Awesome Comics Anthology, Issue 4. Review

Well, we’ve arrived at the end of an era. Ok, as era’s go, it’s not a very long one, but it is the end. At least for now. A year ago, the Awesome Comics Podcast boys put out Issue 1 of their three story, four issue anthology and, today, they dropped issue 4. Quite some achievement.

Looking at all four covers lined up at the OK True Believers comic con this morning, I have to say, they looked brilliant. As for what’s inside? Read on for a spoiler-free review, my friends.

Murder road

Story: Vincent Hunt (@jesterdiablo) and Daniel Marc Chant (@danielmarcchant)

Art / Letters: Vincent Hunt

For this final episode, the Chunt* has really narrowed things down, focusing entirely on the three main characters and the last minutes of this terrifying encounter. The atmosphere is great in this last scene – with occasional glimpses of sentinel like trees standing watch over the unfolding nightmare; the clearing in the forest feels oppressive and there’s a strong sense of claustrophobia as the darkness presses in.

I really like the way the guys have paced this; imaginative panel layouts which move the story on rapidly using images straight out of those stomach-churning horror movies you shouldn’t have watched when you were a kid – there’s no time wasted on dialogue here and no need for it either. You don’t need words to tell you whatever’s going on ain’t natural and you ought to be papping your under-crackers right about now!

The mother continues her Ripley impersonation and comes out of her corner fighting for the sake of her family with a great splash page and some inset panels that really feel like a cracking piece of cinematography.

As we move on, there’s more great work on the layouts which really speaks of Vince’s expertise on the graphic design front with some neat panel border breakout’s that add to a sense of dynamic action charging through the story.

There are some telling little choices that Vince has made in the artwork itself too – like a panel where he hasn’t delineated the visor of the Driver in profile making it seem like the darkness is flowing straight into or from the helmet of this hellish vision. Very nice.

The reveal of the story perhaps isn’t entirely a surprise but is certainly satisfying and doesn’t detract from how enjoyable this is; playing with some classic horror tropes, some deadly action, and a strong pay-off.

I’ve never read a horror comic before, and, putting all four issues together, this is a great entrée into that world. Familiar because it feels so cinematic, easy to read because of the pace, and satisfying because the story is very neatly packaged. All wrapped up with a blood-soaked ribbon.

Fantastic work boys, you should be rightly proud of yourselves.

*”Chunt” = Chant and Hunt, the deadly duo.

 Cockney Kung Fu – The Big Old Kent Road Kick-off, Parts 7 (I hear you knocking) and 8 (Queen Bee)

Story: Tony Esmond (@ezohyez)

Art / Letters: Nick Prolix (@nickprolix)

There’s an old adage among writers. I don’t know exactly how it goes but I think it goes something like “if you want your readers to feel empathy for your protagonist, put ‘em through the wringer”. Let’s just say, Tony’s wringer must be well and truly battered by the end of this forth issue.

Before we get in to any detail, let’s just have a chat about the feel of this story. Right from Issue 1, there was an underling sense that any one of the characters would screw another over at the first opportunity of turning any sort of profit – I mentioned it in some of my earlier reviews. There’s plenty to recommend this story, but I think, more than anything, it’s this feeling of being off balance that’s drawn me to it and which I’ve really enjoyed.

Once again, we’re treated to superb cartooning by the legendary Mr Prolix – the art’s been great throughout the story and his hand lettering and particularly the sound effects are things of beauty. The tension to his comical, almost caricature-like portrayal of the characters comes from the dark undertone of Tony’s story – it’s a low-down, violent tale of some really nasty bastards where the moral is fuck them or they’ll fuck you. It makes the read edgy in a fantastically compelling way.

Part 7 opens with a really nicely portrayed dream sequence while Red is still out cold from the end of the last issue – it shows us something of her past and how she came to be who she is and hints at a discipline that we haven’t seen in her before. Another layer to this character who I know Tony has plans for beyond this comic and which I’ve no doubt readers would love to see.

All my reviews are spoiler-free so I won’t tell you exactly what happens but, as in life, the story isn’t all neatly wrapped up with a bow and put aside ready for the next chapter to start. In Part 8, we’re introduced to some new but equally horrible characters and Red finds that there’s nowhere to go from the frying pan but into the fire.

It’s hard to know how to sum this story up – it’s funny, comical, jaunty, violent, vicious, dark, and nasty. All in a gritty soup than smells like a packed commuter tube in the height of summer. Whatever it is Esmond’s got planned for Red, you can bet it isn’t going to be plain-sailing. Bring it on, baby-cakes!


