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entertainment

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Nothing Really Matters is an emotionally compelling single from Swiss musician Ajay Mathurs, taken from his second full-length album 9 to 3. The track has also been accompanied with a deep and disturbing (or deeply disturbing) music video which aims to take you to a raw and emotional place.

The video itself is a series of unsettling images, taken by photo artist Raffaella Bachmann, that are not attached, however, work extremely well together to create an atmosphere and act as a perfect visual manifestation of the track and the message within the music. There is a sense that there is a lack of colour in the world Mathurs is trying to portray as the monochrome palette conveys a greyness of emotion.

The song is about transformation and no longer being recognised as the thing that stood before. Mathurs opens the track in a husky voice that feels as if it has lived this situation or been on a journey of self discovery. His vocal whines and wails along the slow-moving jangling guitar riff, as the pain  and experience is exerted through his words.

Mathurs musical style is steeped in Americana and those interested in the likes of Jackson Browne or Bob Dylan would feel more at home here. What is the more impressive is that Nothing Really Matters has been officially nominated for a Grammy Award 2017 in the category of Best Rock Song.

Watch the video for Nothing Really Matters taken from the 9 to 3 album below:

Passing Clouds: The best place to go, with everything under one roof.

Passing Clouds was when I was 15 years old and it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. From the outside, the building appears to look like and ordinary apartment you would find in East London. But looks can be deceiving. Vibrant fairy lights fill the top half of the building with festival vibes and straight away you’re transported into a quaint bar in Hawaii. Quirky paintings and decorations are hung on the brick exposed walls. Everything you need in a live music venue is right in the heart of Hackney.

It was Wednesday and I remember the evening so well, my eyes lit up and the sight of the chic interior – it was love at first sight. Each night, from Monday to Saturday, a different genre of music is played and as it was a Wednesday, it was an evening of jazz and swing. On Mondays for instance, it’s reggae – you will find their annual calendar on their website. In the downstairs area of the building, it’s mostly a space for dancing and watching the band play their instruments and belt out their vocals (they perform on stage).

People don’t hold back at all when it comes to showing off what they’ve got on the floor and you can tell how enthusiastic everybody becomes when they dance with their friends to the lively music. Upstairs hosts a bar with maybe three bartenders when it’s busy and you’ll often find that people will try and get you to dance with them and their friends. The general atmosphere of Passing Clouds is very chilled, which attracts easygoing crowds and groups. I like how nobody judges anyone (it isn’t snobby) and people are there to have a good time and not cause trouble.

Only on some occasions there will be a band playing upstairs at the back, but there are normally just a couple of dj’s and speakers. On my sisters birthday a while back, I decided to take her and the family to Passing Clouds and the pressure was on to make sure they all had fun. We arrived there relatively early at 8pm, so it was quiet but as more groups and couples started entering, that was when the place came alive.

The staff were extremely accommodating and had us sat down on a sofa with a coffee table for our drinks, they also brought some chairs too. Not only was the service great, but they gave us a free bottle of champagne and exploded into a “happy birthday” song. It got busy at around 10pm, which was when the real fun began and the family enjoyed being there as much as I did. We were allowed to make as much noise as we wanted, without feeling like all eyes were on us.

For those of you who would prefer to beat the crowd, I suggest going on a weekday, Monday to Wednesday, and I advise you to draw out a map beforehand, because it can be slightly difficult to find the first time round. Although this hidden gem is quite small, it never feels too overcrowded and in my opinion, if it were to be any bigger, it would take away the private feel that it possesses. In Passing Clouds, there is such a broad range of faces from different backgrounds and unlike a club, you can actually converse with people. It’s like a breath of fresh air to have a music venue that older individuals can get involved with too.

Finally, if you want to pay an entry fee of £5 at the door, you will have to arrive before 9pm and any later is £10, a bargain for a guaranteed fantastic time!So to all you lads and lasses out there, add Passing Clouds to your list of go-to places. It is undeniably one of the best places to go to, with everything under one roof.

http://www.passingclouds.org/calendar/

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Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Titans, oh my! Tom Buxton continues his weekly quest to critique each and every new instalment of the DCU's new saga, Rebirth...


Can five weeks already have passed since Geoff Johns’ DC Universe Rebirth #1 kick-started a new, legacy-fuelled era for his company’s multi-verse of superhero comics? Time doesn’t half fly. At any rate, let’s continue with our ambitious campaign to evaluate each and every instalment of DC Comics’ re-launch, this time around analysing narratives including the return of Wally West to the not-so-teen Titans, Aquaman’s efforts to unite humanity and Atlantis once and for all as well as Diana Prince’s desperate search her true heritage.

