Category Archives: Book reviews

Aliens the original comics series (30th anniversary Edition), a Dark Horse Comics Graphic Novel (2016)

In 1979 director Ridley Scott unleashed a science fiction horror movie called Alien onto the unsuspecting human race. With the tagline “In space no one can hear you scream”, there was plenty of screaming that was done in the movie theatres. Needless to say, the movie became an instant classic and set up a new benchmark for horrorfilms. Seven years later the sequel Aliens was released, and it has become my alltime favorite science fiction movie. Not only did it feature a great story, fantastic special effects, and plenty of exciting and thrilling scenes, but there were also a bunch of unforgettable characters. Two of them, Corporal Hicks and the young girl Newt, actually survived at the end of the film. Unfortunately in Alien 3 they were killed off in 10 seconds at the start of that movie. There were many fans that were very mad at the way that this was done, and it did not show those characters the respect they deserved.

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Well, I guess it’s safe to say this guy is pretty much toast. 

In 1987 Dark Horse comics was approached to do a comicbook series that continued the storyline from Aliens. That black and white comic became a huge succes and afterwards many more books were produced. Last year the first six issues were reprinted and released in a very beautiful hardcover graphic novel. Since these comics were made before the release of Alien 3, it tells a completely different story. As such you could compare it to the books of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, that now officially aren’t canon anymore since Disney took over. But honestly I could not care less about that, as this book was highly enjoyable to read.

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Nope, still seeing monsters. 

The comics take place on Earth, a few years after the events of Aliens. Newt is now a grown woman, and Hicks is still with the Colonial Marines, even though his colleagues seem to despise him. Both Newt and Hicks have their own traumas to deal with, and find it really difficult to cope with their experiences on the doomed colony of LV-426. But dark forces are at work on Earth. It seems that the Aliens are highly wanted material for the bioweapons industry. Certain things are being set into motion to bring the creatures to Earth. Hicks meanwhile is hired for a mission to the homeworld of the Aliens, and along the way will get reunited with Newt. But time seems to be running out for everyone, as something goes horribly wrong while trying to capture the Aliens. And soon Earth will become the target for a new hive…..

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The coastguard sure has changed. 

This 30th anniversary edition is a truly beautiful graphic novel. All the pages have a black finish on the outside, and every page is made of very sturdy paper. As mentioned the book contains issues 1-6 of the original comic. Also included is a short story called Lucky, and a pin-up gallery of the covers and some additional art. Rounding out the book is a fore-and afterword by both author Mark Verheiden and artist Mark A. Nelson. The black and white art for these comics is truly amazing and really recaptures the spirit of the movies. Ofcourse the movies were, at times, pretty graphic, and that also comes back in this book. That’s why this certainly won’t be for the faint at heart. The storyline is very good, and honestly much better than the Alien 3 movie. Sadly the company at the time did not have the rights to the Ripley character, so you won’t be seeing her in any of these pages.

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Game over man, game over! 

This book is simply put a must buy for every Aliens fan. The book looks great and has been a joy to read from start to finish. Even though most of the storylines are complete, the ending has left things wide open. Ofcourse the series was later continued with further issues. What might interest you to know, is that after Alien 3 was released, Dark Horse decided to change the names of Newt and Hicks to Billie and Wilks. This was ofcourse done to ensure that the comicbook could still remain canon. Here though, they reprinted the books in the way they were originally released. I highly recommend this book to every Alien and science fiction comics fan out there.

I give Aliens: the original comics series (30th Anniversary Edition), a 9 out of 10 score.

Deadpool Omnibus volume 1, a Marvel Comics Book (2012)

Last year’s Deadpool movie was seriously one of the funniest superhero movies that has ever graced the cinemas. The real kicker is that even though I really like superheroes a lot, I had never even heard of the character before the movie (and if Deadpool were here, he would probably dismember me for saying so). Even though he is now one of the most popular Marvel characters I really had to play catch up with a lot of comics in order to find out more about him. Last year I had received a very cool collection of the 2012 version of this briljant comic for my birthday. (And thank you again for giving me this wonderful gift, you know who you are). Collecting issues 1-12 from the 2012 Deadpool series, this one has been a blast from start to finish.

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Never accuse Deadpool of taking half measures. 

