Archive | April, 2010

Megan

Neverland Fiction Review

Posted on April 30, 2010 by

Remember those long hot summers that never seemed to end? Remember the people your parents said you had to like – even though they quite clearly did not – because they were your relatives? In Neverland, Douglas Clegg has captured these feelings and added a gruesomely scary twist that keeps you turning the pages.

The story starts off as it means to go on, focussing on the main character, Beauregard Monroe. He’s 10, and about to embark on his family’s annual vacation at his grandmother’s house on a swampy island in the Deep South that even the locals leave for the summer. The heat, the humidity, and the mosquitoes, make themselves felt even in a chilly English spring (where I’m reading), as I turn the pages the sultry, sleepy heat flows forth.

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Robert A. Howard

In the Company of Giants RPG Review

Posted on April 29, 2010 by

In the Company of Giants is one of the latest supplements by Rite Publishing that expands on their ever burgeoning campaign setting, Questhaven. This time, Steven Russell turns his attention to creating a playable race of giants, known as Jotun. (For the curious, a quick Wikipedia search will reveal “jötunn” to be the name given to giants of Norse mythology.) Though the jotun may be themed for giants of the Questhaven setting, everything within is completely portable to any 3.5e or Pathfinder game, which includes a full racial class progression from 1st to 20th level, a titan’s fistful of elemental themed powers, and several pages of feats to add to your jotun’s retinue.

The Jotunnar, as they are called in Questhaven, are an interesting variant of the traditional giants of Dungeons and Dragons, and are designed to overcome the biggest problems of introducing giants as a playable race.

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alanajoli

Trinity: Blood on Sands Comic Review

Posted on April 28, 2010 by

Top Cow has several series that expand the Witchblade universe, and over the summer, they sent me a preview of a one-shot: Trinity: Blood on Sands. It depicts a 14th century tale of the battle between the Darkness and the Angelus, balanced, of course, by the bearer of the Witchblade. Written by Philip W. Smith II and featuring art by Sheldon Mitchell, Admira Wijaya, and Tom Grindberg (some of whom team with other artists for inks and colors), Trinity deepens the Witchblade mythology a little bit in twenty-five pages and three short-story like episodes. As a stand alone, however, it would do little to draw an audience into the series. Using the current mythology in which the Witchblade can be broken into two, the one-shot features a pair of siblings who share the Witchblade, one cruel and dark and the other good and loving, a trope which, when pitted against the Witchblade storyline during the time it came out, seems too simplistic.

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Jason Thorson

A Nightmare on Elm Street Retrospective

Posted on April 27, 2010 by

Twenty-six years ago horror fans were introduced to arguably the most complex and unique addition to the pantheon of slasher-era icons – Freddy Krueger. He was no stiff mute in a mask, maliciously misusing garden tools as a violent catharsis to purge his mommy-issues. No, Freddy had panache.

First and foremost, Freddy could talk – a simple differentiation that opened up vast new areas to cover that were not navigable to his peers. And Freddy inhabited dreams, another seemingly small difference that yielded an incredibly creative set of rules with which to play for Freddy and his victims alike. Most importantly, there’s the bladed glove – his handcrafted implement of death designed to both terrify and eviscerate sleepy Springwood teenagers. Anybody can pick up a machete or a large kitchen knife and perhaps clear some brush or prepare dinner, but Freddy’s glove had a singular horrible purpose and it, along with his dusty fedora and dirty red and green sweater, is now iconic on a global level.

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Wellstone City RPG Review

Posted on April 27, 2010 by

People like to play games and be things they aren’t. Sometimes it means playing an elf; sometimes it means playing a gangster. Games like Mob Justice, Haven: City of Violence, and even oddities like World of Darkness: Mafia or Marvel Super Heroes’ Deluxe City boxed set strived to bring various criminal elements to gaming. There are many more examples out there (some good and some, uh, not so good), but today we’re looking at the Wellstone City setting, which works with the Savage Worlds game engine. Get out your handgun, make sure you don’t hold it sideways (there are rules on why you don’t do this), and take a walk on the wrong side of the tracks as we see how a Savaged Mobster (or other gritty urbanite) looks.

Kevin M. Rohan wore many hats during the creation of this game. It’s a fact I found impressive, especially since he did such a solid job under each one.

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Zero Hunters #2 Comic Review

Posted on April 26, 2010 by

I have to say, I’m really getting into the ZERO HUNTERS series so far. Issue #2 delves more into the character relationships and packs just as much of a punch as the first.

After downloading my free review copy, I dove right in. The panels start off with the introduction of a new member to the ZH team, Officer James Mitchell. He’s green and doesn’t believe a word of what he’s told. But that all changes soon enough after a nice little romp in a shady underground club.

As a potential sidekick he’s sharp and quick enough on his feet to keep up. Overall, Mitchell makes a nice addition to the unit, and he adds a bit of comedic relief and a contrast to Garrick. We also get to meet more of the Zero Hunters. The players are tough and like the job, and they’re a great backup for Garrick and his personal mission.

