Category: Z-View

“Killadelphia Volume 1: Sins of the Father” / Z-View

Killadelphia Volume 1: Sins of the Father is a paperback that collects issues 1 – 6 of an on-going series published by Image Comics. .

Writer: Rodney Barnes
Artist: Jason Shawn Alexander
Colorist: Luis NCT
Letters by: Marshall Dillon
Cover Artist: Jason Shawn Alexander & Luis NCT 

*** Beware – spoilers may be found below ***

Featuring the show-stopping talents of Spawn series artist JASON SHAWN ALEXANDER, and the writer behind such hit shows as Wu-Tang: An American Saga, Marvel’s Runaways, and Starz’s American Gods–RODNEY BARNES.

When a small town beat cop comes home to bury his murdered father-the revered Philadelphia detective James Sangster Sr.-he begins to unravel a mystery that leads him down a path of horrors and shakes his beliefs to their core.

The city that was once the symbol of liberty and freedom has fallen prey to corruption, poverty, unemployment, brutality…
…and vampires.

But the mystery goes even further when Jimmy’s investigation leads him to uncover the source of the outbreak is long-thought dead President of the United States John Adams–a man secretly biding his time as he builds an undead army to start a new and bloodier American revolution.

There’s a reason they coin a phrase, “you can’t go home.” Welcome to Killadelphia.

Collects KILLADELPHIA #1-6

Killadelphia is a book you should be reading if you like intelligently written and beautifully drawn horror comics.

Rodney Barnes’ idea of a modern day vampire uprising in Philadelphia led by a centuries old founding father is so audacious that we’re lucky Barnes took his story past the idea stage.   Killadelphia is a very cool, very creepy tale that paints a big picture universe introduced to us through believable characters who find themselves in an unbelievable situation.

Modern day vampires?  Yeah, right.  Read Killadelphia and you’re response will become: Modern day vampires?  Yeah!  Right!

Jason Shawn Alexander provides realistic art for Killadelphia which supports the story;  you believe what you’re seeing.  The characters look like real people (some of whom are vampires).  Alexander has drawn scenes that will creep you out and perhaps inspire nightmares… which is exactly what great horror fiction should do.  I hope that Barnes and Alexander stay together as long as Killadelphia tales are told.

Luis NCT’s colors provide nuance and emphasis that enhance each scene and his contribution to the success of Killadelphia shouldn’t be overlooked.

I thought that Killadelphia would be a good comic.  I underestimated it.  Killadelphia is an exceptional comic and one all horror fans should try.


Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out / Z-View

Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out is a four-issue mini-series and paperback published by Dark Horse Comics. .

Writer: Steve Niles
Artist: Gyula Nemeth
Colorist: Gyula Nemeth
Letters by: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Cover Artist: Gyula Nemeth 

*** Beware – spoilers may be found below ***

I first became aware of Steve Niles nearly two decades ago.  Niles was the author of two novels (Savage Membrane and Guns, Drugs & Monsters) featuring Cal McDonald that I highly recommend.

McDonald is a tough as nails detective who deals with things that go bump in the night. After the two novels, McDonald appeared in a number of comic book mini-series written by Niles teaming with different artists.  And that brings us to Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out

Supernatural detective Cal McDonald, found wandering the streets as a disheveled vagrant, is ripped from his self-imposed retirement to resume his monster-killing career.

But Cal is reluctant to return to the fray. What has the hard-bitten investigator so shaken? It’s a long story that begins with a beautiful woman who happens to be a vampire . . . and ends with a bang.

It’s great to have Cal McDonald back.  Who doesn’t love a cynical tough guy who sees the real monsters that walk among us?

The Big Bleed Out follows McDonald as he meets and begins to fall for a mysterious woman who happens to be a vampire.  The romance doesn’t seem to have much of a chance since McDonald is normally a vampire killer.  Meanwhile, Mo’Lock, McDonald’s quasi partner, has gone into the sewers of LA to see if he can discover who/what is down there killing people.

Being a Cal McDonald fan I was excited to see his return.  This was my first time seeing Nemeth’s art and I liked quite a bit of what he brought to the table.  It was interesting to see McDonald falling under the spell of a vampiress and unintentionally venturing into a nest of them.  The romance and its eventual outcome moved at a pretty quick pace with a few surprises along the way.  And let’s not forget that Mo’Lock has his hands full with a sewer monster!  Overall, this was a fun read.

Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out is a nice addition to the Cal McDonald universe.