In the first half of this book Deadpool has to deal with the dead Presidents of the United States of America. Yes, you read that correctly, that really is the plot of this insane story. Some of America’s greatest Presidents have been brought back to life, and are hellbent on bringing death and destruction throughout the world. All that stands in their way is Deadpool who has been enlisted by S.H.I.E.L.D. to stop them. After this crazy story, the second half of the book deals with the aftermath of this, and has Deadpool trying to stop the demon Vetis from trying to take over hell. At the same time he is also trying to save a friend who has been accidentally trapped inside his head. Yup, this really is every bit as nuts as it sounds.

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Yep, Thor also makes a brief appearance.

This book was seriously enjoyable. Everyone who has seen last year’s movie, knows that Deadpool is completely insane. And in the comic book he is even worse. Talking to readers, talking to himself, and pretty much never shutting up will at times bring tears to your eyes from laughing. Most of the art for this book comes from the hands of artists Tony Moore and Mike Hawthorne. Both of them do a great job of bringing this book to life. The art looks great, although this one is definitely not for the faint at heart. Some of the panels contain some very bloody and gory scenes with Deadpool slicing up his enemies (or getting sliced up himself).

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Hmm, that hole in his head definitely looks painful. 

Needless to say I loved this book. Both the art and storylines were great, and my only regret is that the last issue ends with the dreaded sentence: “to be continued….”. Besides that, there is simply nothing here that I disliked. Everyone who enjoyed the Deadpool film, and wants to find out more about “The Merc with a mouth”, should consider buying this book. It is a highly enjoyable read, and will have you thirsting for more by the time you have finished it.

I give Deadpool Omnibus 1 a 9 out of 10 score.

Caliban’s War, a science fiction novel by James S.A. Corey (2012)

There are a lot of well known science fiction franchises out there. Ofcourse everybody has probably heard about Star Wars and Star Trek. Unless, to use a science fiction term, you have been living offworld. But in the world of science fiction novels, there are so many well written stories, that in many ways they sometimes rival these established franchises. A couple of years back I came across the novel Leviathan’s Wake written by James S.A. Corey (which is actually a pen name of two writers). It set up an epic science fiction universe, with a great storyline, and fantastic characters. The first novel paved the way for the sequels, and to date 6 novels have been published in what has become known as The Expanse.

Caliban’s War is the second novel and pretty much picks up the story where the first part left off. On Mars we meet a female supersoldier called Bobbie. When her entire platoon gets killed by a monstrous creature, she is the sole survivor. It seems the deadly protomolecule, that was believed to have been killed, has somehow managed to survive. But who is behind this? With both the Earth and Mars government on the brink of all out war, it is up to Jim Holden and the crew of the Rocinante, heroes of the first novel, to find out the truth. A fact that is easier said than done. With a massive conspiracy and Holden’s own fears threatening the survival of the entire universe, time is running out….for everyone.

Caliban’s War has been a page turner from start to finish. Where Leviathan’s Wake started off somewhat slow, this book pretty much comes running out of the gates from page 1, and does not stop until the finish. A book such as this can only work if you can feel what is at stake and a establish a bond with the characters. And in that regard the book succeeds on both counts. Jim Holden and the rest of the crew of his ship, were already great in part one. But in this book we get to know them even better, and as such care about them even more. But also the new characters, most notably Bobbie and the foulmouthed, old but incredibly strongwilled lady Avasarala, were very worthy additions.

What I liked about this novel is the threat that looms over everything. You constantly feel a sense of doom that there is something very wrong, and that not everything is as cut and dry as it may seem. Without spoiling the ending for you, expect a massive cliffhanger that will leave you hungry for more. Luckily that more is already there, as you can keep on reading by checking out part 3, Abaddon’s Gate. And if you are not into reading, the books have been turned into a television series called The Expanse. I have yet to see this one for myself, but from what I have heard it is supposedly very good. I highly recommend Caliban’s War for everyone who loves good science fiction, with great characters and a touch of conspiracy.

I give Caliban’s War a 9 out of 10 score.