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Flames

Don’t Miss the Weekend Warrior Sale at DriveThruComics.com

Posted on April 24, 2010 by

. .

What do Paul Revere and Johnny Saturn have in common with Judge Dredd? They’re all on sale right now at DriveThruComics.com, your first downloadable comic shop.

All you have to do is visit DriveThruComics.com to enjoy an automatic twenty percent savings on select comic book downloads now through midnight on Sunday. There is no minimum purchase and you don’t have to enter any coupon codes to participate in the Weekend Warrior Sale. Prices normally range from ninety-nine cents for a single issue to twenty dollars for a graphic novel or exclusive collections.

Publishers included in the sale range from Archaia Entertainment, Coscom Entertainment, 2000 A.D., AAM-Markosia Press, Heske Horror, Caliber Comics and several more!

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Tide of Souls Fiction Review

Posted on April 23, 2010 by

When the water levels rise, so do the hungry dead.

This is the premise for Simon Bestwick’s outing for Abaddon Books zombie apocalypse themed, “Tomes of the Dead” series entitled Tide of Souls. The Story Surrounds a polish ex prostitute that has been trained by her father in special forces hand to hand combat, a recently called back to duty British squad commander whose a born leader but who has a dark secret in his past, and a marine biologist that might just have all the answers as to why the dead and the water levels around the earth have risen and taken over, so long as they can keep him upright and off the bottle.

Let me say this, “Tide of Souls” is possibly the best book that Abaddon books has published to date.

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Flames

Dark Faith Preview

Posted on April 21, 2010 by

The destructiveness of passion, both earthly and supernatural, makes cities bleed and souls burn across worlds, through endless time. Experience the spiritual side of the zombie apocalypse in “The Days of Flaming Motorcycles” and transcend both hell and nirvana in “Zen and the Art of Gordon Dratch’s Damnation.” Look into “The Mad Eyes of the Heron King” to find the beautiful brutality written in the moment of epiphany or “Go and Tell it On the Mountain,” where Jesus Christ awaits your last plea to enter heaven—if there is a heaven to enter when all is said and done.

Horror’s top authors and promising newcomers whisper tales that creep through the mists at night to rattle your soul. Step beyond salvation and damnation with thirty stories and poems that reveal the darkness beneath belief. Place your faith in that darkness; it’s always there, just beyond the light.

Flames Rising is pleased to present a preview of this new book from Apex Book Company

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Revere: Revolution in Silver Comic Review

Posted on April 21, 2010 by

Just before I received this comic, I read Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. In that book, history gets turned every slightly, so that readers can be treated to a vision of the Sixteenth President. It’s a fun game to play, which is evident by the flood of books related to this genre.

Comics, however, get to reveal Paul Revere’s secret story. His story proves equally fun.

Grant Bond’s artwork in Revere: Revolution in Silver is, for lack of a better word, wicked. His splash pages along with the sketchbook at the end of the book show an incredible range of style. He often crafted two-page splashes with incredible effect. The colors are mostly dark (red is used for blood and the British mainly). Lots of grays and blacks fill this book; however, it looks vibrant.

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Monica Valentinelli

C2E2: Wrap-Up, News and Horror Comics

Posted on April 20, 2010 by

We are back from C2E2, held in Chicago’s gorgeous McCormick Center, and we have quite a bit we’d like to share with you. In this post, we’ll highlight a few dark fantasy, science fiction and horror comics and relay news about publishers.

Several publishers, including Zenoscope Entertainment, were offering a title or two set in their version of Wonderland. Zenoscope, who will also be producing the CHARMED comic, specializes in dark fantasy comics as seen through their GRIMM’S FAIRY TALES line. So if you like Alice, you may want to check out their series of different WONDERLAND comics.

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Steven Dawes

Supernatural: Book of Monsters, Spirits, Demons Review

Posted on April 19, 2010 by

k everyone, take your best “Wizard of Oz” impression out of the closet and chant along with me: “ Monsters, Spirits, Demons and ghouls, OH MY!”

As of this last weekend I read “Supernatural: Book of Monsters, Spirits, Demons and Ghouls” and thus wrapping up my three part supernatural quest. If you haven’t been keeping score, my first venture into the quest was tangling with a book that forgot that it was based on the Supernatural TV show and did its own thing. My second part of the quest proved to be an improvement that led me into the depths of John Winchester’s history, mind and research via his journal.

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Flames

Ex Occultus: The Seal of Solomon

Posted on April 17, 2010 by

Ex Occultus is a globetrotting, serialized epic combining elements of Indiana Jones, H. P. Lovecraft and The X-Files as it follows the exploits of adventurer and fortune-hunter Francis Wakefield, the gruff and grizzled Englishman with a tortuous past, and his protégé, a young man only known as Hollander, as they journey through the arcane in search of treasures and fortune, righting wrongs as they go.

