundwork that has gone in to this first volume, a set up for when the actual race begins in the next part. Lippitt quickly introduces an array of different characters, teases their motivations and ultimately makes it easy for the racers to seem a little less two dimensional when it comes to the actual Showdown. The general approach of the story and atmosphere feels something like a mash up of the Wacky Races, Mad Max and Hammer Horror, resulting in a unique plot that was very enjoyable.

Guaraldi-Brown’s art is heavy and rough, giving an oppressive style to the book that makes the air of hell feel thick and hot. The designs of the different characters and vehicles are fantastic and really helps to sell the rich variety in the teams that Lippitt has come up with. The colour work complements all of this with a subdued and dark palette, providing a dirty, grungey looking book that really captures Dante’s vision of hell with a added punk aesthetic.

As a set up for what is to come, volume one of The Showdown is a success, and left me eager to find out what will happen when this death race kicks off. The book currently has a Kickstarter to fund Volumes 2 and 3 that ends in 4 days, so go and have a look at that now, where you can find out more about the plot and check out some more of the art.

Score: 8 Hot Rods out of 10

 

Indie Comics Review – The Infected #1 (Hound Comics)

Our pal Kit sometimes write for the site! This is one of those times.

*This is the second review from a spotlight we’re going to be doing on Hound Comics, a private publishing company with their own ongoing comic series and web series. We’re going to be reviewing first issues of some of their comic series over the next few weeks. You can buy issue #1 of ‘The Infected’ here.*

 

“On May 21, 2020 A virus began infecting the Super Human population of Tower City.” – First Line of The Infected

Zombie style viruses: the sort that turn a person into a mindless flesh eating monster.

Superheroes: People who have transcended humanity in some way and fight for a better and brighter future with their new found powers.

Mixing these together can prove a hell of a lot of fun! Many of you may have read the Marvel Zombies, if you haven’t and you like zombies then you should get to that immediately! But it’s not just the big names in comics that get to have all the fun. Today I’ll check out The Infected by Chris Hartmann and Dave Mimms.

To try and be balanced here I’ll break my review down into four parts before giving an overall total. I’ll check out:

  • The Concept
  • The Plot
  • The Characters
  • The Artwork

Anyway, on with the review!

The Concept: 

As I mentioned before, this isn’t unfamiliar territory for me. I’ve read my fair share of zombies, superheroes and zombie-superheroes so this isn’t a revolutionary concept. That isn’t a bad thing though, after all apparently there are only really six stories out there, taking a look at an established idea at a new angle can lead to an excellent series. Also, not having any pre-established superheroes to work which means the novelty of seeing Spidey eat his Aunt May won’t distract from what’s going on here. The idea is taken a bit further with a little exposition on the first page:

  • The virus seems to only affect super humans (or ‘Supers’ as they’re known after)
  • This has been going on for a little while
  • The city is on lockdown and the national guard are moving in

So looks like a Walking Dead, drop you in the action approach and seems your average Joe can’t be infected so it has the humans vs. super humans spin on it.

So, concept score – as this is covering familiar ground for me this will need to take things in a fresh direction, if it can do that then this could be great. 7/10.

The Plot: 

So interesting idea, but need to add something new. Time to see if it can deliver. Our hero is Jacob. The first issue focuses on him waking up in the middle of the city in chaos and trying to work out what’s going on. The first half of the comic has him trying to work out what’s happened, whilst other character’s provide exposition to him. Going with the amnesia approach I can see why they did this. The thing is as a reader I just had all of this explained to me on the first page, so it just feels like unnecessary repetition here. Either loose the summary or skip in character exposition, have it explained off screen and give us a bit more plot.

Jacob joins up with John ‘Freedom’ Winters, some kind of lone vigilante, who saves Jacob from being gunned down by the National Guard and they find a spot to hide crash for the night. Some of the exposition Freedom gives seems to contradict itself so I can’t say the world is making a huge amount of sense here.

So, plot score – I can see what you’re trying to do, but half the comic could have been put to better use and some of the exposition makes no sense. 3/10.

The Characters: 

Jacob – Doesn’t seems to have much going on for him to be honest. He’s a bit of a blank slate. He’s suffering from amnesia but not much personality really shines through otherwise. I think what sums it up is I can’t really add much more to his personality than this. He’s boring. 2/10.

Freedom – I can’t tell if this guy’s name is supposed to be a parody or played straight. Either way he has a bit more going for him than Jacob does. I wouldn’t call him the smartest guy in the world though. He apparently hates Supers, but kills the National Guard who were about to take down a potential virus crazed, flesh eating super, then let’s said suspect tag along with him, knowing nothing about him. Still, say there’s a sub plot about this guy having been driven insane by the state of things and battling monsters for so long and this could be interesting. 4/10

Character score – Only these two really had much going on in this issue so I’ll average their scores: 3/10.

The Artwork: 

The art is interesting. A lot of detail has been squeezed in, some of the proportions of facial features and the characters themselves seem a little skewed. However that seems deliberate. It adds to the feeling that by now there won’t be many ‘normal’ people left. The front cover looks cool as well and certainly grabbed my attention. There is one bit where a monster appears out of the blue, which seems a little ridiculous when you look at the size of the thing. But to be fair that may be a plot issue more than an art issue.