Since no new Rebirth strips were released on the week beginning June 27th, we’ll instead be bringing you up to speed on the remaining storylines published on June 15th and June 22nd over the course of two articles this week, after which we’ll deliver our verdicts on a weekly basis just days after the latest aforementioned issues hit comic book retailers the world over. Be sure to keep us in the loop on your thoughts regarding this multi-year initiative over on social media, but for now, let’s dive headfirst into the next chapter of the DCU’s evolution…

JUNE 15TH, 2016 (PART 2 OF 2)

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Superman #1 – By all means feel free to add the eponymous Man of Steel’s latest line of printed escapades to our list of sure-fire ways to redeem your faith in the character: on the basis of this spectacular opening issue, Krypton’s – almost – sole survivor is all set for a colossal return to form over the remainder of 2016. Whereas the character’s appearances in Action Comics will prioritize his duels with antagonists like Lex Luthor and Doomsday, his solo adventures will apparently bring the personal drama involved with how Clark’s adoption of his New 52 predecessor’s mantle affects his relationships with Lois and their son Jonathan to the forefront.

Better yet, this effectively allows writer Peter J. Tomasi to frame Jonathan as the strip’s protagonist rather than his famous father, an approach which works wonders in terms of providing Issue 1 with a deliciously intimate tone as Jonathan subdues his powers in order to avoid the attention of the Kent family’s neighbours and resultantly argues with his parents over his diminished potential as both a human being and as a Krypton, only for some of Clark’s Justice League comrades to seek them out once they’re alerted to their presence. As one would hope given the nature of Rebirth, this season premiere blends new plot elements like these effortlessly with simple, classic-esque artwork from Patrick Gleason that immediately captures the reader’s attention, then holds it until the tantalising final panel. The pressure’s on for this dynamic duo of helmers to maintain their already gripping first arc’s momentum in subsequent issues, but after this masterful debut, there’s little doubt that the pair have the capabilities to go far. 10/10

Titans: Rebirth #1 – Moving from one outright gem to another, Titans’ 27-page Rebirth special gets the ball rolling in equally impressive style to Superman’s return, namely by following up on DC Universe Rebirth #1’s reintroduction of Wally West into the DCU as he attempts to reignite his teammates’ lost memories of his existence. This narrative structure could easily have fallen flat in the wrong hands, of course, leading to a clunky, exposition-laden reading experience which alienated all but the most devoted of fans, yet against all of the odds, Dan Abnett does everything in his power to satisfy series veterans and newcomers alike, peppering in light-hearted flashbacks to the various characters’ pasts which will doubtless attract sympathy from those reading the strip for the very first time – like this reviewer – as well as instantly remind long-running followers of the series what first attracted them to this particular real of comic-book superheroics.

In fact, listing all of the elements which make Titans: Rebirth #1 such a joy to blast through would likely take just as many years as were previously wiped from the titular young adult heroes’ memories by mysterious forces from the Watchmen universe. Suffice to say that by combining a fresh, dynamic art-style from Brett Booth with pathos-driven dialogue surrounding the Titans’ connections to Wally, intelligently-peppered exposition regarding the influence Doctor Manhattan may have had on these characters’ lives and a bold cliff-hanger which thrusts us straight into the team’s future, Abnett has concocted one of Rebirth’s finest hours to date, making this strip in particular one to watch going forward. 10/10

JUNE 22ND, 2016 (PART 1 OF 2)

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Wonder Woman #1 – It’s little wonder that the first proper arc in Diana Prince’s post-New 52 strips takes the name “The Lies”, since despite Issue 1 sporting a small sub-plot thread in the form of Steve Trevor’s efforts to overcome a terrorist cell – coincidentally based in the same location as Diana’s intended prey – the bulk of this freshman outing centres exclusively on its titular protagonist looking for answers about the lineage-orientated riddle that was posed to her during her dedicated Rebirth special earlier in June. This core plotline remains fairly compelling as it develops oh-so-gradually here, thankfully, with plenty of action littered throughout Part 1 so as to confirm that we’ll soon see Wonder Woman facing off against an all manner of fantastical adversaries unlike any others in the DCU.

More important than this, however, is the continued strength of Greg Rucka’s characterisation of Prince and especially Trevor in this instance, the latter of whom shines thanks to revealing his insecurities regarding the pair’s past romantic attachments as well as the adaptive, quick-thinking mind which aids his platoon in avoiding a quick demise at the hands of their myriad military assailants. Having visually bombastic, explosive art-work from Liam Sharp is all well and good, naturally, but at the end of the day, it’s the characterisation and plotting which will make or break Wonder Woman, so whilst the latter’s taking its sweet time to kick off proper, the promising outlook of the former appears to bode extremely well indeed. 8/10

Aquaman #1 – Much as we hate to admit this reality, every reviews round-up has to contain at least one weak link and this time, it’s unfortunately the turn of Aquaman #1 to face the metaphorical music in this regard. In contrast to the nuanced, philosophically layered manner in which the various Rebirth strips have introduced – or reintroduced – villains old and new like Lex Luthor, Lady Gotham and even the Watchmen themselves into the fray, Dan Abnett – in contrast to his infinitely superior work on Titans: Rebirth #1 – seems intent on rendering returning antagonist Black Manta as the most pantomime-esque, morally one-note and thus uninteresting foil possible for Arthur Curry, thereby robbing his reveal in the second half of proceedings – as well as the overall strip – of much of its credibility.