Agent Carter Season One Declassified,Marvel tv series book (2015)

The character of Agent Carter was first introduced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in Captain America: the first Avenger. Played by actress Haley Atwell, Peggy Carter was a female who had no special powers, but who could stand on her own nonetheless.   Being a woman in the late 40’s where everything was dominated by men, was no easy task. But Peggy was not in any way hampered by the fact that she was a woman, in fact she pretty much outsmarted every living man in those days. And I guess you could say it is a character that I have developed a small crush on, ever since I first saw her in action in that movie. And I was not the only one, the character became so popular that she eventually got her own tv series. Agent Carter ran for two seasons, and after that was cancelled, mainly because the costs for the show were incredibly high.

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Agent Carter was a tv series set after the second world war, and continued the story of Peggy after losing the love of her life Captain America. It was a really fun show, with a lot of cool things on offer for people who are fans of the Marvel Universe. Even though this show is not a superhero series, it contains so many little easter eggs for Marvel fans, that it is easy to miss things. Luckily we now have a book that features the entire first season of Agent Carter in all it’s glory : Agent Carter Season One Declassified.

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If you are a fan of this series,  this book is an absolute must buy. The book comes in a very sturdy slipcase, and the first thing you will notice is the very pleasing layout of the book. Contained within the book are an enormous amount of high quality pictures, featuring both images of the series as well as a lot of behind the scenes images. For this alone, the book is well worth the buy. You will spent a lot of time looking at the photographs, and you will probably look back into them even when you have finished reading this tome. The book itself is divided into four chapters, and also includes a foreword by Haley Atwell herself.

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The book deals with everything from how the series came into being, episode guides, and ofcourse some insightful things about the making of the series. The book is well written, although the chapter that tells the story of how the series was made I found the least interesting. A lot of the time that dealt with a lot of technical aspects, that I usually tend to find pretty boring. Another thing that I found at times a bit lacking was information about the photographs themselves. I would have liked to have had some info about exactly what was in a certain picture, but this is a minor issue.

All in all though, this is a very cool book, and if you are interested in the show I highly recommend tracking this one down. Even though the series has unfortunately come to the end of the road, this book let’s you relive the entire first season again.

I give Agent Carter: Season One Declassified a 8 out of 10 score.

Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia, a Star Wars book (2012)

It has never been a better time to be a Star Wars fan, as it is today. With a new movie to look forward to every year, loads of new novels, comic books and merchandise heading to stores (and unfortunately making an attack on the contents of our wallets), fans will have enough to keep them happy. However a long time ago (no pun intended), there was a time when Star Wars popularity was at an alltime low. A few years after the release of Return of the Jedi, there were no new movies on the horizon, the comicsline was stopped because of decreasing sales, and as such it seemed Star Wars would be a franchise in danger of dying out. But in 1991, writer Timothy Zahn published a trilogy of books that came to be known as The Heir to Empire trilogy. These books introduced new characters and events, and continued the saga with stories set after the Return of the Jedi.

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The books became a massive succes, and it is said that they were pretty much responsible for a renewed interest in the Star Wars franchise. After these novels, hundreds of books and comics were published that tied together events set before and after the sixth movie in the saga. And then came Disney. After Disney purchased the rights to Star Wars everything that had been previously published in written form, was declared non-canon. And thus ended the era of the “Expanded Universe”. Many fans were pretty upset about this decision, myself included. A few of the novels and comics brought forth a few characters and events, that were so cool that you could almost feel as if you were being in the theatre experiencing the opening crawl for the first time.

One of these epic storylines was based on a computer game that was released in 2003, called Knights of the Old Republic. It chronicles events set 3600 years before the rise of our favorite Sith Lord, Darth Vader. One could almost call it the Middle Ages of Star wars. Even though Disney has also declared this era to be non-canon, I pretty much don’t care about that. As it is set so many years before the movies, it details events that don’t interfere with the current timeline anyway. If you are a fan of Star Wars, and want to know more about this era, I highly recommend the Old Republic Encyclopedia. This book, published by DK Books, is truly a must have for every Star Wars fan, whether or not you have ever played the games or not.