Still, the art is one of the strong points of this comic book. Art Score – 7/10.

 

Final Verdict

Overall, The Infected is OK. The idea behind it works and it looks good, but the first issue lacks substance. The characters weren’t engaging and the plot lacking. There is potential to turn this into something great I think, but maybe calling this one a first draft and having another go may be the best approach. If you want to support a more indie publisher and writers and enjoy this sort of thing then check it out.

Final Score – 5 Freedoms out of 10.

 

Kit

Kick Ass Stories You Should Really Check Out: Part 6! Everything Sucks

Our pal Kit hits us up with some more Kick Ass Stories You Should Really Check Out!

“But that was life: Nobody got a guided tour to their own theme park. You had to hop on the rides as they presented themselves, never knowing whether you would like the one you were in line for…or if the bastard was going to make you throw up your corn dog and your cotton candy all over the place.” – J.R Ward, Crave

So it’s Friday night, I’ve just passed my probation at work (yay!) and guess how I’m going to spend it… being super cool and awesome by writing another Kick Ass Stories! Clearly I’ve been distracted lately in writing these, but hey, these are fun, right? So let’s bring them back on that wonderful high notes: Everything sucks!

I’ve picked two really good, but unfortunately really depressing stories this week. Each of them puts you in a situation you think you’ll be fine in when actually, you really won’t. Our first story will take on the idea that we all watch or listen to shows or films and think ‘pffft, if that was me I’d have pulled the trigger/not stood there like a moron/RUN SIDEWAYS (looking at you Prometheus)’ when in many of those situations yes, we’d freeze up and probably die. The other one looks at what happens when our faith is put to the test and how the truth of the matter may even be worse than you thought possible.

Right. Procrastinating done. Onto the article!

 

Becca at the End of the World

“So hi. My name is Becca Martin. I have been bitten by a damn zombie. My mom is going to be taping this because we don’t know if anyone has any data on what happens exactly and, like, mental changes… and also I just wanted to talk. I’m sixteen. I’m going to die in probably about an hour.”

We all know the scene. A couple are in a zombie film, running from the hordes, and suddenly one of them does something plain stupid. They go back for that one character nobody likes, try to get that photo they dropped or just get unlucky and trip. Crunch. That’s right, they’re bitten. So what’s the right thing to do? Clearly put a bullet in their eyes ASAP. Often, this does eventually happen, but not until there’s been a long drawn out death scene with lots of last regrets and ‘NO! THEY’RE GOING TO BE FINE!’

We’d all just finish it, right?

Well, would you? Would you really? And if you did, can you imagine how hard it would be? This story is great, Becca has been bitten. We don’t know how, we just know she has been and both she and her mum know they can’t do anything. They set up in an old school room and film Becca’s final hour in an attempt understand what happens when somebody changes. The plan is for Becca’s mum to finish things when the time comes. And that’s the plot. You don’t get to see what happens after or the rest of the world. It’s irrelevant. What is relevant is what matters, the fact that in a zombie apocalypse we’ll lose people we love.

It ends with her mum’s choice: do I kill my zombified daughter?

Of course you’ll have to read or listen to it to find out!

BATEOTW

Author: Shira Lipkin

Audio: http://www.drabblecast.org/2014/02/08/drabblecast-b-sides-39-becca-end-world/ (members only)

Written: http://www.apex-magazine.com/becca-at-the-end-of-the-world/

 

The Star

“It is three thousand light years to the Vatican. Once, I believed that space could have no power over faith, just as I believed that the heavens declared the glory of God’s handiwork. Now I have seen that handiwork, and my faith is sorely troubled. I stare at the crucifix that hangs on the cabin wall above the Mark VI Computer, and for the first time in my life I wonder if it is no more than an empty symbol.”

Faith: something we all have in one way or another. Not necessarily in religion, it could be in a political party, sports team or that George RR Martin won’t kill off your favourite character.

This is a story about somebody’s faith being tested to the brink. Set 800 years in the future our protagonist is part of a research team exploring the universe. As they travel the universe their faith in God is put to the test.

The story focuses on their discovery of a small planet is the Phoenix Nebula. An ancient, advance and peaceful race lived in this solar system who have died out. Before they died they managed to create a beacon, containing a record of their entire history before their sun exploded into a white dwarf. Dealing with this is the ultimate test of faith.

There’s of course a little more to it than this, but I won’t give away the ending. The story asks what is better – a God who allows death and destruction or to be in an uncaring universe where catastrophes happen for no reason other than being the result of a reaction or equation?

Of course I have no answer for that, and the chances are you have your own opinion on it already anyway.

This story was first written by Arthur C Clarke and is heralded as a bit of a classic. I’d recommend listening to the Drabblecast version. Norm delivers it brilliantly as usual and really brings it to life more than just text on a screen can.

the star

Author: Arthur C Clarke

Link: http://www.drabblecast.org/2011/12/24/drabblecast-227-the-star/

 

Hope you enjoy both of those! I’ll try to come back with something a little more cheery next time! There’s been a fair bit of death and things not being so great on these lately… How about cats next? Yeah… cats… the internet definitely doesn’t have enough of them!