Thank goodness, then, that everything which precedes the aforementioned moment of revelation lays potent foundations for what’s to come for Curry and his comrades, debuting numerous emotionally investable human characters – such as a reporter writing a story on Atlantis’ newly-erected surface colony – while equally taking the time to add new depth to old underwater favourites like Mera by delving further into where their loyalties lie surrounding their newfound relationship with humanity above the seas. Indeed, that Abnett takes such a slow, considered approach to painting our first picture of Aquaman’s future will doubtless be appreciated by fans, as will Brad Walker’s promisingly frantic accompany art, but as ever, if future issues are to make a greater impact, then the antagonists posing our hero a weekly threat need to be expanded in psychological depth so as to prove just as compelling as the hero himself. 7/10

Join us again next week as we finish catching up with the Rebirth comic-strips released so far via The Flash #1, Action Comics #958 and Detective Comics #935…

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The video image is embedded into our daily lives; it is scripted onto our landscape via phones and pads that project back at us visions of ourselves, as we imagine ourselves. So much so, that it could be argued that many of us even read and understand our own lives as though they are scripted into a series of short, narrative films. Younger people tell me, the first thing they do in the morning upon waking, is to check ‘their internet’. It belongs to, and is molded for, them.

Cinema, in its old configuration, was not like that. Terry Gilliam explains, “You went into the cinema before, and it had a sense of respect and worship […] you went in to the ‘temple’”.  In any case, if it were not theological, the cinematic vista was indeed fantasy. A dream. A mirage of romantic and elusive imagery set like a shiny, jagged stone in a darkened room. It was oneiric.

Buñuel understood this latter concept when he put together his most critically well received film. Belle de Jour is an elliptical project, wherein dream and reality are blurred into each other without the telling signals of misty fades or a head shaking on the pillow. Parts of the film are the fantasy of the film itself, and parts are fantasies within that, but it is not easy to tell which are which. Indeed, in this period towards the end of high modernism, the author, Buñuel, seems to destabilize his own authority. He doesn’t suture you into a straightforward narrative, he doesn’t know the truth of the film any more than you – the spectator – does. As Roland Barthes argued, it is for the film’s reader, to decide where the film’s truths and its fantasies part company.

Severine (Catherine Deneuve), is the beautiful wife of a doctor, embellished with an icy visage and protected by militaristic, Yves Saint Laurent clothing. Seemingly near platonic in her marriage and in separate beds, Severine has a girlish innocence and discomfort in her bourgeois world. The film, however, superimposes onto her immaculate life, sexualised images of her fantasy masochism. Images of her husband imploring two coachmen to whip her, then have their ‘way’ with her. It is transgressive; the image of this, perhaps, virginal, middle class princess being roughed up by the stubble daubed working classes.

When her husband’s friend, Henri Husson (Michel Piccoli) casually (or otherwise) drops a mention of a bordello – run by Mme Anais (Geneveive Page) – that he used to frequent, the fantasy addled Severine, finds herself at the door. Further transgressions await, when the masochist decides to live out her fantasies in the brothel; unable to conceive of passion with her handsome, gentlemanly husband (Jean Sorel) she becomes drawn to a silver toothed, caddish – if strange – gangster (Pierre Clementi) who rents her time and body.

Unlike the updated Belle de Jour (Secret Diary of a Call Girl) with all its unveiled expediency, Buñuel’s film is all in the suggestions. Does Severine dream up her time in the brothel? Does she lose her virginity there? Conversely, is she really a cynically, low rent prostitute caught in the beige, smoky sub world of the brothel, dreaming of a primary colour, designer suited, respectability? It would seem more realistic for  it to be the case that a woman – stultified by brothel life and the persistent intrusions of boorish men – to dream of middle class comforts, protective fashion and a bed of her own.  Although of course, middle class marital comfort can contain a stultification of its own.

In any case, the film is not designed to elicit erotic charge. It dissociates from its own semi sexualised imagery to pose as a challenge to our fermented notions of masochistic desire. Whatever you take from the film, its narrative uncertainties and its confused chronologies leave it faltered in the mind, just as dream you can only half recall.

With just five months of 2016 and two further comic-book movies remaining, Tom Buxton ranks the four comic-book adaptations we’ve seen hit the big screen so far this year…


Perhaps to a greater extent than any other period in the genre’s history, 2016 represents a historic year for superhero films, not least since it’s playing host to a wider, more ambitious and therefore riskier ensemble of comic book adaptations than we’ve ever seen before. One only has to look at how new efforts centring on never-before-seen, previously underrated characters like Deadpool have already been eclipsing – or at least coming incredibly close to matching – the commercial successes of far more expensive works of cinema like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and X-Men: Apocalypse in order to realize just how game-changing these twelve months will prove to be for competitors like Marvel Studios, DC Entertainment and 20th Century Fox.

Indeed, with further big hitters such as Suicide Squad and Doctor Strange still just around the corner, the fun’s only just beginning; before all of that excitement, though, it’s high time that we take stock of the latest additions to the genre which have graced our screens over the course of the first half of 2016. As such, prepare for shocks, debates and roars of blasphemy aplenty as we rank the four superhero motion pictures released between January 1st and the time of this article’s writing in early July, thereby determining which of those efforts produced so far poses the greatest threat to the critical prospects of those due to launch in just a few short weeks or months’ time…

4. BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (THEATRICAL EDITION)

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Now, in fairness, this ranking probably won’t come as a colossal surprise to those of our readers who took the time to blast through our two-part feature on how to redeem your faith in the Man of Steel after Zack Snyder’s latest Super-travesty, and owing to the belated UK release of the film’s Ultimate Edition, we can’t yet say for sure whether the extended cut will affect where the second DC Extended Universe movie places come the end of 2016.