That Texas Blood #1 / Z-View

That Texas Blood #1 is part of an on-going series published by Image Comics.

Writer: Chris Condon
Artist: Jacob Phillips
Colorist: Jacob Phillips
Cover Artist: Jacob Phillips (Variant Cover by Sean Phillips not shown)

*** Beware – spoilers may be found below ***

CRIMINAL colorist and first time solo artist JACOB PHILLIPS and writer CHRIS CONDON break onto the scene with a brand-new ongoing series! Like Paris, Texas gut-punched by No Country for Old Men, this mature neo-Western crime series kicks off when the search for a casserole dish leads to a dark and tense confrontation on Sheriff Joe Bob Coates’ 70th birthday.

“CHRIS & JACOB pull off something remarkable here. A vivid and bright story that nails a thorough sense of foreboding and darkness. A shocking amount of talent for a duo so fresh to comics!” —CHIP ZDARSKY (SEX CRIMINALS, Daredevil)

If you’re a comics fan, you’ve probably already heard the hype on just how good That Texas Blood #1 is.  Believe it.

A synopsis of the issue wouldn’t do it justice.  Most folks would read it and say, “Not much happens.”  They’d be wrong.  Condon and Phillips lull us with a pace that mirrors small town life.  All is well, until it isn’t and then things go bad in a hurry.  Now we’re left with a questions about a suicide, a possible murder and a sinister (Satanic?) killing from the past.

That Texas Blood #2 can’t get here fast enough.


Dick Tracy Forever / Z-View

Dick Tracy Forever is a four-issue mini-series and paperback published by IDW. .

Writer: Michael Avon Oeming
Artist: Michael Avon Oeming
Colorist: Taki Soma
Letterer: Shawn Lee
Cover Artist: Michael Avon Oeming 

*** Beware – spoilers may be found below ***

I was never a huge fan of Dick Tracy.  I’d read some of the comic strips and had seen the Warren Beatty movie.  I knew that Dick Tracy was a straightlaced cop who had an interesting gallery of weird-looking villains. Oh, and he had this really cool video watch!  That was about the extent of it.

When I saw the preview cover of Dick Tracy Forever by Michael Oeming, I knew I had to give the series a go.  I’m a fan of Oeming’s art and thought his take on Tracy would be interesting.  Thankfully, I wasn’t wrong.

Oeming created interconnected stories featuring Dick Tracy through the years taking Tracy from the 1930’s to the future.  The tales are fun and show Tracy as being more than just a straight-laced cop (although at the core, he is a law and order guy).  I liked that his girlfriend/wife was more than just a damsel in distress.  Oeming introduces a couple of new characters that deserve to stick around. Oh, and let’s not forget that cool video watch!  I was already a fan of Oeming’s art, now we can add his writing as well.

Taki Soma’s coloring perfectly supports the story.  Dick Tracy newspaper strips and comics were known for the coloring limitations of their time. Soma gives Dick Tracy Forever the feel of the old stories but adds shading and subtlety when needed (at times leaving the art black and white in support of the story).

I really liked Dick Tracy Forever but wondered if true Dick Tracy fans felt the same way.  They do!  Amazon and Comixology reviewers gave it nothing less than 4 of 5 stars.  So if you don’t take my word, you can take theirs.  🙂


Dead Body Road: Bad Blood #1 / Z-View

Dead Body Road: Bad Blood #1 is part of a six-issue mini-series published by Image Comics.

Writer: Justin Jordan
Artist: Benjamin Tiesma
Colorist: Matt Lopes
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Cover Artist: Matteo Scalera and Moreno Dinisio

*** Beware – spoilers may be found below ***

Bree Hale has left a lot behind in her life. Crime. The military. But she can’t leave behind her own family, and when the local crime boss puts a hit out on her brother, there’s nothing she won’t do to save him. Absolutely nothing. Skybound’s pulse-pounding action series returns, with writer JUSTIN JORDAN (REAVER, LUTHER STRODE) and artist BENJAMIN TIESMA delivering an explosive tale of revenge like you’ve never seen before!

I am huge fan of Dead Body Road.  If you haven’t read it you shouldDead Body Road: Bad Blood isn’t a sequel (but could be set in the same universe) and is on track to be just as good.

Writer, Justin Jordan, has returned and this time he’s brought with him artist Benjamin Tiesma. Tiesma is an excellent choice.  Jordan and Tiesma are joined by colorist Matt Lopes and letterer Pat Brosseau who create a solid team.