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The most noteworthy feature of this book is the art. It contains incredibly and highly detailed illustrations of the ships, weapons, planets and characters that populate this timeline. You can stare for hours and hours at these pictures, and lose yourself forever without ever getting bored. If the pictures I have included within this review have not already convinced you how cool it looks, I don’t know what will. This being an Encyclopedia, there is also ofcourse a wealth of information that details everything that has happened so many years before Darth Vader came to power. Do you want to know what Jedi were like back in those days? Which Sith Lord nearly brought the galaxy to it’s knees? What battles and wars were being waged? The answers to all these questions and more can be found in this massive 350 page tome.

All I can say is if you are a Star Wars fan, this book is just pure and simple a must buy. Unless you are only buying books that are considered to be part of the official canon timeline, this book will satisfy pretty much every Star Wars fan. Having just concluded it, I will definitely look back in on it, from time to time, if only to look at the beautiful and fantastic art.

I give the Star Wars Old Republic Encyclopedia a 10 out of 10 score.

Alias Omnibus, A Marvel Comics Book (2014)

Netflix has been producing a number of television series that are based on Marvel comics. That these so far are pretty succesful, is probably not anything new. These shows, can’t really be compared to their blockbuster movie cousins however. What pretty much distinguishes them is that they are very dark, and focus more on the development of the characters. The first series Daredevil, has so far resulted in two seasons and pretty much laid the foundation for the shows that have followed afterwards. One of the more unusual series that has spun off from Daredevil is Jessica Jones. I have just completed reading the omnibus on which this pretty unique series was based on, and I found it to be an absolute delight. But, I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s first focus on the story of Jessica Jones itself.

Alias can pretty much be described as a film noir type of story. Jessica Jones used to be a superhero, but because of certain events that are explained later on in the book, she gave up on her life as a costumed crime fighter. These days she is the sole employee of her own private investigations company called Alias Investigations. She helps out people on various cases such as kidnappings, but also the more mundane ones such as infidelity. Jessica herself has pretty much hit rockbottom. She is a heavy drinker, and uses men purely as a distraction. Not before long however, her past catches up to her, and a few cases she takes on, might be too much for her to handle…with or without superpowers.

Alias is part of the MAX comic book line, and as such is intended for a mature audience. Which is pretty much true, as the number of F-bombs in this graphic novel are astounding. Don’t be fooled though. This is a truly highly intelligent comic book, and the story is absolutely breathtaking. Already a fan of the television series of Jessica Jones, this book delves much deeper into the heart of this great character. And it is, at least not in the beginning, a very pretty heart. When you first meet her in the story, she is not someone you really like. Nevertheless, as the story progresses, you get where she is coming from, and why her personality has changed so much. Unlike the television series, a few popular superheroes make guest appearances in the book, such as Captain America and Spiderwoman. This is not a superhero book though. As I mentioned in the beginning, this really feels like a classic film noir, and as such is totally different than anything I have read from Marvel. I guess that is why I loved it so much. The art in the book also is not typical, but does simply feel right for this comic.

If you are looking for something different than your normal superpowered comic books, I highly recommend reading this fantastic graphic novel. I dare you not to get sucked into it’s clever storytelling. Before you know it, the hours will have past, and you might realise the day is almost over. And things like that are only reserved for the very best books.

I give the Alias Omnibus a 10 out of 10 score.

Another, a horror/mystery novel by Yukito Ayatsuji (2009)

In the past decades there have been a lot of tv shows and movies based on books. Some of these adaptations have been, to put it mildly, not really living up to expectations. The big problem that usually occurs when adapting a novel to the big or small screen, is that there are deviations from the original story. Characters behaving differently, certain plotlines being omitted, the list can go on and on. Still, that being said, there are also examples of movies/tv shows that have truly done justice to the original, and on rare occasions even surpass the novel. A few weeks ago I have seen an Anime series that totally blew my mind. It was called Another (you can find my review for it here ), and it has been one of the best things that I have seen all year. If you haven’t already, you can check it out on Crunchyroll (which is kind of the Netflix for Anime) for free (if you don’t mind the occasional commercial). Even if you don’t like Anime, I can guarantee that this show might change your opinion. What usually happens when I really like something , is that I become pretty much obsessed with finding out as much as I can about it. And as such I learned that the Animeseries was based on the novel of the same name. Having just concluded it, here are my thoughts on this briljant book.