Everything: Dan Butcher (@vanguardcomic)

Once again, Dan’s displaying some absolute chops with the panel layouts in this final issue of Vyper – we’re straight into the action here and the sharply tilted panels make for a really fast paced layout.

Dan’s portrayal of the action is brilliant – I’ve said before how much I like his use of blurring to create dynamic motion and depth of field, and it’s used again here with great aplomb. The environments too; like the city, the dock, and the establishing shot of the police HQ, work beautifully and once again teach us that any number pier you care to mention, in any coastal American city, is not the place to be after bedtime.

There’s some real jeopardy for the good guys in this scene and the classic action show feel just oozes from every panel and speech bubble – it’s so full of nostalgia, I’m surprised there’s any room for story!

But room there is. And not only for story, but for character development too. The main character really does go on a journey here; putting at least some of his dark past to rest and realising that he doesn’t have to be a complete dick all the time.

We’ve boiled things down to just a few key characters for most of this issue and the focus works really well – Lopez is also developing and we see the respect that she’s worked hard to gain from Vyper paying off as the relationship becomes more trusting and we realise there’s something in this for both of them.

There’s a nice scene towards the end of the story where Sloan thinks he’s got away with his duplicitous Vyper / Viperini shenanigans, but…well, you’ll have to read it to find out what happens there, but, let’s say no more than it’s a really sweet little twist.

It definitely feels like we need to see more of these characters as Dan drops in another potential follow-up story hook towards the end of the book and indeed the closing text gives me the strongest possible suspicion that that particular itch is going to get scratched…


There’s a nice little ‘interview’ at the back of the book exploring the experience the guys have had putting the book together over the past year, some nice little back-matter sketches and an invite to let them know what you think of the whole sorry affair. So, don’t disappoint and give  apiece of your mind by emailing or tweeting the hell out of them @theawesomepod

Awesome Comics Anthology, Issue 3. Review

Once again, Tony Esmond has slipped a little unexpected something into my bulging inbox and, to be honest, I was only too happy to receive. Following our meet up for a couple of jars after work, Tony dropped me a link to Issue 3 and I figured the least I could do in return was to give it a damn good reading and write down what I thought about it all. So here it is.

Let’s start with the cover. Despite being a guy who appears to have a small Thomas the Tank Engine toy held captive between his toes as his Twitter profile pic, it hasn’t stopped Ed Traquino (@feliqscomics) really pulling one off on the cover art – it looks fantastic and shows Red really digging the funk in one of her more unguarded moments, which I suspect don’t happen often. Very nice work man!

Murder road

Story: Vincent Hunt (@jesterdiablo) and Daniel Marc Chant (@danielmarcchant)

Art / Letters: Vincent Hunt

Part 3 opens on a flashback scene of the mum character and, what I guess is her high school sweetheart / soon to be husband (slightly freakily, his name is the same as my dad’s, which is a worry to be honest). The music playing in the background immediately confirms that we’re back in the day when the two young lovers declare their devotion to each other with the choice of song beings a nice touch with the first line we ‘hear’ sitting perfectly with the tone of the book.

The transition back to present is handled really well – it could have been a harsh cut but as it is you can almost feel the final words the guys says echoing down the years to stroke your spine with grave-cold fingers.

As we come back to the present, the pace really picks up and the boys (who, from here on, I’ll be referring to collectively as “the Chunt”) have timed this issue beautifully; if I was reading a print copy, I’d be in danger of giving myself a very nasty papercut whipping the pages over to see what the hell happens next. The story canters along at rare old pace – I tore through this and had to go back a second time to properly take it all in.

Again, Vince reinforces that whatever this is, it’s been going on for years with the mum being the link between then and now. She takes on a real Ripley-esque feel in the second half of this issue and, frankly, I would not like to be the one to short-change her at the diner ‘cause she’d be likely to tear a new one. Possibly two.

The terror is really mounting as we switch back to the action where the Chunt provide only a petit morceau of gore d’jour but it’s plenty to let you know that The Driver is a twisted bastard alright, just in case you weren’t sure already.

I won’t tell you how this episode ends, but it’s a real treat and cues up the final part beautifully. Can’t wait to see what dark, twisted finale is planned for this very much depleted cast!