All the same, Dawn of Justice’s myriad failings were plain to see even for casual movie-goers. Between its woefully structured storyline, barebones characterisation of beloved DC heroes, villains and secondary players – see Jimmy Olsen – as well as its hysterically poorly directed dream sequences, contrived Justice League cameos, dreadful turns from Gal Gadot and Jessie Eisenberg, and above all its utterly soulless final set-piece, there’s little to no redemption to be found for this shallow cash-grab beyond Affleck and Irons’ competent attempts to offer more character drama than the tonally bipolar script allowed. 3/10

3. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

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If the sequel which came fourth on our latest Best to Worst shortlist didn’t come as a shock to many of you, then Civil War finding itself in second-to-last place probably does in comparison. Just before anyone starts raising their pitchforks, we’ll wholeheartedly admit that this third chapter in the Captain America series often looks like The Dark Knight in comparison to Batman v Superman, with the Russo brothers going to impressive lengths to provide each character with a tangible arc, to capitalise on the devastation caused by the Avengers in previous MCU instalments so as to give a sense of narrative consequence and to – successfully – bring us the single greatest version of Spider-Man witnessed on-screen to date, not to mention a set-piece like no other in the form of the iconic airport brawl.

That said, many critics appeared intent on overlooking this one’s shortcomings at the time of its premiere, the most notable of which was how the sheer density of primary and supporting players made for a rather overstuffed narrative that paled in comparison to the source material. Sure, having Tom Holland’s hilarious Spidey as well as Chadwick Boseman’s refreshingly family-driven Black Panther enter the fray provided us with some great individual character moments, but it also meant we spent scene upon scene waiting for the core narrative to progress in a motion picture which could easily have trimmed 20 minutes from its running time so as to provide a more succinct tale with more dramatic gravitas, an element which felt seriously lacking by the time that Steve Rogers essentially offered Tony a truce.

It’s for that reason that Captain America: The Winter Soldier remains the franchise’s finest hour to date, although equally, if this is just a trial run for Infinity War, then we’re absolutely dying for 2018 and 2019 to come around ASAP. 6/10

2. DEADPOOL

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Had someone told this writer last year that Deadpool would turn out to be one of his standout favourite works of superhero cinema released during 2016’s first half, yours truly would all but certainly have called the informant in question delusional at best. Yet four months or so from this instantly beloved X-Men spin-off’s launch in cinemas the world over, that’s fast looking to be the case, especially given that markedly more audacious blockbusters like Civil War and Dawn of Justice have failed to provide anywhere near the same levels of – rather surprising – heart, effective comedic relief, unashamedly visceral action, simple but direct storytelling or downright cathartic – especially in a year of terrorist attacks and Brexits – entertainment.

Are we looking at a 5*-warranting, flawless masterpiece worthy of countless Oscar nods here? Absolutely not – try as it might, Deadpool still hits a few too many of the old clichéd origins beats and takes a turn for the dull whenever its scribes attempt to inject some proper drama into the mix via torture sequences or the like, yet whenever it’s focused on the lead antihero’s – brought to life with unmistakable ease by the brilliant Ryan Reynolds – hilarious rapport with his D-list X-comrades, his deliciously metatextual fourth-wall call-outs of the series’ troubling timelines or his gut-wrenchingly humorous approach to besting each and every one of his foes, the film marks itself out as an undisputed must-watch for any and all fans of the comic-book movie genre. 8/10

1. X-MEN: APOCALYPSE

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Last but by no means least – quite to the contrary, in fact, given the point we’ve reached on the list – comes a trilogy closer like no other, a finale which proves once and for all that the third one isn’t always the worst, despite what Sophie Turner’s already psychologically fascinating version of Jean Grey / the Phoenix might have to say as she finishes Return of the Jedi. Sure, one could justifiably point out a few chinks in X-Men: Apocalypse’s armour, most notably its predictable outcome and the Civil War-esque overabundance of characters robbing the likes of Psylocke of much to do, but in all honesty, it’s immensely difficult to spend much time doing so without subsequently touching on the countless highlights which more than compensate for any slight narrative hiccups.

From the nuanced way in which Simon Kinberg and Bryan Singer finally resolve the three movie-spanning, interwoven arcs of James McAvoy’s Xavier and Michael Fassbender’s Magneto – both of whom are played by those two actors with just as much relish, conviction and heart – to Oscar Isaac’s career-defining, chilling turn as Apocalypse, from the unforgettable debuts of fan favourite X-Men like Cyclops and a new version of Nightcrawler to the equally memorable return of Wolverine as Weapon X and Quicksilver via the 1980s classic “Sweet Dreams”, from the breath-taking opening sequence in Egypt to the tantalising final team shots, Apocalypse stands as a pitch-perfect summation of comic-book cinema at just about its very finest. 9/10

Be sure to let us know your thoughts on our comic-book movie rankings in the comments section below, and look out for a new Best to Worst comic-book feature here at Daily News Service very soon…


Long Island based Hard Rock and Metal band, Year of the Locust, are returning to the tip of many tongues with their first full length album, Devolver. Those with their ears firmly plugged into the ground will remember their debut EP in 2015, Home, which included the well received single Bottom, as well as the self-titled single that made an impressive impact.