Bree Hale is a woman with a mysterious past that involved both military and criminal experience.  Bree has left that all behind (she hopes) and now runs a bar where the biggest problem is dealing with folks who drink to much.

When a detective comes in asking questions about her brother, she can honestly say she hasn’t seen or heard from him.  The detective isn’t convinced, but what can he do?  At closing time a hardcase Bree’s never seen before comes in looking for her brother.  She tells him the same thing she told the detective.  He leaves but Bree knows it isn’t over. She’s being dragged into whatever mess her brother has made and it could get them both killed.

Dead Body Road: Bad Blood is everything a good crime comic should be.  I cannot wait for issue two.


“Spenser Confidential” / Z-View

Spenser Confidential (2020)

Director: Peter Berg

Screenplay: Sean O’Keefe & Brian Helgeland based on characters created by Robert B. Parker and the novel by Ace Atkins

Stars:  Mark Wahlberg, Winston Duke, Alan Arkin, Bokeem Woodbine, Marc Maron, Donald Cerrone  and Post Malone.

The Pitch: “Let’s turn Ace Akins’ Robert B. Parker’s Spenser novel into a movie!”

Tagline: The Law Has Limits. They Don’t.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

If you’re not a fan of Robert B. Parker and Ace Atkins Spenser characters there’s an outside chance you may like Spenser Confidential.  If you are a fan of the books, my guess is that you’ll hate this movie.  That’s because not a single character goes unchanged to something fundamentally different from the novels.

Spenser goes from an intelligent, wisecracking ex-cop to a less than stellar (IQ-wise) ex-con who aspires to be a trucker.  In the novels, Susan is a Harvard-educated, calm, supporting soul mate to Spenser.  In the movie she becomes a foul-mouthed, crazy girlfriend that Spenser works to avoid until he needs sex or help with the “case”.  In the novels Hawk starts out as a respected rival who works on the fringes of the law and ultimately becomes Spenser’s best friend (outside of Susan).  In the movie Hawk is a big, nerdy, untrained lug who dreams of being a MMA Champion who is forced to be Spenser’s roommate.

Peter Berg is usually a director that makes fun movies.  Not here.  Brian Helgeland wrote the screenplays for LA Confidential, Payback, Mystic River, and Man on Fire.  Spenser Confidential isn’t in the same ballpark… not even the same continent.

You may be thinking that if I wasn’t such a big fan of Parker and Atkins’ Spenser novels I would have liked Spenser Confidential better.  Perhaps I would have liked it a bit more… but not much.


The Twilight Zone’s Most Shocking Twist Endings

Phil Pirrello at Syfy Wire posted his choices for The Twilight Zone’s 10 Most Shocking Twist Endings.  His list is a good one.

I’ve posted how I’d rank his top ten below.  Click on the link above to get the entire Pirrello piece.  If you click on the links in my ratings, you’ll get my Z-View for the individual episodes.

Phil Pirrello / Syfy Wire


10. “The Silence” (Season 2) 10. “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” (Season 5)
09. “Five Characters In Search of an Exit” (Season 3) 09. “Five Characters In Search of an Exit” (Season 3)
08. “The Masks” (Season 5)  08. “The Masks” (Season 5) 
07. “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up” (Season 2) 07. “The Silence” (Season 2)
06. “The Invaders” (Season 2)  06. “I Shot an Arrow Into the Air” (Season 1)
05. “To Serve Man” (Season 1) 05. “Eye of the Beholder” (Season 2)
04. “I Shot an Arrow Into the Air” (Season 1) 04. “Time Enough At Last” (Season 1)
03. “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” (Season 5) 03. “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up” (Season 2)
02. “Time Enough At Last” (Season 1) 02. “The Invaders” (Season 2) 
01. “Eye of the Beholder” (Season 2) 01. “To Serve Man” (Season 1)

“Cut Bank” / Z-View

Cut Bank (2014)

Director: Matt Shakman

Screenplay: Roberto Patino

Stars:  Liam Hemsworth, Teresa Palmer, Billy Bob Thorton, Bruce Dern, John Malkovich and Michael Stuhlbarg.

The Pitch: “Do you like movies like Blood Simple and Fargo…”

Tagline: Good Folks. Bad Deeds.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Dwayne McLaren dreams of getting out of  Cut Bank, a small town with little promise.  When McLaren and his girlfriend accidentally video the murder of a postal worker, they may have stumbled on their ticket out.  The $100,000 reward money offered by the postal service would be life-changing money.

