A Study In Emerald by Neil Gaiman

A Study In Emerald by Neil Gaiman, Dark Horse 2018.

This comic book retelling of a short story originally published in 2003 is one that I have been looking forward to ever since it was announced a while back. Adapted from Gaiman’s original prose by Rafael Scavone and expertly drawn by Rafael Albuquerque, the presentation of this volume never falls short of astounding.

The story regards two men – one an injured in battle military veteren, and the other a brilliant detective – attempting to solve the most gruesome of murders. And that’s where I’ll leave the plot, because, you know, spoilers. The writing is excellent throughout, although I would expect nothing less from anything stemming from one of Gaiman’s stories, and the artwork is exemplary.

But the story… It has so much potential, and whilst it is fascinating to watch the detective explain his thought process, there is not nearly enough of it. As a reader – and a huge fan of Neil Gaiman – I was left disappointed, cold and frustrated by the story’s anti-climax. This felt like the first part of a much larger work, except it isn’t. This is the beginning, middle and end, and I wanted more. At a mere 80 pages or so, perhaps I was a little foolish in expecting one of the grand tales that are Gaiman’s bread and butter, but that I did.

Ultimately, this is an interesting short story, but nothing more. It draws upon Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, but never really goes anywhere with it. This is a hard one to recommend, although I do – with reservations. It’s one for the fans who need everything with Neil’s name on it, but a casual comic book fan will probably be left feeling a little cheated.

Neil Gaiman – A Study In Emerald – 2.5 Stars


Robin, Robin and Robin…

Robin. Batman’s sidekick. Always just a hired help, someone to back him up in a fix, but never really all that important to the story. And no one even really likes Robin that much, do they? Well I decided it was time to do a little background reading on one of the best known supporting characters in comic history.

Ever since I watched repeats of the campy 60s TV show as a kid, I’ve known that Dick Grayson was Robin. As I grew up and started reading comics, Dick Grayson was still, and would always be, Robin. Now imagine my tiny mind blowing when I discovered that actually, he wouldn’t. As we all know, Grayson eventually went on to forge his own path as Nightwing, and Nightwing was great. But there have been other Robin’s…

Over the last 25 years or so, I’ve read many comics where we have seen Robin’s boots filled by other people. I’ve read lots of these stories out of context, and just accepted that Jason Todd was Robin. Or Tim Drake. Or Damian Wayne. But recently I suddenly realised that despite all these different people playing Robin, I’d never actually read the specific stories that saw them take on the cape and boots, or the events surrounding them.

I decided to rectify that.

I did a little bit of online research, asked around a couple of forums (I can highly recommend the Comic Vine forums if you ever want to know anything about any comic, ever. Ever), and curated myself a reading list consisting of the stories which concern the employment and subsequent termination of every major Robin. That is to say, Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake and Damian Wayne.

Some of the books in this reading list are not entirely essential to anyone just wanting to stick strictly to Robin’s stories, but they do serve well as set-ups to the next book in the list, or they are just great stories that feature Robin quite heavily. Don’t worry, I will not be posting any spoilers for these books, other than how Robin fits in to the story. So, the list then…

1. Batman: Year One

This isn’t a Robin story at all. In fact, he’s not even in it, but Frank Miller’s Batman origin story is widely regarded as one of the most important, and critically acclaimed comic books of all time, and serves as a good introduction to Batman and some of the other characters we will find in the rest of this list.

2. Batman: The Long Halloween

Again, this isn’t a Robin story, but it is an excellent one, and leads directly in to…

 3. Batman: Dark Victory

A sequel to The Long Halloween, and the first time we are introduced to a young Dick Grayson.

4. Robin: Year One

Dick’s first year as Robin. You could have probably worked that one out yourself. Written by long time Batman writer, Chuck Dixon, I really enjoyed this book.

5. Batgirl: Year One

Yes this is a Batgirl title, but she rarely flies alone, and her origin story is as much a continuation of Robin’s Year One as anything else.

6. The Teen Titans: Judas Contract

The Teen Titans, Robin’s side project if you like, is not a series I’ve ever read outside of this book, but it’s a good story and also covers Dick’s transition in to Nightwing.

7. Nightwing: Year One

Some of this story contradicts the book above a little, but it’s a good introduction to Nightwing, and also introduces us to Jason Todd – soon to be Robin!

