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The Originals
By Dave Gibbons
Published by DC/Vertigo; $24.95 USD

Although I've heard this is in part based on the real life experiences of writer/artist Dave Gibbons, it's hobbled by the sense that we've seen this all before -- I hate to call The Originals unoriginal, but the temptation is overwhelming. Lel (short, apparently, for "Leslie") is a wannabe thug who finally gets his invitation to be a part of the gang, only to find circumstance and coincidence lead him down a dark path of retribution. It's four parts Goodfellas and one-one-hundredth part Star Wars, with the sci-fi hover bikes feeling really extraenous and present only to reinforce the sci-fi feel of a story that is essentially Happy Days with murder, and almost everybody's Fonzie.

I have a great deal of affection for the art of Dave Gibbons, from Doctor Who to Green Lantern to Watchmen, and had hoped this would be something special. But the story's formula is obvious at almost every beat of the narrative, the art seems without passion, and there's not a character in the book I could relate to or much cared for. As a slightly undersized original graphic novel in hardcover, The ORiginals is an interesting presentation; as a story, it's a bloodless, mechanical concoction and an overall disappointment. Grade: 3/5


The Twins Chronicles: One Long Ass Day
By Salvatore Cipriano and Marco DiLeonardo
Published by Cactus Fusion; $4.95 USD

It pains me to say it, but former Comic Book Galaxy contributor Sal Cipriano writes probably one of the most unpleasant comics I've read all year; One Long Ass Day recounts a day in the life of two apparent twins who love accusing each other of being "Gay!" as they carry out their bloodshed. The hitmen interrupt their victim having sex, and one of them gets a Lewinsky from the girl ("That's it, Baby. Just like your mama taught you.") in painful detail while the other twin listens to the intended victim plead for his life.

The mindless, over-the-top action is tinged with a disturbing focus on gay jokes (are they really brothers? Are they lovers? Are they brothers AND lovers?), and the awkward artwork does nothing to redeem the nasty, pointless script. It seems clear the writer and artist had a ball creating this story, but the end result is an ugly, mean-spirited ripoff of Pulp Fiction with no redeeming qualities that I could detect. I've seen better work from both these creators, but this is about as far from good comics as you can get. Grade: 0/5


The Chronicles of Conan Volume Five: The Shadow in the Tomb
By Roy Thomas and John Buscema
Published by Dark Horse Comics; $15.95 USD

The John Buscema era arrives in full here in Volume Five of The Chronicles of Conan. The current Conan series by Kurt Busiek, Cary Nord and company has reignited my interest in Conan for the first time in a long time, and this volume is packed with the action, treachery and beautiful women you'd expect. The biggest surprise is just how modern and fresh Buscema's work looks -- his artwork shines under the remastered colouring being performed for these volumes, looking better than it ever did in the original Marvel comics.

Original series writer Roy Thomas also provides an essay at the end of the volume, giving his perspective on the creation of these comics. If you haven't sampled these volumes yet but have been enjoying the new monthly series, The Conan Chronicles is a good place to get even more of a sense of the character's place in comics history. Grade: 4/5

-- Alan David Doane



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