Cockney Kung Fu – The Big Old Kent Road Kick-off, Parts 4 (She wears it well)

Story: Tony Esmond (@ezohyez)

Art / Letters: Nick Prolix (@nickprolix)

We’re straight into the thick of it here with no titles and no fucking around. Red and the boys are dead set on parting the punters of the joint with their hard-earned and they’re aren’t about to take an IOU.

It was clear that the job wasn’t going to go the way Red thought in the last episodes – where would be the jeopardy for our lovely lady in that? And so it proves.

There’s something really conflicting about this whole story for me and I mean that in the best possible way: on the one hand you have this jaunty, old fashioned language that we’ve all seen in old movies if not in real life which sort of gives you a slightly off-kilter sense of fun. And then you realise that these people are absolute bastards. It gives you a wonderfully uneasy feeling as you read it – great work by the Segal doppelganger that is Tony Esmond.

There’s a beautifully paced scene where one of the boys takes off his balaclava which can only mean one thing (assuming you’ve watched just about any heist movie, like, ever) – it happens at the bottom of a page and the next panel is fantastic; Nick has totally nailed it; brilliant!

Once again, Custard doesn’t say much, but what he does say is deeply moving and profound – now doubt after this one last job, he’ll move to India and become a yogi…

Part 5 is a classic caper where it all goes sideways like Bobby Charlton’s comb-over in a brisk wind – it’s pacey and fun and might even be slapstick if there wasn’t this undercurrent of dark skulduggery and lingering doubt in the back of your mind. Nick’s art only adds to the Ealing studios feel of the whole thing which is just such a perfect fit.

By the time we get to Part 6 we’re left in no doubt that who the bad boy of this piece is – just a bit too nasty to really be your mate, but you laugh at all his twisted jokes because he might just beat the crap out of you if you don’t. No idea what’s going to happen to this guy, but I’m hoping it isn’t pretty.

As I said in my review of the first issue, you see here the fragility of Red’s existence in a world where the sands can shift under your feet in the blink of an eye and your friends become your enemies in a constantly turbulent environment where you don’t have the luxury of trust. Whether you take any notice of it or not, the shadow of a malign and precarious truth sits just on the edge of your vision when you read this story and for all it’s jaunty, Ladykillers banter, it’s disturbing. And I love it.

Roll on issue 4.


Everything: Dan Butcher (@vanguardcomic)

I have to start by saying that I absolutely love Dan’s done layouts in this issue; he’s really done some great work with panels including switching to an off kilter diagonal as the action heats up bringing a whole new level to the experience of reading the story. There are plenty of panel border breakouts too which really make the artwork pop. That and Dan’s as ever brilliant backgrounds make this a great looking story.

As for the story itself, the dialogue once again captures that ‘80s exposition vibe as we get ready for the action and Vyper gets a briefing he’s obviously going to give as much credence to as the lessons of his Sunday school teacher; he’s a loose cannon, but what the Hell – who else is going to look that good in those tight pants and a shiny helmet…

Later in the story there’s a detail I hadn’t picked up on before – there’s a hint that his secret identity is part of a larger organisation and while we don’t hear any more about it, I wonder if Dan has more backstory up his sleeve than he’s sharing. I like that nod to a bigger picture without any explanation – just like real life. Sort of.

Virtually all the bad guys here are nameless henchmen; just as they should be, with the focus squarely on the big bad who our hero has personal history with and who’ll probably be one half of the badass showdown that’s on the cards for the final episode.

Sloane naturally goes off-piste and the jeopardy cranks up as the mission starts to go south – as with every good ‘80s action movie, when the shooting starts, things get manic and over the top with the body count racking up at an alarming rate; none of your A-Team, how did those guys come out of the horrendous car-crash / fall / shoot-out with just a headache BS here. Dan handles the sound effects of all this action nicely too; both of the shooting, and the screeching of wheels. Talking of wheels, the Vyper itself is really well drafted. You see it from lots of different angles and it always looks convincing; no mean feat. I can’t wait until Dan really challenges himself with a story about a Mongolian reindeer herder who travels everywhere with his extended family on horseback!

We leave this episode with Sloane now having an almost impossible task – complete the mission, while defeating the big-bad, and saving the girl. Will he do it? I guess we’ll have to tune in next time to find out!


Once again, a couple of pages of childish, near-the-knuckle fans’ letters for readers to enjoy at the back of the book – obviously spot-on and entirely appropriate for the mental age of us degenerate ACP fans.

There’s a page of fan art too with some great work on display – again, no less than you’d expect from the dedicated followers of Awesome! My own piece didn’t make it into the book, so I thought I’d share it with you below dear reader – enjoy!