Following the release of Home the four-piece toured across America to promote that debut release, playing at the NYC Tattoo Festival 2015, and opening for Candlebox, Trapt, Hoobastank, as well as supporting legendary guitarist Jake E. Lee and his band The Red Dragon Cartel. As a result Year of the Locust have amassed a broader audience, gaining a reputation for their live shows.

Debut LP Devolver is the band taking a next step in their sound and development, it’s more innovative and energetic. Lead single and video Rise Up is thumping from the get go, reminding you of early Incubus or NickelBack on steroids, whilst the vocal from lead singer Scot McGiveron is thunderous and dominant. The guitar line in the chorus really delivers an enjoyable rise before the track audibly goes from strength to strength.

There is a melodic element to this band’s music that is rather refreshing, comparable to the likes of Shinedown, whilst another notable track, Sledgehammer, will please all fans of the likes of Metallica. Devolver is an example of Year of the Locust raising the bar for themselves and given their progression you can imagine that 2017 will be even better for the group.

The Devolver EP will be out and available from 22nd July 2016. Watch the video for Rise Up below:

With Batman, Green Arrow and the Green Lanterns' Rebirth tales gaining traction, Tom Buxton evaluates whether or not they're worth fans' hard-earned cash...


Rather than scaling back their overall levels of ambition as their already audacious Rebirth launch continued into its third week, DC Comics took quite the opposite approach on June 15th, unveiling not one, not two, but five further strips to the world at large, each of which ensured that their protagonist(s) would be heading into uncharted but undoubtedly thrilling territory for the foreseeable future. From the Earth’s Green Lanterns gaining unprecedented new superpowers to the Man of Steel bringing up a Boy of Steel for the first time, from the Titans encountering a face from their not so distant past to Oliver Queen finding his world brought to a standstill, the extent of the publisher’s subversions of fans’ expectations matched the UK’s recent exit from the European Union for sheer shock value.

The only real downside to the diversity of strips on offer from the DCU’s creators during the week beginning June 13th was that in order to own the lot of them, readers would’ve had to shell out somewhere in the region of 10 Great British pounds or 15 American dollars to their local – or indeed digital, as the case may be these days – comic book retailer, a steep ask in today’s less than favourable economic climate. As ever, though, that’s what we here at Daily News Service aim to help you avoid; read on today and tomorrow, then, to learn once and for all which of the latest additions to the ever-burgeoning Rebirth ensemble warrant the world’s investment:

JUNE 15TH, 2016 (PART 1 OF 2)

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BATMAN #1 – No, this isn’t a cash-grabbing attempt on DC’s par to force the Dark Knight’s fanbase to shell out for two separate strips so as to experience the “Rise of the Batmen” arc established in Detective Comics #934 in its entirety. If anything, those readers who purchase chapters from both the Detective Comics and Batman franchises going forward will get twice as much bang for their buck, since the latter will explore a far more Bruce-centric narrative, at least judging by the tone set by the first instalment of its opening arc, “I Am Gotham”. Whilst there’s no sign of any progress regarding the Caped Crusader’s investigation into how three Jokers could have existed over the course of his crime-fighting tenure – as revealed in Geoff Johns’ DC Universe Rebirth #1 - what we receive as a substitute should more than suffice for now, with Gotham’s protector coming face to face with two never-before-seen vigilantes calling themselves Gotham and Lady Gotham who believe they can better his work at keeping their city safe from harm.

This in itself isn’t the most original of premises, as anyone who’s followed The CW’s DC TV show Arrow in recent years will surely attest, yet what keeps Batman #`1 far more compelling than expected is its heart-wrenching emotional core. Prior to his meeting with these wannabe saviours, Bruce must start to come to terms with his own reasons for donning a cape each night – for reasons which we shan’t spoil here – in a surprisingly intimate series of events which, despite the scale of the action set-piece at hand, strongly indicate that, unlike Detective Comics, the strip will delve deep into the character’s psyche, perhaps to cast him in an entirely original light. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to many who’ve seen how bare-bones many of the strips launched under Rebirth‘s header so far that this opening issue doesn’t achieve too much from a narrative perspective, only revealing the crux of the “I Am Gotham” arc in its final few panels before fading to black, but if the extremely heartfelt nature of the exchanges had between Bruce and Alfred as the former fights for his life for the umpteenth time are at all representative of the issues ahead, then Bat-fans don’t have much to worry about at this rate. 8/10