But all is not as it seems.

The postal worker was set to deliver a parcel that a man is willing to kill to get and perhaps the postal worker’s killing wasn’t a murder at all.  Who is scamming who?

Cut Bank features great cast and a story with plenty of twists.  I was surprised how good it is. Although I’ve posted the trailer below, I suggest you skip it and go straight to the movie.  (Some of the twists are given away in the trailer.  Go in cold and enjoy!)


Little Green: An Easy Rawlins Mystery by Walter Mosley / Z-View

Little Green: An Easy Rawlins Mystery by Walter Mosley

Hardcover: 291 pages
Publisher: Doubleday

First sentence…

“I came half-awake, dead and dreaming.”

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Still recovering from a near-fatal car accident, Easy Rawlins agrees to find a missing teenager named Evander “Little Green” Noon.  Finding Little Green is tough enough, but the real mystery is how did he come into possession of two bags of money covered in blood?  There’s also the problem of what can be done about the men out to get the money back and kill those who possess it.

The Detachment by Barry Eisler / Z-View

The Detachment (A John Rain Novel) by Barry Eisler

Paperback: 324 pages
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

First sentence…

“I hadn’t killed anyone in almost four years.”

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

When Colonel Scott “Hort” Horton reaches out to John Rain, Rain knows things are bad.  Horton has learned of a plan to overthrow the United States government.  In order to stop the coup, Horton wants Rain to team with three other assassins and take out the three high level government officials behind the plan.

The complexity of multiple hits, coupled with the big payday offered convinces Rain to team with a former friend and two talented, but unknown killers provided by Horton.  Things go sideways and the new team is betrayed. Rain doesn’t know who he can trust.  As the clock ticks down, the four assassins must figure out who the traitor is and still find a way to effectively end the coup.

Eisler is an excellent writer with skills enhanced by his experience in a covert position for the CIA and a black belt in judo. He’s especially good at bringing out the underlying tension when a group of mercenaries are brought together under circumstances where any one (or more of them) may be secretly part of the group they are working to bring down.


Robert B. Parker’s Angel Eyes – A Spenser Novel by Ace Atkins / Z-View

Robert B. Parker’s Angel Eyes by Ace Atkins

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

First sentence…

“Whoever said, ‘It never rained in Southern California lied.”

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Gabby Leggett left her wealthy Boston family and went to Hollywood to become a star.  Beautiful, talented and after making a popular commercial Gabby’s star was on the rise.

Then Gabby Leggett disappeared.

Spenser is hired by Gabby’s family to find her.   In Hollywood the suspects include 1) Gabby’s ex-lover (and her current agent), 2) a powerful womanizing movie producer, 3) a “self-help” sisterhood some would call a cult led by an ex-con scam artist and 4) Armenian gangsters.  Spenser does what he does best, irritating all suspects until his life is threatened.  Then things get even more interesting.  Gabby may or may not be dead, but many are going to die before Spenser finds out.

Ace Atkins creates another welcome Spenser tale.


Rage by Jonathan Maberry / Z-View

Rage by Jonathan Maberry

Paperback: 462 pages
Publisher: Griffin

First sentence…

If the world is on all four wheels and nothing is burning, you’ll never hear from guys like me.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

A bio-weapon released on a small island off the coast of Korea turns men, women and children into raging killers.  Making things worse, a video shows what appear to be US soldiers behind the terrorist attack.

As North Korea, China, and the US begin to posture for all out war, Joe Ledger leads the newly formed Rogue International team to the island.  Finding himself commanding elite soldiers from North and South Korea along with members of his old squad, Ledger will learn that there is a traitor among them.

As the clock clicks down, the virus spreads and rumors that the US was behind the bio attacks leaks to the media.  Rogue International must find the source of the Rage attacks and prevent further terrorist actions before its too late.  A mission like this comes with a high cost — and hats off to Maberry because he has the reader worried about one thing and delivers something more surprising and equally as devastating.  And then hits the reader with something even worse.

Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger novels never disappoint.