It is the year 1998, when a young transfer student from Tokyo named Koichi Sakakibara enters class 3 of the Yomiyama North Middle School. From the start Koichi feels a sense of unease around him. The students all seem to act as if they have just been awakened from a nightmare. And it is not only the students, but also the teachers who truly don’t behave like they normally should. And why is there a student in class, Mei Misaki, who everyone treats as if she isn’t there? It is not long when the first people start dying in truly horrific ways, that Koichi is beginning to realise that there is a terrible curse on class 3. A curse that may have it’s origins in an event that happened 26 years ago, at the same school, and also in class 3. Koichi will come face to face with a mystery, that might very well cost him his life…..

If you have seen the Anime, then this novel really does not bring anything new to the table. Everything that happens in this novel, except for one or two minor things is also in the Anime series. In fact the Anime has expanded upon the story in ways that have even improved it. Something that I think is very unique. The novel however is every bit as powerful as the series. It is only because I had already seen the Anime and pretty much knew what would happen, I got a little bit less enjoyment out of it, than I thought I would. So which is better? The Anime or the novel? It really is a tough question to answer. But I do think the Anime wins by a slight margin. Especially the ending is handled in a more spectacular way in the series. If you like mystery/horror novels, or Stephen King, than this novel is well worth checking out.

I give Another (the novel) a 8 out 10 score. If you first read the novel, instead of seeing the Anime you may add a point to the score I have given above.

Nightlords The Omnibus, a Warhammer 40000 novel by Aaron Dembski-Bowden (2010-2014)

The Warhammer 40000 universe has a very long and dark history. Literally hundreds of books have been published in this series, set in different periods of the timeline. For those of you not familiar with it, the Warhammer 40000 universe has it’s origins in a tabletop boardgame published by Games Workshop. It details a grim and dark universe where humanity is constantly at war with either themselves, a myriad of alien races and the horrible forces of Chaos. Pivotal in this universe are the Space Marine legions of the immortal Emperor. The Emperor once united humanity and created the supersoldiers called Space Marines. Divided into Legions and commanded by his sons, the Godlike beings called Primarchs, they set forth to conquer the universe in the name of humanity. Thousands of years ago the Emperor was betrayed by one of his sons, the Primarch known as Horus. Aligning himself with the Dark Powers of Chaos, Horus started a war against his father. Several Space Marine Legions joined forces with Horus and that event came to be known as the Horus Heresy.

In the end the Emperor prevailed against Horus, but he was mortally wounded and placed in The Golden Throne. The Traitor legions, as the Space Marines who allied themselves with Chaos were called, retreated. Most of the books that have been published in this universe concern themselves with the loyal Space Marines. Interestingly the Nightlords omnibus focusses on a Traitor legion: the so called VIII legion, also known as the Nightlords. And oh wow, is it good. It has become the best Warhammer 40000 novel I have read to date, and not only that, it has made it’s way into my personal top 5 of best books that I have ever read.

This omnibus collects the trilogy of Nighlords books that have been published, and also throws in 3 short stories. One thing that I really loved about this book, were it’s characters. The main character Talos, also known as the Prophet, is truly a horrifying and evil being, but still has his own code. The warband he commands also includes some very memorable and equally evil men. This tome is a true pageturner, and a rollercoaster ride from start to finish. The action and horror included is absolutely breathtaking, and writer Aaron Demski-Bowden, has truly written a tale that can be enjoyed by sci-fi and horror fanatics alike. If you are already familiar with the Warhammer 40000 universe, this is an absolute must buy. But even if you are not, but are a lover of dark science fiction than this book is truly a great introduction to this dark universe. Even though this book has nearly 950 pages in total, I was not bored by it for even one second. I highly recommend this novel and want to warn you in advance that you will probably have trouble putting this book down. Be prepared for some long nights staying awake, reading this fantastic novel.

I give this book a 10 out of 10 score.

 

I Am A Hero Omnibus 1, a Japanese Manga book (2016)

The Walking Dead is returning to your television screens in October with it’s seventh season to date. One would almost forget that this fantastic television series all started with a comic book created by Robert Kirkman. Even more impressive is that it has just reached issue number 158, and there is no end in sight yet. Not bad, considering that this a series that tells a story about a Zombie Apocalypse. Not that stories like that are bad, mind you, but to keep it interesting for 158 issues is nothing short of amazing. Ofcourse as is always the case with things that are a succes, we get copycats. Most of these are just poor substitutes for the real thing, but occasionally something arrives that truly impresses. And that, in a roundabout way, brings me to the I am a hero manga. This also tells a story of a Zombie Apocalypse, but that is where the similarities with the Walking Dead end.