GREEN ARROW #1 – With Oliver and Dinah’s romantic infatuation now firmly reignited, the first proper edition of the Green Arrow’s quasi-rebooted comic-book adventures mercifully sets about raising the stakes for our hero, revealing how even the character’s most trusted allies may well prove his undoing in the months and weeks ahead if he doesn’t keep a watchful eye out for signs of their betrayal. Whether it’s a corporate associate or a long-term personal colleague, Olly looks set to have to undergo struggles with each and every member of his strip’s ensemble in order to stay atop the food chain, and worse still, the cliffhanger moment which wraps up Issue 1 doesn’t exactly offer up the impression that the odds will exactly be in his favour, no matter how much of a sense of hope and optimism Geoff Johns aimed for Rebirth to inject into each and every one of DC’s ongoing storylines. Raising the stakes can often be an entirely welcome development in an era where too many superheroes die and come back to life in the space of just a few issues, of course, and thankfully, that looks to largely be the case here, with the plethora of adversaries now plaguing the hooded archer providing plenty in the way of meaty personal and professional conflicts in only 25 or so pages.

As if that wasn’t enough to sate fans’ appetites, artist Otto Schmidt doesn’t relent in bringing us the same frantic, instantly captivating style of action-driven imagery that made Green Arrow: Rebirth #1 such a qualified success from the outset, nor does scribe Benjamin Percy feel the irksome need to distract from his lead character with too many supporting players – although the size of the ensemble could still be decreased slightly in order to give Olly ample time to shine here – as has arguably been the case with the Arrow’s previously-mentioned televised incarnation on The CW of late. Oh, and the very best part? In a development which’ll almost certainly bring joy aplenty to the character’s on-screen haters, there’s no sign of Ms. Felicity Smoak – or indeed the much-debated Olicity relationship from Arrow - whatsoever. Make of that what you will, but by all means feel free to cheer if necessary. 7/10

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GREEN LANTERNS #1 – If both Batman and Green Arrow’s Rebirth sagas have gotten off to fine starts with relative ease, then Green Lanterns remains by far the least certain candidate of the three in terms of its potential levels of critical success. That’s not to say it’s merely on a par with the dreadful 2011 Green Lantern motion picture adaptation by any strech of the imagination – as with the series’ Rebirth launch issue, writers Geoff Johns and Sam Humphries ensure that we’re immediately invested in the charmingly turbulent duo at the strip’s heart, Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz, while teasing a similarly compelling threat in the form of Lord Atrocious them to menace them once “Red Planet” gets fully underway. At the same time, though, that lack of noteworthy developments in the space of two entire issues has to be called out as one of their main joint shortcomings, particularly as all we’ve really seen the Green Lantern Corps do so far is quarrel and suddenly discover new abilities at the last second. No doubt Johns and Humphries have big plans for the weeks ahead, but at this point, we’d sure appreciate actually receiving a better idea of precisely what those plans entail, sooner rather than latter if possible. 5/10

Don’t miss the second half of Tom’s takes on the June 15th Rebirth strips – as well as some of those released this week on June 22nd – tomorrow, featuring the first outing for the not-so-teen Titans and the future of Superman revealed…

In the second instalment of his new series of reviews round-ups, Tom Buxton critiques the Rebirth strips released on June 8th...


Another week, another rapid salvo of new comic-book outings dedicated to getting DC Comics’ Rebirth initiative underway with a bang. Following hot on the heels of Geoff Johns’ superb standalone strip DC Universe Rebirth #1 along with the potent returns of fan favourite characters such as Batman, Superman and Wally West, many of the issues released on June 8th continued their predecessors’ work of establishing and gradually exploring untapped realms of the publisher’s just-revived universe(s) so as to allow for as much in the way of subversive graphic storytelling as possible in the coming months.

Once again, though, which of these recently released additions to the DCU’s ever-shifting mythology warrant a purchase, and which can be tossed aside into the nearest gutter faster than the Flash himself can run on his best day? If by any chance those questions sprang to mind when you glimpsed one or more of the Rebirth tales published earlier this month in your local comic book retailer, then rejoice, since you’re in the right place. Read on for our unbiased, comprehensive takes on the latest missions undertaken by Aquaman, Wonder Woman, the heroes of Detective Comics and so many more iconic defenders of the innocent…

JUNE 8TH, 2016

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ACTION COMICS #957 – Once upon a time, the Action Comics range focused on a wide array of caped crusaders, but these days, its narrative emphasis has shifted to a single protagonist: Superman. As revealed in the Man of Steel’s own Rebirth launch strip, with the permanent demise of The New 52’s incarnation of the character, his pre-New 52 self has stepped in to protect Metropolis from those who would do it or his family home, but with the events concerning Clark’s wife and son clearly being confined to the main Superman line of comics, writer Dan Jurgens keeps his eyes trained primarily on reigniting the character’s rogues gallery, bringing Lex Luthor – another wannabe Man of Steel professing to be Kryptonian’s saviour, Superior Spiderman-style – and Doomsday back into the fold before Issue 1 / 957 has even reached its climax. This unrelenting focus on resurrecting classic villains admittedly means not much happens during the season premiere, per se, and could well be a cause for concern if Jurgens gets too obsessed with evoking a sense of nostalgia in his fan-base rather than crafting compelling original antagonists of his own, but for now, we’re at least off to an intriguing start, especially thanks to the mysterious layer of ambiguity added by the arrival of yet another Clark Kent onto the scene. 6/10