8. Batman: Second Chances

When Batman catches small time crook, Jason Todd, trying to steal the tyres off the Batmobile, he takes pity on him and decides to correct his ways.

It’s actually not that great a book. A selection of stories, it’s jumps around time rather awkwardly – the first story is about an imposter Batman, and features Jason as Robin. It’s not until second story, where we see Dick back as Robin again that we then see Jason’s origin. I’m not a fan of the artwork, and the writing is very early 80’s comic book style, although it does feature the line, ‘Like a wino’s teeth, Park Row decayed in to something foul…’, so it kind of gets a pass for that.

9. The Killing Joke

Not really a Robin story, but Alan Moore’s incredible work introduces Joker, who plays a rather important role in…

10. Batman: Death In The Family

Where Jason Todd, erm, retires from the role of Robin.

11. Batman: A Lonely Place Of Dying 

An unknown boy has been tracking Batman, following his work, piecing together the clues, and when he finally makes contact works his ass off to prove to the bat that he needs to take on another Robin following the departure of Jason Todd.

NOTE: The new edition of Death In The Family also contains the Lonely Place Of Dying story arc. I have the original 80s version, which doesn’t, but it you are purchasing books, be sure to check which version your getting otherwise you could accidentally double dip!

12. Batman: Knightfall Trilogy

Another story which isn’t really about Robin, but one of the all time great Batman stories, which sees Bats face off against his strongest foe yet – Bane. There are three parts to this story, Knightfall parts one and two, and the conclusion, Knightsend, which sees a returning Dick Grayson play an important role…

13. Batman & Son

The introduction of the son Batman never knew he had, and the next Robin.

14. Batman Inc: Vol 2

…and then his exit from the series.

So there you have it. A by no means exhaustive list, and there are hundreds of stories between the gaps that are well worthy of your attention, but the books above cover the transitions of every major Robin. There have been others, briefly (I haven’t even mentioned Stephanie Brown, Duke Thomas or the We Are Robin movement), but this is just a list I made for myself that I thought someone might be interested in.

Let me know in the comments if you found it any use!


Red Team by Garth Ennis

Red Team by Garth Ennis, Dynamite Entertainment 2013.

I have had Garth Ennis’ Red Team sat on my shelf pretty much since the week it was released in trade paperback format several years ago. Today I learned that Mr Ennis has written a follow up to this mini-series, so I thought now was as good a time as any to finally get the thing read! 

I don’t know why I’ve put it off for so long. I’m a big fan of Garth’s work. His incredible work on Preacher was one of a couple of series that reignited my love for comics after a few years out of the scene. What I’ve read so far of The Boys has been exceptional, and in Crossed he managed to take the already now tiresome theme of a zombie apocalypse and managed create a world which was downright terrifying rather than one you’d actually be secretly quite excited to be thrown in to. What I’m saying is I do really enjoy his comics, so quite why it’s taken me so long to read Red Team is a mystery. Well, now I have, and I’m pleased to report it stands alongside his other work as a series definitely worthy of your attention.

I will not spoil the plot here, but loosely speaking the story is framed by the interrogation of the titular Red Team, a police major crimes unit who decide to do the unthinkable. They murder a suspect. As the story unfolds (mostly via flashbacks) expect plenty of twists and revelations – there were several ‘Aaaah!’ and ‘Ooooh!’ moments that kept me guessing until its satisfying conclusion.

The artwork, handled by Craig Cermak, is never less than exemplary, and the writing is classic Ennis. The easily offended should look away, but then again, the easily offended probably aren’t picking up a Garth Ennis book. Overall, I highly recommend this to any comic book fans, but especially those with an interest in crime fiction.

Garth Ennis – Red Team – 4 stars



MCU Marathon: Update #1

So, following on from my post about watching the entire MCU library, I have now watched Iron Man (5 stars) and The Incredible Hulk (4 stars).

Both movies looked great, being played as they were from Bluray disc, and I actually enjoyed them more than I thought I would. Despite being a huge comic fan, I’ve always been more DC than Marvel, and as such don’t really have any sense of nostalgia or attachment to these characters. Both Tony Stark and Bruce Banner seemed pretty well rounded protagonists though, and not nearly as one dimensional as you might assume.