The Seal of Solomon

1874. Sofia, Bulgaria. Wakefield and Hollander are hired by a mysterious nobleman to track down the fabled Seal of Solomon, a ring of supernatural origin with the abilities to summon and control demons. What first appears to be a simple mission, however, soon becomes something far more deadly.

Ex Occultus: Seal of Solomon is available at DriveThruComics.com.

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Billzilla

Nosferatu: The Beast That Haunts The Blood Review

Posted on April 16, 2010 by

I’ve been a recent convert to White Wolf’s World of Darkness system, and have enjoyed immensely playing Vampire the Requiem. My initial character was of clan Ventrue – almost by default – but after reading through the Nosferatu clan book, I think I know what clan affiliation my next character will have.

Nosferatu describes the most repellent of the Kindred clans; the most disquieting vampires in the whole World of Darkness. No matter their sire, the vampires of this clan – Haunts, Freaks, and any number of less pleasant terms – have characteristics that set them apart from everyone else – even other Kindred. Their deformities may be physical, or they may tend toward having a powerful odor following them.

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Aposperos: Merchant of Souls Review

Posted on April 15, 2010 by

After a little over a year of writing RPG reviews (and one movie review), I’m dipping my big toe into comic reviews. I’m currently looking at two comics that are so off the mainstream path I find myself giddy. I love comics even though I don’t love where the Big Two have taken them in recent years. Independent writers and artists hold fresh characters that can take some surprising turns. My layout for my comic reviews will be different than my RPG reviews in that I’ll only focus on the writing and the artwork. There are more aspects–coloring, lettering, inking (or tracing according to Chasing Amy)–to comic creation; however, I will only focus on the two primary areas. Here goes.

There were moments in Aposperos (from Visionary Comics Studios) were the artwork, a style that is so far from what I like, worked for me.

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Flames

An excerpt from The Conqueror’s Shadow by Ari Marmell

Posted on April 14, 2010 by

With The Conqueror’s Shadow, Ari Marmell brings a welcome seasoning of wit to the genre, proving that dark fantasy can address the enduring questions of good and evil and still retain a sense of humor. Playful yet intense, sharply sarcastic yet deeply sincere, The Conqueror’s Shadow announces the appearance of a unique talent—and an antihero like no other.

Flames Rising is pleased to present a portion of Chapter Six of this new novel by Ari Marmell…

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Monica Valentinelli

Review of Wings of Wrath by C.S. Friedman

Posted on April 14, 2010 by

Years ago, I had read the Coldfire trilogy by C.S. Friedman and had really enjoyed it, so when the opportunity came up to review a book in her new series, I was pretty intrigued.

WINGS OF WRATH is the second book in the Magister trilogy. I hadn’t read the first book, so that is something to keep in mind when you’re reading my review. Often, series are either structured in a way that you can pick up a book at any point and get into the story pretty quickly, or you have to read the series from the beginning. For many reasons, I felt that I really needed to go back and read the first book…primarily to appreciate a particular character named Kamala.

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teampreston

Soul Hunter Book Review

Posted on April 13, 2010 by

Previously I mentioned that I generally don’t care for Chaos Space Marine novels (see my Dark Creed review). I think it’s because I have a difficult time seeing how I’ll be able to relate to the characters. How can I root for the bad guys? Dark Creed proved me wrong on that, and since Soul Hunter came in my monthly care package from BL, I was willing to give it a shot. This is the first Aaron Dembski-Bowden book for me as well, so I was anxious to get a taste of what he brings to the table. I wasn’t let down.

Let me say that the author does an excellent job in sucking you in to the whole vibe of, well…darkness. The Night Lords are like the Batman Chapter of Traitor Marines. Darkness and fear. That’s their shtick. They really have it down pat. From the very prologue I was hooked.

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Serpent Scales: Happiness is a Sten Gun Review

Posted on April 12, 2010 by

I reviewed the Savage Worlds edition of The Day After Ragnarok a few months back. As a fan of bleak settings, Kenneth Hite’s dark little world is a contender. Atomic Overmind Press now releases Serpent Scales, which are meaty bits that focus on a specific (and I mean specific) aspect of that world. In this review, Hite takes on the British Sten Gun, which may be most deadly to its user.

I’m going to combine layout and artwork today. I mostly liked the layout with the exception of a sidebar on page two. The sidebar could have been a bit darker for readers.

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Flames

The Bogeyman is Coming!

Posted on April 11, 2010 by

We all have our little secrets.

Some are big, others small. They may be dirty, shameful or dire, soaked in the blood of the victims they claimed, burning in the embarrassment of their memory or the raging madness that can lurk behind even the kindest eyes. For some secrets, their keepers would die if they should be revealed. For others…

Would you kill to keep your secrets, or would your secrets kill for you?

Bogeyman is a role-playing game of personal horror, where ordinary folk struggle against fearsome creatures born of the dark recesses of their own minds. This 164 page book contains a complete role-playing system specially designed with horror in mind.

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11 Tales of Ghostly Horror

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