AQUAMAN: REBIRTH #1 – Like many of the Rebirth launch issues released on June 1st, Arthur Curry’s first post-New 52 strip primarily goes about trying to develop a somewhat more light-hearted status quo for the character, reminding newcomers and devotees alike of the character’s newfound marriage to Mera, his efforts to establish a surface colony which will allow for a time of peaceful relations between humanity and Atlantis and the threats inevitably brewing beneath the seas which may tear apart these efforts before the colony can even gain any traction whatsoever. It’s to the immense credit of Dan Abnett, who takes on scribing duties this time around, that he doesn’t bog us down with too much in the way of underwater mythology at this point, instead successfully striving to emphasize the emotional bonds Curry has made in recent years along with the intense desire he has to ensure a safe, tranquil future for his race rather than witnessing them plunge into conflict once more. The core plot’s nothing spectacular as a result – with the focus on establishing Aquaman’s community robbing the narrative of much in the way of noteworthy developments beyond a last-minute villain reveal – but so long as Abnett can keep this refreshing sense of heart present throughout the series as we move into its first full arc, “The Drowning”, on June 22nd, then there’ll be no question of its receiving critical acclaim in the immediate future. 8/10

DETECTIVE COMICS #934 – How do you solve a problem like an army of trained killers who’re hell bent on taking command of your city? Why, by assembling an army of your own to face them head on, of course! That’s Batman’s approach anyway, as we see in the first instalment of his semi-rebooted Detective Comics saga; approaching the likes of Cassandra Cain’s Batgirl, Red Robin and a surprising foe from the past, the Dark Knight looks set to build an Avengers-esque team of crime-fighters who would already have been in their foes’ crosshairs previously and so will now stand a superior chance of survival thanks to them joining forces. Admittedly the antagonists in question aren’t showcased proper until Issue 934’s final panel, meaning that James Tynion IV and his art team spend the majority of the running time introducing these esteemed allies to the unversed reader – with easily the most engaging sequence coming as a former member of Batman’s rogues gallery gets a chance to redeem himself – and as such, the jury’s out on the promise “Rise of the Batmen” holds until its next chapter launches in July, yet until then, suffice to say that the first signs are incredibly promising. 7/10

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THE FLASH: REBIRTH #1 – More-so than perhaps any of the other Rebirth instalments launched prior to this one, The Flash: Rebirth #1 was heralded by DC Comics as a major step forward for the initiative as a whole, not least since it would shed further light on the conspirators who attempted to completely remove Wally West from the multiverse as the age of The New 52 dawned. Thank goodness, then, that true to form, the Scarlet Speedster’s return feels just as satisfying as fans could hope for, once again resurrecting much of the strip’s emotional core through the cathartic exchanges between Barry and Wally while also substantially teasing the seemingly inevitable confrontation between the DCU’s foremost players and the dreaded Watchmen’s surviving members sometime in the not too distant future. Better yet, it’s an extremely visually powerful chapter to boot, boasting both ambitious aesthetics surrounding Barry’s lingering connection to the omnipotent Speed Force as well as subtler hints of what’s to come with the emergence of an ominous yellow silhouette towards the issue’s end. All the same, though, there’s still room for improvement in terms of us seeing some breath-taking action to rival the character’s finest New 52 chapters, especially if writer Joshua Williamson truly wants the strip to stand up as the game-changer its publisher’s currently claiming it to be. 8/10

WONDER WOMAN: REBIRTH #1 – What if your entire history turned out to be a lie? For Diana Prince, that will be the fascinating psychological dilemma which plagues her every moment in the opening few issues of her Rebirth series, thus leading her to question the various warring aspects of her supposed Themyscirian heritage in a desperate search for a truth that will surely have a seismic impact on her future in the DCU. Yet as thrilling a prospect as this might seem to long-term readers of Wonder Woman’s printed adventures, for newcomers like this reviewer, the shedload of mythology Greg Rucka attempts to coherently integrate into just 27 pages’ worth of bare-bones narrative can seem more than a little overwhelming at times. It’s certainly a noteworthy issue which Rucka will need to address as soon as possible if he’s to make this strip accessible to all, since at the moment, despite the impressive blockbuster scale of its artwork, the market for such an introverted work of comic-book fiction as this in an age when we readers have plenty of other more welcoming strips on offer to sample seems slim at best. 4/10

Come back tomorrow to find out Tom’s takes on more Rebirth tales featuring the Flash, the Green Lantern Corps as well as other iconic figures from the DCU’s past, present and future…

Frieza is back for revenge


Resurrection F is the next instalment in the Dragon Ball Z movie series. Toriyama continues to refresh his franchise, but takes a nostalgic turn as he reintroduces an old enemy, Frieza. His passion for the character is something the audience can empathise with and acts as a great hook for them. This is especially true when you consider the effect the character has had on the series. The downside is that this movie is just that, a nostalgic trip, and the villain therefore, lacks an intrinsic execution. Resurrection F is an attempt to continue where Battle of Gods left off, but it doesn’t offer much of an improvement.