Last of the Independents by Matt Fraction and Kieron Dwyer / Z-View

Last of the Independents by Matt Fraction (Writer) and Kieron Dwyer (Artist) was first published nearly 20 years ago.  Here’s part of what I said when I reviewed it back in 2007:

Last of the Independents is Fraction’s love letter to the creators and fans of the movie “Charley Varrick”. Like in the movie, a middle aged guy and his crew knock off a small town bank only to discover it’s mob money that they’ve stolen. There are other similarities, but never does this feel like anything more than a tip of the fedora to a movie, a genre and an era that had an enormous impact on crime fiction fans. Fraction’s story and script are first rate. He drops us in as the bank is being robbed and introduces us to the main characters quickly without wordy exposition. In fact, he often lets Kieron Dwyer’s art tell the tale. Dwyer’s art is perfect for the graphic novel. [I’ve been a fan of his work for some time and hope to someday see a piece by him in my Stallone Gallery.]  Last of the Independents rates an “A”.

On May 26, 2020, Last of the Independents will get a new hard cover printing!  It has already received my highest recommendation, so if this sounds like something you’d like, jump on board.


“The Irishman” / Z-View

The Irishman (2019)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Screenplay: Steve Zallian based on the book by Charles Brandt

Stars:  Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin, and Jesse Plemons.

The Pitch: “Martin Scorsese wants to do a new gangster movie!”

Tagline: His story changed history.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

On his deathbed in 2003, Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a former bodyguard and alleged mob hitman confessed to a killing that if true would resolve a mystery that has remained unsolved for decades.  Sheeran’s confessions (of that murder and more) became the basis of I Heard You Paint Houses: The Inside Story of the Mobsters, the Teamsters & the Last Ride of Jimmy Hoffa by Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran and Charles Brandt.  That book became the inspiration for The Irishman.

The Irishman re-teams Scorsese, De Niro, and Pesci, then adds Pacino for good measure. De Niro plays Sheeran who accidentally meets and becomes friends with mobster, Russell Bufalino (Pesci). As the years pass Sheeran works his way into Bufalono’s inner circle because of his willingness to take care of business.  Sheeran’s choices take him down a road that leads inevitably to the loss of his family, friends and the betrayal of those he cares about.

The Irishman is getting almost universal praise.  It should. Scorsese is in top form and gets the best performances from De Niro and Pacino that we’ve seen in years.  Pesci gives his best performance ever.  Pesci deserves all of the awards he’ll receive for this role.  I was worried that Pacino would be too over the top for his role as Hoffa, but he reined it in and pulled it off.

Now to the two nits, many are picking: 1) The de-aging CGI and 2) the length of The Irishman.

I’ll admit that at first the CGI is distracting.  As the film went on it became less so.  Scorsese has said that a lot of attention was paid in the de-aging scenes to make sure the main actors (all 70+) moved age appropriately for their scenes.  (“Uh, Al, let’s do that again.  Remember when you’re getting out of the chair in this scene, you’re 45.”)  There were a couple of scenes where the faces look younger but the body movements don’t have the same snap as a younger man.  Minor distractions in my opinion, but some folks are complaining big time so your mileage may vary.

The second nit some are picking is the length of The Irishman which clocks in at 3 hours and 29 minutes making it the longest movie Scorsese has directed, and reportedly the longest mainstream film released in decades.  I thought the film moved at the right pace.  I was never bored.  I never checked my watch.  It didn’t feel like a three hour plus movie.  Again your mileage may vary.

I loved The Irishman.


“El Camino” (2019) / Z-View

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019)

Director: Vince Gilligan

Screenplay: Vince Gilligan

Stars:  Aaron Paul, Jonathan Banks, Matt Jones, Jonathon Banks, Matt Jones, Charles Baker, Larry Hankin, Marla Gibbs and Robert Forster.

The Pitch: “Vince Gilligan wants to do a Breaking Bad movie!”

Tagline: A Breaking Bad Movie.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

When Breaking Bad ended, Vince Gilligan thought he had told the story he had wanted to tell.  As time went on he realized that although the story was told, there were more details to share.

When Breaking Bad ended Jesse Pinkman was last seen speeding away as police cars raced to the lab where he had been held prisoner, tortured and forced to produce meth.  Walter White lay on the floor bleeding out from a gunshot wound received while freeing Jesse.  Fans speculated if Jesse really would get away and if Walter would really die.

El Camino answers those questions.  And in doing so we get to revisit characters from the series and fill in the gaps.  El Camino ultimately does answer our questions, but leaves us guessing right up until the reveals.  The great thing about El Camino is it doesn’t feel forced and fans of the series who don’t tune in (can’t imagine there would be many) don’t miss out on the broad strokes.  Those who never watched Breaking Bad should still enjoy El Camino, but to a lesser extent.  As for me, I really liked it.