Kit

Kick Ass Stories You Should Really Check Out: Part 5! Death, or Lack Thereof

Our pal Kit hits us up with some more Kick Ass Stories You Should Really Check Out!

Over the last few weeks I’ve been a little tied up by real life (and not in the fun way!) so these stories have taken a bit of a backseat. I’ll be bringing a couple back today though, with two of my absolute favourites. There’s no theme on these other than personal preference. The first is a Superhero tale, focused more on the Super and less on the Hero really. It’s effectively a Superman story but of course goes by a different name. So you’ll be learning about the Last Son of Tomorrow as opposed to the Last Son of Krypton. It focuses on what it would be like on a more individual level to be Superman (or Not-Superman as the case may be), his connection to humanity and in this version of events immortality.

Then there’s The Wreck of the Charles Dexter Ward. This is the (unfortunately) final part in the Mongoose series which I absolutely love. It again takes things in a different direct. My only issue with it is that right now it is the final part and looks like it’ll stay that way as things are. Still, what can this story offer than the other two haven’t? Minor spoiler warning, but its mad scientists and zombies. Because yeah, the series clearly isn’t awesome enough already.

As I said before, I’ve been a bit busy offline (mainly with coursework) but so this will be a shorter review. I’ll be back with more next time when I pick up some nonstandard zombie stories. Less about the slow-mo action shots and exploding heads and more well.. let’s just say at least two of them are VERY unique.

 

The Last Son of Tomorrow

“He coughed nervously. The questions stopped. Everyone was quiet. Everyone was waiting. “I’m John,” he said. “I’m here to help.” And for the next sixty years, that was just what he did. It was the least significant period of his life.”

As a Superman fan (apparently there aren’t that many of us these days) I really enjoyed this. The main character John is as close to Superman as copyright will allow so that’s how I choose to see him myself. It isn’t about the heroics as most superhero tales are but much more about the man. As you can tell by the quote above the heroics barely get a look in really. Hell, he considers them insignificant in the grand scheme of things, which you really get to see as he learns he’s immortal.

The story starts with our hero John living an apparently normal life, he drinks beer with his mates and is just getting by when he sees an accident in front of him. He then refuses to help on the off chance someone may see him, and lets his dad die while he rushes in to save their dog. Wait, no… that sounds like a terrible Superman story. Of course he saves the day.

As the story progresses we get to see John’s interactions with people change, until they seem to be not really people from his perspective any more.

The main focus of the second half is how he tries to deal with his immortality, that it seems he’ll live forever and what on earth he should do with himself.

This is one of those questions that rarely gets a look in with immortal heroes (with some notable exceptions – Dr Manhattan for example). And I like the idea that his heroics, where he fights his arch rival and saves the day aren’t what matters when he exists forever. It’s well worth a read.

And on a personal I’m going to use this article as a chance to say Batman vs Superman? Not too excited about that one, you’re currently looking at a C- DC, try harder next time.

Finally, this story is behind a pay wall on the Drabblecast. It’s worth paying, $10 a month and you get a load more stories. But I’ll put a link to a text version if you’d prefer too.

tomorrow

Author: Greg van Eekhout

Link: http://www.drabblecast.org/2014/07/16/drabblecast-b-sides-48-last-son-tomorrow/

Text: http://www.tor.com/stories/2009/05/last-son-of-tomorrow

 

The Wreck of the Charles Dexter Ward

“Looking away from the light that showed the Charles Dexter Ward was no longer entirely dead was as hard as opening a rusted zipper. But Cynthia did it, and didn’t let herself look back. She pulled Hester a little further down the corridor and said, “Now we really need to know how she killed him. And whether it’ll work a second time…””

Now we reach the last part of probably the best series I’ve picked up on these podcasts. The Wreck of the Charles Dexter Ward. The story follows Cynthia, a Doctor and scientist who has committed some horrific experiments in her time. She’s haunted by them as they follow her everywhere and leave her kicked out of each job she picks up. Until she gets an offer to join a vessel of other scientists, seemingly indifferent about her past.

We get to see more of this fantastic universe, we get to know the Archamers (crazy space scientists) and some of the even shadier sides to this fantasy setting. It’s a two part story as always, the first is far more suspense and build up which it executes brilliantly, you’ll be gripped and hold on to each sentence. The second half is a mad rush where after you’ll wonder how the last hour and a half flew by so quickly.

I’m going to have to hold back before I say much more or I’ll spoil well, everything. If you’ve listened to the other two then I’m sure I don’t need to say much more to get you interested than: space scientists and space zombies.

I really hope there is a fourth story to the series one day. Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette again leave hints to weird and wonderful sounding space monsters I would love to know more about.

2

Author: Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette

Link: http://www.drabblecast.org/2012/08/31/drabblecast-254-the-wreck-of-the-charles-dexter-ward-pt-1/

And http://www.drabblecast.org/2012/09/06/drabblecast-255-the-wreck-of-the-charles-dexter-ward-pt-2/

 

Kit