Frieza’s forces are on the verge of military impotency and are desperate to resurrect their leader. A feat that can only be accomplished through the dragon balls. The prospect of military stability is quickly cut short as Frieza expresses his want for revenge, and is willing to exhaust the remaining resources he has left. But this isn’t a problem it seems, as the evil emperor has a trump card that will assure his victory and re-establish his place in the universe.

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When Earth learns of an incoming invasion, it must assemble its forces. But its champions, Goku and Vegeta, are absent which ultimately bodes futility as Frieza is more powerful than ever.

The movie offers a lot more entertainment than its predecessor. This comes as a sacrifice to the plot. The first act is around thirty minutes which involves the assembling of Earth’s heroes. This includes Krillin, Gohan, Piccolo, Tien and Master Roshi. Also Jaco the space cop. What follows for the next sixty minutes is fighting. It feels stretched out considering the absent of several other characters. But the audience is never left bored as the fight is well paced which sees it revved up to more exciting levels.

The resurrection scene is also played well. Frieza’s lieutenants, Sorbet and Tagoma, recover his bodily remains and use a healing chamber to restore his body. What follows is an exciting scene as Frieza makes his return, which is intensified by the song Frieza by Maximum the Hormone. This song actually served as inspiration for the film.

I found the reintroduction of Frieza into the series to be frustratingly unreasonable, especially in its justification. A few months of training can put Frieza on par with Goku’s god form. It sounds like a spontaneous excuse so he can fit in with much stronger characters. The movie doesn’t necessarily expound on this matter and is in fact glossed over much like Frieza’ training. But keeping to formulaic values, a new form is often the answer to problems like this.

In addition to Frieza’s new form, Resurrection F also sees the introduction of a new form for Goku: the Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan. I felt this was a disservice to the previous film. The problem I found with it was timing. The Super Saiyan God is too young to get overshadowed so quickly. Vegeta also has mastered this form as both characters have been training with Whis.

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The characters in the movie also tend to make silly decisions. In the wake of Frieza’s invasion, it was Bulma’s decision for Goten and Trunks to be absent. If you are familiar with the series, you know they have the ability to fuse in Gotenks who would have been their champion fighter. Majin Buu is also absent despite the characters expressing desire to bring him (I guess they forgot). Their absence benefits plot convenience or the movie would have been less than ninety minutes.

Another silly decision was Piccolo and Gohan acknowledging that an evil presence was using the dragon balls and not investigate it. Nothing becomes of it.

Beerus role in the movie is quite inconsequential, he continues indulging his appetite. He also has a humorous moment with Frieza which makes the villain look almost petulant. Whis receives development as he mentors Goku and Vegeta, and we also see that he is a necessary character alongside Beerus.

Overall, I found this movie more enjoyable than Battle of Gods. It promises an exciting ride and delivers.

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English people rejoice! Festival season has finally begun and kicking it off in the last days of may, with a bang and pop of prosecco was Lost Village. No enemy of smoke machines, this festival offered a smoky fairy tail grotto bursting with tantalising musical treats that those in attendance aren’t likely to forget any time soon.

In its second year of infancy, Lost Village provided a ethereal experience under a canopy of trees and ultra violet lights. The smallness of the venue created a sense of intimacy and by know means reflected on the quality of entertainment. Deep in the forest, stages named like ‘The Abandoned Chapel’ drew crowds with heady electronic beats that had fans of house and techno drooling for more. Whatever it takes to claim a festival had ‘vibes’ was achieved by this intimate forrest dwelling.

Performances that stuck out as truly magnificent included Palms Trax, new comer Zeke Africa and Henrik Schwarz. Deep House DJ Henrik Schwarz in particular played a jaw dropping set with some of the most expertly produced tension builds and drops ever experienced in festival history. Living up to its namesake, Lost Village was a labyrinth of evergreen twists and turns ensuring much confusion and fun as we stumbled upon secret stages and a plethora of hidden gems. One such stumble led to Bicep Bang in the middle of hit JUST, the melody of which rang in our ears long after the festival had ended.

It’s perhaps blasphemous to review Lost Village without an honourable mention of Fat Boy Slim who got the crowd into a frenzy on the first night with his particular energetic blend of electro house. Voodoo dolls hung like mischievous conductor puppets above a stage lit up like a fireworks display. It wouldn’t, however, be a festival without some strange goings on and happenings. So here’s a list of the top five strangest things we witnessed at lost Village:

1. Though this was most probably an official part of the entertainment, but still equally as freaky, there were a group of assumed actors dressed in animal couture doing random live shakespearean performances throughout the forest. This may not sound especially strange, but rest assured, it was indeed very unsettling.

2. An old shirtless man wearing hot pants channeling his inner Janet Jackson through the medium of contemporary dance, deep in the foliage.

3. A group of boys snorting lines of crumbled digestive biscuits. Carry on boys, carry on.

4. A girl taking a selfie in a portaloo demonstrating there really is never an inappropriate place to take a selfie.

5. A hoola hoop contest that got decidedly out of control when the instigator of said contest somehow lost her dress in the process but carried on unabashedly unashamed.