Garth Ennis and Carlos Ezquerra (Black Bull Entertainment) .00

Cornic's Irish bad boy Garth Ennis returns wrth Original Judge Dredd artist Carlos Ezquerra: a new character, another rn~your-face series. This sci-tr western, set in a post-apocalyptic Earth after the sun has boned the oceans dry, focuses On a mysterious Clint Eastwoodeesdue stranger who doles out religious quotes and hot lead With equal fervour. Following the same formula as Ennis' most famous creation, Preacher. the laughs are derived from extreme violence and infantile fun not exactly groundbreaking. However, keep an eye Out for issue two in which Ennis promises ‘the most dreadful thrhg I've ever inflicted on a character'. I'm already feeling queasy at the prospect. (Henry Northmore)

CRIME MURDER ME DEAD NO 4 David Lapham (El Capitan) oooo

Writer-artist David Lapham is best-known

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for his superb long- runnirig crime comic Stray Bu/(ets. Murder Me Dead doesn't Stray from that genre. rather Lapham attempts a long narrative arc presenting a single tale of seduction. blackmail and homicide set in modern- day California spanning tl ie entire series. You'll want to catch the three prevr()US rsSues. but so far the enjoyany sleazy story revolves arOund a pianist whose rich restaurateur wife commits suicide under suspicious circumstances. Other players include a gorgeous woman from the pianist's past. his old school pal and a suspicious private detective. The cast are all seedy to the core. which Lapham portrays wrth his considerable skill at characterisation. (Miles Fielder)


Seth (Drawn & Quarterly) 0000

The second major story arc of Canadian writer- artist Seth‘s comic continues to tell of the rise and fall of a small Ontario business. 1957- present day. Downbeat

and mundane. the appeal of ‘Clyde Fans' (put out of busmess by modern air conditioning) isn‘t immediately Oberus. but Seth's an artist who yearns for the past. His reveries in melanchon nostalgia are gurte engrossrng. Unsurprisingly. Seth is also an. ahem, fan of 405 newspaper cartoonists. which informs his draWing style and duo-tone colouring. If you like this and want to play catch up. the earlier instalments of ‘Clyde Fans' have rust been anthologised and reprinted. (Miles Fielder)


Brian Michael Bendis and Marc Andreyko (lrnage) 00000

This weighty graphic novel is an awesome

achievement. Set in the

co-creators' hometown, Cleveland. Ohio, in the 30s, Torso concerns the hunt for America's first serial killer (take a wild guess where the novel‘s title comes from) as overseen by Elliot Ness. the 'untouchable‘ fresh from nailing Al Capone in Chicago. To this enticing prospect, Bendis and Andreka bind a complex plot. culled from just the facts. with impressive characterisation (such as the disintegration of Ness‘ marriage). The artwork breaks new ground. mixing drawing with photography from the period. and an

appendix includes

photography and

documents from the

original investigation. Officially. the case remains unsolved. Chilling. (Miles Fielder)

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DEAN OWENS The Droma Tapes iReal Records 00000

Me' while others like 'Anything' are uncatagorisable. except to say that this is great songwriting.

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The Carnivorous Lunar

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When Jason 'Splrlttiali/etl' f')lt‘:l(,(“ sacked his whole band in a lrt of egocentric priiue. said band went and formed luprne Howl. And )udging by this. their debut long player. they haven't reallfi, flown too far from the psychedelic spacerrock nest that nurtured them. The Carnivorous (,i/rrar Actrvrtres Of. . retains Spir‘ituali/ed's policy of esclrewrrig ‘songs' for what might have been called 'extended freeform workouts' in the (30s re self indulgent garagey blues wank fuelled by too many drugs. HaVing said that. this isn't a bad record. album opener and single

Loch Droma in the Highlands, Owens" first solo album perfectly captures; the mood and soul of the place. The sparse but warm acoustic sound is even complemented by the crackling fire in the background. This timeless collection could be classed as Americana. and Owens' movrng vocals backed by Kevrn McGurre's guitar con)ure up pictures of pioneers struggling in harsh conditions. be rt in the US or Scotland. Owens' country roots ~ as displayed as frontman of country band The Felsons come out on tracks like 'The Death Of

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Free All Angels (Infectious) CO.

It seems a bit of a paradox, singles bands making albums. Stretching a three-minute rush of melody over 45 minutes was a task too far on Ash’s debut 1977 and its fuzzed-up follow- up Nu-Clear Sounds, although their singles were some of the best pop moments of the 908. Too much filling turns a pop sandwich into a diffuse mess.

Free All Angels intends to change that. And on the evidence of the first two singles, Ash are well on top of their game: ‘Shining Light’ is an affecting, stellar skyride, while its follow-up ‘Burn Baby Burn’ carves out Ash’s harder edge perfectly.

What’s ultimately on offer over these thirteen tracks is Ash’s most colourful musical palette yet, utilising samples (Bacharach & David’s ‘Make It Easy On Yourself’ on ‘Candy’), bump ‘n’ grind ethics on slinky S&M saga ‘Submission’, and challenging orchestral arrangements on ‘Someday’ and stand-out track and unofficial Bond theme ‘There’s A Star’. Perfected takes of Nu-Clear Sounds-era Ash such as the crunchy-sweet ‘Cherry Bomb’ further punctuate the album with quality.

But the fillers remain, and although they’re fewer and further between, Free All Angels still lacks album-like cohesion. And despite Tim Wheeler’s vocals sounding more dynamic than ever, he’s still too fond of wandering down Cliche Street, detracting from the adventurous pop spirit on display here.

Ash are undoubtedly polishing their craft, but that great album still eludes them. Still, the inevitable greatest hits package should be a blinder. (Jan F. Zeschky) P

Just like heaven? Well, nearly