I am a hero, tells the story of the aspiring Manga artist Hideo Suzuki. Now Hideo is not your typical guy. For one thing he is plagued by hallucinations of varying degrees. He also likes to talk to himself: a lot. The only person who seems to accept him is his girlfriend Tekko. Hideo has been struggling for years to break through in the Manga world and not for lack of trying. Unfortunately he is just not very good, even though he thinks so himself. But then things in the real world begin to change. At first it is hardly noticeable, but when there are increasingly more people acting strangely, Hideo is beginning to realise that this is not another hallucination. People are actually starting to change into zombies. With the world heading slowly to an Apocalypse, Hideo has to find a way to make himself survive, and care for the girl he loves.

I am a hero, is being released by Dark Horse Comics into omnibus editions, which contain two volumes of the original manga. This is definitely a story for a mature audience. There are some seriously bizarre and adult situations that pop up from time to time, and this can sometimes for a casual reader be distracting. However once you get past these, this makes for a very entertaining read. This Manga starts very, very slowly. It takes it’s time (one could argue for too long) to set up the characters and the storylines. However the art of this Manga is so incredibly beautiful that I did not mind this at all. Every frame is almost like a painting, and that alone makes it worth the purchase. I do think that this Manga won’t be for everyone. Even if you like zombiestories, this is not your usual Zombie Apocalypse epic. However, if you want to read something other than the Walking Dead, and are willing to take a chance, you might definitely be surprised. I for one loved it, and am looking forward to the release of the 2nd omnibus in October.

I give this Manga a 9 out of 10 score.

Deadpool & Cable Omnibus, A Marvel Comics Book (2014)

The Marvel Universe is full of superheroes that are widely known. With the succes of the movies based on these comics, Marvel has a chance to experiment with characters that are relatively unknown to the general public. As such, last year we got the first Marvel R-rated superhero movie based on the anti-hero Deadpool. The movie was absolutely hilarious and became an enormous boxoffice success. Strangely enough, before the movie I had not even heard of this character before. Despite the fact that he is now one of the most popular Marvel heroes.

I love comics, and after seeing the movie I decided to catch up a bit on Deadpool. I bought a couple of collected editions, but also a massive tome called the Deadpool & Cable omnibus. And oh boy is this last book a treat. Those of you that stayed for the after credits scene of the Deadpool movie know that (minor spoiler upcoming) Cable will be making an entrance in the sequel. Cable is an X-man from the future with incredible telepathic and telekinetic powers. This omnibus contains all 50 issues of the Cable & Deadpool comic book series,  that ran from 2004-2008.

Where to begin? Well let’s start with the humour. Deadpool is nuts, no let me rephrase that, he is completely insane. Having him paired up with the serious Cable makes for some incredibly funny situations. There are so many things in these comics that are absolutely hilarious that I can not describe them all. But to name a few: In later issues, we get a recap page in which Deadpool talks to the reader of the comic what happened in a previous issue, together with other heroes that are going to appear later on in the story. This gag becomes even more hilarious when Deadpool gets his own talkshow, and recaps what came before. The book is full of crazy one-liners, and in almost every issue something happens that will make you laugh.

The stories themselves are great and offer a wide range of variety. We ofcourse get great battles, some more serious issues, a story that will occasionally bring a tear to your eye, but above all it is just a delight to read. Also included are numerous guest appearances from other Marvel Heroes, ranging from Spiderman to Wolverine. Last but definitely not least is the art, which except for a couple of comics, is seriously well drawn. And that last part is ofcourse very important when reading comics.

If you are a fan of Deadpool, or comics in general this is an absolute must buy. Yes, it has a hefty price tag, but in my opinion it was definitely worth it. This book is a great introduction to Deadpool, but also to Cable, and if you want to catch up on this great duo, this is the place to start. I myself could not find any negative points, and that means that the score I am going to give will not be much of a surprise.

I give this book a 10 out of 10 score.