I do feel that both films relied pretty heavily on the same formula though, which is: man gets powers, baddie gets similar-but-stronger powers, goodie beats baddie. It is a mild concern at this point that this format will feature very heavily throughout the rest of these films, but we’ll see.

As for Iron Man and Hulk, well the films piqued my interest enough for me to go and seek out some recommended reading for each of them. I’ve got Hulk Grey and Iron Man Extremis to get through, so I’ll let you know how that goes!

Stay tuned!

Iron Man – 5 Stars

The Incredible Hulk – 4 Stars




Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (PlayStation 4) – Naughty Dog, 2017.

Full disclosure, I am a huge Uncharted apologist. Sure, I can see the flaws, and I listen to the arguments, but I just adore this series. The characters, the worlds, the exploring, the shooting, I love it all – and this, this just might be the series finest hour. Probably the biggest credit I can give this game is that not once in its eight hour roller-coaster ride did I catch myself wishing Drake was on the scene. The chemistry between Chloe and Nadine is perfect for the screen, and the short running time of the game means there wasn’t a wasted second or slow point anywhere to be found.

Structurally, it sticks pretty close to the tried and tested formula, although it does give you a huge open world to play around in at around a third of the way through. I spent around three hours on this section alone, finding all the tokens and treasures. If Naughty Dog had given us nothing but this section as DLC, they’d have still got away with it. As it is, that open world is just a small part of probably the tightest, most action packed Uncharted release yet. The set pieces are incredible. We’ve seen Drake run atop speeding trains before, but this time was more bombastic, more adrenaline fuelled and more fun than any other. The story was as good as any other we’ve seen in the series yet (and make of that what you will), the climbing even more refined and smooth than in U4, and the puzzles didn’t once feel like they broke up the flow of the game.

All in all, Naughty Dog have done an incredible job of showing that there is life after Drake for Uncharted, and I for one cannot wait to see what they do next. If we get a shorter, more action packed adventure like this every couple of years, I’m all in.


Uncharted: The Lost Legacy – 5 Stars

Oh yeah… I have a blog!? (also, Marvel)

Ok, so first of all, I set up this blog last year, and then didn’t post anything until… well, today! Today I have decided to start actually using this thing, and to make an effort to post something whenever I can.

I will not just be posting about video games. It’ll be about all kinds of entertainment media, anything I read, watch, or play. Comics, movies, games, whatever.

So, with that in mind, I realised the other day that I’ve not really watched any of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. I saw Iron Man and Hulk a few years back (and remember next to nothing about either!), and that’s about it. So, I’ve decided to watch and rate the entire series. Yep, all 20 odd films or so.

I’ll be posting updates of my progress on here. Expect the first couple of mini reviews this week.

So if you love games, movies or comics – stay posted!


Hello! I’m Alex, and I’ve been playing video games for as long as I remember. About 35 years ago, whilst being suspended in mid-air by my dad, I got my first taste of gaming on a ferry halfway across the Irish Sea. I couldn’t tell you what game it was, other than it was top down and had a great big steering wheel. There’s a strong possibility it was a normal sized wheel, and I had tiny three year-old hands. I’ve been hooked since then.

For Christmas, 1986, my brother and I received our first home computer. The Amstrad CPC-464 – with, no less, a full colour monitor! I’m sure I will, at some point, detail many happy memories we made with that computer on this blog, but I’ll keep my gaming history brief for now.

A few years later we became the proud owners of a Sega Master System – oh let me tell you, after years of loading games from cassette we were blown away by these ‘arcade perfect’ games which loaded almost instantly. Note; ‘arcade perfect’ was most definitely the words of a 12 year old me – not Sega! I continued collecting consoles through the Megadrive and SNES era, on to the Playstation, Dreamcast, N64 and pretty much everything else I could get my hands on.

These days, I’m not quite the collector I used to be – who has the space? Most of my old consoles probably still reside in the lofts of various ex-girlfriends, but I still love games as much as ever. I own (of the current gen) just a PS4 and Vita (which is absolutely essential in my house!) although hope to be able to get myself a Switch within the next 12 months.

I’m looking forward to getting some thoughts about the games I’ve played down on to paper (screen?), so if you’ve stumbled across this site by accident, I’d love to hear your feedback.